Friday, April 28, 2017

What am I working on?
I was working on my narrative short story, but after turning it in, I've held off on working on it. In the mean time, I've been working on a short story in media res based off of the second sentence prompt we were given in class on Wednesday. I also have ideas for two poems which I'll be working on for my portfolio at the end of the semester

How do I feel about the process?
I'm glad that I have something more or less readable for my narrative, but there is still so much work to be done on the story, I can't say that I'm really satisfied, even with the part I have done already. Something I noticed while working on the narrative was that I was having trouble writing descriptions of my characters in a natural way that would give the reader the full visual I have in my head. A lot of the time I think that character description can often be cut out of the story, so I have a hard time including everything I want to say about a character without if feeling forced. I'm happy with the way some of the characters have developed and interacted with each other so far though.

What am I reading?
I haven't been reading very much outside of short stories and poems for my other English class. In other media, I've been liking the new single from The Mountain Goats.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

FILE.07 (Hot Dreams) unfinished

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“It'll be good for you Liz” her boss said. “I know how hard it is to travel abroad due to the industry, but with 00-Life you can travel anywhere or experience effectively anything with almost no hassle. Normally the cost is a bit much for your average schmuck, but I booked you and some of the other girls some spots on the twenty-seventh. You're always among our top earners and consistently bring in consistent profits. Consider this a thank you for all of your hard work.”

“Thanks Frank” she said, “but I'm not sure I fully understand what I'm getting into.”

He laughed a deep, resonant laugh. “Just have fun—you're over-thinking it. This is your chance to be anyone or go anywhere, no strings attached. It's not real, but it might as well be.”


“Now if you'll excuse me, I believe that we both have some work to attend to.”

Knowing her cue, Elizabeth got up from her chair and headed toward the door, leaving Frank alone in his office. She always felt like Alice in Wonderland after leaving his office, everything inside was abnormally large in order to accommodate Frank properly. His desk and chair were a good foot higher than what a normal person would use and his hulking frame made them seem average. Even the door was enlarged in width and height to allow him to easily pass through. She grew in size from a child to an adult as she stepped out into the hallway that lead to the dressing room.

As she changed, Elizabeth checked the date, it was the twenty-fifth. Two more days. She could do two days.

“So what are you going to wish for?” it was Monique.

She was already dressed and sat with her legs crossed on the long couch at the back of the room and kicked her feet back and forth. Her straight black hair was cut into a bob with bangs that framed her mischievous face. She grinned.

Elizabeth was taken back to her first day at work, over a decade ago. She was young, afraid, and had been out of options. Monique had signed her contract only a few weeks before Elizabeth and had helped her adjust to her new life. With her pale skin, petite body, and penchant for misbehavior she had earned the nickname of “imp” from Frank. To Elizabeth she was a guardian angle, in spite of her blunt speech and often abrasive habits.

“Oh, so you knew about this 00-Life business already? And when were you planning on telling me?”

“Actually I've known for a few weeks, but I was waiting to make sure that it wasn't just the big man trying to get revenge on me.”

“Revenge? What'd you do this time?”

“He's been on my case for smoking too close to the side entrance again. Something about 'keeping up appearances' or whatever. Keeping up appearances? We work in a fucking brothel!” she let out a quick twinkle of laughter. Elizabeth thought that she sounded like a fairy and found herself trying to suppress a giggle of her own.

“You should really--” she started.

“Yeah, yeah. Stop smoking, it's bad for my health and all that” Monique replied with a singsong voice. “I don't smoke because it's good for me. I do it because it makes me look cool and sexy, she blew Elizabeth a kiss.

“LADIES, YOU'VE GOT FIVE MINUTES” the receptionist's voice came hammering through the door.

“THANKS PEGGY” Monique hollered back. Then she laughed again. “Damn it feels good to yell. You ready Lizzy?”

“Yeah,” she double checked her makeup in the mirror. “Let's go.”

Peggy was waiting for them at her desk. She was an imposing woman in her late fifties and was probably quite beautiful in the past, but now kept a much more matronly figure. Her long red hair was tied up in a tight bun and she was almost never seen without her tortoise shell glasses. Though Frank was the owner of the business and provided the money for its upkeep, Peggy was their true boss. She kept the building running and well maintained while making sure that appointments where scheduled and properly adhered to. She looked up from her computer.

