Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And then, it began to rain.

I've been going through a bit of a dry spell, but tonight I finally wrote something new.

Just a few paragraphs, but they have soothed my parched soul and given my hope for tomorrow.

I missed this feeling.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"In my own experience, nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family and friends. To most people, even those who don't read much, there is something special and vaguely magical about writing, and it is not easy for them to believe that someone they know--someone quite ordinary in many respects--can really do it."
- On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner

I love this book. I have heard some vague references to it every so often, but I never actually tried to find it. I happened across the title at Borders this fine September evening, and decided to pick it up. Easily the best decision I've made in quite awhile.

Gardner identified a lot of issues I've been struggling with these past nine months, and his insight into the writing process has given me a second wind. He identified a lot of bullshit writing that I had incorporated into my work and helped me learn how to fix it. I feel like I'm not pursuing a lost cause right now. And that, my friends, is the most wonderful thing I've felt in a long time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Somewhere far from nowhere, I grew both strong and tall,
Longing to become, but knowing not the path at all.

I have a friend who went through the whole M.F.A. application process this past year just as I did. The only catch is, she got into one of her top choices with an assistantship. I'm happy for her, but I can't bring myself to talk to her when she comes into Hy-Vee. I'm embarrassed that I wasn't good enough to get in to a school this fall.

It seems failure is something I am growing familiar with. From the outside, one might deny that I am failing at life, but I'm on the inside here. I'm doing nothing related to my degree, stuck in a dismally-paying, unsatisfying job. I don't really write at all anymore because I'm have no motivation to do anything. I know the earliest I can go back is the Fall of 2009, and that's only if I don't fail again.

Somewhere along the line, I'm pretty sure someone pulled a big joke at my expense. As a student, I believed I would succeed in whatever I do, but post-graduation I found out my best chances for a higher-paying job could have been achieved by learning carpentry or some other techincal school skill. With my B.A. I can do jack shit in this town because the only big white collar employer is the university that set me up for this shitty job.

Congrats on your graduation, but stay the fuck away from here. We don't hire our own graduates.

I'm pretty sure that's the fine print on the diploma they supposedly mailed but I never received. I'd care now but it's worth as much as a coaster in this place.

I'm sick of this real world, I want to go back where I'm worth something.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A summer has almost passed and I have remained mostly silent. I guess that's mainly because I don't have a whole lot to say.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Upon googling my name...

There's so much to post about that I can't seem to focus on one thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Midnight, June 8, 2005. I woke up from a nap on the couch in my apartment and sensed some deep change in myself. I went to the mirror and staring back at me was my face with green eyes. For some reason, this one moment in time has stuck with me since then. My eyes eventually shifted back to their normal blue, but I never quite understood why it happened or why I knew something was different.

I guess that's just the mystery of me.

Jump back to present, and my blue-eyed self is still trying to figure things out.

...
When I awoke, I came into silence. The profound weight of life was made known to me as I stared in the mirror at a new me, a different me, a new living form sharing my eyes with death.
...

I want that weight again.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I've been meaning to write, really I have. It's just that every time I sit in front of this blank new post screen, I start feeling inadequate and close the window. It's the same when I sit down to work on my story. At some point since the beginning of the year, something shut off my creativity valve. It'd be too easy to just blame this on my rejections from four MFA programs. I'm afraid it's something more.



I don't feel like a writer these days. That feeling is justified because I don't actually write much anymore. I was sitting here trying to figure out how to restart my writing practice and decided I'd start with a much-delayed response to an interview meme posted by my friend, Precious, several months ago.



Interview meme

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better! If I already know you well, expect the questions may be a little more intimate!

3. Update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Here are my responses to Precious’ questions



1. What got you into writing in the first place? Why do you continue to do it? What are your motivations?
In fifth grade, I had to write a story about slavery from a first-person POV. I wrote a story about escaping from a plantation and following the Underground Railroad to freedom. Even in that story, someone died. I kept finding reasons to write as my schooling progressed. I always enjoyed the assignments, but I never seriously considered being a writer. To be honest, I didn’t think I could pull it off until I was in college.
I continue to write because it is something I enjoy greatly. There are days when I write a lot, and days when I write nothing. Unfortunately, the days where I write nothing seem to outweigh my creative days. I’m trying to tap into my creativity.
Ultimately, I would like to publish at least one novel, preferably more. Maybe a book or two of poetry, and some nonfiction. I like it all and would like to share it all. My lack of focus for one genre might be looked down upon by some, but I think selecting just one form of writing is far too binding. There’s room enough for all.


