Slight change in the reading

After reading out loud to my roommate and my friend, the piece I posted yesterday and another piece that was up as a possible reading choice, I’ve decided (three hours before the event) to do this piece instead. In its entirety it runs at 3 mins and 17 seconds, but I am cutting the last paragraph in order to make the 2 minute time slot. Now I need to practice.

Every day we go to the beach. We walk slowly along the shore pressing the silk like white sand between our toes. I hold up a handful and watch it cascade between my fingers. It is like watching the seconds pass, the clouds in time elapse, everything moving as in a David Lynch film. These are our last minutes. I watch as my children run up to the water and kick up the surf. They laugh raucously in the ways that only children can; uninhibited, free, what we were all meant to be; joyful and filled with belly aching laughter. They don’t understand what is coming. I look to my wife, sitting in the sand. She is watching the water, silently, she has been crying for weeks. She had grown up here this is her beach. We were married on this beach almost ten years ago. “We never should have had children,” is what she mutter to me in bed one evening, as she had turned away from me. “Don’t say such things.” I had said, “Why would you say that?” I had asked. “We are leaving them a terrible world.” She said. I said nothing. We tried to avoid watching the news, but now we watch every day to see the warnings, to know how soon before the black bubbles roll onto the shore, before the stinking molasses runs down our legs in streaks of grime, to know when the stench will fill our beach, our street, our home. When the birds, smothering in ooze, their red eyes blinded in reek, when the carcasses encased like nightmarish tootsie rolls, will appear at the edge of our doorsteps. How will we explain all the death?

“I feel like I am in a movie.” My wife spoke toward the sea. For some reason the oil is separating us. I look at the photos, and photos of the birds, and feel as if the oil has coated our house, that those gasping gulls are my children, that the suffocating crude is seeping into our bed covering us. I am useless as a man, as a father, as a husband in the face of this, all I can do is watch as my children run into the ocean on the last days of life as we know it here.

“It is out there,” she said, “coming, moving, like it is breathing on its own. It is coming to kill all of us and everything. We are going to be like the science fiction movies where there is nothing left. We will be brutalized.”

“No we wont.” I whispered. She looked to me her eyes glaring. She blames me, her eyes and her anger blames me for the accident, as if I single-handedly broke the pipe and released the monster. A part of me felt she was right, that we should not have brought children into this world, that we are irresponsible that we are selfish that we damage all we touch, and then we offer it up to our children to clean. They will not have the same freedoms or the same beauties that we had. We broke and torched it all. We did, and our parents, and our grandparents, all for the sake of comfortable lifestyles with no regard or true care for the people, the animals or the environments that we exploited on the way. We chose to ignore the damages done in other places, we couldn’t see it so it wasn’t real. Until it is real, and then there is no stopping it.

A cool breeze blew in off the sea as birds cawed and dove up into the clouds. A hint of gasoline  drifted and ran through my hair like sultry fingers. My wife’s dark hair lifted from her shoulders in the gentle breeze. Our children giggled and waved their hands at their noses.

“It’s here.” She said. “The End”.


The Atheneum Launch and Reading

Tomorrow I am doing a two minute reading for the Atheneum. It is the kick off party to the program. I will read along with the other 11 students and the faculty. I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what to read. Not because I wanted the perfect thing or I was worried I would sound bad with whatever I picked, but because sometimes I can not seem to get my butt in gear. What’s with that? Anyway, this is what I will read tomorrow night. It is a minute and a half and it is from a short story I started to write about three or four years ago. I do like the character and I plan to actually finish the story one day, but for now all I need are two minutes.

Lewis hated going to Clare’s parents. He knew they were judging him. They had been judging him since the first time he ever came to take her out on a date. He could feel their eyes on his skin examining his heritage, sentencing the lines in his face that told the stories of his absent father, and poor mother. He could feel them burning through his pocket book, and reading his bank account. Tsking to themselves, to their wealthy friends. He knew no matter how much money he made or how successful he became he would never be good enough for their little girl.

