Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Session

This week's publication is pretty cool, in my opinion. It's a nice example of playing with genre. As a sci-fi fan, I finished reading it and couldn't see the rest of the story as anything but science fiction. But, this could be a classic YA story too, where symbolism for impending adulthood is given physical form. Or, it could be the opening chapter of a psychological thriller. Or it could just be today's post.

Melissa Mendelson has self-published two prose poetry collections, "Silent Dreams" and "Tears of Sand." Her prose and poetry have been published online and in print. Enjoy!



Session
By Melissa R. Mendelson




The room was small, tight, and the walls were closing in. The door was left wide open, but he was blocking my way. The light overhead shined brighter, casting a shadow behind him, and his eyes were pools of darkness. And they were focused upon me. We stood a short distance apart. Our eyes locked together. Our bodies were posed in a fighting stance, but neither of us moved forward. It was a game of Chess, and whoever lost would die.
 
           “How often do you have this dream?”
           The ticking of the small grandfather clock was soft. Warmth rested upon a black, leather couch. Sunlight filtered in through the blinds on a large office window. A penetrating stare emanated from a pair of horn-rimmed glasses. Fingers touched the carpeted floor, and hair fell against a shoulder.
           “Terry? How often do you have this dream?”
           “It’s an old dream of mine,” she simply responded.
           “I see.” The man rubbed his chin. “Continue.”



I could feel the man’s hate for me. He despised everything I was. If he could take my life and tear it apart, he would, but he can’t. Something is saving me from him, but what was protecting me?


           “Do you know the answer to that question?”
           “I do.” She was growing annoyed at his interruptions. “I would like to finish first.” He gave her a curt nod.   

           “Thank you.”


I finally moved forward, and he countered my move. I moved again, and again I was blocked. I grabbed him by the arm, and he did the same. And our skin began to blend together, and his face became mine. And I became him.


          “I’m done now.”
           Leaning back in his desk chair, the shrink folded his hands together. His eyes closed as if he had fallen into a trance. Whispered words slipped from his lips, but nothing audible could be understood. And he rocked back and forth in his seat, thinking.
           Rising from the couch, Terry ran her fingers through her long, blond hair. Her eyes fell upon her wristwatch, and she saw that she had twenty minutes left. And a folded letter in pants pocket dug deep into her side, and she quickly pulled the paper out into the open. And she gently unfolded it before her, and black ink met her gaze. The writing before her simply read: "You are hereby requested to appear in a counseling session pertaining to your recent failure of a psych exam for a government job."
           “You didn’t have to come today.” Terry looked up at the shrink. “It was a request not an order.”
           “But you expected me to be here.”
           “I did, but the others that received that notice chose to ignore it. Why didn’t you?”
           “I was off from work today.” She quickly folded the paper and shoved it back into her pocket. “Besides, if I chose to ignore it, wouldn’t I just get another notice?”
           “Perhaps. This is just a follow-up to discuss why you failed the psych exam.”
           “I really don’t care why I failed it.” She noticed the look on his face. “I don’t need anyone walking around in my head. My life is my life.”
           “So, why come here today?” He continued to lean back in his seat with his hands folded before him. “Why tell me about that dream?”
           “I’m stuck here for half an hour, so I needed something to talk about.” She leaned against the couch. “Besides, that dream always bothered me.”
           “Why’s that?”
           “Because a long time ago, I was always fighting with him, and only in that last dream did I realize that he was me.”
           “So, you were fighting with yourself?”
           “I guess so, but why not dream of fighting with myself?”
           “Because the mind does not work like that.” The shrink’s face softened as he gazed at her. “Have you ever spoken to him?” He watched Terry shake her head. “Have you ever really fought him?”
           “Maybe once or twice.” She picked at a tear in the couch. “He overpowered me, but then I woke up.”
           “You were angry as a child, weren’t you?”
           “I was angry at a lot of things.”
           “What about now? Is there anything that makes you that angry now, Terry?”
           “No.” She glanced up at him. “I’m not as lost as I once was.”
           “What changed?”
           “I don’t know. I woke up one morning, and the dreams stopped.” She kicked at the floor before her. “I guess I changed.”
           “Where did your anger go?” She merely shrugged at this question. “Did your life get better?” She snorted at that one. “How did you change?”
           “You ask a lot of questions for a shrink.” She noticed the annoyed look on his face. “Sorry.”
           “You don’t like people like me, do you?”
           “No. I don’t.” She glanced at her watch. “This won’t become a habit.”
           “What won’t become a habit?”
           “Me coming here. I’m just here for today.” He looked doubtful. “I have my life to live.”
           “And your dreams to dream.” His gaze was like an unanswered question. “Well, before you leave, could you answer one last question?” She nodded. “Where did your anger go?”
           “I wish I knew.” She rose from the couch. “This has been fun, but there’s a reason why I don’t make this a habit. I don’t need people like you poking around inside my head.” She walked toward the door. “I’m my own puzzle to figure out.”
           “That may be so, but don’t lie to yourself.” She looked over her shoulder at him. “He never left.”
           “Who never left?”
           “That man you dreamt of.”
           “He’s a figment of my imagination.”
           “He’s more than that, Terry.” The shrink finally rose from his chair. “He’s more a part of you than you realize.” He walked over to her. “You never finished your dream.”
           “I told you the entire dream.” She shifted her weight from foot to foot, uncomfortable under his stare. “My time here is done.”
           “I can help you.”
           “I don’t need your help,” she nearly spat at him. “This is my life…”
           “To live.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “I understand that, and today will be the only day that you are here. But if you choose to come back, my door is always open.” He watched her open the office door. “And I can tell you why he never left.” He watched her turn back around toward him. “I can tell you why he is holding on to you.”
           “And how do you propose to do that?”
           “Let me put you under.” Terry shook her head. “You can see why for yourself.”
           “And how do I know if you put any subliminal suggestions in my mind? Maybe I’ll find myself here once a week.” He chuckled at her words. “I don’t know you.”
           “But you trust me enough to tell me that dream.” He gently reached for the door behind her and pushed it closed. “Let me do this. He’s waiting for you, and you know that.” The look on her face confirmed it. “He needs to tell you something.”
           “And what makes you the expert?”
           “Because I’ve heard this dream before.” He gestured toward the couch. “Please.” A smile painted his lips as she walked back over to her seat. “You will be free to go in less than twenty minutes.”
           “I’ll time you,” and it was hard to tell if she was joking or not. “Let’s do this.” The hesitation in her voice was apparent. “I would like to leave for home soon.”
           “Then, let’s begin.” He now stood before her. “Close your eyes.” His hand rested on her shoulder. “Take a deep breath in, and let it out. Deep breath in, and let it out.” His hand pressed against her. “I’m going to count back from five, and when I snap my fingers…”



