the fifteenth

June 21, 2010

and since that one was a bummer, you get this one, too.

What does your dream house look like? -- Naomi

For the longest while, I wanted to live in a castle. It didn’t really matter what it looked like, so long as it was big and had every amenity known to man.

Then I wanted a four-story house, also quite massive with all those elaborate, expensive comforts of home, shaped like a hexagon.

Now, when I become this incredibly wealthy novelist, I’m going to build a replica of the house Nora Roberts designed for a family of characters in her Dream trilogy, at least my vision of this particular home, called Templeton House. To be honest, I’m still working up this image in my head. I went through once and wrote down all the references to it, but they’re not that concrete, not enough to give me a great sense of what its appearance.

I see it built upon a rather large plot of land, off the coast of California, next to the cliffs. I see white wood and stone in various shades of gray. Massive oak doors at the entry, framed by an intricately tiled mosaic of grape leaves. Spanish tiled rooftop. Lots of windows. Every room would be divided by wide archways rather than rectangular openings, so that each room blends into the other. Sweeping staircases. Vaulted ceilings. Marble and ceramic tile. Hardwood floors.

But then, I liked the Hobbits’ houses Peter Jackson and his crew created for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, with their rounded doorways leading from one room to another, too. Simply designed, nicely furnished.

The furnishings would come from Restoration Hardware and other such establishments -- simply lined, sturdy. Built to last.

That’s the kind of home I want. The sort that’s built to last.

to get a better look at the superior tastes c.c. has, go here.

for the fourteenth inquisition essay, go here.

as for the blog, don't expect to see any new posts for two weeks. but for the newbies, there's a crapload of picky pages to peruse. plenty here to keep you busy.
auf wiedersehen!

the fourteenth question

in less than twenty-four hours i will be on a plane to munich. YAY! i'm a little anxious. too many tunes in my itunes, not enough room on my ipod. so the time i would be spending right now soaking in a tub and chilling, i'm spending weeding the musical garden. not fun. NOT fun at all. i'm hot. i'm cranky. i'm starting to get that frazzled feeling. you know. the one you get when your brain starts cataloging all the things you need for the journey and the things begin jockeying for first in line to be checked off. that one.

i'd rather be soaking in some bubbles.

and, of course, i can't leave for an overseas flight with the thirteenth question heading off picky, so instead of weeding the garden, i'm sitting here typing up this crap.

If you could go back and change one day, what would it be, and why? -- Dawn

I don’t remember the day or the date. I’d driven home to visit my family and friends, driven straight to my younger brother’s house to go eat with him, his wife and our mutual friends. Jon, my older brother, was there. He was a binge alcoholic and had a habit of holing up in his apartment on his binges, then camping out at our parents’ house in periods of sobriety. He’d shown up at home a few days before, after a binge. He and I weren’t that close because I hated that he drank, hated that he couldn’t recover, hated his behavior and actions when he was drunk. And though my parents and my younger brother could mask their anger and hurt and helplessness, I could not. So, on this particular evening, when I walked into Joseph’s house to meet up with my brothers, my sister-in-law and our friends, when I made the rounds to give each of them a hug and I got to Jon, I gave him the sort of hug I expected to receive, the one-armed, not-so-close kind that he normally gave. But this time, for some reason, he wrapped both arms around me and held on, just for a second. Tried to anyway. Couldn’t because I wouldn’t let him.

He died a month or so later, from acute alcohol intoxication.

I live with the regret that I couldn’t be a better sister to him. That I couldn’t hold him a little closer. And while a hug isn’t that big of a deal, in the grand scheme of things, I remember how nice it had been that he’d held me that way and the shame that I hadn’t been able to hold him.

for the thirteenth inquisition essay, go here.

the thirteenth

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why; who was your role model that inspired you? -- Janna

I wanted to be a wife, mother and teacher when I grew up because I saw, always, how much my parents loved each other, how much they needed each other, how much they loved us, and I wanted that for myself. Wanted to be able to give that much of myself. I wanted to teach because I’ve always loved learning, and I wanted to pass that love onto others.

