Friday, October 08, 2010

Things I wasn't surprised to hear at the haunted house.

There are three different Jessie James' but I'm pretty sure they are all related.

If you have to pee you better go now because there aren't any bathrooms in there! Repeat this statement ten to twenty times.

Wait, your VIP?

These energy drinks taste like beer and apple juice.

That's a lot of people, did they just wrap the line around?
No, that's the line to take a picture with the bunny.

If that old guy tries to punch us he's gonna go to jail.

Insomnia. I already have that so I can't get that.

Body Odor. I know that's not something you hear, but still, I wasn't surprised.

My fingers are cold and my face is hot, so I just touch my face a lot.

There's stuff in there that's worse than me.

Technically there is turning back because we could go through that gate right there but then that would be a waste of money and I didn't spend ten dollars on this just so I could leave when I am suppost to be saving money for homecoming and oh my god are you going to homecoming?

I'm a zombie, I don't even know how to tweet.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010


They say that if you write fast you can write like an animal. They say that if your pen or pencil never stops moving, not even for those words you can't place your fingers on, not even for punctuation and spelling, that you can become fierce and ferocious and wonderful. But don't you dare stop and think things through. If you just keep that pen's tip flowing through the blank page in ruthless ambition you will eventually hammer out a miracle. You will somehow tap your way into something you could never dream of. Just don't stop writing. You keep that pencil flaring and you ignore those pains in your hands and that ache of slow moving ink that can never keep up with the words in your head. If you don't stop writing, never-ever stop writing, you can tap into the window of your soul.

I don't know if all that is true. I'm not sure I can believe it. My hand just hurts too often and all the words just seem so... so, ordinary. I'm no miracle worker and my hand cramps up like the first week of football practice. But I must follow the formula because I never know what to write anymore. I've lost a gift and a love to much greater miracle workers than myself. Thank you very much Mr. Raymond Carver. Thank you John Steinbeck. You've made me ordinary again. Average. Normal. Nothing special. I'm just a river of incomplete ideas and a lost cause. I much more prefer floating atop the current of characters and big ideas sent down stream almost effortlessly from the hands of men.

I don't have many ideas of my own. I can't paint a picture with a brush, a breath, or a fountain pen. I can't make the real seem surreal any better than I can fight a bull or win the heart of a lady. I can't throw down crisp letters and words that somehow manage to stay both seamless and broken. I can't point out the injustices of life any better than I can point out life's true beauty. It doesn't really matter how fast I keep my pencil moving. The words still remain just that, words. Mere words, jumbled and broken. Nothing to make a heart skip a beat. Nothing to wrap a mind around.

Maybe that is why I change hobbies faster than puberty changes little boys. I could never take my own breath away. I could never jot down something to be proud of. I could never work hard enough to impress myself and I always fall in love with that next medium. It's all so amateur. Little words from a little man afraid to grow into something bigger. Afraid to allow talent to mature through that awkward stage. Afraid to let puberty run its course and endure those late teens and early twenties. My hands will never find themselves because my mind is so far in front of them. Yeah, that hand drawn pick axe is cute, but its no Mona Lisa. That's a pretty little essay you got there, too bad you'll never cast a character quite like Adam Trask. Enjoy that riverbank you so casually fish from because you'll never release anything quite so profound as the day's big catch.

What is talent anyway? Is it merely another man's work? Is it simply the right place at the right time coupled with the heartache of ignoring one's own shortcomings? Is it the industrial age stomping out the individual's individuality until he can't take it anymore? Is it a man grasping, reaching, crawling just to stay himself? Is it the wonderment, the angst of trying to be understood by at least one other person? Is it a blind effort to be seen as something other than flesh and bones? Is it the inside of a man desperately trying to make its way out any way that it can? Is it a child's effort to hold the attention of a parent? Is it stomping out all the mistakes and smoothing them over and over again until finally you can spot no flaw and there is no choice left but to allow others to stomp on what's left until finally you don't care anymore and you move on to the next idea?

Let's let those run on sentences run their course. You are no Hemingway. Both of your ears are still intact and you will never be hung for an idea that is bigger than yourself. You know this. But you still don't stop trying. There is no choice but to let that pencil flow across the page no matter how average it all is. So what if you are amateur? So what if you can't fake talent? You can't fake beauty either but the world continues its cosmetic obsession because humanity refuses to accept its homeliness without a fight. You keep on trying because you don't know how to go on without that pencil and those words. So your ideas are small and your words may be without miracle. They still remain your words. And you love them, homeliness and all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frozen Lasagna

My world came crashing down on May 13th 2002. The night before my eighteenth birthday was the night my mom passed away. Eighteen is considered the symbol of adulthood, but I literally grew up over night. The only birthday present I got that year was the realization that life is short and the ones you love won’t be around forever. To make matters worse she died the day after Mother’s day. I didn’t get her anything. I didn’t even take her out to dinner. I spent the entire day asking if it was okay to do something with my friends. I made three different phone calls: the first to see if I could play some Frisbee after church; the second to get some pizza with the guys; and the third to catch a movie. Every call ended with an “I love you” and a “have fun dear.”

I got home some time after midnight and went straight to bed. The next morning my mom caught me in a hug as I was heading out the door. I was running late for school so I tried to make it quick but my mom insisted on this one. She told me that she missed me. I hadn’t been around much and she wanted to have a “just the two of us date.” I agreed, kissed her on the cheek and told her I had to go. This was the last time I talked to my mother. She died later that night.

