Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Sands of Time

The sand in the hourglass trickled slowly into the lower chamber. It wouldn’t be long now until the last of the pristine white granules made their way through the slim conduit into the mounting heap below. She felt it mocking her. She knew what would happen next, once that last grain of sand exited the top chamber. It had happened many times before.

She had bought the piece in a thrift shop filled with things owned by people from another time. The proprietor of the place was an elderly man who reminded her much of Gepetto, he with the bulbous nose on which a pair of granny glasses rested; he with the virgin white hair and full, white mustache. At any moment she had expected a wooden boy to appear.

The hourglass piece had intrigued her. Unlike other hourglass pieces that were capped by wooden circles on each end and three wooden spindles on its sides, this one was made entirely of glass. The pieces connecting seamlessly into one unit. She was in awe of its flawless craftsmanship. It was stunning and as the bright morning Sun touched its surface, it fractured prisms of light into the dark, dust-covered room. She knew then she had to have it.

She learned it was a one of a kind. Gepetto informed her the timepiece was unlike any other and did not measure time in the usual way, but instead measured time in years. Twenty to be exact.

“Twenty years?!” She humored the old man and smiled fondly at his eccentric and comical nature.

He informed her that if she ever tired of the piece she was not to dispose of it, donate it or give it to anyone else. Instead, she was to return the hourglass to him and he would refund her money in full regardless of how many years she had owned it. He said this was a condition of the sale and noted it on her receipt. She thought him sweet but daft and she kindly and politely promised she’d abide by the purchaser’s responsibility and left.  The following day she sat at the kitchen table staring at the hourglass. The sand was still running through, yet the heap in the lower chamber still appeared to look the same. It had not grown in volume. Not one iota. It was obvious now that this was some kind of trick gadget. Noting the old man’s wicked sense of humor, she laughed and loved the piece even more.

And today, reflecting once again on that day and of the old man's ominous words, she waited for the the last granule to filter through.  She no longer felt the sense of nausea or extreme panic she once did at the anticipation of what would happen next.  She no longer felt fear; only resignation and an overall sense of exhaustion.  And as the top chamber finally emptied, she once again blacked out and woke to  find herself in her old apartment in Brooklyn, the hourglass in front of her, its top chamber full. And she was thirty years old again. And on her fourth life.

September 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Prince of Darkness - Part Deux

I had my last tutorial with the POD (Prince of Darkness) earlier this week to discuss the submissions for my final portfolio. My grade depends on good, solid stories and since the POD has hated almost everything (with obvious abhorrent passion) that I've submitted - with the exception of the science fiction story which I created just to cease the verbal abuse - I didn't know what I was going to do. Oh, the POD. The more I got to know the POD, the more he reminded me of my husband. I don't know whether that's good or bad, but it just seems I'm surrounded by intellects who think they know it all. And here I stand as the sacrificial babe to their mental sadistic games.

When I started this course I vented continuously to my husband about the POD: "I hate him, I can't stand him, he's a moron, he doesn't know beans, how the hell did he ever get a Ph.D., what friggin' college is giving away Ph.D.'s cause I want one, what possessed me, how am I ever going to get through this," yadda, yadda, yadda, ad nauseam. And, hubby, being hubby, let me rattle on until I was spent, not once ceasing his reading (God forbid) because, after all, the man must read his 500,000 words per day or he's not happy and because after 30 years of marriage these rants have ceased to provide amusement.

He waits for me to finish and then says, "What are you worried about? All your professors have always commented on how well you write and so will he. He just has a different method of teaching, that's all. He's testing you. He plans to break you so he can remold you. Watch." And he would go back to reading his paper or book because as if explaining this to someone who claims she's intelligent is just too much for him to deal with and at which point he undoubtedly begins to wonder how he ever married someone with the brain capacity of a gnat.

