Monthly Archives: November 2017

Something Like Larry

By Emilea Huff

In the morning, I see him. His hands are on the wheel, his voice greeting me as I step into the shuttle. He wishes me a good morning with a smile so endearing I feel like I’ve known him in a past life. There are wrinkles around his mouth, not from stress, but from smiling his whole life— just enough to leave a mark for every passerby to notice. I don’t know anything about this figure with the red baseball cap and the stubble that frames his aged face. I imagine his name is something like Larry, or Wayne, or George.

He could have a daughter— ten years old with pigtails and pressed-daffodil freckles. He could have a wife who spends her time drinking white wine and pasting photos of aunts and uncles and cousins into scrapbooks. Maybe his favorite food is lasagna, with the tiny leaves of oregano sprinkled on top. I have not known him long, but I imagine his younger brother has a wife and child, too. Some happy family that I’ve constructed in my head, all before I’ve even taken my seat.

Maybe he has a ranch-style house with blue shutters, like my own house used to be. The Larry in my head has a pug— not for him, but for his daughter who loves them so very much. He has a laugh that sounds like an engine starting, I imagine, something that makes his wife’s heart thump. He drives a bus because he loves the thrill of being on the open road, but now his brother makes fun of him because he’s going the same route every day. It may be the same route, he says, but at least I don’t work in a cubicle. Now his brother is laughing harder.

I wish I could say know him. I don’t know if he has a child or a wife or a younger brother that works in a cubicle. He is all a mystery to me, even his name. Whoever he is— whether he is Larry or not, I hope the life he lives is something he deserves. Nevertheless, I am determined to make him laugh. Just to see if he really does sound like an engine.

 

Reflections V.1

By Derek Frazier 

Growing up and recognizing that my high school experience is over because I am a senior, creates a looking-in-the-mirror kind of mindset in me. It makes me pause, and look back on the wisdom I have developed over the last four years, and what affected me the most. For me, it was learning the difference between a defeat and a failure.

I have a very disciplined work ethic, and that has bled into my personality as I have matured. If I am given a challenge, I will move heaven and Earth to accomplish that goal. I don’t feel satisfied until I have given it my one hundred percent, even if it costs me mealtime or sleep.

As I’ve grown, however, my self-doubt has almost manifested into a voice, one that I associate with Satan himself. When I did something that I knew I could do, such as brave my fear of heights on a zip line, or make a medical decision at work when a little kid is injured, the voice whispers “you can’t do this,” or “why are you even trying?”

I will not say I’m embarrassed that sometimes I gave into the voice, but I am ashamed of the effects. As someone who still strives to work hard, I melted down when I performed a job poorly. My anxieties would go into overdrive, and start to hammer a massive amount of stress into me. I would start to hyperventilate, pace back and forth, and talk faster than I already do. The voice would start to repeat, “failure, failure, failure.”

Even now, my brain is prone to overthinking. So when the voice got louder I started wondering, “What else can’t I do, what else have I failed to do?” When often I hadn’t failed or done anything wrong. Unfortunately, I am still plagued with the symptoms of overthinking, just not to the same degree.

Meditations on who I am as a person helped me quiet that voice, as did yoga and spending time reflecting in nature. There is something very intimate and enlightening about dissecting the things that make you who you are. It’s like standing naked in front of a mirror and recounting the stories of how you got all your scars. I’m not saying go into the park and everything will get sorted out, I’m saying it helps to close your eyes and teach yourself acceptance.

To me, failure isn’t a bad thing anymore, its an opportunity to improve, to accept that you didn’t do it right. It’s not an ugly “F” written in sharpie, it’s the universe’s way of giving you permission to try again. It’s okay to cry and admit that whatever it is you’re facing in life might just be a little too much for you. Just don’t give up on yourself.

That is defeat, that is letting something beat you. The red pill versus the blue. It’s the mental decision to give up and let that voice feed off you.

When I was younger I studied martial arts, and I had a very serious Sensei. He would always tell us that we weren’t trying hard enough when we were putting our everything into the forms and repetition of movement. Looking back, I see the point he was trying to convey about a lack of mental discipline. Karate was more than repeating a kick or a punch, you needed to look past him and prove that you could do it.

