Recently, at work, a few of us got together and practiced our creative writing skills. The prompt? We assigned our partner a song, and each person was to write a short story somehow related to the song. This could be by simply taking the title and utilizing it, or trying to capture the essence of the song in our story.
I received “Why Don’t you Save Me?”, by Kan Wakan. The story’s length was supposed to be around 500 words, which I somehow managed to keep under.
The girl sits in the room full of purple tulips crunching on ice. Each clash of her bright teeth makes the oxidized white metal chair quiver in pain, especially where her left hand grips its latticed seat. Sound vibrates and then stops, absorbed by the foliage around her feet – encased in hundreds of water filled vases. The air smells softly of decay, dust, and sweat. The sound of a shutter makes Violet startle; a flash of disgust crosses her face as she deliberately grinds another ice cube and places the glass on the white metal table. Condensation drips down and adds to the pool of water around the glass’ base. She wraps her bare feet around the inside of the chair’s legs and looks up. The shutter snaps.
“Are we done? I’m tired.” Violet’s loose white dress grazes her collarbones and billows out, barely covering her knees. Her skin blushes rose wherever it makes contact with the fabric and at the end of all extremities. The pintucks waterfall down her front and the entire cotton ensemble, in stark contrast to the expression on her face, creates an angelic picture. Twisting her face with scorn she lobbs an ice cube out of her cold mouth towards the shutter sound.
“I hate this room. I don’t care how much you pay me, I hate it.”
“Why don’t you leave, then?”
“You know very well I can’t,” Violet answers, almost incredulously. “I have a contract.” She gulps another ice cube and continues crunching.
“Then shut up and smile. I can’t take good pictures when you look like a demon.” Violet looks away and down as the shutter snaps.
“Did you know that they used to make purple from sea snails?” Using her free hand, Violet reaches down to touch a tulip. Her black hair cascades off her shoulder, partially obscuring her face, completing a line that runs from her hand enclosing the wet glass, across her bare arms to her downcast eyes and ending with her pink-tipped fingers on the flower. The shutter snaps.
“Crushing the snails makes a dye, purple, like this.” She picks up a flower and holds it out. The shutter snaps. Methodically Violet starts to crush the flower, looking coldly in the camera’s direction. The shutter snaps once, twice, and again.
“Tyrian Purple,” she said.
“The color from the molluscs!”
“Just shut up.”
“I hate you.” Violet kicks the tulips closest to her chair. The shutter snaps. She pushes her chair so that it falls behind her, shattering vases on its way down. The shutter snaps. Next the table seems to overturn almost on it’s own as Violet throws her glass of water against a wall. Breathing heavily, her hand somehow bleeding, her hair flat and stringy against her face, Violet stands amid the chaos. The shutter snaps one last time.
“There, finally, a picture worth keeping. You can leave.”
As a girl born and raised in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a rural and beautiful area dictated by seasons, I feel intensely the discomfort of this warm Bay Area pseudo-winter. As a child, though spring was short and summer ruled with a molten fist that blazed into fire at the slightest provocation, at least we used to have winter. I’m a bit worried for this year.
A golden summer a few years ago.
TO CALIFORNIA IN DROUGHT
Riding in a maze of neon lights,
I try to fall asleep to the memory of springs past,
Now that it’s once again sunny and warm in the San Francisco Bay area, I decided to post a poem I wrote during colder times, that small section of chilly winds, drizzly rain, and overcast skies during November we like to call winter.
THE SPARE KEY
Japanese Curry Bread! the recipe screams.
Getting excited I text Ryan, at work, the link.
“Let’s make that tonight” he says, “we have most of the ingredients.”
Taking stock, my list goes like this:
consomme powder – a substance to be discovered upon arrival
olive oil, store brand
I’m happy. I don’t usually grocery shop by myself.
Like a bird, the colors and bright packaging both scare and delight me
so that when I get home I rarely have what I need;
instead, disoriented with junk food –
I’m not to be trusted.
Today I have a list, an errand to be helpful, and a car!
I pack my bag and as a treat decide I’ll buy my favorite onigiri for today’s lunch, and tomorrow.
I take the spare key from its resting place on the shelf and head to the car,
the cold wind biting my hands.
Placing the key in the lock I turn – clunk – nothing.
I try again.
The key doesn’t turn, the door stays forbiddingly shut.
I finagle, turn the key upside down, remove it slightly, turn again.
Like a lover I try all and every position to somehow move my frigid partner,
coaxing and pouting in turn.
