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,



breezylucia said...

this is how it went...
"'A Phony Pose,' that's so funny...oh! that's so phony!"


Candace said...

haha it's even better because it is on your phone. phoney.
i read your introduction and almost cried. it was so good, i read it again. i wish i could read it not knowing your family, but it made me laugh more because i felt like you put to words what i couldn't because i don't know them quite well enough.
this class is going to be so good for your brain.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you should totally develop this piece. There is a ton of stuff here. Most of this comment is going to give you suggestions for development because I really think you should.

The first paragraph was your description, and it was really great. You describe a seemingly normal situation, but quickly give it weight, making it much more than a moment in time or a moment from your past. You give it weight when you start talking about the Romans. From there, the reader knows you are going to do something special with this scene. I loved how you transitioned into your second paragraph as well. It was genius.

The second paragraph was your reflection of the picture and the day (this paragraph/reflection is what makes the aforementioned moment more than a moment, because you grasp at the truth illustrated through it). This paragraph is where you really have to explore your own mind, thoughts, feelings about Dan. This is where the expansion of the piece should come.

The whole "Dan has been considered semi-dull minded by your family" has probably affected your family and you, so I am sure there is a ton of reflection you could do here that you didn't quite get to in your piece (I do realize that you probably were working with page limits, so these are just ideas for expanding the piece).

In any case, you could explore the fact that he may be considered dull-minded, but what is that really? Dull-minded by whose standards? He obviously has some glimpses of cleverness, so how does that work with dull-mindedness? Or, if it is always phony cleverness, or accidental cleverness, how does that shape your perception of him? Are you proud of him in those moments? Do you laugh and take it in stride? Are you sad about it because he has offered something smart that gives you false hope of his mind, but then you realize that it was in fact accidental? How does that realization make you view Dan? Do you wish Dan realized that he brought the ancient world into your writing, or are you ok with the ignorance? Big sisters are protective of their little brothers (how does this play into it?) Maybe these questions don't quite hit your feelings on the subject. What questions would?

You do reflect on the situation, but I did not finish the piece knowing how you really feel about it, or about Dan and his mind. Once again, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but I just finished this piece wanting more. I want to know more about Dan and you and your relationship because there seems like a ton of untapped emotion there. It is good that I want more. It means you are doing your job as a writer. Sometimes, you should leave the reader wanting more, but I think you could still let the reader into your life more and produce a very satisfying piece.

So, should you decide to develop this piece, I definitely want to read it! Once again, sorry for taking up so much room.