Definition (Part 4)

The Years Spent at a Modern University
We came to college
to slay the dragon
or meet prince charming
to change the world
or find our self.
But after our orientations in
and binge drinking
we gained
normative experiences
that eventually lead
to normative lives.

Ever After to Once Upon
I lied when I said I knew how this story ended. But I didn’t mean to. I thought I knew. I thought that after four years a sense of certainty would have been established, but after three I find myself perched precariously. Where will it finish? Is it possible to have a happy ever after when we strive for reality? Is it the mark of reality and a good writer to find the unhappiness of life and revel in it? Must we always be happy? If not, where does that leave us?
For we have had our beginnings, our middles, our developments and even a devastation or two, but the ending is left like a shining pebble on the bottom of a deep pool. Surrounded by others that are similar yet differ from it slightly in terms of size and shape it’s image dances beneath the surface of the waves letting our eyes catch it for a moment before it is lost and we must try to see it once more.

The Chinese dragons were the embodiment of the yang–the masculine element. With the force of the wind and the power of rain they were responsible for delivering the water to the vast nation that survived thousands of years under their domain. No stream or valley was without one. When coupled with the ying, or tiger the two symbolized the world or unity. There was no right or wrong in such duality, nor was there good or bad. Both the tiger and dragon could create as easily as they could destroy. A completeness that resisted man’s follies, survived in traditions and histories for thousands of years.
The Chinese dragon had the power of flight, invisibility, the wind, and water. He was both human and beast. He was the subject of myths and legends that permeate the culture to this day. Even after the people’s revolution when no kites of paper flew above an emperor, the spirit of the dragon lived on. For while kites of metal shattered a frightened peace of socialism, the dragon slept.

To race
For at the start
a sort of rhythm takes over–
a collectedness
that later
falls apart.
A real despair
Lasts a momentary eternity
The will
struggles against time
and fear subsides


“What do you think?” Elise asked.
“It’s nice, but do you think we can get him to re-carpet the living room…it smells like cat,” replied Caroline.
“He said that’s going to be done next month.”
“Are you sure–they’ll say anything to get a place leased”
“No, he told me he made arrangements for them to come the second week of August after the current residents move out.”
“Ah…well it’s fairly big.”
“Which room would you want.”
“I liked the one with the windows looking out to the front.”
“That’s good, I like the back room.”
“We could use the third bedroom as a study room.
“What would we put in it?” asked Elise.
“Let’s look at it again.”

“I don’t think we have enough furniture?” Elise asked.
“You’re not the ones carrying it upstairs,” replied Roger as he and Michael struggled with the couch.
“But you’re such dears to help,” said Elise.
“Did we have a choice?” asked Michael.
“Not really, but that’s your own fault for living with Roger dear boy,” twittered Elise.
“Elise, stop teasing them and help me get this mattress upstairs!” shouted Caroline from the living room.
“Just leave it for the guys!”
“I will not have those poor boys carting all of my shit up those stairs. Come help.”
“Oh all right,” Elise said.
“Grab that end, I’ll take the bottom.”
“It heavy.”
“Good observation.”
“My aren’t we a tart today.”
“England certainly didn’t dull your tongue. Watch your step.”
“Be nice.”
“I am–put it down and let them get past you.”
“What’s left in the truck Caroline?” Roger asked.
“Quite a bit–two desks, the television and box springs, my clothes and some small stuff.”
“Can you guys manage that?” asked Roger pointing to the mattress.
“We’ll be fine.”
“Okay, we’ll go get another load.”
“I have something that should put you in a better mood,” Elise said after Roger and Michael had walked back outside.
“Christina dumped Michael.”
“Christina who? Tilt it up over the railing.”
“The girl he was seeing all last year.”
“You never met her?”
“No, I think I saw Michael twice last year.”
“Oh, well she was a cat–she threw him over for some guy on the gymnastics team.”
“And your point with all of this is…?”
“Well maybe you two can finally….”
“Elise, darling, I don’t think so. Can you possibly go a bit faster–I’m starting to lose it.”
“But you almost did before.”
“That was three years ago–and one kiss does not a romance make.”
“Oh come on–why don’t you ask him out.”
“Even if I wanted to–which I don’t–I’m not about get some poor guy when he’s on the rebound. Set it down for a minute.”
“You can both be on the rebound–heal each other.”
“Funny–and I’m not on the rebound.”
“Oh really?”
“Yes, really. Pick up your end–we’ll slide it into your room.”
“Then why haven’t you dated since John and you broke up. Ouch–watch it I can’t hold on and get through the door.”
“I just haven’t found anything worth-while…and we didn’t break up–there wasn’t anything to break. Quiet about it–I think they’re coming up the stairs.”

“Elise are you going to take the G.R.E.?” Caroline asked.
“I don’t think so. None of the drama MFA programs I’ve looked at require it.”
“Oh, guess I get to go through alone.”
“Don’t worry, I just hate taking standardized tests.”
“At least you have a history of doing somewhat well on them. Me–I had about an eight-hundred combined on my SAT.”
“But you’re an art-tist my darling.”
“Funny–I still would kill for an ounce of your sense.”
“It’s highly over-rated. Look where it’s gotten me.”
“Wealth, power and success.”
“Wrong–try again.”
“Misery, enslavement and poverty?”
“Don’t worry–you’ll probably fall into some luscious opportunity.”
“I’d rather just fall into some guys arms.”
“Oh come on.”
“I’m serious–do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had sex.”
“That bad.”
“Yes. You’re the lucky one in the stable relationship with a great guy about to plan a great life together.”
“Don’t worry…you’ll find someone.”
“I’d settle for something right about now.”
“Have you been writing?” Elise asked
“Yeah, for some reason it’s easier to write when it’s raining.”
“Can I read some of it?”

The red face spoke to a green face
over a darkened face
about the loss
There was no time
The gray face was missing
Only a yellow face watched
The blue face asleep
as the sheep grazed peacefully
There were no answers
An orange face ran with the violet
amidst the violence of the wind
When the glowing face called
it was the silent face that hid
and the white face that won

Words are insubstantial things
Created to substantiate a world
That exists in both light and dark.
Yet for some odd reason we,
scholars and shoe-salesmen alike
are afraid of the dark.

“What do you honestly think?” Caroline asked.
“I like them–they’re good.”
“Be honest–what don’t you like.”
“Nothing–they’re really good.”
“Elise, be honest–don’t worry about being polite. You won’t offend me if you don’t like them.”
“Yes honestly.”
“Well, I do like them. This one is funny and trite and just sort of there, but I don’t understand the one with all the colors and faces–the ones about running I get. I mean I know what you’re trying to do, but the other one loses me.”
“Thank you.”
“Well, what is it about?”
“You want me to explain it?”
“What does it make you think of–the images I mean.”
“A bunch of people.”
“What kind of people?”
“Colored people.”
“What makes people colored like that?”
“…their clothes–but it’s their faces…”
“Just tell me.”
“No–I think I’ll keep you guessing.”
“Don’t be mean.”
“I’m not–I just know I need to rework it.”
“So you’ll understand it without me having to tell you.”

“There are other clues that lead Baines to his understanding and decision to trade with Stewart for the piano. Namely the conversation at Morag’s concerning the kitchen table, but while he understands Ada, she does not understand him.”
“Back up a bit,” Elise said. “Was he in the room? I don’t remember that part.”
“Yes, right after Morag hands Stewart his tea you see a shot of Keitel in sitting in another room at a table drinking tea and listening.”
“Yeah, but you figure a guy like that wouldn’t feel very comfy in the parlor.”
“That’s true–you know that would make a great stage play.”
“But you wouldn’t have all that mud.”
“That’s true, but it would be such a great role to play.”
“Spoken by the diva herself.”
“I am not.”
“No, you just have the entire theater department fighting over which role you’ll get.”
“It is rather nice wondering what I’ll get to play.”
“What plays are they doing next quarter?”
“Mainstage is Milne’s The Ivory Door and the studio is doing Medea.”
“Are they any good?”
“Medea is pretty boring as it’s so well known. Have you read it?”
“Yeah, long time ago.”
“Thought so–but The Ivory Door is really good. I would really like the female lead in it.”
“Think you’ll get it?”
“Oh, probably.”

“How was the test?” asked Elise.
“Okay–kind of fun actually,” replied Caroline.
“Fun? Hello–are you serious?”
“Yeah–but it was really odd.”
“How so?”
“Steven was there.”
“Oh? Did you guys…”
“We didn’t even look at each other.”
“Yeah. It was weird.”
“Roger told me last week that he talked to him. I guess he’s no longer dating Jennifer.”
“Why don’t you call him? I’m sure Roger has his number.”
“No–it’s just…”
“I know.”
“Do you still need help with that monologue?”
‘Yeah, if you have time.”
“Sure–where is it.”

I saw my friend today.
Once years ago,
Or was it days?
Our eyes met.
A trust was there
And you caught me
when the world wanted to crumble.
And for you?
I’ll never know
What it was I said
or did,
as I’ll never know
how that trust
was broken.
Halfway on my way
from here to wherever
I slipped.
Now when our eyes meet,
I can never speak.
Perhaps I’m beyond repair.
Perhaps it’s best this way
those short uncomfortable spaces.
Perhaps if I had
But I saw my friend today
And smiled in an uncomfortable way.
See how much my words have failed me,
so amidst uneven verses
I look away.

“Caroline–Chris, Mike, and Thad called. I told them you wouldn’t be home until late,” Elise said.”
“Thanks, I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“So how was the date.”
“It was a date.”
“That good.”
“Yeah, I think that guy’s toe-jam would be more interesting.”
“Yummy image.”
“I know.”
“So he is definitely not a prospect?”
“For me? No–I prefer those who can carry a conversation on something other than football.”
“He did have nice shoulders.”
“Yes, but it was basically a swollen pimple that was sitting on top of them.”
“My aren’t we in a lovely mood.”
“Sorry–it’s just, oh I don’t know–it’s just that they’re so average.”
“And so are we.”
“Are we? I mean we’ve spent four years here and earned all sorts of honors and recognition–from you on the stage to my papers, we’re both attractive, intelligent women, we’re applying to these great grad schools–why should we settle?”
“I don’t consider myself settling.”
“You’re not–you’re the lucky one.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You still have plenty of time.”
“You’re probably right.”
“Of course I am–am I ever wrong?”
“Do you really want an answer?”
“Quit being a smart ass and let’s figure our what we’re going to cook for dinner. Besides, you know you could always just call Michael.”
“Funny,” replied Caroline.

The Queen of Swords
Which one is it today?
Well, does it matter anyway?
They’re not parts to a machine,
as I’m not trying to be mean,
but men of uncertain virtue.
I must admit it’s true
that I will never care for them
just as I never deal a ten.
Neither wands nor cups fall suit.
Why am I such an uncaring brute?
And instead of passing between,
and only pretending to mean,
actually give up her sorrow
to fall in love tomorrow.

“When is this one due,” interrupted Elise.
“Thursday,” replied Caroline.
“Oh okay, sorry go on.”
“Yet the wager was lost by The Player, and his troop must comply–they must perform for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The play begins right there on the rolling stage, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are suddenly in the castle. It is not until they are about to be hung aboard the ship that early-morning bird-song is heard and the scene returns to the players stage. Dawn is fast approaching as the Ambassador enters to tell of their death and the Players re-pack their wagon and continue on their way. What had been real turns out to have been just a play, while what is real is still unclear. The suspension of disbelief is pulled away as The Player pulls the ropes to hang Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.”
“Is that it?”
“Yeah–what do you think?”
“It’s good, but I like that one you wrote on Kristeva better.”
“Do think that I should submit it instead.”
“I don’t know…I just like it better. It’s
more you.”
“I just can’t tell anymore. It’s all the same after a while–Did Roger help you with your audition tape?”
“Yeah, he and Michael managed to do it.”
“How did it turn out?”
“Really well, but I sent all the copies out with my applications.”
“Ah–what schools did you decide on?”
“Yale, New York, Columbia, Boston, and Penn.”
“Is Roger applying to any of those?”
“Just Penn, but we’re trying to stay in the same area–so we limited it to the East.”
“How I envy such problems.”
“Where is this essay for?”
“Ah–do you have any other applications left?”
“Just Berkeley. I sent out the University of Chicago and Northwestern yesterday.”

I remember trees in November
that towered beneath me
when I ran.
They lifted their bare branches
to the ground.
And death wasn’t something I thought about.
The wind might change
and spring might arrive
Somewhere else,
for reasons are forgotten.
and reason must not forget.

“Caroline!” a voice called.
She turned to try to identify the source and saw someone waving at her from across the crowded cafe.
“It’s me, Sarah. Are you eating here?”
“Come join me then.”
“Okay hold on a minute.” Wonderful.

“So how have you been?” she asked.
“Good, and you?” Just be polite.
“Great. I’m set to graduate at the end of this year, and then I’m getting married.”
“Yeah he’s a great guy. He’s in the Gamma house–chapter president, three years. We met at a party a year and a half ago. How about you?”
“I’m not seeing anyone right now, not seriously.” Take a deep breath.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. What did you end up majoring in?”
“English, with a minor in Zoology.”
“oh–I ended up in business and finance. Moose, my fiancé is accounting, so we should be set.”
“I see.”
“But how have you been? It’s been ages since we last saw each other.”
“I’ve been good. I’m going through the process of applying–“
“That’s so good to hear. I was afraid you’d hate me after that first quarter. But it’s so nice to see you after all that time. It’s been such a great four years. I was president of my sorority last year–and it looks like I’ll be working for Arthur Anderson after graduation as Moose’s, I mean Gary’s father has a few connections.”
“How about you, do you know where you’ll be working.”
“Actually I’m going to grad school.”
“Really–for law?”
“No, English.” Law?!
“Oh–my god, I’d never be able to do that. I mean there’s not much demand for that these days. At least with a law degree you can make money. See that’s what I plan to do as wherever I end up working will most likely be willing to pay for any additional schooling. But enough about me have you talked to Elise lately?”
“Yes, we’re living together this year.”
“Oh that’s cool. Is she still pre-med?”
“No, actually she’s graduating in drama and right now she’s applying for MFA programs.”
“Oh–is she still dating that guy from the dorms?”
“No–she’s practically engaged to an ME.”
“That’s cool. At least she won’t have to worry about money. Not that that is all there is, but it certainly is important. How about you and Martin?”
“No, that ended my sophomore year.”
“Sorry to hear that–he was such a cute guy. And so nice. He must have graduated last year cause I haven’t seen his name on the Undergrad Government stuff in a while. Moose, he’s the Fraternity Liaison this year–so I can ask him if you want?”
“That’s all right.” Just say you have a class…
“Are you still jogging?”
“I am–well kind of. I got into that step aerobics and then I started jogging a couple of times a week for about ten or fifteen minutes. It really is fun. I go out with a couple of my sorority sisters usually when the weather is nice.”
“Ah–” Tell her you have an appointment with an advisor.
“Oh silly me–here I am prattling on when I have to meet Moose to look at wedding rings. It’s been so nice talking to you. We’ll have to try to keep in touch. Okay?”
“Sure.” Yeah, right.
“Well, I think I have everything–take care. It was nice talking to you.”
“Bye.” Dear God.

“Elise, I’m home,” Caroline called.
“I’m in the bathroom–be right out.”
“You’ll never guess who I ran into today when I was at Gill’s for coffee.”
“Who?” Elise asked as she stepped out of the bathroom.
“None other.”
“Oh dear me–did you say anything?”
“We had coffee together.”
“She did most of the talking.”
“Ah–sounds about right.”‘
“I don’t know–it just made me feel so old. I can’t believe we’re graduating in four months.”
“I know–it’s odd.”

Premature Nostalgia

Sometimes I think it is amazing.
How fast these last years have gone
Memories seem to swirl around me
in a moment’s passing
Leaving only an image
or a scent
that lingers.

The time
I spend in rhyme.
With the water of ages

As when the realization came about.
The world was open before me
and a death was at my door.

“Elise, there’s a letter from Yale,” Caroline called.
“Fat or thin?” Elise asked as she came into the room.
“It’s pretty thin.”
“Oh god–open it.”
“Yes, I can’t–just open it and tell me…it will be better if I hear it from you.”
“All right. Let’s see…Dear Miss Warner. Thank you for your application to the Yale Drama MFA program. It is with great regret that we must inform you that there were many applicant this year and we were able to accept only ten…..”
“Actually it says: it is with great satisfaction that we now write to you to extend our invitation for you to study at our institution….”
“You’re kidding–you little shit! Let me see that!”
“Right here–goes on to say that in about a week your information packet will arrive.”
“I can’t believe it–I have to call Roger.”

Over there will be the desk
from where I will pen great works.
Those that will carry my name
to the cannons
I will write about injustice
and humanity
and society
and love.

“Caroline–there are Letters here in the mail.”
“Be right down.”
“Do you want me to open them?”
“No that’s all right. Have you had lunch?” Caroline said as she walked into the kitchen.
“No, do we have anything?”
“How about some left-over lasagna.”
“Sounds good.”
“I’ll get it out of the fridge. Can you get the plates?”
“Sure–aren’t you going to open them.”
“Eventually, yeah.”
“When we eat.”
“How can you be hungry?!”
“Simple–I haven’t had lunch.”
“Be serious.”
“I am–it’s just that I like not knowing more than knowing–I can fly up on the wings of expectation.”
“And you afraid of the thud?”
“Yes, but I like being able to fly. I like the what ifs…”
“What if they’re acceptance letters.”
“Then they’re acceptance letters”

Caroline opened the three letters.

“And?” asked Elise.
“Yes, yes and yes.”
“All three? You’re kidding!”
“No, all three.”
“When should hear from Berkeley.”
“I did–no go.”
“Oh sorry–but which one of the two will you chose?”
“I think Washington.”
“You’d go all the way out there? I was hoping you’d chose Chicago or Northwestern.”
“It really depends on the money,” said Caroline.
“I do wish you had applied to someplace closer.”

Untitled fragment on joy
I wish that I could dance with abandon
on a lonely beach.
I wish I could fly between the waves lapping on the sand.
Ponderance is not essential.

When I ran an epiphany might catch me
but later I would laugh at its foolishness.

Now I ask myself–how long.
It feels like forever
Yet I haven’t but I have.

There is a quiet
And I ask
Did it end
Am I whole
Do I know
Does it matter
as this feeling of undergraduate introspection must be done.

“It’s just so frustrating,” bellowed Caroline.
“What is?” asked Elise.
“All of this bullshit that I am expected to jump through. I mean, I feel so–so angry and so bored–I don’t know, I just don’t know why I write this shit any more.”
“Because you like to–it’s what you do.”
“I don’t think I even like it any more. And I certainly don’t like Chaucer or Samuel Johnson.”
“It’s just Senioritis–Just think, only eight weeks left before it’s all over.”
“No it’s more than that–it’s that I’m no longer critical.”
“Of course you are–that’s all you do.”
“But not why–I mean I don’t know why I do this anymore. It seems so pointless. It’s like dating guys. I don’t know anymore.”
“Well, why don’t you write about that?”
“About what?”
“What you just said.”
“I couldn’t do that–not and get away with it.”

From Sat May 13 13:52:25 1995
Date: Sat May 13 13:52:25 1995
Subject: Re: raising

I know that I just saw you a week ago
but I have news–
Washington offered me money.
So much has happened in the last week…
hence this note–but as you won’t be back from Chile until next week I thought I would type this now while I have the time.
In three weeks I am reading a paper to the advisory board on the subject of “the state of academia.”
It’s really an awful paper–very self indulgent.
But it answered some questions I had.
When you get home I’ll send you a copy.
It’s good–but unusual.
After that it’s finals time.
Then I have to get a job until I move out to Washington in August.
See you on the 4th.

“Okay, I think that it’s done,” said Caroline.
“The re-draft?” asked Elise.
“Yeah, do you want me to read it to you?”
“Does a Rottweiler eat meat?”
“Cute–that’s a new one.”
“I know. Roger picked it up and has been using it.”
“Ah. Okay, here it is: Melquíades.”
“Don’t worry it’s a sort of obtuse reference…uhm–quote, ‘Consider this…The hint of the century…Consider this…The slip that brought me To my knees failed…What if all these fantasies…Come flailing around…Now I’ve said too much’ REM…First, imagine that you are an under-graduate studying literature. Next, imagine that you’re sitting before a computer trying to write a critical essay. The glow of the screen is reflected in your eyes as you stare blankly at your notes and then blankly at the Samuel Johnson Reader before you and then at the tree outside and the clothes that need washing and the TV that needs dusting. You get up and make some coffee hoping that will settle your mind and you will be able to write more effectively.”
“I have a question,” said Elise. “Is it a critical essay?”
“Well, sort of, its the sketch of a critical essay. I mean inside the actual essay. Is sort of being critical of being critical–sort of post-modern. I it’s more about writing than it is a serious effort at it.”
“Oh, okay.”
“…You’ve done this how many times–it should be easy. You tell yourself this as you go into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of coffee. If you could just find or formulate a thesis you’d be on your way. It would be finished in under two hours.”
“Another question: is this just filler?”
“No, but sort of. I mean that’s how I tend to write a paper of late. It’s like writer’s block in a way. When you don’t even have an idea, but the thing is due soon. Sort of floundering around for something to grab on to….But, and you catch yourself here, this isn’t any paper–this is the last paper you will ever write as an undergraduate. You sink into one of the chairs at the kitchen table as this realization spreads through your mind–your last paper. It’s hard to believe. You’ve been at this so long….You chide yourself that none of this self-realization is going to help you write a critical essay, so coffee in hand, you sit back down before your computer and begin to type.”
“I like that,” said Elise. “Your breaks in thought. I’ve done that when I get distracted from writing something all the time.”
“Yeah–I think when I wrote that my mind really was wandering. I misspelled three words–going o have to print out another copy after this….Samuel Johnson was a man of words and letters which the literary world has not seen the likes of since. A man of ponderance and often satire, he has become one of the standard bearers of the Cannon and her army of works. Yet Johnson was not always thought of in such an ideal light, proof of this–you stop. You look up and realize you forgot to put sugar in your coffee and you like sugar in your coffee. But instead of getting up and going back into the kitchen you first read over what you have just written, and you realize how awful it is. It isn’t you or your voice or what you really think. It’s what and how you have been told to write. That doesn’t matter, you were almost to a thesis and you’re going to be critical. You take a sip of coffee and continue writing.”
“Ah–telephone. Do you want me to get it?” Elise asked.
“It’s probably Roger–Hello? My ask who’s calling? Sure just a minute–It’s Simon?”
“Give it here–hello? Hi, yes. Oh. When? I’m sorry but I can’t. Yeah, my boyfriend from Princeton is visiting this weekend. Maybe sure. Okay, bye.”
“I don’t know. I needed someplace fast.”
“Was that the one you met in your field class?”
“Yeah, the one who almost got eaten by the tigers when we visited the zoo for class.”
“Sounds like a nice enough boy.”
“He has the brain of a toad.”
“I’ve met intelligent toads.”
“Like who?”
“He’s a frog not a toad. Besides he’s a puppet.”
“Toad frog, what’s the difference. And the correct term is Muppet not puppet dear.”
“Okay–but you still haven’t named a toad.”
“How about that guy you dated this winter–the one who invited you to go bird watching?”
“He was pretty much a dork. Kept going on and on about a trip he made to Peru when he was ten. Besides, he didn’t quite grasp the significance of some words like no or get real.”
“Ah–well what about that music major that you went out with. He must have had some sort of intelligence.”
“I have no idea what sort it might have been. I don’t even see how that one managed to get a driver’s license. No I’m through with those things for quite a while.”
“Sounds like a bad Marilyn Monroe song.”
“Which one?”
“‘I’m Through with Love.”
“Okay–never mind. Where were you?”
“Coffee and thinking….In Idler No. 103 Samuel Johnson is writing a sort of epilogue as his publication is ending. He writes, “The Idler and his reader have contracted no close friendship.” After over one-hundred issues, “those who never could agree together shed tears when mutual discontent has determined them to final separation.” Johnson clearly–you pause. Johnson was very pompous. Oh, he had just cause to be. He was after all basically the head neutron in the literary nucleus of his time. He wrote so much. In the four or so years you’ve been here you’ve written so comparatively little. But you shouldn’t think to compare yourself to Johnson. He helped found this academia.”
“And what a fun place it is,” said Elise.
“Oh indeed–I think we’ll miss it though.”
“Really? I’m looking forward to a change. No more pompous professors or pretentious freshmen.”
“Well you realize that you’ll be the pretentious new puppy that will plague the pompous professors.”
“Probably true.”
“Let me finish this….Unlike his other writings though this essay is not an argument or a criticism or a satire, but a farewell. As, ‘it is very happily and kindly provided that in every life there are certain pauses and interruptions, which force consideration upon the careless, and seriousness upon the light; points of time where one course of action ends and another begins; and by vicissitude of fortune, or alteration of employment, by change of place, or loss of friend-ship we are forced to say something, ‘this is the last.” Do you want this, your last effort of criticism as an under-graduate to be a careless ending? Just another two hours spent in front of a computer spell-checking words, making sure all your sentences are punctuated and your paragraphs have good transitions. Do you look back over these four years with a sense of accomplishment or with a sense of loss?”
“Ouch–a bit condemning aren’t we.”
“It gets worse….You came to college to slay dragons or meet your prince, to better yourself, to learn and begin your life, to become a product of yourself and a consumer of others. You’ve consumed Johnson just like Shakespeare, Dickens, Pound, Hemingway way and Byron. During these four years you’ve learned how to digest literature by learning the mechanics and language of critical essays. You have been good and you have been diligent. You have been brilliant and you have been an idiot, yet did you ever know not just What you were saying but Why you were saying it?”
“Read that part again.”
“Did you ever know not just What you were saying but Why you were saying it?”
“Mark that–it’s not very clear.”
“Sure, we’ll come back to it….All of this lovely introspection isn’t helping with your essay on Johnson. It doesn’t help you really either–something is missing. What is it? What is missing? You have a thesis. Samuel Johnson is venerated today, yet his reception by his contemporaries was not always as favorable. Thus we should re-evaluate the importance of–you stop again. You re-read the paragraphs before you. You have arguments, annotations, appositives and apathy. You have four going on the five supporting arguments with at least one quote in each, several secondary sources, but what does it say? It’s getting late and you need to finish this.”
“While readers of Johnson’s time may have outlived The Idler. He comments that ‘the day in which every work of the hand and imagination of the heart shall be brought to judgment, and an everlasting futurity shall be determined.’ Johnson’s ideas have fallen to us. They are our inheritance. They like Eliot said, are our past. Of course we now know so much more then he did as Johnson is a part of what we know. Johnson ideas are still important for–you stop for a moment and wonder about these ideas belonging to Johnson. What makes them so special, so useful for critiquing or discussing? They are well, and usually, clearly written. Yet are these ideas really Johnson’s and his alone? It is possible to copyright your idea, argument or theory? Perhaps too many people strive too hard to put their names upon ideas. They seek to create ideas as lasting products of themselves. They live and promote their ideas. They die and their ideas will, if supported, live on–a very Western idea, this market economy of ideas. Really though you can only register a patent on an idea. The system of academia is concerned with these ideas. That is not a bad thing. We need ideas. We need communication. But is the system faltering or is it something inside of you–or is it both?”
“You need some stronger sort of symbolism I think. A patent office just doesn’t do it.” commented Elise.
“I’m getting to that….You realize you are a part of this system, but you have the ecological value of a blade of grass. Like all the other blades of grass you stay firmly grounded in the soil. Harming nothing, food for others–being grass isn’t much work. You’d much rather be a rabbit or eagle or even a dandelion. If you were a dandelion you would feed from the same soil as the grass yet the ideas you brought to seed might fly to the winds. Johnson wasn’t a blade of grass, although he probably started out that way. He was a dandelion and a rabbit. Right now though you remember that you are just grass and subject to the rabbit’s teeth and the lawnmower’s blade.”
“I like that,” said Elise.
“Your quibbling isn’t helping you finish your paper. You need a conclusion. Johnson’s ideas should not lay forgotten on the side, for they are as important now as every. We need them and those of others to understand not just the works of later writers such as Brönte or Woolf, but to understand where we are now in terms of understanding literature. A manicured lawn is made up of thousands of blades of grass, yet it is only pleasant to look at if the rabbit’s teeth or lawnmower’s blades are sharp and there are no visible weeds.”
“Okay dear–I get the pictures.”
“Give me a break–I was having fun….It isn’t all due to the fact that you are just a blade of grass. There is something going on in this high-tech, image oriented culture that leaves you numb. The wash of news media, films, sit-coms, images, scandals, politicians, starlets it serves as a cultural backdrop that has the ability to destroy us. You have not seen the best minds of your generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked. As, what Sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate upon their brains and imagination? There has not been a revolution, but the passing of a silent generation. You have seen the best minds of your generation guzzle the mercuried honey of MTV, staring into the glass hoping to find themselves amongst those images. What Gorgon of mass media and fearful desire tore open their dreams to freeze them within fifteen seconds of stardom. You have not seen those ‘who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,” or those “who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts.’ This silent generation has led to a flood of stagnation.”
“Yeah….Imagine for a moment that you are an undergraduate studying English literature. Next imagine that you have just written a critical essay discussing Samuel Johnson. You are now done–your time serving academia as an undergraduate is ended, yet you feel no different from when you began this essay. There was no joy, no sense of accomplishment, no desire or need to think or write further. You wonder at this, as you weren’t like this when you started as an undergrad, were you? While this essay has been the last, you have no conviction that it is a step towards death as Johnson thought, but there is “the conviction, however forcible at every new impression, is every moment fading from the mind; and partly by the inevitable incursion of new images, and partly by voluntary exclusion of unwelcome thoughts.” You have only taken an image here or a thought there as you passed through hoping to find something ‘before we consider that the time is nigh when we shall do no more.'”
“Nice subversion there,” said Elise.
“There’s more….You came to college to better yourself, to learn, to begin your life and slay a dragon, but are now its product and its commodity. You realize this as you stare at what you have written. You then realize you don’t know why you are doing this. It has become such a consumer oriented process. You read a book, discuss, write a paper, get a grade. Eventually all these hours add up to a diploma sized pay-check and you are done. Go and get a real job. Does it have to be that way? You understand the logic of writing and communication, but you no longer know why you read.”
“Nice climax. Very dramatic.”
“It kind of matches the rest of the thing….
I remember along time ago I met a dragon named Smaug. It was a rainy afternoon and my library books were due, but instead of taking them back to the library I opened the cover of a green book with a picture of a mountain on it, but no pictures inside. That day I read the first sentence. ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ That day I went even farther and soon found myself at a mystical tea-party, a troll’s campfire, and an eerie underground cavern. I was there when the eagles rescued him and the silver-ware was missing. Just as I was there when Alice became a queen or when a king drew forth the sword. I was there when the marlin jumped and the Nellie waited to set sail. I am there when Colonel Aureliano Buendía faces the firing squad or BigWig fights the General. I am there when Gatsby dies and Mr. Ramsay wakes alone in the night. I am there when the heavens are created and when a dragon falls from the sky. Quote: ‘a creaking sound spread through the darkness. He looked at the great door in astonishment. Gently, steadily, it was opening. The shadowy figure of a dervish appeared, a breath of night embodied.’–Naguib Mahfouz, The Harafish.”–That’s it.”
“When are you presenting it?”
“Next week–Thursday. Do you think you’ll be able to come?”
“Yeah, I told Roger and he’s going to come–maybe Michael too.”
“Did you like it?”
“Honestly. Actually it’s the first paper you’ve written that I’ve actually understood.”
“Is that good.”
“I think so. I mean I didn’t get lost halfway through. But its not….what did your professor think?”
“He said he enjoyed it, but couldn’t give me higher than a B as I failed to write critically on the primary text. Then he suggested I write a redraft–make it a bit more heavy handed–and submit it to the committee.”
“What a jerk.”
“Kind of–he’s just sticking to the rules I guess. I mean I can’t go around all the time writing stuff like this.”

