I probably haven’t left comments on your blog recently.
Or replied to your last email, or seven.
Or tweeted you.
This doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of you, or wondering what you’re up to. It just means my only internet is phone-based at the moment. If I’m posting online, it’s because I have something I really, really want to say before I forget. Or, like now, because it’s 4:30 a.m. and I’ve already streamed my quota of The Mindy Project on Hulu.
I’ve missed being online, a little, but I’ve savored it, too. Instead of constantly wondering what I am missing online, I have been immersed in savoring the offline. Instead of arising and running straight to the computer, I’ve laid in bed and listened to the trio of snores filling the air around me.
I’ve washed the dishes, made my rice, read my daily chapter of Just One Thing, and sat on the living room floor savoring a sense of home greater than the one I felt at my last place. There, two friends anxiously began a journey of seeing if they could build a family from friendship. So much was uncertain then, and is certain now. Read more…
Anthony Robinson is better known to this blog’s readers as “Ba.D.” Since he’s worked hard to build his name, it’s important to him that name be included here.
I wrote in preface to his other guest post that “our relationship was built through the written word.” Before our son was born, I loved reading between hundreds and thousands of words written by him any given day. After our son’s birth, his written words became fewer, mostly reaching me in text message-sized bites.
I’ve missed his written words. I’ve missed their rhythm, so different than that arising in conversation, and the lovely heart so clearly revealed by them.
This post is a gift to me in so many ways, and one I am sure to savor for a long, long time to come.
The Ocean Roars, Too.
When Deb approached me to write a guest blog for her “For This I Am Thankful” series, I was both flattered and terrified. I used to be a semi-prolific blogger, but I’d not penned anything worthwhile in a long time; my current well of writing was dry. I was full of false starts, neat ideas that wouldn’t go anywhere, and lots of staring at a blank screen until I’d fall asleep at the keyboard.
I had no idea what to write.
I was lying in bed, struggling to stay awake and considering Seppuku when I heard the soft sounds of my son snoring in the other room, when the Eureka moment hit.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I snore. I’m not talking about just a little heavy breathing or a light purr. I saw wood. I am a chainsaw. I roar like a 747 coming down for an emergency landing, or a Mack Truck bearing down on a stalled out Datsun on the I-5 on a rainy evening: My snore is the Destroyer of Worlds and the Eater of Suns.
Of all the things for my son to inherit from me—my sense of humor, my dashing good looks, my penchant for bad movies, my funky eyesight, that annoying thing I do that Deb keeps telling me about—one of the few things I could have wished on him was my snore. Read more…
My movie-induced narcolepsy has frustrated my movie fanatic fiancée, Ba.D., for years.
I seldom actively try to fall asleep. It’s just that movies were for so long my bedtime lullaby, it’s hard for me to appreciate them as anything more.
Once in a while I find a movie it’s impossible for me to sleep through. More rarely, I find a movie that not only holds my wakeful attention for two hours but invigorates me even after its credits have wrapped.
Fat Kid Rules the World is such a movie. The script didn’t so much whisper as sing through its actors.
“Troy Billings is seventeen, overweight, and suicidal. Just as he’s about to jump in front of a bus, he’s saved by Marcus, a charming high school dropout/street musician. The two begin an uneasy friendship when Marcus enlists the musically challenged Troy to become the drummer in a new punk rock band. As Troy’s relationship with Marcus grows, Troy’s father becomes increasingly concerned about his son’s new friendship.” — Official synopsis
“Fat Kid” Troy (Jacob Wysocki) immediately won both my heart and my full attention. I would have stayed awake for two hours simply to watch him go through the motions of his life. And yet, each of the actors in this amazing cast held their weight not only collectively but alone. Through their words and silences alike, these actors created living characters who didn’t so much feel real as really exist. At the movie’s close, I knew and loved each of them.
