March 15, 2010
(Published in All Rights Reserved Literary Magazine, 2007)
Come find me when the sun has set and the stars faintly dust the skies. As the bustle of everyday chaos and the mulling of voices dies down – slowly, to a faint whisper, then disappears, leaving nothing but nature and the simplicity of darkness. I emerge, crouching between the purity of the empty page, waiting eagerly for the drip of ink. I am invincible, invisible, in an inverted world of a white darkness and black stars. With nightfall, I can only exist in this space, accompanied by words and imagination and dreams and memories.
The hours turn slowly; allowing my time to watch, listen to your dreams – mixed thoroughly with your desires and recollections – as you whisper to me. Rain begins to fall on my blank page, slowly at first, black drops splashing and running around me in designs of words and sentences. The rain is more violent now; it pounds my head in the rhythm of my rapid heartbeat. Then onto my shoulders and outstretched arms. No longer black and white, colors emerge from the cloud of ideas above me. Iridescent, they drip from my hair, trickling down my forehead, stinging my eyes, and tracing a shimmering line down my neck to pool in the hollow of my collarbone. Soaking my clothes. Radiant blues and hues of green contrast with the bright yellow of the midmorning sun. The page is transformed into a tranquil ocean. Away from people. See them? They are far off, unimportant to this story. Your story. There you are, in the water now, bathing gracefully in the salty shades of the page. Swimming, swimming, invisible.
Feel the waves on your shoulders. An electrifying sensation that will linger long after the moment has passed. In a fleeting second, you sensed a connection. You became part of the water – part of something larger, deeper than your mind could comprehend. I feel it too, brushing my fingers over another completed page. Knowing when I return again to the chaos of the sun that the satisfaction will follow me. It will fade eventually, when you had to stop and exhale. Your breath shakes the page, remodels words in new forms. Some will disappear, evaporate, chased away by the wind of reason. They’ll try to creep back in at later times, silent and unnoticed. As you drift away again, that charge reemerges. The ritual will repeat itself, as history so often does.
I laugh, exhilarated, careful not to wake you, peaceful and unknowing to my frenzied exuberance in the immersion of words. The sound echoes, reverberating in the empty spaces of the paper, hungry to be filled with more words. It harmonizes with a constant heartbeat, the rise and fall of your chest, and the scrawl of pen on paper. The music is rough, simple, and yet elegant. It compliments the colors in different fashioning of beats. There is no score, no tempo, no refrain. Only pure sound. Beauty. It keeps me from losing my grounding completely, from disappearing into passion and imagination, wrapped snug in a velvet blanket of memories.
I taste the words as they fall. Sour, like a ripe lemon pleading to be plucked from a tree, then chuckling at your naïve confusion as you take a bite. The next drop is sweet, but fait, like a memory of cotton candy at a fair last attended many years passed. You won a contest that year, didn’t you? A youth’s poem – vague, incomplete and unpolished but nonetheless your poem. You don’t even like cotton candy, but on this particular year, it tasted particularly sweet. The scent of pride and victory stuck to your fingers long after the synthetic sugar had disappeared.
I can smell the wet ink as it dries. Like overnight summer rain and the succeeding morning mist that saturates everything, making the grass cool and inviting in the warmth of the rising sun. Soothing as you watch and listen as the world awakens, yawning and shaking and begging for its several more minutes of solitude. But you are well awake, and you study each aspect of the dawn. Like coffee, too hot to drink but tantalizing you with its aroma. Drank in musty, dim-lit coffee shops at midnight, with friends, poetry reading, guitars, and card games. Like the scent of his cologne – all of them you’ve ever known – and dulled into the universal scent of men. Like pine trees, the crunch of twigs and a thin layer of ice under a clear February night. The crackle of a roaring fire that warms beyond aching limb and muscle and bone. Deeper into your core than you ever thought possible. As I write, this is the scent of history.
The sun is beginning to rise, and the clouds begin to dissipate. The last words are hurried, outrunning the impending sunshine that seeps into the windows and under the door. My heart slows and my breathing deepens. And you awaken. Take my place in the world; manage the maze of city streets and watch emotion, politics and destruction. Race against pressure. When you have had your fill, return to me by night. Let passion reign. Watch me sing and dance on a blank page, fulfilled with your memories and dreams and hopes and despair. Watch your history, my history, unfold on the empty page as the process repeats again.