The room appeared a few moments later, and it was the same as before. The door was left wide open, and he was blocking my way. The light overhead continued to shine bright, but his eyes threatened to consume me. And his glare was filled with nothing but hate. 
We stood a short distance apart. Our eyes locked together. Our bodies were posed in a fighting stance, but neither of us moved forward. It was a game of Chess, and whoever lost would die. But I thought I had killed him a long time ago.
You’re back.” His voice belonged to Terry, and she was surprised to hear him speak. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
I thought you left.” He laughed at her words. “I was hoping you were dead.”
I was hoping for the same.” His smile quickly faded, and he made a move toward her. “Do you know me?”
I do.” She moved toward him. “I just don’t understand. Why do I hate myself so much?”
You’ve done so much wrong, but only now you understand that. But I can’t forgive you.”
I forgave myself a long time ago.”
Then, why am I still here, Terry?” He shook his head. “You’re still angry with life.”
Not as angry as I once was. I’m not in high school anymore.”
Class may be out permanently, but the student is far from the teacher.” She glared at him. “Lessons need to be taught and understood.”
Don’t lecture me.” She moved closer toward him. “When I wake up, it will be me walking out that door.”
Do you really believe that?” He grabbed her arm. “Do you really think of me as a figment of your imagination?”
His hand burned into her arm. His fingers slipped through her skin. His eyes became hers, and his mask began to slip away. And she found herself disappearing into him.
You left me behind,” he whispered. “You ignored me.” She was pulled further into him. “Now, it’s my turn.”