It would be impossible for me to pinpoint any one thing that sold me on Fat Kid Rules the World. There were so many that shone: its relationships, its lighting, its locations, its humor, its tenderness. Its magic was not in any one piece but in many beautiful pieces moving together in perfect synchronicity; indeed, when asked what he loved most about the movie, Ba.D. waxed effusive until I cut him off at fourteen minutes. (I know it was fourteen minutes because I recorded him in the hopes I could post his response here.)
Like me, he found it impossible to choose any one part of the film more perfect than another. Still, I gave him a second chance, asking him to describe his favorite thing about the movie “in one to two minutes.” After four minutes, I told him to wrap it up. After five minutes, I stopped the recording and asked if we should try one more time. He said we should.
That recording ran three minutes but felt insubstantial compared to the others. For indeed, how can you possibly say only, “This is cinematic perfection” when the rush of that cinematic perfection is still coursing through your veins?
Shockingly, the film has had a hard time finding its distribution groove. In a discussion following the screening, Ba.D. and I learned about the trouble with selling “a movie about a fat kid.”
Ba.D. had a lot to say about that as we drove home, shaking a verbal fist at Hollywood for trying to stick to movies easily boiled down to two- and three-word catchphrases. The movie, he said, would have virtually distributed itself in the era that brought us movies like Heathers, Pump up the Volume and The Breakfast Club.
The Breakfast Club analogy resonated with me.
At its most basic level, Fat Kid Rules the World is about a fat kid. The Breakfast Club is about a group of kids stuck in detention.
But is detention what you think of when The Breakfast Club’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” comes on the radio? Or do you grin as you sing along and remember the unlikely kinship that grew between its dissimilar protagonists?
Fat Kid Rules the World isn’t just about a fat kid. It’s about grief, friendship, anger, transformation, punk rock, and the unlikely kinship that builds between people who only seem unalike at the most superficial of levels.
There aren’t many showings of this movie scheduled yet. Check here to see if one is in or near your town. If one isn’t in your town, please request it by following the request link at the bottom of that page. It’s a little work, to be sure, but great things are worth the work, and Fat Kid Rules the World isn’t just great. It’s incredible.
Next time I see director Matthew Lillard’s name, you won’t hear me saying, as I did a few days ago, “Oh, hey, it’s one of those kids from Scream!”
Nope. Next time, I’m more likely to say, “Yeah! That’s the guy whose vision made Fat Kid Rules the World come to life on the screen!”
I’m not a movie reviewer. I’m barely a movie watcher. It’s hard for me to find the right parting words to show how much this film rocked me. Instead of the right words, then, I leave you with the ones I uttered after I stopped cheering when the movie ended:
I love this movie so much, I just want to kiss it. I don’t even know how I’d do that, but I want to make out with the entire movie. So much.
(For the record, I still do.)
There weren’t many white kids in my first grade class in a California military school.
My first crush (if I may use so strong a word for the affections of a first grader) was on a black boy who was so sweet, he immediately forgave me demonstrating the mad karate skills I’d just learned from The Karate Kid . . . even though I’d demonstrated on his groin.
His sweetness went only so far. He lost my favor before the school year was done. A year is, after all, an eternity to a first grader.
My second crush was on another boy, who—like the first—I didn’t think of as “black” at the time. Just cute.
Returning to my Oregon hometown for second grade was a little jarring. To my young eyes, almost everyone’s skin was colored minor variations of the same tone.
When I was old enough to start questioning things, like whether I was really a Republican like my parents, I remember catching sight of a banner flying throughout downtown Eugene and laughing.
The banner proclaimed we ought: “CELEBRATE DIVERSITY!”
“What, as long as it’s somewhere else?!” I remember thinking with equal mirth and incredulity.
I studied Anthropology in college. Most of my mirth remained, but strands of more analytical thought started creeping in. I found it impossible to wrap my mind around how vastly human experience could vary, and nearly impossible the further my studies progressed to speak in absolutes about “the” human experience.
Still, my engagement was largely intellectual. It remained that way until a couple of weeks after I told my boyfriend, Ba.D., I was pregnant.
Ba.D., you see, is black.