The POD was ruthless. The POD took pleasure in my discontent, inconsiderate to how I felt. The POD wanted to own my soul. I hated him. Passionately. But stronger than my hate was my back, which was up. He was not going to win. Oh, PODdy, PODdy, PODdy, you don't know me when I'm angry.

So here I was sitting in his office ready to fight him to the death for that "A" that I so rightly deserved, if not, just for the sole reason of having survived his mental and emotional abuse: a survivor's medal of honor, if you will. But the POD had been abducted and in his place was an alien in human form whom I was unfamiliar with. And he was a nice alien. A freak of nature alien, because aliens generally are not nice, now are they? Hmmm? Maybe this is all a dream. This can't be the POD. Not my meanie, insufferable POD.

He begins speaking. "First off, let me start by saying you have your A."

Huh? I wasn't ready for this. Who is this man?

"Your work, your commitment, your level of writing, your imagination - boy, you have some imagination - is all "A" material."

Hmm? Really, dude, because all along I sensed you were a wee bit dissatisfied with what I was producing; in fact, hate would be the best word used here.

This alien POD apparently read minds as well. He smiles and says, "I see."

Huh? What do you see?

"Listen," he continues, "you're a very good writer. That's always been a given, and I saw that from your first submission. But after reading a few of your stories I saw the style of writing you preferred and were comfortable in. Too comfortable, in fact. I wanted to take you out of this comfort zone and force you to try something different. I wanted you to see your potential and see for yourself that you could write something outside of what you were used to. I think it was a challenge that paid off."

He's trying to break you so he can remold you. That little know-it-all bastard I had at home was right all along.

"And you really surprised me with this science fiction story. I don't think you realize how good this is. I mean, this is really good stuff. I think you might just be a science fiction writer. How does that strike you?"

Great. I wanted to write about light and love and happy, happy people and now you're telling me that my soul is dark? Oh, PODdy, what did I ever do to you? 

The rest of the meeting we talk about my submissions and how he has seen me grow as a writer and I concur that his mandatory science fiction suggestion (can you say oxymoron?) took me out of my element altogether and proved to be a good thing. I add, for dramatic purposes because after all I am a writer and can't help myself, how I found myself hitting walls left and right, pulling my hair, and eating my nails to the quick because I couldn't figure out how to do it. There were times I even considered digging my eyeballs out of their sockets with my bare hands just to see if I could birth a story from that. Then, I finally tell him, all of a sudden the doors of my imagination opened and a story began to unfold; it took a life of its own. It went through many transformations, each submission with major revisions until I finally began to understand, feel, and live the characters. They became real to me; I had gone through the wall. But, still, I had problems because even though I had these fantastic, crazy visions in my head of how I wanted the story to be told, where I wanted it to lead, how I wanted it to read, how I wanted to describe certain alien things without sounding elementary, etc.,  I was having difficulty translating that into words. Translating sci-fi ideas into words is not easy for this chick. It was frustrating, to say the least.

"Writing is not easy; writing shouldn't be easy. Welcome to the world of writers. And you are a natural born writer because your imagination is wild and you have no problem when it comes to words."

I turned around. Who is he speaking to? I was speechless. Natural born writer, huh? Hey, I should put that on my resume and get the hell out of Dodge and find me a better gig.

"All these stories you submitted are seeds to future books. They are all very imaginative and good and could be expanded upon. And you managed to learn what many of my students refuse to learn: to be ruthless and critical with their work and dispense with words, paragraphs, even characters that you are in love with simply because it does not work."

I'm feeling my face redden from all of these unexpected compliments.

He continues, "I find many students have a hard time doing this, they don't like to edit and feel they own those words. But we don't own our stories, now do we Rebecca? The stories own us."

*sigh* I hate it when he makes sense. "Absolutely, and thank you. But which stories should I submit?" 

"All of them."

"All of them? Even Abigail Reborn? Because I have to agree with you in retrospect that that was a shitty piece of work."

"Even Abigail Reborn. Yes. It may have been shitty piece of work but the idea was fantastic." *sigh* Okay, so now you like me. Hubbie said you did. I'm the moron. It's official.

