Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why One Should Always Keep Paper and Pen (or My Hatred For Microsoft Word)

By the time this damn things opens
And a blank white screen appears
I've forgotten what it was
I wanted to say
And my Nobel Prize goes out the window

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Help Me Finish This Story

I need your help.
I've been working on this story (off and on) for a couple of weeks now. The trouble is, I can't seem to decide how to end it.
Let me clarify.
This story is called Jumprope Politics. As you read, you'll notice it's a rather obvious allegory for the polarization occurring in the United States political system. The trouble I'm having with ending it is that I am torn between the boys (gov't) being remorseful for their actions or being sly and snide, continuing to plot further antics. They seem shy at first, but that's because they've just been busted.  Are they really sorry or thieving punks just waiting for the adults to leave them to their plotting and selfish endeavors once more?
I'm torn between what I think is realistic and what I hope for.
So, finish my story!
Write your own ending! (Use the comment section)
I'll pick one, and maybe there can be a prize of some sort. A printed and bound version of it or something. Or coffee or beer or something. You know, whatever. :)
Tell your friends! Let's have fun with this!
Here is the story. Pick up where I end.

Despite recess ending over an hour before, two oversized 4th graders from Washington Elementary remained fixed at their game. Billy Clifton and Georgie Baum each pulled mightily from either end of a purple nylon jump rope that was showing extensive wear near its middle. Hidden behind the bushes, they had evaded their teacher, Mr. Samson, as he marched the remaining student body back into the classroom. As their peers sweated over fractions, beads of perspiration formed a crown round each boy’s head as he kept his feet firmly planted, angled his body near parallel to the ground, and insisted through clenched teeth that he would not surrender.
Finally the rope snapped in two, sending Billy and Georgie soaring through the air, each landing with a great thud on the ground.  Holding back tears, each boy slowly pushed himself up from the soil. Georgie’s knee oozed a small stream of blood, Billy’s elbow began to develop an instant bruise.
“You big dumb smelly ass, Billy! I’m telling Principal Burgher you made me bleed!”
“Oooh, I’m really scared!” Billy retorted. “Go ahead, Dumbo! If you weren’t so fat, you wouldn’ta broke the rope.”
At this, Georgie lunged and seized Billy by the shirtsleeve pulling him to the ground once more. Entwined, each boy did his best to bring his fist to his opponent’s torso as they writhed and flopped in the playground dust.
“That’s enough, boys!” boomed Mr. Samson’s voice as he pulled the still swinging boys from each other’s grasps.  Holding them at arm’s length, Mr. Samson escorted the duo to their awaiting principal a few feet away. She did not look pleased. He left them to her stare and made his way back into the school.
The boys stood at her feet, Georgie digging his foot into the dirt, Billy suddenly fascinated by his fingernails.
 Ms. Burgher spoke quietly, but sternly and with great authority. Georgie and Billy quickly took their place on the hard ground, eyes studying the soil beneath them. Dry and cracked, ants scrambled in and out of the crevasses and both boys felt just as small. Surely it was only a matter of time before Ms. Burgher would bring out a magnifying glass and let the sun do its work. They braced themselves for the scolding that was sure to come.
But Ms. Burgher did not speak.
She simply stood, one half of the rope dangling from each hand. Its once brilliant purple fibers now muddied and ruined. She laid each broken piece in front of each of them.  Billy and Georgie shifted uncomfortably, unsure what action to take. Should they speak? Should they continue to wait? The longer Ms. Burgher’s eyes bored into them, the more impossible to stay still.
It was then that Mr. Samson re-emerged from the school; a small girl clutched his hand as he led her toward them. Her face was smudged with dirt and grime, clean streaks present only from the tears that had cleansed away the filth. Her dress had at one time been lavender, soft and lovely, but was now a dull sort of grey. The dingy lace collar clung on by a few scarce threads here and there. Her knees showed dried scabs and mosquito bites. Her toes were evident through shoes too small. Her hair hung stringy and greasy in her eyes as she stared at the dirt below.
“I believe the two of you have something that belongs to Susie, is that true?” Ms. Burgher asked.
Georgie and Billy nodded their heads.
“And how did the two of you come to be in possession of Susie’s new jumprope?”
Several moments passed before Billy finally managed to squeak out the words, “We took it from her.”
“I see,” said Ms. Burgher. “And what reason do you have for taking this little girl’s toy? This is the only toy she has, and she brought it to share with her schoolmates. You, boys, have now not only robbed Susie of her brand new jump rope, but have ruined the opportunity for others to play as well. What have you to say for yourselves?"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Like So Totally Guilty Of This, You Know?

