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: Imstill39@yahoo.com

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...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

22 Cookies- Adam Walters

I don't really know how we're going to go about this, so I might as well introduce myself in this first post from me because you're going to be hearing from me throughout the summer.

My name is Adam Walters, I grew up in Las Vegas, served my mission in Sweden, and want to go into writing for older young adults (high school to college age). I'm a senior and if everything goes as planned and nothing too drastic happens I'll be graduating in December. After that I'll be going to a graduate program (hopefully). I've been married for a year and a half to my best friend while growing up, and currently the only kid in my life is her pet cat Sam.

To kick this off, here's my response to the writing prompt about cookies. I'm horrible with titles so here it is:

22 Cookies.

Twenty-two cookies. That’s all it was. One cookie on my desk every morning for twenty-two days. I thought that they were the leftovers from my roommates, that they were being nice, or even giving me the last cookie from their personal stash during the night. I am a night person. I am always the last one to fall asleep out of the five guys that I share rent with, but that means that I am the last one to wake up. Somewhere in between the 3:00 bedtime and the 10:30 alarm clock the cookie would appear on my desk.

After seven cookies I asked my roommates who was giving me the chocolate chip cookies. Mark, Seth, Brenton, Spencer, and Robert all said no. Mark lived in the library, Seth was flirting his way through the apartment complex, Brenton was addicted to a TV show and had managed to get to the fifth season in only two weeks, Spencer was Spencer and there was no chance for him, and Robert was too opposed to me to ever consider doing something nice for me. Even with the knock down of each roommate, I gave them the honorary question, and each said no.

Nine days in, and the cookies changed; I started to get Oreos. There was no more home made cookies until days numbers 13-20, and then I got swapped back to store bought for the last two days. After twenty-two days, and twenty-two cookies, it had become a morning ritual. My alarm clock would ring and make me want to punch a hole through the wall, but then I would move my hand eight inches to the right and find my morning pick me up. Some people stick with coffee, others have their morning Coke, but I had my morning cookie. That morning cookie was the beginning of a good day. That cookie would swap my mood from wanting to pro-wrestle body slam the first person I saw off of the balcony, to only wanting to trip anyone I saw with a rolling backpack or Heelies; but that’s normal even for the best of my days, there’s nothing that can fix a hatred that deep.

Twenty-two cookies, and then one note with one picture.

Twenty two cookies from her? I didn’t understand how she could do it. There was the obvious problem of distance. She was two time zones away. She couldn’t just drop by my place and place a cookie on my desk every morning. Then came the question of the logistics. 22 cookies, most of them fresh and home made, delivered nightly, through my apartment without any of the other guys noticing.

Then there was the hand written note. It was a loopy handwriting that I could identify without looking at the picture. It was simple note. In a sad moment of manhood after reading it I might have shed a small, microscopic, completely unnoticeable, hardly worth mentioning tear when I read it.

I love you.

Three simple words that could pack so much power. Three words and I was transported to going out with her, eating dinner with her, and seeing her smiling face and hearing what I thought was a perfect voice every night before I went to sleep. Three words. I had heard them before, but on that little yellow sticky note on the picture of her it was the first time that I had felt them in a long time. Girlfriends had told me those words before, there was even the man love between roommates, but that sticky note was the first time since I was away from home that I knew someone meant it.

I had to call her. It had been too long since I had heard from her. We went our different ways when I left her at home; but we left on a good note so at least I could call her. She knew the day that we started our relationship that I couldn’t be with her forever. College does that to people, it breaks you up from people that you grew up with. Even though there were a few tears shed when I left, we could do exactly what I was going to do.

I got my cell phone out and hit her speed dial; two.

I was listening to the phone ring when Spencer came into the apartment. “What are you getting all teary eyed about?”

I didn’t answer, I just waited for the ring tone to cut and for me to hear her voice. “Thanks for the cookies Mom.”

Writing Prompt #2: Wristwatches, Handguns, and . . .

A/N:  As you may have seen last week, our second writing prompt was posted, offering some possible threads to guide us through writer's block or into a story.  In case you missed it, here's the prompt (taken from Reader's Digest):

One day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find another cookie. This continues for months until one day a different object is leftand this time there's a note.

The following is my response.  My intention was not so much to write something unusual, but to develop a peculiar voice for the narrator that contrasted, yet complimented, the content.  As always, any reactions, thoughts, criticisms are welcome (story after the jump).


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Many Times Can You Break Something Before It Can't Be Fixed Anymore?

A/N: Just a short piece I wrote the other night. Any feedback is appreciated.