2. It occurs to me that I know almost nothing about your taste in music. So, top ten songs of all time, and a brief explanation as to why each is on the list.In no particular order:
"Moon River" (Henry Mancini) – I love movie soundtracks, especially soundscores. Mancini is one of the greatest movie music composers ever, and I cannot imagine Breakfast at Tiffany’s without this song. It’s by far one of my favorites.
"Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity" (Gustav Holst) – I don’t remember where I first found Holst’s The Planets, but it is great. “Jupiter” is probably the best summation of The Planets scope, but each movement is wonderful. Ethan Canin says it best: “The Planets is everything the great movie composers of the later part of this century would strive for, the grand wave of sound that sweeps us on…it is music that thrills the emotions, every single one of them.”
"Both Sides Now" (Joni Mitchell) – My first introduction to Mitchell was “Big Yellow Taxi,” which has been covered by several artists. It was listening to Mitchell’s 2000 recording of “Both Sides Now” that got me interested in her work. This was her second recording of the song, the first being from the 1960s. I haven’t heard the earlier version, but I think the age of her voice is what drives this song home for me. I’m not sure I’d like the other one as well.
Holiday in Spain (Counting Crows) – Hard Candy is the perfect summer driving album. I listened to this almost constantly a few summers ago, and “Holiday in Spain” was the track I kept revisiting. I’m a fan of the Counting Crows, especially live, so I had to put one of their songs in this list.
"Green and Gray" (Nickel Creek) – I connect with this song. It's hard to explain it any other way. I can't seem to describe what draws me to the song.
"Blackbird" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – "Blackbird" is about overcoming the things that hold you back. I lived in a rather deep depression for several years, and I found this song while still learning that I could take control of my life and determine how I perceive it. I didn't overcome depression because the sadness stopped but because I figured out how to rise above it. "Blackbird" is still very dear to me because of that.
"Make Them Hear You" (from Ragtime) – "Teach every child to raise his voice, and then my brothers, then, will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men." That sums it up, and those lyrics give me goosebumps every time I hear the song.
"Omnia Sol (Let Your Heart Be Staid) (Z. Randall Stroope) – The final scene of my potential novel "Fractured" plays out every time I hear this song. It's a choral piece that Tower Choir performed Fall 2006, and hearing it live is a zen-like experience.
"Me and Bobby McGee" Janis Joplin - I don't really have a good reason to list this song. It's one of the songs I downloaded because I heard part of it on "Scrubs." The version I downloaded is very quiet, but I always listen to it at least twice when it comes on. That has to mean something.


3. What is the biggest problem in the world today? There are many problems, yes, but which one is the biggest or most underlying of them all?
The biggest problem in the world? I'm not sure I have enough knowledge regarding any one problems to not end up sounding like another idiot on the internet, so I'm not going to try solving it. If forced to name one problem, I'd have to go with the extreme polarization of wealth in the world. The uber rich and the deathly poor. Something's messed up there.

4. Biggest pet peeve? (Not including people asking you what your biggest pet peeve is.)
Rude customers. I think Lynne Truss was onto something when she wrote Talk to the Hand. I need to pick up a copy.

5. This one is highly philosophical and potentially too convoluted to be fair, but I am honestly curious as to how you'll answer: Do you think morality is largely relative or largely universal? Why?
I believe morality is largely relative. I believe I could explain my specific viewpoint with some degree of clarity if I were not so tired. In the interest of saving you from a garbled answer, I will save the why for another time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dear Customer,

Although many of my coworkers do not understand proper grocery bagging procedure, I myself have a good grasp of proper guidelines for sacking your groceries. I do not find it necessary nor prudent to smash your bread, eggs or tomatoes simply because of my ineptitude regarding common sense. Furthermore, I attempt to follow the proper bagging procedures as outlined by the materials of which I am using.