I celebrated my birthday in a vain attempt not to show other’s my pain. I put on a fake smile as the Red Robin work crew sang me a happy birthday. I told myself, “If they only knew they wouldn’t bother with the false sincerity.” I skipped a week of school only to spend most of my days in bed. I ate nothing but the frozen lasagna that stuffed the freezer as friends and family offered condolences. A bittersweet meal, lasagna had always been my favorite. But no one’s lasagna was as good as my mom’s. Dinner became a symbol of my loss as I choked down the frozen counterfeit. I would never eat my mom’s lasagna again.

I greeted family at the memorial service and tried not to look crushed in front of my friends. I went through the motions until graduation. Prom. The SAT’s. College Applications. I really didn’t care about any of it. My grief turned into guilt as I recalled my mom’s last Mother’s Day and everything I failed to give her. Soon days became weeks and the pain wasn’t leaving. I blamed myself for anything I could think of. Maybe if I had acted differently she might still be alive. Reports came back that her death was ruled an accident. It wasn’t suicide. She couldn’t have known the low dosage of pain meds would mix poorly with her prescriptions. But it still felt like suicide. It felt like I was the one to blame.

I had prided myself on my ability not to blame God. An achievement made less impressive once I realized my anger was directed at myself. This realization didn’t free my shame. It took an entire year for the grief to turn to anything other than guilt. I understood that the blame was irrational, but I still experienced it. Every new day introduced me to another decision not to sit in self pity. Eventually, I learned to experience my grief guilt free. I didn’t have to make the effort not to blame myself, but turning back to the accusations is a temptation I still face today.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

How to Write a Paper

Start with the research. Search the library for a book that deals with your topic, find said book in the lower stacks and then pull all of the surrounding books off the shelf. Put said book on top of your pile and climb the stairs with your pile stacked from palms to chin, arms straight. Spend three hours writing your bibliography. Use all of the books in your stack. Open your original book to its bibliography and copy any titles you may have missed that you think will impress the teacher. If needed, do a quick scan of the library for those books. Check your facebook and your email. Change facebook status. Tim Elliott is a blank slate. Update twitter. Wonder if your status was too vague. Facebook chat with a friend about how boring and frustrating homework is. Use the restroom. Return and look out the library window for about five minutes. Isn’t it beautiful outside? Actually, it’s January. But still, that wind is breathtaking. Glance at the clock, oh man, its lunch time. Ponder whether you can afford to eat and still finish the assignment on time. You probably can, but you are working a double tomorrow, so maybe not. Decide that you should get a good start on the assignment before eating. Flip through a few of your books until you realize you have no idea what to do next. Write down as many questions about the subject as you can think of. Flip through the books again. Write down a few more questions. Check facebook. Eat lunch. Buy coffee. Return to your work. Write an introduction paragraph. Quote something from one of the books. Delete your introduction paragraph. Keep the quote. Stare at your screen. Google the word “thesis”. Google the phrase “working thesis”. Write your working thesis, never reword it. Expand the thesis into an introduction paragraph. Check your facebook. Return to your work by drumming along to the Pandora playlist you’ve been listening to. It’s so beautiful outside, all windy and cold. Stare at the bald man with the sweet goatee walking down the sidewalk. Is that Tony the Beat Poet? Probably not. Read an entire chapter from one of your books. Oh shoot, its getting so late. Figure out how much more work needs to be done. Count the hours till the due date and the minimum amount of pages the paper must be. Realize that if you write a page an hour you just might get the assignment in on time. Get down to business. Pound the keyboard with fingertips as forceful as fists. Use a lot of quotes. Get stuck and stare at the screen. Check your facebook. Chat with friend about how hard this paper is. Get back to work by reading what you’ve written up to this point. Fix all typos. Cut and paste for better structure and flow. Scan your list of questions. Write a page. Check facebook. Go to Examine trade details between Mariners and Red Sox. Read three articles. Stare out the window. Holy crap, its getting dark. How many pages do you have? Search books for a strong, long quote. Analyze quote for a page. Check facebook. Update twitter. Hum along to Pandora. Was that too loud? Look around the room. No one is looking, you’re probably good. Use the restroom. Write a couple more pages. Count your total lnumber of pages. It’s getting down to the wire now. Ponder your grade. What’s the worse you can do? This paper is at least a D. How can you get a C? Is a B possible? Delete part of your long block quote. Summarize the part you deleted and the main argument that author is making. Analyze main argument. Find something from another book that contradicts it. Summarize contradiction. Wonder if you are citing properly. Use a quote from contradiction to get another page worth of analysis. You are so bad at writing papers. Wish there was some trick to this whole paper writing thing. Write until the library is about to close. Check out a couple of books. Take work home, complain to your roomates about the amount of work you are doing. Eat dinner. Watch part of the Blazer game. Check your facebook. Write until three or four in the morning. Wake up at six. Take a shower and make coffee. Eat cereal. Write until you are finished. Compare conclusion with introduction. Check for typos. Save to jump drive. Walk to computer lab. Print paper. Turn in. Work a double. Drive home while keeping your eyes open. Fall asleep on top of your bed’s blankets while still wearing your work clothes. Forget to return the books you've checked out for five weeks.