But it hurt nonetheless. And after deciding enough was enough, I gave up on karate, convinced that all dojos and martial arts were like that. And now I regret that decision very much. I have trained in other styles of martial arts, and self-defense since, but I regret not proving myself to my Sensei. I wholeheartedly believe that decision is where my voice of self-doubt started. If I had stayed and practiced Karate under a different tutor perhaps things would have been different. That was my first defeat.

I still have anxieties about whether or not I can do something, crippling as they were prior to my self-reflections but not as often as before. I learned to close my eyes, take a breath and clear my mind so I could enjoy a few moments in peace. If I had given into the self-doubting voice. I would never have been a writer. I would never have gained the self assurity that I will become a paleontologist, or dissipated my fears of being a terrible father one day.

This isn’t a statement of triumph, or a claim that I’m better than anyone, this is a reflection on the greatest chapter in the reflection of my life to date, and a hope that it inspires others to do the same.

 

More Than Living

By Elizabeth Mcfarland

I want to make art even more than I want to breathe,
I want to promise everyone I am enough,
That I will turn pain into prose,
And hurt to Haikus.
That I will be good entertainment for the masses,
Like the Classics.
Please,
I will carve stories into my arms with green fluorescent ink,
if it meant I could be art.

Test me,
I beg you,
I will do anything

I would hear the gasps in the hospital room
like a symphony,
after I realized it could be done.
The notes,
all different tones,
would hit me like a freight train,
shattering glass all at once,
like a car crash,
please.

Maybe that is inspiration enough?

Just tell me I did it well,
That I exist,
give me a slot in the list of the classics,
the Fantasticks,
I want to know what it is that they have
that I don’t.

I wonder if it is the feeling of being turned inside out.
Of dissolving and becoming
All at once.

I really don’t care how it feels.
Even if it’s like dying,
Or like bliss.
Does it really matter?
I just want to feel it more than living.
I want to be art more than living
too.

 

They’re Never Really Gone

By Nathan Retherford

Mother woke me up at about 8 AM to check on the garden, she had her thin green plastic gloves on, and her sun hat that frayed slightly at the edges, and she had a smile that said Have I got an adventure for you today Darcy. We went to the flowerbed right beside the front door and there was an eyestalk growing from the ground. It was Great Aunt Leontine’s (and I know it was hers because it kept searching the window for the little trays of cookies she would leave out, and my brother and I would steal, when he still lived here). I had no idea who buried her there, but Mother seemed pretty content and fed it and the veins along its side sort of convulsed in a seemingly pleased way when she did. This is probably because my uncle who lives in South Dakota planted Grandpa and last Christmas he sent us a card with a photo of a leg squirming out of the earth with the caption “Me and the Old Man, still kicking!”.

That night after everyone went to sleep I had to look out my bedroom window and Leontine’s eyestalk had grown out maybe another quarter of an inch and was peering around the front of the house in a very lumbering way. I saw the tips of her manicured fingers wriggling slightly in the dirt and I guess it really is like Mother said, that they’re never really gone.

By the next week, when I had to go back to school (it was Christmas break, and when I asked Mother why we planted Leontine in the winter she said a woman as strong as her could grow any time of the year) her hand had shot out of the ground enough to wave goodbye as I got on the school bus, and sometimes Mother would show her my homework and spelling bee awards and get those signs of positive reaffirmation and she would say Darcy Dear, I am so proud of you. And for a while, piece by piece, Leontine was there, her nose took root not too far from the window and we would let her smell the casseroles and pies and other things we made and her eye would dilate as if to say Thank you.  

But one day I came home from school and I got off of the bus and Mother was there, crying, and Father was holding the weed-eater behind him, and the whole front of the house was covered in little specks and splatters of blood. I tried to ask what happened but it was pretty clear that there was no getting Great Aunt Leontine back now, and that tomorrow they were going to come with a big backhoe and put her somewhere else. Somewhere she could Rest In Peace.