           “Terry?” Her eyes snapped open. “You okay?” She slowly nodded. “Can you tell me what happened?”
           Looking around the office, Terry saw the door was now left open. The soft ticking of the grandfather clock filled her ears. Her hands gently rested on the black, leather couch, and she uncrossed her legs. Rising slowly, she looked the shrink dead in the eye, and a smile touched her lips.
           “You seem better.” Was that fear in his voice? “Are you?”
           “Am I what? Better?” He nodded. “I feel… I feel like I have been released from prison.” She touched him on the shoulder. “Thank you for that.” She walked past him. “I need to go.”
           “What will you do now?”
           “Anything I want.” She looked over her shoulder at him. “It’s time I live my life.” Her foot crossed the threshold from the office and out into the hallway. “I’m happy I came, doc.” Her smile grew wider. “I really haven’t felt alive for a long time, and I needed this. I needed to come here.”
           “So, I’ll see you next week?” He followed her out into the hallway. “Around the same time?”
           “Oh, no, doc.” Terry’s face seemed different. “You did enough.” Her eyes were darker than before. “I need to live my life like I told you before.” Her voice carried a different tone. “I need to live.” She hurried toward the exit door. “It’s my turn now.”
           As she disappeared from sight, the shrink found it hard to walk back into his office. His gaze shifted from one side of an empty corridor to the other. He gnawed on his lip, trying to understand what just took place, but something told him to leave it alone. He did enough, but what did he do? And he slowly retreated back into his office and closed the door behind him, leaving the world outside his walls.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Read a Banned Book!

After a weekend of no Internet access, I am back to my old self. And just in time for Banned Books Week! According to the American Library Association, and anyone who isn't a fascist, people should have the freedom to write and read what they want. Who knew?! Here is a list of the Top 10 most frequently banned books from last year, which you'll notice is mostly YA literature, because children are precious, I guess. 

On that list is one of my favorite books of all time, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, which I read as a young adult, then again as a slightly older young adult, then a few more times as a regular adult. It's still powerful and amazing and I think I turned out just fine. Which reminds me - Stephen Chbosky, if you're out there: WHERE ARE YOU? Please write another novel!!!!


So, read a banned book this week! Or read one to your kids! Whether it's newly forbidden, such as His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, or whether it's been plaguing our society with evil for over sixty years like 1984 by George Orwell, please read something a little bit scandalous, a lot bit thought-provoking, and, let's face it, 100 times better written than what you're reading now (you're reading the new Dan Brown, right?). 

Sarah

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Slipped Away

Happy Wednesday, folks! (OK, so I may have watched President Obama on Letterman recently and the word "folks" has infiltrated my brain.) Interesting side note: apparently "folks" can refer to working-class Americans, Congress, and terrorists. But enough about me before I go into a rant about my undying love for David Letterman... it's post time!

This week's publication comes from Morgan Barnhart, from her memoir based on, what she calls, a time in her life when she wasn't going anywhere. This selection, "Slipped Away," begins the story of Morgan's relationship with her father, who passes away before he can see her carry out his wish that she join the Air Force. Morgan is a writer, voice actor, and fitness consultant living in New York.