Twenty minutes I try and fail, my fingers cold, my nose running,
the baby hairs on the back of my neck that never grow, are never contained in my bun
stand on end from the shivers cascading down my spine.
It’s as if the key is mocking me,
equally ineffective for the one task it’s been given for the day.
Tears of frustration glisten in my bottom eyelids, threatening to overflow.
All my shortcomings contained in one failure to turn.
I go inside and place the useless spare key on the shelf.
I haven’t been able to post much – the holidays – but today I thought I’d share a poem I wrote a few days ago. It’s the poetry section of my creative writing class, and as usual, I get sucked up into whatever I’m studying. So here it is:
THE FLOOD OF BETRAYAL
In that many-roomed house
where people sing without reason,
coke cures all ailes,
and the water ebbs and flows,
I wait for him –
that man with the pretty blond wife.
I know I have time in a backpack
so that waking and falling asleep
no longer have meaning
and sitting in a parking structure in China
feels just the same as
turning upside down on that roller coaster with my dog.
I used to be in phone marketing,
the dream me of waiting,
under the clear water of floods
waiting, waiting for those waves of sound
that let me know I’m awake.
And finally, statues come alive in a tomb of fantasy
which floods with tears of giant heartbreak.
I blame myself for this deluge of disaster – the betrayal –
until someone can come into this waiting
and tell me, it’s not my fault.
I think it needs a bit more work, but I kind of like it anyway. Hope you enjoy <3
Recently in my creative writing class we had a really fun exercise. In order for us to better understand character, character development, and then also plot, our teacher had us brainstorm as a group and come up with two rather opposite characters. I took a picture of the board so that you can see what we came up with. The names? Frank Zeeter and Molly Ann Robins. Then, utilizing these two characters our teacher gave us this prompt: Frank and Molly meet. How they meet is up to you. Frank has something Molly really wants, and Molly has something Frank really wants. Don’t give them what they want at first, and just see how the story progresses. Well, here is my story, in all it’s glory. It’s really a rough draft, but eventually I may whip it into something more. I hope you enjoy it!
THE DEGREE OF SEPARATION
Frank Zeeter scored his first, and only, music job at Under Mona’s Smile – a strip club in North Beach. A pair of kicking legs in neon lights rested perfectly under a large sign which featured Mona Lisa gracefully looking down at all the customers frequenting the dingy, struggling club, giving the facade a whimsical, off-kilter appearance. Customers could enjoy the show downstairs, or perhaps head upstairs for a bit of gambling and some snuff. A real all-in-one entertainment joint.
Marcus Comasco, the owner, first knew Frank as a fellow raver, and after several years of unexpected friendship, Marcus learned of Frank’s own musical inclination. He wrote electronic music suited to raving and fancied himself a DJ – but when pressed would readily admit his amateur status. In fact, his music was horrible. However, true friendship prevails, and Tuesday was a characteristically slow night, so Marcus decided on a psychedelic theme to hopefully liven the place up. Hiring Frank was more of an act of goodwill than any actual talent, and somehow Tuesdays became even less popular. True to form though, Molly Ann Robins still showed up habitually for her pirate strip tease.
A rather pear-shaped, tall woman, Molly gave off the strange impression of two triangles stacked on top of each other. The first triangle encompassed her long, curly, bushy brown hair which flowed angularly from her head to slightly past her collar bones. The second triangle peaked at her small breast and thin waist, and continued it’s diverging lines to skim large hips, a round butt, and meaty thighs. Catering to her strength, her strong base, Molly took of her top early and then played to her bottom half. Her ripped pirate shirt always came away from her body easily, and the skull nipple covers followed quite quickly after. But then, gyrating her hips in that oh-so-delightful way that immediately called to mind undulations of the horizontal persuasion, Molly hooked her small audience. The sheer audacity of a 6 foot tall woman with a perfectly poised, perky ass, shaking it in a pirate costume, made many men look twice. Those that bothered to come to a strip club on a Tuesday night, found themselves rewarded.
Frank liked this slow crawl towards nakedness performed every Tuesday at 9:15 PM, and queued her up with his most delicious mashup of heavy beats and minor chords. He especially enjoyed her perfectly formed nipples, small and shy, which contrasted so sharply with her generous bottom. In moments of truth, Frank would confess his desire for Molly to rave. He wanted to watch his light show on her body, with his music caressing her smooth undressing. Really, through sound, light, and some vibrational bass, he wanted to posses her triangles. However, Marcus, in no uncertain terms over a tumbler of whisky, had told Frank that Molly would only dance to music of her own choosing – pirate music in this case.
