Archive for October, 2011

“My heart has drifted out into a place I cannot find.”

Here’s another short I submitted to workshop. Direct quote from my professor on the piece: “I like this–it’s not very edgy (what I expect from you), but there is more attention to language and voice.” Hm. Thanks, I guess. Pretty good critique for a first draft I suppose.

Dash

We started training back in February. Initially, we would go on walks together around the neighborhood. When we would get back within two blocks of the house, she’d want to race me. We’d take off, the wind in our ears and the first couple times I beat her, but very quickly, she became faster than me. I assumed she must have been practicing. We had tried to go jogging together before, but she just couldn’t go the distance—she never lasted and it didn’t help that she’d been built with such stubby legs. I’d end up waiting for her on the curb, half of a mile in. I guess sprinting was her thing and I’m sure she loved the fact that she was better at it than me. I had run track in high school and so I took it upon myself to become her trainer.

We still went on walks, but having the long, narrow backyard that we did, made for a perfect 100-meter-dash practice track. I bought a stop watch and built her a starting block out of some wood scraps I got from dad, who would also help out, standing at the finish line with me, calling her, cheering her on. She loved the extra motivation and the treats he usually had waiting for her.

Training wasn’t always easy. She would get bored and run into the house, ignoring my calls or get distracted and wander down the opposite side of the yard. This is usually when her selective hearing would kick in; when the cookies or jerky weren’t worth her time. But I was relentless and somehow we managed to get a good solid training in at least five days a week. And at the end of practice, you could tell that she felt good, that she was proud of herself, that she was top dog.

The day of the big race was finally upon us. We both woke up a little nervous, but she was obviously more excited than anything else. You could tell by the way she kept running and jumping around the house. I kept having to tell her to calm down; save that nervous energy to propel her in the race. When we got down to the Del Mar fairground the crowd was a lot larger than I had expected. We checked in and picked up her numbered jersey, which I promptly helped her into. We walked down to the track to see if we could get a quick warm up in and size up the competition. Being an open race made for a pretty diverse group. There were a lot of younger, leaner looking runners, but overall, I was confident in her abilities.

An announcement was made that the race would start in 10 minutes and that runners, coaches and spectators needed to take their places. We looked at each other—it was time. I wished her luck, gave her a quick kiss on the head and left her at the starting block. I walked down to the finish line, my stomach in knots.

It all came down to this:  the Weiner Nationals—the annual dachshund race hosted by Wienerschnitzel.

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Oops, I did it again.

Last time I said I might post some of the stories I’ve been working on for my big critique in my creative writing class. With my critique right around the corner (Tuesday), I figured what better time than now to share one of these stories. My bf told me this particular story reminds him of the way Raymond Carver writes. I thought that was nice of him to say.

Enjoy! (Or don’t. I don’t really care. That’s the kind of mood I’m in. I blame my filthy history homework.)

 

Settled by Me

 

“I can play this song on the guitar.”

“Really?” She changes the station.

“I can play this song too.”

“Cool.” The song ends and a new one begins to play.

“Oh, and this one.”

She takes her hand from the button.

“I scored one hundred percent singing ‘Maps’ on RockBand once.” She gives him an expectant sideways glance, a half smile forming on her lips. He says nothing, eyes on the road.

Hmph. She leans her head on the window, eyes tracing the rolling green hills. I could do this. I could live here; settle down. It can’t be that bad, it’s what people do. The scenery is pretty. I might get bored. No, only boring people get bored. Maybe if we got a dog—

“You know you still haven’t given me a song to learn on the guitar for you. One that will make you go all butter knees.” He takes his right hand off the wheel and rests it on her knee, shaking it gently, smiling.

That’s because I don’t want you to ruin one of my favorite songs, she thinks to herself.

“I’m just trying to think of the perfect song. It’s not an easy decision.” Plus your range is limited and I want to be sure it’s a song I won’t mind never listening to again.

“You’re the only girl I’ve ever met that is unimpressed with and hasn’t succumbed to my guitar playing charms.”

“Well maybe it’s time you learned some new tricks. And who said I was unimpressed?” She nudges him playfully on the shoulder and puts her hand in his, interlocking their fingers.

“You’re just so—“

“You know I’m not the kind of girl that falls all over herself like that.”

She gives his hand a quick squeeze and pulls away, turning her eyes back on the rolling green hills, not knowing what else to say; not wanting to hurt his feelings.

“I know, I know. Just let me know when you think of a song.” He turns up the radio and starts to sing along. She watches him out of the corner of her eye, studying his face. He’s not bad looking.

He catches her and gives a grin, his front teeth overcoming his bottom lip.

Oh God, I hate that goofy bucked-tooth smile. He doesn’t even have bucked teeth and he somehow manages to make himself look like that. The way he juts his chin out. Is he trying to be cute? It’s embarrassing. I can’t stand it.

She gives him a squinty-eyed smile back, gritting her teeth.

“There it is.” She looks up to see the football stadium sized building in its trademark blue with yellow letters that are roughly three-stories tall.

“The Swedish furniture mecca! We’ll practically fill your apartment in a one trip.”

“That’s the plan.”

After spending hours agonizing over dressers, end tables, chairs, shelving and everything else under the bright florescent lights, they finally found themselves at the end in textiles and home accessories.

“Will you stop rushing me?” There was an edge in his voice.

“How can you not know what you like and want? There are only so many options here.” She plops down on a display bed and crosses her arms, watching him as he goes over his list and the myriad of numbers he’s written down.

“Well I want to make sure I make the right choice. So just hang on.”

She gets up and walks on ahead of him anyway. “Look, there are all of the dishes. Isn’t that on your list?”

He catches up to her standing in front of the wall display of tableware. “What about the blue ones over there?”

“Everything you pick out is blue.”

“It’s a good color.”

She walks to one end of the display, he to the other. “What about these white ones?” he asks.

“These brown ones are cool. Neutral. Square.”

“I think I like the white.”

Of course you do. White like your t-shirts. White like your SUV. White like the walls of your apartment are and will remain.

“OK.”

“Hey, I think I see pillows and bedding over there.” He says pointing.

“Yes! Replace those bags of sand you call bed pillows.”

They walk over and begin feeling out all of the pillows on display. Foam, cotton, feather. She rests her head the fluffiest down pillow she can find.

“I’ve found one.” He motions for her to come over, holding the pillow out for her to touch.

“Feels good to me.”

“Will you put it in the bag?” she takes it from him and puts it in the obnoxious oversized bag she’s been carrying around for the last hour.

“You’re only getting one?”

“Yeah, it’s all I need.”

“Oh. OK.”

He puts his arm around her shoulders as they start walking toward the warehouse, “I’m really glad you came with me today.”

She stares on ahead of her, “Me too.”

I haven’t posted for two months!

Oh the horror. I used to feel guilty about this, but the other day I thinking, “You know, I just have no urge to blog right now. Maybe I should just delete it?” But that would be ridiculous and then all of that terrible Puritan guilt kicked in and now here I am.

So I am happy to report that I was published again back in early August! A little literary journal called The Bay Bridge Review has taken three of my stories. I’d post a link to their site, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. Weird.

I suppose I have been busier writing stories than I have blogs. Which is probably a good thing. And some of my stories have actually ended up more than 150 words! Perhaps I will post some of the first drafts of the stories I wrote for my massive creative writing critique for this semester. We’ll see…

It’s good to be back!