Thursday, April 29, 2010
It was the middle of the summer in the year 1999 on a Friday afternoon, and everyone was home. It was about 89 degrees outside that day. So my mother kicked my brother and I out of the house for the day and told us to go play with our friends. I was standing in the garage trying to come up with things to do because it was so hot outside. I thought and thought for about 5 minutes, and decided to ride my bike down to my friend Courtney’s house, to see if she wanted to go the pond, which was our favorite place to go on hot days like this. When I got to her house her mother was outside in the garden planting flowers and putting up little fences to keep the rabbets away. I walked inside without even asking because I was pretty much family. I walked up to Courtney’s room and asked her if she wanted to ride her bike and go to the pond with me.
“We just went to the pond yesterday” Courtney cried.
“Yeah, yeah so what? There’s nothing else to do” I said.
“Umm, how about we go EXPLORING!” As she jumped up from the floor.
“Sweet, where are we going to explore? ” I said with a confused look on my face.
“lets go to the woods behind my house” Courtney said as she was running to but her shoes on.
“Okay” Even though I agreed. I was still scared of what would happen if we went into the woods.
Except Courtney did not give me any time to think or even say that it was a bad idea. She grabbed my arm and we were off. we ran down stairs to the back door, and jumped off the deck and landed in the soft just cut grass. We both ran as fast as we could through the yard till we got to the edge of where the yard was no longer a yard but a black hole of trees. We asked Courtney’s mom if it was okay to go into the wood’s. She wasn’t really paying attention and said yes anyway. Courtney and I pretended that we were on an important mission. We traveled through huge ditches and thought we were getting eaten by ground hogs and walked along a tiny stream that we thought was the ocean.
As our journey continued, we came across an abandon house. From what we could see no one lived their. All the windows had holes in them from where someone had thrown a base ball or a rock through it to get inside. As we were exploring we could hear little creaking noises coming from behind us. Courtney and I really didn’t think of anything because it could have been some birds in the trees or some animals walking through the brush so we kept exploring. Until we heard some people talking, and then they started screaming. Courtney and I looked at each other, and slowly turned around, to see what was going on. When we got all the way turned around we saw two men standing in front of us with there two Doberman pinschers. After seeing them Courtney and I started freaking out. I was scared because I knew that something was going to go wrong and Courtney was freaking out because she didn’t like big dogs. Even though the men were a good distance away they started to talk to us.
“Do you know where you are?” one of the men said to us.
“Um were in her backyard” I said.
“I don’t think your in her back yard, girls, what you are on is privet property and if you don’t leave now were going to let our dogs go” the man said.
After hearing that Courtney and I were screaming and running all at the same time trying to get away from what was going on. We were running so fast it felt like we were flying through the woods and that our feet weren’t even on the ground. Courtney and I ran through the stream and the ditch that we were just playing in. As we got closer to the edge of the woods you could see the sun light gleaming through the trees and the hole that we came in from. When we finally reached the hole that we made to get into the woods. We jumped out of the woods and we were so happy to be in Courtney’s real back yard. Courtney and I were so excited to be back, that we ran to her mom and told her everything that happened. She listened and laughed, but then told us that she had no idea that we were gone.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
As the sun hid behind the the horizon for the night, there was a hair-raising chill about the air that was rather uncommon for the month of July. It didn’t help that the top floor of the parking garage where we had camped out to watch Red, White, and Boom was acting more as a wind tunnel than a shelter. I wish I had worn something warmer under the jacket that was now placed upon my girlfriend’s shoulders. Her shivers became mine, but I knew that the cold sensation I was feeling was nothing compared to the trouble that would have come from my family had I not shared the jacket. Just in time to distract me from my discomfort, the fireworks began to boom above our heads. This Independence Day, the sky did not wear its traditional explosions of red, white, and blue, but instead I saw Tommy, Tery, and Greg, and I saw Hopewell Court.
