Trolley Tracks

 

He saw a spot and hooked a left tires bumping over the trolley tracks and then parked.

He thought about the dream where he watched the whole city slide down a hill into the water; an egg in a frying pan the streets were rubber and flopped underneath the buildings as it all slipped into the gray water. He got out, door squeaking, and from five feet away smelled the homeless guy sleeping in the entrance of the apartment building and it smelled like feet, just feet all over.

As he stepped by, the man stirred amidst the blankets and asked, “You got any change?” And he looked away and said, “No, sorry” even though he felt some bounce in his pocket and he looked back at the homeless man who stared at the street both of them tired of seeing the other one’s face during that lie.

 

148 words

A Cough

He woke up with the sound of a cough echoing in his head and wasn’t sure if it was a cough from the real world or something he dreamt.  Sometimes the dream world lingered in his mind after waking and he could not be sure which was which.  Perhaps it was just a cough imagined, lingering in the air around him.  Then he heard another outburst muffled by walls.  A cough downstairs and down the hall.  The boy was coughing.  The man blinked in bed, turned to the side to check the clock. 3 a.m.  Maybe it’s not serious he thought, just a tickle.  He waited in the darkness, staring at the ceiling.  He heard another round of bellows, could hear the air forced from deep in the chest, could picture his son’s curled tongue and closed eyes.  The rounds of coughs sounded violent, everything seemed worse in the middle of the night.  The man sat up, thinking about the patients he had seen last week.  There was a little girl with a cough.  Pink cheeks, slight fever, a cough that doubled her over and shook her core.  He sat on the edge of the bed and returned to the darkness of his room.  In the distance, the boy let out a series that tapered as he ran out of air.  The man stood up walked out of his room grabbed a cup from the bathroom and filled it with water and padded downstairs, his knees clicking with each step, and the stairs groaning themselves all protesting the hour.  He opened the door, calling the boys name softly into the void of the room.  As he stepped in he could feel the warmth of another, fitful being.  He stepped closer and extended the glass of water as an offering, a plea to quell the spasms, maybe it’s nothing he thought.  “Here, take this.”

Rabbit Holes

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Obstacle Course.”

Usually the biggest obstacles to achieving a goal are the distractions all around me. But I’m not worried about the distractions that so many people use to procrastinate like Facebook or Instagram.  It’s the ones that might turn into a goal in themselves, a new project, a new subject to learn.  I call those sort of distractions rabbit holes.

Like when I hear a song on an intro to a show that I like and upon googling it and finding the song amongst the hits and looking up the artist and finding out it’s a group in a genre that I like that not only have I never heard of but they have albums in the top 100s lists of prominent music reviewers. I am rewarded with a chest of metal and some of it will be gold but it is a reward for being curious and now I have the pleasure of sitting down and opening it and searching through and finding the gemstones and precious metals amongst the rubble.  If I hadn’t chased that rascal of a rabbit, and studied or cleaned like I was supposed to, then I would have lost that treasure.

The other day, a friend texted me about our performance in our organic chemistry lab back when we took it.  We are both instructors for the same class now, and we talked about how when we grade no one seems to have the same passion that we did. We texted back and forth reminiscing about how when our results weren’t quite right we would think about the lab again and he and I would discuss it over lunch or text messages later that night or throughout the week. I would replay what we did in lab over and over in my head, analyzing what we did against what the procedure called for. Sometimes I could find it, a small miscalculation or mistimed adjustment that may have caused things to go wrong, but sometimes I would replay and find we did everything according to plan and I knew that I had to figure out what could possibly be bigger than just lab errors.  So I went on a dig.  I searched other reports and scientific research about the solvents, reagents and methods. I scoured the dirt to find what may have gone wrong or actually been right but unpredicted and finding that small jewel at the end, even if it was just someone’s confirmation that our result was a commonality but of unknown cause, was the most pleasurable thing I know. Jumping into that hole and getting dirty and scratched led to a deeper understanding of the material.