He then proceeds to tell me that for next semester he wants me to write a screenplay. I inform him I've never written one before. I've written plays, but never screenplays and wouldn't even know where to begin. He smiles. I've seen that smile before. It's the doors of Hell opening up. He goes to his bookshelf and retrieves a copy of one of his father's screenplays. His father was an Academy Award winning screenwriter.

"Here. Read this. Now go write me a screenplay."

I was floored. In my hands I held a copy of an Academy Award winning screenplay typed in one of typewriters of the 1950s. You could see the areas where the keys got jammed together to create an extra letter in a word and how it was erased delicately and with care. I was speechless. I get up and say goodbye and on my way out he thanks me for taking the course and being so involved and tells me,"it's a pleasure to have students like you in class so other students can see what good writing looks like and what commitment is all about."

Uh-huh, yeah, yeah.....but I was already floating back to my office on the cloud that held the screenplay that I was so humbled to be given. Pfft! Who needs accolades? That's for amateurs.

So I'm on a high for the rest of the day and soon liken the class to childbirth. All of a sudden I forget the pain. I have my last class with him that night and afterwards a classmate and I begin talking about our tutorials, grades and such. She informs me that the POD was always very fond of me.

"Stop it! Come on, you saw how harsh he was with me! I saw him handle many students with kid gloves, but with me he was harsh. Why, I ask you? What did I ever do to him?"

She smiles. "Listen, in the tutorials I had with him he always spoke about you and said that there were only two good writers in that class, you being one of them. And, that if I wanted to be a good writer that I should read your submissions and see how you wrote."

 I thought I could not float any higher. My head got so big I could barely fit it in my car.

And to my POD, I am sorry. Oh, PODdy POD POD, what an enigma you turned out to be. To think I spoke ill of you, just one more reason why I am cursed to eternity, because I am what you call a mensa - and no that is not the bright connotation you think it implies - that's Spanish for "dumb."

Photo, courtesy of Deviant Art

December 16, 2008

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The POD Chronicles - Genesis Reborn


Courtesy of Deviant Art

Last night I was watching an episode of House and as I'm sitting there laughing at how he treats his minions, it hits me. House is my POD!  Both of them have a certain knack with people. You know, that abrasive, yet charming, nobody understands me, hardcore I-really-couldn't-give-a-hill-of-beans-about-you-because-it's-all-about-me kinda personality?

I hate the POD. Yes, I know I said I liked him for a bit there awhile back, but I'm back to hating him. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. No. Actually, hate suits me just fine right about now.

I am once again his puppet and I have this little problem with being controlled. As you know, I'm taking this Project Seminar course where we are required to write X amount of pages for the semester and hand in submissions in any genre we like - poetry, play, short story, screenplay, or memoir. Well, I've already exceeded the X amount of pages requirement and should just sit back and coast for the rest of the semester. No. He's not having it. He's not accepting any of the work submitted as part of my portfolio. Why? Because this is who he is. He makes his own rules and then breaks them as he sees fit. Hey! Buddy! This is not the way it's supposed to work! I see what you're doing. I see you accepting other writers' works, why can't you accept mine? Because.

Because this is the relationship between me and the POD. He loves to torture me and see me sweat and see me get frustrated. He likes to bring me to the precipice of madness and whisper in my ear, "Jump!" But he knows me well already and is taking much pleasure because he knows I'm no quitter and that what I will do instead is step aside and point the way and tell him, "you first."

No, the POD is requiring my soul again. He will not settle for less. The play that I submitted - which I thought pretty decent - he rejected. Too dramatic, he pontificates. It's supposed to be dramatic, Dr. Ballbuster.

I then submitted two poems - a genre I'm not comfortable in but I pushed myself because poetry is hard to write. Nope. Rejects it. Yet, I thought my submissions to be much better than some other ones submitted, but what do I know, I'm a minion.

