Tag Archives: writing

I am Houdini and I wrote words

So it looks a lot like I disappeared, but actually I have just been writing paper, upon paper, on paper. So now I am done, and I am excited to share some small pieces from some of my papers from my non-fiction class. So here are the excerpts, and pictures (cause everything is less boring when you put photos with it.)

This is the first paper I wrote on bees/ yellow jackets:

(I made this cartoon awhile ago and felt like it fit.)

The yellow jacket chew wood fibers and make their nest with the paper-like substance they create. This member of the wasp family builds their nests in trees, shrubs, attics, hollow walls, and flooring.

When I was seven I had this reoccurring dream. I was lying in bed and when I looked up a gumball machine sat in the middle of my room. It was taller than me and was a glowing beacon in the dimly lit room. I would walk up to the machine, put in a quarter, and spin the silver knob. The gumball would twist and turn down the tubes and when I would open the metal flap a bee would fly out. Not a gumball at all.

I had this dream for weeks. My mom and dad brushed it aside as irrational nightmares. A week later, my mom was doing laundry and washed my bedding. Between my mattress and my sheets lay a small collection of pellets. Upon further inspection, it was noted that these were dead yellow jackets.

They had entered through a small hole in the floorboard, where they must have built a home. The solution, courtesy of my father, was to stuff a piece of the newspaper into the hole. It solved the problem. I never found anymore yellow jackets dead in my bed, and the dreams of the gumball machine became less frequent, then just stopped. Although the yellow jackets no longer entered my dreams my feeling of safety had been shaken. I was paranoid and suspicious and no amount of newspaper could change that….

_________

So yeah, that was about yellow jackets. This is another one about a childhood nightmare:

(I put this picture of my cat, cause I mention his green eyes in this.)

I am an information withholder. I am skilled at taking valuable, pertinent pieces of information and never mentioning them again. In my case, I do it for my own personal benefit. I can’t handle the stress of telling anyone anything. I do it because I am sensitive to others sensitivities and I dare not throw possibly damaging or depressing information into their personal lives.

I used to have a reoccurring nightmare. I would be in my house in search of attention from some family member. I would first trot down the stairs into the dining room of our house. There my dad sat at our round pink table, reading the newspaper. I could only see my father’s fingers and a small tuft of gray hair peeking out over the top. When I greeted my dad, he slowly looked over the paper. His eyes weren’t his usual pale blue. Instead they were a sharp piercing green, the same color as my cat’s. He would stare at me for a few seconds, his eyes filled with anger and aggression. He would look back at his newspaper, while I scurried along, trying to find my brother.

Brendan sat at his computer, staring deeply into his big bulky CRT monitor. I began asking him if he knew what had happened to Dad’s eyes. He turned towards me, scowling, his eyes a matching set to my father’s.

Next, I went to my mother who was in the kitchen cooking over the stove. I began crying, asking her what had happened to the eyes of my brother and father. She stirred a large pot, then looked at me with the same intense green eyes that plagued her husband and son.

I ran out the back door on to the deck, and dashed down the three steps to the brick walkway. When I turned around, taking a last look at my home, I saw my dad standing on the porch only a few feet away. In his hands was a large shotgun pointed straight at me. I stood there stunned my gaze shifting from my dad’s green eyes and the barrel of the gun. I would awaken to a gun shot, mid-scream with sweat pouring down my face.

Fully conscious I would walk to my parents’ room with tears still filling my eyes and quietly snuggle underneath my mother’s arm, keeping her awake with my constant squirms. My dad lay on the other side of the bed, sleeping deeply.

I never told my family the details of this dream. When I would try to explain the nightmare I would tell them of the green eyes and their distinctive tasks, but I never brought up the gun. Cause the gun was scary, and no eight year old should be dreaming of their father shooting them. It doesn’t seem to say the right thing about a father-daughter relationship. So controlled by fear of my families sensitivities I withheld my dream….

_________

 This one is about my cousin:
(this photo relates with nothing in this essay, i just wanted to keep up with the pattern.)

My cousin has always been cooler than me. And not just like, “Oh she is popular in school and I’m not.” But more like “Wow, I didn’t know people could do that many cool things in one lifetime.”

My cousin was a model. She travelled around the world doing photo shoots anywhere and everywhere.

Every time my mom and I would enter the supermarket we would search through the hair dyes with the green labels to find her face. She would be between Sangria and Chocolate Caramel or Truffle and Almond. Her deep brown hair glistened in the fluorescent light.