Despite Greg’s inability to effectively use words – one of the many burdens placed upon him by his autism- it was simple to see that he was the most eager of everyone in our neighborhood for the firework display that we had all been planning for nearly two months now.
“Aaaayeeeeahhhhhhh” Greg sang and danced as Tommy brought out what seemed to be every roman candle and m80 ever made.
“What do you guys want to start with?” Tommy asked the group.
“We have to start out small and build up to a Grand Finale, you know, like the real shows” I said. I knew it would hardly mimic the grandiose displays we had become accustomed to, but there was an understood protocol to fireworks that we just could not stray from.
Tommy grabbed the roman candle and lit it, almost already on the run as he did so. Fireballs began to shoot up into the sky and we all watched, fascinated. Greg began to dance again, flailing his limbs more powerfully with each colorful ball. Disregarding our warnings, Greg was now on a mission to catch one of the fireballs. We knew that we should not be letting this happen, but who were we to ruin Greg’s fun? There was something almost beautiful about the mess of arms and legs flying every which way and the soundtrack of squeals, giggles, and animated noises that accompanied his dancing. And if it wasn’t beautiful, it definitely was hilarious. A red ball went flying and Greg lunged for it. He missed the fire, but we weren’t lucky enough for him to miss the firework. In the span of 4 seconds we had gone from 1776, celebrating our independence with our forefathers to 1966 in the middle of Vietnam with our actual fathers.
Instinctively I had jumped behind the nearest tree, unaware if I was fleeing from the fireballs raining down upon us or the spine-tingling scream and smell coming from Tery. What was that smell? To this day I can still smell that smell; a smell generally reserved for firefighters, doctors, and those most unfortunate. It was the smell of burning flesh. Man down, Man down! One of the balls had struck Tery in the neck and we all watched, paralyzed by both fear and confusion, as he rolled around in anguish.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” Terry could not stop yelling, “Somebody get my mom. Go get my mom, please. Get my mommmmmm. Ahhh,” His screams made me want to run for help, even in the midst of Armageddon, and I may have sat there frozen in awe if it weren't for that smell.
“Hold on, Tery, just stay down,“ I said as I ran for help. What a shame, that may have been the best roman candle we’d ever get to see – that thing wouldn’t go out even now that we wanted it to. This remarkable firework had been lost, hidden and tarnished by excitement and bad luck. That was our last Fourth of July on Hopewell Court. We began celebrating Halloween together instead. Candy and costumes were much safer than fireworks – or so we thought.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
“Well, Charles, we have been together for three years. Don’t you think its time to start considering it? What do you have against it?"
“Julia, let’s just drop it and try to enjoy the rest of the evening. Things are fine the way they are, aren’t they, honey? Come on… let’s head over to the diner for a late dinner.”
As they sat at the counter at Phillies and placed their orders, Julia pretended quiet indifference, yet her insides were in torment. Why was Charles so against marriage? It was as though he wanted to keep things the same forever. The weekly Saturday night movie and diner date, the occasional Sunday dinner after church, the lunches in the park once or twice weekly. Although she enjoyed all of the time she spent with Charles, Julia would return home after each meeting to the apartment she and her mother shared in the northern part of Chicago, feeling empty and alone.
In the beginning, it had been wonderful. She had met Charles at the department store where she worked as a clerk. He came in looking for a gift for his niece’s birthday. They had hit off immediately, talking and laughing as she showed him items from beneath the counter. When she went to wrap up the necklace he had chosen, he asked if he might call her sometime. Smiling shyly, she wrote her number down and handed it to him with the package.
Two days later, after Julia had finally convinced herself he wasn’t going to call, Charles called. He asked her to a movie for the following Saturday. When Charles came to pick her up, he complimented her on her new dress and told her that she looked very lovely. He opened the car door for her and waited until she was safely in. As he walked around the front of the car, he looked at her through the windshield and gave her a smile. A warm feeling came over her. After the movie that night, they continued laughing and talking and decided to head over to the diner for a late night milkshake. As they sat at Phillies, just as they were tonight, Julia found herself falling for Charles. His quick wit, handsome features, and his honest nature instinctively told her that he was a wonderful man.
