Category Archives: Creative

NPR

He sits idling on the freeway, stuck in traffic with the other few thousand people trying to get home after a long day’s work. He goes. He stops. He goes. The latest segment of Fresh Air drifts from the radio; a soothing female voice reviews the remake of a classic movie he hasn’t seen. He won’t see the classic. He won’t even go see the remake. He doesn’t want to. He knows this, and yet he doesn’t switch the station. He likes thinking of himself as the kind of person who listens to NPR on the commute home. He likes being able to offer his input on the remake of a classic when his coworkers bring it up at lunch. He will quote NPR, and they will believe he is the kind of person who knows about film and who casually quotes NPR. He likes being thought of this way. He doesn’t like actually being that person, though. He wants to change the station and play music instead. But he doesn’t. He knows Becca listens to NPR on her commute. She told him she did. He told her that he did too. He hadn’t until then, but now he does. He wants her to think he is the person he is trying to be. He wants to have something they can talk about when they see each other tomorrow morning. He wants to ask her out for drinks after work. But not yet. He is waiting until he learns more about her interests so they can have something to talk about. He stops. He goes. He stops. He moves in a sluggish dance with the other cars around him, gradually inching forward. He wonders when he can stop listening to NPR. He wonders if she is even listening to NPR on her way home. He stops. He wonders how he can ever know what to learn to get to know her. He doesn’t think he ever can, ever will. He switches the station. He goes.

Category: Creative, Student Work

Pluto


A husband calls to wife from the couch, where he is opening a present for his son. It is a t-shirt saying “Never Forget Pluto.”
She walks over, sees it, and responds: How can he forget something he has yet to even know?
Of course, this child didn’t choose his shirt. Someone else bought it for him and will wash it for him and maybe even pick it out for him to wear.
He says: Well, the gift giver would have grown up being taught that Pluto was no lesser than the other planets. Mercury Venus Earth, Mars Jupiter Saturn, Uranus Neptune Pluto. We were also taught songs and mnemonics and quizzed on their order.
‘True or False? Pluto is a planet.’
He continues: Who might have guessed that the answer would change with time? Who might have guessed that something proven by science, something given and taught as fact, becomes fact no more?
For a child, already unsure of his world and all he knows is that he has everything left to learn, to wear a shirt proclaiming that even what is known is not true?
She responds: Do we then need to remind each other not to forget this planet that is a planet no longer?
Can you imagine, a child, no older than four, wearing this shirt running around. He is a public service announcement without even realizing his own importance.
He continues again: Is it appropriate then, that this boy, this tiny human announces to the world that this tiny planet should also be noticed?
He concludes: I think it’s fitting, as long as it fits him. “Notice me. Don’t forget me.” I won’t forget you, Pluto. You’re always my favorite planet.