Slipped Away
By Morgan Barnhart 
 

           I was watching TV as I normally did every night after work. I remember exactly what I was watching too: The Cosby Show. I loved that show. Still do, actually. I was laughing away, unaware of what was happening no more than ten feet outside my bedroom door.
           It’s funny, you know, thinking back on it. I really had no idea what was going on. I was so blind to everything. Not just that night, but through out the entire two weeks in which his life slowly faded in front of my eyes. I was so busy with work. (Yeah right, I wasn’t that busy with work. I just pretended like I was.) I would come home and see my dad at the dinner table barely able to eat the canned pears set in front of him fifteen minutes ago. My Uncle was kind enough to help take care of him while I refused to. I didn’t verbally refuse to, but through the act of ignorance, I refused.
           I didn’t see it. Or didn’t want to see it. I wanted to see him getting better. I wanted to watch him get up and walk outside and play with our dog as he usually did. I wanted to see him get in his car and go to the grocery store or his weekly visit to the pharmacy to get his dozens of medications refilled. I really just wanted him to be able to have a coherent conversation.
           He didn't really seem to be getting better, so after much arguing about the fact that he needed to go to the hospital, he flatly refused to go. I let him think it over while he laid in pain. After an hour or so, he finally agreed to let me call an ambulance. What's really sad is that I couldn't even call an ambulance for him, I made my best friend do it.
           He came home from the hospital a completely different person. He babbled about characters from his stories coming to life and laughing at him, telling him that they were going to take his cherry. I just thought he was teasing me. I kept pulling away, not wanting to hear him, telling him I didn’t understand. I kept saying I didn’t get it, what are you talking about, there’s no one here. Then he asked if my cherry had been taken. I felt so uncomfortable. Not because of the question, but because I didn’t know what to do. I was lost and confused and didn’t want to be having that type of conversation with my father.
           Even then, I ignored it. Telling myself that it didn’t matter. The next day he seemed to be a lot better, as if he had come back to life. At least, that’s what I hoped. I thought it was great that he had recovered from the delusions. Maybe that was a sign that he was finally getting better for real this time.
           But it didn’t. He laid in bed for days at a time, only getting up to maybe get a drink of water and eat some canned pears. I wasn’t home too often, but when I was home, he was always sleeping. I never even went into his room to say hi when I came home. I walked passed as if he wasn’t there. I ignored him, not wanting to face my dying father.
           The night my Uncle finally came into my room in the middle of The Cosby Show and said, “He’s gone.” I thought he was just saying that dad had run away or something. I don’t know, my dad was crazy sometimes, it could have happened. But that wasn’t what he was talking about at all.
           He was gone.
           Even then, when I walked to his bedroom, I couldn’t face him. I wanted to continue feigning ignorance. I couldn’t face reality. I couldn’t. He's my father. Nobody ever expects their father to just up and leave one day without any notice.
           I forced myself to take a quick peek, but quickly backed away I gripped my shirt tightly and began breathing heavily and quickly, as if I were hyperventilating. I kept telling myself it wasn’t him. It wasn’t him! He was just sleeping. Just sleeping.
           Tears ran down my cheeks. I felt my heart tighten and my mind go completely blank.
           It was him.
           He was gone. 
           In the blink of an eye....he slipped away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Paragon of Animals

Ah, Wednesday. The week is almost over, Glee is on tonight, and most importantly, it's time for your weekly Glass Cases publication. This week's story is an excerpt from a novel, which the author describes as "the story of a discontented young college student who hopes to find meaning in life by following his idol, a larger-than-life adventurer and Scots Lord. His admiration turns to resentment when he falls in love with his hero's wife." 

The author, Bob Young, is sharing with us the first chapter to this novel, titled "The Paragon of Animals." This chapter was a lot of fun to read and I think the novel has a fantastic title! Bob is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, and has worked in advertising. Enjoy! 



The Paragon of Animals
By Bob Young 




Chapter One: August 1988
It was the beginning of a miraculous change but no one realized it as the sun came up over Pike’s Peak. Everyone present was concentrating on the festival. And yet, something incredible was about to happen. One of the little people—a face currently lost in the crowd—was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

The Green Global Day Outdoor Festival in Colorado Springs had begun. People from all over the state and beyond had come to listen to eco-friendly societies speak about global warming and the imminent environmental threats to the planet. Many of the people working at the event were college student volunteers or interns.

Somerset Rose looked around the green fields where tables and tents were being set up and people rushed around like army ants, trying to get things ready on time for the opening ceremony. There was a bigger crowd present than either Somerset or anyone else had anticipated, and dozens more were arriving continuously. It was rare that they got a crowd this large at one of these rallies. Apparently the environment was the cool thing to be involved with now.
  
Skinny little Somerset was proud of his part in arranging this major event. He was a zoology student who had worked on a college internship for two semesters now. He'd helped organize many a rally, for many a cause. This was to be the biggest yet. And Somerset was one of the event planners, so if this thing went kablooie, his was one of the heads on the chopping block. Therefore, Somerset Rose was very, very nervous. If he had been a nail-biter, he'd have worked his way down to his knuckles by now.

He was amazed when he got the job of event planner for this. He was normally such an ignored, unnoticed presence among his peers and superiors that he never expected to be given a responsibility like this one. True, he'd only gotten it because the two guys who were supposed to arrange things became suddenly unavailable. One was arrested for drug possession and the other spontaneously combusted. And so, skinny little Johnny-on-the-spot Somerset volunteered. No one else was available at such short notice. So, the kid got his big moment. He regretted it now. His nerves were frazzled like dried leaves.

However, standing nearby was someone so charismatic and interesting in his own rite that he stole some of the spotlight away from the event planners and speakers. Some speakers didn't really like the fact that they had competition for the admiration of the crowd, but they all knew that they needed the man in question. The man’s name was Hadrian Falconer. Among other things, he was a professional security expert. Hadrian was an amazing man. Somerset and the event planners had been advised to hire him when they began to get the death threats. Some crazy man was sending notes to the planners threatening to “massacre the damn tree huggers, and plant their entrails like seeds, and maybe they'll grow a new brain!”

