Thursday, January 20, 2011

Post Christmas

I don't show people what I write - not typically. Hardly ever, really. I know of two or three people who "follow" my blog. It's funny. After three years of using Blogger I still have yet to decide if I'm kosher with the idea of putting my thoughts into "the Interweb." I don't have authority here. No one really does.

Regardless, I wrote a short story a while ago and finally decided I would put it online for kicks and giggles.

So, here it is:

It was surprising how stale her house had become after a week of abandonment. No heating and air circulation paired with its lack of inhabitants made for a rather stuffy interior. January’s creeping cold had already taken the first of its long toll on the one-story ranch house. That house – that family heirloom of two generations – not only felt colder, but for the first time ever, foreign as well.

No lights inside or outside. The wreath-laden lantern in the lawn that welcomed visitors was now snuffed out; a sad powerless incandescent bulb making the half-acre landscape so misgiving.

Inside there was no movement, no noise. An unlit tree was still tucked into the corner, its antique limbs and needles having seen decades of Christmases – still sustaining the evergreen luster only plastic could ensure. Though unused this season, that tree had outlasted her. It was now a dull green, nearly olive in the muted light that seeped through windows that couldn’t properly illuminate the room even with their blinds drawn back. The sun sets low and early in winter. It would be a long time before its light would reach above the tree line during its descent into dusk.

Creaking, yellowing linoleum tiles lead from the kitchen to the basement steps – that narrow passage congested by wooden frames documenting a long and tender family history, eventually descending low into a tunnel of polished veneer and thinning carpet. Gaps between the panels hint at some space behind – some artificial rift made to separate the untouchable. It was merely that thin wall separating the stairs from the furnace room – a dark storage of canned goods, obsolete appliances and overflow from decades of possession.

Here in that bosom of that house the only resident burrows back into a corner behind the cold metal shell of a furnace. He lives near a bicycle that hasn’t seen pavement since its owner moved out a generation prior. It stays there – motionless and poised. It is staring at the wall.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poetry perhaps?

I wrote this short poem at a Burger King inside a terminal of LAX. The context doesn't really add to it. Enjoy.

Urged to look ahead,

Gladly complied.

And sorry it took so long,

Staying with me longer than I want.

It's short and simple. Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Resting in Grace

Okay. I'll admit I'm not one to get vulnerable easily on a blog. Something about it just seems steeped upon wishful thinking that random someones might stumble upon your humble little website, read your over-processed blog ramblings, and somehow "get you."

I'll further admit I've done a flat-out lousy job of keeping a blog during my time in California. Five months can move fast -- and it magically takes the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday to bring out my creative juices, heartfelt sentiments, and overall motivation to write something.

I'm intentionally listening to Christmas music for the first time this year -- Sufjan's opus of holiday tunes, of course. Blame it on my suppressed notions of the indie-kid aesthetic, but I shamelessly admit this collection of songs has changed my mindset on the holiday season for the better.

A red-eye flight from LAX to Milwaukee to Indianapolis brought me home, and for the first time in a long while I saw the beautiful desaturated flatness that is an autumn in Indiana. God knows I've missed this. Five months is too long -- but as always, in a semi-magical fashion, time seems to play a reverse effect. Five months is also not long at all. Despite a renovated kitchen and bathroom, not much has changed at home. The only thing I truly notice that has changed is the season. It's not just late autumn -- it's the holiday season. Officially.

That being said (and yes, my introductions are always this convoluted), let me say a thing or two about Thanksgiving. I simply love it. I love my family and I love the memories -- both the good and the bad (2009, I'm looking at you!).

Sunday's sermon at Pacific Crossroads in Los Angeles floored me. The pastor began with a unique welcoming, saying in light of the Thanksgiving holiday that we are to rest in the grace of God. That being said, I'm making an effort to rest this Thursday and dedicate time to reflect on the insurmountable grace He has shown to me. I'll stop before my nostalgic notions get me choked up, but I can't help but think of an all-to-familiar hymnal verse: "Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."

So stinking appropriate. A Hallmark moment. My eyes are almost watery.