“Monique, I have no appointments for you, so you've on standby for now.”

“God. Again?”

Being on standby wasn't so bad, because if there were no walk ins or you weren't requested midway through the night, you didn't have to work. But if you didn't have a client, you also didn't make money off commission or tips.

“As for you Liz, you've been booked for the whole night by one 'Louie Lowman'.”

“Lucky” muttered Monique under her breath.

Elizabeth mulled over the name, she couldn't remember any regulars who went by that alias, especially not anyone who would put in a request for her specifically.

“This will be his first time booking with us, so I'm glad that he'll be in your care” Peggy continued, ignoring the interruption. “It seems that he saw you in one of our late night ads, so at least those weren't a complete waste of money. He'll be here at 10:00.”

“Oooh, a secret admirer” teased Monique as she headed for the side door. “Good luck!”

“You better not be going out to smoke already!”

“Oh, I wouldn't dream of it Peggy!”


So this was Louie. Elizabeth sized him up, he didn't amount to much. He was an old man, maybe in his mid-to-late seventies; short of stature with a slender frame and dressed in an antiquated style. His wire frame spectacles were perched on a sharp nose and his thin, clean-shaven face was creased all over from a lifetime's worth of emotions. In his hands he held a flat cap and it's absence revealed a thinning head of slicked-back silver hair.

“Hi, I'm Lou,” he introduced himself with a handshake.

“Well come this way Lou” she said. “I'll be taking good care of you tonight.”

“Oh I'd like that” he grinned sheepishly, “It's been such a long time since anyone's taken care of me.”

She beckoned for him to follow with a curl of her index finger and he followed her down the hallway to room 103. She sat down on the edge of the bed, he sat in an armchair in the corner of the room.

“So, Mr. Loman, what can I do for you this evening?”

She reached for his belt.

“No no” he interrupted her, “that won't be necessary. I just wanted someone to talk to. You remind me of my late wife Eleanor, you see. I thought if I could just talk with you I wouldn't feel so old.” He looked so small, like a child in their grandfather's recliner. “You know, I used to be afraid of getting old, but here I am—an old man. I guess it snuck up on me.” He chuckled sadly. “I miss her, I really do, but I have to wait until the good lord calls. She wouldn't be happy if she knew it was by my doing, no sir...” he trailed off. Elizabeth found herself stroking his arm consolingly. “This might be a bit much to ask” Lou ventured, “but do you sing? Eleanor had the most wonderful voice and she would sing to me when I was stressed.”

“Sorry, but I don't think--” started Elizabeth.

“No, no don't worry about it, just do your best, I'm sure it will be wonderful. As long as it's something slow I'll be asleep in no time at all.”

Elizabeth started to hum a song she had heard on the radio. She didn't think that she was a particularly talented singer, but halfway through the second verse, Lou was fast asleep. She took off his glasses and laid them on an end table next to his cap before slipping quietly out into the hallway.

“Peggy! He's asleep. It's only been like fifteen minutes.”

“Oh, so soon? I figured he wouldn't take all night, but he instructed me beforehand to let you know that you could leave when he fell asleep. He paid your rate for the whole night, so you effectively have a paid vacation. Some men are strange like that.”

Elizabeth left to look for Monique. She found her loitering around by the side entrance.

“Glad to see you not smoking at least.”

“Yeah, well I can't afford it if I don't get any work. Unlike you, I don't have a Mr. Moneybags to full book me every night. Speaking of which, how was Mr. Lowman?”

Elizabeth explained her encounter with the old man.

“Damn” sighed Monique. “I wish I looked like some old guy's dead wife.”


“Anything catch your eye Ma'am?”

“Well, quite a few things actually. Do you have any recommendations? This is my first time here.”

“Oh don't worry,” said the attendant. “Plenty of people are only able to join us for a single session, so I often recommend that they start somewhere in the middle of a longer simulation that they're interested in so that they can get right to the action” she smiled. “in media res, if you will.”

