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Writing Samples for Perusal and Other Activities

By Sam Chereskin

To All,

Writing is what I’m best at. Please take a moment to look this over, and if you find my work worthy of it please pass this along. I want to write for a few dollars, either freelance or on staff. It could be for a publication, a marketing firm, a website, or anything really. This isn’t everything. There are more short stories, more poems, travel writing, research papers amounting to hundreds of pages, and the start of a novel. Thank you for looking at this. May you stay warm through the rest of the winter, and good luck. My best regards, Sam Chereskin phone: 760.815.9079


Table of Contents

Published Magazine Articles 4 Selected Snippets 13 A Short Story 55 Business Writing 67


Published Magazine Articles


A Free-Form-Thing (Published in Stockyard Magazine 3-12-10) Chicago fashion doesn’t mean much to the world at large. Old ideas of what Chicago wore might have been the three-piece suits of the The Sting—or the running shoes and baseball caps of the Big Ten stadiums and the dirt diamonds before them, carved out of cornfields. The Jungle certainly doesn’t say anything about couture. There are stereotypes about what Chicagoans wear, and ideas about what Chicagoans do. Some of them resonate – stereotypes come from somewhere – but none of them shares the whole truth. To understand the present state of Chicago fashion, you have to understand the present state of Chicago. You have to understand what it means to be the Second City and the Third Coast all at once. Each neighborhood has a look, but Chicago doesn’t. I’m going to tell you tell you why this place doesn’t make sense, and how that makes us – and our clothes – a perfect fit. Jon Cotay, part of the trio that founded Akira – Chicago’s premier boutique retailer – told NBC in 2009 that New York fashion is edgier and that LA has its “Hollywood thing.” Kerouac informed us that Chicago is a mix of not quite Western and not quite Eastern folk. And according to Melissa Gamble, the Director of Fashion Arts in the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago presently doesn’t have a look. She’s been Chicago’s fashion czar since 2006, and she says the frumpy Midwestern stereotype started to erode five to ten years ago. A “free-form thing” has taken its place. In 2006, Mayor Daley hired Gamble to promote Chicago’s fashion industry. The New York Times and The Chicagoist reported that her job was to dissuade the graduates of Chicago’s four design schools from fleeing to the coasts. Yet her view is different. In an interview with this magazine, Gamble didn’t convey any preoccupation about who left and who stayed. Instead, the former corporate lawyer and fashion marketer spoke of expanding entrepreneurial activity within the city. In her eyes, Chicago is not fending off the influences and allure of other cities but joining a global fashion community defined by an exchange of ideas, materials, and people. She reported that native fashion wholesalers and retailers have picked up steam; business is operating at volumes unseen in Chicago since the 1980s. Gamble is expanding this global exchange with initiatives like Chicago Fashion Week, the Chicago Fashion Council, and the Chicago Fashion Incubator (which, every year, provides six new local designers with the financial means and the marketing capital to establish their careers). Under her helm, this city is buttressing its fashion community with efforts as grand as shows and as quotidian as management consultancy.


If the city keeps up this high-wire act, fashion will flourish in Chicago. Yet it will not flourish in the way that it does in New York, London, Paris, or Milan. As Gamble suggests, fashion here may benefit from “exchange,” dialogue, and reflection, but it is at heart a uniquely “free-form thing.” We have three-million people of all different kinds. A retail market that large has to buy a correspondingly huge and diverse amount of clothes. People will come; they will sell things, and some will even dream things. But they will sell and dream quite different things. There are haute new trends coming into Chicago and arising out of Chicago all up and down the Magnificent Mile and in the ever-expanding list of boutiques across the city. Akira’s buyers are promoting new talent, and their fashion shows and parties give people a place to coalesce over clothes. But never the same clothes. I come from southern California. I’ve developed a deep affinity for clothes, and it only happened after I moved here. I get to wear whatever I want in this city. I make statements that subtly break convention while I attempt to construct an image that my girlfriend describes as “timeless.” The freedom to dress as I please, and still to dress “well,” continues to astound me. While my style may not define me, I alone now get to define my style. This wasn’t the case back home. I’ve been here for four years and have been trying to figure this place out: how it works, why what is here is here. What I wear now is the terminus of a fouryear inspection of Chicago and clothes. It began in the winter of 2006. My eyes had been glued to my shifting feet for months, and then I forced myself to start looking up. I’ll always remember the first time. I stopped on a walk and peered down FiftyFifth Street. The signs melted into the horizon, were too far away. Nothing like that exists where I’m from. Hills force themselves upon the roads and make them take their shapes—everything turns there, and you’re upon something before you know it’s come around the corner. Chicago is different, I realized. While straight lines aren’t natural, our city is built on a grid. You can see down Greenwood, Garfield, State, Dearborn, and Clark for miles. No hills obstruct your view, and Goose Island doesn’t fall into the Hudson. The land determines nothing. A sense of arbitrariness pervades. Historically, even Lake Michigan makes scarcely a difference. The St. Lawrence connects all of the Great Lakes, not just ours; and Chicago’s spot at the southern tip of Lake Michigan was hardly the most obvious locale for a middle-American trading town. Why didn’t Michigan City grow into the biggest city between the coasts? Why didn’t St. Louis remain the Gateway to the West? On the edges, New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans are necessary pathmarks; but where do you put the hub in the middle? (Anywhere you please, it seems.)