I wanted to be exactly like my mother because she seemed to do such a wonderful job keeping us all in line. She’s always been so selfless, so thoughtful, so involved in so many things.

There was never a time when I wondered if she loved me, even when she was yelling at me for not doing something, like picking up my room, or lying about something or for not passing my classes at each three weeks period. I never wondered if she loved my Dad or my brothers. I knew. She never had to say it, though she said often. It was just there, just as she was always there, this intangible force that held our house together.

I wanted to be that strong.

previous essays: the tenth, the eleventh, the twelfth.

the twelfth question

June 17, 2010

Why do you live in Texas? -- Dawna

Because it doesn’t snow here. The temperature rarely drops to below freezing in the winter. I don’t mind it being a hundred degrees outside in the summer, so long as there’s a pool nearby and the air conditioning works. I love the abundance of trees. Most of my family and close friends, most of the people who matter the most to me are here. Once upon a time it was its own country! Can any other state claim that? Huh? NO! It's huge, and you don't have to freeze your ass off to enjoy the grandness of that, like you would in Alaska. Because there's Austin, San Antonio, the Hill Country, Schlitterbahn, Texas A&M, Blue Bell. Actually, those last two are plenty good reason enough all by themselves.

for the eleventh inquisition essay, go here.

the eleventh

June 16, 2010

for those of you new to picky and the inquisition, this is one of twenty responses written six years ago to questions my friends and family had posed for a memoir project done in a creative nonfiction writing class. the interests i had then are not necessarily those i have now.

What are the ten things you’d most like to do before you die? -- Tiffany

1.) Get married.
2.) Have a family.
3.) Get graduate degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing.
4.) Write at least one bestselling novel.
5.) Obtain a position as a professor in the English department at a major university.
6.) Tour each of the fifty states.
7.) Tour England, Wales, Austria, France, Germany, Ireland and Greece.
8.) Interview Johnny Depp and Nora Roberts.
9.) Attend the Oscars.
10.) Build my dream house.

for the tenth inquisition essay, go here.

the tenth question

When do you begin to trust? -- Leigh

Trust has always been a difficult thing for me. There are those who can trust others with dreams and hopes and aspirations, but they bottle up the badness. I’ve never really had a problem talking about badness. But telling someone what I want for myself, what I dream of … I’m afraid that if I share those thoughts, those feelings, they’ll be taken from me, or something.

I know what it means to lie. I did it often as a child. There were many, many times I did it quite well. So I know how easy it is to alter truth, to fragment it.

I suppose I’ve always been wary of people. Maybe it’s the shyness. Maybe it’s because I’m always expecting them to hurt me. But there’s always been this skepticism. I have to see it, have to hold it in my hand if I can, have to know it, and then I believe.

There are people I trust more than others, like my parents and my brother and a few close friends, most of whom have posed questions for this essay. But, it’s taken me years of knowing them, in most circumstances, to be able to say I trust them.

But even with those years, I am still skeptical.

I question everyone’s intentions, everyone’s words. If someone were to say they didn’t mind me being in some place, didn’t mind me tagging along, I’d think they were saying it to be kind. I’d think they’d rather I not be there, that I not tag along. The answer to your question is, “I don’t know,” because I do not trust myself. And that, like love, doesn’t come from others before it comes from within.

previous essays: the seventh, the eighth and the ninth.

ninth and wisdom

June 14, 2010

If you could live anywhere, where would it be, and what would you do there? -- Kelly

This question is sort of difficult to answer because my knowledge of the world, in a travel sense, outside of the United States, is rather limited, as I’ve only been to Tijuana, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and St. Thomas. I wouldn’t want to live in any of those places. I enjoyed visiting them, but they’re too detached from the rest of the world.