Being a model sounded like a nightmare when I was around eleven, and there was nothing I could have wanted less. I was deep in my awkward phase. My bangs curled up into something the kind referred to as cowlicks. It was also at that time that I vowed to never wear a dress ever.   The idea of people taking photos of me sounded like some form of prostitution, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

But when I hit sixteen, I felt differently. I had lengthened and had also gained a new appreciation for dresses. But most of all I saw America’s Next Top Model. Every week was a new challenge: walk across a tightrope— while looking good; run on a treadmill— while looking good; pose with a snake— while looking good. It sounded like a dream adventure all done while looking good. I wondered if my cousin had ever had a photo shoot in the middle of the desert like Tyra did. I would clunk around my room in my one set of heels while practicing my audition tape in the mirror.

_________

This one I wrote about playing the Sims (ps. I am not lame.):
(it happens… but also, I didn’t take this photo.)

“A Sim’s facial features are customizable and unique, and Sims can smile, frown, and blink. The player can adjust a Sim’s features in the in-game Create-a-Sim tool; for example, noses can be made to be very large or very small.” (wikipedia)

This new ability to make Sims with matching characteristics to myself appealed to me. I made my family, and had them live in a house I built to look exactly like my own. I had simulation me marry a simulation of my high school crush and our Sim doubles had kids. My bedroom turned into the nursery.

Simulation Kendra, had one child, quickly followed by triplets. Simulation Kendra, ended up having sleepless nights and in a short amount of time became crazy. She was in an aspirational failure and she would see the mirage of a therapist. A fire burned down the kitchen, and there was barely enough simulation money to pay for the damages. At the same time the simulation relationship between her simulation parents and her simulation self was on the edge. Soon her simulation parents reached their 90 days and both died. Leaving her alone at home with a collection of children while her husband worked. In my simulation life the feminist movement was in retrograde.

I never made the Sims be me again. Watching my parents die, my house burn down, and my sanity squelched was enough to turn me off the game for a while. When I returned I carefully noted the line between real life and fiction.

_________

 I wrote more, but I think they are some of the worst/ strangely compiled things ever. So I won’t show them to you… ever.
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Damn.. that house is old

So I may not like the TV show This Old House, but I do really like old houses. Which is why I loved this poem my mom sent me earlier today:

Houses

by Rachel Field
I like old houses best, don’t you?
They never go cluttering up the view
With roofs too red and paint too new,
With doors too green and blinds too blue!
The old ones look as if they grew,
Their bricks may be dingy, their clapboards askew
From sitting so many seasons through,
But they’ve learned in a hundred years or two
Not to go cluttering up the view.
That’s a picture I took last November of the chipping paint on my house. I think the best part of old houses is the chipping paint. Perhaps because of the disproportionate amount of lead paint chips I ate as a child.

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A blog post I did for Vacation Home Rentals. Part of a summer series.

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Just finished When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. Very, very funny.

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While avoiding..

reading for a class I found this when looking through some old writing on my computer. I wrote this about seven months ago, when the summer heat was stifling. Oh, seasons!

The Grapes, and then the Wrath

The hot summer days remind me of a life I have never lived. I am a wanderer, in a time way before my own and all I have are the worn out boots on my feet. All I know is what I have learned. I am everything I would like to be now without even trying.

My hair hangs in long braids. I have a thin layer of dirt covering my skin. My slouchy white shirt hangs off one shoulder. My brown pants are covered in mud stains, that if washed away would reveal grass stains. I wear black boots that lace up and are purely utilitarian. 

I sit for hours on train tracks waiting to feel the vibrations that will lead me to my next location. I bathe in rivers, pretending the rushing water is a replacement for soap. I sit around a fire and fall asleep to the constant chirp of cicadas.

But at some point the fantasy ends. I ask myself what would I eat. I don’t think any interpretation of myself would be able to cook up a rabbit I snared in the forest. The beauty of my story ends here. I am no longer hitching rides on trains, but instead selling my body for money for a decent meal. I end up pregnant and marrying some widowed drunkard who is just happy to have someone look after his six kids. I spend the rest of my days tied down to a reality so grim it can barely be dreamed up. So here I lie on my bed thinking about how the heat isn’t as bad as making fried dough that can’t feed all 9 starving children.

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What I Try to Touch

What I Try to Touch

Something beautiful my friend wrote.

katrinatea:

Once,
I let a kitten sleep in the crook of my arm
and another wrapped around my neck
a genuine fur scarf.
She smelled like unwashed sheets
and something not unpleasantly animal.

Now,
When one loose hair tickles the inside of my elbow
or when dust sinks teeth in my nose,
just before I sleep because there is nothing else to do
I am reminded of this ghost of a good thing.

There was the Barfuss Park too,
in the Schwarzwald
which I still feel between my toes
mud making mountains 
the dents on the bottom of my feet
hot cinnamon air
melting thickly in the mouth

When my mother holds my hand
I am four
and in the grocery store
She hums the tune her mother hummed
and her mother hummed
I hear it now.
I am slipping her earrings out 
as I sit in her lap
my fingers whisper so softly
that she doesn’t feel.