For the next few months, they enjoyed a variety of outings. Julia introduced him to her mother, and there were nights where the three of them gathered for dinner and a game of cards. When a year had passed, friends and family began to whisper that surely an engagement announcement would be forthcoming in the year. At the close of their second year together, Julia began to anticipate that moment with all of her heart. She watched Charles closely for any signs of the impending question, yet he never varied in his manner or activities.
Now, here they were, well into their third year together, and nothing had changed. Julia noticed Charles looking at her and turned to face him. “You have been pretty quiet. What are you thinking about?” he asked her with a smile. Julia took a deep breath and decided to broach the subject of marriage again. “Charles, what is it that you have against marriage? Don’t you want to marry me?” Julia asked with a pleading note in her voice. Charles heaved an irritated sigh and dropped his forehead into his hand. “Look, Julia, why is this so important to you? Don’t you think we have fun? Don’t you enjoy just being together? I do. Why isn’t this enough for you? Why do you girls all want to get married?” he said quietly, yet impatiently. Julia looked at him and suddenly felt like crying. “Well Charles,” she said, mustering a smile, “you know that it’s every girl’s dream to have the wedding, the husband, and the picket fence!” Charles looked at her steadily. “Yeah, I know, but I thought you were different from those girls. That’s one of the reasons I liked you so much!” he said. Julia’s face reddened in humiliation and rage. When did she ever tell him that she wanted something different? What gave him the idea that she would want to be different from any other girl out there? She stood up stiffly and gathered up her purse. “What are you doing? Come on, Julia, sit down. You are overreacting to this and causing a scene!” Charles hissed at her. Julia hurried toward the door and out into the dark night, tears gathering in her eyes. Charles hurriedly laid some bills on the counter, gathered his coat, and went after her. Julia was walking quickly up the street, desperate to get away and hide in the safety of her room at home. Charles long legs caught up to her, however, and he tried to take her arm. “Just leave me alone, Charles!” she said as tears threatened to spill onto her cheeks. “Julia, what is going on with you? Why are you suddenly so struck on the idea of marriage? You never said anything before!” he questioned her impatiently. “WHY should I have to say anything, Charles? Why, I ask you? Isn’t this supposed to be how it all goes? I thought we were in love! Why haven’t you asked me already? Isn’t us being together hint enough for you?” Julia was crying freely now. She swiped angrily at her eyes and continued walking briskly. “Julia, it’s just not something I want to do right now-“ he began. “Then just forget it! I don’t want to see you anymore. Please leave me alone!” Julia wailed. She broke into a run when she saw her house was nearby. Charles threw his arms in the air and yelled to her. “Julia! Please wait…there is a reason. But it’s not you!” She stopped and turned to look at him. The streetlamp illuminated his face. It looked agonized and pleading. Julia walked slowly back towards him and faced him squarely. “Alright, Charles.” Charles took a deep breath and plunged into an explanation “Julia, this won’t make any sense to you, but I need you to understand and just listen to me. Several years ago, I was married.” Julia’s face registered shock. “I know we have never talked about this, but the marriage wasn’t going well. We decided to separate, for just awhile, then see how things went. Apparently, she fell for another man during that time. She ran off with him and I haven’t seen her since. I, well, I didn’t know how to tell you about this,” he said quietly. Julia felt as though she were unable to grasp his meaning. “Charles, how long have you been divorced?” she asked breathlessly. Charles looked at her and took both of her hands in his. “Julia, I am not actually divorced. Lily ran off before-“ Charles stopped in mid-sentence when Julia’s angry cry broke through. She snatched her hands from his and ran up the street towards her apartment. Charles was left on the sidewalk, alone.