“Caroline, there’s messages from a guy named Mark and one named Drew. They said they were at the presentation and wanted to get together. I copied down their numbers.”
“Thanks. I’ll get to them later.”
“Do you want to go out with Roger and me? We’re seeing the Nick Park animation festival at the Art House.”
“No, that all right. I think I’m going to call Pat and make sure he’s coming down tomorrow.”
“Is he coming with your parents?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, between Roger’s family migrating here and my parents plus your family unit, it’s going to be quiet a gathering. How’s Pat doing by the way?”
“Good, his parents finally had Greg over to the house last weekend for dinner.”
“You’re kidding?”
“No, they seem to be adjusting to it finally.”
“That’s good–Greg’s such a nice guy–is he coming down tomorrow too?”
“Don’t know.”
“Okay, we’ll I’m out of here–are you sure you don’t want to come?”
“Yeah, don’t worry. Tomorrow is going to a long day.”
“Oh, before I forget, do you think you’ll be able to meet us for drinks late tomorrow.”
“Sure, my parents will be gone by then.”
“Okay, well then I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Elise are you ready?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
“Just put the silly thing on top of your head and let’s go. You’d think we were going to see the queen.”
“Testy, testy–there, all set. Is it raining?”
“No. In fact, the sun is shining.”
“Oh good–must be an omen.”
“Be serious,” said Caroline.

“God is this boring,” muttered Caroline.
“I know,” whispered the girl to her right. “You think they would try to keep it short.”
“Its the pomp and circumstance.”
“I know, and just think, after this we get to go off to our departments for another two hours.”
“What fun.”
“I know. I’d kill to be in a small department like theater.”
“My best friend is in that one.”
“How lucky. What are you in?”
“English. And you?”
“Ah–a bit different.”
“Yeah. Say what’s your last name?”
“Stevens. And yours?”
“Caroline–That explains it.”
“You’re Caroline Stevens?!”
“Oh, its just I’ve only seen a picture of you. You’re friends with Steven.”
“Wow, that’s so weird. I just saw that one picture of you at a race standing next to him.”
“Oh. How do you know Steven?”
“From Physics. Actually we’re engaged”
“Ah. How’s he doing.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear.”

Passing the Dragon Gate
Once I met princes
Charming and sincere.
I thought I should be happy
Everyone else seemed to be,
but emptiness lingers
and brokenness subsides.


“I think we managed quite well,” said Elise.
“Yes, but how did we all manage this?” asked Roger.
“Manage what?” asked Elise.
“To get out of here in four years,” he replied.
“Blood sweat and tears,” offered Michael.
“That sounds like a bad rock song,” said Caroline.
“I’m serious…it’s pretty amazing,” said Roger.
“Okay, summer classes?” offered Michael.
“Not for me,” said Caroline.
“Me neither,” chimed Elise.
“Okay–for those of us who are going to make money,” said Michael.
“Sociology is going to make you money?” asked Caroline.
“No, why do you think I’m going to grad school?”
“Here’s to those grad schools,” said Roger as he raised his beer.
“To Yale,” said Elise.
“To the University of Washington,” said Caroline and Michael.
“Yes, and to the fine corporation of American Standard,” said Roger.
“I’ll drink to that,” Michael said.
“But will you drink from it?” asked Caroline.
“That was good,” Elise laughed as Roger kissed her while Michael drank and Caroline smiled.

” I wonder as I wander”
out under the sky”
A unicorn, a witch and a lion
were tallying hearts and waiting
for the dark queen to be played.
Their table was a large picture of the color
green fields rolled past yet he
was standing still, so how could
the wind tear his voice from him.
and throw it into the very gates
of the old stone mansion stood open
to the cold night air that smelled
of autumn in spring.
Then the unicorn fell,
the witch was born
and the lion disappeared.
And then….

And one June day Caroline graduated from college and continued on with her life.
That was how it ended. Wasn’t very simple really.

© 1997-2001 stega

Undefinitive (Part 3)

The Years Spent at a Modern University
When a blanket
hid the grass
A star hid the sun
Looking up the sky was blue
Looking back so many clouds.
Whispers of Immortality

Thoughts pile up
Jostling against one another
Waiting to be pushed apart.
Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.

When a dragon falls from the sky.
(Time patience discipline)


Once there was a time when things were simple. Dreams were created and followed. Happily ever after lay right around this corner or the next one. The beginning should be followed by a conventional ending. The princess should have her prince who had slayed a dragon to free her.
Yet a third year followed the second and the middle became an ending. The middle had been a beginning, as those dreams and images had carried over, but now what was there? Did the story end there or did something else happen. One race was over, the story may end, but life continues.
Now, life isn’t fair. Those who say otherwise are selling something we can never own. Occasionally, though, something happens and the world is at peace, but most likely it is moving towards some uncertain goal that can only be termed the future. Brokenness isn’t something we like to experience. It doesn’t mesh with the ideal life. If we are not happy then we belong on some afternoon talk show where we can vent our frustrations and rejections and then be healed by the masses who are trying to do the same thing. Construct their self from a fractured world of bad images.

All that is gold
The brilliant one. The golden one. A dragon that shone like the sun. An elusive creature that could read your ideas, your thoughts, your dreams, your very soul. How many spent their lives searching for such a creature? Wizards, enchanters, mages, warlocks, clerics, kings and princes would spend their lives searching for, waiting for, dreaming for such a beast, yet most would never even catch a glimpse of one. A golden dragon would appear to the unsuspecting, the unasking, perhaps even those considered the undeserving. To serve them and to protect them. A mentor, a guard, a confidant, a golden dragon would act as all three until, like Puff or Pete’s Eliot, the time came when it was no longer needed.

The Unexpected

Sometimes when everything is quiet and still we wonder where our lives have gone. There were a lot of still moments in her life now. Things moved more slowly. The summer had been spent at home in Cleveland with her family. The return to familiar surroundings and faces helped to ease the ache, but she wished that things could return to that last September, when the world had been full. She spent the summer helping her brother recuperate and making a few trips to campus. Mainly to find an apartment for the coming year, but also to see her friends. She tried to avoid going outdoors, for while there had been plenty of rain in the first months of summe by the middle of August a drought had set in. The trees all seemed so tired, yet they were waiting patiently for rain to fall so that they might lift up their leaves to the sun. Finally, in September the hot summer began to cool and she left the numbing heat to return to another year of work.

Ponderance is upon us.
If I were to state it thus,
A call of a bird
into time.
A cold wind
A cruel wind
Blew upwards and through
The clocks were busy

From Wed Sept 22 03:14:44 1993
Date: Wed Sept 22 03:14:44 1993
Subject: comó estás?

I’m finally settled back in at Case. Things have been so hectic, but my parents, believe it or not, have been very helpful. My mother found a bunch of prospective apartments and took pictures of them and sent them to me while I was still in Peru. After we made a decision my dad even made the lease arrangements. Sounds amazing, like something out of an Eddings novel, but it’s true. The gods must be smiling on me for some bizarre meteorological reason.
But it feels good to be back in the states and a bit bizarre. Consumer culture is so different. I mean it’s almost painful. And everyone is still a year older only I didn’t age with them, but I am also a year older. I don’t know–I’m babbling as it’s so late. Just wanted to check in and let you know I’m alive and no longer limited to llama mail.
Let me know how you’re summer was–did you manage to start training again? Do you think you might run this year? How is Brian? Are you still writing? So many questions I know. I’ll let you go at that.


“Professor Benchley, hi.”
“How are you?”
“Good. Just moved back actually. How was your summer?”
“Good–went out and visited my family in San Diego and then a few conferences.”
“And you?”
“Moved back home and helped my brother–he was in a car accident last May.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“He’s all right now, but it was pretty bad.” “How’d it happen?”
“He swerved to avoid hitting a dog and the roads were wet, so he lost control of the car and wrapped it around a telephone pole.”
“Ouch. Anyone with him?”
“No just him.”
“Ah…so what classes are you taking this term?”
“Two English seminars, a biology class and my last Spanish class.”
“That’s a lot, I thought you were on a sports team–What seminars?”
“Realism and Medieval.”
“Who’s teaching them?”
“Carlson and Schook.”
“Carlson should be good. She knows her stuff, but I don’t know much about Schook.”
“What about you–are you teaching?”
“No, I have the year off to do research. Well actually it was suggested to me that I use this time for research. I was offered a position teaching at Georgetown but it’s not until next year. Anyway, Joe Murray and I had the idea to write this book on Joyce but finding the time was next to impossible. Now it may work. But hey, why don’t we get together and have lunch sometime?”
“Okay, sure.”
“When are you free?”

“Caroline–it’s Steven.”
“How are you?”
“Okay–just got in from training.”
“Oh, sorry. Do you want me to call back in a bit?”
“No that’s all right.”
“How far did you ride?”
“Just twenty. It’s really windy out. How’s Roger?”
“He’s okay–at work I think. Have you heard from Elise?”
“Not yet. Has he?”
“No, not yet. Listen I was actually calling to see if you’d want to go out to lunch or catch a movie.”
“This afternoon.”
“I would only I already made plans to meet one of my old professors. Sorry. How about tomorrow?
“No, my dad is coming in.”
“How long is he going to be here?”
“Through the weekend.”
“How about sometime after classes start?”

There was an emptiness that had left her broken. Nothing seemed able to fill the vast expanse except perhaps fear. She wondered about the loss of her dreams as she drove to the restaurant. She felt so alone, so unable to even speak sometimes. She missed Elise terribly. Weekly letters just weren’t the same. And Steven? She didn’t know about that. He was always so quiet around her that she didn’t know what to say even when she wanted to say something. The trees overhead rustled their aging leaves and she thought how sad it was that summer was once again over and another winter would be setting in. Such a cold season. So bleak and unforgiving. Nothing to be done but work and wait for the spring.

“Hi, did you have any problems finding this place?” Professor Benchley asked.
“No, you gave good directions,” replied Caroline
“Have you had Indian food before?”
“Yes. Actually, my friend Steven loves it.”
“How spicy ?”
“Fairly hot.”
“Good, let’s see what we’ll order then.”

“Professor Benchley, when did you start here at Bradely?”
“First, please just call me John–I’m not your Professor anymore–and I taught here for two years. Was offered the position of instructor right after I completed my PhD at Michigan.”
“Really, I didn’t know you went to Michigan. My step-father went there.”
“It’s a good school.”
“Did you do your undergrad work there as well.”
“Oh, no. I did my masters at the University of Illinoise and my bachelors at DePauw. How about you–have you thought about grad school.”
“Not really, no.”
“You should, if not for English then perhaps professional school.”
“I don’t really know what I want to do.”
“Well, now is the time to start thinking about it.”

“Wait…I have one for you…how many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?” asked Caroline.
“I don’t know–how many?” asked John.
“One to change it and fifteen to form a support group.”
“Ouh…that’s good. How about this one: how many women with PMS does it take to change a light bulb–six.”
“It just does, okay?!”
“Okay– how about: how many real men does it take to change a light bulb?”
“How many.”
“None. Real men aren’t afraid of the dark.”
“You like that one?”

“Okay, it’s my turn to ask,” John said.
“Ask away.”
“Why did you decide to come to Bradely?”
“Where did your brother go to school?”
“Northwestern–but he had scholarships like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Ah–what about pets?”
“None here.”
“At home?”
“Dog and a cat–when I graduate and settle somewhere I really want to get a cat.”
“Why not both?”
“I figure I’ll start with a cat–they take less maintenance. Do you have any pets?”
“Me–I have fish.”
“Yeah, I have two big tanks. One with saltwater and a second that’s just freshwater. You’ll have to come over to my place sometime and I’ll introduce you to Greta.”
“She’s my freshwater stingray.”
“Anyway, back to my questions: why did you decide to become an English major?”
“…well I guess partly because I enjoyed the English classes I took my freshman year more than any others. I mean I didn’t fare so well in math and the thought of having to take physics or chemistry just scared me shitless.”
“Have you enjoyed it?”
“What I’ve done–yeah, I’ve liked. But I only took one English class last year. This is the year where I’ll be doing most of the work.”

“Well, thank you very much for lunch,” said Caroline.
“I hope you enjoyed it,” said John.
“Yes, it was very nice.”
“Good. I enjoyed it too.”
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around the department them maybe.”
“Uhm, well–Caroline, I’d really like to see you again.”

“How was your father’s visit?” asked Caroline.
“It was all right,” replied Steven. “How was your date?”
“It wasn’t a date. And it was nice. What did you and your father do?”
“Mostly he lectured me on how he isn’t paying almost ten-thousand dollars a year for me to be getting C’s in every class.”
“What did you say?”
“What could I say?”
“Did he ask why you’re doing so poorly?”
“What did you tell him?”
“That I don’t go to class.”
“Well, at least you were honest. What did he say then?”
“He just continued on without really taking much notice.”
“Oh, well how are classes this term. Have you gone to any of them?”
“Yes, actually I’ve been to all of them this week. Even my nine-thirty.”
“That’s only two days worth.”
“I know–so are you and this professor guy going out again.”
“John and I–I doubt it.”
“Oh, now it’s John.”
“What else would I call him?”
“He’s a professor isn’t he?”
“Yeah, but I had him as a professor a year and a half ago.”
“He’s not my teacher, he’s sort of a friend.”
“How old is he?”
“Thirty-one I think.”
“Oh, that’s good.”
“Nothing, at least you’re over eighteen.”
“Steven, be serious.”
“I am being serious. He’s too old for you.”
“What if I were twenty five?”
“Then he’d be thirty-six and still too old.”
“I’m not dating this guy.”
“No, not yet.”
“Look, I’m not going to argue with you about this. Be reasonable. I had lunch with an old professor on one occasion. That does not make an illicit affair.”
“No, but it certainly looks like the start of one.”
“Steven, haven’t you ever spoken to any of your professors outside of class?”
“Oh that’s right, how could you. You don’t go to class.”
“Did he ask you or did you ask him?”
“To lunch–did he ask you or did you ask him?”
“He asked me, why?”

Beneath my thoughts
a nothingness runs
From which dreams well up
But thoughts are drowned
I remember
only images in passing.
Yet I believe true martyrdom is difficult
to achieve.
I dreamt one night
of a moose’s head half-decayed,
but not yet dead.
It spoke to me of the horrors it had seen,
but where they were it never said.
I remember the thoughts and the dreams.
I am surrounded by
the whispers
and the disease.
I alone remained
but could not remember
and fear is a common thing.

“Have you finished the redraft of that paper on Barthelme yet?” John asked.
“No, I’m still trying to rework my conclusion.”
“What do you have so far?” he said as he began massaging her shoulders.
“Crap….That feels nice.”
“Are you always this tense?”
“What? Oh, yes. Carry over from running I guess.”
“Let me hear your conclusion.”
“Blah blah blah…If you just read the passages and allow the words to flow through your head eventually they start to bump into one another and begin to connect with others–Uhm that’s nice–Single sentences, especially in the dialogs, collide with other single sentences. Connections are made and what once appeared to be a load of bullshit begins to make sense.”
“You’re right that’s pretty shitty.”
“It gets worse: the individual characters are indeed companions on a quest, and it is through them that Al not only buries Dad and finds Mom and the Golden Fleece, but he also finds a part of himself he didn’t have before. He changes, and isn’t that what life is about?”
“I know.”
“Well what are you trying to say?”
“I don’t know. I mean when you think about it we all have Thomas’s and Julie’s, Edmund’s and Fathers in our heads. It’s just we have different names for them.”
“And has then been the main point of the paper.”
“Sort of. I mean that and the idea of the quest.”
“How long did you run?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean how many years?”
“Oh. Since I was eleven or so.”
“That’s young.”
“I know, but I just seemed to be always getting better at it–unlike these essays.”
“Why not try re-reading your introduction and re-formulate some of those ideas. See where that will get you. What is that?”
“That’s supposed to be the word individual but I didn’t spell it right.”
“No this thing in your shoulder.”
“Oh, that would be a knot.”
“A knot.”
“A knot?”
“Patch where either the muscle is really tense or there is a build up of lactic acid.”
“Sounds wonderful.”
“Okay: We need them and many others like them to make sense out of existence. Whenever we question what we were told is the way of things, whenever we search for our own answers we must leave a part of ourselves.”
“Universal but better.”
Actually if you do that right there–yeah that feels really good–that knot will go away.”
“For how long?”
“A couple of hours.”

“What movie are we going to see?” asked Caroline.
“It’s up to you,” replied Steven.
“I’ll go check the paper,” Caroline said as she walked into the kitchen.
“There’s a new Holly Hunter movie that is supposed to be good.” Steven called.
“The Piano–I know,” she called from the kitchen, “but I promised John I’d see it with him.”
“oh…really,” Steven mumbled softly to himself.
“Let’s see–Adam’s Family Values…” Caroline called.
“Too many warped relationships,” Steven muttered to himself.
“…In the Name of the Father…” she called.
“…The Firm…”
“I bet he is,” Steven mumbled.
“…The Fugitive…”
“If you were eighteen….”
“…Remains of the Day…”
“What’s that one about?” Steven asked loudly.
“It’s the one with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. He’s in love with her but will never tell her.”
“What’s at the dollar theater?” he called.
“Let me see–there’s Shortcuts…”
“Certainly making a few of those,” Steven muttered.
“…The Age of Innocence…”
“I think we’ve left that,” Steven mumbled to himself.
“…Jurassic Park…”
“That’s where this guy should be.”
“…What’s Eating Gilbert Grape…”
“What’s at the Art House?” Steven called.
“Uhm…Farewell my Concubine and Schindler’s List…”
“What’s Schindler’s List about?”
“The salvation of Jews during the Holocaust.”
“That sounds good.”

“What’s wrong?” asked John.
“I don’t know,” replied Caroline.
“How did you like the movie?”
“It was really good. So sad though.”
“But, oh I don’t know…it’s just Steven. He can be so mean sometimes.”
“What did he do?”
“It’s just some of his comments.”
“Like when we got to the theater he asked if they assumed you were my parent or guardian when we see a rated r movie…”
“…and that’s when he’s being nice.”
“Maybe if you leave him be for a while…”
“I don’t know.”
“…use the time to concentrate on your writing and classes.”
“I guess.”
“Have you thought about grad school.”
“A bit.”
“Do you think you’ll go.”
“Yeah, I guess.”

It was a cold December day. A brisk wind blew across the quiet campus. Almost everyone had gone off somewhere else for the break leaving the stately buildings and barren trees to wait for their return. No snow was on the ground yet, but the grass was covered by a layer of frost that made it shimmer in the morning light. Caroline stepped out of her apartment door dressed to run. The cold air bit into her lungs and her breath turned to fog. She locked the door behind her and tied the key to her right shoe. She started slowly, at a careful jog. She wouldn’t go very far today–just a few miles.
She breathed with short shallow breaths as the cold air hit the warm moisture of her lungs and expanded. As her body warmed she altered her stride and found herself thrilling in the forgotten effortlessness of flight. It was an automatic, almost mechanical movement, yet she was never more aware of herself than at such moments. Her mind cleared and there was only the path before her.
After about two miles she switched from running on the sidewalk to the frosted grass. Her shoes soon became soaked through, but it was better than the pain that wanted to shoot through her legs at every step.
After about four miles she had managed to reach the safety of her apartment door. Her hands, numbed by the cold, gradually managed to untie her key from her shoe. They shook when she placed it into the lock, and the tears that had been frozen by the wind thawed.

From Thur Dec 9 09:53:12 1993
Date: Thur Dec 9 09:53:12 1993
Subject: fire in the hole

I’ve decided that med-school here is so different from anything an undergraduate could ever encounter that had I known then what insanity is here now I might have stayed with my llamas. It’s absolutely crazy. The tendency isn’t just towards cut-throat attitudes, but it is the rule of thumb. Keeping your grades up is secondary to kissing faculty ass, as all of us med-students are expected to out-do one another for the honors of eating in the same room as the faculty. Scary thing is there are two fellowships I want to apply for but they’re also the two fellowships everyone else is thinking of applying for. ¿Qué se puede hacer?
Found a great quote for you though. Maybe you can use it in one of your papers.
“Está vacío Mi pecho, destrozado está y vacío en donde estaba el corazón. Ya es hora de empezar a morir. La noche es buena para decir adios. La luz estorba y la palabra humana. El universo habla mejor que el hombre.” It’s by Jose Martí.
Sounds like things with your older man are going well. My mother mentioned it last time I talked to her on the phone actually. She was shocked that you were in such an affair. But I said just think of him as mature. And it could be worse. He could be married. She still is all a flurry, why I have no idea. From what she says you’re parents don’t sound too upset. Although my mother commented that you would have done better to find someone with more money.
But it’s time for me to join the rest of the herd for class. Will write again soon.

“Hi Roger, is Steven there?”
“Caroline, hi. No, I think he’s at the library studying for a midterm.”
“Oh. How are you?”
“Good, just booked my flight for break.”
“You’re really going then.”
“Yeah, my parent’s even offered to help pay for the trip.”
“That’s great. Is Elise excited about you visiting?”
“Yeah, her last letter to me didn’t say a thing about her and how she was doing, but what we’ll do once I get to London.”
“Where are you going to stay?”
“Well, we’ll be traveling mostly, but I have a great-aunt who live outside of Oxford with her husband and she’s offered us rooms there.”
“I know. Damn British reserve it will probably be one room in the cellar and one in the attic.”
“No, just probably at opposite ends of the hall.”
“Yeah with a rottweiler standing guard between.”
“It won’t be that bad.”
“I know.”
“Listen I think I’m going to head out, but will you tell Steven I called please.”
“Sure thing.”

“Oh, hi.”
“Are you busy?”
“No, just studying.”
“Yeah, me.”
“When’s the test?”
“Next Wednesday. So what have you been up to?”
“Not much. Work mostly. I had three papers to write last week.”
“Oh. What on?”
“One was a simple essay in Spanish while the second was on Eliot and the third was about the myth and symbolism.”
“Did John help you with them?”
“Yes, a bit. He helped me with the third paper the most.”
“It was considered for a conference.”
“That’s good.”
“Would you want to read it?”
“No, that’s all right. I’m kind of swamped with work. Maybe later.”
“Oh, well I guess I’ll leave you to it then.”


“You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly underneath my breath…
The photograph reflects,
every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night.”


Some wondered if golden dragons really did exist. Sightings of them were so rare that many skeptics argued they were simply a myth.
Yet the golden dragon really sprung from the mythology of the Chinese dragons. Those myths dated so far back into the culture’s past that the symbol of the dragon and reverence for it permeated all areas of the people’s lives. From architecture and art work to literature and myths. Relgious figures, kings, and the common people did not so much worship the dragon, but felt it as a force of nature.

“What’s this?” asked John.
“Just some stuff I’ve been working on.”
“Can I read it?”

“So, what do you think?” asked Caroline.
“They show promise.”
“It’s really not a but, you just need to work on it more. More practice. What’s there is rough but a good start. Poetry takes time and narration. Which reminds me….”
“I have a little present for you.”
“Come over here for a minute. I got this originally for your birthday last November, but I thought it was a bit presumptuous to give it to you so I waited until it felt right. Here, open it.”
“It’s beautiful.”
“I found it at an antique shop when I was at that conference in New York. Do you like it?”
“Like it? It’s beautiful.”

“…Ryman then uses the factual background to spin a fantasy that places the characters into a whirlwind of events. This tornado is the central image, but it is not the most powerful. The lingering sadness that infuses each story, each tragedy is the unifying theme that links all of the characters to Oz.”
“Not bad. What’d you like most about it?”
“The book? Probably the story of the original Dorothy, but it was so sad, it’s hard to read.”
“It’s always easier to read about others than ourselves.”
“I don’t think we’re all quite as messed up as he paints it.”
“Not always no, but at certain points. There are tragedies in every life.”
“Yes, my sage.”
“I’m serious. When you’re older and you’ve experienced more you’ll be amazed at how you look at things. Cynicism is the fungus of maturity.”
“I don’t think it’s all age.”
“Trust me, you’re still young. You haven’t had anything really bad happen. Life is still fresh for you.”
“And you have?”
“A few things.”
“Such as?”
“Well, I told you about my father…”
“…and you know about Margaret and what an effect the pregnancy had on me.–I guess that those are the biggest ones really.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. It’s just sometimes I feel like the farm house that is rising up into the tornado.”
“How so?”
“Flying upwards on this powerful wind, but no idea where I’ll land.”
“Is that how you see it?”
“No, just sometimes.”
“What is it that you see?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on–be clear. None of this under-graduate self-loathing crap.”
“It isn’t self-loathing–its just sometimes–oh, I don’t know.

That Spring
Winter receded and Spring awoke the trees. Their slumber was not broken until quite late, so they seemed to be taking great pains to out-do one another. Apple trees were ablaze with blossoms while the magnolias had lasted longer than usual. The pink petals of crab-apple trees fluttered softly to the ground in the gentle breezes and the azaleas filled the air with their heady scent and the sound of bees. The thick white petals of the dogwoods and the tiny flowers of the oaks made it appear like snow had once again carpeted their limbs. Even the ground was carpeted with patches of crocuses.
Caroline relished the display of colors as she walked in to campus. Her plans for this upcoming year were laid out in her mind and she found herself smiling at such promises the spring was bringing her. In a week she would present her paper to the department. In another month she would be in England visiting Elise. Then it would be back for one more year of work. There would be grants and grad schools to apply for and she felt certain that nothing was unattainable. She could not remember a more lovely Spring.


“The signifier and the signified then together produce the third: we then have the sign. “To be or not to be” thus signifies Hamlet and his speech concerning death.”
“That sentence needs work. What do you mean by concerning death?” John asked.
“I mean…well, everyone knows that that is the idea behind the soliloquy.”
“There’s more to it than that.”
“It’s a fact–I mean everyone agrees.”
“Those who study it.”
“But how do you know the speech is about death?”
“The words he uses.”
“What words”
“That part that beings “tis nobler to suffer…”
“Whose words are those?”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, technically their Shakespeare’s, but Hamlet is the character that is speaking them.”
“So how do you know those words are about death?”
“Because they are conventions?”
“Conventions of what?”
“What type though?”
“A metaphor.”
“Correct, hence we understand the speech not because we simply accept that academia says death or actually suicide is what it is centered around, but because he uses a common literary convention that makes it accessible and universal.”
“So what should I do with this sentence?” Caroline asked.
“Try to rework the sentence now that you have reworked the thought,” he advised.

“John, what did you like about the poems I let you read? You never really said much about them,” Caroline asked.
“I liked the images. Especially in the one about fear.”
“What didn’t you like?”
“Some parts of them were awkward.”
“Uhm…sort of young.”
“John, I’m young.”
“I know. That’ll change as you get older. But you need to practice. Don’t get so caught up in being cute with the words.”
“Avoid the stereotypes. Poetry is best when it’s fresh, not just a collection of acceptances.”
“Will you look at one and tell me what you mean?”

“I really like this one. I don’t quite understand it, but I like it,” John remarked. “Where is the quote about Darkness from?”
“A really bad Tom Cruise movie.”
“Ah…why did you use she instead of I?”
“I guess for distance.”
“Don’t guess–you should know. A good writer always knows why they do what they do.”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just don’t think that that is always true. I mean did Shakespeare know what he was writing all the time.”
“Shakespeare is a conspiracy.”
“Oh really–that’s a new one.”
“It’s true. All that we know of him is from others. Reconstructions of his plays are all that we have.”
“Even if, was everything deliberate. A method?”
“Most of it, probably.”
“Don’t you think he, or they–I mean some of it had to be unconscious. I think we read too much into it sometimes.”
“Who’s we?”
“Academia knows what’s best…its job is to read and understand what writers mean or don’t mean.”
“Don’t they go too far sometimes? I mean, don’t you ever reach a point where you can no longer say anything new about something.”
“That would make literature dead…no there are always new ways to look at things.”

“John, do you think the presentation went well?” Caroline asked one evening.
“Yes, I did. It was a good.”
“It was such a boring paper though. I wish I could have presented the one I wrote on Ryman instead.”
“Why didn’t you.”
“I thought I should submit something more along the lines of the cannon.”
“What time is your plane Thursday?” Caroline asked.
“It’s not until twelve-thirty.”
“Do you want a ride to the airport?”
“Sure, that’d be good.”
“Do you know what time you’ll get back?”
“I’ll have to check my tickets. Think it’s around eight Sunday night. Do you think you’ll be able to pick me up?”
“Yeah, probably–unless something major comes up. I’ll be studying for my finals.”
“When are they?”
“I have my Biology final Tuesday and Linguistics Wednesday.”
“That’s it?”
“Except for a paper for my Oz class.”
“Do you know what you’re taking next year?”
“Yeah, Carlson’s class and the seminar on vampires, and then one in winter on the beats.”
“Anything in the Spring?”
“I don’t know…I was thinking of just taking a creative writing class–take it easy as that’s when I’ll graduate.”
“Good idea.”
“Listen, I have a question…”
“…have you–See I was talking with Clare she’s a master student–not sure if you know here. Anyway I guess word has finally spread in the department about us. Well, not that it is really any sort of conflict, but I am only an undergrad–I mean do you ever question why you’re with me?”
“With you?”
“I mean having this relationship.”
“All the time and hardly ever.”
“Cute–be serious.”
“I do, but not seriously.”
“Well do–I mean why were you interested in me at first.”
“Well, you’re beautiful.”
“Be serious.”
“I think so.”
“So you find me physically attractive.”
“Is that all?”
“No, I enjoy your company.”
“When–besides when we’re in bed.”
“Well, when we go out and see a movie or are discussing your work.”
“But we never discuss your work.”
“You wouldn’t understand it–we’ve discussed that.”
“How do you know I wouldn’t understand.”
“You haven’t read Joyce or Pound. You don’t have the experience.”
“You haven’t read half the shit I’ve been writing on.”
“No, but I have the experience to be critical of your style and technique–in any case I can usually piece together the text.”
“And I couldn’t do that?”
“Not as well no–you need more experience.”
“Then what do I have to offer you. I mean it’s a really unbalanced–it’s not a–what do you….”
“Caroline I enjoy being with you. You give me such a different perspective.”
“Is that what you’re doing–gaining a new perspective–recapturing your lost youth?”
“How can you say that! When you were my age what were you doing?…”
“…you were taking care of a family.”
“You always tell me how lucky I am to be free. To have so few worries. How you wished you could have been like that.”