There you have it. I've gotten vulnerable to an extent.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

flickr revival

New and improved photos. All shot on film.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


I uploaded this picture because it's one of my favorites. I took it with my roommate's Diana Mini on Kodak 400 last spring. During an afternoon drive through the country roads leading to campus, I decided to waste film on whatever happened to be on the other side of my moving car. The result was 24 double images with a few exposures receiving light leaks from the next shot on the roll. That burning pin of light in the middle of the image is just that. I really like it. It makes me miss school, which gives me mixed feelings about a lot things -- especially regarding living in Los Angeles.

Remember when I posted romantic musings about how magical my 5 months in the City of Angels were bound to be? I do. It was this past spring -- around the time I took the above picture.

Right now, the 45 students at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center are getting a "crash course in Hollywood" -- as the program website calls it. And those 45 students are quickly learning whether or not the film business is something they want to wake up to each morning. A lot of us come from the Midwest, from backgrounds SoCal natives would stamp as conservative or even rural; from backgrounds where a love of watching and re-watching a handful of favorite DVDs and owning a MacBook packaged with a student copy of Final Cut Pro promptly knighted you as "Hollywood bound" -- ready and able to achieve whatever creative outlets the entertainment business might demand. One of my roommates here in LA told me -- in a tone that was teetering on defeat -- that Hollywood was nothing like he imagined. It's harder. More exclusive. Even seclusive. It's a unique business where barriers have been strategically put up to keep those who shouldn't be here (or even can't be here) out. There are plenty of Jamba Juices and Whole Foods for the defeated to find refuge within.

Enough ranting about the biz. Enough people do it. It's called Variety.

Tonight I went to the roof of 5455 Wilshire. It's 24 floors high -- high enough to get a perfect 360 degree view of Los Angles County. Hollywood and the Valley to the north. Venice Beach to the south. Orange County to the east.
Santa Monica to the west. Smack-dab stuck in the middle. But it's only at night and at two dozen stories above Wilshire that I find myself whispering how much I love the city life.

Someone I respect once told me his personal motto is to daily "adapt and overcome." Those two actions are surprisingly harder to scratch into my baseboard than I wish. Highs and lows are expected, but I find myself moreover wishing to regain what I've apparently lost. I've noticed I rarely appreciate something to it's full potential until after its absent from my life. Childhood Christmases and the magic a handmade ornament could give to the room. Sitting for hours in front of a television and losing myself with a plastic controller in my hands. Visiting Mitchell, Indiana during the last weekend of September. Things I grow immensely nostalgic over. Things that, even if I participate in them now, will never resonate the same as they did yesteryear. It's these memories that strike a tuning fork within me and fill me with....something. Something I feel every time I think upon how much I truly love my family.

And that's the point I was trying to make. I counted a few detours in there.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Woods (working title), Part I

The following is the beginning of a story I decided to write this past week. It's come to my attention that I've spent probably over 10 years trying to figure out what it means to grow up -- and this story is me still trying to come to terms with everything that involves. Feedback would be good (Josh?), so feel free to "tear it up" and go nuts.


Once upon a time, there was a place caught between seasons. It was a place where autumn still lingered when winter was long overdue. It was a place where boys played outside and wore knitted caps, fingerless gloves and handy-down bomber jackets to protect themselves from an always-approaching chill. It was a place where trees changed their colors with unyielding frequency, and where each falling leaf resonated in the wind like a tuning fork – which could strike a chord in even the bitterest and most sensible of hearts. Among this boundless spread of trees, the boys found a place where adventure was equally immeasurable.

Darmy and Middy were waiting for Kaffy to return with new orders. As ritual demanded, they carried out their current game until further instruction arrived. It was a rather sluggish game of marbles. Darmy had drawn the circle in the dirt with a finger and took his time educating Middy on the rules despite Middy’s anxious fidgeting. His apprehension had cost him seven games in a row.

“Again?” cried Middy. “You win every time! Darmy, how’d you get so good at marbles?”

“I’ve played a lot, Middy” stated Darmy. “You have to play a lot to be good.”

Middy was small and the youngest, not a day older than nine. He wore an oversized cap with flaps that went down well past his narrow shoulders. Darmy was maybe fifteen and was the only boy who had an air-powered BB gun. When not hanging at his side, the plastic weapon leaned against a tree stump – the same old tree stump that Darmy had secretly hollowed a notch to hide various knickknacks. The tree stump also acted as the boys’ meeting spot. When one of them was sent out to get instructions, he would return to the stump to find the other boys waiting for him, continuing whatever game they were directed to play, and this was precisely what Darmy and Middy were doing this particular day.