It's a thick smell, almost dizzying, and it teaches me how to be silent. And I wish I knew the word, the name of the flower or tree or bush that carries the scent, but I haven't a clue. All I know is it's sweet and it's thick and it reminds me of the times we could have kissed, should have kissed, never kissed.

And it's only in that place, that bend down by the river. I smell it when the windows in my car are down and when I'm listening and looking and seeking the memories.

You remind me of myself. The things I am when people don't watch. Violently opinionated, passionate, yet afraid. Strong, and somehow weak. You taught me how to cry myself to sleep, how to nurse a broken heart, how to walk away.

That smell, it makes me believe. In romance. In first kisses and hand holding and the way one look tells me what you're thinking. We were primitive in those days, just charcoal splashed with pastels. Paint and paper mache. But everything was simple. Everything made sense.

I stayed awake one night to watch the moon rise and set. Everyone talks about the sun, but moons can be golden too.

--Kelsey Allan

Monday, June 6, 2011


A/N: I'd love any input at all!


We are proud of our indigenous populations. The Cayuse, Klamath, Chetco, Umpqua, Ahantchuyuk—all belonging to diverse linguistic stocks and defined by the sediment poetry of a salmon's cycle. We are proud of their names on our valleys, waterfalls, local banks. They are the last, boozed senators of the frontier, of horses without saddles, of ranch trucks and redwood protectorates. They once aimed obsidian through buttoned cavalries; hoisted scalps on spears, smeared compounds of mud and resin on their cheekbones. We likewise hoist their names on the flags of our county seats, public libraries, having assimilated the yearly corn rituals of Modocs, celebrating the rustwater Wasco reservations, naming our sweetest, most cooked-with onions after northeastern tribes. There is great, reverent nobility here. There is an Indian population of .2%. We uphold visions of traded blankets, hawk-feathers clinging to twice-washed dreads, the famine-angled faces and laconic jawbones.

Wampum, pow-wow, totem.

Hart read a lot of Louis L'Amour. He has a bookshelf dedicated entirely to L'Amour's canon. Certain books are more worn than others, like routes of blood. They are all from the same publisher, and so there is uniformity in their spines, designs, size and cut. He likes the nickel cadence, the western faces. He sleeps on porches with a hat-brim over his eyes and keeps a tin of tobacco in his back pocket with an indian chief on its lid. He is very proud of the worn back-pocket denim around the tin. It means he is a man set in his ways, settled into good things, old habits, ballads accompanied by only one instrument. Reflected in virile tales told by men with French surnames, paisley patterns.

He told me at a young age that the worst thing a thinking man can do is read more than two books a season. A book is something to be considered, weighed, carried in the glove-compartment of the same pick-up truck a man uses to cross his own fields. Changes in the color of a landscape should be marked in memory by particular sentences, passages, fragments of dialogue. A man must be changed by the end of a book—if not by the book itself, at least by the daily hazards and lunchtime traumas of two or three months, and a variance in temperature. Hart believes in the pace of things. He has made me into an old man, with due consideration and gravity paid to a pending, side-mirror death. I started smoking Lucky Strikes when I was fourteen, and could bale thirty acres by evening, and often fell asleep rubbing the ridges of calloused skin on my palms, feeling the same pride a man nurtures in the denim imprint of a tobacco tin, in a name like Klamath.

Hart says that every man has some indian blood in him out here.

He tells me to carry it proudly, with respect to strange religions, memorized litanies, hand-carved wooden art.

The family unit falls into ruts of speech, expression, vacation. Fathers take their sons fishing, in hip-high boots, to cast lines thin and sunlit as the sill intelligence of ants. They have neat, slung baskets of bait, tackle, hooks, gutting implements. The whiskery flies are elaborate, wrought with trembling, masculine digits like marriage promises. Hart never took me fishing. He said it was a tired hunt, an institution of savage, arrhythmic nostalgia, without the same stealth and guile inherent to shooting a four-point buck with a heavy-duty plastic compound bow, while scented with bottled upwind urine, and fully camouflaged. He took his children instead to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, one-on-one, and afterward bought an ice cream cone. The cheese factory was the consolidation of an elder lifestyle, a place where cheeses and butters where not churned with the same hands which poured warm tub water down the long backs of children, felt fruit, hefted bibles. No dairy draped in breathing cloth, kept aloft from mice. No rounds of cheese aching with an appley firmness on a shelf. It was not a place where people wore calico and Thanksgiving was the showmanship of hard-work, tabled labors, and you could crouch at the spot where each item originated, and not walk far to get there either. At the cheese factory, the people behind thick glass wore hair-nets, masks, jeans. There were vats and overhead piping. Hart showed his children the tidy destruction of a lifestyle. He told me about electric milking machines that jolted milk from great rows of udders. This dovetailed into a lecture on meat-packing, butchery, Upton Sinclair. He wears blue shirts with white stitching. The tobacco smells like mint.

