Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'scribblings' category

Time goes by, everything else keeps changing…

August 24, 2008 1:32 pm

I kind of assume most people sometimes ponder over the passage of time once in a while. I remember being nine and wondering what my brothers (then toddlers) would look and sound and be like when they were my age. I remember thinking the same thing when I was fifteen. (The younger is now past that and I’m pleased to report that both are bright young men who are much taller than I am, take pride in singing bass, and are just generally a lot of fun to be around.)

When I was in middle school, one of my favorite literary heroines at one point wrote a letter from herself at age fourteen to herself at age twenty-four. I seized on this as a fantastic idea; consequently there are several such letters squirreled away at home. One I was allowed to open when I graduated from college. Another is marked for my birthday this summer, and I think there may be another for next year.

(Mind you, they’re all just sealed with stickers…which I’ve popped off more than once in the interim. Perhaps I should have hidden them from myself more thoroughly.)

Of course, the inherent problem in writing letters to your future self is that all you want to do is ask questions, but most of them are so broad that putting them on paper in no way helps you towards an answer. “Where did you go to college?” it probably says. “Where do you live? Who do you live with? What are you doing with your life?” In the end, the content is not so revealing — of those dilemmas, no reminder is necessary. Instead, I’ll sit and look at the object itself. Look at how my handwriting has evolved: Was this during the couple of years when I dotted i’s with little circles? Did I still write my capital A’s the other way? Look how the cursive has gotten smaller and more compact. And I slip back, remembering the foggy projections: What might I look like, think like at eighteen? Twenty-four? At an age when ten-years-ago you toddled around and watched Sesame Street, ten-years-ahead presented the possibility of equally drastic changes.

And for whatever reason, I don’t remember trying to picture myself much beyond twenty-five or so, at least not from the vantage point of middle school — somehow that was Arriving. That was enough to be Grown-Up and settled, I suppose, into some kind of final form. And, largely, it was because twenty-five was misty enough; anything else (beyond vague images of one day having gray hair and wrinkles) was simply beyond the horizon. Twenty-three, twenty-four, that was what I struggled to picture.

But there she is, reflected on the subway windows and bathroom mirrors and computer screens.

Weekend with the Pug

October 11, 2007 12:13 am

My boy was here for the weekend!

I took him to a poetry reading his first evening here. The readings are a regular thing, and the graduate students from both the publishing program that I’m in and the more traditional MFA program can sign up to read for about fifteen minutes. It’s held at the school, and the audience is mostly made up of the same pool of grad students. Anyway, I’d let myself be talked into being one of the readers for that night. It went really well! There were maybe fewer people than there might have been because of some subway problems that evening, but there was still a decent crowd, including a bunch of my poetry and publishing classmates to introduce Pug to. I read five or six poems, and the audience was appreciative.

The other big event was that we went to see Wicked on Sunday night! It’s a great spectacle show with a few especially hummable tunes, and we really enjoyed it! Compared to the book, the show restructures the plot entirely (and twists the ending to make it much lighter), but in general it does manage to stay true to the characters.

And of course in between, we had a great time wandering around the city, hanging out with my roommate and her boyfriend and being out usual silly selves.

On the job front, I’ve heard a resounding silence from one place, but the medical journal had me go out to their corporate office and interview with HR last Thursday. So now they’re doing background check-y sorts of things, ferreting out the deep dark secrets in my past… Right. Last I heard, the process is going smoothly — and I actually got a pleasant note from one of my references after they called him.

Another happy: my roommate and I decorated for Halloween this evening. Life is good.

Apparently, it’s all in my head.

February 21, 2007 11:44 am

I was greatly disappointed by my poetry class last night. Situation was that I had to turn in a paper, give a presentation, and submit a poem for discussion, so rather than stress about three things, I used a poem that I wrote for the poetry class I took a year and a half ago. It was a piece that I didn’t think all that highly of, but which my professor liked, so I had some confidence in it, but I also knew it had problems. So I sent it off to my classmates and went to work on the paper and presentation which didn’t go all that well, I thought, but I’m just glad it’s over. Yik.

This particular poem is a description (of sorts) of a night at Furman when I was walking to my apartment one evening, probably going home at ten from a CCLC shift. It was a foggy night and I came around the corner into a slightly wooded area around the apartments and a little way ahead of me was this girl who was practicing for a kickline or something — literally taking three steps and then throwing a leg up over her head, three steps, kick, three steps, kick.