"You're trying too hard," he says.

Oh, you think? But, hey, can I get kudos for using the word neologistic? Wasn't that clever? No answer. Just a batting of the eyelashes as a warning sign that if I don't quickly leave his Space of Grace, the verbal flagellations will soon begin. I depart with tail between my legs and grateful that I have been spared. But am I crushed yet? Nope. Nowhere near there.

"Give me Genesis", he says as I start to walk away.

"Huh?"

"I said, work on Genesis. That is what I want from you."

A heavy sigh escapes my lips and my shoulders fall in defeat. "But I'm done with Genesis," I meekly respond.

"No, you're not. There's more to tell. I want to know more about Zafalon. What's going on with him?"

"Zafalon's a freak, end of story."
 


I know the story is not yet finished, but I was hoping to coast this semester. Can you give a girl a break?

"Good. Great. It has potential. You're nowhere being done."

"I'm not feeling him. I can't channel him." I'm trying to reason with the unreasonable.

"Read Communion. You'll channel him soon enough."

"I'm not reading Communion again. You told me to read that last semester and I couldn't sleep for days. I refuse to read it again."

"Read it and stop your whining. I want ten pages by next week."

I walk away, mumbling under my breath, I fucking hate you, you sadistic bastard. I'm all tapped out here. I don't know where I'm going with that little freak I created and I really could use some time off from the dark side...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... I turn around. He sees my discontent. He smiles. I hate you, blah, blah, blah...

I submit first draft of Zafalon, whom I can't tap. I don't get this kid yet. I don't want to make him the generic hybrid we've all been accustomed to reading about but I have to submit something. I have to start somewhere. The seeds need to be planted. He' a genius. Gee, I didn't see that coming. He's a freak and can't connect with kids his age. *Yawn* really? Kid's gonna save the world. Wow! Now that's original! Garbage, garbage, garbage. My little friend in class who's a real genius and is a 15 year old taking this course says it's a bit boring. I tell her, "I couldn't agree with you more." I plan to scrap it but the POD says it's got potential. Oh, yeah, show me where? Cause I'm not seeing it! Garbage. What I need is a slam-dunk kid with varied weird, scary, freaky type of personalities; the kind of kid that will make you jump out of your skin.

Then I have a thought. This was his plan all along. I verbalize it, open that door. "How about instead of having him be another save-the-world good-boy hybrid, why not make him evil? And why not make the character a girl? A nasty, evil girl that looks real sweet on the outside and nobody knows she's this sadistic freak on the inside?" I was kidding. Well, call it Christmas because the POD's eyes lit up so brightly it nearly blinded me. He likes the word nasty and he likes the word evil and he likes, most especially, the word freak. And for the hybrid to be in female form, well, this was just too much for him. He started salivating like a rabid dog.

"YES! YES! YES! Go with it! Let yourself go! Don't hold back! Give me evil, give me dark, give me naassssttttyyyyy! That's what I was waiting for!"

Mother effer is a freak and is never happy unless I tap into my Vader. And I'm just not the brightest because I should know better. Why oh why did I open that door? Now I'm breathing just as hard as Darth - but from anxiety - because how am I going to do this? Another lovely trip to the dark side where I will consider gouging my eyes out as a alternative to writing. My light sabered quill cannot pen the dark world this man is imagining. Obviously, he believes I can do this. But can I? Probably. Who knows, let's see if I have it in me. He already has his friggin' X amount of pages and I should be done. But he's not having it. And I hate him. But, then again, he wasn't the one who opened that door. No. That was me. So, I guess I should hate me. And the descent into that dark, dark world has now begun.

March 31, 2009

The POD is Back!


Courtesy of Deviant Art

It’s September and guess what that means? It's PODdy POD time again! Yes, I am once again taking a course with my greatly misunderstood POD. My POD whose initiation rite consists of mercilessly flogging new innocent blood and making them squirm in fear to the point of meltdown. My POD who has dispatched many students in fits of tears as they leave and curse him to all eternity. My POD who causes much emotional pain in his quest to teach his minions proper English and give them some semblance of an education.