The private resources of this country – the Carnegies, Regensteins, Crowns, and Rockefellers – built a city as they wanted it, a city to house their businesses and all the things their businesses brought. They and their associates brought the railroads. They brought the stockyards and the stink. They brought the workers and the neighborhoods to house them. They didn’t build it all, but they built enough to entice the rest of us to build the rest. Now we live in the city of their dreams, in buildings that bear their names; and we can look down the unnatural, perfect line of State Street until the distance makes us dizzy. Yet they invented their city in the only place in which they were free to do so. After all, Chicago was not only a tabula rasa but a swamp; storm and sewer drainage were a perennial issue. That’s why old neighborhoods have front doors below the sidewalk: we had to raise the streets between eight and fourteen feet in a massive public work that corrected the natural imperfections of a city that was arbitrarily built to be important and huge. All this, meanwhile, is essential to understanding Chicago fashion. The city’s legacy of arbitrariness means everything to what we wear and what we design. Like our city, our creative outlets are always second in the running. As a town arising arbitrarily rather than organically (and for the purpose of exchanging the exports of formidable “elsewheres”), our dramatists lack a Broadway, our painters lack a SoHo, and our auteurs lack a Hollywood. The glamour and notoriety of our fashion is similarly second to that of other prominent cities. Yet our creative class is first in a different way: it is uniquely free of monoliths. Being second allows us to enjoy and express ourselves with a free-formed vehemence; it promotes individualism and variety in ways that would be prohibited elsewhere. While the East and the West may be at the vanguard of new trends, their always being first limits their creativity. The most famous in a particular field advance in a particular way that establishes how advancement should occur. The scale, the cost, the cutthroat competition between giants shuts out those who want to do something else. If you are behind the plow rather than pulling it, you have more room for lateral motion, even if only a few inches. By most accounts, then, Chicago doesn’t have a look. There’s no meta-aesthetic to which the city’s urbanites must aspire and within which they must frame their clothing. Traveling between Southern California and Chicago for the last twelve years, I’ve concluded that it takes six months for a fad to cross the two-thousand miles to Chicago. But once it gets here I’ve never felt that it has the same power it has back in LA or San Diego, where the Hollywood or surfer look seems a social necessity. In Chicago you can wear it, but you don’t have to. It’s all arbitrary. And that makes it more deliberate here than anywhere else. 7

There’s a girl at a bar in this city that shouldn’t exist. You’re gripped from across the room. Why? The way she’s sitting looks contented. It’s her big face; her shoulders are curved so you can grasp the slightness of her smile. Her elbows are on the bar; her ass is on a stool; her feet are kissing the brass rail. You like what she’s wearing. She’s alone, and she’s the one you know you’ll talk to. What about her appearance spreads your imagination out like a patio in Crete? What do you see in the folds of her dress, in her choice of blouse, in how they fall? Is the bar in Wrigleyville? Is it in Wicker Park? Is it in Hyde Park? Each section of the city carries a fashion standard. Wrigleyville perpetually looks like it just got out of a Cubs game. Wicker Park does new things with vintage scarves and cotton sun dresses. Hyde Park’s enclave is purposely fifteen years behind the times and delights in it. Is she Downtown and swirling her cocktail dress like a lawyer with Johnny Walker Blue? Regardless of where she is, she’s one of those people who realized that a closet with six dresses and eight pairs of shoes can be more than a hole in the wall. She’s realized that the fifteen minutes we all have to get dressed in the morning is adequate to find an expression. She’s realized that a high V accentuates her cheeks and that cream compliments her mahogany hair. She’s realized that a hitched waist and a Spanish leather belt remind her that her father isn’t from here. She picked her clothes and has said something about herself. It’s as if she said her name was Veronica (or Venus). It’s as if she’s told you what that means the instant you saw her from across the bar (and you like what you see). That’s what I think clothes can do. It’s what I think they are doing in Chicago. It’s a “free-form thing,” and it’s ours. I’ll see you in the back room of your favorite place. I’ll be the one with the velvet jacket, a scarf tied in a half Windsor, and a double bourbon. You’ll know it’s me—and that’s exactly what matters.