“John, I can’t give you back that…
“I know that.”
“…and I’m not Pygmalion.”
“I never said you were.”
“But do you love me John?”
“I care for you….
“But–no I don’t love you not in the way you would want.”
“What way?”
“A way that would give us a future.”

“Caroline? what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s not that.”
“Not what.”
“I just thought….”
“thought what?”
“I thought you understood?”
“Understood what?”
“I thought we were equals, or would be.”

“It’s not that you don’t love me or that I want you to love me–it’s that I had this idea you understood me. You understood more than just what I try to write. More than just these papers or the words I fumble for or my interest in Biology or my interest in sports or even my ex-loves or how to make me cum I thought….”
“I do understand.”
“If you understood I wouldn’t feel this emptiness. I’d–I’d know that you understood parts of me I don’t even think about–if you understood–I would want a future with you–I’d feel complete when I’m with you–maybe then I’d love you.”
“You mean you don’t?”
“No, I did, sort of–it faded–infatuation.”
“What things are there for me to understand Caroline?”
“That’s just it.”
“That tone you use–you condescend thinking I’m so young what could there be, what could have effected me.”
“But you are.”
“That doesn’t mean things haven’t been hard or I haven’t had pain.”
“It’s true–my parents divorced when I was eight.”
“Yes, but that’s not unusual.”
“But it is unusual for a father to kidnap his two children when he isn’t awarded custody. And to try to leave the country with them–and when we tried, actually Brian tried to resist he held a gun to his head.”
“Yes, but you were so young.”
“So? Okay then–I mean this may not be monumental according to your standards–but when they told me I shouldn’t or really couldn’t run anymore I wanted to die.”
“That’s different.”
“No it’s not–don’t insult me like that. It’s my life.”
“I didn’t know you thought of it that way.”
“But I told you…”
“no, you didn’t—you just said you were eleven when you started.”

“You were so silent about it I thought it had just been a phase.”
“A phase? Didn’t it strike you as odd that I never talk about any of it–almost ten years of my life, day in day out and I can’t say a word about it.”
“No, not really. Why didn’t you?”
“God, how could I talk about it.”
“You’re doing it now.”
“No I’m talking around it.”
“Look, I don’t mean to be mean about all of this. I really didn’t know it was that important to you.”
“I know I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be this way.”
“If I’d known I’d have tried to help.”
“There is no help–It’s so hard. I can’t think about it without–I can’t even remember what it was like to run without trembling–the smell of mud or the desire to jump over a puddle instead of walking calmly around it–maybe the of my eyes when I see the sign for an upcoming race or see an article in the paper about the teams or races–my heart stops when I see a race on TV–I know I can never do that again. I see joggers while walking on campus and my throat tightens. I want to run so bad, and I’ve tried but it hurts so much. I’ve seen the X-rays. I know how much damage was done and I’m afraid I’ll never get rid of this emptiness.”

To run
It is a timelessness
When time is all important
Everything slips by
Leaving only images to catch on to
A dog on the path
Two lovers on a bench
that melt into boys
A bolting rabbit
Ducks that half-fly
out of the way
Thus you learn
a control
a power
an effortlessness of flight 

Part IV 

© 1997-2001 stega

Defining (Part 2)

The Years Spent at a Modern University
Four-hundred and fifty-eight
Add an extra two points in the margin
The glow upon your face
The carpel tunnel ache setting in
One more quote
One more example
Your eyes scan the masses
A friendly face smiles up at you
Nine-hundred forty seven
You’re almost there
Re-work a thought
Re-write that sentence
Have another conclusion
Have some more caffeine
The hum of the drive writing
The slip of the laser
Twenty-three minutes left to spare

And Then

A second year followed the first and those friendships and images carried over to begin another. The beginning became the middle–a middle made of events and exchanges, of developments and devastations, and of complications and conversations. Yet the middle is actually another beginning. The mind, now rested from its first feverish writings collects itself once again to draw more connections and add fresh details. The ideas and thoughts begin to crystallize onto the page. No longer are they fleeting words or images, but they begin to become thoughts and even emotions. 

We know how this story began, yet if it were that simple there would be no reason to tell what happened next. Happily ever after is not part of life, for something did happen. A dragon fell, yet another sort of dragon arose and they were indeed very real.

The Safety of what we know

It was very easy to return to that college life after a summer spent home with family and old friends. In fact, it was with a sense of relief. After a summer spent with her wings clipped as the expectations of her had not changed, she looked forward to another year of races and classes and friends. It was odd to look forward to the idea of being covered in mud or soaked by rain, yet it was wonderful to think of another year in that room. Another year that would be spent laughing and talking and even learning. 

The memory of the frantic rush of the last year melted as did the distasteful memory of boring classes. Glories on the track and her conquests of academia fed her desire for more. 

Caroline felt refreshed and revived when she and her mother once again loaded the car with her belongings and traveled to Bradely. This year Martin greeted her with a kiss and she settled in for another year.


Smaug was born somewhere between St. George and the Serpent in the garden, and his spawn spilled forth unto the pages of fantasy and into the minds of adventurers. No tale seems complete without them or their legends. Writers from King and Eddings to Le Guin and McCaffrey include the beasts in their works. Changing little in the characteristics but varying them and their purposes. They remained creatures of plunder and destruction or were transformed into help mates or wise beasts to be treated with caution. Like the rainbow–differing in their intelligence, their intent, and their color. 

The second dragon she remembered was a blue dragon. Caroline’s Elven warrior, Loth and her party came upon the beast as they journeyed through the dungeons of a forgotten wizard’s castle. They almost died in the fight the followed, but Hamish, the dwarf of the party, managed to distract the beast long enough for Tilgar, the paladin, to cut a long gash through the bright scales of his right side. When the beast turned to attack him Jans, the thief, sprang on to the beast’s back to plunge his long, needle-like sword into its neck. The beast died shortly afterward. 


Slow–Count–One-thousand one–breathe–one thousand two–breathe–remember the course–breathe–good-girl–first mile is after the open downhill–breathe–second mile is on the edge of the playing fields–breathe–then it’s the long hill through the woods–breathe–right after that is the last half-mile–breathe–shit–come on stay relaxed–shit–relax–breathe–Our father who art in heaven–breathe–hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come–relax–thy will be done–breathe–ready–on earth as it is in heaven–just take the line–forgive us our trespasses–set–as we forgive those who–here we go.

On the edge

I’m standing on the edge of it all
And I dare not look down
So I watch what lies across from me
Off afar, faintly seen.
My heart is caught by my nervous throat–
I make a tiny step,
The mists begin to shift
To show what once had slept
Yet now chooses to fly above the sky
–Dreams into my heart have crept.


“How was the race?” Elise asked.
“Okay I guess.”
“Okay? How’d you do?”
“Is that good?”
“Yeah–it means I’ll run the Varsity A race at next Saturday’s Invitational.”
“Where’s that one at?”
“Otterbein. Think you’ll come?”
“I’d love to, but I have rehearsal all day. Is Martin going to go?”
“He’s not sure. How are rehearsals?”
“All right. Still think the director should have cast Greg as Leonardo and not Chris.”
“That only because Gregg is cuter and looks better in tights.”
“True, but isn’t just that–although when we had first dress and he walked out of the dressing room we all about died–it didn’t leave much to the imagination.”
“Well they covered it well enough.”
“Yes, the director decided that the need to preserve Puck’s boyish-ness far outweighed the costume designers search for pure forms.”
“What are the costumes like for this show?”
“Simple–that’s all we’ve been told. Another modernized production. Hey, did Martin go to your time-trials today?”
“No, he had an emergency council meeting of some sort. I guess the Treasurer was expelled at the end of last week and now they’re frantically scurrying around trying to make sure all the nickels are still there.”
“Eww–Not good.”
“No–not good. I’m gonna take a shower–I still smell like mud.”
“How was the course?”
“Not too bad. Just a few swampy patches. We all went into the woods clean and came out brown from the waist down though. Steven wouldn’t stop laughing over it.”
“Yes. He and Roger came.”
“The hockey player. Remember we went to his game last winter.”
“Oh that’s right. The one I haven’t met.”
“Well you’ll get a chance to meet him as he, Steven, Keith, and Michael and I are going out to see a movie. Keith is bringing Katherine so why don’t you come?”
“I don’t know. When?”
“Thursday, before the freshmen arrive.”
“Let me check–do I have rehearsal–no, that’s the moon and woodcutters scene.”
“Good, you can protect me from Michael.”
“I thought he was dating someone?”
“He was.”
“Oh. Just don’t let me get stuck with him and Steven.”
“I won’t.”
“Good–the thought of being stuck between two highly intelligent Jewish boys is not very pleasant.”
“Elise! That’s not very nice. Besides what about your dad?”
“It is nice. They’re very smart and I don’t want to be a complete fool. If I could I’d do what my mother did and find a nice one while I’m here and make him marry me.”
“But not Michael or Steven.”
“Why not?”
“Well, Michael has an ego the size of Miami’s Cuban Population and a tendency to digest girls faster than canned corn. Steven on the other hand, is obviously interested elsewhere.”
“You know….”
“He’s not gay.”
“I know that. What I mean is that he’s smitten.”
“When did you talk to him?”
“I haven’t really.”
” Really, who then?”
“Be serious.”
“I am serious.”
“Yes, Steven.”
“I don’t even thinks of girls that way.”
“All guys do.”
“All he ever talks about is his computer or math.”
“Of course that’s all he talks about. Those are safe subjects.”
“Yes safe, as you are dating someone else.”
“Elise you’re crazy.”
“No I’m not.”
“Look, just drop the subject okay.”
“Sorry….Why are all the boys back early anyway?”
“Keith is an RA, and the other three are sharing a place this year.”
“Ah, at least we’re not the only one’s who opted to stay in the dorms. And at least we don’t have to help any little freshers move their stuff in here.”
“Yes, but between your rehearsals and my training I think we’ll be too exhausted to notice.”
“Probably right, but the calm is always enjoyable.”

“Hi Caroline. Are you ready?”
“Hi, just about. Elise, are you ready. Roger’s here.”
“I’ll be right out.”
“So who’s driving?”
“Keith and I am–there’s so many of us.”
“Oh, do we have to pick anyone else up?”
“No, Michael and his new thing are meeting us there with Keith and Katherine. Steven’s waiting in the car for us.”
“Ah. Elise! Aren’t you ready yet?”
“I’m coming, I’m coming.”
“You’d think we were going to meet the queen.”
“You’re so sweet sometimes Caroline. Hi, I’m Elise.”
“Hi–I’m Roger.”
“The hockey player.”
“Uh, yeah.”
“Sorry just finally putting the face to the name.”
“Are we ready then?”

“I think you sufficiently dazzled him.”
“Oh be serious Caroline.”
“I am. He’s smitten.”
“Really! I know Roger. He was almost drooling.”
“He didn’t even ask for my phone number.”
“Why would he–it’s the same as mine.”
“Good point. Well, he didn’t even try to hold my hand let alone kiss me.”
“That’s a bit too forward for Roger. Did he ask about the show?”
“And did he say he’d come?”
“Then he’s falling for you.”
“How can you be so sure.”
“I can tell.”
“I don’t know about that. You certainly are oblivious when it comes to Steven.”
“Elise–I thought we agreeded to drop that subject.”
“Well, did you ask him?”
“Ask him what?”
“If he’s in love with you.”
“Of course I didn’t, the subject never came up.”
“Of course not. It won’t come up until you say something. That’s what he’s waiting for.”


“Hi Jack, is Mom there?”
“Hi Caroline. Hold on a minute and I’ll get her. Honey, Caroline’s on the phone.”
“Hi Care.”
“Did I send the right sized spikes?”
“Yeah, quarter inch is fine. How’s everyone?”
“We’re fine. Jack is getting the fishing tackle ready for when Brain comes tomorrow.”
“Brian’s visiting?”
“Yes. He had a fight with Missy–he moved out. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about a wedding. How’s training been?”
“Good, we had a couple of hard workouts this week, but today was easy–tomorrow is an dual meet.”
“Jack and I are coming to your race at Kenyon for sure and we might make the one at Malone if I don’t have to work that weekend. How are classes?
“Good, one literature class, a world history class and really basic anthropology class.”
“Sounds interesting.”
“One of the last three I’m required to take for an English major. After that I can take electives. The history class shouldn’t be too bad as it’s all ancient civilizations and will end up overlapping with my anthropology course.”
“How are your professors?
“My history teacher is boring but he’s managed to tell at least one dirty joke in each class, and he loves to talk about ancient sexual persuasions.”
“That’s sounds like Professor Harris.”
“It is Professor Harris.”
“You’re kidding–he’s still there. I had him for history of ancient civilizations my junior year.”
“He’s still here.”
“Amazing. Who are your other professors? Maybe I know them as well.”
“Probably not. My English professor is a visiting professor from Wales. He’s teaching the critical writing, and my Anthropology–I think she said she graduated from Reed, but I’m not sure.”
“Oh, still the fact that you have Crazy Harris for history is funny. Did I ever tell you the story of that one exam….”

Growing up

It took a roll of 21 to kill a red-dragon, a roll of 18 to kill a blue dragon, 16 to kill a black and 15 for a green. That was when you were using four six-sided dice, but as the game advanced those numbers changed with the probabilities. Now one might have a one in fifteen or a four in something chance at defeating such a beast. Later it went even farther and each blow, each dodge and parry was measured accounted and described. The game became one of thought and imagination as opposed to a variation of craps. The dragons were all Smaugs. They were beasts of wealth and destruction to be bled by a half-elf with 158 hit points, an armor class of 4 and wearing a ring of invisibility. To save against the dragons fiery, or icy breath was possible with yet another die roll, for it was all a formula for the imagination. 


Slow–stay behind her. Don’t try to move ahead. Just stay behind her. Don’t waste your energy. Another quarter and you’re to the first mile mark. Come on steady. Is that Chris up there? Come on keep drafting off of her. She’s getting tired. Stay behind her until the trees. Yeah that’s Chris. Try and catch her in the woods. Come on keep moving you wench. You can catch her on the uphill right before the mile mark. She hates long uphills. Come on almost to the woods. Steady. Good–the trees. A little more. Watch the roots. There she is. Shit, there’s the hill. Come on–just keep going. Count your strides. One two three four five breathe six seven eight don’t give up nine ten eleven twelve head up thirteen fourteen halfway fifteen sixteen seventeen almost got her eighteen nineteen come on twenty twenty-one two come on three four got her five six there’s the marker you’re almost up. seven eight nine thirty yes you’re the sixth Bradely runner now. Marker and time?



“Tired?” asked Steven.”
“Good race.”
“You must have picked up about thirty places from right before the ridge after the first mile to when you came out of the second patch of woods.”
“I just kept looking for red and gold. Wanted to come in top five so badly.”
“Did you?”
“Yeah–number four. Is Martin around?”
“No haven’t seen him.”
“Figures. He said he was coming, but–oh well. Listen I need to go find some ice. My shins hurt from all that cement and these spikes. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Sure. I’ll be here.”

“Martin?” Caroline called.
“What time is it?”
“Quarter past one.”
“Shit, why didn’t you wake me?”
“I forgot, sorry.”
“I promised Roger and Steven I’d meet them for lunch at one. What are you doing?”
“Just playing.”

“Sorry I’m late.”
“That’s okay. Steven and I didn’t get here until about ten minutes ago. Where’s Elise?”
“She has rehearsal.”
“Oh that’s right. When does the play start?”
“In three weeks.”
“She excited?”
“Yeah, she loves the show–hates her costume. Roger you could just call and talk to her.”
“I guess.”
“She’d appreciate it much more if you called her instead of sending greetings through me. Steven don’t you agree?”
“Uh–sure. Are you guys ready to order?”
“Okay–how’s Martin?”
“Gee–a bit uncomfortable. He’s fine I guess.”
“You guess?”
“He’s fine.”
“But nothing. He’s fine.”
“Come on Caroline. What’s wrong.”
“Nothing’s wrong. Martin is fine. I just left him in my room at my computer playing Solitaire. He’s fine. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.”
“Okay okay–sorry.”
“Have you two decided what you’re going to order yet?” Steven asked.

“How was rehearsal?” Caroline asked.
“Tiring. How was lunch?” Elise asked.
“Good, once we got past the fine issue.”
“The subject of Martin.”
“Yeah– Roger is of the opinion that if I don’t love him I shouldn’t be dating him, let alone sleeping with him.”
“We’re not sleeping together, anymore. I mean I’ve just been so tired, and he’s always dealing with council shit and it’s, oh it’s just….”
“Well what about Roger’s first argument?”
“The one about love?”
“Yeah. Let me guess, you’re still undecided on that one.”
“I don’t know. I don’t even think I was ever ‘undecided’–God, that sounds like choosing a major–I just didn’t love him.”
“And now?”
“And now…I guess I love him.”
“You guess?”
“Well I told him I love him.”
“But do you mean it?”
“I don’t know. Elise I’m too tired for this tonight.”
“Come on Caroline, don’t string him along. Either you love him or you don’t.”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even know what love is. I mean wouldn’t I know somehow–intuitively–if I were in love? But then if now–what if this is all there is?”
“Then why are you in the relationship.”
“….I guess because its what is expected of me–I mean to date a guy like Martin–good looking, sort of intelligent, above avarage physique…it sounds so crude to put it that way.”
“Is that how you think about it.”
“Not always, no. Sometimes I enjoy his company, other times its just sort of there.”
“You’re comfortable with him.”
“That isn’t so bad is it?”
“Is it? I mean I care about him, but I keep thinking there must be something else.”
“Could you see yourself still with him in another, say, five years.”
“God, I don’t even know where I’ll be in five years.” 


ELEVEN O SEVEN. ELEVEN O EIGHT. ELEVEN O NINE. Shit! eleven o nine–damn that’s fast. Just a mile more. Come on remember the finish is right after the uphill from the ravine. Catch a few there. Come on. Just fly. Concentrate. Get that girl ahead. Only twenty yards. Steady, watch her shoulder not her feet. Good. See, she’s pulling you up. Almost got her now. Good–now if I remember from the map the railroad tracks are just ahead. After that the course should head back. Yes, should be right. Got her. Oh–that’s a train whistle. The tracks must be right up ahead. She’s trying to stay with me–I don’t think so sweetheart. Let’s have a bit of fun. Puddle–up and over. Lengthen your stride. She’s getting the hint. Breathe. Drop your arms a bit, relax. Another patch of mud–over. Nice landing. Yes, she’s slowing. Keep the pace. Don’t think of slowing until you get to those tracks.


“How did the race go?” Martin asked.
“All right.” How am I going to do this?
“How did you do?”
“Seventeenth.” Just take a deep breath…
“Is that good?”
“Yes, we won the invitational.” …and say it.
“Knock Knock,” called Elise.
“Hi Elise.” Thank goodness.
“I’m not interrupting anything am I? I just need to pack my stuff for rehearsal.”
“No, we were just talking about Caroline’s race. She came in seventeenth, isn’t that great?”
“Yeah, I know. Steven and I were there.”
“Caroline have you seen my brush?”
“It was in the bathroom.” Come on, be strong–just tell him the truth.
“Thanks. Then I’m packed. I’ll see you guys later.”
“Do you know what time you’ll be back.”
“Around eleven as it’s first run through. So you two do whatever–just make sure you’re quieted down by then.”
“Thanks mom.”
“No problem and now if you two will excuse me. I have a date with the director from hell. Good luck.”
“Bye.” Shit.
“Good luck? Why good luck Caroline?”
“Martin we have to talk.”

“So, how’d it go?” Elise asked.
“I felt like such a jerk. “We have to talk.’ ‘Can’t we just be friends.’ ‘It’s not you.’ God, please strike me down.”
“Oh come on. It obviously didn’t go that badly He’s not still here.”
“No, but you missed the half hour of him crying.”
“Yes crying and telling me how I’m the only girl he’s ever loved and I’ve ruined his life and all that other bullshit.”
“Good girl.”
“What do you mean?”
“Charlie sent me the exact same can over e-mail this summer. I think it makes him feel better.”
“You think Martin will be okay?”
“Oh sure, give him a month to find some freshman to have a fling with and he’ll be fine. After his little rebound he’ll probably show up here to gloat and see if you’ll take him back now that he’s proved he’s desired by others.”
“Cute Elise. Is that what Charlie did?”
“Sort of–I guess we have to wait until he gets home to see if he crawls to my door-step. Men are such pigs sometimes. I’m so glad the next show is almost all women.”
“Poor baby, the theater girlies giving you a hard time.”
“Yeah and they harass the other actresses too. But how about you. You okay?”
“I think so. I hope I did the right thing.”
“You’ll be fine. It’ll just take getting used to. I’m gonna make some popcorn. Want some?”
“Sure. Can you make two bowls–I’m really hungry. While you do that I’m going to go down and get some ice.”
“Shins still bothering you?”
“Yeah, today was almost all mud.”
“Ah, explains the smell in the bathroom.”
“Sorry, I didn’t feel like showering at the field house after the meet, so I just came home.”
“Don’t worry I opened the window–the only thing that stinks now are your shoes.”

More than dice

One gained experience from defeating such beasts and the more experience a character had the harder they were to kill. More advanced players sought to defeat creatures that challenged their brains as well as their biceps. They planned attacks and tried to out think their enemies, yet they always sought more victories, more power, more riches. They would make themselves gods if the dungeon master allowed.

Yet the most revered creatures, the most feared remained the dragons. Intelligence was said to be a great part of a dragon’s success. They were not just beasts of destruction and death but creatures of eloquence and elegance.

The dragons were white for ice, black for a poison, blue for lightening, green for chlorine, yellow for acid and red for fire. They were forces of evil and destruction. But their kind was redeemed for there was one truly good dragon. With the power of the sun and life this beast did not sleep upon a magnificent couch, for what gold could rival that of its living flesh.


Come on three hundred yards. Watch it don’t slip. Who’s up there? There’s a Kenyon and a Heidelberg runner. Try. Watch her shoulder. Pull damn pull. Two hundred. She doesn’t have kick. Now get the next one. Come on breathe–just get her. A little more. One hundred. Sprint damn it–extend. Arms. Got her. Fifty more. On your toes. Just one more. You can do it. Twenty. Don’t stop till you’re past that line. Keep your eyes on that line. Yes.


“Can you see anyone yet?” Elise asked.
“No,” Roger replied.
“What time is it?”
“Fourteen and a half minutes,” Steven replied. “We should see the leader any moment.”
“There,” Roger said.
“What school?” Elise asked.
“U of M,” Steven said.
“Oh look! There’s more behind her,” said Elise.
“That’s usually how it works,” Steven mumbled.
“I don’t see any red and gold–wait there she is with another Bradely runner.”
“Is that Caroline?” asked Roger.
“It should be Jackie and Kara,” said Steven.
“Oh…Roger, how many have gone by?” Elise asked.
“Wait! Is that her, Steven?”

“Elise, you made it!”
“No rehearsal today–I said I’d make it to one of your away meets. Are they all this big?”
“Oh no, just the invitationals on Saturdays. Half of this one is high schools anyway.”
“Oh. Aren’t you cold in just shorts?”
“Me? No, but I will be–let me get my sweats.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah sure, why?”
“You’re limping a little.”
“I’m just tired–my shins are sore from all the hills, and I need to get out of these spikes.”
“Hi, good race. I didn’t see much of the course, what was it like?” asked Steven as he joined them.
“Fairly dry, but there were so many hills I lost count. How was the drive up?”
“He drove, Roger slept in the back seat and I spent the time with Stanislovski,” replied Elise.
“Where is Roger?” asked Caroline
“He’s talking to a guy from Kenyon,” Steven said.
“Here, before I forget–Let me get a picture of you.”
“Do you want Steven in it?”
“Sure. Bit closer–good, got it.”
“So did you find out about auditions?” Caroline asked.
“Yeah, I went over and read the call boards before we left.”
“I was cast as Agnes–it wasn’t what I wanted, but hey, it’s a role.”
“Listen I have to go cool down with Kara and Jackie. How about if I meet you guys back here in about an hour.”
“Okay, see you in a bit.””Elise?”
“Yes Steven?”
“Has she said anything about her shins?”
“No, why?”
“Does she ice after practices as well.”
“Yeah, a couple of times. Don’t worry she’s just being careful.” 


It was a glorious autumn. The trees were vying with one another to see which could display the most brilliant colors before losing them to the winds. They were looking forward to a brisk, invigorating winter and then a wonderful spring. There was an excitement to the rustling overhead as Caroline walked home from class. 

Tomorrow could be the last meet of the season–if she failed to qualify. But how could she fail. Her times were still dropping, she was running stronger every race even with shin splints. In another few races she would be up with Kara and Jackie or even past them. The next race. It was her course. She knew every mile, every stride, every patch of god damn mud. 


“Elise–it’s Roger–he just wants to know where he can park tonight.”
“Tell him there’s a staff lot to the left of the theater–it’ll be open.”
“So who are all coming tonight?”
“Me, Roger, Steven, Keith and Kath, and Michael who may be bringing a date.”
“Oh my.”
“On nothing, that’s just a lot of people.”
“We promise to be very loud and make lots and lots of noise.”
“Very funny. What time do you have to leave?”
“Around eleven. Race doesn’t start until one-thirty.”
“A little. After this there are only sectionals and maybe beyond. You?”
“Very, but at the bottom of it all there is the odd calm. I just want it to be perfect one time before the lights come up and the run is finally over.”


Slow–Count–One-thousand one–breathe–one thousand two–breathe–one thousand three–breathe–first mile–breathe–second mile–breathe–stay relaxed–breathe–Our father who art in heaven–breathe–hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come–relax–thy will be done–breathe–take the line–on earth as it is in heaven–relax–forgive us our trespasses–set–as we forgive–here we go.


“Come on Michael, we’re going to miss her,” Steven called.
“I’m coming.”
“Steven, what time is it?” Roger asked.
“Almost ten and a half. The leader should be just going into the woods.”
“Where’s the finish?” asked Michael.
“Just a bit further from here–over that hill right along the river,” Steven replied.
“Then why are we hurrying?”
“So we can get a decent spot along the finish,” replied Roger.
“There are going to be a lot of people there. This is a big meet,” explained Steven.
“At last–here come the leaders,” said Roger.
“I think the wind is dying down,” remarked Steven.
“Is that her?” asked Michael.
“No, Caroline has tights on. That would be Kara.”
“God, isn’t she cold?” Michael remarked.
“Probably not.”
“Yeah, endorphins are great,” Roger added.
“There she is–looks like another top twenty finish. How many have you counted Roger?”
“She’ll probably pick up at least two in the last two-hundred.”


Caroline finished the race. She passed three runners in the last one hundred yards and placed fourteenth. She slowed down to a walk after crossing the finish line and started to walk to the end of the chute to collect her place card. Halfway through she collapsed.


“Are you all right?” asked a voice.
“Here let’s get her up and through,” said a second.
“Can you put your arm around me–good. I’ll get her place card.”
“I’ll try to find her coach.”
“What happened?” asked a third.
“She collapsed.”
“Her lungs?”
“From the cold air.”
“No, I don’t think so. Here, help me. Get her card.”
“Got it.”
“Is she all right?” asked a woman’s voice.
“I don’t know, she hasn’t said a word.”
“I think she’s trying–“
“Let me get her number and school. Fourteenth, Bradely, okay.”
“Come on, we’ll go over to the medics.”
“What do you have?” asked another.
“Don’t know, she collapsed at the line.”
“Has someone gone to get her coach?”
“Okay, let’s get her down and see what we’ve got. Now honey, where does it hurt? Abdomen? Hip?”
“My legs.”
“Upper or lower?”
“Ah. Can I take off your spikes?”
“There it is, she’s bleeding there on her ankle.”
“Spiked–happens a lot. Another runner must have raked against her at the start. Probably doesn’t even feel it.”
“Oh. Well, I’d better get back to the finish. I’ll send her coach over to you.”
“Sure, thanks. Let me get that other shoe off. I’m sorry does that hurt. I’ll move as slow as I can. You’ve had problems with you shins?”
“A little.”
“What’s a little?”
“Sore, need to ice them.”
“Any sharp pains when you run or climb stairs?”
“Your arches are taped?”
“Does it help?”
“Used to.”
” Just Anti-Inflammatories.”
“Any today.”
“No, couldn’t with the race.”
“Okay, let’s see. Tell me where it hurts.” 


“Hi mom.”
“Hi sweetie. How are you?”
“Are you going to be able to get to your classes all right.”
“Yeah, Steven is in one of my classes so he walks there with me. As long as I take it slow I don’t have any problems getting there.”
“Do you have another class with Crazy Harris?”
“No, this term it’s Early Modern History with Professor DuBois. From the crucifixion to colonization.”
“Oh fun.”
“Yeah another memorization fest like my last history course. After that I have my critical theory class and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have a Spanish class and an introductory Sociology class.”
“What class do you and Steven have together? “
“Sociology. Fact we have a mid-term Wednesday. He’s coming over here tonight to study.”
“Oh, what time.”
“He should be here any time.”


“Roger, when’s your next game?” asked Elise.
“Wednesday? Why–think you’ll come.”
“Funny–you know I have rehearsal, but I was going to ask Steven to take Caroline.”
“I just thought it would be a good idea.”
“How’s she doing?”
“All right I guess. She hasn’t said much.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean she doesn’t say much.”
“She seems fine when I’m over.”
“She’s always at the computer when you’re over–and when she’s at the computer she’s usually playing solitaire.”
“Steven’s starting to worry as well. He’s tried all sorts of things–He helped her get to class when she was still on crutches. He bought her a copy of The Student’s Annotated Joyce, he takes her out to the movies every weekend. He even made her dinner–although I think that was an attempt at comic relief.”
“And nothing. She’s just so quiet it’s like she’s barely there sometimes. I haven’t heard her laugh in ages–take that back. We saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she laughed at the end when Paul Rueben was dying.”
“Steven hasn’t mention anything. I just thought he and she were finally getting together.”
“Does she talk to him?”
“I don’t know.”

“Steven, have you talked with Caroline lately?” Roger asked.
“We went up for ice-cream last night.”
“What’d she say?”
“About what?”
“Don’t think I understand.”
“Has she said anything–you know about what happened. Has she been herself?”
“Yes, why?”
“Well Elise is kind of worried. Caroline just hasn’t seemed the same.”
“No, she hasn’t.”
“But you just said she was.”
“Oh she’s still Caroline.”
“Didn’t Elise tell you about the X-ray’s?”
“Guess not–okay. Caroline had all those tests done last November, right? They gave her copies of the X-rays to give to her doctor back home when she went home at Christmas break. Well, she showed them to me, and, well, I’m still amazed she’s walking.”
“That bad?”
“One clean fracture that should’ve broken her leg. Her left leg wasn’t as bad–there were two stress fractures, but they were fairly small. Then there was the inflammation of the muscles around her bones….”
“Will she be able to run again?”