Elizabeth looked back at the options menu. Even if she ignored the “Create Your Own” button there were still hundreds of pre-made scenarios for her to choose from. Each simulation had its own little preview window on the screen, often highlighting decadent riches or incredible opportunities for adrenaline highs. Others showed strange alternate worlds where fantastic beasts roamed and the normal rules of Earth no longer applied.

But she was drawn toward a rather unassuming preview. In the picture an old brick red SUV with a black roof rack was parked in front of a cabin in the woods. The cabin was paneled with dark brown wood and had green and white painted trim. Smoke gently curled up from the chimney and a warm golden light radiated outward through the cabin's many large glass windows. It was all so nicely nestled in between strong, dark pines. Ferns and moss covered the ground where there was no path and wrapped the base of the trees. The simulation was titled; “Family: Old Growth Forest”.

“I think I'd like to try this one.”


Elizabeth came to on her back in an all-white room with the glow of white fluorescent lights overhead. She was in a large bed with freshly pressed white sheets. The room was slightly cool, but she was comfortable under the blankets. Machines made gentle whirrs and murmurs in the background. She felt pleasantly tired, as if she had just completed a long workout.

The door opened and a plump nurse entered with a small bundle in her arms and a satisfied smile on her round face.

“Congratulations Ms. Smith. I'll be returning Jonathan to you now.” She handed the newborn to Elizabeth. “I'll let you rest now dear. Press the call button if you need anything.” She slowly backed out of the room and gently closed the door behind her with an affectionate wave.

Finally alone, Elizabeth looked down at the child in her arms. She was amazed at how small he was, how intricate were his hands and fingers. He reached a tiny pink hand upward and grabbed her by the finger. She wept.


“Monique, I wish you could have been there, it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.”

“I don't know—Fiji was pretty beautiful too. You should try that simulation if we ever get the chance to use it again.”

“If? We have to. It was so real. I have to see what he looks like all grown up!” said Elizabeth.

“Lizzy, do you know how expensive that one session was? Maybe if you don't eat for a few weeks you could pay for another one, but what's the point? It's just another distraction. It's not real. We should keep saving our money so that we can buy out our contracts and put down a deposit on a place up north.”

“Yeah...” said Elizabeth, her eyes out of focus. “Up north... I think I'd like that.”

“Just think about it” said Monique, “the dark green of the trees, the fresh mountain air. It'll be like a postcard, we'll have a cabin or a nice rustic cottage—we just have to endure through another five years of this shit.”

She had finished undressing and stood barefoot next to Elizabeth in a green gossamer slip.

“It would be like a dream.”

“No Lizzy, it's not just a dream. We can make it happen! Think of all the money we've been saving. We're on the right track, we have a plan, we have a way out—it just takes time.” Her normally diminutive five foot three frame had grown with her passionate energy. Monique was an imposing force, an Atlas—who could lift and shrug off the world with the strength of her conviction. “Now go out and make a billionaire exceptionally happy and see if he'll donate to take a year or two off our sentence.

That evening was a rush of flesh and whispers for Elizabeth, but their probing grasps and rough words never penetrated her inner sanctum. For the first time in a long while she could retreat inside herself to an inner room. With the blinds drawn the carnal world rushed along outside without disturbance.

Elizabeth took off her slip and put it on to the pile to be washed. She stepped into the dark shower, with its small, crimson-red tiles and large rainfall shower head.. She adjusted the handles and let the warm water flow over her bare skin. She watched as it swirled between her toes and down the drain. She thought about the 00-Life simulation and about Jonathan. Did babies need to be bathed? How often? Did she have to use a special soap? Elizabeth realized that she had no clue as to how to take care of a baby.

“I'm home” she announced to her dark apartment. The conspicuous emptiness answered back. She dropped her work bag by her shoes and flicked on the light. Her sock-clad soles padded across the living room carpet into the linoleum of the kitchen. She wasn't particularly hungry, but knew that she had to eat something. There should still be some frozen dinners in the freezer. She picked one out at random and put it into the microwave. Elizabeth looked at the box as her future meal rotated in the light—Salisbury steak. Wasn't that just a fancy name for a hamburger patty? Maybe she should learn to cook.