Keep Me Bright Smiling (Published in Stockyard Magazine 10-19-2009)

Two weeks in, there is your nomination and The slouched dig, shove of my thoughts plowing American Plains arid of care, chore, and yield. Two weeks into our adolescing acquaintance, just two weeks Into your toothsome hello, it sometime happened That you caught me smiling back. I tell you sniveling, I live in the basement of our House— In its dank, my thoughts meander, hide like roaches And the mildew funk stoppers my nose, my lungs, my heart slow-beating. I am cold in my youth. Often I do not know what is going on. “Is it my fault?” I ask the walls. I squirm with the question (Imagine gassed dogs in dumpsters). I know what I am good for but have not had time to say. Speech is my madman locked in a cell. Railed layers bar my inmate tongue from his lips, And my shivering arms cannot pry the cold rot with a steel. Yet, arms tingling, I twist and stretch for the warmth removed And from between my teeth Now steal a glimmer with fat toothpicks. I am no longer mortal-cold and blue-lipped As I have time, I have place to say My smile is opened. For, the tale turns, I do not forget that I have things to scream I do not forget that I have things to smile for I do not forget that I do not do all things alone. I made no promises to the Black dentist or messiah Whose warm fingers lift my cheeks from the inside, Though he made promises to me. 9

He told me I would not rot again, and I believed him. Ten months later I still hang a crescent from my ears; Ten months later I still show myself my teeth. I do not understand it all, and I cannot always see— But I salute you my dentist: You have lifted me into my House, where the others have returned. Because, two weeks in, you exalted promise And ten months later I still have faith, I have hope; I scream I smile.

Dear President Obama, I think your Nobel Prize has a touch of the absurd, but I don’t care. Your perfection represents our own. If you are the palette from which we no longer paint beige vacancies, from which America questions itself by painting new and lively impressions, then I am proud. If your prize is a testament to that, and not just a messianic anointment, then I am happy. At a certain point we will all realize that we don’t necessarily love you, Mr. President. It was not we who strangely awarded you. Those were the Norwegians, and I don’t know them. Others and I awarded you with twenty-dollar donations and a vote. We did not sit with the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and many of us cannot conceptualize the connection between your medal and America’s security. We simply can’t. We can hear the lines; we know how to watch TV—but we can’t know whether you’ll be swallowed by the pitfalls they say you’re now approaching. I can’t see you, Mr. President, valuing the Nobel Committee’s endorsement over the advice of your military advisors and your own ideas about the safety of the American people. Can a big gold coin buy our boys and girls a trip home from Afghanistan? Why didn’t we think of it before? I cannot assume that such things influence you. I cannot say. So I give you the benefit of the doubt, and, My Captain, I see no problem in celebrating. It’s the first international prize the overwhelming majority of America has ever seen its president win. We revel in the award because, in large measure, it is ours and for us. Your triumphs are not wholly or always yours. The news does not always see it, but I think you do. The presidency is larger than a single man. That’s harder to understand in failure, but I hope you know that we do not always forget it. It’s harder


when you have a winning smile, or when you raise a crowded room off its chairs, but we do not always forget it. We may realize over the coming months and years that we don’t necessarily love you. Not in all the ways we purport to love you now. Instead we shall love our country. What a statement! What a thing to say! For we shall love ourselves again. This is important to me because I am young, and because I have come to an age where I can know what it means to say it. I know what it means now, but until recently I didn’t know how powerful a sense of civic responsibility can be. I have come to know how great it feels to be beholden to other Americans in a climate that respects that commitment. It fills my chest like warm air in a tire, and now that it’s there I’m ready to speak and act. Your award reminded me that I think this way – that I love – and that it’s okay. We may realize that we have been in love this way for a while—but that we misnamed it. We, who awoke with the U.S. suddenly stirring in us, called it you; but that was wrong. Don’t worry, Mr. President: You are not America. We cherish you, but we shall remind ourselves of something important. We shall remember – by examining your work and words and examples – that our hopes for our civic lives do not have to involve you. That lie has lasted too many years. Our hopes can involve you, and some should; but they do not have to ascend the White House’s steps. Many of us are strong and extraordinary, much like you. Some of use will rise up to speak; some of us already have. More among my generation than I have ever seen are smiling, whether they agree with you or not. That, I think, is the meaning of your gold medal. You were nominated for the Nobel Prize two weeks into your presidency. You received it ten months later. That is madness. Yet I’ve been smiling for a longer period than I ever have, and I put great stock in that. (I haven’t been alone either.) I have been speaking and I will continue to; I will continue to drag those around me into discussions and civic actions; I will continue to watch as my friends do the same. Your prize reminded me that we do not have to think about it as your prize for peace. It is ours so long as we keep working. Mr. President, I hold you in the highest regard. Let us keep bright-smiling together.