So, where then? It would have to be near a beach. Not necessarily on a beach, though I wouldn’t mind this, would probably prefer it, but it’s not a must that I be within a few feet of one. Still, I’d like to be able to get to one in no more than half a day. Not that I would go all that often, but it’s somehow comforting to know that it’s there. I can say this because I’ve lived a few hours from one for nearly two decades of my life. That I have the option of going, should I choose to do so, is really quite nice.

One of my favorite trilogies that I’ve read by Nora Roberts is set in Monterrey, California. I really liked what I read about that place. So, I would probably say there.

What would I do there? Write. Cruise the coast. Study literature and creative writing. Haunt bookstores and music shops and movie theatres.

If I had to pick a place outside of the United States, I’d say Ireland or Greece. I’ve always been fascinated by those places. Always longed to go there.

As for what I’d do there? Observe the culture, absorb it. Write. Cruise around to all those cities I’ve heard about but never seen. Study the country’s history, its writers and poets, its artists. Haunt pubs and bookstores and cafes.

for the eighth inquisition essay, go here.

this week's wisdom:

the young lions lack and suffer hunger;
but those who seek the lord shall not lack
any good thing (psalm 34:10).

the eighth question

June 13, 2010

If you could turn into any animal, what animal would you be, and why? -- Kevin

A dolphin. They’re generally curious about their environments, fairly sociable, somewhat restless, sort of sleek looking. They seem to be smiling all the time and are known to be quite playful, very tactile creatures. But mostly, I’d want to be one because I could swim all day long.

And yes, I know. It’s not the coolest answer. It’s not nearly as clever as Jon’s. But it’s the one I like the best.

for the seventh inquisition essay, go here.

the seventh

June 12, 2010

What impacted your life to cause you to begin expressing yourself through writing; what is it about you that makes you free to express yourself so well in writing? -- Edna

Thank you for the compliments. I’m always glad to hear that someone thinks I express myself so well. That my writing seems to be so free.

My thoughts are so jumbled in my head that I struggle with expressing them daily. That I am so certain not that many people will care about what it is I have to say. If by some chance they do care what I think, I won’t say it right because those thoughts can come forth in this mad rush, this chaotic blur…or they’ll be so clear, so concise, so opinionated, so offensive that I’ll hurt someone with some careless comment.

To be honest, I don’t really care if I say something that upsets a stranger or even a distant acquaintance. I’m an opinionated girl. I cherish this, actually, this ability to spout off a thought without concern for consequence. But sometimes, I accidentally say something that a family member or close friend finds offensive, and I hurt because I’ve hurt that person.

But you asked what caused me to begin writing, what impacted me to willingly take pen to paper.

In sixth grade, my language arts teacher told me I could write. She tried to convince me I had a talent for it. But, back then, I didn’t think I was good at anything, and while I was happy that she could find something about me to compliment, while I held onto this thought, I had a hard time believing it. I’d heard so often that I had nothing to offer anyone, really. The bad stuff’s always easier to believe.

At fourteen, my mother made my younger brother and I enter a poetry contest a local daily paper had to celebrate Independence Day. Grudgingly, we wrote our poems. Mine won first prize in my age group — fourteen to seventeen. Joseph’s won second in his — seven to ten. I got a large flag, a framed copy of my work and a plaque. I remember being sort of surprised that I’d won, sort of glad. But, still, I didn’t think of myself as that good a writer, and I didn’t much like writing then, anyway.

The first time I wrote a poem because I wanted to was on March 3, 1995. I’d been feeling particularly gloomy that day and was bored, waiting for Joseph to get out of class. While I waited, I pulled out a pen and spiral, pulled out a poem from my head.

It wasn’t a very good poem, not in the literary sense. But it was remarkable, really, in that, while I was writing it, I’d felt sort of like I was having some kind of out-of-body experience. Like I’d switched off my conscious self and let the subconscious take over.