His best friend is an old Indian, who keeps his hair long, like a summer away from home. His voice is cool and quiet, a handful of grain in a dark pantry. At the hood of a truck, they talk about politics from their day, compare lifestyles, kids. They die at similar rates. I am terrified each time I see insurance companies and grocery stores going up bearing the names of forgotten fishing tribes.

We play billiards on Tuesday nights at the pool hall. There are few high school-aged kids there. They are Hispanic and they wear their t-shirts the length of gowns, hats still with tags, blue bandanas. They are no good, and they know it, and they laugh when the ball skids wrong, white pockets, the flat expanse is scratched. I know how we look. An old man and his middle-aged son. Heavy and with clean, acute strokes, leaning under light that emphasizes the depth and fallow of our furrows. I want a goddamn pizza. The place reeks of it.

Hart says to me, “I'll break.”

We build fences, rabbit hutches, woodsheds, pantry shelves, armoires, bed-frames, dressers, piano benches, milking stools, writing desks, doghouses, cupboards, sawhorses. The shorn heat of wood, the musk wine of cedar smell. The constructions which occur between two men of differing age, irrigation, wars, comedians. Purposeful measurements with stubby wood pencils, extension cords, overridden knotholes. Hart continues to woodwork. I take him balsa at the clinic. He has a penknife which mewls through the soft, heartless white wood; carves horses, birds at rest—lightweight idols which make me wish for children who could treasure the technique of a grandfather, eventually become nostalgic for hand-made things which have no function. Hart would take them to the Tillamook Cheese Factory where they would appreciate cheese curds and the secondary destruction of intangibles which bedrock a man's pride. Their names would have been chosen from a bible, from an obscure region of begets. They would be ten and twelve. I would not take them to see Hart. I would tell them the story of the time he got in a fist-fight with John Gladney, who got in the newspaper a couple years later for blowing up a post office. Hart's memory would flex. Ripple in their minds with the silt muscle of trout.

I take him on a drive along the Columbia River. It is Sunday, they let him wear his old clothes, jeans without the tin. There is an oxygen tank between his knees like a torpedo wrestled into submission. The river is green and wide, the windows are down, the dark is the summer velvet of blackberry eating. He rides his hand out the window, letting it kite on the wind. We'll stop and stay at a motel along the way and then finish the drive and spend tomorrow at Chinook Falls where there will be park benches, coal grills, drop-boxes for day-fees. We will drive along ridges, spend an hour watching the bright downward gallop, the day fifteen degrees cooler there, white nearby pines easing hugely like sick horses. We'll talk about Louis L'Amour's autobiography, Dennis Day, Robert Kennedy. How orchards are irrigated in the summer. Techniques of spacing corn. How strange it is to see a modern Indian using a goddamn cell phone.

He turns up the radio when the talk runs out. Our headlights devour highway moths. We skim by fill-up stations, low bars, truck stops, outposts. The night is good.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Writing Prompt #2

Here's another prompt if you need some inspiration:

One day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find another cookie. This continues for months until one day a different object is leftand this time there's a note.

I think it will be interesting to see what people can do with that. This prompt is from Writers Digest, which has great ideas if you're having writer's block.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome New Followers!

Hello, everyone!

We have a lot of new followers and comments today; I'm going to assume that this is a result from the email sent out from the English Department. So for all of you newcomers, here is what we are trying to do with this summer creative writing group.

BYU English Society hosts a creative writing interest group (Team Gryffindor) in the fall and winter semesters. We wanted to continue writing and commenting on each other's work during the summer but some of us have returned home, some of us have remained in school, and some have gone on study abroad programs. We created this blog to continue our writing, but due to our small numbers and our summer activities (which I'm sure are awesome), we haven't been too successful thus far.

Here is where you come in! With more people, we can get this group really going. What we've been doing so far is giving the email to anyone who wants to post a story so they can do so from the BYU Creative Writing account. If we have enough people interested that already have Google Accounts, you can just post from your Google account.

We would like to have a writing prompt posted every two weeks (I will post the next one tomorrow). Then the next week, people can post their responses to that prompt. It can be nonfiction, fiction, poetry, what have you. And then others can give feedback on your writing! It's win-win for all!

So for those of you who would like in, please email byucreativewriting@gmail.com. I will send the details on to you! Thank you!