Selected Snippets


No. 40

My plan is for myself. My life is for others.


No. 96 I have more words now, like more tools in a tool box, to fiddle with, too build things with. But I’m still confused about the material. Tools traditionally submit wood and carve metal, but I don't have these things. I have a girl that I would never touch with a saw, but who continually saws at me. Who continually wants to saw at me. I cannot fathom why she would want to so consistently cut me so deep as to relieve me, as to please me, as to rend me limb from limb with smooth motions - like pearls on clean clean skin. She sticks to me for a second and brings the smallest parts of me a fraction of an inch towards where she is going. She does it again and again. And the softest and whitest parts of me keep getting dragged along to wherever she wants them to go one touch at a time. And I want to go… with her. And I can’t fathom how she could be so nice as to take me with.



New Year’s Eve: seven billion people descend upon New York. “Someone’s touching me.”


No. 92

An outlandish rabble We search, & scream and yell As we sit in silence All wearing shades of yellow.


No. 93 All is but a dream when we loose feeling. I well with feeling and slate many houses with my sentiment. But still I am no longer earth bound. Normalcy seemed rooted in the walks I made on certain pavements, and now only my embodied pulse seems to have me grounded. Nothing seems real because I have no pain, or shame. There is no waiting with a screaming silence in the night. There is no dulling pulls on glasses, only celebrations. Where have I walked into? I have not lost feeling in my eyelids. The open and they close. I have not lost feeling in my eyelids. I’ve just lost all control.


No. 86

To be lacking a moon in September and to find only stars winking in steps and saunters that city dwellers only dream of describes a grain of sand I found and like those delights just described it had friends all shining refractionary smiles along a road I’ve been sweating for. Time too danced lazily with the asphalt and found special cadence with an endless yellow line as it caused the air to join it and condense so low to the ground, but far enough away, that my feet struggled to close the June distance and to feel the moisture shimmer down around my toes in the heat. “I’m going West!” I SCREAM until the sound bleeds for me to save my lungs the trepidation. I run & run & howl to the summer sky with nothing panging in my ears but a strange will. It’s new to me. And I wish to pay it credence as it stands before me with outstretched black hands. Now my lungs do bleed and my souls no longer feel hard or soft touch. I tripped. Nothing describes that fall because if rings between too many adjectives, but those black hands helped me and cradled me in those obsidian sands. There I finally looked to left and right. Why does everything dance? The stars, time, air, light, and the inland seas of prairie that hugged me tight - when I chose to stumble. They knew what those who don’t, don’t know. That it’s better to dance than to run. Look around and let yourself be taught how.


No. 87

Reading is the key. Without it what is there? Stagnation. I have no innate knowledge of the world around me.


No. 84 In what world could I write in order to make you love me? What words could find form in the molds of your desires? Could characters and a plot unravel the fringes that scare me most? The trite usage of rhyme gives me no bearing in my sea of questions, and you cannot be my vessel. I don’t want to find shelter in you. I want to ripped by your kisses and smothered by your eyes. There is a hole in my life. It is a question of worth. Not whether I am worthy of you, for there is a universe in which I can envision our union, but it is rather a question of how good I can be. How well I redefine both our lives. I want the chance to mean something to you, the one I am close to, as I climb the ladder. Each wrung is a triumph, and as much as I promise myself I can do it alone, that my own persistence traverses levels, I also lie to myself. If I don’t need you I want you, and the force of my want cements my need.


No. 82 The world seems all the same this night. As the lamps glow and feebly spread their light. The colors, dull and pallor lacking, still dance on the walls. My sheets still appear similar to nights before and their warmth seems no better shield against the outside cold. The floor still simple, the pages of a million books still stacked. Bottles lying, and pitchers of unsavored tea sit. All is but the same this night as fingers stray to the light’s last switch. But there is aspect of this time past dusk, when friends have set and the sun hath yet to rise, that has not yet before graced my eyes. It’s not rosy in color but rather in my mind. That is the only word I have for the tricks of light, eyes and heart. All is but the same minus this bronze glow in my mind that melds with my life as if a drink of brewer’s make had touched my lips and the world was spun around. But as my head falls to the weight of rest I can think of nothing more than the sameness around me and the difference inside of me as my smile bleeds into my eyes and casts its lively lens on everything my sleepy self sees. It is good to be alive.