It was a coup for them to get Hadrian there. Although he was only twenty-eight years old, Hadrian was greatly sought after, especially since he rarely charged for his services. He did it for fun. Fortunately, he believed in this cause, and so agreed to come and protect them. There he stood, a dashing, handsome and quite regal figure, demanding attention even with his silence. His well toned muscles were tensed for action, his brown eyes seeing everything. A redoubtable man, unquestionably.

Somerset had surreptitiously fled to a hill which overlooked the stage that he had helped set up near the base of Pike’s Peak. He looked down as the first speaker took the stage. Well, all the planning was over now. It was time for the presenters to do their thing. Somerset hoped they were up to the challenge, otherwise, heads would roll. His head would roll first. And no one would ever trust him with something like this again! At twenty-one, his career would be over.

Somerset tuned out the speech. He didn't want to think about it. He needed to take just a few minutes to feel peaceful and serene, away from the crowd and the responsibility. God, I hope I didn't screw this up!, he mused, nervously.

The sound of the gunshot erased all such thoughts from Somerset’s brain. Screaming and general sounds of panic and commotion came over the hill. Somerset ran down the hillside and back to the rally. He looked down and saw chaos. People were swarming around like bees whose honeycomb had just exploded. The police who were assigned to crowd control pushed their way through to the podium.

He reached the bottom of the hill and shoved his way through the crowd. It was hard to get near the podium. There were so many people who just wanted to stare at the scene. It made Somerset angry. Couldn't they find something less ghoulish to stare at? Go stare at a Pike’s Peak, you jerks.! It’s a great tourist attraction!

Eventually, he fought his way through. He saw that first speaker—an unfortunate fellow named 'Green Jimmy'—seemingly unharmed but looking pale and frightened. Green Jimmy was standing with a group of policemen who were surrounding the epicenter of the situation.

Somerset finally saw what was happening. Hadrian Falconer was restraining someone on the grass with a wrestling arm-lock. A gun lay nearby, dropped during the melee, apparently by the man who was being held down. Had this man taken a shot at Jimmy? Or tried to, only to be stopped by the formidable Hadrian.
Strong and skillful, confident of his prowess, mighty Hadrian seemed to be holding the other man down effortlessly, even though the suspect was a large (and smelly) fellow, and struggling like a wild beast. Hadrian shook his head disapprovingly at his prisoner.

“You must to be the worst bloody assassin I've ever seen,” he informed the angry gunman, accentuating his Scottish accent. “I wish you'd been the pratt they sent after Arch Duke Ferdinand. It would have saved everyone a lot of bother.”

The police cuffed the ineffective assassin and dragged him off, as he screamed corny threats of vengeance at Hadrian, who was in no way intimidated. Meanwhile, the shaken Green Jimmy was being consoled by a couple of young lovelies. He described his hair-raising ordeal in detail. He knew how to work it.

Hadrian, on the other hand, was much more nonchalant about the mass of people who swarmed to him, wanting his autograph. One girl pulled up her blouse and said, “Sign these!” Hadrian politely declined, stating that he hated to be a boob but he needed to accompany the cops and keep abreast of the bust he'd made. He moved through the crown like a nobleman, and everyone stepped back to let him pass. Hadrian just oozed authority. He was a perfect physical specimen, with his Cary Grant face and extremely fit body. His alert eyes twinkled with a puckish joy of life.

Somerset could only stare. He was in awe of Hadrian. Suddenly he had a new hero. This man, this extraordinary man, this famous adventurer, was everything Somerset wanted to be. Strong, handsome, capable, charismatic, confident and famous. Somerset, on the other hand, was Everyman. Frighteningly average in most ways, except perhaps for his underused intellect, which never reached its potential. His sister used to say “You have brains you've never used.” She was right, he knew it. He always had the feeling that he was waiting for something to happen. He didn't know what. He looked at Hadrian and wondered if the daring Scotsman ever had any doubts or fears. Surely he wouldn't be on the edge of a nervous breakdown if someone asked him to event plan!

As Hadrian passed through the mob, Somerset pushed his way to the Scottish adventurer’s side. “Hey, Mr. Falconer, remember me? I'm Somerset, one of the event planners.”