The proper response to receiving a full bag of groceries which you cannot apparently lift but is not over-packed is, "These bags are too heavy for me. Can you please sack them more lightly?" The appropriate response is not, "These bags are too heavy; they are going to break." The bags in which I have sacked your groceries are designed to carry a specific weight, and, barring manufacturing anomalies, will indubitably carry the weight of materials they are designed for. I would not deliberately place your groceries in a sack that could not handle the weight intended.

Additionally, although it is my utmost duty to provide you with prompt, efficient service, this does not translate into making sure you will never have to wait in line. There are certain duties I must carry out as a manager of this retail establishment that will draw me away from the registers. Because you have to wait in line longer than 10 seconds does not translate into poor service. If you would like to experience poor service, I will refer you to our competitors.

As myself and fellow employees provide you with exemplary service, please remember that we are fellow human beings. When we greet you with a friendly smile and salutation, we expect a response. Simply ignoring our attempts to be cordial exacerbate our poor morale. We do not expect you to be pleasant every time you visit our store, but common courtesy does dictate acknowledging our existence. You get angry when we do not converse with you. Please do not try to establish some sort of double standard.

In conclusion, work in the service industry mandates a certain expectation that some members of the population will be unappreciative of our efforts, but any recognition on our behalf is greatly appreciated. We do not expect endless praise and adulation, but appreciation and acknowledgement of our status as fellow human beings is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

The Management


Sometimes retail really gets to me...
Dear Hy-Vee Customer,


Although many of my coworkers do not understand proper grocery bagging procedure, I myself have a good grasp of proper guidelines for sacking your groceries. I do not find it necessary nor prudent to smash your bread, eggs or tomatoes simply because of my ineptitude regarding common sense. Furthermore, I attempt to follow the proper bagging procedures as outlined by the materials of which I am using.


The proper response to receiving a full bag of groceries which you cannot apparently lift but is not overpacked is, "These bags are too heavy for me. Can you please sack them more lightly?" The appropriate response is not, "These bags are too heavy; they are going to break." The bags in which I have sacked your groceries are designed to carry a specific weight, and, barring manufacturing anomalies, will indubitably carry the weight of materials they are designed for. I would not deliberately place your groceries in a sack that could not handle the weight intended.


Additionally, although it is my utmost duty to provide you with prompt, efficient service, this does not translate into making sure you will never have to wait in line. There are certain duties I must carry out as a manager of this retail establishment that will draw me away from the registers. Because you have to wait in line longer than 10 seconds does not translate into poor service. If you would like to experience poor service, I will refer you to our competitors.


As myself and fellow employees provide you with exemplary service, please remember that we are fellow human beings. When we greet you with a friendly smile and salutation, we expect a response. Simply ignoring our attempts to be cordial exacerbate our poor morale. We do not expect you to be pleasant every time you visit our store, but common courtesy does dictate acknowleding our existence. You get angry when we do not converse with you. Please do not try to establish some sort of double standard.


In conclusion, work in the service industry mandates a certain expecation that some members of the population will be unappreciative of our efforts, but any recognition on our behalf is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I was offered a dried fig by a customer this evening at work. I graciously accepted because I was on hour seven of my shift and had not had a break. As I chewed on the sweet, leathery piece of fruit, he explained that he was purchasing the figs to teach a Sunday school class about Jesus and fig trees.

I nodded, and thought about my own religious views. The Buddha found Enlightenment sitting under the Bodhi, or Sacred Fig, tree. It's funny how simple things like figs can link two religions and each side can keep from offending each other. It was a brief conversation, which is to be expected at the grocery store checkout, but I felt it was a symbolic reconciliation of my personal ill feelings toward Christianity. He wasn't talking about his religion, he was talking about his life.

I haven't written in a long time. Most of that is because I couldn't focus long enough to write. Even now, I'm not working on my story, but at least I'm writing.

I miss the ocean. The weather this afternoon was warm and breezy. As I wheeled a cart full of groceries to a customer's car, I thought today was perfect. The only thing that was missing was the smell of salt in the air. Summer is finally on its way, and this is my favorite time of the season.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I would very much like to be here. That's all I have right now. Hopefully that's not all I have.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane. - Phillip K. Dick

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Directions: If your life was a movie, what would the soundtrack be? So, here's how it works:
1. Open your music library
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press Play.
4. For every question, type the song that's playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the Next button.
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool.
7. Don't skip songs.