No. 79 The needle said to thimble, “I’m looking for some string, something to tie the thoughts in my head of love and of dread to interweave them to bridge some chasm to build, to mesh some net, some scarf something to keep me warm, free from cold & dark harm. We sit here in this wicker basket a small sewer’s casket knowing nothing but each other’s ferrous touch, a simple life of little to not much. So I say again to you, my long time friend: I search for something red I have and eye and a head seeing, thinking thoughts of love & dread longing for the lips I don’t have, that simple piece of thread.” 22

No. 77

Andopolis fell first. His crimson oil touched peach soil with his armor not long behind.


No. 65

Everything was plain she thought. “Everything is plain,� she told her friend. He confirmed her account.


No. 61 Grass once grew in a pasture/ I knew it well/ I ran my hands through the loose, ashen gravel of its paths/ and many times it turned my hands white. I saw the magpies nesting/ the stalks bent gently from either side/ to shelter the brood from simple rain/ small mouths groped for innocence/ and many times I saw it delivered. Now the innocence I once knew/ has stayed and faded/ as many simple choices/ have taken me far from home. I now see tall trees in the foreground/ but I am not the only man there/ there are signs everywhere/ of an adulterated nature. The birches still sway with the rhythm/ that I danced to in my youth/ I can remember/ every time I touch the dusty bark/ my hands come away from the tall, tall ivory spires/ and, again are white.


No. 67 Some boy just came in and wanted to cook. I told him I don’t speak and gave him a look. We lost ourselves in translation, lacking compatible gesticulation. It seems though we have lots in common like hands and feet, and, apparently, a mutual love to eat.


No. 62 Her hair was short and the color of new teak. Slanted bangs rimmed small glasses and a wide set of lapels rimmed her neck. She was an interesting French doll - a toy. Her freckles, I painted on and her blush the work of natural brushes.


No. 58 The sun rose 13 hours ago. It had warmed the sands that wrapped around Tahim’s backside. He was sitting on a hill over looking Tel Aviv. He was sitting alone in Allah’s single light. He drew deep and smoke melded with his person. He exhaled over Israel and the breath of the earth took thin bands of smoke back up the hill in it’s caress over Gaza. Some was taken to meld with the Palestinian air, and other whisps of Tahim’s heavy exhale spread themselves over the earth. There they added whiteness to the sun bleached trash and stones. There they sat down and waited like everyone else.


No. 57 With a must come the streets of Granada With a musk come the touches of a man running his fingers deliberately down the spine Running down cobbled streets with a pipe looking to loose his mind. Emigrants smell sexuality as dedos sucios dig with force into your notches do you find your legs in the race down dark streets or does a pobresa find his way between them? Alleys are great places to hide for vagrants who look to escape the eyes of lights to escape into an unjust romp in your fragrance en la oscuridad, the smell of unused meat in your tights. Una ciudad, an experience, le danza de louse And the weight makes me know I love you.


No. 50

The moon peaked over a 15th century dome. Hawks, Sparrows, Indian Magpies are all loudly sharing song. Families are leaving - shame it’s just as the park really came alive. The dynamism of those remaining can be seen to be self-sustaining as the human tide is waning. This old mosque. The park is alive.


No. 48

“I wanted to take you back to California. I wanted a broken cigarette hanging from the right side of my tan lips, two acoustic guitars on the speakers and a smile as expansive as the unobstructed sky. I want you.” “I’m sorry we had to stay in Chicago.”


No. 44

They were the worst semblances of deep crime.


No. 43

Did you know that I’ve been to Greece with a love. One possesses love in the past tense. I own love. If it exists at all, it is shared in the present. In the past‌ It still exists - it does not end - but each of you take the same subjective whole with you when it ends. There is more love when it ends. It is a commodity only traded by partners, but possessed only by individuals.


No. 42

Arcade lamps: softer than my lips, more modern than my heart - and wholly more illuminating.


No. 39

Jazz is music for walking and dancing - however rapidly. There is no running.


No. 36

I watched my sweet young sweetheart’s sweet lips wrap around the stick. I’ve know so many of them. I’ve built coffee tables out of the butts and ash built up in my living rooms. These tables were more intelligent than I was the day I locked my own lips around my first.


No. 33 Atonement for sins That weren’t really sins Comes with dreams.


No. 32

Thick fences would hide my naked body from your sight. I could lay on grass & swim round and round not worrying. I could sleep & sleep & make no promises to you. I could tell you nothing & that would be everything you expect of me. I could maintain with little regulation the gray lights of morning all day. Every instant would have promise and fill me with anticipation. Like gray light that I wait for & know will set itself, & my walls ablaze in instants. For instants. I could wait in the gray light behind my fence - and watch it go.


No. 31

A pleasant breeze would push me over if my hands can’t find a hold. I am tiered of how summer things can make me cold. Like warm smiles from people I have wronged. People to whom I think my heart belongs.