In one of our early conversations, he told me, “You know our baby is going to experience racism someday.”
Wait, what? In Los Angeles? In 2009? No way.
“I’ve been called a ‘nigger.’ Lots of times.”
I started reading articles and finding myself incensed at examples of racism very much alive and present. Even in L.A., today.
I’d rant about these things to Ba.D. only to find myself flummoxed by his calm. It took me a little while and lots of patient explanation on his part to understand this was borne of decades of personal experience. What was new and pressing to me was something he’d already lived for 3.5 decades.
A couple of months into my pregnancy, I flew home to tell my mom I was pregnant. When I showed her a picture of me and Ba.D. from the scariest weekend of my pregnancy, one in which I’d been told I’d just have to wait and see if my baby would live, she said, “So it’s gonna be biracial.”
I wrote about that conversation and what I took away from it in my blog “Race and my mother’s footsteps.”
Although I blogged a response to a racial profiling incident on 9/11/11, I haven’t been aware of any racism evidenced in my vicinity since I had that conversation with my mom. But every hateful word I’ve read has caused me great sorrow as I’ve wondered, “How on earth could someone hate my child without even knowing him? Without knowing how his laugh sounds, his touching concern when anyone around him hurts themselves, how much comfort he brought my mom in her dying days? How can that even be possible?”
When I read about Trayvon Martin, I wept to imagine losing my son over the color of his skin.
I quietly raged at people who waved off the suggestion race played a role in his death, and rejoiced earlier today at this comment #10 responding to such an assertion.
I rejoiced the comment, but not the reason for the blog that began the conversation. Some fans of the The Hunger Games books left the movie outraged by their belated discovery that a beloved character was black, a “discovery” made surprising by the fact it’s clearly stated in the book.
As always, after letting it simmer for a few hours, I eased my raging heart by transferring some of my outrage to print:
A few years ago, Joss Whedon (creator of the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, to start) was asked why he keeps writing strong women characters.
His response? “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
Along the same vein, I’ve heard questions like, “Why are we still talking about race?” My take? Because the question is still being asked. The fact an asker hasn’t experienced, witnessed or understood they’re witnessing racism doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or is wildly diminished. The question alone implies a disheartening depth of misunderstanding about internal experience versus external reality.
Today’s real world is still very full of very real inequities. We can’t change that by saying “But look how far we’ve come!” and leaving it at that.
Ba.D.’s response was, as always, perfect to calm and focus me:
Love ya and hold onto that rage. Don’t let it rule you, but let it guide you. Temper it with the knowledge that most people are at least trying. Steel that with the truth that you will have to fight.
Unlike first grade, the fights I face won’t be on the schoolyard. They won’t likely involve punches, kicks (groinal or otherwise) or thrown stones.
They’ll involve words.
If I’m able to mirror Ba.D.’s patience, those words won’t sound like fighting words. They’ll sound instead like considered assessments, and the more I practice shaping them, glimmers of hope.
I do have hope. I have seen horrible things done by the hands of man, but I have also seen great kindnesses, even by those whom I’ve witnessed behaving monstrously.
So I’ll keep reading. I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep struggling to use words instead of inarticulate cries of outrage.
Words are, to me, our bridges to other hearts. When used wisely, to cross over to someone else’s heart or to grant them passage to our own, their power to transform is immense. Not fast, usually.
© 2012 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.
I met my honey, Ba.D., on the verge of my 2004 move to Japan.
Over drinks shared with a mutual friend, I told him about why I wasn’t interested in practicing law despite the law degree I’d soon hold. He told me how he liked his beer (“black and bitter, like me”) before launching into an improv Dashboard Confessional-style song that had me in stitches.
I moved. Ba.D. and I alternately exchanged emails and conversed through online forums. Our friendship developed online because that was all the distance between us allowed.
Recalling how much of our relationship was built through the written word, it struck me one day that I really wanted a written update. I wanted to see more words from Ba.D., and I wanted them on my blog.
