Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hourglass Scribbles

I'd meant to post another piece of short fiction here, but I never quite got around to writing it up.  But I did scribble down a poem the other day and would enjoy any feedback, especially since I rarely write poetry.

And what if I could see in the pauses between seconds,
let the tide of time run still without ebb or flow,
and breathe without fear of the weight of sand above me,
or the fall onto the pillars beneath me.
At peace in the present, without

As if I turned the black sand glass to rest upon its side,
with some small grain caught between one single moment in the sieve
I dont think I could rest for that instance, just as the grain could not remain still,
but knows it will soon be righted,
to either back into the reserve of unfallen time.
One grain redeemed, only to fall at another time.

Time is a desert, a wilderness of horrors,
where what we fear beyond the horizon
is exceeded by the memories we leave forgotten behind us.
But storms arise and place all time beneath and above us
within the air we breath and the glances we take,
until the fears above and beneath us are once more the moments,
waiting in the single spot between two seas of an hourglass.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grandpa and his fungus

Hi, I'm Courtney and this is my first post here.  I tried to follow the word generator prompt. Hope you all like it.

My Grandfather is an odd man. One of oddest things about him, besides the open Hawaii shirts and Gandalf eyebrows, is his toe nails. For some reason foot hygiene has always ranked low on his list of priorities, and after all these years of neglect his toe nails have decided to spawn a new species.  Strangely enough he has decided that doctors would only make this new species angry which would probably lead to some hashed together Armageddon in which toe nail fungus rules the world and humans end up in zoos. To avoid that entire scenario Grandpa would rather let his toe nails colonize and procreate however they wish, thus saving the world from discombobulating. In this aspect my Grandfather is a silent hero and if his story was every adapted  into a movie I image it would do horrible in the box office. Then again horrible plots have done well in the past. I’m sure if the writers added a cute cow, pig, or some animal that snores into the film then they could stamp a G on it and market it to the kids too young to understand how disgusting foot fungus is.
                Besides his lack of foot hygiene, Grandpa has reached the age in which one starts to lose bits of the five senses here and there. The first to go was his hearing, and my grandfather of course did the most sensible thing and refused to buy a hearing aid. Instead he opted for denial. This is why our family conversations usually follow this pattern:
“Grandma what do you want to do today?”
“Well, since we’re on vacation lets go see a movie.”
“Ok. What do you guys want to see?”
“Oh, yeah, lets go see that.”
“Grandpa what do you want to go see? Grandpa?”
“Well, when I was in my twenties I got into this bar fight and I had to take on three guys at once. Luckily I had my army knife and I was able to—”  (something about World War 2, Berkley, liberals, trophies he may or may not have won, and substitute teaching).
Besides his hearing troubles Grandpa has started having problems with his eye sight. Unfortunately denial is once more his chosen medication. Seeing, however, is pretty important when driving and a dented parking meter, which had the misfortune to meet my Grandpa, can attest to that. Yet, despite all of his oddities and his ailments of age, my grandpa is truly without a doubt someone you should never get advice from. Unless of course you desire tips on growing foot fungus in which case I’ll give you his email:

Photo Jot

Hi, it's Chase again.  I started a weekly project that involves taking a photograph and then jotting whatever comes to mind in response to the image.  The following is what I saw and jotted down this week.  (by the way, I have a pretty serious writer's crush on Ursula K. Le Guin, I think some of that comes out in this piece)

The chanter stood with his back to the unlit pyre, singing to the unseen gods while the mourners held their places.  Though none of them had ever read the sacred chants, many had heard them enough times to trace the priest's words before he reached them.  Even those too young to know the words sensed the lines that were coming, as they expected the movement of a tree rocking in the breeze.  The song and the sorrow was natural, ancient, and right.