When I’d finished it and I became aware of my surroundings again, I felt a coldness in my soul, like I’d stripped myself of something. I looked down at what I’d written in this daze, this wonder that I’d pulled this thing from me.

It wasn’t a good poem. I knew this. The words and phrases were ones most would consider cliché. It lacked imagery. But there was a sense of rage and sadness, of hope and fear, of loneliness, of all the things I’d been feeling at that particular moment, and I was amazed that those emotions had all come so freely, so willingly. Not that I never expressed them. But I’d been practicing for the past few years keeping them restrained, except around my family. If I ever showed them to others outside my familial circle, it was a mere glimpse, a fraction of their intensity. I’d learned not to express them because not too many people wanted to see them.

But there they were.

And it had made me feel a little better to write them out in that way.

previous essays: the fourth, the fifth, the sixth.

the sixth question

June 10, 2010

for those of you new to the inquisition essays, these were written six years ago. my interests now are not necessarily the same as they'd been then.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now? -- Judy

If I’m lucky, I’ll be married, with a family of my own, living in a really nice house — not sure where, really. To be honest, there are many neighborhoods here in San Antonio that I’m quite fond of. I do so love this country — these hills, this climate. I don’t like being away from home, even if it’s just a couple hundred miles, a handful of hours. But every time I come back to my apartment, I’m struck by the beauty of this place. I suppose it’s easier to appreciate since I travel so frequently back and forth, but, anyway, if I were to still be here, ten years from now, I wouldn’t be complaining about it. I’d be teaching either English or Creative Writing at a university. A published novelist with lots of money in the bank and some really nice cars in the driveway, so that I could take as many aimless drives, in style, as I’d like, or as many jaunts to all those foreign places I’ve been wanting to see. Of course, the lots of money bit, given the financial realities and history of novelists in the publishing industry, isn’t very likely, but a girl can dream.

for the fifth inquisition essay, go here.

fifth and wisdom

June 8, 2010

What would you like to communicate most as a writer? -- Brother Nicholas

Reality. Not my own because I find mine, ninety percent of the time, to be unpleasant. Of course, this is solely because, in my adolescence, my reality was one of endless ridicule and rejection due, partly, because of the way I responded to situations then. Maturity...I hate to use that word when talking about myself because I believe I am quite immature so maybe I should use age instead. Age, then, allows one to realize that ridicule and rejection aren’t caused entirely by the one doing the ridiculing and rejecting but by the person suffering those things, as well. It’s like manifest destiny. My world outside of my family lead me to believe I was worthless. And believing it, I furthered that belief and made it even more real. Which only lead to more ridicule and rejection. I can take the blame, for some of this, as I should. Some, but not all. The consequences of having a reality such as this as a young adult, once I had better constructed that world for myself, is that I continue to believe, as a woman, that what the world sees of me, in me now is the same view that the world saw then. Which is deluded and paranoid, I know, and, thus, not true. I’m well aware of this. Despite the knowledge, though, I’m always surprised to find that people actually find me nice and funny. The funny is far more surprising. Hopefully, all that made sense.

I’ve heard a person should write what she knows. And because I’ve lived the solitary, observant-but-never-included sort of life I have I don’t know anything else but me. I’ve never really felt as though I belong here. Never really learned how to converse with others, how to communicate with them, how to relate to them, never felt confident enough to do so, even if I had known how.

I know how it feels to hurt, to hate, to be angry and ashamed. I know how to cry, how easy the tears can come, how hopeless they can be, how difficult it is to prevent them from coming. But more, with tears, I know how much the world hates to see them. How they’re reviled things, a sign of weakness that should never be shown. Because no one cares to see them. No one cares to hear about misery and shame.

So, not my reality because obviously my world is clouded, still, by the past and heavy with the rain that still, much to my dismay, comes ever so willingly.