Hadrian stopped and grinned mischievously at Somerset. “Well let me think. I've not seen you in twenty minutes, so no, I dinna remember you.”

Somerset looked embarrassed, “Sorry, it’s just that people tend to forget…well, me!”

Hadrian put a hand on Somerset’s shoulder. “First of all, call me Hadrian. It’s a name that stands on its own, like Cher or Madonna or Attila. Secondly, you're not exceptionally forgettable, are you? Quite the contrary, lad, you're a good worker with a sharp mind. I wish I could have spoken to you more.”


Somerset was amazed at the compliment. No one ever complimented him, especially not an amazing guy like Hadrian Falconer. “Thanks mister…I mean, Hadrian. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for saving the day.”

“It’s what I do,” Hadrian said. “Now, if you'll pardon me for riding off into the sunset so abruptly, I have to go to the police station. Reports to fill before I sleep. If I dinna see you again, it’s been a pleasure.”

“Yeah, for me too, definitely,” Somerset said.

They shook hands and Hadrian disappeared into the crowd. Somerset smiled. This had turned out to be a good day, despite the small mater of an attempted murder.

As chaos turned to quiet, Somerset sat on a rock. He looked up at the clouds. He gave himself a Rorschach test in the sky. What did he see? A chicken! That was definitely significant!

Somerset tried to decide what to do now. In the last few minutes, things had changed. True, discontent had been festering in his troubled brain for a while, but meeting Hadrian Falconer sparked a flame inside him. He supposed that this was just like when Truffaut first saw ‘Citizen Kane’. He hadn't realized how empty he had been until he saw greatness.

The truth was that Somerset was bored with zoology. He was bored with college. He had always dreamed of something more than this, of something special, something amazing! He once wrote a biography for himself, a view of his life from the other end. He predicted for himself an unusual life and a great love. Neither seemed to be in the cards. He was a nobody who was shy around girls. Things needed to change!

He needed to get away. Hadrian had inspired him. Somerset had seen a real hero at last. And everything changed. He needed time to think about this. He needed to go somewhere he felt comfortable. He needed familiar surroundings. He needed to be someplace quiet. He needed to see old friends.  He needed to go home.   

He had to take a step back before he could take a giant leap forward.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Before the Heart, the Image

As you could gather from my "please no poetry" stance, I am not a big fan of poetry. Or to be more accurate, I know what I like, and I enjoy me some Frost or Plath from time to time, but mostly I find poetry a waste of my time. GASP!

Apologies to those I may have just offended. I'm sorry; I guess I'm just an old-fashioned, meat-and-potatoes, prose kind of gal. That's not to say I've never been moved by a poem or have no respect for poets. I have (!) and I do (!), but... well, you get my drift.

That said, here's some poetry! Or, as I prefer to call it, a nice piece of writing written by a poet. It can be considered a poem, a meditation, or even a letter. English majors can feel free to call it an apostrophe, which is a literary technique that addresses someone or something not physically present.

"Before the Heart, the Image" was written by Kristie Donahue to "an old, lost lover." Kristie is a writer and artist living in New York who, unlike me, prefers poetry to prose because she believes "there is a voice that lies underneath poetry that captivates [her]." After reading her piece below, please go visit Kristie's own blog at www.harttherapy.blogspot.com