A Promise

Now if I can just figure out how to make that happen...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thoughts In Airplanes While Up In The Sky

Somewhere I presume over the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Listening to Zeppelin’s “Going to California,” because I am.
Ah….traveling.  This is what I need. Somehow the chaos centers me. The moment I walked into the airport, I somehow felt at peace, more with and more like myself. Just being there, walking in, bags in tow, seeing people scurrying this way and that, it makes me stop and think, “This is right.”
Folks keep asking me if I’ve decided what I’m going to do with my life. First family, now even friends are posing the question. The fact that I’m nearing 30, unmarried, unsettled, this does not bode well for most people. It is, in fact, strange and people perhaps have begun to wonder what is wrong with me. I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me.  Then, in these instances when I feel most like myself, I am able to remember, I am able to articulate, “Nothing. This is me, and I love it.” Even those who have met me momentarily are able to see that this is what I need to be doing.  I need to be out in the world, observing, processing, writing, ever in wonder of this vast and varied world. I miss this greatly about being in Korea-the mentality that one does not need to surrender to the great “American Dream” involving settling into dometicality and a single location. These two things are two of my greatest fears. I want to want them. Really, I do. But this, being out, traveling, wandering, exploring….this is who I am.
I meant to start writing immediately upon hitting 10,000 feet after departing Sioux Falls. My mind was already alive and churning madly with thoughts of the need for travel, being at home in travel, as well as a general political geeking out and further contemplating polarization. See, while awaiting my flight out of Sioux Falls, I stopped to fill up my water bottle from the fountain. I turned around to see a recognizable face, so when I did a double take by turning around again, I was shocked to see the very tall and rather tan Senator John Thune waiting behind me.
“Hi, how are you?” he asked.
“Hey!” I beamed cheerfully, totally politically crushing. “Good! How are you?” That was pretty much the extent of our conversation despite a host of other thoughts simultaneously careening through my head. Thoughts such as
Did you get my letter?
Do you need a staff writer?
Do you remember me from camp?
Can we talk about polarization?
I continued to dance around in line, due to the 12 ounces of caffeinated coffee I had just ingested, trying not to gawk at him. It was then that cemented the idea that I really do need to amass my writing on a professional website and print business cards for such a time as this. It would be so handy to be able to whip one out, hand it over, have its recipient pour over my writing and be completely taken aback by it and demand I write for them, while paying me a pretty fee no less.
But, alas, I did not have such life changing business cards. So I just got on the plane and immediately took out my notebook and began scribbling down all the thoughts I would soon be typing once electronic devices were permitted.
But those thoughts have been put aside until now, this second leg of the journey, the flight from Denver to Sacramento. Because as much as I like to put in my headphones, block out the world, and hammer out my  inner thoughts on little black keys, I even more enjoy conversations with strangers on airplanes, particularly when they are with a young Catholic priest who wears combat boots and has the Dead Kennedy’s on his iphone.
As Tyler Durden was to the Narrator, Father Peter was “by far the most interesting single serving friend I’ve ever met.” Wearing his priestly collar, looking friendly and roughly my age, I struck up conversation even prior to take-off.
Rather than the basic, "Hello, where are you going today? " I just pointed to the collar. “Does that mean stimulating theological conversation throughout the flight?” I asked. He laughed and agreed that would be enjoyable.
After admitting a lack of intellectual theological conversation in my life as of late, mostly due to my lack of continued theological education, we dove right into the Pope. Hmm, perhaps that’s not the best choice of words given unfortunate light Catholic priests have cast upon them. As conversation does, it evolved from papal authority, to “calls” from God, to intellect and reason (or lack thereof) within the Faith, to books to be read, and music to be heard. Quality music this fellow enjoys, and band names were exchanged for each of us to check out. Hoorah, new music!
And in an intuitive manner that I’m not sure stems from seminary training or his personal nature, he pretty much pinpointed me as in need of constant travel, confirming that this need will not relent, but will need constant tending throughout my life. How right he is. We soon started to descend and it seemed to me the flight went too quickly. These sorts of instances with strangers are what draw me to this traveling thing. They are rare, precious, and to be cherished. “Don’t talk to strangers,” is great and necessary advice when one is a child, but should be a discarded mentality shortly thereafter.

It is when traveling that I most feel the blessings and I daresay even the presence of God poured out upon me. Someone call up Lonely Planet and tell them I need a job.