Friday, August 29, 2008

A Phony Pose

There was a picture of my brother Dan on my old phone that always confused me.  The upstairs of our house looks like this: you walk up the stairs, and to the right is my mom and dad’s room.  Across from you is the bathroom my brothers and I share.  If you venture down the hall to your left a bit, the end of it splits into three rooms—my room, my brothers’ room, and the office.  I took this picture at Dan’s request.  I was standing in my room and he in his, and he stuck his head and nothing else around the corner of our two rooms.  The picture is merely his head floating in a sideways manner—not floating, maybe—rather, like the Romans defeated him in battle and stuck his head on a stake in the wooden trim outside their bedroom, as a warning to any foreigners and as a boasting to any natives.  I suppose, with the Romans, it could also work vice versa.  It doesn’t help that imagined battle cause that his tongue is stuck out and his eyes are googley.  Dan, at 11, ingeniously and unknowingly brought the ancient world into this piece of writing. 

He is always doing things like that—things that I have a hard time believing because he has been considered semi-dull-minded by my family and I (and his school) since his birth; things that probably aren’t even true.  Not that Dan’s knowledge of ancient Roman culture even has the merest possibility to be true.  But in that moment, through the savvy glimmer in his eyes and the placement of his tongue; the pale Sunday afternoon sunlight shimmering through the window of the office in the background; my brother’s illegal Myspace page pulled up on the screen of the desktop, or some other site equally forbidden to my brothers; Dan almost seems as clever as a college professor. 

I remember taking it and laughing at the ridiculousness of this pose that he threw together at the last second before the shutter snapped.  Ever since then I have always done a double take when I scroll through the pictures on my phone.  That phone is in the trash bag beside me now.  Soon the picture will be solely in my mind, but no less phony.

This was our assignment to describe an image we had in our minds in great detail.  I guess when I started writing this, it ended up a lot more substantial than I had planned.  I've never been able to write about descriptive details without pulling some sort of hidden meaning from them.  I can't wait to learn more about how to start a short story.  Off for a great weekend of camping!  I'm also hoping to do some writing out there.

Not laboring on Labor Day,


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Nonfiction Part

Today we read our Personal Intros for the class.  It was really exciting because my teacher is from Omaha!  We talked about it.  Since he didn't give us any guidelines for this assignment (write a personal introduction--one page), I did what I wanted to do.  As my first writing for the class, I wanted to make it incredibly good but I didn't have the time to edit it as much as I would have liked.  Here it is:

My Person (al Introduction)

Here I sit on my “can I get the cheapest one” firm twin bed in an apartment room that is slowly and cozily becoming my own.  I just moved in here.  I just moved in to this stage of my life.  In some ways it feels like my first week of college.  I’ve been here for a year, but I’ve never devoted all of my time to things I am in love with, until now.

As has anyone who has ever taken a class in the humanities or health education, applied for a customer service job, or taken advice from a guidance counselor, I have found it entirely impossible to tell anyone about myself.  Who am I?  How did I get to where I am?  Who influenced the person I am today?  What are at least two skills that make me special?  These questions lead me to one thing only: lying.  Lying prettily. 

The most I can do in the situation of this assignment is not to lie, but to give you a few scrawny details about my life.  I am Omaha bred and Alaska bound.  Recently I have been twisted by tightening feelings of homesickness and panic that I will never be at home again for an extended period of time.  My mother is an English teacher and frustratingly savvy.  My stepfather is a drummer and is always researching careers in hippie-dom.  Conrad and Dan are my little brothers—Conrad the sly one who talks like a grownup and Dan the green teen who hides his acne with his hair and taught me a new game where he pretends there is a mosquito on my face and then punches me.  As a family we dream along with my stepdad of salmon fishing in Alaska and starting a tradition of oyster stew on New Year’s. 

My father is difficult but in a boring way and sent me the same Valentine’s Day card two years in a row.  But we are working things out.

I am not a born-again Christian, but an all-growing, all-grateful one.  I believe in Evangelism but only a little bit.  A recent struggle in my life has been sticking to my Catholic roots while being highly involved in a Protestant church.