I am a mother of two older children now. One twenty-two and the other just turned twenty. Both are beautiful children. One boy and one girl, both of which I’m extremely proud of…
I’m proud of being a mother. I really am. There’s nothing more powerful then the bond shared between and mother and her child. I’ve loved them since the day I knew they came into existence. Right here, in my belly. Just thinking about the first time I saw on my angels makes me get all teary eyed and recalling how long ago it was still leaves me in aw. I can’t imagine my life without either one of them. They keep me alive, they are my strength.
Just about two years ago I lost my job. I was a secretary, working by Trabue Road right next to the railroad tracks. It was a fairly small company in the beginning, only consisted of about forty employees and within the next eight years it grew to over three hundred employees. Yep, and to think I managed all that, still baffles me.
Things are different now. I’m a closer at Donatos Pizzera down by Old Dublin Road. The place is pretty small, and after awhile of washing dishes in the hot water it reminds me of how much my life has changed.
I used to be such a confident person. The girl everyone loved and admired. In high school I was the Homecoming Queen for three years, was miss social and dated a guy named Tom, who was going to school to become a lawyer some day. As for me I wanted to become a nurse. Was going to help people who couldn’t help themselves, you know. I’ve always wanted to join the Medical field. But now that I am fifty years old carrying a minimum wage job and a foreclosure on hand, it almost seems impossible.
Stress can really take a tool on your body sometimes. I often find that sleep is the best way to escape. That and smoking; which I know I should quit. I remember that day when I picked up that terrible habit. I was working for some construction company at the time and this married man kept hitting on me. I asked him one day if he’d ever stop and the only answer I received was if I started smoking. So, I did and sure enough it didn’t stop him and I was left with a dying habit.
It’s amazing the types of things we do because of others; that the power of one can change the future for so many. I should have never followed my heart; I should have trusted my gut. You know…this must be what grief is. You think about those things in your life that you never bother to question until someone you know manages to leave this place known as Earth. But he’s in a better place now, my father. He just passed away this past Tuesday and I have yet to cry for him. I’m trying, I really am, but it’s hard to remember the nice simple things about him when I feel that he hasn’t been in my life for quite some time now.
It still feels like he’s away on a business trip. He is a furniture salesman…I mean he was a furniture salesman. He was a darn good one though, I do remember that. It must have been difficult raising a family of six though, including my mother. Now that I’m in the train of thought I can’t believe he did that to her. He left her for another woman. It still amazes me. Maybe this is why I’m unable to cry for him, or maybe I’ve come to realize that the only people I’ve learned to love are my two children.
My daughter did the sweetest thing for me this week. I was upstairs lying in bed trying to recall the good things in life when I heard someone at the door and this tiny voice, “Mom, you home?” It was then I knew it was my daughter. My sweet little daughter, oh how I love it when she comes home. I yelled down to her, “Yes, I’m coming, I’m here.” I got up and bolted down the steps but was surprised by what she was carrying.
She looked at me with a grin and said, “This is for you mom, it’s called a Duranta. I got it for you, for grandpa.”
I was stunned in shock. Just standing at the bottom of the steps perplexed by this beautiful gift, I finally spoke, “Oh, it’s beautiful.” I examined its purple blooms and bright green leaves. I could tell it was a still a baby…it was then I felt the first drops forming in my eyes.
As my daughter held it up and examined the plant she began sharing with me the special little details she went through to pick it out. How she went to the Alton Darby Nursery right down the street. And her concern for picking out just the right one but she had no idea where to start. Then a woman approached her and thought she was courageous for getting me a gift like a plant. As she continued through her story I realized that even though she knew I wasn’t close to my father, she still wanted to be there for me…
Despite everything that has made life almost seem worthless…somehow she still manages to lift all the weight right off my shoulders. Seeing her there before me, taking the time out of her day to see if I was okay and to get a plant in remembrance of my father made things feel a little more at peace.
I’m blessed to have two wonderful children and despite what life will throw at me, I shall never abandon them.