As the sun reached its point above and below the horizon, the chanter slowed his song, offering reverent silence for the unseen gods beneath and the unseen gods above who could now pass between.  In this moment they could be honored and their dead son could join them.  The mourners turned from the sunset to the woman who held the torch before her.  Other women held their arms straight and stiff along their body, holding the torch and death at defiance.  Others balanced the torch and its flames against their open palms, as they did with their children and their offerings.  But this old woman held the flame in front of her, tightly but absently, keeping the coiling, rising flames only a few inches before her face.  The radiant light of the torch against her face in the twilight brought back all the beauty and innocence of her youth, and for a moment, all were too amazed to realize that she remained unmoved.  The moment of her duty had come, yet still she did not rest the torch against the pyre or fold it in the unfeeling hands of her husband, in the place where she had slept and in the place where she had hoped to die.  Concern grew amongst the mourners but all knew their place, even if the widow had forgotten her own.  With great care and child like reverence, the young man beside her slowly brought his arms around the widow, extending his hands to cover the old woman's.  Slowly he brought her forward and slowly he guided her hands to place the torch within the man's embrace.  It had been done, and the straining fire of the torch found new life among the brambles and the broken body of the old man.

All, save for the old woman, turned from the fires surrounding the body to the sun.  Still above and still beneath.  The unseen gods would welcome their son.  The relieved mourners each moved away with the silent chanter as their guide back to the village.  Except for the young man and the old woman.  He stayed with her as she saw the fire flame above and beneath with renewed life and light, while the burden at its hearts remained cold and only grew darker.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Intersections- nonfiction

There are soliloquy about sunrises, sonnets on sunsets, and the time between the two is covered by authors, poets, playwrights, and the majority of a library. That’s when things happen, when people are awake, and it makes sense that people talk about it. The beauty of the sun peaking over the ocean, or the depressing gloom of a cloudy day are thought of as great writing because everyone’s awake to see them. Everyone over the age of eight has seen a sunset that they remember, a patch of clouds that held their fascination for longer than a glance, or something; be it a tree, building, car, or just the carpet of your bedroom; lit by the sun in just the perfect way that you had to stop and stare.

You need light. It’s medically proven, sunlight makes you happy. I lived near the artic circle, the actual one, not the fast food chain, for a while and the sun is important. The lack of sun doesn’t just make you sad, it gives you SAD (seasonal acute depression). The sun disappears for the winter and only shows up for as long as an episode of your favorite TV drama. It’s a shame if the sun and your favorite TV drama show up at the same time because you’re going to miss one of them. It’s dark at 3:00 in the afternoon like it’s dark at midnight everywhere else, and people get SAD. People feel the urge to jump in front of speeding trains more; the amounts of anti-depressant medication skyrocket; and everyone that can afford it fly south for the winter, like a messed up, pasty white, flock of sad northerners.

The sun is important, it makes you not get SAD but also makes people HAPPI (Heightened Amounts of Perky Personal Instances) if you will allow me to use a second grade spelling of ‘happy’. But the insomniac inside of me, hates the sun and loves the darkness. There are the given implications of me siding for the darkness, and saying that people should get out of the sun more often, but I’m sure I can live with it.

I grew up in Las Vegas, home of everything happening there and staying there, burnt out B, C, or even D-list stars, pimps, prostitutes, Garry Waddell and Paula Francis, Egypt, Paris, Venice, Rome, New York City, and triple digit summers. The summers in Vegas are hot, and it was in Vegas that I learned the joy of seeing the world when the sun was not up.

During the middle of the day, the best hours to get HAPPI and get rid of your SAD, the concrete adult playground of my home gets hot. It’s not an exaggeration, it’s serious. About a dozen people each summer die from the heat. I worked out in the sun as a lifeguard, and we would toast pop tarts by leaving them in the aluminum wrapping and putting them in the sun. After about an hour, or two, depending on if you were cooking on concrete or asphalt, you would have a warm sugary treat.

While growing up I heard people say things like, ‘it is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk’ or something along those lines. Frying an egg is easy, anyone can do that, but that inspired me to take the pre-made cookie dough from a tube that you find near the eggs and butter at the grocery store, and bake it. Concrete isn’t hot enough to make cookies, but a parked car with the windows rolled up with a cookie sheet on the front dash is good enough to get a dozen baked cookies and a car that smelt like chocolate chip cookies for a few days. Grease monkeys can have the new car smell, I’ll take the chocolate chip cookie car smell.