*sigh* I miss my POD. This should be fun.

Real fun.

Another course with him. Hmm? What can that mean? Well, discomfort for starters. Then, emotional pain which in time will segue into horrific meltdowns because he's just so crazy and over the top. But what I look forward to the most will be watching the newbies squirm. Oh, yeah, I've been there. He is not the most agreeable and gentlest of teachers at first. At first. He tests you. It's not that this is how he gets his kicks; it's how he gets to know if you have it in you and how formidable of a student you will be. So time will tell whether these newbies have it in them to make it through or not; taking his course is not for the weak. I can already see how horrified he will be at learning how much of himself he will have to give - oh, the hours and the pain! - when he finds how tragically we are slaughtering his English language. Oh, yeah, I can’t wait.

This.

will.

be.

fun.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been inside the POD's inner sanctum genuflecting at his intellectual greatness. Like innocent lambs to the slaughter, this new blood will have no idea what they have just signed up for and what they will be expected to produce. The man will not accept ordinary or mediocre or for you to simply coast because you don't want to give 150% and you just want to give enough to pass the damn class and get your three credits. No. You will produce with blood, sweat and tears and nothing less and believe you me when I tell you they will be crying and at some point you will be left standing in your own pool of blood. Some will regress and stick their thumbs in their mouths and begin to cry for their mommies; others will just simply laugh in nervous horror and drop the class.

Well, I am no longer a newbie and he no longer scares me. I’ve been challenged to the extreme by this man and have been taken to the precipice of madness where he has wickedly whispered in my ear to “jump” simply because he felt I would never be able to produce anything he could ever be impressed with and I was simply wasting his time. When I refused to cower in fear or scurry away like some frightened animal and instead simply looked him straight in the eye and responded, “you first,” I won his respect. He finally smiled, nodded his head, and said, “well done. Very well done.”

When I emailed him today to say hello and tell him that I’d be taking a course with him once again, he was happy. The POD has grown a certain attachment to me and he seems to really, really like me (I say this as I hold my Oscar a lá Sally Field). Well, I really, really like him as well and I think we should each start our own fan club.

And, of course, those inevitable words will eventually be said, “How is your novel coming along?” To which I will respond with a million excuses of why it hasn't progressed since the last time he asked me and I will fail to look sincere because I can’t lie to save my life. The Novel – with a capital T and a capital N because in my world it requires it – has been on the back burner for a solid three months. After my manic commitment where all I did was eat and sleep Zafalon, I couldn’t and didn’t want to channel that freaky kid anymore. I needed a break. Summer beckoned and my mind went on vacation. The birds were chirping and I wanted to join them, the grass was growing and I wanted to sit on it with a blanket and a bottle of wine and block of cheese; there were flowers to be planted, beaches to visit, people to see and BBQ with, and places to go. You get the idea. I wanted outdoors, I wanted my weekends, I wanted, I wanted, I wanted. What I didn’t want to do was write. So, I am sure the POD will be disappointed when I tell him I was on hiatus and I will probably loose some of his respect because I have now shown him how undedicated I am and what a loser I can be and he abhors undedicated people and losers, most of all. Oh, what the hell, I needed a friggin’ break, so there! That’s what'll tell him! Yeah, right.

But, summer’s gone and it’s time to get serious again. I can write prolifically during the winter months because I am nester in winter and can spend entire weekends indoors and be completely happy in my zone just writing away. I can finally channel creepy Zaf once again and his creepy friends and begin to pen, pen, pen with much promise. And, maybe this renewed commitment will sate the manic, hard-to-please POD for a bit, or maybe not. I shall soon see. But if you never read another word from me again, then you know the man was not pleased and has sent me to the bowels of Hell where I obviously belong.