This morning I felt age in my neck.
My pillow is too thick – I should replace it.
My dreams are drizzle
cold and constant.

When the water pushes me with gentle,
insistent hands
I reach for these things.

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An essay of mine..

got me cash money. So here it is.

Incidents in the Life of a Jalopy

In “Arcadia”, by Tom Stoppard, the table is seen throughout every scene. Over time objects accumulate on the table with no bounds of time to hold them back. On this table, books on gardening, grouse, and geometrics from the early 19th century sit by the computer of the 20th. Few objects are ever removed from this table. Instead objects are constantly added, but they seamlessly fit into the separate centuries. The table stands as a metaphor that information and objects can only be acquired, yet never destroyed. This table is the perfect vehicle for this idea, but it is not the only way we can see the amalgamation of objects in time. 

I was 16 when I got my license and with my license I also received what every sixteen year old dreams of… a creepy white van. With the white paint chipped off, the sides rusted, and the back windows well-tinted, this car was, and still is, the epitome of a hand-me-down. My grandpop bought the Plymouth Voyager in 1994, back when the minivan was in its heyday and could be found in every generic parking lot across the U.S. My grandpop died in 2000, so my dad inherited the Voyager still in peak condition. By the time my brother got his act together enough to get his license he was in his third year of college, and the Voyager wasn’t getting much use at home, so he brought it with him to UMass Amherst. Two years later, northern Massachusetts had lost some of its sparkle and my brother was off to New York City, leaving the car to me.

By the time I received the Plymouth Voyager it had gone through three owners. Just like the table in Arcadia, my van became the means for looking into the past. The van could compile objects that represented each driver while remaining unnoticed, unseen. 

When grandpop died, everything inside stayed exactly the same. My dad loved his father-in-law and wanted to keep the memory of him alive, so the Plymouth Voyager remained unchanged with only minor additions. My memories of my grandpop remind me of the things he kept in his van. His love of the beach, but despise of the sand is embodied by the koala bear in the Hawaiian T-shirt that still clings to the sun visor. His enthusiasm for his Polish heritage stands on the dashboard, with the wide-winged Polish falcon. His belief in small time bribery are seen sunbathing in the back window, declaring themselves in the form of stickers from police organizations he donated to throughout the 90s.

My dad added a minimal amount of things to the collecting car. His Bob Dylan cassettes found a home next to my grandfathers polka music. My dad is an extremely planned and rational man who finds excess disturbing. All of my dad’s additions were for a reason. He added an extra key to hide under the van, just in case he got locked out. He put in a new set of jumper cables and a flashlight in a backseat compartment. All of these items appear to be less frivolous, and more essential. These objects describe my father as a man who does not believe in possessions, but instead in preparedness. 

My brother was the next to own the van, and although he owned it the least amount of time, he added the most to the “table”. He, unlike my dad, is a collector, constantly gathering old, unwanted trinkets during his travels. His changes to the van tell us mountains about his personality. He removed the two back seats to avoid giving people rides. The empty void in the back was filled, with stray items found on the side of the road. Old, vintage Kennedy and Nixon buttons he found at a thrift store were added to the sun visor. Action figures were glued to the dashboard. I cleaned out the van when I first got it and filled a paper bag with all the miscellaneous items. Everyday I meant to take the paper bag into the house, but it slipped to the back of my mind.  Over the weeks the paper bag moved further to the back of the van, starting out in the passengers seat, drifting to the back seats, and then residing in its final resting place, the small crawl space of a trunk. The van acts like a black hole. Anything can enter, but nothing can ever leave. 

Although I knew the van was mine it took time for me to feel the confidence to make any real changes in the multi-generational vehicle. After a week I realized that trash has an ability to aggregate, making my first addition to the van an old K-mart bag that’s handles slung between the two armrests. I decided then that this van was not just a table for others memories, but also a table for my own. Previously, I had forced myself to sit in silent solitude while I drove through my daily errands. The van’s antenna couldn’t pick up anything but crackles of distant voices and the tape player ate everything it came in contact with. Although I became accustomed to the spitting sounds of the exhaust and whining of wheels, I knew that something had to change. I took out the old soundless stereo system and replaced it with some stereo at Best Buy. This change gave me new life; this van was finally mine. I could finally blast the songs I wanted, even though the polka cassettes sat idly underneath the passenger seat. The van is mine now, but it still remains my grandpop’s, and my dad’s, and my brother’s. It is our van.

This Plymouth Voyager has been my family’s “table”. We have placed objects in the van that resemble ourselves and our lives. Every generation in this vans history tells us about the people who have driven it. As Septimus said, “We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms.” But instead of carrying everything in our arms, we have chosen to carry our objects in our 7-seater van.

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