I know the sun and what it can do to a person, but when growing up in Vegas you learn that there’s a limited amount of things you can do when it’s 120 degrees outside. The sunny hours are fun, but every construction worker, gardener, trash man, or public worker knows that if you do not want to loose gallons of water to sweat and put yourself at risk for skin cancer, you start work at midnight. The coolest minute of the day is the minute before sunrise. You might have a high of 120, but at midnight it’ll drop back down to a bearable, comfortable, and most importantly, workable 80.

Those moments that aren’t covered by poets, those moments that are never seen by a nine to five worker, and those minutes of the day where there the majority of people are in their beds, are the most comfortable moments of the day. It sounds morbid when people call it the graveyard shift, but it’s not that sort of graveyard. It’s not a graveyard full of zombies lurching around wanting to eat brains; it’s a calm, peaceful, quiet, and empty graveyard that has a few visitors walking through it. When you go to a graveyard, there is never a large crowd, it is always peaceful, and even if there is someone else there, the graveyard is large enough that you never have to see them.

Every insomniac or graveyard worker has found the joy of having the world to themselves. There is joy in driving down the a road that during the daylight hours is bumper to bumper and congested, but at post midnight hours you can speed down it without a single car in sight. There is happiness in being able to go shopping and getting that prized parking spot next to the handicapped spot. The best moments are traffic lights with sensors on them. You are alone in the world and are special enough that even the lights (that have sensors on them) are willing to change for you.

For those moments in the post midnight hours, you are the ruler of the universe. Celebrities have to pay a lot of money to get a store all to themselves. Diplomats have to have police escorts to have the lights change for them. Insomniacs get the five star treatment whenever they want.

Next time that you’re annoyed with shopping at a store that is open for 24 hours, be it for the lack of service, how crowded the place is, or anything that would be completely different if you were the only person in the store, get out of the store and go shopping at 2:00 am. You’ll never want to shop during the sunny hours again. It’s almost a regal feeling of being able to walk through the grocery store and the biggest problem that you run into is a fellow insomniac stocking a sold out food that’s on sell, just for you. You know that your fruit is the freshest because you can stop the person stocking your apples, and grab what you need from their crate.

There’s the ego-stroking bonuses of going out late at night, being treated like a king, having the world to yourself, and being able to do just about whatever you want with no one watching; but just like the daylight times, there is beauty in the midnight hours. I didn’t realize just how beautiful night time in a city was, until I managed to get out of the city. It was in a small town that I realized that stars are great, and being able to actually see them was impressive, but there’s something mesmerizing about an empty parking lot lit by twenty foot high light poles. The artificial light of the midnight hours takes things that you are use to and, quite literally, lights them in a way that you never expected. You get glimpses of the beauty that neon brings to things around 10:00, but there are people moving around and messing up the picture.

It might seem silly, that you can’t see art and beauty when there are people around, but anyone who has been to a famous museum like the Louvre knows how annoying people can be. You can see the Mona Lisa, but you have to jump up and down to catch a glimpse of her over the heads of the hundred other people crammed into the room trying to see her faint smile. There’s something missing when you’re crowded, when there are people walking through your line of sight all the time. It is the art critics dream to have ten minutes alone with Lisa. Those ten minutes of being able to sit and stare without any distractions would mean more to a respecter of art than an entire day crammed into the Mona Lisa room, fighting with the crowds, the din of everyone talking, and the heat of that many bodies bumping and jostling for position to make it to the velvet ropes.