“Hi Jack.”
“Hi sweet heart. How are you?”
“How are classes.”
“They’re there.”
“What are you taking this term?”
“On last history class, some Spanish, a boring English class and a genetics course.”
“Is that too much”
“No, it’s fine.”
“When do you come home for the summer.”
“Actually I’ve been thinking of getting a job and staying down here.”

“What time is the performance?” Roger asked.
“Eight o’clock,” replied Elise.
“When do you need to be there?”
“Do you want a ride over?”
“That’s be great.”
“Have you and Caroline managed to find an apartment for next fall?”
“No, actually that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. Caroline is looking for her own place.”
“We’re not going to be sharing an apartment until the year after next. See I got accepted at University College for next year.”
“You’re kidding!”
“No, you’re not angry?”
“It’s for a year?”
“Oh no, we’ll manage.”


In the dark
of the early morning
no birds sang
no light reached out
into the nothingness.
Everything was quiet.

Only a vague scattering of thoughts.
Everything has to have an ending.
How can a thing begin
if an ending did not come before it.
And the Darkness had said,
“What is light without dark.
I am a part of you all.”

She did not want to believe that,
but what else was there. 

Part III

© 1997-2001 stega

Undefined (Part 1)

The Years Spent at a Modern University

Here, have some readings of Shakespeare
some algorithms 

a chemical reaction
a six pack
and some sociological issues
Binge cram memorize
and remember to flush
For we come here to better ourselves
to become better people
better workers
better consumers
and are taught to guzzle
the theories and stories
the lives and equations
and the beer. 

Once upon to ever after 

By the time you read this it will be over. The story that is. The beginning, middle and end will be done. How can a story be told if there isn’t an ending for it. So we must have a beginning to the story for it to exist. But where does one begin to share the ideas and images that are rattling around in one’s brain–where did it come from, this story? Was it somewhere deep in the inner recesses of a failed artist’s mind, or is this the naked food you see just before you place it into your mouth, or before you place the needle in your arm? It first started as ideas and thoughts, reflections and desires and even experiences. They all began to jumble in on one another, colliding into each other and themselves until they began to become one idea, one image, one story. 

A story isn’t like liner notes or a news bulletin. It’s akin to poems and drama, for what are the stories we read but the plays of words and ideas within ourselves. 

I know how the story ends, but you do not, so there still must be a beginning. That is the most difficult place. An easy way around this would be to tell a story that doesn’t begin, yet without a beginning I really don’t need an ending. We get caught up in these starts and finishes and then lose sight of that middle part that makes a race a race or a story a story. It’s no good telling you that they came to college to slay dragons but left it as products of themselves. No, what matters is how we find out that dragons are often very real, but most often as insubstantial as the cold fog of one’s breath on an icy morning. 

So the beginning
It happened quite easily. The choice that is. A slew of letters and pamphlets. The flood of brochures and prospectives. The onslaught of forms and applications. Come and become a part of us. You’ll find your place here. Make a difference. Ranked in the top one-hundred colleges and universities by USA News and World Report –We have everything. We’re just what you’re looking for. We want you to make your mark with us. Choosing the right college is the most important decision you will make, second only to your choice of career. We need you. Your future, your education. Ranked in the top ten colleges and universities by Time. Explore yourself and your world here. We are everything you are looking for. 

She had boxes of the stuff. Think of all the trees that had died in order to bring such tidings to her. She felt guilty. She had simply checked a little box before taking a standardized test and now another ten acres of timber had fallen. At least the postage was metered. 

She imagined that the postman must think her family crazy to be receiving all of this propaganda. Who in their right mind would go to a school like Princeton or Vanderbilt or Stanford? Who in their right mind would pay for an education at Princeton or Stanford? Well, there were certainly many people who not only would, but could do so. She didn’t think she had quite the mind set–to travel eight or fifteen hours from her family, to live in another part of the country was an unsettling idea. But to have that name on her diploma was another matter. Perhaps she could apply. Perhaps she should apply. If she had what it took…there were always ways around the money issue. She would send in the applications. 

That was how is began. Wasn’t very simple really. Choosing the right college wasn’t that difficult for her, though, as there are many unnatural forces in this world. Hence, her undergraduate years were to be spent at her mother’s alma mater. Her mother was very pleased over this, not just because she could be vicarious for a whole four years or more, but it also meant she would be able to afford a replacement for their aging Toyota. 

So Caroline graduated from high school and went off to college. 

When we are young
The first dragon she remembered was Smaug. The image of him fast asleep on his golden couch glowing reddish in the deep night of a cavern. It must have been an uncomfortable setting to move into, really, for while dragons live for more centuries than one thinks, it would follow that the process of moving in would take a proportionately lengthy amount of time. To first settle down to sleep comfortably amidst all the pieces of gold and bits and bobbles of collected riches–to rest so that no annoying lumps or upturned chalices would poke upwards discomfortingly was a slow process. Eventually everything would have been smoothed down, and the great beast would be able to go about his business of resting up for whatever it was he would do in about a hundred years, for killing peasants and ravaging towns took quite a bit out of such a creature and it would be a while before he had the desire to exert that much effort again. So he would rest peacefully upon his store of precious artifacts, gems and, metals, –that was, of course, until an intruder entered. 

“Is that it?” Caroline asked pointing out the car window at a squat brick building.
“What does the sign say?” her mother asked.
“There isn’t one,” she replied.
“Yes, there is–on the right”
“Jones Hall.”
“Good, where do we park?”
“There’s someone waving cars in there.”
“Okay. I’ll wait here–you go in and find out about your room.” 

Caroline walked in the main doors and spotted the main counter of what must be the office. She walked over, and a small, brown-eyed girl behind the counter looked up and smiled.
“Hi, are you an entering freshman?”
“Yes, where do I go?” God am I that obvious?
“Right here. What’s your last name?”
“Stanley, Stanski, Stevens–Caroline?”
“Okay, your room is 6K. I need you to sign right there. Here’s the key. 6K–that’s on the sixth floor. Looks like your roommate’s already signed in. Any questions?”
“No, not yet.”
“Well, if you have any and you can’t find your RA, just come down here and ask one of us here.”

“Did you get your room?” her mother asked when she returned to the car.
“Yes, it’s on the sixth floor,” replied Caroline. “I wish Brian could’ve come.”
“Yes, that’d be nice….Why not take the computer up first.”
“Got it? Now who are these people?” her mother asked as a small group walked from the building towards the car.
“I don’t know,” replied Caroline. Oh–he’s cute.
“Hi, I’m Martin. You moving in to Jones?” asked one of the boys–tall, broad shouldered and with an equally broad grin.
“Yes,” Caroline managed to reply.
“Good–what room.”
“Is just this car-load your stuff, then?”
“Yes, but what are you–“
“Oh, sorry. We’re all MIA’s. Move In Assistants. Just tell us what you want us to carry and we’ll get it up to your room.”
“Well how nice,” her mother said, “Isn’t this nice Caroline? This wasn’t here when I came to Bradely.”
“You attended Bradely?” the boy asked.
“Yes, but long before your time. I my day there were no co-ed dorms–and a boy would never be allowed in a girl’s room.”
“Is that right?”
He picked up the large monitor box and began to follow the rest of the group into the building. Her mother followed carrying two feather pillows.
“Why don’t you stay with the car, Caroline,” her mother instructed.
“Hey Charlie, can you hold the door?” Martin called to a blond boy who had just stepped out of Jones. “Oh and if you could, there’re still a couple of boxes and crates down where we got this load. Can’t miss it–silver Toyota.”

“Hi, I’m Charlie.”
“Martin sent me out to help.”
“Yeah. I thought I would stay with the car and the rest of my stuff; otherwise my mother would never come out of there.” God only know what she is telling them.
“Good idea. Besides you can never be too safe around here.”
“Oh don’t get me wrong. Bradely’s fairly safe as far as colleges go. And most areas near campus are pretty safe, even at night.”
“Oh–do you live off-campus?”
“No, I live here in Jones along with Martin and the rest of the crew you saw–I’m a returning RA.”
“Really–an RA?”
“Yeah, fifth floor, north and east wings. Last year I had second floor south.”
“North and east?”
“Oh sorry, see each floor has three wings–that’s the south and that’s north, and behind is the east wing. I share the floor with Karl. Every floor is split that way–two RA’s I mean….They should be almost on their way down by now. Why don’t we take a load up.”
“Okay. I think we can manage what’s left in the trunk.”
“Here, I’ll get that.”
“No, I’ve got it. If you could grab that laundry basket. It’s pretty heavy. I should probably lock the doors.”
“It’s not that bad.”
“What floor did you say you’re on?”
“I think we’ll take the elevator then.”
Wanna hit that button.”
“Sure. Are you all–the people moving in–RA’s?”
“Oh no. Most are just returning residents. Most of the dorms aren’t like Jones. I mean a couple are full of grad or foreign students, others are all freshmen–sort of feeders for the frats and sororities. Jones is pretty mixed. A lot of returning students on each floor–here’s our ride. Hi Martin.”
“How you managing Charlie?” the dark-haired boy asked as he moved out of the elevator.
“Good, we left some stuff in the back though.”
“We’ll get it.”
“I’d better go with you as I locked the car doors,” Caroline said. I wonder what my mother told him.
“That’s all right Caroline, I’m here,” said her mother. “I’ll go with them–you take that load up and see the room. Your roommate is up there. She seems very nice.” 

“Hi, I’m Sarah Clark.”
“Hi, Caroline Stevens.” This room is huge, but where are the beds?
“Hey, that’s really cool.”
“Our names.”
“What about them?”
“Well your initials are C S.”
“And yours are S C?”
“Yeah, isn’t that neat!”
“Yeah.” Okay.
“Here, let me help you with you that. Is it going in the bedroom?”
“Yes, thanks.”
“If you don’t mind, I took the bottom bunk as really don’t like any sort of heights.”
“That’s fine.”
“Thanks–anything, even flights of stairs get to me. I’ve always been like that, ever since I fell from a teeter-totter when I was three. See the teacher who had playground duty was watching the dodge ball game and my friend and I were bouncing one another on the teeter-totter–you remember, when you would push off really hard and your partner would get the shock when they let the board hit the ground. Anyway–oh, where are you from?”
“Oh, which part.”
“West side.”
“I’m from Solon–family has only lived there for four years. We used to live down near Dayton–just a year though. Before that we were out in Washington. I was actually born in Portland–we moved when my father got transferred, but I haven’t spent much time here in this state–I was in school in New Hampshire most of the time.”

“Hello, I’m Professor Isaac and welcome to Math 201. My office phone and hours are listed on the syllabus as are the dates of the midterms and final examination. We’re going to start today by working through Archimedes principle of the limit.” 

“Hello, I’m professor Marnie Kerr and I will be teaching English 102. If you’re here for Physics 300 or Dance 05 you’re in the wrong room….” 

“Psychology is often thought of as the fourth science, as it incorporates both aspects of chemistry and biology yet deals with them on the level of neurological impulses. By studying human behavioral psychology we will be better able to understand the role it plays not just in the rising field of clinical psychology but in our everyday lives.” 

From Thu Sept 26 19:45:45 1991
Date: Thu Sept 26 19:45:45 1991
Subject: test (sorry it took so long) 

Sorry it took me so long write back. I’m still not sure if I am doing this right, but hopefully this message will make it back to you. My mother forwarded the message you sent to me. She didn’t sent it to me until yesterday–that was when my account was finally working. Hopefully this will get to you. Let me know.

“Cool! What a great room.”
“Oh? Hi–yeah it’s rather nice,” Caroline replied looking up from her Psychology book.
“Is this a triple?”
“Uh? Oh, no.” Who is this person?
“Is Sarah in?”
“She went down to check the mail.” Lovely, probably some other pledge.
“Ah. Do you mind if I–“
“No, go ahead.” Great.
“Oh sorry, I’m Elise–6F.”
“Caroline….How do you know Sarah?” I should just read this stupid chapter.
“We’re in Math together. Pre-calc….Sarah told me you’re a real genius with math.”
“Hardly.” The id– that explains a lot about Sarah…
“Well you were placed quite a bit higher than us.”
“Well I tested out of math, but I might major in it or physics….” Yes, Sarah definitely has an over-developed id. Or is that ego?
“Really–that’s cool.”
“That’s not usually the reaction I get,” Caroline mumbled.
“Well, not very many people go for something like that.”
“I guess. What’s your major?”
“I’m pretty much undecided. Business or maybe biology.”
“Business?” I didn’t know you could major in that.”
“My mother thinks it would be a good idea. She sees college as the way I can either get my Mrs. degree or become a corporate climber or a brilliant, rich doctor.”
“So what do you want to major in?” She’s funny.
“Oh, I don’t know…probably dance, but maybe art or drama. Any of them’ll be sufficient to drive my mother into hysterics.”
“You dance?”
“Well, no…I used to until my junior year–I started to run track.”
“Really? What high school did you go to.”
“Schylur–in Cinncinatti.”
“What events?”
“Just sprints. I wasn’t very good. And you…ran track?”
“Yeah, distance.”
“You look like a distance runner,” Elise observed.
“Do you still run?” Caroline asked.
“No, but I didn’t really run during the track season either. How about you?”
“Yeah, fact I’ll be running for Bradely this spring.”
“You’re kidding! That’s so cool.”
“Do you ever think of getting back into it?” Maybe I judged too quick.
“Me? Oh no–track was more of a social thing–I guess. Listen, not to change the subject or anything, but do you–I mean, you’re good at math and all–if it wouldn’t be too much to ask–if you don’t have the time or just don’t feel like it just say so, but do you think….”
“Sure, why not.”
“When though?”
“I’m not sure. Whenever you’re free. I really don’t need much help. It’s just the fact that I can’t understand my TA. I don’t even think he speaks English, and I’m afraid to ask him a question. I did once, but I don’t think–well that doesn’t matter–I just usually have had one or two questions about things.”
“Oh, if that’s all–if I’m here I should be able to help.”
“Gee, thanks.” 

When she walked to the study group the scattering of arguments and theories were swirling in her mind like the leaves that blew feverishly through the light of the street lamps. Unable to keep up with them she leaned back into the wind that ordered them onward into the darkness. Derivatives and integrals had once been firmly fixed in her tree of knowledge, now they too spun and danced like so many other ideas and thoughts and leaves.
A gust of wind blew against her, breaking her stride and rustling her thoughts back to her surroundings. She needed to get home quickly to make sure she had enough time to finish her other homework. It wouldn’t do to fall behind in the first week.

“Roger, does it matter if the function is even or odd?”
“No, just substitute u for f of x.”
“Hey Michael,” Roger asked, “did you get f of x as x equals the limit as x approaches infinity of x to the third plus pi x squared over x to the negative two plus six x?”
“So did I,” chimed Keith.
“Okay, how did you…”asked Caroline.
“Here try substituting x squared plus three for u instead of p,” suggested Steven.
“Oh! Then if I–got it.”
“Thanks. Have any of you started the last problem?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Keith.
“Me neither,” said Roger.
“I was wondering if it’s possible to take the integral of the equation and substitute the equation of a circle?”
“Don’t think so,” said Michael.
“It might, but what would the center coordinates be?” asked Steven.
“Try substituting u plus v squared and u squared plus v,” suggested Roger. 

“Do you need someone to walk you back?” Keith asked.
“No, I’ll be fine,” replied Caroline.
“Are you sure?” asked Michael.
“Yeah, it’s not far.”
“I’ll walk you back to Jones,” said Roger.
“I’ll be all right.”
“I know, but I’ll go with you. Keith, Michael–want to come?”
“I have to call Kate,” said Keith.
“I’ll come,” said Michael.
Where did Steven go?” Caroline asked.
“I think he went down to play on Matt’s computer,” said Michael.
“Ah. Well I’m ready.”
“I’m gonna go lock my door. I’ll meet you guys at the elevator,” said Michael.
“Let me get a jacket,” said Roger. 

From Sat Oct 12 08:35:15 1991
Date: Sat Oct 12 08:35:15 1991
Subject: Re: from under a ton of work

Things are going well–I guess. Elise and I are going to head out to see the game at noon, so I’m up early to get all those little things I need to get done done, as I know very well I won’t feel like doing them later. I think I’ve got the hang of this e-mail thing. Before I forget, you were right about Doug. And he did see you when he was out on his little date. Although he didn’t tell me that he was out on a date, but then knowing him–well he wouldn’t acknowledge it and he’d say I was being jealous and overbearing and had to right to be as I was the one who ended the relationship. That’s basically the gist of his letter to me. He failed once again to admit his liking for sorority girls who are within walking distance. He wrote me an e-mail–obviously–which I got today with yours. He was all curious to know how we were. At least I took your advice and didn’t sleep with him. Once my computer gets a modem I won’t have to trudge over to the lab and will by much more prompt about this. So in about a week if my modem arrives from wherever Jack ordered it from. Which reminds me. Jack and my mother wanted to know if you want to spend Thanksgiving with us. If you have a better offer take it as you know how wonderful holidays are at Clan Stevens-McDermont. But I figured I ask knowing how things are with your parents. As for classes: I’m doing well in my Psych class, but it is just so boring. Math is middling and I may drown soon. English is pretty good. As for fish–none really, unless you count the guys in my study group who are pretty much minnows. There is one really nice guy here in my dorm, but he’s a junior and I don’t think he’d consider me. Training starts in a few weeks–for real that is which is good as it will get me away from the dorm a bit more. My roommate is driving me crazy. When she’s home she’s either watching TV or on the phone–typing of the wench, she just came into the room–was asleep until now–this is actually early for her to be up, but I’d best finish this and send this as she will probably wander over and read over my shoulder.
P.S. I just realized what a horribly un-grammatically-correct sentence that last one was. I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more clear.

Farther Back
She remembered when she was nine-years old and she decided she wanted to go to college. She remembered knowing that eventually she would. What she would do there was another matter. She just remembered the feeling she had when they went to her mother’s sorority board meetings. Walking across the grass with the old stone and brick buildings standing so permanently and wisely above her. The ivy climbing up the walls did not speak of festering parasites but of a gentle embrace. There was a knowledge and peace in those buildings. Amid the flurry of work and people something was there. 

The trees on the great grassy lawns of the main commons seemed so permanent, so aged, and yet so very alive. How many students had passed beneath their boughs? How many leaves had fallen to settle upon the paths and be blown by the hurrying wind of passing professors and harried students? It was a world of knowledge and pride. Of tradition and wisdom. 

So, like others her age, she made choice and was chosen. For a short time she would stand amid the oaks, the sycamores, and the elms that line the paved walks to feel the wind rush, seep, push, and flutter through her. 

When it changed
Smaug would have rested comfortably upon his precious couch for many years. But one day he awoke to a strange smell. Something had entered his den and just as quietly as it had come it had left. He did not know what manner of creature it was. It smelt of the lake and the river and forest, yet there was something beneath all of that–a sweet, gentle smell that he could not place. A smell of rich grass, hayseed cakes, smoke rings, and soft beds lingered so very faintly. Poor Smaug did not know what those smells were. He just knew that there were so very different from what he did know, so, more curious than anything else, he waited until the source of the scent returned. When the intruder ventured down to him again he was intrigued, so he bantered almost good-naturedly until his wit was abused and his anger kindled. 

“Caroline, someone named Martin is on the phone,” Sarah called.
“Thanks, I’ll be right there,” Caroline called from Elise’s room. “Just use point four negative eight as your center and you’ll have the equation.”
“You’re kidding. I can’t believe that’s it. My TA was using some weird denotation with the word lim. He went on and on about it like it was the most important thing.”
“Oh, it’s important, just not to this sort of thing. At least not with what the assignment was. I’ll be right back.”
“That was my last question, but come back if you want.”

“Martin?” Deep breath. Relax.
“Sorry it took me so long. I was helping a friend.”
“That’s okay. Listen a bunch of us are going out to see The Silence of the Lambs. Do you want to join us?”
“What time?”
“It starts at 8:20, but we’ll leave at about quarter to.”
“Sure, sounds like fun.” Oh my.
“Good. Oh, why don’t you invite your roommate or one of the freshers from you floor. I think Charlie is dying to meet a few.”
“See you then. I’ll come up and get you in about an hour then.”

“I think he likes you.”
“Caroline, darling, Charlie likes everyone,” Elise replied.
“Yeah, but…”
“I bet he’ll call you tomorrow.”
“I bet he won’t, although I will bet you that Martin’s going to ask you out again–and soon.”
“Think so?”
“He’s so cute.”
“Just be careful–it’s the cute ones you have to watch out for.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just don’t be so naive to forget that he is a year older than you and his intentions–well, they might not be as honorable as they seem.”
“Do you really think so?”
“No, but better be careful. Is Sarah home?”
“I have no idea? Sarah? I’ll check the bedroom.”
“No–and her coat isn’t on the door–she’s probably over at the Delta house or at some party.”
“On a Thursday?”
“They start early.”
“Didn’t know that. No wonder she’s always complaining about math class.”
“Either it’s too much homework or her lack of time or her last quiz grade.”
“Sounds like Sarah. Listen do you mind if I check my e-mail really quick?”
“No go ahead. Can I put a CD in.”
“You wouldn’t believe what she said yesterday in class.”
“We were going over the Pythagorean theorem–pretty basic with sines and cosines. U2? No, never mind. Anyway, Sarah raised her hand to ‘inquire what our lecturer had meant by the inverse of the cosine being secant. For according to her notes it had to be only negative as cosines are always positive but when multiplied by negative one to find the inverse they become negative.’ How about Rhythm of the Saints?”
“That’s a pretty good one.”
“Would you believe our TA even managed to keep a straight face, but I don’t think he understood exactly what she said.”
“Oh, do you have any homework this weekend?”
“Nope, I managed to get it done last night while you were out running. By the way, do you think that if I get an e-mail account I could use your computer to check it every so often.”
“Sure, in fact if you want I can try to set up your account from here.”
“Can you do that?”
“Yeah, but I’m not sure how. Just let me check my mail real quick. Pat or my mother might have written.”
“Okay….How about REM?”
“Sure. Nope, no mail from my mom, but my brother Brian wrote and Roger. Just don’t play ‘Stand’–I really can’t stand that song and its all Sarah played one night.”
“From my study group.”
“Oh. Which one is he?”
“The hockey player.”= “Ooh?!”
“Oh this is good. The study group was going to meet tonight, but they couldn’t get a hold of me or Keith so they want to meet tomorrow after the game Saturday. He says he called twice tonight and talked to Sarah. Good of him to write considering her receptionist skills. Now let’s see if I can figure out how to do this for you.” 

“Morning,” Sarah mumbled a she stumbled from the bedroom into the study room. “What time is it?”
“Quarter past nine,” Caroline replied. The dead hath arisen.
“Uhh–shit I have a class at ten.”
“Well I’m leaving for breakfast and then class. Oh, did anyone call for me last night?”
“No. When do they serve breakfast to?”
“Nine thirty. So how was the party?” You little bitch.
“Shit. Oh– it was all right.” 

“Is Caroline there?”
“Hi, it’s Steven.”
“Roger and I were wondering if you and Elise would want to go to the game with us?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. Elise and I are going with some people from our dorm.”
“Oh okay.”
“Sorry–you’re coming to study group tonight aren’t you?”
“Well, I’ll see you there then?”

“Hi mom.”
“Caroline! How’s school?”
“We watched the game on TV. It was pretty good. Looked kind of chilly though.”
“No, it’s pretty nice out. How’s everyone.”
“Oh, we’re fine. Jack is busy trying to put up some bookshelves and your grandmother is here visiting and giving him her opinions–Brian and Missy went out to see a movie–I was about to start dinner. What’s new–have you heard from Pat or Doug?”
“Yes–both, over e-mail.”
“How are they doing.”
“Pat’s doing really well. He’s thinking of working for a friend of his brother’s next year in Peru.”
“And his parents?”
“They’re not speaking to him really.”
“Oh, that’s a shame. Did he say if he’s going to come for Thanksgiving?”
“Yeah, he said he’d even bring the pumpkin pie.”
“That’s sweet. How’s practice been?”
“Pretty easy–we’re only officially running three times a week until December.”
“And classes? Have you managed to decided on a major yet?”
“No, but next term I should be taking some interesting classes so maybe….”
“What classes?”
“Well probably another writing class, biology and my friend Elise wants me to take a Theater class with her.”
“Is that it?”
“Well yes, Coach Linden is making sure we only take three classes as practices and the indoor season are going to take up more time.”
“Hold on a second, Jack wants to say something.” 

“Hi Sarah, is Caroline in?” Martin asked.
“She’s on the telephone,” replied Sarah.
“Oh, well if it’s okay I’ll just wait.”
“Whatever. I’m out of here.” 

“Okay, I’ll talk to you later then….Yes….Okay…..Love you too. Bye.”
“Just a minute. Oh-hi-Martin. Sorry–I was on the phone with my mother. I didn’t know you were here. Did Sarah leave?”
“Yes. I have a question, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but are things, I mean do you two, well…?”
“No, we’ve had a few problems. In fact it looks like she’s moving out soon.”
“So what can I do for you?”
“Oh, I came up to see if you wanted to come to party with me tonight.”
“Well, I’d love to, but I was just about to go down for dinner with Elise and that after that I have to leave for my study group and I don’t know when we’ll be done.”
“What time is the party.”
“It starts around nine. But listen, why don’t you just give me a call from where you’ll be and let me know then. That’s if you think you may be done before nine.”
“Actually that sounds good. We shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours.”
“Well call me around eight or so then.” 

Caroline left the commons early so that it would still be light when she walked across campus to meet the study group. The wind was brisk with a chill of autumn and the promise of the coming winter. Integrals and derivatives had been blowing around within her mind for weeks. Now they were being replaced my matrices and more formulas and proofs. Gone were the simple proofs of parallels angles and polar coordinates. Gone still were the days of Saturdays spent at a park waiting for a gun to sound and her race to begin. She wished sometimes that she could have stayed in high school. Stayed in the math and the sport she knew. Not to have graduated but to have continued on and on, mile after mile, problem after problem. It was saddening to think that this year there had not been a race through fields and woods.
The trees overhead rustled their bright leaves as if in almost a sad agreement. They too wished they could have stayed green with promise and life. Soon they would fall and be left to swirl in the wind; next year others would take their places.
At least in the Spring there would be the track season and she wouldn’t be bogged down with math. Perhaps if she trained hard enough and ran well she would be invited to run next fall. Besides most of the girls on the Cross Country team were upperclassmen. If she could just manage through this winter. 

“In the last homework problem what was the co-efficient for y z squared–was it four.”
“Then y squared is taken to the negative and it’s z to the negative third?”
“Yes–wait I think–Let me see that.” He leaned over her shoulder.
“It’s here.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Okay, thanks.”
“Are you done?”
“Just about–I still need to recopy my answer for the third problem.” Oh! Uhmm…his hands are strong.
“Wow, your shoulders are really tense.”
“I know–that feels nice.”
“What is that?”
“That’s a knot.”
“A knot of what?”
“Practice this week was easy…umh…but we started lifting.”
“When is you next meet?”
“What?–that’s four months away.”
“Season doesn’t start until the spring, but everyone is expected to train with those running the Indoor season this winter.”
“Is that another knot?”
“Uhm–yes–that’s nice….Michael, do you know what you’re going to major in?”
“Probably Sociology and maybe German or Math.”
“Keith is Bio-Chem and Math?”
“Yeah–Keith is crazy.”
“What about Roger?”
“Think it’s going to be mechanical.”
“Oh–umh…that’s another knot. You can use a bit more pressure to get at it.”
“Roger, Steven, and I are thinking of rooming together next year.”
“Do you know where?”
“We’ll probably find an apartment. Do you know where you be living next year?”
I really haven’t thought about it. I’m sure I’ll figure something out. It’s not even end of the first quarter.”
“Let’s see, number three, the derivative of f of g is equal to….”
“Is your roommate moving out?”
“I hope so.”
“Is she that bad.”
“Well let me put it this way–umh…a little higher– it’s gotten to the point where we don’t speak and she just leaves her things laying around and I move them to a pile that’s about the size of a small cow.”
“Sounds enchanting.”
“It’s starting to smell enchanting as well– when she uses the microwave the dishes sit out for days. Not to mention her wonderful abilities to wreak havoc with my notes and computer.”
“Where is she going to move to?”
“Well, she’s trying to get a room in her sorority house, but she may just end up living down the hall.”
“Will you get another roommate?”
“Hopefully Elise will get to move in. Umh…a bit lower there’s another knot.”
“Yeah, I found it.”
“Now is that a x squared or x to the fifth?”
“Number three? Should be squared.”
“Thanks. What time is it by the way?”
“Quarter to eight.”
“Ouh–I have to get going.”
“I told a friend I’d try to go to a party with him if we got done early enough.”
“Ah–uhm, I was wondering.”
“There! I am officially done.”
“Look, Caroline, I was wondering….”
“Well, would it be all right if, well….”
“If I?” 

“I–We. I mean he.”
“Well–Michael, when he and I were, I mean I was at study group–after study group when I was finishing my homework. Well we were talking and he was giving me a shoulder rub and I guess well, he sort of kissed me.”
“You responded how?”
“I guess I kissed him back.”
“It was….?”
“Well I sort of left.”
“Martin was waiting for me. Well he is waiting for me–I mean I said I’d try to go to a party with him.”
“Well what should I do?”
“It sounds like you are going to go to a party with nice, very good-looking, older guy after being kissed by a very nice, younger guy.”
“I’m only teasing.”
“Why don’t you come with us?”
“Caroline I’m not gonna be a third wheel.”
“I could see if Charlie’s coming? Did he ever call?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, guess you won the bet. Well, will you at least help me get ready?”
“Sure, seeing as I seem to be fated with the rest of the freshmen nerds to spend my weekend nights down in the lounge watching old movies or, worse, studying.”

“What ‘d you think of this one?” Caroline asked.
“Skirt’s too long. You look like you’re fresh out of some Catholic school. Don’t you have anything that’ll show off your legs?”
“What about this one?”
“Is it black or navy?”
“Better–phone’s ringing. Do you want me to get it?”
“Would you?”
“Sure. Hello?”
“Hi. Uh-Caroline?”
“No, may I ask who’s calling.”
“Oh! This is Charlie. Your roommate said you might be there.” 