My Movie:
(1)Opening credits: "To Peaceful Days” Norikazu Miura
(2)Waking up: "Theme of a Moonlit Night
(3)First day at school: "[Untitled]” Smashing Pumpkins
(4)Fight song: "A Prayer to My Mother” Miki Higashino
(5)Breaking up: "Wedding” Nobuo Uematsu
(6)Happiness: "Singing Princess” Shrek soundscore
(7)Life's okay: "Celadon Sea” Masahiko Kimura
(8)Mental breakdown: "Afterglow” Kyler England
(9)Driving: "The Mopping Song” Family Guy
(10)Flashback: "Machina Faction” Noriko Matsueda & Takahito Eguchi
(11)Getting back together: "The Dream Within” Lara Fabian
(12)Wedding: "Smooth Criminal” Alien Ant Farm
(13)Birth of a child: "Breathe” Sixpence None the Richer
(14)Final battle: "Spongebob SquarePants Theme”
(15)Death scene: "Distant Journey” Norikazu Miura
(16)Funeral song: "Enemy Attack” Miki Higashino
(17)End credits: "Symphonic Poem ‘Dance of Death’” Norikazu Miura

So I started out actually commenting on each of these, but as they became more ridiculous, I couldn’t help but leave them be. A lot of these seem like they fell into the wrong slots, but I find it very odd that out of the 2083 songs I have on my computer, I managed to pull 4 from the same artist. Granted, I do have 216 songs by this particular composer, but that’s because I collect good soundtracks from videogames and she’s been with a series for awhile. Nevertheless, I was tempted to start leaving them out because of all the repetition.

Oh well, it’s only a survey. It was a good waste of a few minutes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tonight, I'm battling something unidentified. It's just one of those moods. I haven't written or revised anything for almost one month. I've accepted the idea that I won't get in to any graduate schools and I'll stay in Maryville another year. True, an acceptance would be wonderful, but I also think rejection is something I need to experience. There are days I feel like the golden boy who always gets a yes. I'm not entirely sure I existed today. More drone than human. Luckily, I have this handy little document that reminds me of what the day to day can be. I wrote this as a list, but it seems like poetry tonight. I'm not looking for encouragement, just venting.

details of daily existence

tan pima cotton towels – soft, comforting, dry off after shower always forget my shoulders. shirt clings to wetness slowly drying.

wake up slowly. go back to sleep. lucid dreaming. I must write the resolution of my night. can sleep for hours more writing stories only for me. my mind a paper, my dreams in invisible ink. upon waking, fleeting memories. would write them down, but already written in my mind. unable to recall

turn on the shower, wander out of the bathroom to computer. check my email. check my online journal. check others’ online journals. always in order. when I wake up, I stretch my body to stand tall in the day. half sit up, twist and crack. my back like bubble wrap

I can’t write soul without writing sould. I usually just delete the d and move on with my life. even when writing by hand, I add a d. what does it mean. is it psychological or just an odd quirk. possible exploration.

I don’t wait to put on my shoes in the morning. I get dressed and throw on my shoes, even if I don’t plan on leaving my apartment in the near future. I can’t stand not wearing shoes. I put them on in the morning and usually wear them until I go to bed at night. I always tie my right shoe first. I’m right-footed, left-handed. I was one of the last in my class to tie my shoes. even now, I feel like I’m just faking my way through it and I’m not doing it right.

when I button my shirt, I button the highest button I want to button and then the lowest button. fill in the middle. it’s like tracing the borders of a coloring book before filling them with color.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I don't have a lot to post about these days. I'm trying to be positive, but I feel like I'm on hold. This has become my theme song in the meantime. I'm not the only one awaiting news, and to honest with you, I'd rather get bad news than have my friend receive it instead. Like I said, patience is something I need to practice.

Waiting for My Real Life to Begin/Colin Hay

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Top Five Books, as determined at 12:27 a.m. 1-31-07 (subject to change at any time)

1. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami
2. The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
3. Kafka on the Shore - Murakami
4. The Hundred Secret Senses - Amy Tan
5. Housekeeping - Marylinne Robinson

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I visited two entirely contrasting self-images of my writing early this morning. I'm anxious to hear back from graduate schools on my acceptance status, and I've been trying to find out exactly when I should expect news, so I did a blog search, ending up on a site that listed the rate of acceptance for one of my schools at a measly 3.3%. Without having been officially rejected, I took it as a major blow to my chances. However, I also found an email in my Hotmail inbox informing me of a MySpace comment on my blog there. (It's the same thing as the previous entry, but I felt like generating some activity on my account). A college art professor had happened across my mini-essay on Batik, and he commented on my musings. He said he really liked what I had to say and asked if he could use my philsophy when he taught Batik in his classes. He also gave me a couple of suggestions on things to add in possible revisions. It was a nice feeling.