The midnight hours are the hours that you can see the beauty of a city. One of my favorite things to look at are intersections. During daylight hours we rush through them, wait at them, and hardly think twice as we see the lights change colors. When no one is around and the world has turned off for the night, intersections are a city’s installation art, brought to you by the very artistic group; the Department of Transportation. Intersections are amazing because the light changes. There is beauty in concrete buildings colored with neon lights, but there is art when that lighting changes and alters the entire image. With one intersection, you get to see the world of a lively emerald green, a shining golden yellow, and a harsh brilliant ruby red. You also get the lights conflicting with each other. When there is that lively green, only 90 degrees away there is a harsh, conflicting red. For those that know your color wheel, green and red are opposites, they are perfect polar opposites and Department of Transportation was artistic enough, and brave enough, to light the same intersection, the same buildings, and the same world, in these strongly conflicting colors.

Unlike other outside instillation art pieces, intersections only get better when weather is added. When it’s windy, and I really mean gusting, the stationary Christmas tree of the intersections lights begin to dance. Shadows begin to do a quick mamba that only they can hear the beat of, and they dip, twirl, and sway to it. Snow is also an added bonus to any midnight art critic. It takes the light of the street and reflects it into the air. It has to be fresh, white, clean snow, but with the change of a light, an entire pile of snow can become a glowing green mass from an alien planet, a dirty joke about yellow snow, or a blood splattered war zone.

The holy grail of insomniatic art is a rainy night. Rain cleans up the world, taking away any of the dirt and grime from the daylight hours, but it also makes everything shine and shimmer. Your favorite intersection is only magnified by rain because the roads and buildings begin to glow. A building that use to be sort of interesting, on a rainy day becomes a concrete chandelier with a rainbow of light shimmering and glistening from the water.

Go to sleep early, set your alarm, or stay awake until 2 or 3, and go out and see the secret that the late night workers and insomniacs have been keeping to themselves. It’s a different world, waiting for you. You’ll have the world to yourself, an entire art gallery to frolic through and make your own. Just make sure you get out of the streets before 5 because nothing ruins a good insomnia driven romp through the streets like having an over anxious high strung business man rushing through your piece of art in his four door sedan while he shaves his morning stubble with an electric razor.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Testimony Bingo

With fast and testimony meeting ahead of us in a few weeks, I decided to share with you a creative little thing that I made to keep myself entertained through the first Sunday of the month. Sure, it's not your typical 'creative writing' activity, but just to make it up I'll put up a non-fiction piece by Saturday.

There are more than 24 (the typical amount of bingo cells) on this list, so there are some steps that you’re going to have to take. You’re going to get a 5x5 Bingo grid, and number the grid with and number between 1- 48, leaving the center spot open as your bonus square. Be sure to mix up the order of your numbers or plan a strategy with your number choices so that you can win against your family/friends/roommates/bishopric.