No. 29

Cars in Delhi honk in ways I have never seen American cars cast in F But not only Fords scream fuck to the corrugated roofs, to the smiling young that dot the streets that build the colonies of the big, loud city. I will dream of these streets.


No. 30

The day doth run too quickly for me madam. I am out of breath.


No. 26

I have stumbled upon reasons why I act the way I do. Why I struggle at all times to be noticed. To be engaged with everyone and everything… Why I struggle at all points for a voice. It’s because I felt that for a long time that I did not have one, or that it was denied to me. I was alone. I wanted more. I felt that I didn’t deserve the sweeter parts of life that were denied to me. I internalized outside opposition and years of being cooped up. It led to an unwavering hunger for a voice. I crave it like a sweet drug - the mechanisms of presentation and action that are undeniable outlets to communication. I want to be my best self, and get noticed for it. I have, as in other things, gotten very good at it. Now it’s time to direct it, channel it and earn good results.


No. 28

I will always write this: listen to me. Listen to the sonorous libations of my verbal arteriality! I will continue searching for a voice, and because I am public I will continue asking you to hear. Shy away if you must, but I will be where I was when you walked away. I will be there and around another corner. And if you ever take my hand I’ll help you set our place, our pace, and set the race up for two. “Race you to the corner?” “Yes.” Race me to the corner. Welcome to the ride.


No. 27

May everyone aspire to earn such smiles.


No. 22 “Sing,” said the bird to the river. “I will,” said the water, “but only as I run by the wall at the base of the mill.” “The bricks wear down and the constructions of man will topple to my time. I will sing with their sodden, falling beats as my trill rolls past and over the melodious stones.” The bird found his feathers cold to the melancholy words, and wet from the passing tune.


No. 15

You gave your body to the lonely.


No. 14

The violinist raises her bow to her chin with the due dexterity of a well trained florist. Never does she leave a point unhindered, or rose unseen. She fleets allegro blossoms on the strings of gut and man. A florist is a simple perfection, but a good and noble surgeon of blooms does not cater to simple valentines; she is on the stage. Ila bonita - her cheeks are strawberries and her babies breath sings.


No. 20

Pain is a retrenchment. It is the circumcision of our imagination leaving nothing but the raw, whole truth.


No. 5

There are small things in this world that will always remain small. There are large things that don’t have that permanence. Nothing can make them stay. So it is the building of small stones that is noble, for when ancient statues fall in the middle of our dreams one can still say they are made of stones.


No. 2 A noiseless patient spider Shooting forth gossamer strands Finds a hook & pulls tight his efforts. “The taste of your web is sweet,’ they say as the spiders dine together over many nights. Buds grow and fade in the company of moons Over many heads. The food gets old, the preparations tiresome & the party ends. But all the spider can do is noisily cast about his different smiles like masks. Screaming inside he returns to the only life he knows His own. Grudgingly he sets forth his tool and casts his hope, his ignorance again.


No. 1 Work Hard. There are moments when you have full control and moments when you do not. Work hard to be prepared and to act in those moments of agency. Work hard to avoid those where you do not have anything to say. Most often, they are the same work.


“I want to be as close to you as I can” I am blindly, blissfully running at full speed into an ocean of oceanic feelings I cannot describe, let alone explain.

The Casablanca Connection no.1 Staring out over the sea from the banks of Tripoli A young girl once asked her friend who was not there if he ever will be. She remembered them bathing in the waters before her —how he had pushed her in there. Could this be a way of saying all the things she thought? Did he not think of the same things? “does he not play my strings?” she thought. Pushed her into the sea and save for being wet, she had not noticed herself dripping. The waters she was thinking of she thought only she could see. She checked herself again though. Position one. Position two. Would there be a mark of he who – of two seas wrapped blissfully around parts of her that her eyes hadn’t yet dreamed to see. There were, so close to her chest it took the sun to bleed for the salted shapes to show traces of beaches she thought that she nor he had ever been. One on right and one on left, and her alone, bereft She knew what this boy was trying to say. And even with him not there she willingly walked into the warm waters off of a coast she’s never been to before. “So, how far to Gibraltar?” she asked as if someone would listen. But she already knew as she stopped being able to hear the shore’s romantic christen; She could not hear the waves breaking on the shore. she could not hear that anymore, instead the wind blew the sounds of what she already knew. That where she was going to was just far enough. So she was in the rising tide as he had wanted her to be. “Will he be there, on the other side, with a towel and Spanish sketches?” she wondered. She felt uneasy but also knew that it is sometimes better to get answers for the things you cannot read, from books that have yet to be written, for the questions you have pondered, directly from their authors. He knew he will be. He had thought days before: You stand on the edge of something we both think is better than we’ve seen. Just jump already. He pushed. “Today, I’ll be your man from Andalusia,” he thought, “for that is what you need me to be.” I’ll be there with a clean well-lighted place, albondigas, and a towel that does not wipe away the smell of this sea too quickly.