Well, strange thing that my brain is, it comes up with the Saggy Baggy Elephant, who goes around the jungle dancing one, two, three, kick! one, two, three, kick! Is this ringing a bell to anybody?

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Time wasters

August 4, 2006 5:53 pm

Now you too can be Jackson Pollok! At least online. (Everyone’s ambition, I know.)

The cross-breed zoo. I know I’ve seen the duckigator picture before, but not the rest. They’re all amusing, though I’m especially fascinated by the gryphon, cardifox, and bunny-bird.

I’ve been going back and re-tagging some old entries, especially ones that (a) were “Uncategorized,” (b) needed my new “D&D” tag, or (c) needed my slightly less new “Mmm, London!” tag. Which took me to this entry, at which point I started feeling a little bit guilty because the site I made with foreign study stories was (a) never finished and (b) no longer online because of that little graduation thing. So it now has more blathering added to the end and a link to my pictures, which are not on Flickr, but are on Kodak’s “EasyShare Gallery,” through which I ordered all the gazillion prints that went into my scrapbooks. Mother had discovered that before I discovered Flickr.

And if you were curious like Tae…

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Brain dump

August 3, 2006 4:57 pm

I spent a large part of my day proofreading an index. By the S’s and T’s, I was starting to get a bit on the punchy side (“effing numbers, effing numbers, semi-colon — how does Teg- come before Ted- ? Effing numbers. Semi-colon.). Also kept me there a bit later than usual. Which, to be honest, is not all that late, due to the fact that I was told the first day that “Most of our interns just work 10 hours a week.” Ooookay. (Probably just as well — there are three of us right now, and we are apparently too efficient for our own good.) So I go in on Tuesdays and Thursdays around 9am and work until sometime mid-afternoon, which translates to whenever I finish whatever I’m working on. Between not having a desk and not being in every day, there’s not really anywhere I can leave things I’m partly done with. So I clean my plate.

Been scribbling in my spare time. Have crazy ideas about resolving to finish a story per month or some such, as incentive to keep self writing — ’cause the deadline thing worked out pretty well for the fiction class I took last spring.

Anyway, I did finish off something that I’d been sort-of working on for a year or more as my “July story”. Planning to give it a month or so before any serious revising so it’s easier to tell what’s crap and what’s ok. I’ll post it now if anyone wants to take a look. Otherwise it’ll probably show up sometime this fall.

The “August story” is a thing I’d started for an assignment last spring, but just wasn’t working out. It still amuses me, though, despite the fact that it’s probably a no-plot-wonder. Toying with ideas of how to make it work as a story anyway. Something one characters says early on may tangent off into a tale of its own. I’ll put that up too, but only if you promise to offer me some good, off-the-wall suggestions.


May 28, 2006 11:29 pm

Now that final revisions are done for my fiction portfolio, I wanted to share the stories I’ve been working on. Hope they amuse! (Feedback REQUIRED, or I will hunt you down!) (Kidding. But I’d love to hear anything you want to tell me.)

You’ve seen this one before.

Here, the assignment was to tell the story in first person as though the narrator is telling the story to someone else; reader must be able to infer who the narrator is speaking to and where this is taking place. Challenging!



Ladies and gents, get your slingshots ready…

March 27, 2006 6:50 pm

…’cause I’m leaving myself wide open on this one.

We turned in our first stories for my fiction class today. Still a work in progress; nothing’s final until we turn in portfolios at the end of the term. So I would love your thoughts on this one. I managed to trample the old adage that beginning writers should “write what they know.” City government, hydraulic brakes, circus acrobats, superheroes, and journalists – all things I don’t know much about.

I’m also going to put another fragment up for your perusal. It was going to be my story for today, but then it turned into one of my plot-less wonders. If something strikes you, could you give me a clue?

Public service announcement

March 15, 2006 12:15 am

Remember March, the Ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?
What villain touch’d his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What! shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers,–shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.

– Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, IV iii

It occurs to me that maybe I should find a new way of celebrating the Ides of March. Or not. I mean, three years, dude! That’s tradition.

n.b. I will not be reading Julius Caesar for my Shakespeare, nor Antony and Cleopatra. However, for a Roman fix we are doing Titus Andronichus next week (I’m planning to take a mop to clean up all the blood). Syllabus also includes Troilus & Cressida, The Winter’s Tale, and Richard III, of which I know nothing; Lear and As You Like It, which I know, but not well; and Taming of the Shrew and Othello, which I do know pretty well. I am well pleased.