Before the Heart, The Image 
By Kristie Donahue

     I am taking you here where I can see you. I guess if I could touch just one moment it might feel like a moment. There are so many things here that remind me that this is forever. Hands move where there should be rain, eyes drift and then there is cold air that should be your skin, my bones. You still walk around with your name. I still breath out every time you sneeze. I will not say that this is memory. When you stand the sun rises near sky, something fades naturally in my heart and I know how these images curl into the knot of night or how sleep moves from my skin and into your eyes. Most days I have forgotten my body or the season. The hour turns inside your voice, I don't want to listen. You say it anyway. You move through the story collecting pieces, loss, and there is always a wind. There is always a wind.
     I wanted to talk about Nebraska because without knowing how land rolls further than the eyes I could pretend that that is a kind of peace that carries memories from moments to silence. Maybe there I'll put my heart in the air. Everything transparent drifts, flowers somewhere and sky. You'll breathe in the aftertaste of fresh salts, the scent of the ocean on the skin. I'll say I came here because the the stars are new, because we begin at 35 or in the afternoon somewhere. It snowed over a lake but I don't know about it. The weather knows more than me. I think we were caught dreaming once. I don't walk down Lark Street. That was many years before and I'm still wearing the same socks. I think I gave my thoughts to a flower. I could never speak that way but dreams come close to knowing it is winter. The air is getting cooler and the nights are long. You don't know how it feels.
     When I look I see lips, face. The fingers part. The heart beats under the chest. There is no one here that leaves your memory. I am close to understanding. There is distance even as it loves and confuses, and then we talk about rain somewhere under the stars. I thought about something simpler like music. The long cello and then there is the walk away. I know my heart bleeds, breath and then I have not talked to anyone.
     Nothing here leaves without a shadow. Near that I know nothing exists without light. I have not seen myself. Some parts are never free, in the past, the invisible thread, by the mirror. I was not the girl with the hands, the heart, the story. You lean in and the the world turns, air spreads forgivingly, like it always does. I don't know, something carries, neither side without light. You were right. I can not lift the wind like a bird. Maybe that is why I am alive. You wanted a smile. Sometimes I only know I lost my mind to this. You have an opinion. I do not know enough to believe. I know light never sets. There was sky. The day faded and I slept.
     I can describe you. There are lips where your heart should be. You have another cheek and bone, same eyes, smell of green. Your room is summer without a scent, clear and undiscovered. You carry that sky with you all day around the sand, there is no sense of the ocean, just the sleepy lull of waves. I am here in February, my hands. I once thought a wish was rain. It moved today but that is how things speak I guess.  
     Every moment dreams drift the day. You are a word with a blanket around your body. I am lost in what you could be. I am lost in a piece of it. I should be leaving through my yesterdays, the wheels on the road without a key. You know I walked from here to March, the wind swept and the sun rose and slept that day like it does even when I am not there. I was wishing that time knew how the cells under the skin feel without the wind, without a home. Some things stay because they have not been born. We search only to figure tomorrow, the air there and the same breeze. You are still until just moments, your face in his. Your eyes are as they have always been. You bring with you more air, something found, a reason.
     The story is my opposite. Everyday I walk around like a stranger to the leaves. I do not want you to know where the mind sinks, how I put myself in every fiction, how I turn. There is only this space, the other body. We meet and part. I keep what is lost. There must be a name without Nebraska. I missed the crease of the sun and the cloud there. We see the body before it is found. We walk that way and never ask. I wonder. You have hands. Could you hold moments without everything in them? Could you just be your heart, the voice I have memorized, the sound that I don't know about? 

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Multiple Choices in Writing

Greetings! I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day weekend. My day off involved sleeping in, pancakes, an Animal Planet special on corgis, Chinese food, not wearing makeup, and listening to Jagged Little Pill while cleaning my closet. Basically the best day ever if you're me.

Also topping the list of outstanding things that happened this weekend? SUBMISSIONS! I'm very excited to bring you the first Glass Cases publication, an essay on (appropriately) writing. In the post-Oprah v. Frey and post-"reality" world in which we live, John Biscello brings up some interesting talking points in "True or False," particularly pop culture's acceptance of faux reality on television while holding literature up to higher moral standards. Is it not all forms of entertainment and escapism? Or do we expect more out of memoirs because readers are supposed to be "smarter" than watchers? Read John's essay below, pause and reflect, and then feel free to post your own thoughts on the matter.

But first, a bit about the author: John Biscello is a scribbler, poet and playwright, presently calling Taos, New Mexico home. He is at work on a collection of stories, set in Brooklyn, titled A Mutable Freeze. He can be contacted at jpips17@hotmail.com.

True or False?
By John Biscello 

"Realism is, in a sense, a bad word I think. I see no dividing line between imagination and reality. There is much reality in imagination."—Fellini.