Back when I played video games, one of my favorites was Call of Duty.  It’s a shooter game, where you run around as a soldier and try to obliterate other people’s online souls. You do so in a contained area, called a map.  Everyone gets used to the maps, the layout the turns the holes and corners, and gets into a groove.  But every once in a while the developers release a new set of maps.  No one has seen them before they just wake up in the game, in a new place, and have to explore while trying to kill and not be killed. Every time a new map set would drop my score would jump, big time.  I could find the nooks and crannies and still find the enemies and remember where I had turned or last died and get back to a good spot.  I guess that’s a learning curve and my score showed that I was ahead of it, but after a week or two I could feel that everyone was catching up. It’s a question I still have how do you maintain your lead?

Sometimes I feel like the hare racing a pack of tortoises, especially considering the Call of Duty story above.  But for that example it was more about reaching a ceiling that everyone can climb to eventually.  In life it often feels like descending into all these holes leaves me scattered and distracted while the tortoises plod along to the finish line picking up medals and high fives along the way. I dash about side to side digging, tunneling, finding jewels that no one sees or that maybe aren’t quite valuable yet.  I picture myself deep underground, squeezing myself through tight spaces, scratching around and sifting handfuls of dirt. Eventually I wiggle through a tight spot that opens into a huge cave with stalagmites and stalactites and worms that glow from the ceiling and in the middle is this dusty uncut stone that resonates time eternal and I walk to it and blow the dust off of it and see the depths of some world and as I grab it from its resting place I hear the slow, evenly spaced thumps of the footsteps on the ground above me and I look up and dust falls from the ceiling and I look back down at the stone and know that I can’t carry the whole thing with me, not if I want to catch up, so I break off a small piece to remember it by and mark my map and then scurry back out to stretch my legs and pass a few turtles.  And sometimes you get to the surface and glimpse another hare, running straight and true, flying into the horizon.

It is frustrating because you can’t dig your own rabbit hole.  If you do it is a human hole and you have a plan of where it’s going and are in control of all of its turns and its width and depth and that is not a rabbit hole at all. This is what people who are “driven” and “focused” and who “have a goal and stick to it” do.  I try to convince myself that if I dig a hole into the ground with a specific goal there will still be stones and chasms and aqueducts beneath that must be adapted to.  But the joy comes from walking down a trail on a mountainside and seeing a weird dark patch behind a bush and taking a look, pushing the branches aside and seeing it’s not a hole at all and so I keep moving.  Then I see out of the corner of my eye a small depression in the dirt and as I peer over it I see a hole that drops straight down into the ground into a darkness complete.  I know I can drop into this place and whatever comes out of the murky corners, or whatever splits in the tunnel there are, I have the ability to triumph over it all.  But that excitement only comes when I’m never sure where the next rabbit hole is.

So I fight these distractions to get my work done, but I know that embracing them makes me who I am.  Sometimes the rabbit holes are dead-ends, sometimes they link up to other rabbit holes and different worlds are united.  By accepting my method of gaining knowledge, I removed the guilt of not being focused.  I am still learning how to control the impulse to go on a dig, but I know there is no better path to the finish line than my own.

0700 Flow Writing Exercise

It’s cold in the morning in his room making it hard to get out of bed but sitting by the window looking out at the morning developing makes him more awake there is a draft from the window on the right side of his body cold air on his forearm and knee yet it draws him to stare out the window and look at the wedge of sunlight that is cast over the row of rooftops and the tree bare cold and sleeping the lichen or moss growing on the branches and trunks a mint pastel wrapped around gray dusty bark. A hummingbird lands on the branches then darts to look around the tree for breakfast then leans and banks away to begin its day he hears the garbage trucks moving in the distance gears and motors turning as the cast away filth from the town is churned and compressed and he pictures the young man running the truck is outside breath steaming into a cloud around his beanie capped head he pulls the lever with a gloved hand and watches the truck chomp down on it’s breakfast he started the day cold blowing warm body air into his hands and rubbing them together but by now he has warmed up and the cold air on his neck and face feels good as he begins to sweat underneath his jacket and boots and his day is half over as he sees the men and women of the town emerging from their houses still bleary eyed and cold and still fighting the urge to go back inside the heat of the home and maybe lie under the still warm covers for a few more minutes or to sit back down at the table and pour another cup of coffee while they finish the article or chapter that they can never get through but they are outside and getting in the icebox car with frost and condensation encasing it and starting the engine and waiting for it to warm. The garbage man sees it and remembers the sensation but it seems so distant now as if it may have been last week as soon as it was this morning because it is the same everyday and so in repetition the memories combine and fade and so too will the people of the morning forget about that yearning by the time they have commuted and are sitting at their desks reviewing the daily requests for tasks that could be done by someone else and the garbage man feels a split in himself; happy that his work is straightforward in that at the start of the day his task is clear and it will be done but as he sees the parents of the morning walking out the door with their children asking them questions and giving advice and shouting the last reminder as the child begins to pedal away he feels a bite of panic that his children leave unprepared and he wishes he could be there to put a hand on their shoulder Esmeralda under his left and Martin at his right as they walk out the door. Metal meets metal and the truck hisses off pressure as the garbage man’s body twitches to action and he places the empty bins back on the curb and pivots on his heel to get back in the truck and the man in his room must turn to get dressed and pour coffee or he will be late.