Marcus hadn’t told him that in reality, Molly Ann hated Frank. His large, bulbous nose and thick, full, moist, red lips sent her into a frenzy of loathing. She hardly deigned to talk to him. She wished he would never, ever play his horrid music at Under Mona’s Smile again. The fact that he seemed to relish his small musical introduction to her stripping act particularity irked her and almost ruined the pure joy she felt when dancing. The lights, with which he often accompanied his music, disoriented Molly Ann – she was blind in one eye – and only made her more antagonistic.
In her small studio, at her work table surrounded by her three cats, Molly Ann often found herself forming busts of Frank Zeeter in clay expressly in order to smash them. She wanted him gone. De-stressing from her day job as the secretarial underling to an ad-agency whore, her fingers loved the wet, coldness of clay, and the satisfying thuds that accompanied the Frank defacement – which inevitably started with the nose and those Dumbo-esqe ears. Her boyfriend, who came over like clockwork every Thursday and Friday night, thought she’d found her muse, as often only full, beautiful lips of clay remained untouched in the wreckage of her wrath. It follows that he encouraged her endeavors and thought blithely of his girlfriend watching some other beautiful girl, and then coming home, alight and inspired to fervently work on Art. She didn’t correct him.
Marcus, caught on one hand dealing with Frank’s minor obsession, and on the other Molly Ann’s major abhorrence, remained remarkable neutral. He figured these minor kinks would straighten themselves out in time. He was wrong. When Molly finally brought a fully-fired bust of Frank on stage during a performance only to desecrate it by decapitation followed by fragmentation, he knew he had to do something. Approaching Frank, he tried to feel out how hurt he might be by a cancellation of his only gig. Frank was surprisingly calm when Marcus started the conversation by asking about the bust incident. He even smiled as if delighted.
“The thing about human emotions,” he said, “is that they lie in a circle. Hate is just a simple degree of separation from love. It only takes a small push to tip the scale.” Marcus wasn’t so sure about Frank’s confident optimism, but couldn’t ignore his plea for a deal. His terms were simple, Molly Ann just had to dance one set for him, with his music, and he would quit. It didn’t seem unreasonable.
When first approached, Molly Ann flat refused. Until hell froze over, there was no way she would dance for that short, blue-eyed, raver. However, realizing that it might be a small price to pay for the reward of never seeing his large, red nose and matching lip set, she rethought her attitude. She graciously accepted.
The stage was set, the time 6:45 PM, the day, Tuesday. Under Mona’s Smile was closed to customers, and wouldn’t open until 8. Instead, Molly Ann waited inside, looking morose, while Frank began his number. As prearranged, the set would last 30 minutes, and Molly Ann was to dance the entire time. And dance like she meant it.
With his first beats, Molly Ann proceeded like she did every Tuesday – by ripping off her fluffy pirate shirt, doing some snaky pirouettes, and flipping off her skull nipple covers. But then, something strange happened. With her one eye, Molly Ann noticed that the lights, contrary to their usual epileptic inducing flickers, were slowly rotating around her torso. It seemed to her as though wherever she moved on stage they followed, flickering over her small nipples, nipping at her waist, and dancing on the palms of her hands. She became entranced. Almost hypnotized, Molly danced with even greater emotion, flinging her body with abandon and utilizing all props on the stage.
Flinging herself onto a chair, in order to better arch her back and spread her legs to the light, she noticed the second surprise of the evening. Frank had organized his bass so precisely that it vibrated the floorboards of the stage. The vibration traveled up the legs of the chair and settled firmly into her ample ass. They positively rocked her, and set her body tingling. It wasn’t music any longer – Frank had gathered all his wiles, his limited genius, and had created a movement of foreplay. Molly Ann couldn’t get away, and the more she felt the vibrations, the lights, the gentle caress of his terrible minor chords, she didn’t want to. Instead she found herself imagining his lips, Frank’s beautiful woman lips of red, cavernous moistness all over her body. His bulbous nose buried in her roundness, his wide-set blue eyes watching as he took her.
By the end of the half hour, Molly was exhausted, lying down on the stage with every nerve tingling, her breathing staccato, her hatred spent. Frank, his wide set eyes twinkling in victory, walked up to her prone figure.
“I named it ‘My One Degree,'” he whispered as he slowly traced his finger down her bare sternum. She looked at him with her one brown eye and said nothing. As he walked away he raised one hand over his head in a salute.