From Sat Nov 16 01:32:27 1991
Date: Sat Nov 16 01:32:27 1991
Subject: Re: the mountains continue 🙂 

Dear Pat.
What news! I had a big fish nibble at my hook. Martin–that’s his name, Elise and I and a few others went to a movie, but after the movie when we got back to the dorm we went for a walk–just the two of us and we started talking and talking and before I knew it we were still sitting outside in the hall outside of my room and it was two o’clock in the morning. He’s so nice–he played soccer in high-school and he’s a Food Science and Nutrition major. It’s so weird–we just sat there and talked about everything. And to answer it before you ask–no, I don’t know if he kisses like a fish as he didn’t make a move and Sarah told me that he has a serious girl friend back in their hometown. They’re both from Solon. I am thankful that Thanksgiving is next week, as I really need a break from Sarah. Things aren’t much better. Although she’s not opening my mail anymore and she can’t screw with my computer. Sorry to hear about your car. Hope your insurance doesn’t total it. If you do need help covering a down payment for a new one Jack said they’d be more than willing to lend you the money. I told my mother and Jack that you are coming for dinner. They’re really excited as this will be the first year since the wedding that we’ll have more than just the four of us. Brian is bringing Missy–the girlfriend I haven’t met–and my uncle and aunt will be there as well as my grandmother. Should be quite a crowd. I’m going to actually go out this weekend. Elise talked me into going to a club off campus. She argued that as conditioning is almost over this will probably be one of the last weekends when I don’t have to worry about having to get up and run the next day and team regulations don’t go into effect until after Thanksgiving. I need to get to bed though before I get up for classes, so I will see you next Wednesday.

p.s. I discovered the wonders of cut and paste, so will send along the poem you asked for. It’s not done yet. It still needs something, but let me know what you think. 

A fragile butterfly rests in my hand.
Its wings spread open, then fold closed
–each passing second its life slips by,
yet it lives for the moment, and so do I.
So I fail to see the eagles above the lands,
as their trees topple to the ground
–when all are gone where will they fly?
should I hope to imagine that they can’t die?
They could fly to the frozen lands
where the gypsies of the barrens
will teach them to sing to the moon up high,
yet yearning for the sun with a painful cry.
But the sun is uncaring, unfeeling, beyond
–she rests in the desert with the bones
of those long dead beneath her
and a dried bed.

“Are we ready?” Elise asked.
“I think so. How’s my hair?” Caroline asked.
“Looks good. Here–for you.”
“Marcie M. O’Connor?”
“Yeah, I’m Clare Sembridge.”
“Where did Charlie get these?”
“Friend of a friend.”
“This doesn’t look at all like me.”
“Just say you lost weight. Besides it’ll be dark and crowded.”

“What is that?” Caroline asked.
“Budweiser. Here–try,” Elise offered.
“Oh! Phflt–disgusting. Does it all taste like that?”
“No, some of it is worse. Didn’t you ever drink in high school.”
“Not really. I was always training.”
“What about when you went out with Doug?”
“Doug liked wine-coolers.”
“What a wuss.”
“I know.”
“How long did you date him?”
“Almost a year and a half.”
“And you never slept him?.”
“No–when did you?” Caroline asked.
“Sleep with a guy? Never–not yet.”
“But I thought?”
“Oh, I’ve had sex–but’ve never actually slept with a guy. Maybe tonight….”
“What? With Charlie?”
“Isn’t that a bit fast?!”
“If I get drunk enough who knows.”

“Have you found one you’d like to take home yet?” Elise asked.
“No–they all sort of melt together. I can’t tell, can’t tell one from another.”
“Happens I guess.”
“Every time I find one that looks good I take another drink and he, he moves. Then, then I can’t, can’t figure out which one he was.”
“Poor baby. We’ll have to have to get you home soon.”
“Oh, but I’m having fun.” 

“Yes Caroline?” she replied from the other bathroom stall.
“I think I’m–I think I’m drunk.”
“That’s okay.”
“I can’t find my underwear.”
“It’s there somewhere.”
“Oh, there they are–you were right.”
“Ah uh.”
“But you were supposed to be drunk with me.”
“I am, I mean I was–I threw up. Probably still am. Done?”
“Yeah. I think I’ve peed an ocean. But you’re not drunk.”
“I am so.”
“No you’re not.”
“Yes–see when you’re drunk your inner personality comes out.”
“Yeah–I get really really, intensely rationally minded. Now come on–you stay right here. I’m going to find Charlie and we’ll all head back to the dorm.” 

“Martin” Oh Shit. “–how are you?”
“Who are you here with?”
“Elise, but she–she went to find Charlie.”
“Oh. How long have you been here.”
“Since around ten. Do you want to dance?”
“No, I’ll just stay with you until Elise gets back, how’s that?”
“Sure. That’s okay too.”
“I tried calling to see if you wanted to go to a movie but you weren’t in.”
“Sorry, Elise and I went out to eat with Charlie and his friend Gary.”
“Oh–how was that?”
“Is Gary here?”
“No, he’s gay.”
“Yeah. Cute too. Always the case.”
“Oh–just the guys I think are cute are either too gay too old too far out–far out of my league or too taken.”
“It can’t be that bad. You’ve only been here a few months.”
“I know…I think I’ve just had too much to drink.”
“I have this really strange–strange desire to throw myself at some guy and go with him…or maybe I could take him home with me.”
“Don’t worry I won’t let you.”
“Oh, you’re no fun. What if–what if I threw myself at you?”
“I’d respectfully decline.”
“oh. See what I mean–too taken.”
“Come on–Now don’t go walking off. I’m going to get you home. Come on.”
“What about Elise?”
“I see her. I’ll just go tell her. Stay here.” 

“Keys?” Martin asked.
“They’re right here.”
“Let me have them.”
“Do you need help to your bedroom?”
“I don’t know.”
“Come on–let’s get you there.”
“Did I ever tell you how sweet you are?”
“About twenty times since we left the bar.”
“Oh, sorry–did I tell you how cute you are.”
“Yes, about thirty times–come on get your shoes off.”
“Oh, well I only can say those things knowing that you are a hooked fish.”
“You know–taken.”
“You mean…?”
“Yeah dating someone.”
“Caroline, I don’t know where you heard that, but it’s not true. I mean I was until this year….”

“No, it’s all right,” Caroline said
Martin looked thoughtfully at Caroline and slowly moved in to kiss her. His lips brushed her as he took a breath of anticipation.
“I’m sorry–I think I’m going to throw up.” Caroline said and she bolted for the toilet. 


This is Biology 200. It is an advanced introductory course to the life-sciences designed for those interested in pursuing majors in the various disciplines such as Genetics, Marine or Micro Biology or even Entomology and the Veterinary Sciences. I will be your lecturer. And the individual seated here in the front row will be the TA’s for this classes. Each of you has been already assigned into one of the various recitation periods, so if you have any questions pertaining to the nature of the class please ask them during that time. So, now without wasting anymore time I will go over this weeks assigned chapters–The anatomy and functions of a cell.” 

I’m Doctor Howard and this will be English 202.
This class isn’t just for English majors, but it fulfills the third year writing course requirement. It is geared primarily for those who will go on to the three hundred and four hundred level English courses, but I hope that won’t lead to any sort of intimidation amongst any non-majors. I believe Literature is often misrepresented as something untouchable to those outside of its study, so the first work we will be reading is a collection of poems by the American writer, Gary Snyder.

Welcome to Theater 05. This class is designed to fulfill the General Humanities Curriculum Requirement by giving students a broad understanding of the history, terminology, conventions, and styles of theater. Theater as we know has its origins over three thousand years ago and continues up to today in the traditional form of live performances of written text as well as various off-shoots of performance art, the cinema, etc. We will be only concentrating on the more traditional aspects of theater though, due to the shortness of time. 

From Mon Jan 13 15:24:54 1992
Date: Mon Jan 13 15:24:54 1992
Subject: Re: rest of poem? 

I don’t have much time, but I took your advice and tried rewriting that poem I sent you. It was fun working at Sears again, but thank goodness this time it was only for three weeks! We have to find somewhere else to spend our free time and get paid.

A fragile butterfly rests in my hand.
Its colors should enchant me.
Its movements should bewitch me.
Yet I let it fly to the winds.
and each passing second
its life slips by,
As we live
for the moment.

“Happy Valentines Day.”
“Oh, Martin they’re beautiful.”
“Like you.”
“uh…thank you.”
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, but where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Do I get a hint?”
“You’ll see.” 

“So what was wrong with that?
“Oh I don’t know Elise, I mean he tried to make it so perfect. I just thought, well I thought it would be different.”
“You didn’t then.”
“Didn’t what?”
“Have one!”
“I don’t know.”
“That you didn’t.”
“How do you know?”
“Trust me. You’d know.” 

“At least come with me Caroline.” Elise pleaded.
“All right–but I’m not going to audition.”
“Just be my support crutch. Please?”
“Did you tell Charlie you’re auditioning?”
“No, I don’t want to get his hopes up. He’d start going on and on about my name in lights. Either I’ll surprise him or I’ll crash and burn.”
“Are you ready to walk over?”
“I think so, how’s my hair?”
“Pull it back–let them see your face.” 

“Is Caroline there?”
“This is me.”
“Hi Caroline, this is Steven.”
“Steven–how are you?”
“Good. How was your Christmas?”
“Good. I got to see my father and his parents, which was nice. And my brother was home from grad school. How was your break?”
“It was okay. Did the annual Chinese and three movie fest Christmas day with some friends from high school.”
“Sounds fun. Sorry I haven’t talked with you in so long. Been so busy. With midterms coming up on top of time-trials….”
“When is your first meet?”
“Actually we run the first invitational here–three weeks from this Saturday.”
“Are you running?”
“Yes, most likely. Hopefully I’ll be seated in the mile–most likely I’ll just be in two of the B relay teams.”
“Can anyone come and watch?”
“Yeah sure–it’ll be in the stadium.”
“Okay. Oh, listen–I wanted to know if you and Elise would want to go out with us for Indian?”
“I’d love to, but I’ll have to check with Elise. I think she is studying for a midterm. Bout what time?”
“Around seven?”
“Okay, sounds good.” 

From Fri Feb 28 18:39:26 1992
Date: Fri Feb 28 18:39:26 1992
Subject: Re: rushing around like a chicken 

I can hardly believe here are just three weeks left to this quarter. First time-trials are right after finals, and with exams looming and races I’m finding it difficult to concentrate. Martin is wonderful– always making sure I eat and sleep. I have this annoying tendency to want to work right through dinner, but he always comes up to get me if Elise hasn’t already. This term’s classes have been pretty easy. Probably because I don’t have to worry about Math anymore. Only class that requires a lot of thought is English. Besides that–practices have been really hard. We’ve been either out on long runs or doing track work every day. Add to that an hour in the weight room every other day and I’ve been really tired out. I’m not always getting my eight hours of sleep, but that’s Martin’s fault.

“How was it?” Elise asked
“Sorry I couldn’t come.”
“That’s all right. Roger and Michael ended up not being able to come and Keith brought Kate along. But the old study group may get together sometime soon to see a movie and you’d be welcome to come.”
“But they’re all math nerds.”
“I’m certainly not.”
“Okay math geniuses.”
“That I certainly am not.”
“You’re a cute charity case dear.”
“Hey! I wasn’t that bad.”
“No, but those guys were a bit more than numerically interested in you.”
“Be serious.”
“I am serious. Case in point–Michael.”
“Let’s not talk about that one.”
“Why not?”
“Well we don’t talk.”
“We don’t talk.”
“That’s a shame. He’s a nice boy. Well, what about Steven?”
“Steven? No…I don’t even think he know what girls are for.”
“Oh really?”
“Yes really. He’s never dated, never kissed a girl, never looked at a girl that way.”
“And you know this because?”
“He told me.”
“Right. Okay–have you heard from Roger lately?”
“He’s doing okay. His wrist is finally healed from that hit he took at the game we were at, but he’s not going to get much time on the ice with only two games left this season.”
“I haven’t heard from Michael much. His last e-mail to me about two weeks ago said that he was immersed in the politics of The Beacon. He said he was thinking of trying for Assistant Editor for next year.”
“Exciting.–to each their own I guess. Hell, I’m going to be on stage next term. You’re going to be running. Martin will be watching you and playing council president. And Charlie will be overseas.”
“He’s going?”
“Not until August.”
“Are you going to go then as well.”
“I still need to find a major. I’ve been told that ‘undecided’ doesn’t look very good on the applications.”

From Thu Mar 12 08:42:12 1992
Date: Thu Mar 12 08:42:12 1992
Subject: Re: finals can drowned one 

Sorry I won’t get to see you over break. The schedule for training means I won’t be going anywhere. Our first invitational is this weekend, but it’s not like back home. We’re all so segregated according to events and ability. I’m one of only two freshmen running varsity–the only distance runner. Everyone is pretty nice, but they’re all doing their own thing. We run and talk together at practice, but after that–well it’s not like back home. I must admit that I’m kind of envious of your semester systems are so much shorter than these quarters. You’ll be home in just over another month and I still have to wallow through almost three more. Ick! I need to get back to this last English paper–just one more writing class to go and I’ll be done with all but one of my humanities requirements. Yeah! That’s it for now from here.


Welcome to Biology 211. This class is a continuation of Biology 200. Unlike the 201 which is the direct continuation of 200, we will be focusing on the genetic components of human biology. For studying purposes there is a packet of relevant terms and their definitions available at the bookstores….. 

Professor Benchley is in Bath, England. English 303 will meet Wednesday at the scheduled time in 235 Carl Hall. 

Este es español dos cintos uno–conversacíon. Nosotros hablarémos solo en español durante toda la clase. Hora yo veré quien es aquí. 


Sometimes all the shouting within one’s mind stops and a frightening silence takes hold. A moment in space becomes a point in time from which one can see not just what is behind or before, but what is around you. Action versus meditation. Which is more useful to us. Should we act, and if we do are we nothing more than great beasts–worms of desire–each of us a Smaug hungry for gold and flesh. Or should we think and ponder, create and rationalize our world. Do we joy in exchanges of wit or in the thrill of a show of strength? Do we riddle and parley or destroy and conquer. Is this our nature? Are we our own dragons? 

Smaug was destroyed. Drowned beneath the lake’s waters after an arrow pierced his heart. An arrow directed by the messenger who advised the archer of the un-encrusted blemish, yet it had been the intruder who had discovered this weakness. The intruder directed the arrow that flew straight and true to destroy the dragons horrible wickedness. So what Smaug had smelt when he awoke in his cavern– that strange gentle smell–was death. 

“Tired?” Steven asked.
“Good race.”
“Thanks. You haven’t seen Martin have you?”
“He was here for your race and then he went over to talk to someone. Are you done?”
“Yeah, but I have to stick around until the mile relay. But this is only a dual meet–won’t be that long.”
“You came in fifth?”
“Yeah–third Bradely varsity runner.”
“There’s Martin. I’ll be back in a minute.

From Fri Mar 10 19:53:21 1992
Date: Fri Mar 10 19:53:21 1992
Subject: Re: rejected 

I know that I have been terrible about writing, but I really have been busy, and I’m so far behind I don’t think I’ll ever catch up. My times are coming down though, and Coach Linden has already spoken to the cross country coach about me running next fall. I’ve been thinking about minoring in English. The class I’m in now I my last writing class, but it’s really fun. It’s a seminar class on children’s literature. We’ve read The Hobbit and Alice in Wonderland and we’re going to read Peter Pan and then a few other stories. I’ll tell you all about it when you come down for this Wednesday’s meet. Now though I’m coming to go to bed before I crash on the keyboards. Oh–Elise says hi. She’s nagging at me to get to bed before I fall asleep right here. So bye for now.

“Martin, I think Elise and Charlie are going to break up,” Caroline said.
“What makes you think that?”
“It just seems–well, Elise isn’t going over with him this summer for one thing, and well….”
“Things might still work out.”
“I hope so.”
“At least we don’t have those worries. Come here.”
“Just come here. I have something.”
“I picked this out for you last week, but it wasn’t ready until this morning. I had them size it for you.”
“Martin you shouldn’t have.”
“Yes I should–Caroline, I love you–I wanted to give you something that could show you just a little how much….Caroline?”
“It’s beautiful but–” Oh my god.
“No buts.”
“It’s just.” What do I do?
“I love you.”
“I just…” Do I?
“I love you Caroline.”
“I…” I don’t know.
“I love you.”
“I…I love you too.” 

“Steven!” Caroline called.”
“Hi–where’s Martin?”
“He had a council meeting–but you came.”
“Yeah, Roger and Keith said they were going to come, but Keith got called for an interview. “
“I know–co-op for the summer.”
“Yeah, and Roger I can’t seem to find. Oh there he is-“
“Did I miss your race?” Roger asked as walked towards them.
“No–I’m so glad you came.”
“How is Martin?”
“He’s fine. How’s Michael?”
“Good. Did you hear about Keith and Kate?”
“Yeah, seems she’s interested in one of her TA’s who is equally as interested in here.”
“You’re kidding. How old is he?”
“Close to ancient I imagine. How are you Steven?”
“How about you Roger?” Caroline asked.
“Yes and women?”
“Oh, well that’s a long story named Jessica. Hey is that from Martin?”
“Yes, he gave it to me last month.”
“So things are still good then?”
“Yeah–Listen, I need to warm up. My race is coming up, so I’ll see you guys afterwards.”
“Sure. Good luck sweetie.”
“Good luck, you’ll do fine, you always do.”
“Thanks, both of you.”
“How about you Steven? Have you managed to–“

“Will you read this Steven and let me know what you think?”
“Sure. What is it?”
“My conclusion for an English paper. With its stories of Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, and the other inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre Wood, The House at Pooh Corner combines the imaginary world of a child’s fancy with undercurrents of adult wit….The House at Pooh Corner does not try to discuss any timely issues, but simply shows how real people often behave and view the world. Eeyore is eternally pessimistic, yet Pooh never notices. Rabbit and Owl, who think they are gifted with wonderful powers of thought, are really no smarter than our Bear of Little Brain. Kanga, in her motherly way is probably the only member who comes closest to Pooh in terms of simple wisdom. Wisdom that comes from keeping life simple. This wisdom is what makes Pooh unique.”
“It’s okay.”
“I’m not really one to judge. I mean what do I know about English–I’m a physics major.”
“It’s a conclusion.” 

Part II 

© 1997-2001 stega

Modernism a Sense of Play

The following essay was written for English seminar on Modernism. Within it there are refrences to various works that were required for the class. These were: Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, Dos Pasos’s The Big Money, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse ,Stein’s Three Lives, Hemingway’s In Our Time and numerous works centered around the Harlem Renaisance. While the piece’s orignal title is still “Modernism: A sense of play” it might be more aptly called “Searching for a definable Modernism at the Modern University” This is not just an essay, however, for it is my attempt to formulate my own ideas in my own context.

In Euclidean Geometry tangents intercept a circle at only one point.

“Ya es hora 

De empezar a morir. La noche es buena

Para decir adios. La luz estorba

Y la palabra humana. El universo 

Habla mejor que el hombre.” ^1

Fragments are linear or circular but always of patterned nature.

She looked in the dictionary first. All that it said was the support of modern thoughts, styles; tendency towards the modern. Lovely. She turned to the haphazard notes before her and tried to structure her own definition. Perhaps: an eclectic group of writings produced roughly from 1900 to before the second world war. A bit better.

“At one time I was inclined to take the extreme position that the only critics worth reading were the critics who practiced, and practiced well, the art of which they wrote.” ^2

The origins of Modernism. 

Modernity. Society. Nature. War. Reason. God. Order. Self-Creation.

(Then entered the Post-Modern.)

Why leave realism and its objects?

Perhaps a move away from capitalism.

Perhaps because of boredom.

Perhaps to confuse the critics.

Perhaps to become the critics.

Perhaps its simple evolution.

Perhaps a way to return to our origins. 

Perhaps a way to learn.

Perhaps a way to contradict.

“But I had to stretch this frame to make some important inclusions; and I have since been in search of a formula which should cover everything I wished to include, even if it included more than I wanted.” ^2

This really wasn’t working at all. She needed a thesis, an argument, some cohesive thought, but no, she was expected to write what she thought it meant. She wasn’t Woolf damn it. She didn’t have the command of thought or language. She just couldn’t break from tradition to re-define her perceptions. She was trained to search out criticisms on a work, read a few and then write a well planned essay. To hell with “disjointed unities” or even reading the bloody work. Besides, who really was ever going to read this beyond her professor.

“And the most important qualification I have been able to find, which counts for the peculiar importance of the criticism of practitioners, is that a critic must have a very highly developed sense of fact.” ^2

I broke open the fortune cookie and the message said, “You do not have this yet, but in twenty years you may have Hamlet memorized.”

With Modernism Hamlet is replaced by ourselves. The disciplinary society kills the sovereign and diffuses his power amongst itself. Epic tales of great men are replaced by episodes in normative lives. 

She was raving a bit she realized, so she asked for help. 

Modernism surrenders to its own point of view. It creates art or attempts to by its devices and so seeks realism against individualism and technique. Lukacs felt that characters cannot be separated from the contexts in which they were created. Jean Luc Picard, can appear on Saturday Night Live, but then so can John F. Kennedy Jr. But neither will exist for us across the table at dinner, only as a voice at the other end of the line. 

“A thumbnail sketch,

A jeweler’s stone,

A mean idea to call my own

Old man don’t lay so still you’re not yet young

There’s time teach

Point to point, point observation

Children carry reservations

Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.” ^3

Her pride wanted to get in the way, so she looked back through her notes.

Point: I like the more fragmentary styles of Woolf, Dos Passos, Faulkner, Hemingway and even Stein. 

Woolf uses waves that drew me from one voice to the next with the transitions between like the point where one almost sees the end of one wave as another rolls into it. Dos Passos uses unconnected fragments that made me try to draw connections. Hemingway seems to leave so much unsaid–with vague areas that left uncertainties. Faulkner’s fragments were more temporal as his uncertainties gradually seemed to lessen. Which explains why I enjoyed Benji and Quentin’s narratives more than the others. Stein wasn’t as interesting, perhaps because she was emasculated. I found her writing dry detached with the words all jumbled in on one another. Perhaps I like Modernism as it forces my own ideas shift and change .

Ideas change when a difference is created or discovered. In French to defer is to delay the meaning and to be defined in terms of what is not there. Hence we can have no meanings within a dictionary and recursive fault errors on older model Macintoshes.

“A mean idea to call my own

A hundred million birds fly away” ^3

Point: What then is the difference between observation and awareness? Use Lily Briscoe from To the Lighthouse as an example. 

Observation: what we are aware of or see.

Awareness: what we perceive at the moment or observe.

The complexity of things is the distilling of the layers upon reflection.

“Surely she could imitate from recollection the glow, the rhapsody, the self-surrender, she had seen on so many women’s faces (on Mrs. Ramsay’s, for instance) when on some occasion like this they blazed up–she could remember the look on Mrs. Ramsay’s face–into a rapture of sympathy, of delight in the reward they had, which, though the reason of it escaped her, evidently conferred on them the most supreme bliss of which human nature was capable.” 

Lily’s awareness of her present situation is that she is repeating a common thread of thought. Her observations from before come to mind. 

Observation: what is seen at the moment.

Awareness: a collection of observations.

We have multiple lives, but fail to see our own fluidity. 

” ‘What does it mean? How do you explain it all?’ she wanted to say, turning to Mr. Carmichael again. For the whole world seemed to have dissolved in this early morning hour into a pool of thought, a deep basin of reality, and one could almost fancy that had Mr. Carmichael spoken, for instance, a little tear would have rent the surface pool. And then? Something would emerge. A hand would be shoved up, a blade would be flashed. It was nonsense of course.” 

Lily observes that reality seems to have dissolved. The temporal space around her seems distorted because of her own mind and its thoughts. She is aware that her mind is responsible for both this sensation and the conscious recognition of it.

Observation: what one is consciously aware of.

Awareness: what one unconsciously observes.

“But the dead, thought Lily, encountering some obstacle in her design which made her pause and ponder, stepping back a foot or so, oh, the dead! she murmured, one pitied them, one brushed them aside, one had even a little contempt for them. They are at our mercy. Mrs. Ramsay has faded and gone, she thought. We can over-ride her wishes, improve away her limited, old-fashioned ideas. She recedes further and further from us.”

Lily is conscious of the fact that those that are dead fade in our memories, yet she fails to consciously realize the contradiction her thoughts create. Mrs. Ramsay is more powerful now than when alive as her presence is now permanent an unchanging. Crystallized through death and her physical absence. Unconsciously Lily is even more aware of her presence.

Circles and Circles again.


To subvert a role.

To objectify.

To create the messiah from a test tube.

To disenfranchise men.

To dispel the Angel.

To identify.

To create new discourses.

She found a contradiction: Modernism both radically subverts standard discourses and aligns itself with not so politically approved discourses. Her brain hurt from that–there was no place for such thoughts in academia was there? 

“Singer sing me given

Singer sing me a song

Old man don’t lay so still you’re not young 

There’s time to teach 

Point to point, point observation

Children carry reservations

We’re standing on the shoulders of giants everybody’s looking on.” ^3

Where was rhythm. Where was rhyme. Woolf had this. What about Eliot. No she couldn’t make sense out of his fragments. The bits and pieces just didn’t line up nicely At least in Pulp Fiction you got connections. Eliot was showing off–supposedly dislocating meanings, but she decided it was just easier to leave him to the academics as well. They could handle such writers. That was their job.

Point: Agenda versus narrative. Discuss using The Sound and the Fury.

Social issues of Faulkner are part of the past and currant American culture. Here is a writer who concentrates on a distinct area or region. Decay and corruption with distorted temporal realities and varying narratives. Combined it gives an impression of the problematic region and social tensions. Four differing narratives attempt to tell the story of how a little girl with torn breeches ended up in a tree. Eliot felt that a modern work of Art needs to be difficult. The distortion of temporal space by both Benji and Quentin is the most obvious cause of any difficulty, but the shaded ramblings of Jason and deliberate, dependable Dilsey also distort my perceptions for I become all too conscious of time. Faulkner uses continuous narrations by varying characters. Each is incomplete in telling the story’s narrative, but why? Each is unreliable, yes, even Dilsey. Each has a different temporal reality. The reader must try to correlate them all.

Although she still couldn’t believe the explanation that there was an Oscar in the briefcase. That was like saying Daniel Steele was up for a Pulitzer. Say, didn’t Faulkner and Hemingway receive Pulitzers. That could be a paper topic. Perhaps if she looked at the structures of a work…sought out what they meant by fragments and stream of consciousness…separated the moo-cows and sorted out some semiotics…perhaps by out-lining all of her notes similarities would appear.

“Whispers of Immortality”

Those that tried to find a language that correlated symbol with meaning.

Those that were searching for meaning.

Those who meant to be remembered.

Those who remembered a war.

Those that were reacting to pressures of war.

Those who felt social pressurings.

Those who wished to leave their society.

Those that wanted… 

Those who sought …

Mass markets to create commodities for consumption. Commodifying desire. Commodities are things that are readily consumed. A work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Objects of art that resist consumption. Objects of art that are made to be consumed.

Point: Fragmentation versus stream of consciousness writing. Using The Big Money and Three Lives as examples.

Fragmentation: Newsreels, camera eyes, and narration of important nobodies.

Stream of consciousness: Continual ever flowing thoughts with repetitions that echo or contradict one another.

“Jack o’Diamonds Jack o’Diamonds 

You rob my pocket of silver and gold



-Please hang up and try your call again. 

“The rest of her life moved desperately on

in the clatter of scandalized tongues, among the kidding faces of reporters, the threatening of bailiffs, the expostulations of hotel-managers bringing overdue bills.”

-We’re sorry, you must first dial a “1” before dialing this number.

“He drank several cups of hot milk and then he went to bed. She went into the other bedroom and closed the door and lay down on the bed with a pile of books and pamphlets. She had some legal details to look up.”

-Thank you for using AT&T.

The great crash of 1929 overshadows our reading of these lives. The fragments want connecting. What of a beaten man, an avante garde dancer and two young socialists? How do they fit together? How do they relate to us? Perhaps Dos Passos is leaving this up to the reader. Perhaps it is all one soap opera with one story line taking spot light over others until someone dies or just gets boring.

Stein, however, flows on and on it seems unending. The good Anna.

“You see that Anna led an arduous and troubled life….

Anna had her troubles too….

Anna was very hard to live with in those next three days….

Anna endured….

Anna did not like this plan.

Anna was never daring in her ways….” 

Creating a composition with just the bare forms. By repeating the same structures eventually they can lose their meanings. They are just empty statements–empty observations. Does this then comment on the emptiness of life?

Quote Freud. Quote Foucault. Quote Marx. Quote Weber. Quote Stalin. Quote Hitler. Quote Oppenheimer. Quote Crichton. Quote Lucas. Quote Yoda. Quote Thoreau. Quote Snyder. Quote Burroughs. Quote Freud.

Realism was good. It gave a real grasp of what the world was like. Not impressions and abstracts of reality. Wait! Someone had said just those thoughts. There were there in her notes. Lukacs, yes, that was it. Now there was a man who would have like Hemingway–maybe they knew each other. With a name like Luckacs, probably not. She liked Hemingway, so much in fact that she never once used Cliffs Notes when she was required to read one of his books. Perhaps there was a Cliffs Notes for this. 


To subvert? 

To redefine? 

To explore? 

To create? 

To begin.

Point: I must admit that I could amend my ideas about modernism being restricted to Europe, for with the discussion of the American writers it would appear the movement was global. Or was it? Iso-nationalism was definitely present. To discuss or react most writers left or at least took a leave of absence. (Hemingway, Stein, Eliot, etc.) Those writers of the Harlem Renaissance were reacting as well, but doing so at home, yet is the Harlem Renaissance part of modernism? In a way yes, for it occurred in the same era and from many of the same forces, yet it is separate from modernism in its intent, as racial issues can be seen to precede the individual. America was so involved with itself, yet some did manage to express their ideas. Perhaps a better perspective is to look at the influence American writers overseas exerted.

No longer can I sit before a computer and count my words until I am done, 

but there is so much more to consider.


Context and the meaning of words


What is history? (Fragments really.)

The longer I sit before a computer the more my head spins.

Who was writing around the same time as Hemingway? Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Milne–wait that was it she could define Modernism in terms of Winnie the Pooh. “Pooh takes on Modernism and Stein,” or better still, “The Modernism of Pooh.” If Kanga was Woolfe and Christopher Robin’s absent parents the literature of past generations it would eventually come together. She would re-define Modernism. Market it for the masses. Revolutionize the study of it. With Pooh and perhaps a bit of Freud, chaos would be quelled and she would atleast have her three-thousand words. 

Why must we continually breakdown and classify ideas: there is fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, prose, critiques, essays, case histories, letters, crime reports, etc. We always desire to put each in its place. 






Are we climbing back into the trees? Or are we approaching the ultimate goal of civilization, what-ever that may be?

“I am the king of all I see

My kingdom for a voice

Old man don’t lay so still you’re not yet young

Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.” 3

In non-Euclidean Geometry tangents may intercept a circle at two points. 

Now is the time 

to begin to die. The night is good

for saying farewell. The light hinders 

as do the words of man. The universe

speaks better than the man.

Connections must be drawn, either in life or in thought.


Concerning the drawing of connections

If you were to quantify

or commidify

or conceptualize

such a work as this,

It would aid you

in your efforts, 

yet hinder you

in your results.

Then, while one may listen

to the teachers

and the critics

they should return 

to the poets

and the storytellers.