But other people’s. Common, ordinary, every day folk whose delusions and paranoia, hopefully, are practically nonexistent, who are just moving from Point A to B. The world exactly as it is seen through their eyes, exactly as it is felt. Their thoughts and the more dissimilar they are from my own, the more interesting I think they’d be to express, the more challenging. I’d much rather be able to get inside someone else’s head than roam around in my own. After thirty years of it, I think I’m familiar enough with the territory of mine. I want to see what someone else’s looks like. What being someone else is like.

for the fourth inquisition essay, go here.

this weeks wisdom is thus:

happy is the man who finds wisdom,
and the man who gains understanding;
for her proceeds are better
than the profits of silver,
and her gain that fine gold.
she is more precious than rubies,
and all the things you may desire
cannot compare with her.
length of days in her right hand,
in her left hand riches and honor.
her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
she is a tree of life to those who take hold of her
and happy are all who retain her (proverbs 3:13-18).

the fourth question

June 6, 2010

Why do you get peopled out? -- Nicole

People have this annoying habit of sickening me. Of trying my patience, which is easily broken. They drain my energy, and I don’t have a whole lot to begin with. They make demands. They expect things from me. They need.

I need time to recoup. The more people I’ve been hanging out with that day, the more time I need to myself.

This isn’t to say that I hate people or hate spending time with them. I don’t mind them. Sometimes I actually enjoy their presence.

But I am not as sociable a creature as you are. You have your hour of television-in-bed time before you go to sleep each night and the rest of your time awake is spent with twenty-some-odd children each day and your husband and friends each night.

I have spent much of my life feeling alone and lonely. It hasn’t really been all that many years that I’ve been able to say I had a close circle of friends, which includes you and Tammie and Adam. I love each of you equally, for different reasons, of course. Love spending time with you. Look forward to the times I get to do so.

But there is this lingering loner mentality from my childhood, adolescence, and even much of my twenties. There are moments where I feel awkward in the midst of others. There are moments where I feel inadequate. More so when I hang out with groups of people, as opposed to quality time one-on-one.

For example, there are frequent nights where I’ve hung out with all of you in one instance, like going out to dinner or to the movies. There’s you, blonde, beautiful, fun. There’s Tammie, compactly curvaceous, beautiful, bright. There’s Adam, clever, handsome, interesting. There’s Joseph, my dear younger brother — your husband — who is handsome, I suppose, moderately intelligent, occasionally humorous. There’s me, rather ordinary looking, serious-minded, comfortable enough to hide behind the curtains when the four of you much prefer being on stage. When I am with all of you, I am more aware that I prefer being hidden, because I do not shine as brightly as you do.

When I feel so lackluster, I need time to remind myself that I have my own gifts. Maybe they’re not wrapped as well, as beautifully, but they’re as necessary to the world as yours are. Maybe it takes me more than a minute, more than an hour to remember this. Maybe sometimes it takes a day or two of solitude. Maybe this won’t always be the case.

previous essays: the third, the second, the first.

third and wisdom

June 4, 2010

i've been delaying posting this question. this one conjures up sadness. i worked on this project a year after my older brother died. part of the reason i'd come up with the inquisition idea was because i was in a pretty rotten place. i wasn't sure i could write a memoir that sufficiently illustrated me and my life.

my younger brother doesn't talk about my older brother's absence so much. barely mentions him at all, actually. whereas i spill everything, he bottles it all up. typical, i guess, given the male-female dynamics. my younger brother, though, is a champion internalizer. he never lets on what he's really thinking. which serves a pretty decent purpose, considering his line of work (he's a member of the geek squad). he might be thinking his customer's the biggest idiot on the planet, but the customer will think my brother thinks he's awesome.

i've been delaying posting his question because as much as he internalizes things, every now and then, i can guess what he's thinking. and i know when he asked me this question, he wasn't thinking of the wonder of it but of the finality.

i've been delaying this entry (i'd planned on doing one at least every other day...but the last g.i. post was five days ago), too, because it makes me sad to think i had to skip over my older brother. i would've liked to have known what question he would have for me. i would've liked to have known how he would've reacted to the answer.