It was a warm summer afternoon in Delaware, Ohio as my father and I went riding on our
English 265 5:30-7:30
April 27, 2010
Short Writing Exercise Three
In the summer time you can smell the fresh cut grass. There are acres of it that leads all the way to the railroad tracks. On this grass there is a baseball field, soccer field, and football field. Pretty much ant kind of field you would need. There is a playground on this field were any kid could have the adventure of a lifetime. Basketball courts were you can play endless amounts of games with your friends. This field is also known as our park. All the kids of the neighborhood flock there all the time. I spent endless amount of time there when I was young. I had many great experiences at that park which were bright spots in my childhood. One of those experiences was the time I stood up to the neighborhood bully one summer afternoon.
That day my friend Josh and I were playing a game of basketball when Ronnie, the fore mentioned bully, showed up. I was the innocent age of eight when the confrontation of a lifetime was about to go down. I started to recall all the torment this evil big kid put me through in my young life. Ronnie approached us with his gang of hooligans and proclaimed, “Thomas! Wheeler! You two are in for an ass whooping!” Ronnie and his gang were two grades ahead of us and easily had the height advantage on us. It seemed like one of the kid’s shadow stretched all the way across the park. One of them even looked like they had a Tom Selleck mustache. Despite the odds were not in our favor, I decided it was time for us to make a stand. A battle to end Ronnie’s tyrant hold on the neighborhood. A classic good vs. evil match up, like Batman vs. the Joker, or Crocket and Tubbs against the drug cartel or the Blues Brothers vs. Princess Leia with a machine gun.
I growled back in defiance to Ronnie my best Clint Eastwood impression, “Then bring it, punk!”
A silence came over the park, only a gust of wind blowing off the field made a noise. I swear I saw a tumbleweed roll across the basketball court. The sun was high and was warming up the basketball court. I could see a drop of sweat form on Ronnie’s gigantic forehead. It slowly rolled down the side of his face and drop on the warm pavement. Any hotter on the court and I would expect the devil himself to be in attendance for this fight. Even the passing of the ice cream truck didn’t stop this Mexican standoff.
Each side was waiting for the other to make that move that would start the ruckus. Ronnie’s friend James flinched and out of the corner of my eye I saw Josh’s open hand form a fist. He ran across the court and punched James right in the face. I could visually see a cloud form over James head with the caption in it, “Pow!” James stood still for a moment and then fell backwards like a tree that was just chopped down.
Ronnie and his two other friends were shocked by the first blow. One punch and one of his men were down. Ronnie underestimated the toughness of his opponents and he was going to pay for it. I realized that Ronnie and his goon’s attention was focus on their fallen comrade and I saw an opportunity to strike. I charged at one of the goons and kick him square in his junk. A Ralph Macchio, Karate Kid style kick. He responded with a cry for help. I am pretty sure the words he mumbled was not any type of language at all as he fell to the ground in pain like a ton of bricks.
I followed that kick by cocking my fist and punching the last goon right in the gut. It knocked the wind right out of him. Three down, one more punk to go.
Once again, I approached Ronnie and asked him one simple question. “Are you feeling lucky punk? Well, are you?” After this fight I was expecting an agent to call me and say I was the next Clint Eastwood after that performance.
I got ready to knock Ronnie’s lights out and then something stopped me. I started to realize what this situation looked like. I saw the fear in Ronnie’s eyes, the same fear that was once in mine and I realized that this fight was already over. I didn’t want to become a bully like Ronnie. That wasn’t me. I told him, “Go home and you never mess with us again. Right?” Ronnie responded, “Right.” He ran off with his goons right behind them like a bunch of scolded dogs. Then playing it cool and not tying to seem too excited and happy, I turned to Josh and said “Ready for another game B.A.?” “Sure Face.” We are Jordan Thomas and Josh Wheeler, the new men in the A-Team.
It was the night of my 12th birthday and I decided to have a sleep over with a few of my friends at my house. It was the typical birthday party cake, ice cream and birthday presents. Until night fall it was a typical boring adolescent birthday party. That night my friends and I decided to sneak out and adventure down to the local park, which was only a few blocks away from my house. My older brother Jeremy had just recently purchased a giant box of roman candles the he hid from me in his closet so i wouldn't be tempted to blow my hand off. i slowly crept my way into his room and snatched up a huge armful of the explosive devices the we were off.