Ba.D. agreed, but he wasn’t sure what he’d write about. After a couple of weeks, I suggested his stint on Survivor would be a gimme. He could talk about that for years, after all!
I asked you if you had any questions for him, and some of you did. He’s answered these here, giving me a sweet opportunity to remember all the time his written words brought me joy before I returned to Los Angeles.
What is something that you did on Survivor that you thought you would never have the courage to do?
Get on the boat and do it. Seriously, I was aching to do it, but I didn’t know how scared out of my mind I’d be until I got on the boat in the middle of the Pacific and start paddling. And yes, it is something frightening in the back of your mind to think that you’re out in the middle of the ocean, no life vest, sharks and about 3 miles between you and land—and only a flimsy catamaran between you and the cold water. Yeah.
Oh, and what is the ONE item that you wish you had brought with you that you didn’t?
Oh, I brought it, I just didn’t get to use it: A journal and notebook. It was my luxury item, but my tribe didn’t win that challenge, so no go. It was too bad. I would have probably been a little more even keel if I’d had it. Or a camera. Yeah.
I suppose I could ask: What was the toughest part of the show for you? What did you enjoy most?
The two things that sucked the most: Dehydration, and this guy named Rocky. If you’ve ever been really thirsty on a really hot day, imagine taking the biggest drink of scotch you can. Now run around the block like 3 times. Then imagine doing that every three days without drinking anything but coconut water. Dehydration sucks, and is no joke.
The other thing was this guy named Rocky who just rode me like an evil boys gym coach from an 80s teen movie. Or like a glee club kid by a certain cheerleading coach. Sartre was correct: Hell is other people.
Do you have any regrets about being on the show?
Yes: Losing. Maybe not punching out a person or two (not that I’d be allowed to without facing some prosecution).
Deb told me she was in labor for 27 hours w/ your son. Do you think this makes her tougher than any member of the Survivor cast?
Yes and no: Tougher than many of the pretty boy whiny castaways, sure—but many folks are just as tough, for different reasons—like Christy Smith, who went way far in the game despite being deaf and ostracized by her tribe, or Chad Crittenden, the first player with a prosthetic leg, or Cristina Coria, who before coming on the show survived being shot by a murder suspect.
Deb’s also tough as nails (I can tell you stories), but she refuses to audition for Survivor.*
Hmm .. the Chicagoan in me wants to ask if somebody pissed him off so badly, that he wanted to just make them “disappear”. You know, concrete galoshes into 500 feet of Lake Michigan “disappear”.
Yes, a guy named Rocky (see above) and a guy named Mookie. I guess their names were totally appropriate for that question, huh?
Did you, or any of your fellow castaways have any military survival training, and if so, did it really help?
I didn’t, but one of the older guys my season was a door gunner in a helicopter in Vietnam, so I imagine that counts. From what I gather in talking to him, it didn’t help him at all. Survivor is kind of its own animal. You’d do better watching that guy Bear on Survivorman before going on.
I made up my own training schedule, consisting of trying to make fire from pretty much nothing and keeping it alive for 3 days while brushing up on my first aid and coconut opening skills.
In your view what is the right stuff to survive? What did you think was the right stuff at the time you applied/auditioned?
There’s survival and then there’s survival on Survivor. There’s a kinda mix you need. But I’d say its 1) The ability to think outside the box 2) A certain adaptability that allows you to work with almost any kind of people and 3) A level of “moral flexibility” that will let you do or say what you need to survive and 4) The ability to keep your humanity intact in most situations.
Looking across the seasons, which survivor do you admire the most and why?
This is actually a question on the application!
Did you go really hungry? Did they monitor you?
Oh yeah, the hunger is for real. People pay a lot for coconuts. When you’ve not eaten anything but for 9 days, there is a lot of the suck. You can live off of them, but gah.
Being a pretty laid back guy, did something/someone really make you angry?
Yes, see above about that guy Rocky!
How often did you laugh…if ever?
Not nearly enough. But once I did again, things got better.
Honestly, did you ever get so hungry you considered eating one of your own limbs? Which one would you eat? Do the producers at least give you guys salt and pepper to season said limbs?