i was cleaning out my older brother's closet this morning. we've been hoarding things, still. i imagine twenty years from now, we will still have some of his things. but today, i managed to stick the eazy-e, sammy hagar and white lion cds in the sale pile. not that they will sell, but it can't hurt to try. the country music stays. my mom would have a major fit if i hocked those. the axe handle from his bonfire-building days, his golf club, his fishing boots...those all stay. but i think we can part with the coors skiing poster. i think. i'm setting the maybes out on the bedroom floor. mom may or may not be pissed at me for this. pray for the former rather than the latter.

anyway. i'm digging through the photos when i come across one by flavia. there' s not a lot special about this one, at first glance. it's about two feet wide and one foot tall. it's on a REALLY bright teal background, with the upper bodies of a boy and girl outlined in what i suspect is white chalk, which comes out more like a powder blue on the paper. and in big black capital letters:

once in a golden hour
i cast to earth a seed.
up there came a flower
the people said a weed. -- tennyson

and in the bottom right corner, it's signed by her in that powder-blue white. but to the left of that and slightly over the printed signature, in black cursive:

for jon --

this, of course, made me cry. i don't know why. he probably thought the picture was stupid. he never liked flavia. the love of her work was shared by my maternal grandmother, my mother and i. i could see my father and my little brother tolerating her stuff. but my older brother...this was a man who went fishing on saturday mornings, golfing in the afternoon and to the bar to watch football games and drink with his buddies at night. no way would he be caught dead with a flavia print within five thousand feet of his pad.

that it was in such close proximity to his aggie photo collage, his golf club and his bonfire axe handle would've made him pretty irritated, i suspect.

i'd managed, though, to get through the shelves and the clothes and was almost through with the stuff on the floor. i was just fine. until i saw that. i sat there, trying to hug the frame (which is really hard to do, by the way), thinking how ridiculous i was for wanting to hug that and wishing i could hug him instead.

i was thinking it fit him, fit his life. those who didn't know him would've said he was a weed, given the choices he'd made. the twenty-year-old me would've said so. and it hurts like hell to admit that, to have thought that of him, then. but the ten-year-old me and the thirty-year old me would've known otherwise. those who knew him, really knew him would've know it, too.

so, since i'm miserable now, you get the question. aren't you glad? there's this bizarre part of me that figured it would fit well with this.

If you had a week to live, what would you do? -- Joe

I’ll keep this one short because I know how difficult it is for you to read.

I would spend a day cleaning up my apartment, getting rid of all the junk, divvying up my goods to be given to those that matter. Write a little something creative for each of those people I care about. Make them little photo collages. Spend as much time with those people as I possibly could and do my best to make those moments as pleasantly memorable for them as possible.

the first line of my response was snark, mostly.

for the second inquisition essay, go here.

this week's wisdom is thus:

for though we walk in the flesh, we do not
war according to the flesh. for the weapons of
our warfare are not carnal but mighty in god
for pulling down strongholds, casting down
arguments and every high thing that exalts
itself against the knowledge of god, bringing
every thought into captivity to the obedience
of christ (2 corinthians 10:3-5).

the second question

June 1, 2010

the inquisition essays were written six years ago for a creative nonfiction writing course. my interests in certain things were greater then than they are now.

What are you thinking about when you think about things that excite you about life? -- Dad

Rarely have I felt excited, at least during the past two years or so, so it was difficult for me to answer this one. There’ve been only two things, really, that’ve given me cause to feel excited lately: the possibility of studying in a graduate program of some sort and the trip to St. Thomas to visit a friend.

Graduate school because I want to better myself, to learn, to create, to apply myself to see how much difference it makes to do so.

While I’m terrified that I won’t be able to get into grad school, while I’m afraid that I might fail there, too, as I have in so many other aspects of my life, I look forward to learning. To studying, broadening my mind, or at least trying to.