The crisp night air burnt our lungs, we were free. Once we got to the park we made our way to the farthest open field as possible, that way when we lit off the fireworks it would diminish our possibility of being caught. The game we always played we had named after the movie Harry Potter. The roman candles were magic wands that spit out fireballs from the ends of the stick. There was only a few simple rules: don't get close to anybody, and shoot them while you yelled out magic spells at your opponents. Blue. Yellow. Purple. Red. White. the night sky was like our own personal fourth of July. we were young, we were innocent. the world was ours
Going into the 3rd or fourth round of the light show and gigantic explosions it was no surprise
some lights that were not made by us. blue and red flashing lights glistened and reflected back off of the tree tops. someone yelled out "COPS!", we looked like fire ants scurrying for shelter or a morsel of food that had just been dropped along the side walk.
Two of us has suddenly gotten separated from the group and decided to dart into the thick back woods where we knew all the hidden routes to hiding spots. the long branches clawed their way at my face and clothes as if they were hands trying to containme against my will. once we emerged from the thick woods i noticed we were only a few blocks from reaching the safety of my own home. i knew if we kept to the shadows we would not be caught. we were like ninjas; we had mastered the art of camouflage. we were deadly, we owned these streets. We made our way through back Yard's and hopped over fences, the street lights were our enemy. we were young vampires trying to cloak themselves and found comfort amongst the darkness. We saw a cop car troll by only once while we were making our travels back home. A block away and the second we saw the police car we darted into a near-by bush. we tried so hard not to sneeze, make ovement or even scratch an itch. this would be the end, or so i thought. no more birthday parties;no more presents; grounded for life.
when i reached my back door i looked into my friends faces and it finally hit me. We had made it. We were home. as i turned the key i smiled to myself and we crept our way up the stairs like mice. not making a sound until we had reached the comforts of my bed room. this was it; this was freedom. for one night the world was ours for the taking.
He heard the displacement of the water and caught a glimpse of something beautiful disappearing into the depths of the turquoise sea. “Wait! I won’t hurt you!” he shouted in desperation but received no response. He tried again and said, “I know what you are. You are one of the most captivating creatures I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Esmeralda watched in awed silence from behind a large boulder in the water. He was indeed the most beautiful human she had ever seen. He had brown hair the color of the spots on a jujonia shell. His eyes sparkled green like the light reflected off of a sea turtle. He was tall and handsome. She watching in amazement as the boy lightly placed the sundial shell he was holding back on the ground and shielded his eyes from the radiant sun. She studied the way he calmly advanced towards the vast body of water.
Esmeralda knew that she shouldn’t allow this human to see her again. She knew it was against the way of her people to interact with the people of the land. She had never felt such a compelling urge to be near someone though. She hesitated in the shadow before slowly allowing herself to be seen by the beautiful human.
The boy gasped when he saw her luminescent skin glowing against the backdrop of rocks and the ocean. He slowly offered a hand and said, “My name is Troy.” Esmeralda paused and slowly emerged from the water with her body covered by a gown of a thousand pink murex shells. The boy looked at her legs in amazement and she said in a mystical voice, “My name is Esmeralda.”
However, I felt that their story goes on much longer than this assignment does. I would appreciate feedback on how to best end this story and make it a true “short story.” It feels more like the chapter of a book, which I suppose many short stories are, but I still feel my skills lack in the area of endings.
Leah M Cottrill
I wrote two of these. The first one sucked. The second one sucked less. I went with that. I got to about K or L before I got stuck and had to think for a while. I started writing the sentences out of sequence when I thought of good ones for the particular letters. For example, I wrote the long one that started with T before I did R or S, and then I filled in the blanks with something that fit. I actually busted out the dictionary for X and Z, and I found out that there are lots of words that start with X, but none of them are useful in conversation. There are actually some useful words that start with Z. Like zero. Zero is a good word. And zealous. But not zebra because that's a little too elementary school. And I really, really didn't want to use xylophone.