No, not my own. You always eat the other guys first, starting from the flank … what, you’ve never read the story of Alive?
Was it hard to watch yourself on TV? Would you say how they portrayed you was accurate?
Parts were very hard, especially my last tribal council (I was watching it by myself in a New York hotel room). And yes, for the most part it was me … edited and parsed down to make me look a certain way, but it was me.
What would you do differently if you could go back to compete again?
What was harder for you: the physical toll (being hungry, no sleep) or the social aspects?
The dehydration … oh man, the dehydration.
This one if from my nine year old son: Were you ever really REALLY scared? And if so, what scared you the most?
Yes! Of falling off of cliffs and of sharks! REALLY SCARED of sharks. Two of the deadliest sharks in the world (and one of the highest counts of shark attacks) are in Fiji where we shot the show.
Did you ever get a little ticked off that Jeff Probst would show up completed rested, showered, and with a full stomach and then proceed to yell at you guys with his annoying play by play during the challenges?
You better believe it, though mostly with Jeff’s play by play. It’s his job to do (because you’d be surprised how quiet it would be on tv without it), but man it gets iritating when you’re trying to concentrate on the challenge, or worse when you’re trying to hide your flubs. You hear a lot of “Thanks, Probst.” from folks during the challenges.
Also, did the cameras bother you? Or did you forget they were there after awhile?
You’re hyper aware of them for the first day or so, and then you totally forget they exist. Heck, you find yourself standing in these perfect little half circles for conversations without knowing why. They’re like ninja! With cameras.
I need to know how I can get on the show. Seriously. This is not a joke. I have tried a few times. (Okay once.) But I don’t have time to mess around. I’m 43. I can wear a bikini. I’ve had laser hair removal. I love to camp. Who can you put me in touch with so I can get on that show. I don’t even care about the money; I just want to go somewhere hot and play.
This is one of the questions that I get asked A LOT. Like once a week. The best advice I can give on this is to just be interesting and willing to talk your mind. They want interesting people from all walks of life, but you’d be surprised how “cookie cutter” applicants can be. They’re looking for big characters, so, if you apply (and in your case if you apply again), make yourself into a character—take one or two little things about yourself that are big and just blow them up. I went for the gamer nerd, and well, look where it got me?
Oh! And the second piece of advice I can give is to be persistent. Many of the non-recruited, cool players were fans who just kept on applying. Leslie Nease (the really REALLY Christian lady from Survivor China) applied like 30 times before she got on.
And the third piece of advice is to know the game. They really, really, really, really, want people who know the game. My friend, Bobby “Bobdawg” Mason of Survivor Vanauatu proved that he knew the game by bringing in a huge flowchart to his interview showing who got voted off when, what their mistakes were, and their occupations. Cochran from this season of Survivor is studying at Harvard Law, and wrote his entrance essay on how the jury on Survivor works in contrast to the judicial jury system, and flaws and advantages in both.
How did being on Survivor change your view about people?
Honestly, if anything it reinforced some of my beliefs: If you treat people with some kindness, and at least a speck of respect, you can get pretty far in life. I mean one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known won my season. And yes, I know (and saw in spades) that people can really suck. It really is a microcosm of the human condition, even as manipulated as it may sometimes seem.
* Ed. note: See Ba.D.’s answer on Jeff Probst’s play by plays for further detail. As you know from my road rage post, there’s little that says “I love you” quite like staying out of jail for your offspring.
For months, I told myself I’d start editing the second book in the Glass Ball trilogy (begun by The Monster’s Daughter) just as soon as I finished drafting Elelu. You know, that book I joyfully proclaimed drafted, oh, five weeks ago?
I figured I’d take a week or two to celebrate having hit a milestone. Except, whoops! “A week or two” turned into chillaxin’ until the end of September.
We’re now five days into October. I’ve diligently set aside a portion of each morning for editing.