Watched Brannagh’s Othello tonight for class – I don’t think I’ve seen this one before and enjoyed it though I’ve watched his Much Ado too many times, I think. Difficult for me to see him as Iago.

Our first assignment in my writing class is to write a story with characters based loosely one two people we know, but who don’t know each other. Bwahahaha.


February 16, 2006 7:14 pm

Poetry slam went well. There was a really interesting mix this year – lots of hiphop-y and rap-y type stuff, which interests me as a novelty if nothing else – which I didn’t remember from past years. The audience was really into it, and to no one’s great surprise, the few of us who were a little more conventional didn’t last past the first round. So I actually only read the first of the poems you see below. I’m not so much heartbroken over not having to compose a poem in five minutes, though now I’m curious to try. Delusions of grandeur shattered again. I’m over it – friends have been really great, espcially CCLC people (my Furman family, really), to include an adorable note from one of our newbies (in whom I sometimes see more than a little of myself, two years ago).

A Sudden Focus

Turning back, he stops,
squinting as the Ford’s dusty hood
turns dragonfly blue
in the four pm sunlight of mid-October.

The car’s tapered nose and sassy eyes
hit him like the first guitar chords
after the amp kicks in.
He quivers like a cymbal,
in the cacauphonous midst
of a bustling WalMart crowd,
focused on that curvaceous little car.

Did Jessie still drive a car like that?
Back in high school she used to squeeze her drum set
one piece at a time
into the back seat of her Ford Focus,
hitching up her jeans before they fell off her hips.

Those days, Jessie dreamed of leaving home
getting her eyebrow pierced
hitting it big –
back when the old gang tried to start a band.

Practicing a riff, she used to purse her lips,
pounding, repeating, perfecting,
until a wild smile spread ran her face,
tossing her head as sound ricoched around the garage.

When he dealt out chords, she would cut the deck
syncopating, improvising, slipping him ace glances
until his fingers slipped and the whole group
fell apart with a crash

louder but less shocking than the slam of Jessie’s trunk
when she packed that dragonfly car,
pointing it into the sunset.
“So long, ya’ll,” she saluted,
heading for flight school in Colorado.

Dodging a cell-phone-shopper with a baby,
he surveys the parking lot,
watching the back of a woman in orange for
a full
half minute
before deciding she’s somebody else.

Circling the blue Ford, he half expects
to see it full of drums,
but all he finds is a bumper full of stickers:
Vote Bush. Greek letters. In pink: I (heart) Jesus.

The drum solo in his chest
stops dead.

* * * * *

The Musings of One Whose Neighbor Owns a Moped

I wouldn’t want to leave you in the dark
when one day you come home to find it gone –
that moped I hear squealing as you park.

I lift the blinds to watch you disembark,
You pat the bike and stumble off, mid-yawn.
I wouldn’t want to leave you in the dark

Temptation sure is strong to leave my mark
and leave that thing in pieces on the lawn:
that moped I hear howling as you park.

But crime, in truth, is really not my lark
Defacing strangers’ property at dawn?
I wouldn’t want to leave you in the dark.

Temptation sure is strong to leave my mark,
to take your whining bike and chain it down.
that moped I hear sputtering as you park.

So if you find your bike has lost its spark,
Or cannot find the motor I’ve withdrawn –
I wouldn’t want to leave you in the dark
about that moped, squealing as you park.

True story, that one. I know several of you love motorcycles and I’m okay with that, but this moped drives me up the wall. Whining in or out all day and half the night, then joy-riding around the parking lot… My walls are thin and the thing is LOUD. Oh – and I really want to get the word “lark” out of this thing. This is one of my problems with reading too many old books…I pick up too much old slang and when I try to write with it, it sounds precocious. But when you read it out loud, you can gloss over “lark” and move along to the next line easy enough.

P.S. Jumping off the bridge: my Johari window. 

Why I love my neighbors

December 23, 2005 9:40 pm

A contribution to the general merriment. The set-up is generally true; the action entirely fictitious. Feedback welcome!

The Blinking Bushes (.doc)