Today, after running an errand, I went to the Elmwood Cafe. A cute cafe with pretty good baked goods, I enjoy going there on occasion. Standing in line behind a young girl ordering, I notice an old lady with her nurse enter. She walks right up to the counter, checking out the desserts and pulling out her money. Her nurse half-heartedly tries to get her in line, but with no success. I don’t think the old lady even heard her. Which was no big deal. The cafe worker looks up and without blinking proceeds to take the old lady’s order. I’m one to go with the flow, and maybe the old lady is a bit senile, so what the hell, let’s let her get away with being rude. Besides, I think she may have had a hard time standing. And who am I to judge? Then the nurse orders, which makes sense. She has to keep tabs on the old lady.
At this point I’ve been standing in line for about 10 minutes, when it probably should have been about 3, but as I said, no big deal. Then I notice this second lady, a real hag, so ugly and stretched – like plastic surgery gone wrong. She’s inching beside me, and I realize, Oh My Fucking God, she’s going to cut in front of me too. She gives me a really dirty look, for what I have no idea – and then proceeds to cut in line. The clerk at the counter, meanwhile, never bats an eye. At this point, I’m thoroughly embarrassed. I have been standing at the counter for a good 13 minutes completely ignored and I’m not sure what to do about it.
All of a sudden I’m transported back in time to when I was about 10 years old. I was at some beach town on a trip – Mendocino maybe, or Monterey, who knows – and I had to go to the restroom. I don’t remember who I was with, my mom, my dad, or my school, but I was told to go to the shop person, on my own, and ask where the restroom was located. Though quite the little school yard boss (I reigned with a just and kind hand) I was a rather shy and reticent young girl in public. I worked up my courage and stood in line.
Finally, at the front of the line, the clerk deliberately looks over my head to the next person. “How can I help you sir?” The gentleman lightly placed a hand on my shoulder, guiding me even closer to the register. “I believe this young lady was first.” His voice dripped with both gentleness and chastisement. The young clerk, perhaps a bit ashamed, looked at me and asked, “What can I do to help you?” I was embarrassed, proud, bashful, and thankful all at once. I asked where the restroom was and followed the instructions to the letter.
It was as if that gentleman had saved me. The invisible me – too scared and unsure of what to do in awkward social situations – had been spotted and even treated like a lady. I wasn’t into Prince Charming, preferring the idea of Tarzan – that wild beast tamed by intelligence, beauty, and goodwill – but here was a Prince if I ever met one. Of course, I was too bashful to even look at his face, though I am sure I managed to squeak out a “Thank you.”
Here I am, at 27, and still somehow invisible. Now it’s no longer appropriate to sit bashfully waiting for someone to notice me and save me from uncomfortable social situations. Nor do I think it’s what I need. I let the old hag go. Really, there is no way she didn’t know that I was standing there first, but it doesn’t matter. I have time. I’m still young. I can wait an extra few minutes. I did. Then I ordered it all to go. I’d taken all the punishment I could handle. No use staying in places where no one can see you.
This last week in my creative writing class we were told to write our own, personal mythology, and to have fun with it! Well, this is what I ended up writing. I did have a lot of fun <3 I can’t say that it is finished though, and I will probably come back to it at some point. Anyway, hope you enjoy (P.S. I’m totally accepting disciples).
DESCENT INTO SAINTHOOD
I was born into the world dead. In some sick, backwards Electra story, I killed my mother – robbed her of her life blood – and still unsatiated sucked in all the air around me through my umbilical cord until there was no more. I couldn’t breath. My mother recalls hovering above my murder, looking at her own body, and then, in recognition of her karmic goodness, getting sucked back into indescribable pain. Me? I just gazed breathlessly into my daddy’s eyes and stubbornly forced my lungs open for the first time. I survived.
Aristotle’s tabula rasa didn’t accompany me into life. Instead, my flawed past existence, maybe of bloody revolutionary fervor, followed me into the world with one final, intense show of bravado – this matricide. Only then, with all hatred finally spent and a small death to make me anew, did I become a clean slate. However, the damage was already done. I started this life with one karmic score against me – as if I had barely passed the test to be reborn as human, and needed the extra trial and tribulation.
This attempted birth-murder miracle stayed with me. My mom, so empty of blood, couldn’t get out of bed for 6 months, and, as the photographer of the family, didn’t take any pictures. My monstrous self remained undocumented. With such dubious beginnings, such a deep sin, my sense of responsibility inflated tremendously. I became a perfectionist. Scared, perhaps, that any second attempt at parental sabotage would be my last.