“I don’t want to play anymore,” said Middy. “I want to play a new game.”

“Me too,” said Darmy, “but we got to wait for Kaffy to come back.”

“I know,” muttered Middy as Darmy began to divide the marbles again. “Them’s the rules.”

“One more game?” he asked.

Middy didn’t answer. He pushed back his cap. Out of the corner of his eye and through several layers of gray tree trunks he saw Kaffy, wearing a blue coat with a green hat, emerging from the woods. The sound of his worn-out tennis shoes pounding the leaves as he ran wasn’t as loud as his panting – as he had been running all the way from the hideout on the other side of the woods. Instead of calling out to the other boys, Kaffy took a deep breath and crowed like a rooster – a ritual that Darmy and Middy knew to mimic in response. The three boys’ howls echoed through the tree branches, and for a brief, nearly nonexistent moment Darmy felt the woods come alive with a feeling he knew he had grown numb to – a feeling that, if he had known the word, he would have called ecstasy. Adventure, he thought. It’s about time. He grabbed his gun from the stump and ignored the marbles that he had let scatter among the leaves.



Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jeremy and Rachel

When Jeremy Lambert kissed Rachel Nelson in the kitchen doorway of his two-bedroom apartment, he knew at that precise moment that the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with was not Rachel Nelson.

Jeremy and Rachel had spent most of their evening in and around the shopping center, and in that lively environment lit by icicle lights and teeming with the sounds of the holidays, Rachel made a very astute observation when a skipping girl, no older than ten, flew past them in a bright orange coat.

“Look at her,” she said. “I honestly can’t imagine being so happy that I would actually skip.”

Jeremy didn’t reply and Rachel forced a weak laugh as the girl pranced over to a group of children, presumably her friends and joined them in frantically scooping snow into their gloves. As the children prepared for their friendly battle, Rachel tried a new approach.

“Is that bad?” she asked, linking her arm with Jeremy’s.

“What are you asking?” he replied.

Jeremy’s trite response caught her by surprise. Rachel Nelson was then reminded of something: she was very unhappy that evening. She was unhappy about having lived a quarter of a century with very little to show for it besides a framed piece of paper she now kept in a cardboard moving box. She was unhappy that Jeremy constantly had a cocktail of medication coursing through him. And she was unhappy that her father continued to put several hundred dollars a month onto her debit card. But she was most unhappy that she remained dependent on someone else – someone who wasn’t Rachel Nelson. That someone right now was Jeremy Lambert.

“I’m not even sure,” she replied quickly.

She forced another laugh as Jeremy looked away. He was hiding a violent cringe that had just made its way across his face. He had always found masking his emotions difficult, but thankfully Rachel was someone who didn’t easily pick up on tell-tale subtleties.

It was getting late, indicated by Jeremy referencing his watch. He let out a sigh.

“Should we be going?” she asked. “What time is it?”

“Almost eight,” he replied.

“Time flies,” she said.

Jeremy couldn’t agree more. Had he missed it? All night he was looking for an opening – a brief pause in her barrage of hollow conversation that would allow him to finally speak his mind. So far nothing. Either Rachel had not given him the chance or he wasn’t brave enough to interject. He had found her comment on skipping disturbing, but chose in that moment to not use the statement as a platform for his much-delayed complaints. He feared her response. He feared her making a scene in a public place. He feared losing her. And most of all, he feared knowing that he needed someone like her to feel complete. But he wanted to complain – truly he wanted to interject and proclaim that he too was unhappy just like her. But he wouldn’t tonight.

He would instead return with her to his apartment as the ritual mandated and spend the next two hours lounging alongside her on his couch watching television. It was mid-December, so reruns of classic holiday shows would be playing. She would eventually claim to be too tired to stay awake. He would ask her to spend the night, but she would refuse. He would offer her a ride back. She would politely decline, insisting the walk wasn’t far and that she needed to clear her mind. They would make their way to the apartment door, kiss their goodbyes, and probably start over again tomorrow.