They were old money. During the Harlem renaissance their family did not worry themselves over the need for white patronage, they bought their own art; they hosted affluent parties with the select blacks and whites of the elite New York scene; Zora Neal Hurston, Claude Mckay, and other great black artists walked over their grandparents’ hardwood floors. He had heard that even the legendary Josephine Baker had been to a cocktail party in the house before her return to Paris. They were part of a secret few, and they did not want their daughter slumming around with this dark skinned fatherless boy from the projects. This thought angered him. It always angered him; he had never imagined that this would be an obstacle in his life.  He felt tired like he needed a long vacation. He wanted to turn the car around and never return. He wanted to push Clare out of the passenger seat and onto the driveway leaving her and her parents’ money behind. He could leave the kids in the downy beds with the maids who came in with the morning breakfast. He would never be able to give them those things.

The Comfort Zones

It happens to me sometimes, especially at the moment when it seems as if things are going in the “right” direction, when there is a possible lighted tunnel with something at the end, something I can’t quite make out; it is blurry, but it is there, that something; it is right at the beginning of this tunnel, this lighted journey, that I begin to cower. All that comes to mind is some type of mental shut down, my mind or brain says, ‘you can’t do it, and I don’t want to do it, we are comfortable right where we are’. What am I even talking about you may be asking yourself. I was recently accepted into a writing program. It is with a writing group called The Attic and the program is called The Atheneum. I had originally applied thinking I would not be accepted. I wanted the practice of applying. The application for acceptance was a piece of writing. I sent in the first 25 pages of my novel and a goal sheet of what I wanted out of the program. I wasn’t accepted at first. There were only twelve spots, and only four spots for fiction writers. I don’t know how many people applied, but I’m certain it was well over twelve. I was sent a very cordial and personal rejection letter. I thanked them and going off the basis that I may have been a close contender (which I really didn’t believe I was) I wrote the thank you letter along with a request for a small bit of feedback. I didn’t expect a response but every one recommends writers do this, in fact if you can you should do it for any job that you didn’t get (if it is what you want to do with your life). I received another letter all unexpected. A fiction writer had been offered a job out-of-state and I was the alternate, so by a crazy chance default and by my novel having enough emph to hold onto the title, I got in. I have no money. The program is around $3,000.00 but it isn’t the money that is getting me down. I am planning to have a fundraiser and looking for ways to raise the money since I am on a payment plan. I have a lot of people who want to help me out, in fact I am surprised with the amount of support I have around me. I am on the threshold. I am at the starting line. It was a fight to get into the race and here I am. It is how hard I work and how drive I am to make it to the finish line that will determine how this new opportunity plays out and what possibilities it offers at the end. I have a group of people cheering me on and suddenly, suddenly, I am really scared. I have a child inside me saying, “I don’t want to be a writer anymore. I could never be a writer.” I know this is the moment I need to push myself the hardest. I’m not even sure what I am scared of, after all isn’t this the thing I have been looking for, writers to work with and mentor with, a place to learn more about the craft, my craft and my voice? And, it was my manuscript, my novel that I have been working on (off and on) for years, my novel that got me into the program, shouldn’t I be elated? Aside from the worries of how I am going to pay for it all, but shouldn’t I be elated?

I think in the past I would call myself some kind of a freak or accuse myself of being lazy (which I may still be) but in the truth of the truths or as far as I know of the truth, I think I may be pretty normal. I am jetting along with all the same fears of failure and success that almost everyone else feels. I am comfortable in my failures as an “artist” as a “writer”. I am more comfortable talking about the wanting then the doing, although I am working, I am writing, but putting my work out there… I don’t do that, not voraciously at least, and I can not honestly decide if I even ever want to. It is comfortable in the isolation with no one to tell me they don’t like it or do like it, what if it sucks out there? And what if it doesn’t.

Sometimes I wish I had wanted to be anything other than an artist, anything else but an actress or a writer.

To distract myself from my fears I like to look up interviews and advice from established writers. I am not looking for the How to be a writer stuff, or what makes you famous, I am looking for normalcy. I like to find the ones that can make me laugh, I like to know what they were thinking as they plodded along, working on their book never imagining to be famous. Not in the hopes that I learn something or glean some insight but just to forget that I am trying to be a writer, that it is about them and not me. I stumbled across this trailer and I thought, oh I’d really like to see this movie. I think this documentary about a “bad writer” would be the best thing I could see right about now. A nice thing to get me out of my head.