Though my parents encouraged me in every aspect of my life – sure darling, you can be a singing, acting astronaut who moonlights as a marine biologist – I felt any failure heavily and with immense regret. In kindergarten, Mrs. Grizwald threw a party every time I missed an answer on our small quizzes. Why? Because she knew I needed to learn to accept failure. I guess a six year old child quivering with horror, self-doubt, and disappointment isn’t healthy. I even broke out in hives.
Sin, I felt, began at my birth, and I was now a reincarnation of my previous deviation. Worried I might repeat my past mistakes of societal destruction, I began a long journey of self-control and self-denial. A veritable ascetic – with self flagellation and all. Emotionally, that is. I was never a cutter. My real nature of blood, lust, and vengeance had to be kept at bay. As a young child I cried when other people got reprimanded in class – I just repented and moved on when it was me. I cried when I thought someone was hurt – I bandaged myself up and moved on when it was me. By the time I entered school, all my parents had to do was tell me I was wrong, and I would spiral into a nosedive of self-loathing. I was my own disciplinarian. A real, empathetic saint.
This self-imposed descent into sainthood lasted for quite awhile. It wasn’t until later in life I became a human. At seventeen, I realized that I had backed myself into a corner of such moral strangulation that I could no longer live. So, I died. For the second time. Like Jesus in the tomb I spent three days without eating, without sleep, and in the end, I rose again. Finally, human. Ten years later, I’m still waiting for my next metamorphosis.
My foray into the literary world this weekend inspired me to read my own poetry aloud – a somewhat embarrassing and mortifying experience at first I must confess. However, in the interest of science, and because it’s good practice, I decided to do a small recording and post it here. Also, I ended up having a lot of fun learning about Adobe AfterEffects. I have previously posted the poem, “White Moth in Sunshine,” so if you want to read it for yourself, you can.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am in a creative writing class. My teacher, wanting us to get involved with literature however we can, mentioned the LitQuake – an annual San Francisco literature extravaganza. It’s an event that’s a little over a week long, with workshops, lectures, signings and more. It ends on a Saturday with a great 3 1/2 hour event in the Mission district – the Lit Crawl. This fun filled event goes on all over the Mission from 6-9:30, with free readings, open mics, and general ruckus for all. Why not? I like the Mission. I like literature. And I certainly can stand to get my drink on every once in awhile.
Since this was my first attendance, and I wasn’t sure what to think, I only scheduled time for one event from 6-7: Erotic Poetry reading in the downstairs area of the Elbo Room. Come on. If I can only attend one event, you better believe it’s going to be Erotic poetry! It was great. My small, three person group arrived right at 6, got drinks, and found a corner table where we could hear and see perfectly. Ginger fizz and a Dark and Stormy compliment erotic poetry perfectly.
The first two readers had interesting poetry, but I didn’t necessarily like their reading style. They didn’t do their own poetry justice. Then Dr. Barbara Mossberg started to read. She was amazing! Not only did she have an energetic, graceful reading style, but her mannerisms were adorable, and her poetry sublime. At least when read aloud. One poem, comparing her husband to cranes and their relationship to Zeus when he courted Leda as a swan, left me inspired and also awestruck. I can’t wait to read it for myself.
After that energetic reading, the next poet was Cynthia Rausch Allar. Her poetry, I feel, was truly erotic, where perhaps the others were better described as sensual. She was a no-nonsense reader, with great cadence and a melodic voice. Perfect really. And her poetry was kick ass. I <3.
Though there were other readers after that, and they had great poetry, for me, those two were the absolute standouts. In fact, I would have to admit that they are the reason I bought the small booklet featuring all the poet readers of the evening plus some – Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke. After the reading finished, I confess I was a bit sad that I hadn’t given myself more time to enjoy the entirety of the Lit Crawl (especially as at this point I was a bit tipsy). Honestly, who wouldn’t be intrigued by signage claiming 30 bearded men would sing at a barber shop? However, my evening booked, I reluctantly left the Mission. I will say one thing though – I’M GOING NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!
So I know I said I wouldn’t post very much poetry, but I guess I lied. Here is a poem that I wrote this weekend, and I would say it will be the last for awhile, but I can only take being a liar so much. So in the interest of truth I’ll remain silent :D
WHITE MOTH IN SUNSHINE
The air licks my skin,
the perfect temperature of water on a sizzling hot day.
White moths flutter,
kissing the sun drenched leaves and flowers
in my garden.
The orange tree blossoms
small puckers of fragrance,
and like a bee I am drawn to them.
I almost remember a time
A time without the twisting wretchedness in my gut
that leaves me
cold to your touch.
Perhaps if I lay in the sun long enough
arch my back,
dissolve into honey droplets of sunlight at your fingers