For only our own

impressions and thoughts

may be used 

to define a possibilty.

(The only reality one knows is that which we create/experience.)

1 Jose Marti– “Dos Patias”

2 T.S. Eliot–“The Function of Criticism”

3 R.E.M. –“King of the Birds” 

On reading

Yet another thing I wrote long ago

“Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much”
REM–“Losing My Religion”

It was a picture of Bert and Ernie. I learned to use scissors by cutting out a picture of Bert and Ernie. My sister criticized my dexterity, but my mother silenced her and encouraged me to continue. 

That afternoon I took a nap in my crib. I was three years old, and the bars of the crib were lowered, so I knew how to get in and out whenever I wished. Somehow I ended up with the scissors in there with me. My mother was not happy with the effect they had on my hair. 

First, imagine that you are an undergraduate studying literature. Next, imagine that you’re sitting before a computer trying to write a critical essay. The glow of the screen is reflected in your eyes as you stare blankly at your notes and then blankly at the Samuel Johnson Reader before you and then at the tree outside and the clothes that need washing and the TV that needs dusting. You get up and make some coffee hoping that that will settle your mind and you will be able to write more effectively. You’ve done this how many times–it should be easy. You tell yourself this as you go into the kitchen and make yourself a cup of coffee. If you could just find or formulate a thesis you’d be on your way. It would be finished in under two hours. But, and you catch yourself here, this isn’t any paper–this is the last paper you will ever write as an undergraduate. You sink into one of the chairs at the kitchen table as this realization spreads through your mind–your last paper. Its hard to believe. You’ve been at this so long…. You chide yourself that none of this self-realization is going o help you write a critical essay, so coffee in hand, you sit back down before your computer and begin to type. Samuel Johnson was a man of words and letters which the literary world has not seen the likes of since. A man of ponderance and often satire, he has become one of the standard bearers of the Cannon and her army of works. Yet Johnson was not always thought of in such an ideal light, proof of this–you stop. You look up and realize you forgot to put sugar in your coffee and you like sugar in your coffee. But instead of getting up and going back into the kitchen you first read over what you have just written, and you realize how awful it is. It isn’t you or your voice or what you really think. Its what and how you have been told to write. That doesn’t matter, you were almost to a thesis and you’re going to be critical. You take a sip of coffee and continue writing. 

“Pooh had wandered into the Hundred Acre Wood, and was standing in front of what had once been Owl’s House. It didn’t look at all like a house now; it looked like a tree which had been blown down; and as soon as a house looks like that, it is time you tried to find another one.” A.A. Milne–The House at Pooh Corner

"A B C D E G I J..."
"No, that's not right. Start over."
"A B D E F G I J K..."

I sat with the little writing pad in front of me. It's block letters of "Aa Bb Cc..." marching across its cover. I was sitting on the couch in the living room of our new house. My older sister and mother were hanging over my head pointing to the letters in front of me. If I stumbled my sister would catch me like a cement floor. She soon tired of the game and my mother was left to monitor my progress alone.

I grew tired of the endless repetition. I grew lazy. I couldn't understand why I had to sit and learn this. Sesame Street used these same letters, but they were never in any particular order. I knew what the individual letters were--why must I memorize them in this order? What did it matter? Eventually I said the whole thing correctly and my mother let me go play. 

In Idler No. 103 Samuel Johnson is writing a sort of epilogue as his publications is ending. He writes, “the Idler and his reader have contracted no close friendship.” After over one-hundred issues, “those who never could agree together shed tears when mutual discontent has determined them to final separation.” Johnson clearly–you pause. 

Johnson was very pompous. Oh, he had just cause to be. He was after all basically the head neutron in the literary nucleus of his time. He wrote so much. In the four or so years you’ve been here you’ve writen so comparatively little. But you shouldn’t think to compare yourself to Johnson. He helped found this academia. 

Unlike his other writings though this essay is not an argument or a criticism or a satire, but a farewell. As, “it s very happily and kindly provided that in every life there are certain pauses and interruptions, which force consideration upon the careless, and seriousness upon the light; points of time where one course of action ends and another begins; and by vicissitude of fortune, or alteration of employment, by change of place, or loss of friend-ship we are forced to say something, ‘this is the last.'” 

“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best–‘and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do,, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” A.A. Milne–The House at Pooh Corner

I was sitting on the letter C. It is the third letter from the beginning of the alphabet. I was the third child in alphabetical order in my kindergarten class. C is also the first letter of my middle name. I wanted to sit on L, for L is the first letter of my first name, but some boy got that letter instead. The teacher explained that eventually we would all get to sit on the other letters, but for now, or at least until she learned our names, we would have to sit where she put us.

Do you want this, your last effort of criticism as an undergraduate to be a careless ending? Just another two hours spent in front of a computer spell-checking words, making sure all your sentences are punctuated and your paragraphs have good transitions. Do you look back over these four years with a sense of accomplishment or with a sense of loss? 

You came to college to slay dragons or meet your prince, to better yourself, to learn and begin your life, to become a product of yourself and a consumer of others. You’ve consumed Johnson just like Shakespeare, Dickens, Pound, Hemingway and Byron. During these four years you’ve learned how to digest literature by learning the mechanics and language of critical essays. You have been good and you have been diligent. You have been brilliant and you have been an idiot, yet did you ever know not just What you were saying but Why you were saying it?

“I was having this discussion 
In a taxi heading downtown
Rearranging my position 
On this friend of mine who had 
A little bit of a breakdown
I said breakdowns come
And breakdowns go
So what are you going to do about it
That’s what I’d like know.” 
Paul Simon–“Gumboots” 

I was standing on the letter M. Yesterday I had sat on the letter L. I was standing because we were saying the pledge of allegiance. I remember because during the line that goes "And to the Republic for which it stands," I threw up all over the letter L.

I remember that I was sitting on the letter W. The room looked different from there. The light coming in from the window made everything seem fuzzy for a morning in May. We were all sitting around the circle and each of us was given an old nature magazine to cut pictures from. The pictures could be anything we liked. I found one picture of a deer and one of a little cat. I cut the out with my scissors.

When we were all done cutting out pictures the teacher went around the room and from each of our piles she chose one picture and told the student what it was. To my neighbors she said, "This is a dog," and "This is a bird." To me she said, "This is a cat."

Then she asked us to sit down in our seats at the tables. On the tables there were blocks. The kind that have letters on two or three sides and numbers or pictures on the rest. She asked us what sound our pictures started with. A chorus of B's C's and D's issued forth. We were then asked what letter made that sound, and very slowly I learned how to spell the word cat.

All of this lovely introspection isn’t helping with your essay on Johnson. It doesn’t help you really either–something is missing.

What is it? What is missing? You have a thesis. Samuel Johnson is venerated today, yet his reception by his contemporaries was not always as favorable. Thus we should re-evaluate the importance of–you stop again.

You re-read the paragraphs before you. You have arguments, annotations, appositives and apathy. You have four going on the five supporting arguments with at least one quote in each, several secondary sources, but what does it say? Its getting late and you need to finish this.

While readers of Johnson’s time may have outlived the Idler. He comments that “the day in which every work of the hand and imagination of the heart shall be brought to judgment, and an everlasting futurity shall be determined.” Johnson’s ideas have fallen to us. They are our inheritance. They like Eliot said, are our past. Of course we now know so much more then he did as Johnson is a part of what we know. Johnson ideas are still important for–

You stop for a moment and wonder about these ideas belonging to Johnson. What makes them so special, so useful for critiquing or discussing? They are well, and usually, clearly written. Yet are these ideas really Johnson’s and his alone? Is it possible to copyright your idea, argument or theory? Perhaps too many people strive too hard to put their names upon ideas. They seek to create ideas as lasting products of themselves. They live and promote their ideas. They die and their ideas will, if supported live on–a very Western idea, this market economy of ideas. Really though you can only register a patent on an idea. The system of academia is concerned with these ideas. That is not a bad thing. We need ideas. We need comunication. But is the system faltering or is it something inside of you–or is it both?

“Here the silent images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.” T.S. Eliot–“The Hollow Men”

My family moved to a new town the summer after my year of kindergarten and its scissors and circles, so the first day of first-grade I sat at a table and read from one of the new yellow books the teacher had given my group. Other children read from blue books. Later we learned that they were only Level One readers while we were Level Two.

It was a typical first year reader. The opening sentence was "See Bill run." There was a picture of a blond-haired boy running across the grassy lawn of a house in a middle class housing development. That was as far as we read that day.

There was a hornet's nest in the tree above the big slide, but I didn't break out in hives because I was allergic to bugs. It was just nerves. Everything was too new to me, so I missed the next day's pictures of Spot running with Bill.

You realize you are a part of this system, but you have the ecological value of a blade of grass. Like all the other blades of grass you stay firmly grounded in the soil. Harming nothing, food for others–being grass isn’t much work. You’d much rather be a rabbit or eagle or even a dandelion. If you were a dandelion you would feed from the same soil as the grass yet the ideas you brought to seed might fly to the winds. Johnson wasn’t a blade of grass, although he probably started out that way. He was a dandelion and a rabbit. Right now though you remember that you are just grass and subject to the rabbit’s teeth and the lawnmower’s blade.

“Sometimes all the shouting stops 
and the restlessness loses hold
and I cry out to everything
that nothing is alone”
Toad the Wet Sprocket–“Nothing is alone” 

There was a difficulty in living in that town that I have never been able to explain. It was unnamable and inescapable, yet there was a joy. I know that running came easily to me. Only two boys could out-run me. I remember the math flash cards. They were simple memorization. Reading was the simple recognition of words. These words described pictures, yet it was a simple mechanical process of memorization. They could have no true meaning other than in connection with their pictures.

Your quibbling isn’t helping you finish your paper. You need a conclusion. Johnson’s ideas should not lay forgotten on the side, for they are as important now as every. We need them and those of others to understand not just the works of later writers such as Brönte or Woolf, but to understand where we are now in terms of understanding literature. A manicured lawn is made up of thousands of blades of grass, yet it is only pleasant to look at if the rabbit’s teeth or lawnmower’s blades are sharp and there are no visible weeds.

“Half moon hiding in the clouds, my darling
And the sky is flecked with signs of hope
Raise your weary wings against the rain, my baby
Wash your tangled curls with gambler’s soap” 
Paul Simon–“Proof”

I grew up in a very beautiful place. My parents owned almost eight acres of land. For people like my parents who grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, that is very different from the row upon row of houses with their rectangular lawns. Our house was a top a very large hill, which meant it was a small distance from the town, but the deer knew that they were safe from the hunters there. So I learned to escape into something, someplace else.

It isn’t all due to the fact that you are just a blade of grass. There is something going on in this high-tech, image oriented culture that leaves you numb. The wash of news media, films, sit-coms, images, scandals, politicians, starlets it serves as a cultural backdrop that has the ability to destroy us. You have not seen the best minds of your generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked. As, what Spinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate upon their brains and imagination? There has not been a revolution, but the passing of a silent generation. You have seen the best minds of your generation guzzle the mercuried honey of MTV, staring into the glass hoping to find themselves amoungst those images. What Gorgon of mass media and fearful desire tore open their dreams to freeze them within fifteen seconds of stardom. You have not seen those “who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,” or those “who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts.” This silent generation has led to a flood of stagnation. (Ginsberg, “Howl”)

“But for awhile, before the war had reached its peak, Lynn and his musicians, a few other fools, and I still marched, screaming thru the maddened crowd. Onto the side-walk, into the lobby, half-way up the stairs, then we all broke our different ways, to save whatever it was each of us though we loved.”
Amiri Baraka–“Screamers” 

When I lived there I was always aware of images. The sunlight through the trees of our woods and the red glow of the oil-well fires up the road; the gunshots of hunters, the splash of jumping fish, and the deafening locusts in the trees: the smell of fog as I walked to meet the bus and of marigolds in the flower box; the taste of crab apples and raspberries; the tickling of a tent caterpillar on my arm and the curious blue-gills nipping at my toes are images that filled my life and my memories and my dreams.

Imagine for a moment that you are an undergraduate studying English literature. Next imagine that you have just written a critical essay discussing Samuel Johnson. You are now done–your time serving academia as an undergraduate is ended, yet you feel no different from when you began this essay. There was no joy, no sense of accomplishment, no desire or need to think or write further. You wonder at this, as you weren’t like this when you started as an undergrad, were you?

While this essay has been the last, you have no conviction that it is a step towards death as Johnson thought, but there is “the conviction, however forcible at every new impression, is every moment fading from the mind; and partly by the inevitable incursion of new images, and partly by voluntary exclusion of unwelcome thoughts.” You have only taken an image here or a thought there as you passed through hoping to find something “before we consider that the time is nigh when we shall do no more.”

You came to college to better yourself, to learn, to begin your life and slay a dragon, but are now its product and its commodity. You realize this as you stare at what you have written. You then realize you don’t know why you are doing this. It has become such a consumer oriented process. You read a book, discuss, write a paper, get a grade. Eventually all these hours add up to a diploma sized pay-check and you are done. Go and get a real job. Does it have to be that way? You understand the logic of writing and communication, but you no longer know why you read.

“I’ve been looking for truth
At the cost of living
I’ve been afraid
Of what’s before mine eyes
Every answer found
Begs another question
The further you go, the less you know
The less I know”

It was raining out, but not a heavy pouring rain--just a soft soaking rain that would last all day. I think that it was a day in early spring right before the trees had shown their new leaves. It was also the day before my library books were due.

I walked out onto our covered deck where my mother sat. With me I carried a green-covered book thicker than anything I had ever read. It was a book with a picture of a mountain on the cover, but no pictures inside. My sister had read it before me, and for some reason I decided that I too would read it, but I had already renewed the book once and had yet to even open the cover.

That afternoon I did open the cover. That day I also read the first sentence. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." That day I went even farther and soon found myself at a mystical tea-party, a troll's campfire, and an eerie underground cavern. I was there when the eagles rescued him and the silver-ware was missing. Just as I was there when Alice became a queen or when a king drew forth the sword. I was there when the marlin jumped and the Nellie waited to set sail. I am there when Colonel Aureliano Buendía faces the firing squad or BigWig fights the General. I am there when Gatsby dies and Mr. Ramsay wakes alone in the night. I am there when the heavens are created and when a dragon falls from the sky. 

“A creaking sound spread through the darkness. He looked at the great door in astonishment. Gently, steadily, it was opening. The shadowy figure of a dervish appeared, a breath of night embodied.”
Naguib Mahfouz–The Harafish

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

Remote Control (or a story in fragment) 


If I went to school
I wouldn’t follow you.
I’d find a university
where I could be myself.
I’d make a difference–
be more than just a number.
For I want to be different
like everybody else.


When did the cat fall out of the window.
Before, when everything seemed to go wrong.
Did it land…
On its feet?


Pretty Lake, Pretty Lake
Quaker Land
Take Tea and Shake

The Burial of the Dead?
Which war was that?
The last one.
How many dead?
Not enough.
How many wounded?
Just one.


Men cannot empathize
with that certain soreness
between one’s thighs.


Where is it?
In the garbage.
Oh, thank you.
Where is it?
On the shelf.
What time does it start?


Everything seemed to go wrong
When the cat fell out the window
I couldn’t understand
Every word began with a K
Catastrophe in Kansas
Killings in Cairo
Eliot made an appearance
Frank found a tape
No one was breathing
Is that thing on


The news.


Every man is a woman
Every woman a man
Join and become one
Love your father Kill your mother
The future never happens
A car is sex and death is a career move


Are you ready?
Recorder set?
Then we’re off.

That light…
What light?

The red…
Is that thing on? 

MTV presents: A nothingness Production
In Partnership with Post-Modernity
and his friends Groucho and Sattorri
In Association with Humanity, Education
and the Commodities of:
The madmen lead us nowhere in the frenzied dance of this world,
for we are all just babies, infantile and corrupt
by the national order that capitalizes us while commodifying our desires,
so all we do is drink
the mercuried honey of a fragmented culture
–all we can do is stare into the glass hoping to find.

mercuried honey—-a thermometer and some bees

directed by nothing with nothing for nothing

special thanks to Princess Di for us of the word “in”
and to Timmy for his rock polishing kit.


Well, that’s that.



Back there
a tree
above the river
that flows

A town
like any other
nestled with it
–stopping it–
so that children smother

memories hidden and wept
dried by time

That old oak
should have fallen 
when the dam broke.

Losing Pooh

Something I wrote a really long time ago

Proposition: if, by some quirk of fate, I was teaching an English course, what book would I add to the reading list? Finding an answer to that was much easier than I first thought , for I would chose, without a doubt The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. With its stories of Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyour, Christopher Robin, and the other inhabitants of the Hundred-Acre Wood, the book combines the imaginary world of a child’s fancy with undercurrents of adult wit. Not only do Pooh and his friends present a very imaginative view point into the child’s world, but they continue with many of the same ideas about childhood that other works in this course develop. 

The child’s world in question is that of Christopher Robin, yet the stories are not about him, but about his troop of animal friends. These animals, who are Christopher Robin’s playmates and toys, also lead quite lives in their own little world of his imagination. Just like in Alice, the line between the real world and a dream world is blurred, but unlike Alice the animal characters of Christopher Robin do not abuse him or act unkindly towards him. Pooh and the troop love Christopher Robin dearly, and thus share a common bond which keeps their world unified. Alice’s world is disjointed with individual characters interacting with one another in a scene or two, but in the world of Pooh the animals are a family in more than just the sense of Kanga taking care of Roo, and Tigger too–Pooh and Piglet build Eeyore a house, Rabbit organizes a search for Small, and Pooh tries to rescue Eeyore from the stream. This kind of togetherness is never present among the characters of the Alice books. 

Although Christopher Robin is the focus of the world of Pooh, this does not mean he is always present. Much of the action in the stories takes place without him, yet he serves almost as a parent to his toys. Beth in Little Women behaved in the same manner to her dolls, yet Christopher Robin’s toys are not the tattered and ragged hand-me-downs that Beth plays with. Beth’s toys, especially Joanna, need constant care, but Pooh and the others are self-sufficient beings who live outside in their own homes. Instead of acting as nursemaid, Christopher Robin, much like Marmee is a source of advice and wisdom. 

Yet his wisdom is still that of a little boy. This means that much of the stories are on a little boy’s level. Each chapter or story has a small moral or simple idea about life, where each character then shows us an aspect of life. Eeyore is the doubting pessimist, Rabbit the busy-body, Piglet the faint of heart, Kanga a true mother, and Tigger a self-centered joiner to the end. But what about the most important member Pooh? Pooh is eternal innocence. 

Simply by being himself, Pooh, like Oliver Twist, is innocent, yet unlike Oliver Twist he has a definite personality. Pooh is not wimpy or presumptuously good, for, on the contrary, Pooh is capable of getting himself into mischief, yet this mischief is usually brought about simply because Pooh has attempted to do something to help someone, like when he builds a house for Eeyour or tries to get Eeyore out of the stream. Oliver, on the other hand, never really helps anyone. He wants to scream when Sikes uses him to break into the Maylie’s, but does he scream? Oliver wants to do something when the Dodger and Charley steal Mr. Brownlow’s wallet, but does he? Pooh may be a Bear of Little Brain, but he always does what needs to be done when the circumstances call for action. This is why I do not believe Oliver is truly innocent. Because he is incapable of action, or rather acts as a simple pawn, he never exists as a realistic character. Oliver’s innocence is thus, another non-existent pawn. Both were created by Dickens to highlight various problems in that society. 

The House at Pooh Corner does not try to discuss any timely issues, but simply shows how real people often behave and view the world. Eeyore is eternally pessimistic, yet Pooh never notices. Rabbit and Owl, who think they are gifted with wonderful powers of thought, are really no smarter than our Bear of Little Brain. Kanga, in her motherly way is probably the only member who comes closest to Pooh in terms of simple wisdom. Wisdom that comes from keeping life simple. This wisdom is what makes Pooh unique. Piglet and Christopher Robin are the only two who realize this fact, so while Piglet admires Pooh’s ease and kindness, Christopher Robin seeks comfort from his innocent bear. 

This idea of innocence and knowledge is heavily pondered by Blake in his Song’s of Innocence and Experience, and this idea plays heavily into the world of Pooh. It is important to note that Pooh’s wisdom does not cause him to lose his innocence, for wisdom is not knowledge. None of the troop members really has any knowledge. For instance, Rabbit over-thinks in his zealousness and Owl’s facts are scattered. This helps maintain the innocence of the Christopher Robin’s world. 

But this innocence is some how fragmented at the end of the novel, for the knowledge that Christopher Robin will be leaving is understood by everyone–everyone that is except for Pooh. Doing Nothing, as Christopher Robin calls it, is no longer allowed, and Christopher Robin is growing up and away from his imaginary world. The knowledge of this is unspoken yet every character feels it and is saddened, but Pooh remains untouched, and thus, innocent. 

Christopher Robin, in growing up and leaving the world of Pooh, contrasts sharply with Peter Pan, who vowed never to grow up, as Christopher Robin is doing so almost gracefully, for the last image the reader is given is that of Pooh and Christopher Robin at the enchanted place playing together forever. Unlike Peter who forgets his adventures almost as soon as they are over, Christopher Robin, by allowing himself to grow up, also allows himself to remember. He will always be able to play with Pooh, for he will always remember Pooh, and thus Pooh will be able to keep his promise to remember Christopher Robin. The imaginary world of Pooh will not be lost or discarded, just packed in his mind’s memories. 

This graceful acceptance of growing up at such a young age is something none of the other works show. Huckleberry Finn is set against being civilized. Peter Pan simply rebels against the whole idea of growing up, while Wendy, awakened by un-child-like hormones, decides to go home and grow up. Alice simply decides dreams are nice things, but she is content to stay a child, and the girls of Little Women have already begun the steps to adulthood. No other novel read show this moment of acceptance, for the final chapter of The House At Pooh Corner gives a simple portrayal of a child who know he must grow up. Yet, by maintaining his belief in his innocent friend, he will be able to keep a part of his childhood. 

His childhood world of imagination will not come to an end, for although he is leaving it, he can return to it in his memories. As Pooh and the members of the troop entertain us with their personalities and activities, childhood can live on. These stuffed animals, who have come alive in an imaginary world of fancy, often show the best of the child’s imagination, as opposed to the many works that show the child as an abused or underprivileged member of society. Christopher Robin’s imaginary world is more hospitable than any other discussed in the course, for his Pooh is living innocence existing simply and kindly, but for some strange reason he will always be remembered as a Silly Old Bear.

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

Edna and Ada

Something I wrote long ago. 

“There is a silence where hath been no sound 

There is a silence where no sound may be, 

In the cold grave–under the deep, deep sea.” –Thomas Hood 

Such a silent, watery grave, far from the human world is chosen by both Edna of _The Awakening_ and Ada of _The Piano_, yet while the former does indeed drown the later chooses life. In amazement Ada speaks for only the second time in the entire movie and says, “What a death! What a chance! What a surprise! My will has chosen life! Still, it has had me spooked, and many others besides.” Her will has chosen life. This idea of a will is central to both these ladies, yet while similarities between their situations and conflicts can be drawn, the reasoning behind Ada’s choice of life and Edna’s choice of death lie embedded in their individual wills and the way in which four main forces act upon them. These forces–their children, their husbands and lovers, their relationships to art and the societies in which they live–act either to highlight aspects of their wills or to alter some facet of them. 

Three children are used as such, although in the case of Edna, Raoul and Etienne are interchangeable and faceless objects. They only serve to show us Edna, as she treats them as objects, often forgetting them for weeks at a time. Although after visiting with them “it was with a wrench and a pang that Edna left her children. She carried away with her the sound of their voices and the touch of their cheeks. All along the journey homeward their presence lingered with her like the memory of a delicious song. But by the time she had regained the city the song no longer echoed in her soul. She was again alone” (Chopin 95). Edna loves her children but they are not a part of her. She even says, “I would give up the unessential; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me” (47). 

This idea of the refusal to sacrifice the one’s self for your children can also be applied to Ada. Only in the beginning Flora is an extension of her mother. Flora is sheltered and entertained. Ada tells her stories, teaches, or simply speaks with her and Flora is the joyful dancer when Ada plays the piano. Flora is independent creature. Unlike Edna’s children who are only seen briefly, Flora is a force that acts upon her mother. Flora is constantly left outside when Ada bargains and later loves George Baines, so it is Flora who chooses Alisdair Stewart. She plays nicely with her dolls or not so nicely with the Maori children and Flynn. She tries to replace for the lost attentions of her mother with her step-father, but she chooses badly as we see in the final scenes. 

In either woman’s case it is the acknowledgment that their children are not the focus of their lives as they are too selfish for that. What then is the focus of these woman’s wills? For Edna it varies, as “with a writhing motion she settled herself more securely the hammock. She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than denied and resisted” (Chopin 31). While at the next moment she says that “there are periods of despondency and suffering which take possession of me” (112). Edna attempts to focus her will by painting but this effort reaps little reward or release for her emotions. She turns to Mademoiselle Reisz. “There was nothing which so quieted the turmoil of Edna’s senses as a visit to Mademoiselle Reisz. It was then, in the presence of that personality which was offensive to her, that woman, by her divine art, seemed to reach Edna’s spirit and set it free” (78). This release that Edna finds when listening to the piano music is weak because it is second hand. If her painting were truly an extension of herself or she was creating the sound we would see these as aspects of her self instead of garments she assumes and allows to herself to occupy. Ada, on the other hand, plays the piano as an extension of herself. It is her voice as Ada speaks through her music. Ada differs from Edna, who shows us her superfluousness when she says that one day, “I’m going to pull myself together for a while and think–try to determine what character of a woman I am; for candidly, I don’t know. By all the codes which I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex. But some way I can’t convince myself that I am. I must think about it” (Chopin 82). For the mute Ada, however, as Flora iterates, “actually, to tell you the whole truth–Mother says most people speak rubbish and its not worth the listen.” 

Ada speaks through her piano, hence it is important to recognize three things. Only three times is the piano played by someone other than Ada. Twice by Flora and once my the Maori men, symbolizing its uniqueness and importance to Ada. It is also interesting to note that it’s a Broadwood which is considered the elite British piano of that period. When we hear the church piano during the holiday pageant a contrast is made between Nessie’s ordinary playing on an ordinary piano and that of a fine instrument and it artist. The second interesting fact is that to make a voyage from Scotland to New Zealand at that time would mean months aboard a ship. These months the piano would have been stored below deck with the rest of Ada’s dowry. Thus, when Stewart leaves the piano on the beach it is truly a slap in the face for Ada as now she must abandon her piano to the elements. As she looks down from the high cliff to the piano on the beach, Ada is forced into silence. We see her distress even more when she stares out the window into the rain. As her passion is not a second hand passion it is a part of her and not, as in Edna’s case, passing fancies. 

The third force is that of societies in which these women live. Ada has moved from the harsh climate of Scotland to the damp jungle of New Zealand. She has left the stifling Victorian society and become immersed in a wild, more sensual one. Although many of the settlers here try to maintain a semblance of proper, civilized life with the constant need to keep clean of mud and other impurities it is a difficult battle. Stewart has been doing as such since his arrival. Tense relations with the Maori and constant drive to acquire more land continue to alienate him from every one except his Aunt Morag and Baines, as he is virtually indifferent to Stewart. Hence the new world Ada enters is part old-world and part hedonistic. 

Edna, however has no such luck. She was born into the Southern society and married into the Creoles of New Orleans. Both of which contain strict guidelines for how one should act. Although the Creole culture has more sensual overtones than that which Edna was born into, there are still things one does not ask or do. This angel in the house is best illustrated by Madame Ratignolle, who wants to be the perfect, selfless mother and wife. When Edna attempts to truly leave this confining role she is leaving New Orleans Society, for this is a society that demands that one fulfill their social role. Edna is constantly out on her customary day to receive visitors and even goes so far as to close up the house so that she may move to a smaller more private affair. “It sometimes entered Mr. Pontellier’s mind to wonder if his wife were not growing a little unbalanced mentally. He could see plainly hat she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world” (Chopin 57). 

Which brings us to Mr. Pontellier’s as a force in Edna’s life. He does not know or understand his wife. He objectifies her–exacting obedience and grief when he desires it. “Mr. Pontellier was very fond of walking about his house examining its various appointments and details, to see that nothing was amiss. He greatly valued his possessions, chiefly because they were his, and derived genuine pleasure from contemplating a painting, a statuette, a rare lace curtain–no matter what–after he had bought it a and placed it among his household goods” (Chopin 50). As Edna “was not accustomed to an outward and spoken expression of affection, either in herself or in others” (17), this objectification is never made clear to her until Robert speaks of her as another man’s property to which she replies, “You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer on of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,’ I should laugh at you both” (118). 

This brings us to the second man in Edna’s life, Robert. Edna falls in love with this man, yet we never see them interact. The scenes between them are almost completely silent. No superfluous words are used. Hence when Robert suddenly leaves with no explanation Edna is suddenly adrift in her emotions. She turns to her painting and to Arobin and “there was dull pang of regret because it was not the kiss of love which had inflamed her, because it was not love which had held this cup of life to her lips” (84). Edna is soft and yielding instigates little with Robert just places herself in proximity, and, with Arobin, she simply accepts his advances. She paints, visits Madame at feels and allows herself to swoon. Her will is soft: it is only with her awakening that she tries to take control and express herself. Yet for Edna it is too late. Alone, she is not capable to reach the same passionate state that Mademoiselle Reisz takes her. Robert has left, obeying the social rules thus, ascertaining her status as a mere object. Lastly, Edna admits that “she had said over and over to herself: ‘To-day it is Arobin; tomorrow it will be some one else. It makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Leonce Pontellier…” (115). 

Edna’s will moves her from here to there. Her freedom is capricious, going from tree to tree such like Flora’s game, but not Ada’s. Ada falls in love with Baines and not her husband. She cannot substitute one for the other as easily as Edna, although Ada does try, for Baines never thinks of Ada as an object. On the beach when Stewart asks him what he thinks he replies, “She looks tired.” Stewart’s opinion is that she’s stunted. One looks on at her emotional state, the other is only considering her physical state. He refuses to transport the piano, as he fails to recognize it as part of Ada. On the two occasions when he does hear her play he is transfixed, but unable to comprehend what she is saying through the music. Stewart is constantly listening for an actual human voice from Ada while Baines realizes upon the visit he makes with Ada and Flora to the piano on the beach the importance of the piano and its relationship with Ada. Baines stares between Ada at the piano and Flora and is content to let the two stay until dusk. He recovers the piano to protect it from the elements, and perhaps the best symbol of this is found in the parting shot of the beach in which Ada walks up the shore followed by Flora and then by Baines. All three trails of footprints become one. 