Absolute darkness fell over the house. Blinded momentarily by the abrupt loss of light, Grant stood frozen in place.
“Can you see anything?” Frances asked.
“Do you think I can see in the dark?”
Eventually the objects in the room became clear to him.
“I had a feeling this was going to happen tonight,” he said.
“Just think, if we could have known for sure,”
“Knowing wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Lights across the neighborhood, porch lights, street lamps, and windows, blinked off and on in random intervals. Moments passed as they sat in silence, as if the absence of light also signified the absence of sound. Not until sirens wailed in the distance, growing increasingly louder, did they stir from their trance.
“Oh my God,”
Quietly, Grant walked to the window and pressed the palm of his hand against the cold, smooth glass. Red embers were falling lazily from the sky. Some of them had landed in the dry flower bed out front, causing the flowers to smolder and crackle.
This could not, would not, be the end of all the things that Grant had known and all the many things that he still wanted to know, even if it looked as though all hope for survival was gone and there were loud, thundering sounds on the horizon, and the ground shook ominously below their feet and the fires began to glow in the distance like the dawning of the very last day on Earth.
“Unless you’d like to burn alive, I say we start running now,” Grant said.
“We could have moved away to
“Xenophobia was always my biggest flaw.”
“You know I love you in spite of it.”
Zinnias and daffodils waved goodbye in the blazing night breeze as Grant and
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Its as if he has a monster or zombie-like presence. He is "lurching" towards Connie and there is something not quite right, or quite human, about his booted feet. Oates has placed a very simple and non-threatening description of the character in the middle of a tension laced conversation between the characters. I think that Oates shows how the use of such simple descriptions can be placed in a story to draw a reader's attention to certain behaviors. These behaviors can say a lot about a character and their motives.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I'm unsure about the meaning. The title helps with the story but the fact that the main character cares about these animals but not enough to name them (or maybe too much to name them) seems a little odd to me. But I guess she may be more spiritual, so that could explain it.
2)The writer does an awesome job with visualization, for such a short story. The writer takes you through this character's bizarre world.
"She never caged them, let them wander in and out of her life-dogs,cats,rabbits,birds...."This was my favorite line because it's a great line for visualization and it pulls you further into the story. I mean who does that? I'ts just a neat way of using visualization.
The author does a good job of suggesting a story without telling any specific events. It's not really a series of events, but rather a vague place in time. The last two paragraphs are my favorite.
"There would be saucers everywhere, some stained with milk, others brimming with dirty rainwater. She belived in the curative powers of rain.
" 'I never give any of them names. We don't know an animal's name. A name's what we use instead of smelling.' "
Dybek has the ability to give a vivid description of characters and places in very few words.
Also, I though it was clever that Oates character Arnold Friend's intials are A. Friend. The story goes to show that no matter how sure you might be of someone, you really can never be too sure.
I liked the descriptions of the differences between Connie and her sister June. And about how their mother had different relationships with the two.
The writer does well with transitioning from a panic situation to a great moment when he offers the kid a job at the theater. I think that the writer does the best writing on the second page where he writes, "Him, the kid who watched fires as if he set them, whose other costumes has been altar boy, newspaper boy, and all-American boy as Mickey Rooney might have played it". I thought that this was another great sentence because it shows all of the different things that this kid had to go through before someone really noticed what his true talent was.
The meaning of the story is very interesting indeed. It may seem like a very short short story which can be understood right away, but I believe that there is a deeper meaning behind it depending on how one views it. Moreover, I think "Laughter" is about a girl who is from another country to America and then adapts to the American life. She works in a Ice-cream shop just like any other American girl around her age would. Its about love and cultural adaption, I believe.