So far, editing is going swimmingly! I’ve created some graphics reflective of my October morning editing so far to help you feel like you, too, are a part of my editing experience.
As you can see, I mean that in only the most literal of ways.
Ba.D. is unceasingly impressed by my editing skills. I’ve created a graphic representation of this for you, too:
(c) 2011 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.
Monday’s post (“JUDGERNAUT: Ba.D. on Survivor & my less sensitive side“) was originally written as the preface to a guest post by my honey, Ba.D., about his experiences on Survivor. I edited the entry to be a standalone so Ba.D. could write his entry in his own time. He is, after all, doing me a favor!
My plans to give him plenty of time and space haven’t necessarily been met. Yet Ba.D. has, as usual, maintained his cheerful demeanor in the face of someone-who-is-not-me’s repeated questioning, “Are you ready now? How about now? Maybe . . . now?”
When I asked Ba.D. if he’d be open to answering questions from TMiYC readers, he was amenable to that, too. If you’d like to ask Ba.D. anything appropriate (aside from “How about now?” or similar, which are reserved by someone who resembles but is not yours truly), please leave a comment here or email it to me here by 12:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday September 21, 2011. At some point in the nearish future, he will answer those questions he’s able to.
(c) 2011 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
“So it’s gonna be biracial.”
These were my mom’s words when I showed her a picture of me and my future baby daddy.
These words could have been uttered with just about any kind of emotional inflection imaginable: humor, rage, disregard, antagonism. As actually spoken by my mom, they might have been about a trip to the supermarket or the day’s weather: “Oh, fancy that. Another cloudy day in Eugene!”
I told my mom drily, “Yes, that does tend to be a consequence of having a white mom and a black dad.”
That was it. That was our entire conversation on race before my mom passed away almost a year later. Frankly, it was a much more exhaustive conversation than I’d expected on the matter, which–knowing my mom–I hadn’t even realized would warrant note.
Much more important to my mom was the question, “How’d that happen?” When she asked these words immediately after I announced that I was pregnant, she wasn’t asking for a refresher on sex ed. She was asking, “How’d my presumably lesbian daughter end up pregnant?”
That I expected!
In retrospect, it’s unsurprising to me my mom commented on race. She always talked very openly about it when I was growing up, which left me feeling a little embarrassed as I got older. If race was proper discussion fodder, why weren’t other folks talking about it?
“Shh, Mom, we’re not supposed to be talking about that!” I’d either whisper this message fiercely or will my mom to pick it up via brainwave, depending on the situtation. As she always did when I proclaimed she was embarrassing me, she would shoo away my protests and plow onward with whatever she was talking about–race or otherwise.
Apparently, my mom had the right idea.
Around the time my precious Li’l D was born, I read an article about the importance of discussing race openly and calmly with children. One of the points touched on in the article was how minority families typically begin discussing race much earlier than do white families. A blog entry by Rebecca Bigler touches on the discomfort likely at the root of the white families’ silence:
I thought about that. “Honestly, despite everything I’ve read on this issue, it just seems so taboo─almost cruel─to call her attention to it. Isn’t it sort of confusing to a child to mention race, and then say race doesn’t matter? If it doesn’t matter, then why am I mentioning it? – Is Discussing Race With a 3-Year-Old Too Young? – Newsweek
This neatly sums up how I felt the first time I had to check off Li’l D’s “ethnicity” on a medical history sheet. I stared at the page and went, “Holy cow, there are other boxes, aren’t there?” Immediately following that, I thought: “But that’s so irrelevant!” (Yes, this was despite the fact my anthropology background informs me that certain illnesses are more prevalent depending on ancestry. I wasn’t thinking about that then, though!) I checked off a box for me and a box for Ba.D., then moved right along. My discomfort continued, as if by checking those boxes I was highlighting the fact that my son was (a) different than me and (b) something other than the most beautiful thing in the entire world.
Here’s a shocker:
My son isn’t me!
I know, I know. I should’ve asked you to sit down for that one.