December 2008

The POD Chronicles - Day One


Courtesy of Deviant Art

It's been nice knowing you folks. I bid adieu because the POD has come to reclaim my soul.

You are all familiar with the POD. My very brilliant professor who teaches in a manner that is not for the faint of heart. He means well, in his own twisted way.

Well, as you know, I survived his sadistic tormenting last semester. In fact, I guess I must have liked the kink because I signed up again for another one of his flogging sessions.

Oh, Rebecca, what. does. this. say. about. you? 

Well, the truth is that this is an upper-level course that I need and he's the only one teaching it. And, ok, he's grown on me. *sigh* And last night was our first class. For the next three months I will be in his medieval torture chamber awaiting the different levels of agony and unbearable pain he will put me through. Truth be told he sees this as a legitimate way to extract that which he wants from us: our blood. And, our crime? Simply that we are shitty writers that deserve the pillory or rack because our submissions could qualify as nothing less than a crime.

But the POD was quite pleasant last night. Very pleasant. Very kind, sweet and charming. Hmm? Where did my PODdy POD go? The man standing before me looked like the POD, his voice sounded like the POD, but it wasn't the POD. It couldn't be. Well, maybe the holidays were kind and loving to him and he was still basking in the light; or, maybe he met some nice lady friend who is taming his fiery temper; or, or, or....

Oh, I get it! New kids on the block! New blood on which to feast! Reel them in with words of sweet. Yes! How brilliant is my POD?! They're young and innocent and believe him to be a nice, elderly professor who is going to be oh, such a pushover and, oh, such an easy A!

HA! Put those thumbs in your mouths right now fetuses because you are going to start crying for your mommies! You have entered his chamber of horrors and you will not leave unscathed. Tsk, tsk. They looked so trusting too, fiddling with their hairs, yawning, waiting for class to end because they had better things to do. Oh, yeah. Next week you'll be like kittens standing before a pit bull. A pit bull who hasn't had a bite to eat in a month.

So, we do our in-class assignment. The prompt is snow or extreme heat. Pick your poison. Write for 15 minutes, let it flow. I submit mine. He loves it. WTF? No, no, no!! This is not what I signed up for! Put me on the rack! Tell me it's shit! Use me as the example of complete suckiness! Yes, I realize this is not a word, but, hey, my story, I get to make up words.

No, he likes it. As a matter of fact, he wasn't critical or mean to one single person. Not one. Okay, this is boring. What's wrong with him? This has to be bait. Yes. Because next week will be different. Next week the innocents will finally meet him. How do I know? Because after a week's worth of shitty, unreadable submissions, all Hell will break loose. And they will get to see him discard the costume of a nice, gentle man before their very eyes and see the devil that dwells inside. Oh, I can see the tears now. "You want to be a writer? You expect me to applaud this garbage? Do you speak English? Can you write English?!"  And the POD will once again spew those venomous words that will leave us whimpering at his feet begging for his forgiveness for being such incompetent morons.

And this course is not a free ride. It is not an easy A. We're to produce. At least 100-200 pages of worthy material, not mediocre material, but solid material that could be publishable. Be it in the form of a play, screenplay, novel, memoir, poems.

Great.

Well, scratch the memoir because that would take half a page at most and would undoubtedly induce coma in any reader because of the boredom factor.

So now I'm down to a novel (250 pages). In three months. I'm not brilliant and my brain is not that big.

Okay, screenplay. Seems daunting. And do I have time for writing something that I'm a complete novice at while actually doing what I get paid for, preparing for my college's commencement exercises which sucks the life right out of me? No.

Poetry? Please, I'd rather write a novel and a screenplay. Not my thing.

So what am I left with? A play. I can do plays. But I'll write something tragic to keep him from flogging me too severely. He thinks my Pollyanic light shines too bright and thus it is his job to extinguish it and seek out the dark in me. It's how he gets his kicks. But, a 3-act play? Christ!