January 14, 2010
I’ve always wished I were one of those people who could sleep anywhere. You know the type: relaxed, a smooth river-washed stone, without a care in the world. When they’re tired, they curl up in anyone’s a bed, or on a dingy couch, in the backseat of a car, under a table, wherever they can find a body-length of space to rest their head. In an instant they’re fast asleep, in another world, far apart from reality. Day or night, in quiet or a tsunami, they’re long gone for an undetermined amount of time, then off they go with the rest of their every day lives.
Me, I need the perfect conditions for sleep. Very rarely will it be before midnight, and all to often I’m doomed to failure after 3am. It usually has to be my bed, or the rare occasion of another bed if another pre-approved body is in it, and/or if the situation demands it. The temperature has to be just right: cool, crisp like an early spring morning. Consequently, I need multiple coverings – while scarcely clad, mind you, but at least a sheet, a cover and a blanket. Over-sized quilts are always preferable. The mattress has to be long enough so my lanky frame doesn’t hang off the end, and it is neither too firm nor too soft – a neutral surface in which to stretch out on. After almost a decade, I still have not found any mattress better than my childhood bed, which has long since been passed to many another home and probably ended up decomposing in a dumpster. I still mourn that bed. Most important perhaps is the need for a large but not overly stuffed pillow that I can hopefully hold onto in the middle of the night (a body will suffice from time to time).
Yet even with all that preparation and specificity, the act of sleep is still a difficult process. I will toss and turn, from stomach to side and to stomach again, the pillow will shift sides multiple times and I will slowly curl myself up into a small insurmountable ball, cocooned and seemingly safe in a tangle of warmth and comfort and blankets within a cool, dark and harsh world.
It is then that the dreams find me. Slowly at first, a hazy, shifting menagerie of hopes, fears and the past days events. Then, as the night progresses they broaden, elaborate on nuisances that become grand myths and mysteries and horrors. They twist and turn into parallel realities and contort into grotesque creatures. As the night wears on, a story is created, or rather recreated. Very rarely are they pleasant to the naked eye, and even rarer do they make sense, least of all to me.
And then, when the light filters in to my nest of comfort, they are retold again and again, flipped over and analyzed in my sleep-hazed rational mind. Then, without conclusion or understanding of the purpose behind my brain’s bizarre creations, I write: put pen to paper and tell a story in all its detail. My pen follows the paths my own mind created over the period of a dark and heavy night, and continues until the connections in my addled brain waves find other interests.
I do not claim to know where most of my stories come from. How my own mind comes up with exotic and ridiculous adventures through life I will never know, nor do I care much to know. But as a result, I find attachment in this delicate balance between reality and the imaginary, stretching the boundaries of fiction to borderline fantasy. After all, what good is reality without a bit of fantasy? It is the fantastical, the whims that push people’s desires, their hopes and aspirations, their fears and their pain.
I’ve always wished to be someone who could sleep anywhere, anytime. But though I would probably sleep better than I do know, I would hate to lose the irreverent connection I think to share with the supposed dreamland. My own brain can serve as my muse, and I pride myself on being self-sufficient.
However created for any writer, to me the story always lies in the details. I can never envy the person with a hazy outline of their last dream, when I can remember, if only for a short time, all the smells, the tastes, the colors, the feelings. It takes one thing to create a story, and another object entirely to create a world. It is this object that I am honored to feel that my brain possesses and that I can utilize in my stories. While I may not understand my own dreams at first, when looked back on, I can see the details and their significance, and built upon those to create something universally appealing.
Thus, if most of my stories come from my non-waking state, I can comfortably argue that each of my pieces helps reveal a bit about myself. While I can separate myself from criticism, I do not claim to attempt to remove myself from my stories. Rather, I can find myself in some shape or form in each piece, and I find the completion (or supposed completion, as I find none of my works to be ever complete) of a story to be a development of my character.
If a body can come up with a story in a moment of sleep, at a point of weakness, a short story is prime to create a world in a limited amount of pages, of time and space. It is a grand challenge; one this sleepy writer will take gladly. If you are a writer, and you can sleep anywhere and everywhere, congratulations, as you will probably live much healthier than I do. But in every detail of my dreams can find themselves in my stories, and not only develop a world for my readers but add to my world, and for that, I’ll take the difficult sleeping.
This blog is a long beginning to the creation of an artistic statement. In the last several months, I’ve come to the realization that my interests are not only multi-faceted, but also ever changing. Most importantly, they always find a way to coincide with one another (for better or for worse). As my life has twisted and turned, as some doors have opened and some have shut, I find the balance of my creative energies between various projects and ideas increasingly interesting to study.
Thus is my attempt. This is a creativity journal, a publishing place, a diary of creative inspirations, projects that succeed, projects that fail, musings on life and art and how often the coincide.
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