A Short Story


The Right Circle Stephen always spoke with his hands. His eyes, wide, roved about searching for a face. When he found one looking back, he would bore in with his shoulders and flashing smiles. I’ve been in his audience a hundred times, but it feels like more. I can see the taught muscles in his long arms as they come around a question, a prop, a friend. I can see him try to flex his face with more comfort and sureness than he’s ever known he could touch. If you give him half a moment he’ll tell you about delusionary statics, today’s nuances on togetherness, or how deep earthen places can feel. He’s speaking now, but this time I didn’t just get to look at him. I got to look at the whole scene – the effecter and the affected. It was like watching a concert where a violinist you love makes you believe. It was like being at a concert where you get to hide in the proscenium lighting, and you get to stare at the beautiful woman two seats down. It was like daring to dream – that she believes to. He’s telling a story to five people at once. I have no idea what he’s saying right now. If I had to say what makes me know I’ll go over there in a second, I would say I can feel it in the back of my neck. But it might be at the base of my skull. He’s framed by an orange wall and a wooden ceiling - in an apartment he’s never been to before. We walked through the front door a half hour ago. There are maybe fifty people here. The apartment is old. I could have told you so if you asked, but you would have had to ask. Stephen doesn’t wait for questions like that. He looks at front doors. He steals a stroll for a half second at entrances while it is clear that the rest of us are walking. I’m sure his eyes touch the walls like they’re fingers because he told me something about the bricks. He does this every time we go to a party, and he never brings it up again. He starts to walk again on the other side, he gets a drink, and explores. The girl with the short brown hair is smiling at his performance. She’s laughing now. She’s doing both. I can hear Stephen’s sowing voice, or at least its ups and downs, through the music. His little crowd is by the stereo. I think he would say he’s casting forth gossamer strands right now. He’s raised his voice. He’s finishing. “Good times,” I hear him say. He’s got her. He says that a lot. “Good times.” I’ve known him for three years now. I say it too, because of him, but I don’t do it properly. I’ve had them, but I don’t really know what they are. He says it like he knows. I love him, and I think he half knows it.


His band of five is breaking up to enjoy the milieu. I guess I’ll get off the couch and go over there. I’m halfway across the room. I like seeing him like this. He’s been unhappy for a long time. I’ll ask him to describe her smile. He’ll try, and he’ll like doing that. *** Alma elbowed her way to the counter to get a Coke. Jackie was standing there with her back to the rest of the kitchen looking for ice. “I just met this guy,” Alma said. Jackie wasn’t really interested. “Who?” she asked. “The guy in the blue sweater over there.” She points through the small circles of people at two guys on the other side of the room. “Oh, Stephen? He was in my Spanish class last winter. I love that guy. I haven’t seen him in weeks.” Jackie watched a guy with grub-like fingers try to get some of the last ice cubes from the tray. He got two, but picked and rubbed at the last one for too long before he put the tray back on the counter assuming no one had seen. Jackie took her drink warm. “I’m going to go say hi.” “Wait.” Alma pulled Jackie back by her arm quickly enough that Jackie spilled a little. “Are you friends?” Alma asks. “We don’t see each other very often, but we usually talk for a long time when we do.” She remembers the last time they talked. It was on the quad. He had hailed her down from a distance, and had come up running. “Yeah I guess we are,” she decides. “He was just telling a ridiculous story about a night he had in Paris,” Alma said. Jackie nods and smiles. “He tells that one well.” “You know it? Does he tell it a lot?”


“He used to tell it more after he first got back. Or when he sees either of the two girls that put him through that.” “Tim’s studying in Paris this year. He asked Stephen” Alma paused. “His name is Stephen right?” Jackie bobbed her head. Alma’s slender face was like a list; her cheeks checked off remembering his name. “He asked him if there is anything he should avoid. Stephen said, ‘Avoid this.’” “Come on, lets go say hi.” Alma grabbed Jackie’s arm again, but didn’t spin her around this time. “Is he single?” Alma asked. Jackie smiled at her friend. “Yeah I think so. He broke it off with his last girlfriend three weeks ago,” Jackie said. This time Jackie grabbed Alma’s arm—just above the elbow—and pulled her like a kid with a wagon toward the crowded hallway Stephen had gone down. They stopped at the edge of the crowd for a step. “Cute right?” Jackie said. It was Alma’s turn to smile. They pushed their way through. *** I asked Stephen to describe her smile. He wasn’t having a very good time at the party, and he offered that we finish off the night at his place. He assented as we were coming down the apartment building’s front steps. “The girl with short brown hair, red and white dress, the one you asked about,” he said. We rounded onto the sidewalk and he picked the next streetlight too look at as he told me. “Her bangs were intoxicating.” He was quiet and excited like a boy who’s having fun after his parents are asleep. Of course he wouldn’t just start with her smile. “They were the short curtain that the act of loving her eyes invited me to push aside. Her eyes are soft, white, wide, and green all at the same time. She has a wide mouth that I’ve seen smile. She lifted her cheeks with simple deftness – like a natural.” It was like a secret.