Experiment 15: A letter to my 100 year old self

Hello me, it's you. The 2017, twenty-one year old you from seventy-nine years ago. Let's agree to ignore the mess of pronouns and just use whatever pops into our head. To be honest, I'm surprised that we made it to one-hundred. Hopefully we found something fun to spend our time on along the way, or someone to spend it with. Do we have robotic wrists to replace our garbage fleshy ones yet? I hope we still have all our mental faculties together, our family doesn't have the greatest track record with that. Can I even address you as we? How much of the me who is writing this letter is still left eight decades from now? Did you kill me off in favor of a better version of myself along the way? Or did you just swap out the bad parts and add on new ones to create a patchwork version of us? Do you still like the same things that I do now? Please make it a priority to join Starfleet if that's an option, it should be coming up soon.

Have fun lad.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Weekly Update (on time)

What am I working on?
Now that I've finished my poem, I'm just working on my narrative story which is due this coming Monday. I'm not sure how long the story will be when I turn it in, but it is not likely to be complete in 2400 words.

How do I feel about the process?
I've been making slow process and one of my main struggles has been pacing the development of the main character. I'm so used to writing short stories which are complete in around 1000 words that I try to push through the story too quickly. 

What am I reading?
I like the style of "The Veldt" by Ray Bradbury, especially how he stacks lines of dialogue without "he said" or other verbs, so I've been rereading that short story. I'm also still reading H. P. Lovecraft short stories.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I'm in Love with a Ghost

I bought a house out in the countryside.
Where I met Alice
She has unfinished business.

I cannot touch her, but I can feel her.
Like a cool weight
or a pressure on my chest.

We talk and play board games.
Chess and checkers
I move the pieces for both of us.

She can reach out and touch the world.
But it is very tiring
so she doesn't do it often.

She says she used to be a voracious reader.
Now I read to her
or play audiobooks.

One night there was a thunderstorm.
She hid under the covers
I laughed.

“What does a ghost have to be scared about”
“Shut up” she said.
We watched reruns of Tom and Jerry.

She likes to watch me cook.
She loves the smell
but eating is impossible.

I asked if she could glide through walls.
She said she can
it is uncomfortable.

“How would you like it if I pass a wall through you!”
I conceded
it sounded unpleasant.

She wears clothes from a different era.
And said she didn't need to sleep.
She takes naps.

My friends can't see her.
They tell me I'm crazy
the cat can see her though.

He hangs around the house and rubs against her ankles.
I have no idea where he came from.
She named him Eugene.

Sometimes visitors can see her
but never directly.
“I feel like someone's watching me.”

On nice evenings we sit on the porch and map constellations.
Me on the bench
her just above it.

“I can only remember the Little Dipper and Orion.
What's your favorite?”
“Vega and Altair.”

For the longest time I didn't ask her about her unfinished business.
It felt too personal.
Something for the ego alone.

“What was the afterlife like?”
“I don't remember.
I still feel alive.”

“Don't you want to pass on?”
“Of course not” she laughed.
“You'd be lonely without me.”

She was right.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter update

What am I working on?
I've been working on my narrative poem a lot this past week along with my narrative for the second narrative assignment.

How do I feel about the process?
I've been struggling with expanding the poem into larger slice of life blocks as I explained in class. The flow of the poem as a whole has suffered as I expanded it, so I might scrap that idea and just make it one long poem.

What am I reading?
I've been reading short stories by H. P. Lovecraft from an anthology I checked out from the library. Though I am not a super huge fan of the horror genre, I like his style of writing.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Word Count wSunday

What am I working on?
I've been steadily moving forward with my 20 Master Plots experiment and I think I'll turn it into my second narrative assignment. I am also working of a sort of narrative poem in non-rhyming tercets, which I will post once I finish.

How do I feel about the process?
I'm pretty happy with the structure of my poem so far. Usually I just default to full free verse because I have had very little success with structured meter. However, I am not happy with the tone of the poem. I intended to go with a comfortable, happy feeling; but reading it over it feels much too melancholy.

What am I reading?
I haven't really been reading much this past week. I have been doing my taxes though.