Category: Creative, Student Work

The Dodgers Were Losing

The Dodgers were losing. I don’t remember to whom my home team was losing, or even exactly when the game was, but I remember the pain watching the runs tick by… for the opposing team.
            My mom had dropped me off at my dad’s office, so as soon as he finished work, the two of us could head to the game. To miss the opening pitch would be unfortunate, but to miss Vin Scully announcing “It’s time for Dodger Baseball” would be inexcusable. Even though it was an evening game, LA’s summer heat was relentless. Just the way I liked it. I brought a sweater for when the sun would set and it would drop to a chilly 65. The games could run late, but I always stayed until the end. It was bad luck not to stay.
            This game, however, hurt to watch. I could feel the loss physically manifest in my gut. Staying in that once welcoming plastic seat became nearly impossible with every run the other team scored. My dad felt the pain too.
            He never left games early, looking down upon those “fans” who failed to stay for the final call, just to beat the traffic. This game was different. Just four innings in, he started bargaining with me. The bargain was with me, but it was mostly for himself.
            “If they are down by five during the 7th inning stretch, we go home,” he proposed. I nodded, resigned to risk the bad luck, if only to appease the twisting feeling in my gut. I squirmed, eager to look at anything other than the pain, the stress, the shattering confidence on every face of my boys in blue. My dad, on the other hand, grew increasingly still, his expression increasingly stoic, as if to shut the emotion down entirely. To each their own. Even through his stony face, though, I could tell he was just as annoyed by the other team’s fans as I was. Maybe it was merely the fact that they were winning (and damn vocal about it, too), maybe they really were behaving horribly. I just remember their gloating, their overall terribleness. But at least they weren’t Giant’s fans. I would remember that. Thank Vin for the small mercies.
            As the 7th inning approached, we hoped they would gain just a few runs. Not even to catch up to the other team, but just enough to keep them in the game, just enough to keep us at the game. Leaving the game would hurt nearly as much as staying. While we went to games as often as we could, especially during the summer, that was still only once every few weeks. My middle-school-self relied upon the availability of people to drive me, severely limiting my game attendance. Who knew the next time we would be under these lights? And to voluntarily leave them?
            They were losing. We didn’t want to call the game early, but even the proper fans began to leave a few innings ago, a handful of heartbreaks ago. My dad and I shared a weary look.
            “It’s time,” he said, rising out of his seat, supposedly for the stretch, actually to slip out of the stadium. I followed. We walked quietly to the car, just two more fans in a stream of subdued Angelenos.
            I wanted a distraction, to forget the scores, forget the smugness of the visitor’s fans, forget that we left the game early. I’m still not sure what motivated my dad to turn on the radio and listen to the rest of the game, the game we abandoned. He proposed listening to the game, I opposed, he refuted, I rebutted, he overruled. So, a little over halfway through our drive home, he tuned in, already knowing the correct station.
            I wish the next part of the story was an exaggeration. I really do. It might take some of the sting out of the memory, but it would also take out the humor, which is worth remembering, retelling.
            My dad switched the radio station, perhaps looking for some confirmation in our leaving the game. We both expected to hear Vin Scully tell us we were forgivable, that the Dodgers were still so far down that to stay would be inflicting unnecessary self-harm. But that isn’t what happened. While we did hear Vin, the moment we switched the radio station, said the last thing either of us expected. He said, (and I swear to you, Reader, this is not an exaggeration):
“If you left the game early, you should turn around!”
            My dad and I looked at each other, in shocked silence. We heard our beloved Vin tell us about the miraculous streak the Dodgers managed to pull off, about the once thought lost game reversing dramatically, about the incredible hits, some of the best moments from the entire season. We drove up to our house, but couldn’t get out of the car. We wouldn’t abandon our team again. We sat in the garage until the final call, speechless long after.

Category: Creative, Student Work

Voyage

Takeoff –
I counted once (or tried)
the 300 planes that deliver me to
Life’s impatient adventures. More still,
the trains and ferries and gallons of gas,
satisfying restless eyes.
What is it to be stationary?
For a bee to work in the hive,
a bird restrained by a broken wing, why
allow your legs to carve a rut
when we are born without bonds?
Content with postcards, pictures,
adopting another’s memories.
Proud to call the world home
and yet we will all travel Elsewhere.
– Landing

Category: Creative, Student Work

Eve

Rich, fatty cheese. Berries so sweet you don’t even have to chew; just apply the slightest pressure and they burst. Fresh bread acts to ground the flavors, providing a base for the chaos of sweet in your mouth to find a comfortable place to rest.
On a blanket, reminiscent of our more innocent years, not even aware that there are worries to be worries about.
Thinking of nothing, open to everything.
Enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing.
Indulge in the richness of life.

Category: Creative, Student Work

To Observe Seurat, Sera

            A hum of voices fills the elegant gallery, with the elaborate plaster ceiling bending the noise back towards the crowd. To hear the gentle chatter – the parent explaining a famous work to a child, the school groups weaving like schools of fish, the tourists with cameras in hand ready to document the pieces they deem most important (an impossible task in these galleries) – while sitting across from Seurat is the height of poetic irony and a beautiful contrast to the work itself.
            Everyone is bound in togetherness. From the factory life, the assembly line mentality, to the day off, meant to be rejuvenating… and yet they merely stare into nothingness, into the void. The lack of rather than the substantive.
            Are the conversations surrounding the social criticism actually in contrast? Do they speak of meaningless pleasantries or of what matters? Those depicted in the painting are together, but not in any sense that matters. They are alone, not communicating, not enjoying each other’s company. They are isolated, hunched, weighed down by their burdens and their failure to share them.
Seurat, sera.

Is this what is, what will be, or a warning to what could be?
Category: Creative, Student Work