In the year and a half since I first grappled with those checkboxes, it’s gotten easier for me to see the matter through my mother’s eyes. Sure, my son’s got darker skin than I do. He’s different from me in a lot of ways that don’t make me love him any more or less.
My little “mocha cub” has curly hair to my mildly wavy hair. It looks like he’s going to take after my very tall mom’s side of the family in the height department. It also looks like he’s got my ginormous forehead, but he’s got a gorgeous enough smile I’m hopeful most people will overlook the (potential) Frankenforehead. My son loves to climb, dance, and announce “HUG!” with each hug he gives. Describing each of those things that he is so far–tall, mischievous, mocha-colored–doesn’t change who he is. (In my totally unbiased opinion, this is summed up by the word “perfect.”)
Talk to your kids. Talk to them about these different colors, shapes and sizes people come in. Tell them all about how much more awesome the world is when it’s full of this magnificent variety. Help them see, as you do, that color is descriptive, not determinative, guiding them not to be “color blind”–impossible for the categories kids sort the world into–but instead to be color impervious. Look here for some good guidance for getting started down that road.
The first couple of conversations you have with your child(ren) might feel a little uncomfortable. Fear not, that’s an excellent reason to keep having them! Practice makes easier, so bear in mind that it’ll become a little less awkward each time. With patience and practice, you might find the discomfort fades so much that you’re as impervious to race–which should not be confused with culture or heritage!–as you’ve equipped your children to be.
I wasn’t goth outwardly in my teenage years, but I was all goth at heart. The stories I published in my old e-zine, Cranberry Winters, reflect this. So, too, do the story ideas I collected in a Converse shoe box.
A dream about a month ago prompted me to “dive in,” so to speak, to one of my sunny shoebox story sketches. From the first draft of that YA Urban Fantasy:
Elelu froze. Someone was coming!
He sprang into action as the female voice called out again, “What the hell are you doing, Frank? Next date night, I’m picking the date! Hide-and-seek ain’t no more romantic now than it was thirty years ago!”
He ran back up the hill he had just rolled down. The sand made running slow, but it was easier when he peaked and was moving downhill again.
The female’s cries grew softer as Elelu neared the water. He splashed through the shallows, hoping he would escape discovery. When the water was deep enough, he launched himself forward and called forth his fins.
He raced toward home. As he slid into his sleep-hole, well ready for a long rest, he noticed an arm stretched out of his mother’s sleep-hole.
He was afraid, but not so afraid he wouldn’t meet his fear. He pushed upward and swam toward his mother’s sleep-hole.
“Ana-enu!” he cried when he saw her. She has gone!
His mother was rigid. Her eyes, now turned black in death, gazed simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. She would never see him again, nor he her heart. He wrapped his hands around her outstretched one. His heart was full of mourning, but this was a time everyone knew would eventually come.
“Ana-enu!” he cried again. How could it be that no one was responding? Even in the middle of sleep, it was customary for his people to rise and bury their lost together. He held his mother’s hand tighter and looked up. Like with the sandy hills above a few long minutes ago, the only ripples of movement around him were non-sentient.
He waited. All remained still. He reached out with his mind, attempting to rouse anyone to help him begin his mother’s burial. Neither his ears nor his mind heard a single voice.
He released his mother’s hand, then swam toward his youngest sisters’ sleep-hole. Eana, as always, was wrapped around her just-younger sister, Aena. Both were still. Their eyes, like his mother’s, were shrouded in black. Their small bodies were rigid.
He swam toward his older brother’s sleep-hole. He, too, had gone. On and on he swam. In each and every sleep-hole he visited, he found another person whose companionship he would never share.
I’m excited to learn the story as I write it. I’ve outlined the story, of course, but knowing the CliffsNotes version and knowing the actual story are two very different things! Similarly, I’ve spent enough time in the story’s primary home–Florence, Oregon–to have it mapped CliffsNotes-style in my brain, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough.
Think I can talk Ba.D. into a family “research” trip to Florence, Oregon? His summer hiatus is coming up, so now’s probably the time to start the cajolin’ train!