What I really like most about the writers style is that he describes the story very well. Its as if we are actually there with speaker because of the strong usage of the langauge. My favorite line is "Love, it's such a night, laced with running water, irreparable, riddled with a million leaks." This passage compares the meaning of love and the many leaks of a running water, which can mean that love has its ups and downs parhaps. There are good moments and sad moments.
In the story "Outtakes", the Usher captured my attention. The short story describes the circumstances under which the boy received a job at the theatre. It manages to describe a figure without ever acquainting the reader with him. I thought this characterization was unique, subtle, and effective. A passage I thought 'shined' was
"So he became nocturnal, a member of a secret society that knew itself exiled from the screen, but like outtakes remained part of the movie"
I liked this passage because it presents the theme of this short story, which is the soul of the unseen.
2) There were a couple of lines that I like but I think my favorite is, "I never give any of them names. We don't know an animal's name. A name's what we use instead of smelling."-Stuart Dybek. The line just really stuck into my head. The use of "smelling" really stuck in my head because it is one of our senses but it also made you really think of what the girl really ment in the line " A name's what we use instead of smelling."-Stuart Dybek. I thought that it ment that we shouldn't get too attached to something because eventually it is going to die. I liked it because it seemed like a nice story because of the fact that she is helping all of these animals but the use of writing gives it this negative vibe.
The story had a lot of really good descriptive sentences in it. Joyce Carol Oates is very good at characterization of people as well as place. My favorite passage is when Arnold was successfully persuading Connie out of the house. He says, "The place where you came from ain't there anymore, and where you had in mind to go is cancelled out. This place you are now-inside your daddy's house-is nothing but a cardboard box I can knock down any time. You know that and always did know that. You hear me?" I feel that this statement is where the title of the story came from. It gives off this other-worldly vibe and makes my skin prickle a little bit. It also makes me feel like my original thought of him being imaginary may be true, because he says that shes not going back to where she came from and that could mean physically or emotionally.
My favorite part in this story is when Dybeck states : it was a theatre manager who spotted him in the nearly faceless crowd of gaspers that disasters assemble. it was the theatre manager who later explained to him that out of all the spectators he was the only one with the haloed profile of a pyromaniac, that in black and white night the flames had played Technicolor on his face. I love the imagery in this part, you can see what the manager sees. That in a crowd of all these people one kid had the look, the look that certain people just have when big things happen. For some reason these people stand out to us and call upon our attention and we see this gleaming in their eyes.
This transformation was what was so appealing to me about Joyce Carol Oates' character. As his advances toward her progressed from awkward to creepy to frightening, Connie began to further understand who Arnold Friend was. As Connie continued to deny his requests, Arnold's smile faded, and in doing so, "She could see then that he wasn't a kid, he was much older - thirty, maybe more. At this knowledge her heart began to pound faster." Oates further goes on to say, "She watched this smile come, awkward as if he were smiling from inside a mask. His whole face was a mask."
What Joyce Carol Oates did the best in this short story, at least from my perspective, was using a character as disturbing as Arnold Friend to keep both Connie and the reader interested in what he was saying enough to fight the growing urge to ignore him. She did this successfully with various forms of persuasion ranging from flirtation to threats. He initially was saying how he was infatuated with her and how beautiful she was (Connie knew she was beautiful, but it never got old hearing it) and by the end he was instilling in her a helplessness, explaining to her that there was nothing she could do to get away from him, and she knew it, so she might as well do as he said. Just as Arnold Friend transformed, so did the story itself - from lighthearted to essentially scary. Scary stories are more fun to read though.
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You may choose a story to respond to from either Joyce Carol Oates or one of the stories by Stuart Dybek that we read for class.
1) What character or idea really stood out to you in this story? What meaning did you get out of it? Why?
2) What does this writer do well? To you, where does the writing really shine? Pick a favorite passage and quote it in your response. Then reflect upon why you choose that and why you think it's good writing.
3) Hit Publish Post to post your entry, and then write comments to three other students in the class once you read their blog posts.