I'm working my way into writing more on my story this evening. I've already donned my writing attire, and I'm all set for a nice creative spree. So I'll leave you with just a short lyric fragment from my current artist I'm listening to. I'm not 100% sure what makes David Ford so appealing, but he speaks to me right now. It's probably the season.

David Ford - Song For The Road

So you can keep your belief in whatever
I'll wear my cynicism like a tattoo
While poets try to engineer definitions of love
You know all I can think of is you

Monday, January 22, 2007

Batik—the art of drawing on cloth with hot wax, filling in color, and melting the wax away.

It’s funny how we define our lives in this same manner. We draw out our lines, setting boundaries where things don’t mix, can’t cross. We spend our lives filling in those spots. Adding our own experiences as we see them. Sometimes the dye saturates the cloth, beads up at the edges, and we brush it away, staining our hands with vivid color.

It’s only toward the end when we desire to melt those barriers—regrets of a life with fixed boundaries, unbending will, stubborn resistance to change. We talk about altering ourselves, but the wax remains imbedded within us, rejecting the new no matter how hard we try to integrate it.

We are creatures of habit, out barriers forming our lives, enclosing our experiences. Sometimes I wish to melt that wax away, to let blue bleed into green into red, to recolor my life on a different canvas before the wax has time to cool.

I'm having trouble writing lately. Every time I sit down at the computer, I get distracted, and I can't gain the focus to actually create. Even this blog has suffered from my lack of drive. My only way of posting seems to be dredging up old musings and slapping them onto the page. Maybe I'm just taking myself too seriously. I'll admit that I'm a bit afraid of my writing. In my mind, I have prepared myself for four rejection letters to come in the next few months. In retrospect, I really should have applied to more schools, but I'm having trouble setting my goals lower than ideal.

I settled on my undergraduate study, and I really regret doing that. I should have changed my major and stuck around longer, but I had my eyes trained on the exit sign. Now I feel like I'm standing outside of some immensely popular nightclub just hoping the bouncer will let me sneak in and mingle with the writers I want to become.

In the meantime, I really need to work on my story. One of the final scenes always plays itself out while I listen to one song. I really want to write it now, but I'm not even close to an ending, and I don't want to set a finish line that my story might not cross. Patience, my friend, is something I'm short on these days. Patience is the one thing I really need to practice.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nothing new, something old

7. Insomnia on the streets of east side St. Louis

The neighbors used to laugh when I’d take Mr. Boots out for a stroll. Apparently it’s a pretty rare sight to see someone walking their cat on the east side. I guess I was somewhat ashamed too. That’s why I started going on our walks later and later each night.
As the thugs wheeled through the neighborhood, they didn’t seem to bother us. I guess that’s partially because I killed the local gang lord when he mocked me.
Yep, we walked those dark streets like we were invincible. I blinged out Mr. Boot’s collar, and no one challenged us. We ruled the sidewalk.
It’s kind of funny, you’d think the streets of east side St. Louis would be more dangerous at night, but Mr. Boots feared the sky.
Nothing knocks Mr. Boots out like sunlight, and his afternoon naps left him wide open for a coup.
But Mr. Boots was smart, street smart. He knew how to stay safe, but it was just a matter of time before he slipped up.
Mr. Boots always had a thing for the nip—catnip, that is. One afternoon, someone lured him to the sidewalk with a baggy full of the good stuff. Poor guy never saw the man with the gun.
I still stay up late—too later—and roam the east side. I just can’t sleep until that sunlight hits my body.
I tried to replace Mr. Boots, but Waddles the hamster was never one for walks. Sure, he’d roll around in that diamond-studded ball, but he kept getting stuck in the gutters. I finally gave up and put him in a cage by the window.
I walk alone now, but I wear Mr. Boot’s collar on my wrist. After all, you gotta represent.