0. The Real Thing- You can use this one whenever you hear a real testimony with the spirit witnessing of the truth. It can take the spot of any square and can be used as many times as you want each testimony meeting.
1. False Start- two people get up to share their testimonies at the same time.
2. Quick Breath- A moment of silence where no one is moving, getting up to share their testimony, and everyone is just sitting, anywhere between 15-60 seconds.
3. Seventh Inning Stretch­- A moment of silence that lasts over a minute.
4. Travel Log- The person giving their testimony talks about a trip that they took.
5. Extended Metaphor- One testimony bearer makes an analogy or a metaphor, and then a second testimony bearer uses that metaphor.
6. Almost Doctrine- The testimony bearer says something that isn’t true doctrine, but it isn’t completely wrong.
7. False Doctrine- The testimony bearer says something that is completely wrong compared to the doctrines of the church.
8. All The Cool Kids Are Doing It- The bearer starts their testimony saying that the only reason they went up was because they made a deal with someone else that if they went up they would go too.
9. Shed a Tear- The bearer sheds a tear.
10. Sob Story- The bearer is unable to talk because they are crying so much.
11. You Pansies!- The bearer is able to get more than one person in the ward to cry.
12. Start With a Joke- The bearer starts out with a good joke.
13. Corny Joke- The bearer says a corny joke.
14. Stand up Comedy- The bearer says more jokes and laughs more than being spiritual.
15. What?- The bearer says or does something that makes you ask yourself, “What?”
16. TMI- The bearer shares information over the pulpit that should only be shared with close friends, certified professionals, or priesthood leaders.
17. Longest Blink Ever- A person in the audience falls asleep.
18. Nap Time- More than one person in the audience falls asleep.
19. Knocking Them Out- A person on the stand falls asleep.
20. Taking Out The Giants- A member of the bishopric falls asleep.
21. Double Kill!- Two members of the bishopric fall asleep.
22. Batting 1,000­- The entire bishopric is asleep at the same time.
23. Applying The Scriptures- The bearer talks about the scriptures applied to their own life.
24. Dramatic Reading- The bearer dramatically reads and/or quotes a hymn from the hymn book.
25. Everything I Needed to Learn, I Learned in Sunbeams- The bearer cites a children’s hymn.
26. The Word- The bearer brings up their scriptures with them and reads one verse from the scriptures.
27. Story Time- The bearer brings up their scriptures and reads an entire story from the scriptures.
28. Echo- The bearer says whatever their parent whispers in their ear.
29. Notes- The bearer brings notes with them up to the pulpit and reads from the paper.
30. Elder C.S. Lewis- The bearer quotes, cites, or references C.S. Lewis.
31. Spirit in Dirty Diapers- The bearer finds some weird spiritual reference to some mundane life event.
32. Prayer Mixup- The testimony seems more like a prayer than a testimony, look for things like being thankful for lots of things, or ending “in the name of thy son”.
33. Disclaimer- The bearer starts with a testimony about either the simplicity of their testimony, their language skills, or starting with any apology.
34. Time Stamped- The bearer tells you how long it’s been since they were last up.
35. What’s Your Tribe?- The bearer shares information about their patriartical blessing.
36. Cinema Secrets- The bearer makes a spiritual connection to a movie, because Star Wars is totally related to the Book of Mormon.
37. That’s It?- The testimony meeting ends early.
38. Mormon Standard Time- The testimony meeting runs 5 minutes over.
39. Stop Standing Up- A person walks up to the stand, after the time the meeting should be done.
40. Shorter Sunday School- 15 minutes over the time limit.
41. Official Decree- The person conducting tells people to stop getting up.
42. 100 Yard Dash- A parent chases a child up to the pulpit.
43. Marathon- A kid in the cultural hall runs around for at least one complete testimony
44. Spelunker- A kid crawls under a pew into a different row.
45. I Want to be 3 Years Old- A kid is fed cereal.
46. Life Sucks- The bearer talks about the hard times they are in, divorced, eating disorders, abortions, miscarriages, previous drug abuse, and others.
47. Hello I’m With- The bearer isn’t a member of the ward.
48. Early Onset Alzheimer’s- The bearer gets lost mid testimony and can’t remember where they were.

Feel free to add any of your own categories and tell us about them.

Friday, June 17, 2011


When I received the email about this blog, I jumped on this opportunity right away.  I've been having a good time reading the previous posts--so much talent!! It's so intimidating! And I have tried to comment on others' writing, but blogger has been difficult for me lately.  In other words, don't hesitate to comment and critique since I like to do the same.
Introduction first.  I'm Michelle and I'm going into my senior year here at BYU.  English is my fourth and final major choice and I love love love it.  I grew up in the Portland, OR area.  Pleasure to meet you!

I decided to use the 5 words that were given to us from the reandom word generator.  First post, here we go!