There are other clues that lead Baines to his understanding and decision to trade with Stewart for the piano. Namely the conversation at Morag’s concerning the kitchen table, but while he understands Ada, she does not understand him. Upon being told she must give Baines lessons she argues that “Its her piano and she won’t have him touch it. He’s an oaf. He can’t read. He’s ignorant The piano is mine. Its mine!” But Baines never does touch the piano other than to caress it. He understands it is her voice and never plays it. Baines not only understands Ada, but he is outside of the settler society to a great degree. The unfinished tattoos on his face and his knowledge of the Maori language give him a more wild or native personality. Add to this his comfortable yet non-Scottish hut which is surrounded by the rich jungle life unlike Stewart’s barren and charred settlement nad Baines is not governed by this society. 

Because Baines tries to gain Ada’s physical love and fails he gives the piano back. What he does not realize is that each time he advanced Ada held still for a moment, until her will caused her to move. Whether it was lying down together or merely when he touches her arms while she is playing, Ada for a moment relaxes. Ada is afraid of her will, hence her pulling away from Baines. When the piano is then at Stewart’s home Ada can no longer play unless she is moved by thoughts of Baines. Whether it be in dreams or upon hearing the Baines is leaving, Ada’s voice is one of passion and heartache. While Flora plays for Stewart, Ada wanders outside and stares through the trees towards Baines, and later when playing Ada turns around, half expecting someone to be there. But Baines is no longer there, so Ada goes to him. Unlike Edna, however, who is swayed by the demands of Madame Ratignolle, Ada does not leave Baines. Later, when the knowing Stewart has her promise she will not try to reach Baines she sends him a piano key. “It has lost its voice–it can’t sing,” comments one Maori–Ada without Baines. 

Ada’s will is so strong that it literally supports and protects her. It is her will not to speak, so she does not utter a sound. Not when Stewart cuts off her finger, nor when she visits Baines. The only sound is her soft murmuring moans. Ada is always dressed strongly as well. In heavy dark wools her tiny frame is anchored to the ground. Edna is chatty and always wearing something light and fluffy. If she is not in a peignoir, then it is a soft, rich dress. Edna either just doesn’t know what she need to be complete. Her will is tempramental and changable. Ada needs her piano, so much that she agrees to Baines’s deal, yet Ada is afraid of her will. The will that sacrificed her voice for Baines. By not uttering an answer to Stewart’s demand Ada’s voice was silenced. Her will chose another over herself. Edna is not capable of such a choice, but can we really blame her, for look at the materialistic men she has to work with. 

For Edna, “there came over her the acute longing which always summoned into her spiritual vision the presence of the beloved one, overpowering her at once with a sense of the unattainable” (Chopin 89). Edna drowns because her will is too weak to sustain her. To weak to decide or chose Robert or any passion. She is without a voice and so chooses death. For Ada, however, her sacrifice and attempted drowning/baptismal is spoken of as: “What a death! What a chance! What a surprise! My will has chosen life!” Although Ada’s will is often over-powering it is strong and willing to go on. These two woman both drown in that cold grave, but while Edna leaves everything Ada is reborn.

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

Network Girl in a networking world…

Here they are….the parody lyrics I wrote years ago for the song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua

(Male)- Hi, Network-Girl!
- Hi, Ken! 
(Male)-I wanna go for a ride 
- Sure, Ken! Click in! 

I'm a Network girl in a Networked world 
Light in plastic, it's fantastic 
You can connect there, as packets go everywhere 
Implementation, routes are my creation
(Male) Come on IP, let's go party! 

I'm a young switched girl in a layered world 
Look me up, click it right, I'm your technology 
(Male)You're my god, rock'n'roll, feel the converging and strain 
Take me here, connect me there, give me the IP 

I'm a Network girl in a networked world 
Light in plastic, it's fantastic 
You can connect there, while packets go everywhere 
Implementation, routes are my creation 
(Male) Come on IP, let's go party! 

You can click, you can play 
When you say: "I'm always up", ooh wow 

I'm a Network girl in a Networked world 
Light in plastic, it's fantastic 
You can connect there, as packets go everywhere 
Implementation, routes are my creation
(Male) Come on IP, let's go party! 
Ah ah ah yeah 
Come on IP, let's go party! 
Ooh wow, ooh wow 

Make them cache, make them flash, I do whatever I please 
I can disable the route, you'll beg on your knees 
(Male)Come log in, be my friend, let me see it again 
Hit the porn, click around, it's my fantasy 

You can click, you can play 
If you say: "I'm always there" 

You can click, you can play 
If you stay in underwear 

I'm a Network girl in a Networked world 
Light in plastic, it's fantastic 
You can connect there, as packets go everywhere 
Implementation, routes are my creation
(Male) Come on IP, let's go party!

- Oh Ken, you're having so much fun! 
- Well IP, I'm just gettin' started 
- Oh, you perv Ken!

Fun side note: the featured image is artwork I created for Barbie and Midge: our Ford F150 and EarthRoamer (respectively) here at the ranch. The placards are displayed in their windows/dashboards when the two travel to races with the BDR team.


Another thing I wrote long ago.

Over the last one hundred years since its publication The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has managed to establish itself as a controversial book in regards to its possible influences over the minds of America’s youth. Thus, it has also become a popular work to transcribe to the screen for the masses to enjoy. Unfortunately this idea has been severely abused as sappy screen versions that are vehicles for various stars and not accurate translations of Twain’s work are produced every decade or so. I was surprised to discover how many different versions have become available to the public, and I was even more surprised to find how each movie’s style and theme definitively reflected the era from which it was produced. In viewing four different adaptations of the book I discovered that not only did cinematic process evolve, but so did America’s tastes and views. The roles of Huck and Jim evolved from one movie to the next as the social and artistic ideals of the American culture changed. 

The first movie version I watched came out in 1939. That same year other popular novels, like The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind, were transferred to the screen, yet only Wuthering Heights fell farther in terms of cinematic disaster than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For this movie parallels the novel in few respect other than characters and location. Mickey Rooney who plays the pre-pubescent Huck, plays the role as only a short, twenty-something actor could–grownup. Rooney’s Huck “affords little, if any, insight into the realistic boyhood world of which old Mark wrote with such imperish humor” (Crister 1584). As if that deviance from the original character isn’t enough” he is a convinced abolitionist, and not only persuades the Widow Douglas to free Rex Ingram (Jim) but made a little speech allowing how it ain’t right for one human being to own another” (1584). Such changes to the fundamentals of Huck’s character lead the film away from Twain’s original theme of a boy and runaway slave’s adventures on the Mississippi, and instead it is the story of a young man’s coming of age and fighting for what is right. 

Yet Huck’s character is not the only one that the director decided to change, for alterations to Jim’s character in the 1939 version are also apparent. Rex Ingram’s Jim loses his superstitiousness and is also no longer the mothering figure as in the novel. These traits are not lost, however, for Huck embodies them. Huck builds the wigwam and brings up the subject of discriminative borrowing, and it is Huck who is bitten by the Rattlesnake. Jim also deliberately refrains from telling Huck about his father’s death, for he is afraid Huck will return to the Widow. At the beginning of the movie Jim is thus relegated to a conniving opportunist, yet at the end, when Huck is bitten by the Rattlesnake, out of left field, a complete and sudden change in Jim occurs, for he saves Huck by taking him to a doctor. Thus a now selfless Jim turns himself in to the authorities. 

Like the Huckleberry in this movie, Jim’s character is not that which Twain created. He serves more as a dramatic focus for Huck’s energies and emotions. While Rex Ingram plays the part with great emotion and remains the only highlight of the otherwise dreary production, it isn’t enough. The lack of humor is apparent, for the King and Duke only appear for a short while and only in order to support Rooney. Any original points of humor are forgotten while new little quirks are injected at will into the script. All the business with the King and the Dukes “true identities” is sped through while a bit about civilization and Huck’s shoe-less-ness is created and used to poke fun at his reluctance to be civilized. 

All of this tampering leads to the implausibility of the finale of this shoddy flick. Huck, supposedly a boy of a mere fourteen, rides upriver in a steamboat, being solicited all the way by the captain for advice on where to avoid the snags and shallows of the mighty Mississippi/(Sacramento) River. His mission is a race against an angry mob that is out to lynch poor Jim for Huck’s assumed murder. Did I miss something when I read this book? Where exactly did Twain write all that? An epilogue maybe? 

That right there is the problem with this entire film version. The director took too many liberties and made too many changes in order to deliver to the movie-goers one of their favorite stars in a socially minded film based on a American classic. The original Huckleberry Finn, however, deals with a completely different social structure than that of the Depression Era. In the movie, Huckleberry Finn is no longer a non-judgmental boy growing up on the Mississippi, but a rather whimpy young adult who lacked any spunk or flare for telling whoppers. It seems the pressures of the Depression had gotten even to our hero and made him grow up. Huck’s youth and vitality simply weren’t there. 

This same problem continued to plague other adaptations throughout the next thirty years. In particular two versions I watched, while a bit more true to Twain’s original story, also took great liberties in respect to artistic license. 
The first movie was a made-for TV version produced in 1975 starring Ron Howard. A Huckleberry played by Howard would have been fine if the movie had been shot about ten years earlier when he was Opie instead of Ritchie, for just like the 1939 version, Howard’s Huck is just too old. He’s lost is capacity to tell a good lie and he stays impeccably clean for a vagabond. By the end of the movie this Huck, while not quite as outspoken about it as Rooney’s, is a definite abolitionist. This movie is simply another vehicle for the generation’s broad-shouldered, almost stubbley heart-throb. 

Antonio Fargas’s Jim of this version, on the other hand, is a rather wimpy, figure who Huck must protect and shelter. This is easily accomplished for Huck is not only much wiser but also taller than Jim. The two actors never seem to really strike the camaraderie that Huck and Jim develop in the novel, yet according to Royal Dano who plays the omniscient narrator/Twain himself, “At the journey’s end Huck and Jim could look into each other’s eyes and see the gift that the river had given–friendship. Each had learned the humanity of the other and they’d carry the satisfaction of it all their lives” (Huckleberry Finn 1975). This connection just did not happen. 

As far as the supporting cast of the Duke and the Dauphin there isn’t really much to say either. Merle Haggard’s Duke reminds me of a mean and sober Johnny Cash, while Jack Elam overacts the King’s lying to make it seem exuberantly artistic. Neither character really injects any serious amount of humor, and what little humor found in the movie is from the terrible acting of Donny Most as Tom Sawyer. While quite able to play the moronically stupid Ralph on Happy Days, he is ill-suited for the quick-witted role of Tom. While his very poor acting did add some humor to an otherwise bland movie it was also very distracting. As long as they were trying to keep things with the cast of Happy Days why didn’t they cast Potsy, Chachi, or even the Fonz as Tom? One of them surely could have done a better job. Howard could win an Emmey for his acting in comparison. All of Most’s posturing and little intonations belong with Rooney and the pictures of 1939, not 1975. 

A second cutesy posturing can be found in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, produced in 1960 and starring a little kid named Eddie Hodges. While at least Hodges’ age is relatively closer than either Rooney’s or Howard’s to that of Huck, his accuracy of portraying the character ends there. “Hodges exhibits a disquieting tendency to posture cutely (particularly in closeup shots),” and “He fails to convey with full force the pre-adolescent confidence and ingenuity of the universally boyish ‘Huck’ character” (Mosk.). Even with an all star cast to support him, Hodges’ Huck is poor. 

The high points of this movie come with the performances of Tony Randall as the King and Archie Moore as Jim. Both actors manage to steal the spotlight from the posturing Hodges with their simple honest acting of the characters. Moore manages to play Jim as the good-hearted, mothering friend that Twain created. Randall, on the other hand, does ham it up a bit, but the humor he adds by really playing up the kissing of Mary Jane or the fear he instills by truly threatening Huck “is a delightful balance of whimsy and threat” (Mosk.). Randall even manages to sum up the King’s purpose in life when he sings “Tra-la-la-la/The world’s full of Suckers/Waitin’ around for us to take them in./Tra-la-la-la/There’s so many suckers/That a man with brains don’t even no where to begin” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960). 

What is most interesting about these two versions is the times in which they were released. The 1960 movie starring Hodges came out during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement while the Howard adaptation was aired after the close of that movement and near the end of the Vietnam War. Even though the movies are only 15 years apart the differences between them are profound. The version from 1960 attempted to be light-hearted with a winsome Huck and all star cast, while the 1975 version sought to stress how tough life was back in the years before the Civil War. Even though I feel that neither film really accomplished these themes, they did manage to instill a general mood with their cinematography. While Rooney’s Huck was confined to black and white, these two versions were able to exist in full color. The stressing of the youth and gaiety of Hodges’ Huck is achieved by vivid Metrocolor hues as even the sound stages are painted and lit to look bright and alive. Howard’s Huck, however, is confined to a darker, more cloudy world as the conflicts and difficulties of that Mississippi life are stressed. 

No matter what tricks these films use though, none of the movies manage to portray Twain’s original Huck, nor do they accurately follow the story. None of them managed to capture the spirit of Huck and Jim’s adventures. They all seemed to peter along at a snails pace changing the plot around or adding to it at will. Needless to say I was very happy when all three of these movies began to role their closing credits. 

So after those three basically lousy renditions of Huckleberry Finn, I was delighted with the newest version produced last year by Disney. The movie is astounding. As far as cinematography is concerned it leaves all earlier versions in the dust. While the scenes are beautifully shot in the lush setting of the shores of the Mississippi this does not over-power the performance of Elijah Wood and Courtney Vance, but simply enhances it with realistic realism. While Vance captures Jim’s superstiousness and often protective mothering with ease, Wood gives “an understated performance as an independent, rascally kid whose penchant for tall-tale-spinning is his biggest talent. He extracts the subtleties from Twain’s character, never portraying him as merely cute” (Novak 22). 

Not only that, but their trip down the river is almost verbatim out of the book with only one or two minor changes, or rather combinations, and these are for the simple sake of time constraints. For example, the house and boat scenes are combined so that Jim finds Pap dead on the deck of the grounded steamer rather than in the floating house. The journey down the river starting at Devil’s Island is complete, and even the characters of the Duke and Dauphin are accurate to the point of their getting tarred and feathered. In contrast with the previous films, Huck’s scene where he pretends to be a girl is well directed with time devoted to telling the story, not just breezing through it in a rush. In terms of following Twain original characters and ideas this movie was by far the best of the bunch. 

The only disappointing point came at the very end when the movie stopped following the novel, for instead of Huck rescuing Jim from the Phelps, he rescues him from jail where Jim is waiting to be shipped back to Hannibal where he will have to stand trial for Huck’s murder. Huck springs him out right after the remains of Peter Wilks are excavated. In Huck and Jim’s flight back to the raft, however, Huck is shot, and Jim then carries Huck back to the villagers who decide they’re going to hang him right then and there. If you haven’t seen the movie yet I won’t spoil it by telling you the rest, but the one important thing that this very dramatic ending does which none of the others films are able to, is actually showing the lengths Huck and Jim will go to save the other. While this ending is not actually part of the original it does bring Huck and Jim closer together than the next hundred pages of the description of Jim’s rescue did, for it gives immediate examples of the characters’ abiding friendship. 

Unlike any of the other three movie I watched, this adaptation also focused on Twain’s original theme of the uncivilizable Huck. Wood portrays Huck’s non-judgmental attitude superbly in every scene from the harry night spent with Pap’s gun in his arms to his regret over the tragedy of the feuding Sheperdsons and Grangerfords. It is interesting to note that in all three earlier movies Huck accepts becoming civilized. He may as in the 1939 version rebel slightly even at the end, but the corner has been turned and he is on his way to becoming a proper young man. In the 1993 adaptation, however, the widow may remain bent upon civilizing Huck, but he, at the close, follows Twain’s original call. 

How could this latest, almost true to the original, adaptation decide to follow Twain’s actual plot and theme? To understand why we must once again look at what culture produced the earlier versions in comparison with our current culture. In 1939 Huck reflected the Depression Era in his more adult temperament and Rooney’s own presence and age on screen, while in 1960 Hodges portrayed a youthful exuberant version who posed innocently before the camera. Lastly, in 1975, Howard gave us a Huck Finn who had it tough. All three movies never really captured the strong relationship between Huck and Jim, for each one had to translate it into something else. In 1939 it made Huck a born-again abolitionist while in 1975 Huck is Jim’s protector. Perhaps in 1960 right before Vietnam the producers almost had it, but the version was too commercialized with a large cast of famous names and vibrant almost unreal Technicolor. It was the kind of movie that could easily have fallen under the Disney label, yet the curious point there is that the one version I watched that is, in fact, produced by Disney, tried very hard not to down scale any of Twain’s original work. This accurate portrayal of Huckleberry’s adventures is what led to its success in term of presenting Twain’s original theme. 

That is not to say this version doesn’t contain a message concerning slavery. Yet this one doesn’t make Huck into an abolitionist, but rather into Jim’s friend. Huck disagrees with Jim being enslaved, and will agree with the Widow “that just because an idea is popular doesn’t make it right” (The Adventures of Huck Finn 1993). 

Then why and how did our present culture produce this version? I think the actual genre of today’s film played a large role in it. Many people dislike movies based on previous material that fail to live up to the originals, but I don’t think that is the only cause. In today’s culture Huckleberry Finn is still looked upon as a controversial book because of Jim. Many uneducated critics feel that his character is a mockery or stereotype of the black man, but most people who do read the novel realize this is not the case. Jim is a very complex character. He’s not some fool who is content to sit out on the back stoop eating a watermelon. Jim has a wife and family of his own. He mothers and protects Huck, even concerning Huck’s dead Pap, although his motives there are a bit questionable. His dialect is not stereotypical, but defining. This latest film version of Huck Finn shows us this depth more than any previous work. Before the actors playing Jim were bound by a director’s vision that did not follow that of Twain’s. Vance, however, is not. Wood’s Huck is thus has a true equal in Jim, which then gives us a true portrayal of Jim and Huck’s adventures, showing that the American culture can now look at its history more objectively without trying to re-write it to suit the current trend. 

Works Cited 
Crister, B.R. Rev. of Huckleberry Finn. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, 1939. New York Times 3 Mar. 1939: Rpt. in Vol. 3 of The New York Times Film Reviews 1939-1948. New York Times and Arno: New York, 1970. 1584. 

Huckleberry Finn. American Broadcasting Companies Inc., 1975. Mosk. Rev. of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, 1960. Variety 6 May 1960: Rpt. in Vol. 10 of Variety Film Reviews 1959-1963, Garland: New York, 1983. 

Novak, Ralph. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” People 12 April. 1993: 22. 

The Adventures of Huck Finn. Walt Disney Pictures, 1993. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, 1960. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, 1939: renewed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1966. 

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

My Hero Beorn

Something I wrote long ago. 

It took me a while, but I finally managed to get through all of Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories”. I say finally because after the first forty pages of the work I could no longer follow Tolkien’s thoughts. This was not because I disagreed with his ideas on Fantasy and Imagination or because I don’t see the escapism evident in The Hobbit. I could no longer concentrate on his later arguments, for my mind just kept turning over and over the ideas in the first half of the essay which discusses the defining, origins of the Fairy-Story. More thoughts began crowding themselves alongside these new ideas until I realized that I found Bilbo more and more unfit as the ultimate hero of the novel. What was even more interesting was that I also realized this was because Tolkien created the character Beorn to serve as Bilbo’s hero. Thus, Beorn takes on the role of the hero of the novel. 

So why isn’t Bilbo the ultimate hero? First off, Bilbo is not human. He is a down scaled version of the average man. In fact, his size is always an issue as he is often referred to as a little rabbit or bunny, and, more importantly his constantly misplaced or overlooked. First in the flight from the goblins and then in the warg clearing Bilbo is abandoned or forgotten by the dwarves. Later, with the aid of the Ring, Bilbo continues to get himself separated from the dwarves, yet these instances of the Spider Fight and the Wood Elves prove him an aid to his friends when they are in need. You would think this growth of character would continue, but upon arriving at the Long Lake, Bilbo is once again just tagging along the group. Finally, at the end of the novel the invisible Bilbo tries to bring peace and end the siege with the Arkenstone. While a noble action that required a fair amount of courage, this deed, much like his random thieving of the gold cup, does not make him the hero of the novel, for he is still simply a member of the group just like he is during his invisible stand with the elves during the battle. Alone, he can do nothing to stop or help win the battle. 

So who then really stands out as an individual and could then be considered, not only Bilbo’s hero, but also the ultimate hero of the novel? Gandalf at first seems to be the obvious choice until his actions are taken into account. Gandalf only serves as a part-time guide to the band. He does manage to save them from the goblins in the caves, yet his power and abilities are limited. He can do nothing but advise during the battle. Even Bard the Dragon-slayer is limited in this final battle and is forced back by the goblin and warg forces. Finally “in the last hour Beorn himself appeared–no one knew how or from where . He came alone, and in bear’s shape: and he seemed to have grown almost to giant-size in his wrath”(Hobbit 302). After lifting the wounded Thorin out of the battle “he returned and scattered the bodyguard, and pulled down Bolg himself and crushed him”(302). By turning the tide of the battle Beorn saves not just Bilbo, but Gandalf, Bard, the dwarves and their allies. He is the ultimate hero. 

As the hero of the novel Beorn then makes The Hobbit a much stronger and fascinating example of Tolkien’s concept of the fairy-story, for Beorn is supernatural. In this land of elves, goblins, men and dwarves, he is an individual who has a “great influence for good or evil over the affairs of man”(Tolkien 4). Beorn, unlike any other creature, except possibly Smaug, fears no one. He lives in the middle of Wilder– or wild–land, which makes for the possibility for adventures “in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches”(Tolkien 9). According to Tolkien such adventures are an important component in the world of Faerie. 

In The Hobbit, however, Beorn does not have any adventures that we are aware of. He, unlike Bilbo, does not need adventures, for Beorn is an adult when we meet him, while Bilbo is still growing through his adventures. This lack of adventures does not change Beorn’s role as the ultimate hero, but rather adds to it immensely. Not only is Beorn a stable, non-changing character, but he has time to “hold communion with other living things”(Tolkien 13). According to the essay this satisfying of a primordial human desire is a accomplished through the workings of the Faerie world. As a farmer, beekeeper, baker, healer and companion to his animals Beorn becomes the master of beasts. The irony of this is that Beorn himself is capable of changing into a great bear. He thus, becomes a beast. While this would seem to place him into the realm of the Beast Fable it instead show us that Beorn is his own master for “he is under no enchantment but his own,” for in theses two forms Beorn is not just a bear mask on a human face, or a human mask on a bear (Hobbit 126). Beorn is an example of “the notion that the life or strength of a man or creature may reside in some other place or thing”(Tolkien 16). Beorn’s super-human strength rests in the furious bear, yet the nurturing gentleness of the bear is found in Beorn the Healer, Baker and Companion to Beasts. Thus, Beorn continues to help highlight Tolkien’s own Faerie world. 

He also acts to simply add color to the story. This occurs when he is seen as simply a hermit living in the wilds. He is known to be “appalling when angry, though he is kind enough if humored”(Hobbit 125). Tolkien creates and uses Beorn as an “unclassifiable individual” that Bilbo just happens to meet during the journey (Tolkien 18). Adding atmosphere and more information to this Faerie world. 

Beorn, however, is not a completely original creation. Tolkien, a scholar of Beowulf, ground Beorn in that very legend. Beorn is actually an Old English dame for men or warriour, and it originally meant bear. The tracing of this legend goes further still with Beorn’s Hall which is modeled after a typical Anglo-Saxon Hall. This does not mean Beorn is a Beowulf, for there are definite differences between the two. What it does mean is that Beorn’s character was created with the English myth in mind. Just as Tolkien states in the essay “Shakespeare’s King Lear is not the same as Layaman’s story in his Brut,” and so we must remember Beorn’s story is different from that of Beowulf (19). 

Just as is Beowulf’s, though, Beorn’s story is a legend. He is a hermit who has few dealings with men. “He never invited people into his house, if he could help it. He had very few friends,” and he seeks no personal wealth. In fact, “he did not appear to care for such things: there were no things of gold or silver in his halls, and few save the knives were made of metal”(Hobbit 137). Never-the-less he guards his ponies (and thus, the dwarves,) he gives aid to the dwarves, and most importantly he turns the tide of the Battle of Five Armies. 

In all of these aspects Beorn actually embodies the three faces of the fairy-story that Tolkien outlines (26). The Mystical is his supernatural strength and abilities. The Magical face is found in his continual communion with nature, while the Mirroring face is found in his avoidance of other races, yet pity for them and salvation of them at the end of the novel. According to the essay these aspects are integral to a fairy-story. In understanding that Beorn is the ultimate hero of Bilbo’s story we are able to see these illustrations and examples of the ideas and concepts Tolkien is writing about when he attempts to define the fairy-story. 

Then why didn’t Tolkien write about Beorn? The two simple reasons for this is that a) he was writing for his children, and a hobbit is much easier to relate to than a very imposing black-bearded man. And b) this is a story of a journey. It is the story of Bilbo’s growth and change, and while the character of Beorn serves to add color to the tale and deepen our understanding of Tolkien’s concept of the fairy-story, he is but a minor character. Even though he is the ultimate hero or savior of the story, it is Bilbo that we are journeying and growing with.

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

Fairy Tales

Something I wrote long ago. 

In the Complete Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm many of the stories tend to follow seemingly prescribed formulas, and while many of them differ in their plot or theme, many of the character types also seem to follow set formulas. Women, in particular, tend to have very stereotypical roles throughout many of the tales. The evil step-mother, the innocent girl, and the witch or hag are often present as one-dimensional characters who seem to follow a prescribed formula for the particular story. In many stories, however, a great deal of deviation and change is allowed for these characters to become more individualized, yet this individualization only takes place when the story the character is placed in calls for it, or rather needs it.

If you look at the tales that include an evil step-mother, you will find very little of this individualization. In “The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “Cinderella”, and “The Juniper Tree” an evil step-mother is definitely present, and in each of these stories any of the stepmothers could be replaced by one of the others without affecting the story in any way. The step-mother is considered evil, for she wants to do away with the children for some reason or another. Be it because of lack of food as in “Hansel and Gretel”, or jealousy as in “The Three Gnomes in the Forest” and “Cinderella”, the step-mother seeks to either make her step-children’s lives miserable or to just to kill them. While the evil step-mother does not always act alone, (she often has a child or two of her own who help) she is always the instigator or ringleader of actions directed against her step-child.

So now the obvious question is why is the step-mother always so despicable. I think that a main reason for their wicked legend is simply because of that little pre-fix. These women, no matter what, are not the persecuted child’s true mother, who, in stories like “The Juniper Tree”, is an idealized vision of mother-hood, loving both her husband and child. Even in other stories like “Snow White and Rose Red” or “The Little Shroud” the birth-mothers are considered very loving and devoted–quite the opposite from their replacements. Which leads to the actual basis for the existence of the step-mother, for her role is to replace, or supplant the child’s real mother. Thus, they are unnatural and during the time these stories evolved most things that were unnatural were also considered evil. Not only are the step-mothers in the tales evil, but they also are very static. They never repent for their sins and transgressions, but are fated to be rolled down hills in barrels studded with nails on the inside or pounced upon and eaten by large birds. 

In “Brother and Sister” instead of any altering to this stereotype it is combined with that of the witch or hag who then casts spells against the children. So we have very evil, unchanging women who is bent upon destroying her step-children, but why? What did the step-child or children ever do to the step-mother? In “The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest” and “Cinderella”, as in many of the other stories the step-mother has a child of her own who is usually ugly as sin and often stupid. The step-mother is then jealously bent upon making the usually innocent and often beautiful step-child’s life hell, and so the child becomes another stereotyped character. 

Unlike the step-mothers, however, the innocents can be classified into three groups simply by the amount of nerve or assertiveness they show. In “Cinderella”, for example, the title character shows absolutely no spunk and is constantly seeking her step-mother’s permission or approval. She never seems to realize the faster she gets those birds to pick lentils out of the ashes the more her step-mother will dislike her. On the opposite end of the scale we could consider the step-daughter in “The Three Little Gnomes in the Forest”. She actually stands up to her new mom when she is told to go outside in a paper dress to search for strawberries in the snow. Her outburst of rebellion soon ends, but it reappears at the end of the story when, after she is killed by her step-mother she comes back to life, and, with the aid of her husband, punishes her murderer. Besides these two extremes there is also a middle of the road innocent who exhibits only a very small amount of nerve, or rebellion. Two-Eyes in “One-Eye, Two-Eyes, and Three-Eyes”, the sister in “Brother and Sister” as well as Marlene in “The Juniper Tree” tend to exert only a tiny amount of initiative. Rolling a few apples out from under a barrel, begging a brother not to drink from a stream or burying the bones of a murdered step-brother could all be thought of as very simple acts, yet they could also be considered acts of rebellion, for the child is indirectly or quietly acting against the will of the step-mother.

What purpose do these roles then serve? No matter what, the innocent, obedient, beautiful, and basically perfect child will come out on top by the end of the story, but this idea goes even deeper when you consider the reward system that is included in the stories. A girl who constantly mis-treated by her step-mother or step-sister’s will marry a nobleman or a full-fledged prince while a maiden who is killed by them will usually return to life and see their murder(s) severely punished. This whole archetype tends to perpetuate the idea that the meek will inherit the earth while the almost capitalistic step-mommy-dearest is punished for exploiting and misusing the innocent child–but all of that is a pretty basic theme.

In contrast with this simple idea lies the role of the witch or hag. A witch is not always evil like the step-mother in “Brother and Sister” or Mother Trudy. Often they are simply want to cook and eat children as in “Hansel and Gretel” of “Foundling”, or they make the children work for them as in “The Water Nixie”. Witches often help people by giving them gifts such as the sweet porridge pot, or a magnificent carpet. In “The Three Feathers” the almighty toad even provides a beautiful maiden for the young simpleton to marry. In “The Poor Miller’s Apprentice and the Cat” this helpfulness is extends even further when the cat commissions the young Hans to work for her for seven years only to reappear at the end of the tale as a princess who whisks him off to her castle to live in idle richness ever after. Yet another instance of beneficial witches or hags are the old woman and the Devil’s grandmother in “The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs”. While the elderly woman in the robber’s den aids the young man, the Devil’s grandmother manages to pluck the three hairs from the Devil’s head and harvest the answers fortune’s favorite needs. 

All of these witches are different and cannot really be placed into one proposed stereotype, for unlike the step-mothers and the innocents these characters are often the variables. This is because each story’s structure, while very similar to that of the others’ is also very different. When the evil step-mother is missing the witches often appear in with the same aspects, or as in the “Hansel and Gretel”, they amplify the somewhat timid actions of the step-mother. (This occurred when the step-mother was content with simple abandonment of the children so that she would have enough food while the witch was going to eat the kids.) In other tales the protagonists received aid from them, while in others they even married them. The role the witch will play thus really depends upon the constraints of the story she is placed in. If the constant of the innocent, well-meaning individual is present along with the constant of the eternally evil step-mother or some other obstructing character , the witch or hag will most likely be helpful and usually pleasant. If, on the other hand, no such second constant is present the witch will fill the role and the protagonists will be left to muddle their own way out of the situation.