The trip because it’d been so long since I’d taken one, just me, to see some place or person I’d been longing to visit. Because she and I have both lost people that mattered to us in the past year — her mother, my brother. My friend has been unhappy in that corner of the world, and I wanted to cheer her up. I’d heard it’s beautiful there. So I had anticipated the visit.

What do I think of when I think of these things? Possibilities, the opening of new doors and windows, the illumination of ideas that have as yet remained shrouded by ignorance.

The sun on my skin, burning it, creating more freckles to add to the hundreds I already have. Sand, building little castles with it, feeling it shift around beneath my feet as I walk along the water’s edge, swimming in that water, then laying on the beach and having the sand cling to my suit, skin and hair. Spending hours with my friend talking nothing but nonsense, complaining about the stupid people that litter the beaches and roadways. Strolling around town with a camera, taking really bad photographs of really beautiful things.

What other things excite me? Johnny Depp flicks. Two hours in a dark theatre, watching my favorite actor put his unusual spin on a usually interesting film (yes, there are exceptions, like Secret Window).

Nora Roberts’ novels. Curling up on the sofa with the lights dimmed a bit, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping a can of Dr. Pepper and getting lost in some romance novel for a few hours.

Not having to set the alarm clock. What a treat it is to not have to slap the thing silly on those mornings. What a pleasure. But you knew this already.

Sleeping steadily, for at least eight hours, something I rarely do when in San Antonio. Waking up and feeling rested. When that happens, all is right with the world. I am unconquerable.

Finding new roads to travel, seeking out their beginnings and endings, something I regularly do when here. The roads outside the city limits of San Antonio are so much better than the roads surrounding Conroe. I am amazed by the hills, the slope of them. The slanting slabs of stone that rise up here and there, the colors of them. The varying shades of green in the springtime. The wealth of trees that line the streets.

Coming home. Walking into the house that I grew up in, knowing that even though the pieces of furniture, the knickknacks inside might be a little different, the people living there might look a little different, the house still feels the same, the people do. My bed is still the best bed in the house and there is nothing like a night’s rest in it.

Some marvel of nature that is often overlooked, like flowers where one wouldn’t normally expect to find them. The patchwork quilt of green leaves that is the canopy of trees spread out next to Loop 1604 near Nacogdoches. The palace of clouds spanning the horizon I happened upon coming out of class one evening. A lone primrose swaying in the breeze. In these moments, I think of nothing more than, Wow! That’s beautiful!

The sound of my mother’s voice when she’s not displeased with me. The sound of yours in the same situation. In those moments, I have not failed you. I can do no wrong. It’s as though all the mistakes I’ve made are forgotten.

The rare, barely conversational phone call from my younger brother out of the blue. The one that comes so unexpectedly, not because he needs something, or I’ve called and he’s calling back, but the one where he just wants to say, Hey. How you doing?

Letters in the mail, instead of bills.

Conversations where I say everything I mean to say, exactly as I mean to say it and I’ve not offended anyone. Here, a smile suffices.

Full tanks of gasoline. There is this sense of glee. I can go anywhere I want to.

A phone call from a man in whom I’m romantically interested. Good dates. Days when I’ve found the courage, when I’ve thought enough of myself to ask a man out and he’s said, Sure.

In short, I think this life isn’t so bad after all.

for the first inquisition essay, go here.

amber glass

i am a mass of boiling liquid
captured and corked in amber glass
sometimes, the liquid seeps out
slides down the curves, spills onto the floor
sometimes, the cork pops
the bottle bursts
liquid spews onto everything within reach
everything that matters
everything that doesn’t
i am both villain and victim
irrelevant, monstrous
deceptively so
for my smile radiates such light
recalls the warmth of the sun
yet my thoughts are dark and jagged
like shards from a broken bottle
the wounds the villain inflicts
leave the most hideous of scars
the victim weeps
seeps liquid down the sides of amber glass
the villain stirs to slay her
there is rage
there is shame
and sadness
there is me