And instead of using my time now to begin penning my words for this tremendous project, I am here fiddling around and writing this post instead. Okay, so call it mental floss. Because I know the mental beatings will soon begin and I'm ready. I think. And which genre I choose to write is irrelevant anyway. I am now his puppet, doing his bidding. Forget that I have a mind of my own. He's taken possession of it and will not return it until he believes I've earned it. And he will sniff out that which I most fear, that which would want to make me take my brain out and put in a jar for lab rats to pick at. And he will take me to that precipice and tell me to jump and call me a coward if I fail to do his bidding. So, yes, let me have my little moment now, because life as I know it, is now over.

So it's been nice knowing you folks. And I'm off to the Temple of Doom. If I fail to return in one, uninjured piece with my faculties intact, then please know that "the kindness of strangers" has not been lost on me. I like you. I really, really like you. And you've all been very sweet and kind to me. Thank you.

Let the verbal flogging begin.

January 27, 2009

The Prince of Darkness or How I've Spent The Last Three Months


Courtesy of Deviant Art


So I’ve been a little negligent with my life, loves, and blog friends lately. You can thank the Prince of Darkness for that. Let me explain.

I’ve been taking a course this semester that has literally kicked my arse. A short story workshop that should have been more appropriately named Sadism 101. I have been spending all of my time either creating stories to please my very-hard-to-please professor or doing wasteful, unimportant things like eating, sleeping and trying to ensure my mind doesn't go mad. I thought the workshop a slam-dunk because I think I do alright in this area; oh, silly, silly girl. Little did I know Satan would be teaching the course. The man took pleasure in making us sweat and telling us time and again that our submissions were shit. There were only a "handful of formidable writers" in class, myself included, (his words not mine, and at least we agreed on something) and although he would comment time and again that I wrote very well, had a vivid imagination, and showed a clear desire and willingness to write pieces that were worthy, he had a problem with my writing nonetheless because it was filled with too much symbolism, allegory, and tended to be on the side of complex and sophisticated. Oh, this is going to be fun.

First submission he didn't like and he felt it was unfinished (okay, in retrospect, I concur). Next.

Second submission and one of my favorites (and I will stand by it as being one of my best - it had a solid beginning, middle and end, it had conflict, resolution, strong character development and depth; it was dead on), but unfortunately it was allegorical and symbolic once again and he hated it. With a passion. *sigh* He nearly had a coronary trying to explain it to me, "allegory and symbolism went out in the 18th century!" Is he for real?

But he wasn't finished yet, "People found it hard to read then and still find it hard to read now. Although your piece is well written," (I think he would say this to soften the massive verbal blow that always followed), "it fails the reader. As a reader, if at the end I am suddenly hit with the fact that this was an allegorical story all along and oh, how very clever and smart you are, then it fails because now I feel stupid. And, if your intent is to make the reader feel stupid, then you’ve succeeded."

I look at him blankly trying hard to keep my homicidal tendencies in check. But, he wasn’t finished. Nope. Not by a long shot, "Well, let’s not go by me. Let’s take a poll to see how many of your peers liked it and, most importantly, got it." 

Ninety to ninety five percent of the class loved it and, guess what, they all got it. That only caused him to be further infuriated and he proceeded to slam me to the wall.

"Oh, I see, I am the stupid one then. Very well, but it’s still shit."

Great. Now he really hates me. I go to the required one-on-one tutorial all students must have to meet with him.

"I’d like you to write something more along the lines of a fable, fantasy or science fiction. Let's try that, shall we?”

Terrific. I've never attempted any of those genres because it's not my thing and now what he's really intimating is that I have to write something he likes otherwise I'm screwed, right? Great. Give me some needles quick because I’m using them to stick them in my eyes. That would be far less painful.

I become stuck. Mentally anguished and creatively stuck. I can’t get a trickle of fantasy, science fiction or children’s story from this brain of mine. I eat. A lot. I watch TV. A lot. Okay, so this is looking and feeling a lot like depression. I curse the man each morning when I wake and each night when another unproductive day in writing has ended. I read other students’ submissions. Some are good; really, really good. Yet, some are not. Actually, some are really bad. Dude, give me a break here. You can’t grade my allegorical-inspired stories that happen to be beautiful in language and depth, but you can grade this elementary garbage?