Bleary-eyed, I struggled to open my clutch to find some quarters.  I used my sleeve to wipe my nose as I fed the parking meter.  I can be such an idiot, sometimes.  Must be those trust issues, or something.  I walked into my office building where I work as a copy girl for a Nike senior editor.  I’m surprised that I still have this job, with the hot mess look that I have adopted since moving to Portland.  Then again, I guess being a hot mess can get you a job if you worked your butt off in college and are willing to re-locate.
As I situated myself at my desk, I blew my nose, then immediately used hand sanitizer to appease the germaphobic weirdoes in my working space who love hygiene more than their mothers.   Opening a new browser, my senior-editor-boss-man-who-could-pass-as-a-greek-god popped up from behind my monitor the way he does and dropped a stack of documents on my desk.  He noticed my red eyes and un-make-upped face, and asked, “Lilly, what happened to you last night?”
To which I blubbered, “I got a phone call from…an ex.  But it doesn’t matter.  We have that meeting with the newsletter team at eleven and that’s more important.”
He shrugged those perfectly toned shoulders and gave me the “I just don’t understand women sometimes” look.  I guess even the offspring of Zeus can’t figure the emotionally unstable girls.  Suddenly embarrassed at how I must look, I pulled out a mirror and touched-up my blotchy face.  You need this job, Lilly, I reminded myself.  Don’t screw this up like you did with…This triggered fresh tears and so I set to work on the stack that my boss gave to me.
Eleven o’clock and meeting time rolled around.  As I dictated the minutes of the meeting, my mind drifted to the previous night.  I had received a call at about eight PM from a number that I vaguely recognized.  The instant I answered, I regretted my decision since he was on the other end.  Three months of overworking at my new job to keep my mind off of things and the progress of living in a different state were all erased at the sound of his voice.
“I don’t care if you couldn’t be the trophy wife.  I wanted you to be my wife.”
I was snapped back to the present by the transition of the meeting from design to advertising and I jotted some notes on my yellow notepad.  It still baffles me as to why he called after three months of being completely cut-off.  But what hurt the most was the apology.  
“I’m sorry if our relationship was a waste of your time.”
By that point in the conversation, I was sobbing and moaning like a cow. This wasn’t fair to my fragile self.  I had worked so hard to put all of the pieces together and with every minute that I stayed to listen to his voice, I crumbled.  I had made the decision and he was apologizing.  I knew he was too good for me from the start, but I hoped that maybe there was some flaw to him that would manifest itself as the relationship progressed.  I’m still looking for one.  But that was ultimately the thing that ended the engagement.  I would walk into a room full of people and the group of people he would be talking to would give such judgmental looks, that I would regret being his.   Looks of shock that he would even consider dating a girl like me.
“We can work this out.  I can talk to my family about how they treated you.”
Just don’t mention to them how I can’t cook, I snore like a bear, and have an opinion about everything that I will voice no matter how controversial the topic.  That’s not socially acceptable for a trophy wife.
Realizing that I was tearing up again, I tried to think of a mildly intelligent response to the question that the director of advertising had posed in case I was called on.  I attempted to look busy with the minutes and reviewed my notes.  I almost gasped aloud when I realized that I had written my first name with his last name in the margins, like I used to during class when we were engaged, just for practice.  I received a puzzled look from my boss sitting next to me when I started to vigorously scribble out the reminder of my heartbreaking conversation the night previous.
Again, my mind went back to the phone call.  After what felt like hours into the conversation, but was probably only 30 minutes, I composed myself to the point where I could form complete sentences:  “I can’t believe you never stood up for me in the first place.  We already discussed this.  Why did you call me?”
I thought about my response and final decision as the meeting adjourned. I gathered my things and followed my boss out.  Professionalism, Lilly, keep your dignity, you made your decision and you will stick with it.
When we reached my desk, my boss turned to me and said, “Listen, Lilly, it’s none of my business, but I can tell you’re having a harder time than usual today.  What can we do to help you out?”  I couldn’t stay composed, anymore, and I started to sob into my hands.  He awkwardly pulled me towards him and just held me, letting me sob into his sculpturesque chest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writing Prompt #3: Random Word Generator

For those of you who aren't fond of cookies (but really, who doesn't like cookies/writing about cookies), here is another prompt. Adding restrictions or requirements to your story can really make you think outside of the box. So I brought some words up in a random word generator and now you have to write a story including the following terms:

Parking meter

Or use the Random Word Generator to come up with your own words. Happy writing!

P.S. On an unrelated note, the ads on the Gmail account for this page are all for wands. I wonder why that is...