This all means that individualization of these three character types actually occurs only in the case of the witches. Step-mothers and the innocents maidens are regulated to fairly stiff formula roles while the witches or hags are able to vary according to the particular tale. I admit, however, that after reading so many stories that continually end happily ever after I found myself rooting for the evil step-mom or witch, for at least they show some promise of changing an over-moralized world. But the formulas are set and the characters and stories follow them, and no matter how boring over two-hundred tales extolling innocence, duty and meekness are, no unhappy endings exist. The best thing I can compare this disappointment to is watching the Coyote and Road-Runner cartoons. I always hope to see Wyle E. grab that meeping bird by the neck and triumphantly sauté it, but who am I kidding, that and step-mother’s living happily ever after just never happens.

Notice a typo or other issue? Feel free to let me know.

Electronic Postcards from the Past

Long ago it was briefly a thing to send electronic postcards….think e-cards but much simpler and they’d usually end up directly in your email, so no having to visit a random website that would try to track you ever after.

While tidying my digital past I came across these relics. I think this sort of thing needs to make a comeback.

A whirlwind trip taken long ago

I have been working to tidy up my digital bits. This includes going through old hardware as well as some old tarballs. One of the things I unburied was this story from about twenty years ago. Here it is in close to the original format.


In December of 2001 I returned to the UK. While I had lived there for a year in the mid-ninties, I had not returned since that time. 

I spent only a week on the island this time, as the key purpose of the trip was to see my favorite band in concert. People may laugh and think the idea silly, but it’s something I had to do. I’ve been a fan of James since the early nineties and had only seen them once before in concert. While I’m not an avid fan that knows all the details of the band members’ lives, I harbor a space in my soul for their music. No other band has such a space. I think perhaps it’s because their music rarely reaches the the US. They’re not overcommercialized here and I listen to what I want when I want.

This is a little chronicle of that trip, as I’m so very glad I followed my self and took a chance on what turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.

Page 1
How it Began

In early November I received a call from a marketing company regarding sitting in on a focus group for web developers. At the end of the telephone interview the woman asked me a question out of left field. “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?” I answered without even thinking that I would go to England to see James in concert as they were embarking on their last tour with their lead singer. I was surprised that the woman noted my entire statement, as she read it back to be verbatim. That night, when I was driving home from my oppressive job, I suddenly decided that I would go. 

Here’s an image of my stuff to give you an idea of light I was traveling.

That next week I made the flight arrangements and booked tickets for the last three concerts of the tour. I invited my best friend from Ohio, M, and he agreed to go along on the journey. 

I packed very lightly. A small backpack to carry my laptop (gilda), my digital camera (with which I took the pictures you’ll see), and 12 rechargeable batteries and their charger, plus a power converter so I could recharge everybody. I took a small, and I mean small duffle bag with me which contained all of my clothing and toiletries for the week (which was basically two pairs of jeans, my Van’s, extra socks and undies, various shirts, a wool sweater, a fleece hooded and zippered sweatshirt, gloves, my lovely soft Italian hood/scarf tube-thing, and other various bits. I rounded things off with my leather biker jacket, a pair of black pants and black boots (all of which were worn on the way over.) I’m glad I took the boots, as I’m rather short and the extra height was great at the last concert….
I ended up carrying my backpack with me just about everywhere, as I was too paranoid to leave gilda alone often, even though we were usually staying in very nice hotels. 

So anyway, on December 6, 2001, I boarded a plane to Chicago. I had booked our flights so that we ended up flying out of Chicago on the same plane. I managed to get M a flight out after his last exam and I arrived in Chicago shortly after his flight landed. I called home to check on my mom, who was having surgery that day. My father reported all was well, which was good, as if anything had gone wrong I would have been on the next flight to Cleveland instead of London. We boarded the flight to London and I gave up my window seat and sat next to a child with a cold so we could sit together. The flight over was uneventful, as the kid passed out shortly after takeoff. According to his father he was on antihistamines I drank a lot of hot tea and juice on that flight to ward off any thing. I really didn’t want to be ill for this week of my life. 

We landed in London shortly after dawn. After collecting M’s big bag we went through customs. Now while I had booked our air travel in advance, I didn’t book any of our hotels in advance, as I had money and the desire to just sort of go with the flow. This apparently caused a bit of a problem with the customs agent, who wanted to know exactly where I would be staying. I sort of lied to them and just named a hotel on my handy-dandy preprinted list of possible digs for each of the cities we’d be visiting. That got us through with no more than a seriously raised eyebrow, and to the poor agent’s credit, we did look fairly ragtag, as we were traveling light. Mark just had a big rucksack and I had my small backpack and itty-bitty duffle bag. In reality we were on vacation and I could give a rat’s ass about money, but I didn’t want to announce that sort of thing after just landing.

Page 2

We left the airport, caught the underground to the Euston train station, bought tickets out to Manchester, and I called the first hotel on my list (Britannia Hotel on Portland Street) to book a room (which happened to be where I told the customs agent we were going to stay.) I picked up some snacks and we boarded our train.

We then set out on the first leg of the trek across the island. We got in to Manchester late in the afternoon and walked to the hotel. Check in was accomplished easily enough, but our room was on the fifth floor. Thankfully the lift got us there.

Here are pics of the room.

After we unpacked and freshened up a bit, we head out into the streets. I ended up standing in line for over an hour to book our train tickets for the next several days. The rail system’s efficiency has definitely declined since I lived out there, but I didn’t want to deal with renting a car, or so I thought. Next time I go over, I’m definitely going to be driving. Still, the extra sleep I caught while on the trains made the choice a good one for the trip.

After taking care of our travel up to Edinburgh and then back down to England, we went back to the hotel for some food. Then it was about a fifteen block walk to the G-Mex Arena for the first concert.

Page 3
The First Concert

We got to the arena and I stood in line for what felt like ages to pick up the tickets. Then we found our way to our seats. We were in the nose bleed section (207–upper right in the pic), but considering how late I bought the tickets and the fact that M firmly refused to find standing tickets, I really couldn’t complain. 

We had a great view of everything: the crowd, stage, crew, etc. When we entered the arena, the opening act, Turin Brakes, was already midway through their set. They were pretty good, but the crowd was anxious for the main event.

The arena was packed, and when I saw how many people were down on the floor I was kind of glad I wasn’t down there too. I had just flown for roughly 12 hours and then sat on the underground and on a train for five more just to get here. While far from the stage, it was really a great way to see the first show.

After what seemed like a very long wait, James came on stage and started things off with “Say Something” and then they played “Waltzing Along” and “Sometimes”. I started experimenting a bit with my little digital camera and took some non-flash pics of one of the huge video screens. Not the greatest, but still nice mementos.

The next songs in the set were “Laid”, “I Know What I’m Here For”, and “God Only Knows”. It was great to hear the world famous “Laid” live but seeing them perform “God Only Knows” was incredible. Andy Diagram, who was performing again with the band for this tour was simply incredible. A live and loud ringing trumpet made the performance spectacular as Tim played preacher and Michael (I think) voiced the man behind the curtain/megaphone. 

They followed up with a very quiet rendition of “Someone’s Got It In For Me” and then “Vervaceous”. Then everyone but Tim and Jim Glennie left the stage and Larry Gott, a former member of stage came out. An acoustic performance of “Protect Me” with Tim sitting between the two guitarists was quite lovely.

The lovely quiet spell of songs continued when, David Baynton-Power, Mark Hunter, Saul rejoined the trio for “Out To Get You”. The quiet ended there in many ways as Saul’s equipment went out. He was less than pleased with the occurrence and wandered about the stage with his violin muttering while a tech scurried about making things right. James switched gears after that started off on another series of definitely non-quiet moments. First with Hymn From a Village and then, after Saul’s amp woes were resolved, with Johnny Yen. They then, after Larry and Andy left the stage, played the first song of the night from their recent album–“Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)”. 

The highlight of the night for me was the next song, “Tomorrow”. It is hands down, my favorite song by James. When I first heard it, I didn’t really care for it, but the anthem is now my very favorite and I’ve gone so far as to put it on one of my business cards. Silly I know, but hey, I have faith in things like that. The set finished out with “Born of Frustration” and “Ring the Bells”. Everything went dark and I was afraid that truly was the end of the evening.

Thankfully, the band (including Andy and Larry but minus Tim and Saul) returned to the stage. Tim appeared out in the crowd on the right side of the stadium (from where we were sitting) to sing “Top of the World” as Saul and his violin appeared on the opposite side of the arena to accompany Tim. It was a very poetic moment.

Then Tim and Saul disappeared as the band began the opening strains of “Sound”, another one of my favorites. The song live was a stunning work lasting over ten minutes, but I wouldn’t have loved to hear even more. The lights went dim then, but the band soon returned for a second encore. They began quietly again with “Space” and followed up with “She’s A Star”. They then kicked things up once more with “Come Home” before performing their last song. It was a lovely finish to the concert too, as while Mark played the intro keyboard, Tim and the crowd sang the opening verse before the rest of the band joined in the event. What started as a very sad moment, with just Tim and the crowd singing those rather depressing opening lyrics, became a joyous and very uplifting moment as everyone in the arena was carried along by the song and it’s, dare I say, message. This was James’s last hometown concert with the singer who had been with them for some twenty years and it was lovely way to say good-bye.

Page 4
On to Scotland

After the concert M and I made our way back to the hotel. It was close to midnight and we stopped at a chip shop to pick up some food. It was cold out, but not as bad as I had expected, but that could have been due to the adrenaline. After eating a bit all my energy just left me and I wanted a nice warm bed. We made it to the hotel, where the staff were waiting it seems. I had to show them my key before they’d let us through the door which I thought was rather odd. I didn’t think anything of it though until the next morning. We had to be up very early to catch our 6am train up to Edinburgh and when I went down to check out, there was a party going on in one of the rooms off the lobby. I could hear people singing (not loudly) and some light chatter and I have this suspicion now that James was there–a private party. I’m kicking myself now because I didn’t ask or just peek in to see for myself.

Machester Station

Anyway, we then trudged off to catch our train. After a little wait it arrive and we boarded it. We passed out shortly thereafter. I woke from a short nap and tried to figure out where we were. I made the mistake of asking the conductor where we were to disembark, as I was too tired to figure out what was actually written on the tickets. (The writing wasn’t exactly legible.) He informed me to change at Lancaster, so we got off at Lancaster. Mistake. Seems on that day, due to rail work being done that day, there would not be a connecting train. We waited at the station for a few hours until the next train that would get us to Carlisle. We boarded that train and got to Carlisle. I inquired with the station manager who politely wrote down “Misguided by director, please pass through” on our tickets and we caught a coach to Glasgow as the next train to Edinburgh wouldn’t leave for several more hours. The coach ride was a pleasant change of pace and we got in to Glasgow where I once again asked for assistance–making use of my lovely American accent. This time we need to head over to another station within the city to catch the next train to Edinburgh. A quick shuttle ride and we were there. There are trains every half hour between the cities, so we were soon in Edinburgh. The trip took an extra hour and a half, but everyone along the way was so helpful and as there was no concert that evening, I didn’t stress over the delays.

We arrived in Edinburgh and I found a hotel–the Hanover House. Right across the street was an Internet cafe, where I soon went and checked my mail. M and I then wandered the streets a bit. We had dinner at a pub down the street from the hotel and then we wandered about the city. We took in a movie (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone–and if someone could please explain why it’s the Sorcerer’s Stone here and the Philosopher’s stone there, I’d greatly appreciate it.) We returned to the hotel, and I finally had lots of postcards to write on and then send. M went to sleep and I went over to catch up on my mail, as while I couldn’t plug gilda into a spare Ethernet port, I could use one of the hundreds of Kiosks to stay in some semblance of contact. The connection back to my server wasn’t exactly secure, but I was obscured by the masses enough I didn’t worry too much.

Part 5
Edinburgh Castle and Such

The next day we got up and headed out to see the castle. I had been there years ago with my parents, but this time I had a camera and I took a lot of pictures. These are some of my favorites.

Page 6
Even more images of Edinburgh.

After the castle we went to the a museum down the street. I took these images amoung the various exhibits of optical illusions and tricks.

Page 6
The Glasgow Concert

After a day of site seeing, we found a pub and had dinner. Then we walked to the train station and caught a train to Glasgow for the second concert.
We arrived in Glasgow and headed towards the metro trains. Finally caught a train out to the SECC. It was packed with people heading to the concert. We finally arrived and entered the building. I headed over to one of the sales booths and picked up stuff. I ended purchasing three shirts and a program. We then found our seats. We were once again fairly far from the stage but at close to eye-level this time. We had arrived in ample time to hear the opening band’s full set. They were pretty good and the crowd, while rowdy didn’t seem as rude as at the previous concert.

After what seemed like forever, James took the stage, opening loudly with a wonderful and flashy performance of “Laid”. They followed it up with “Waltzing Along” and then “Sometimes”. The crowd was great and we had a good view of the rolling sea of people standing in front of the stage. 
I remembered the first time I saw James perform live–from the balcony of the Newport in Ohio. Back then Tim had surfed the crowd, but it was an older band up there now. They were more content to enjoy the crowd where it was as they jammed over the first wave of adrenaline.

“She’s a Star” was next up, followed by “I Know What I’m Here For”. They then turned things up a notch with a performance of “God Only Knows” that in my opinion blew their version of the previous night to shreds. Andy simply wailed and the power from the rest of the band reached an ecstatic level. I’d never heard James play with such ferocity and it was wonderful.
The pace dropped down considerably as they followed up with the quiet of “Vervaceous” and then “Out to Get You”. Apparently they were running problem free, as there were no indications of the equipment failures that had occurred at the last concert.

The high energy kicked in again with a strong, if not spectacular performance of “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)”. The band followed up with one of my favorites, the witty “Destiny Calling”. They seemed to falter at first with it though, and ended up restarting after the first few bars, but after beginning again they seemed to “let it all go”.

Next the band launched off into “English Beefcake” and I thought how lovely it would be if Brian Eno joined them to provide the harmonies, but alas, not on this evening. (Little did I know….), but my disappointment quickly faded, as the band then launched into the best performance of “Tomorrow” (my favorite song at that) I had ever heard. Tears came to my eyes as I realized, while I still had one more night to enjoy, this was really it. While James would go on, their voice was changing. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still something to mourn before moving on to experience whatever comes next.

Another of my favorites followed as the band quietly began “Johnny Yen”. The quiet didn’t last long, however, as the energy soon climbed again and the band followed with “Born of Frustration” and finally “Ring the Bells”. The band then left the stage and the lights went out. I craned my head about as I tried to figure out where Tim would appear, as the opening bars of “Top of the World” quietly began. He appeared in the center of the stands (we were pretty much sitting in bleachers) and Saul remained on stage for this performance, as the two serenaded one another across the crowd.

At this point M wished to leave, but I wasn’t up for leaving just yet. Besides, I reasoned, we had an hour to get to the train station still. So we got to see the band perform “Space” . The soft opening soon bloomed into a lovely and uplifting bass-driven sound-scape that was then followed by another great performance of “Sound”. As if the orgasmic finale of Sound wasn’t enough energy, James went one step farther and launched into “Come Home” at full force, as Tim announced “Time is running out. Enjoy every second now.” The crowd was frenzied as the opening synth melody washed over them and the rest of the band joined and restraint was left somewhere off-stage.

As the song ended I realized it was really getting late, and I worried a bit about whether we should leave, but I wasn’t going to miss one bit of any of the concerts, so I told M not to worry as Tim announced this next would really be the last one. The opening bars of “Sit Down” then began and I think everyone in the place was singing along as James sang yet one more good-bye.

The lights came back up and M and I made for the doors. We had roughly forty minutes to get to the train station and I figured we could catch a taxi once we reached the outside. Unfortunately one wrong decision landed us right in the middle of a herd of people and it took roughly fifteen minutes for us to make our way through the crowd. We finally gained the exterior only to discover we were most likely on the wrong side from the main entrance and trains. I fought down the panic that rose up in my throat as I realized we had less than twenty-five minutes to get to the train station or else we’d probably be stranded in Glasgow and thus, we’d miss our train down to London. I didn’t want to think about the consequences of that, so I cast about for a moment before calling out to two young guys walking out into the car park. They were kind enough to stop as I asked them which direction was which, and as I feared, they told me I was indeed, on the wrong side of the building. They asked me what time our train was and when I told them they assured me I would certainly miss it. They then asked me where we were going and I replied back to Edinburgh–at which point they kindly offered us a ride, as that is where they were from! I thanked my karmic stars and after thanking them profusely, we settled into the back seat.

It turns out that Doug and Oscar had attended the concert after getting tickets from someone who couldn’t use them at the last minute. They had driven up from Edinburgh and had arrived just in time for the show. On the way back, Doug drove quickly, which wasn’t difficult at that hour of night with the roads virtually clear of traffic, and in thirty minutes’ time we had passed our scheduled train and were back at our hotel in Edinburgh.
Unfortunately I can’t seem to remember how to spell Doug’s last name properly, even though I wrote it down. Thus, I can’t get an e-mail out to him, but I am so very grateful to both of them for their kindness to two very silly Americans.

Page 7
On to London

Warning–Gross Story Follows:

We awoke early once again and set off to catch our train to London. I felt tired and weak and then strain from traveling was starting to take it’s toll on my system. I had to stop and rest at one point and M kindly took my duffle bag for me. We soon were at the station and I collapsed on a bench and waited for some strength to return. My sugar levels were dangerously low and I tried to munch on a granola bar, but it induced too much nausea. Eventually the train pulled in and we boarded, but a few moments later I had to dash back out to the platform where my stomach proceeded to rid itself of all the insulin loaded bile. A conductor walked by and asked if I was all right, to which I nodded. He probably assumed I was hung-over. I wiped off my mouth and got back on the train–non too soon, as it soon started on its way. Thankfully the worst of the sugar problem was over and I made certain after that episode to take care of myself so it wouldn’t happen again.

UK 12/2001 image

We changed trains in Carlisle and arrived in London via Euston that afternoon. I thought a bus would be quicker than the underground, but I had forgotten that it was the Christmas shopping season. After a half an hour of stop and go’s we disembarked and headed to the underground. Another half an hour later and we were in Kensington. I guided us from memory to the hotel I had often stayed at when living in the UK and we found a room. We went off in search of food and ended up at a little Italian restaurant around the corner. Against M’s protests that it was too early, we then boarded the underground again and set off for Wembley arena and the last concert.

Page 8
The London Show

We arrived at the arena, or rather we disembarked from the underground and made our way the some 10 blocks to the arena. Thankfully I had the tickets for this show in my grubby little paw and thus I wouldn’t have to go through the will call trial again. We found the entrance and I found a scalper. He named his price and I took time to think it over and call Frances (my host-mom, but more on that on the next page) to let her know I’d be out to see her the next day. After the call I walked back over to the scalper and handed over seventy-five quid and my existing tickets in exchange for two standing tickets. We then walked into the arena and I found a spot along the rail.

I was excited, as while the first two concerts had been great, I had been so very far from the band. The crowds between the stage and my view had been vast and also vastly different from each other. First the hometown crowd of thousands had created an emotional tidal wave and then a huge mass of Scottish students had relished in the energy and abandon that James created with and for them. After two shows peering at the band with binoculars I was going to be as close as possible, as this was the end of a huge part of my life. Whatever James metamorphosed into once Tim left would be something new, and this was the last good-bye on my trip.

I didn’t want the night to end, even the waiting before the opening act came out I was happy to chatter away with M. An interesting bit of luck occurred as I offhandedly started talking to two guys near us. Trying to shed some of my nervous energy I included them a bit in the discussion and soon I was chatting merrily away with one of them.

Olivier had flown over from Montreal for this one concert and he pumped me for every bit of information I could share from the previous two concerts. He was an avid fan and we were soon swapping bits and pieces of song-knowledge and band-lore. M soon decided he to leave us for the safety of the side wall saying he was to old to all the way up front. Pfph…he’s only a couple of years older than I.

All too soon the opening act took the stage, and while they were good, I barely remember any of their performance. I did manage to pick up a cassette of a couple of their songs, and can now say they’re quite good. After Turin Brakes left the stage it was time to set up things for James. Unlike Manchester which had used a large white cloth curtain to hide the band’s setup (and the curtain was dropped just as James began to play,) this time everything was in plain site (similar to the Glasgow concert.)

Soon enough the spot light guys started up their tiny ladders. I had seen them rise up above the crowds before the past two concerts, but I hadn’t realized how tiny the ladders were. They were soon ensconced in their seats as safely as one can be and the crowd started to buzz even more with anticipation.

Suddenly it was time and the band appeared and opening chords of “Laid” breathed out. The crowd loved it and the band followed up with “Waltzing Along”. I was a bit worried that the set list would be the same as the proceeding night, but then I remembered Larry was due back and that might spice things up a bit. “Tomorrow” followed and my fears were put aside, as while not nearly as wrenching as the performance the proceeding night, the band was beginning to mix things up a bit. “She’s a Star” followed on the heals of “Tomorrow” and the band’s energy seemed to be growing stronger.

“I Know What I’m Here For” quickened the pace, as Michael and Adrian (who were directly in front of me) seemed to awaken as they and the rest of the band finally started to let it go a bit. The energy finally began to climb the ladder as James then launched into another high-powered performance of “God Only Knows”.

All went quiet then, and Larry came out on stage with his chair, as the rest of the band exited. Larry and Jim once again sat beside Tim and the three performed “Protect Me”. It was incredible to see the three together up close and while the song was very quiet in tone and pace, the energy continued to climb. The rest of the band, minus Adrian and Michael returned for a great rendition of “Out To Get You” and followed by a dizzying performance of Hymn From a Village.

Throughout the performance Olivier and I commented about this or that song as I fought to keep my feet from being smushed by the screaming teenie-boppers nearby. (Actually that was the one annoying blip on the radar that whole evening–as I stood next to three of the most annoying girls possible. Screaming and waving as if they were at a Duran Duran concert. I just showed my age there didn’t I? How about New Kids on the Block? No? well maybe those Backbeat Boys then.) Anyway, suffice it to say I have blocked out most of the horror and I avoided making contact with their heads and my fist fairly well.

The concert continued as James, minus Larry now, launched into “Someone’s Got It In For Me” and it seemed that a bit of the energy was falling off. Not to worry though, as with their next song, “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)” the energy began to flow again. The crowd enjoyed the new single and cheered when James then launched off into “English Beefcake”. I thought it was a bit odd when before “English Beefcake” a second microphone stand was brought out and placed next to Michael, as that meant there would be an additional player on the stage. As Tim began to wind down the first half of the song, a short figure walked out and took his place at the additional mike. I saw that he was bald and then suddenly knew it was. As the spot came up, Olivier and I turned to each other and actually screamed “Oh my god, it’s Brian Eno” in unison. We then turned and became enraptured with the performance. While Eno had a bit of trouble harmonizing at first, I think it was partly due to the falsetto and the possibility that he wasn’t on a monitor. Still, seeing Eno in the flesh was incredible. He stayed on stage for the next song, “Sometimes” which ended with an incredible jam session.

James then started in to “Johnny Yen”, and while I had heard it at the proceeding two concerts, neither performance was close to the energy or rather manic frenzy of this performance. I’m sure a great deal of my sentiment was helped by the fact that Tim moved stage left and sang right in front of me–at one point he seemed to stare into my eyes as we both sang the lyrics.

I was so entranced that it was only when Olivier frantically nudged me and told me to take a picture that I awoke a bit. I managed to do so, and I realized I had barely taken any pics the entire concert. I began clicking a bit more often….

All too soon “Johhny Yen” was completed and the band moved on to “Born of Frustration” and then “Ring the Bells”. The lights went dark as the band left the stage, but I didn’t despair, instead I once again began looking about as I tried to determine where Tim, and possibly Saul, would appear.

The band returned to the stage and the opening bars of “Top of the World Began”. Tim soon appeared in the far back of the arena and Saul was up in the stands on the opposite side from where I stood. It was another lovely moment and it faded all too soon.

After “Top of the World”, Larry rejoined the group and they began to jam a bit as “Sound”‘s first bars were introduced. Tim and Saul rejoined the band on stage and they group proceeded to jam for well over ten minutes. It was quiet incredible as each member played to dominate and then mesh back in to the rich musical fabric of the piece. Years of working and performing together had led up to each performance of “Sound” on the tour, and I’m still not sure which of those I saw was “the best”. All too soon it ended though, and the lights went dark again. I knew they’d return one last time though and the tears started to well up in my eyes.

The band returned and performed a raucous “Come Home”. I knew what was next after having been to the other concerts, but so did the crowd, as there really was only one other song left for the band to play that night.

And so, with that lovely keyboard opening from Mark, Tim and the audience began to sing the first verse of “Sit Down”. Eno had rejoined the group to make it a full ten band members for the very last hurrah. Thus, except for a two missing souls that night, everyone who had performed as a member of the band plus one of their most influential producers, was present to sing the anthem one last time. A few fans were hoisted out of the crowd (one of the annoying teenie boppers thus disappeared and my toes were thankfully saved) and as the band played the last notes of the song, and began to take their bows, the crowd continued singing that lovely refrain. The band and Eno graciously remained on stage for a bit, waving and smiling to the fans, but eventually they all disappeared.

Exiting Stage Left.

Concert Epilogue:

As the concert crowd dispersed and M and I made our way back to the hotel, the euphoria and sadness began to disperse and my mind wandered through my memories

I discovered James and their music during college. They were touring to promote Laid when an old high school friend invited me to see them. We got there early and found spots in the balcony that circled the pit. The opening act was a lone female guitarist and the place was packed, and once James took the stage it was all over for me. I had once been a rabid REM fan, but after the release of Green my interest had fallen off as they had become too popular and too commercial. James on the other hand was the same age as REM, but the bulk of their music was undiscovered country to me. Within the next year I had collected all of their studio albums and had started learning about their singles catalogue. I didn’t know much about the band members themselves and I really didn’t care to know everything down to their last bowel movement. The music was what was important, but slowly, over the years, I began to find out bits and pieces about the band through their music. Then, when the biography Folklore was released, I bought an advance copy and suddenly a whole new portal of understanding into the music opened up to me.

For me James has always been a pretty private event. Very few people I meet know who the band is unless I play or sing “Laid” for them. While on one hand this makes them in many ways my little secret, in other ways it’s frustrating, as I know that such a talented and incredible group should have a larger audience. Over the years I’ve looked forward to each new release as my collection has slowly grown to include a few rarities and bootlegs, and lately I’ve been trying to gather video bits and pieces, but as most things are in PAL, that’s going to be a long process. Even with the diversions, of a book and videos however, the music still remains the central facet.

I listen to the music when I want. I’m not inundated with it day in and day out like I would be were they carried on the radio. I’ve gone through periods of times where I have my fifty-one disc CD player loaded with all James discs. I’ve played one song over and over–usually great to do when coding or other concentration sensitive tasks. I’ve incorporated many of their lyrics into purgatory–always with credit of course. And I’ve flown over five thousand miles and traveled for days with little sleep to see them in their last concerts with Tim singing lead vocals.

While Tim has said good-bye to the band and Saul, Jim, Mark, David, Adrian and Michael have stated James will continue on without him. James is once again going to change and I think everyone who enjoys their music is uncertain what that change will bring. That distinctive voice and that distinctive flailing dance have left the stage and the fans are waiting to see what will appear when the lights come back up. I too wait, and as I do so, I continue to enjoy the music the band has created–music that continues to provide much of the soundtrack for my life.

Page 9
To Walesby

The next morning I slept in until 9am. Then I was up and was off to the train station. I was heading off to Retford to visit family. M had elected to stay in London, which was probably a good decision as we were starting to bug one another. I, on the other hand, was off to visit my host family. I had first met Ron and Francis when I went overseas to attend UEA. Before going to the university I stayed with them for several days and we got along so well I visited often during my time at UEA. My parents also got to meet my host-family when they came to England to visit me and the next year my host mother and her eldest daughter, Liane, visited my family in Ohio. It had been five years since I ‘d seen them so this would be a great bonus to my trip.

I boarded the train at Victoria and ended up sitting across from a dancer on his way to Leads to perform with a company. We had a pleasant conversation and soon I disembarked and found Ron waiting outside the station to ferry me back to their house. It was a very pleasant visit, and I ate way too much and we all chatted until late into the evening. Sadly their dog Sable had passed away six months earlier and thus was not there to demand my lap space and attention.

I stayed over that night and the next day Ron drove us down to Peterborough to see Karen. I got to meet her son Sam and we all had lunch before Francis and Liane took me to the train station. All too soon I was back on my way to London.

These are some of the pictures I took with my camera.

pics of the new kitchen and dining room

Page 10
Back to London

I arrived back in London in the late afternoon and I headed to Camden market. I poked about a bit but had little luck finding any James rarities. I did find a few Christmas presents though as I poked about the stalls. I didn’t want to buy too much, as my bags were already quite full, as after the concert at Wembley I had picked up an extra T-shirt and program for a friend, plus a mug for myself. 

I grew tired of shopping though so after an hour or so I then across London to Westminster Abbey as I had never visited it. The abbey was all right, but over the years I’ve slowly become burned out on churches. It was nice to see Poets’ Corner and some of the other historic spots, but I didn’t linger. I headed back to Kensington and dumped my stuff off in the hotel room. M was out so I left him a note. I then set off unencumbered by my backpack. (I had left my duffel bag with him before heading off to Retford.) I went to a pub across the street and met a few staff members from a hostel chain. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour or two, but I soon left them and headed down to Picadilly Circus as I wanted to pick up a copy of the new release of James b-sides. I stopped off at HMV, Virgin and of course Tower. Tower was much smaller than I had remembered, but I still managed to buy a few interesting things. I wandered about a bit and I thought about taking in a movie, but there wasn’t anything showing that interested me. I did get to see the setup for _The Fellowship of the Ring_ at Leicester Square though, as it was due to open the next day. I headed back up the way I had come and popped into the Trocadero. Most of the stores were quiet, but I found a lovely little store called Octopus where I purchased a cute little sugar bowl as well as some wheeled salt and pepper shakers and a cute little purple ring.

I then returned to the hotel. M was already there and we chatted as we prepared for our return flights that next day. I had not been able to schedule us out on the same flight, so I was due to leave a few hours before him that next morning.

The next morning I rose early and headed out. I arrived at Heathrow and suddenly panicked as I thought the line for Air Jamica was the line for American Airlines. Not to worry for long though, as I soon found the right line and just a few minutes later I had gotten my boarding pass, checked my duffle bag (I needed to carry on my sugar bowl and a few other items in an extra bag,) and was on my way to the gate. Security was much easier than that of the US, as it was just so efficient. The same procedures with a lot less hassles. 

I managed to navigate through the duty-free shop without buying anything and soon enough I was at the gate and ready to board my flight. It had been a lovely trip and sadly I had to go home. 

The flight to JFK was uneventful and soon it was time to disembark, get my bags, go through customs, recheck my bags, find my new gate and get on another plane. The last bit of the trip was tiring, but I eventually got in and home and there was much rejoicing–well sort of, as the next chapter in my life certainly was not as much fun as this one and I’m still dealing with the outcome, but more on that later.