I ask what was wrong with the latest submission, "Again, you are an inventive and excellent writer. But I do not want allegory." Okay then, two words: bite me.

An idea sparks. I decide to meet him halfway. I won’t write any more stories filled with symbolism, but I’ll write what I want. And it isn't going to be fable, fantasy or sci-fi.

Next submission. Allegorical again. *sigh* I can't help myself can I? I knew he would hate it but I was creatively tapped out, brain dead trying to come up with something that didn't come naturally and I needed to submit something - anything. But, guess what? The class loved it but did that matter? No. Some even approached me after class and kindly told me they wished they could write like that and wanted to know how I did that. Though a long piece - 20 pages - I had them engaged from the first word and they never lost interest. Do you know how hard this is dude! But, of course, he hated it. Next.

In my next submission I finally give him his dark fable. Feast on that you sadistic pig. Living in the pit of despair, of which he was to blame, birthed it. My dark side had been tapped. And, he loved it.

"Yes! Fear and evil is good and good is nasty! And we love nasty!"

All-righty then, got it. Satan was teaching the course and he was into some kinky shit. I finally gave him his science fiction request. A dark, evil and scary creation. He was beside himself with joy. It appeared I at last gave him the lollypop he wanted to so badly suck on since the beginning of the term.

"You can't possibly leave this as a short story! This is a novel! This can very well be turned into a movie!" Whoa, whoa, whoa! Relax there, Lucifer, I had a hard enough time coming up with this. Now you want a novel? Sorry, I’m not ready to sell my soul to you just yet. Plus you, you little bastard, had me tap into my dark side after I tried so hard for so many years to be a light in this world. Not nice. I much prefer Luke over Darth, but you wanted to play Satan, didn't you?

Seventh, eighth, ninth submissions, more pages of the dark world I created that he so craved and wanted to feast on. He fell in love with my story and couldn't get enough.

"Five more pages! Ten! Fifteen!"

Argh! My life came to a halt. Satan had allegorically and symbolically made me his slave.

Finally, the story was finished. That I lost part of my sanity as a consequence didn’t even ping on his radar of good conscience. He was happy. And we must make the man happy because there is a little thing called a grade.

My husband asks, "are you worried about a grade or about being taken out of your comfort zone and learning to write something different?" Silly man, of course it’s all about the grade. Hello! But he was right, grade be damned if you haven't learnt a thing.

Well, Satan was appeased. Satan was impressed by my final submission because he did not think I could pull it off. He wants to highlight this story next week in class. So this was a test, huh? Sadist. Had I wanted another man in my life that would push me to my limits to see if I indeed had it in me, I could've stayed home.

As our final assignment, we had to hand in our best pieces for our portfolio. My stomach was in knots because he hated everything I submitted, with the exception of his sci-fi request. So, I meekly ask what I should submit.

"Oh, you’re fine. No worries there. You’re more than fine." 

He's evil, I say. And now next semester I have a project seminar to take and tackle. Playwriting. And guess who’s teaching it? The Prince of Darkness again. I email him. Does this require an in-class presentation in front of peers, because if that’s the case, I’m out. Not my strength. I’d rather have root canal without anesthesia than to read anything in front of a class.

"No, not a requirement and it’s been a terrific pleasure working with you and I look forward to doing so again next semester."

Well dude, I’m glad you took pleasure, because for me, it was anything but. And so the second torture session will begin at the end of January. But for now - for the next month at least - I have light in my life once again. Unfiltered, immense joy. That is, until Satan once again comes to claim my soul.

December 2008

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blink


Life is but a breath.
I blinked,
and woke draped in skincloth
covering fragile bones
that thirsted for youth

December 31, 2014