***

This is in response to the blogging 101 prompt to write a post for my target audience, or as I see it, a post that represents why I want to blog.  I sat down to write a ten minute stream of consciousness and this is what came out.  Well, pretty much.  I have read through it and made slight edits, and in the program where I wrote it I made a note of where I was when the ten minute timer went off.  I wrote a little more to wrap it up.  As far as the blog goes, the posts will probably be somewhere between raw and polished.  I need to work on my editing skills just as much as my first-draft writing, so I won’t simply copy-paste.

Oh and it feels good to be back writing.  Like runners after winter, getting a little stretch in their legs and smiling at the sensation.  Likewise, I know that I can’t push it too hard just yet.  I have to be methodical in getting back into shape.

Pun Intended

I want my writing to develop a natural flow.  I want my speech to develop a richer vocabulary and eloquence.  Both of these sentiments are captured in term “prose”.  These sentiments are established in my first post: expansion.

I thought about how I could use the word in a site title, and while reading the Blogging 101 idea list, decided that I could use it as a pun.  I think the saying “as the crow flies” is a pun in itself.  It’s supposed to mean taking the shortest path between two points, because crows (and birds in general) avoid ground obstacles by flying over them.  Of course, if you’ve ever watched a crow fly, you know that their flight is replete with turns, flapping, coasting, squawks and pauses.  So “as the crow flies” represents a desire for beauty through simplicity, but an understanding of the complexities of reality.  And then throw in some prose because, how else do you portray all of that?

The tagline will be a quote that occasionally changes when I encounter new ones, or get lines from movies or songs stuck in my head.  This will allow me the variability that so many of us new bloggers seem to desire. Most people have mentioned wanting their blog to be about ” a little bit of everything” because they have so many different interests.  I feel the same way (as a conscious human) but understand that a focus will develop.  The changing quote will allow for the fluctuation of moods, without feeling like I have to do a massive revamp every time the wind changes direction.

Oh, and I think the title may be more of a malapropism than a pun.  But I’m not sure.

Expansion

I want to blog in order to write essays about what I couldn’t or didn’t write about in college.  Essays on rap (well I did one on postmodernism in Jay-Z’s The Black Album), on TV commercials, or whatever.  I want to utilize the same critical voice I developed as an English major on the world as it tries to effect me.

I want to write stories based on my daydreams and night sagas.

I want to structure my perceptions.

I will learn to capture the vibrance and lusciousness of the pictures in my head.  The images hold so much depth and density in a dream, but when spoken only offer a single line: “such a crazy dream”.  I want to let the written word be the valve between these dimensions, that can be adjusted to adapt the flow, be they gushes or trickles.

I want to develop a habit so that a word processor, or notebook, or scrap of paper become what I want to distract myself with  (and books) instead of internet trash or video games or going out to bars with friends.

I want to not be scared of judgement.

I want to be confident with my creativity and to let it spill into the sciences and medicine as I grow in that world.  I want to learn which threads to chase, which to tether between cups, which to spindle, which to cut.

I will blog for mental tranquility.

P.S.  I just remembered how I used to write my poems and essays.  The title always comes last.  The development has already begun.

Welcome to the blog!

This is my first post, which I’m just using to test out the theme and layout.  I’ll be participating in wordpress’ Blogging 101 course, so there should be much more to follow.

While I’m tempted to immediately add multiple pages and somehow make this site represent everything that makes me who I am, I will do my best to keep it streamlined and minimal.  This will keep the endeavor approachable.