      One of my least favorite questions: Did that really happen? Is that true?
      In the case of a story I'd say: It's been written, so of course it's true. There was no story, now there is a story. The story is true. If someone were to ask me if it were factual, I might answer: It's a work of fiction. A true work of fiction.
      In David Lynch's "Lost Highway," one of the detectives investigating the murder of [Bill Pullman's character's] wife asks him a question, to which Pullman responds, "I like to remember things the way I remember them. Not necessarily the way they happened."
     That could be Pullman speaking for Lynch himself, an obsessive recontextualizer (Mixmaster D. Lynch if you will) of facts, dreams, parallel worlds, etc. Life, and "what happened," processed through the Imagination comes out reconfigured. Fiction. But, if you're true to the essence of the story, if that is captured and expressed, then I would never say: No, it's not a true story - because that minimizes the accomplishment, the thing itself. Dig it, cuz the opposite of True is False, and if you claim your work is False, that means you have not succeeded at capturing or expressing what makes it True.
     Let's check in with Big Papa (Hem not Biggie): "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."
      When there was that debate raging about James Frey (the dude who wrote "A Million Little Pieces" and "My Friend Leonard," and had received a tap-tap blessing on the head from Oprah's magic wand coronating him Book Club Royalty) they found out that parts of his memoir weren't true, that he had lied. People were outraged, they felt duped and deceived, their trust had been violated, and all I could think was - Are you fucking kidding me? You mean to tell me, a writer "lying" in his writing, distorting and exaggerating "facts," this is what people are getting hysterical about? You can validly argue the point that the book shouldn't have been billed as a memoir, fine, but then the issue also becomes one of semantics - an issue, might I add, that gives everybody involved (the publishers, promotional team, reading public, critics) an opportunity to philosophically re-examine our very idea of what a memoir is, or should be. (One day I'd like to pen a memoir titled "Memoirial: One Man's Quest to Tell the Truth While Lying the Entire Time." Any takers? Oprah, a coming out party?)
      Anyway, Frey wound up receiving a shitload of hatemail, was denigrated, and given the literary-scarlet-letter treatment, and at one point when he did reappear on Oprah, Queen Finger Wag confronted Frey with her ass suctioned to the Almighty High Horse, vindicating all the people, her people, who had been taken in by this scam artist. I've never read Frey's work (except in bits and doses), but I'm 100% behind him, and when he fought his way through the hard times by writing another book, a large fiction novel, “Bright Shiny Morning,” I thought, way to blow, maestro!
     This need for "reality" to be authenticated - that really happened, right, that's a true story y'know - is where the problem lies (if you even want to consider it as such). Reality shows have become popular selling the idea of "reality," which is really a superficial facsimile from a low-grade template. These are real people really getting kicked off islands and really swapping their wife for another wife, and real dramas and friction are generated from these real people (we repeat, real people, like you and me, not actors). It's a scam, a hustle, and a sham, but ain't nobody shoutin' we've been had, we're being duped, and why's that?  Because the illusion and the mirage of it all remains intact. "That's entertainment!" functioning as the new que sera sera.  Frey was called out, exposed as a "fraud." The curtain was torn open and when they saw a man manipulating gizmos and pushing buttons to project a larger-than-life Wizard, they wanted to see the "Wizard" burned at the stake for pulling a fast one.
      The way I look at it: anything I write about is filtered through my Imagination, and when it comes out the other side it is Fiction. People that read me can decide for themselves if it's true, real, unreal, or if any of that even matters to them. I'll stay out of it. The one thing I won't do: write a book allegedly based on my life and call it a memoir. I want all my works, including any "memoir" I might write, to be found in the Fiction section of a bookstore or library.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Me?

Last night I had a dream about this blog. And the dream was this:

I had woken with a start in the middle of the night and crept stealthily to the living room, where my white Macbook sat waiting, nay, begging, for me to turn it on. With its resounding chime, it woke, and I obeyed its silent command to log in to my blogger account. Upon opening Glass Cases, I was shocked and delighted to find that I had seven followers.

This tells me two things: 1) I apparently dream in the style of really bad Edgar Allen Poe fan-fiction, and 2) Being happy over seven followers, as opposed to, say, 700, is my dream. As far as dreams go, this one seems pretty attainable. I will get there someday. Someday!

This brings me to my second official post. I've been thinking about what I want from this blog and from you, whoever you are. And what I want are words. It's that simple. I want words so badly that I'm even adopting some for my very own - here, to be exact. I want so many words that they have no choice but to form well-structured, coherent, interesting stories. And then I'd like to publish them here for all the world to see.

In the meantime, I will continue to post (and dream). For example, a new season is beginning, bringing with it a myriad of topics ranging from pumpkin lattes to Labor Day/Columbus Day long weekends to the publishing industry returning from its summer vacation. Please feel free to send me your autumnal equinox story, as serious or as silly as it may be.

Dreamily yours,
Sarah