One thing I can tell you in earnest that has been a part of me all my 19 years is music.  Through it I reach that point of indecisive, luminescent, breathless exuberance like being surrounded by only clouds of a silvery-bluish color and feeling as if you are rising to an unknown but utterly happy destination.  Through it I plunge through ragged tendons of heartache down past my knees and ankles.  But it always rescues me again.

Aside from these details, I can only think to tell you what I’m doing as I write this—a less warped insight into my person.  My decorations are hanging out on the floor in a pile as they have yet to be hung up—figurines scavenged from dumpsters, a foam robot, a crossed out doodle I found in my best friend’s room, the ball of blue painter’s tape we peeled from the border on the wall when we repainted our dorm.  My laptop is hot on my legs and I have to pee but I have no intention of getting up to fix any of that.  I have gone back and forth worrying if having the window open in my room is really a terrible hindrance to the air conditioning in the hall.  There is a collection of Hitchcock tapes on my bookshelf that I have never seen, and a collection of books the shelves below that I have never read.  I am comforted by the smell of my roommate painting her toenails in the next room.

I rub my eyes for the two-hundredth time.  I take a sip of the lukewarm water on my nightstand.  I go to sleep.  I look forward to the morning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Things First

"This is in the wrong notebook with the wrong pen.  The wrong color too.  Writing is like answering my notebook's plea to be filled, to have its points asserted with pressure the way a pen does, to reflect something, anything, even if it is a reflection on itself.  Paper is good, pens are good.  The tools of so many years."

Last night, after reading a bit of "The Writing Process" for my Intro to Fiction class, an ambition pushed past my numbing tiredness and coughed this up on paper.  Peggy gave me the idea to publish stuff to Blogger from my class, so I thought I would only start with the first thing to be created since my first day yesterday.  I see a million things I could edit, but you get the version in the raw.  Kind of.  I think there is something better and more organic about that.

Choir is back.  As I listened to my friend's story of how she just changed her major to music and saw the earnest glisten of excitement and complete, relieved joy in her eyes, I thought of my toils last semester and of the feeling I got singing again yesterday--a feeling of purpose and solidity, a kind of rising up into the air with each inhalation at the end of a phrase, a connection with God where I thanked him with every gracious part of me for showing me my duty and place in life.  Not everyone knows that and I believe I do.  

The coffee is great and the catbird is chirping,

Friday, August 8, 2008

In Two Month's Passing,

I figured it was time to blog again.  Well, I figured that a long time ago, but the summer found me somewhat constipated on the blogging front.  Whenever I miss a long period of time, I always feel like I have to recap everything, and then I get overwhelmed. That means that almost every post I make has a "recap" feel to it.

The other day, I joked with my stepdad about how he is a man of many unsolved mysteries, or, rather, unattempted ambitions, such as salmon fishing in Oregon or making oyster stew the family's New Year's tradition.  He laughed but responded with genuine trying words, and today we sat outside for a while planning a salmon-fishing trip for next summer.  As it turns out, the Kenai River in Alaska is a hot spot (or cold spot) for catching sockeye salmon, apparently the most delicious salmon in existence.  God never ceases to tickle my world with little signs, it seems.  I have been, bit by bit, shooting for Alaska next summer.  I hope to get a job singing in a chorus or something of that nature (haha, nature) in a city and camping my brains out the rest of the time.  Now my stepdad is working on fulfilling his fishing dream for our family, and the road seems to point to Alaska.  If I lived there next summer, I could easily meet them for a week and we'd all camp and fish together.  A lofty goal but one with a ladder.

I can't even try to describe to you what the summer has done for me.  Those of you who went through it with me have probably heard a portion of it in some roundabout way, or perhaps directly.  I can't even describe it in my own journal.  It's been an accumulation of people I've met, the biology class I took, the opportunities and avenues I've been dropped off at by some of the best companions I've ever known.  It's been the summer of a lifetime, and it's led me to strive for dematerialization at its very best. 

Another loft, but with God as my sturdy ladder, there's no way I can't reach it.

Breathing deep,