“Her features were malleable, but I’d like to think that she is their only master. That’s why I like her bangs. I caught myself while I was talking – I imagined kissing her forehead. They are the curtain covering a plane that seems promising; she is the natural smiler, but if I were allowed there I might be privy to her malleability. I couldn’t control her face, but through my kiss I might be able to push the master’s hands. That’s what I dreamed about.” Just then my phone rang. Stephen finished over the tone. “That’s what I thought about her smile.” We talked the way two comfortable people do while one of them is busy; with our feet, and hands, and straight backs as we continued down our Chicago street. “Hello?” I said into the phone. Who is it? Stephen mouthed. “Jackie.” I said. “What’s up?” The conversation only took a few seconds. “We already left. Really?” A big smile split across my face. “I’ll let Stephen know. From what he’s said so far, I think he’ll like finding out. I’ll see you soon. Bye.” I could see curiosity welling in Stephen’s eyes. His receding eyelids were floodgates letting out questions and whiteness. His eyes let out, “Must I plead? while his lips spat, “What did she say?” His hands joined the act and articulated the same questions. I chuckled. Stephen could see that this wasn’t the type of secret that is more valuable being kept. He wheeled in front of me and drew a rapier from his belt, the imagining swordsman still backing towards his apartment. I took out mine as well, and the sodium lights danced off our steel. “Jackie just called,” I said. He bore in with a lunge. “I know! What did she say?” “That your short haired girl was looking for you.” His feet came together straight blocked to me, he threw his right hand wide, and fed my imaginary sword through his navel. He held it there. For a second. With my tipped arm still gooey with my friend’s surrender he tilted his head back and smiled to the sky. We forgot our swords, and kept walking. He


threw his arm about my shoulders, and made us compatriot sailors in the intertwining archipelagos of darkness and nighttime light. “One more drink, to celebrate?” he asked. “Got any Davis?” “Miles? Of course.” We were just across the street from Stephen’s place at this point. We scampered across Greenwood, and into the apartment. *** Going to Stephen’s apartment is a series of events I’ve come to depend upon. He is a consummate host— not always noiseless, but always patient—he sacrifices what he has for other people’s happiness and comfort. He gifts his time. Stephen walked directly into the living room, and grabbed Live at the Newport 1954 off the shelf. He put it spinning on a fire-engine red turntable, and kicked the stereo to life. “Sweet thing,” he said. I didn’t know if he meant the record player or the album. It didn’t matter. He tapped the switch in the living room, and sent it into semi darkness. He followed the only remaining light around the corner, down a short hall, and into the kitchen. I was the only other one in the apartment, and his voice invited me to follow. “The last time I saw Jackie,” Stephen said, “was on the quad next to the library.” Stephen was pulling out teas, and reading the hand written labels on the loose-leaf bags. The music accompanied us from the other room. “Green, black, or white?” Stephen asked. “I don’t do green at night,” I said. “And I want something with flavor.” Stephen shuffled the bags. He picked up a bag with his left, and read the label while picking up another; he tossed the unwanted back into the cupboard, repeating the action like a switch-hitting trombonist until he found the one he wanted. 59

“Jackie and I talked for hours.” Stephen continued the story. “We were sitting by that line of benches. It got dark. The best part of our conversation was about Jackie lamenting how guy she thinks she’s in love with is in Mexico.” Stephen and Miles were in step. He had already put water on the stove. “He had cut off contact, and she craved answers,” he said. “She wanted to send him a letter, but she refused herself because she thought she would be part of an adolescent cliché. Slightly older man, went away, lost contact. She didn’t want to be ticked off a semi-existent list of hapless youths.” I took a seat on a chair that was in the kitchen. Stephen leaned against the counter. “Have I ever told you what I learned the first time I went to Paris? The first time I fell for a girl in Paris? I was sixteen. I couldn’t look at this girl, or the Sacre Coeur, or the small Italian place where I had my first beer – I couldn’t look down the Eiffel Tower like I was looking down its dress – without thinking about how cliché all of these things were. All at the same time – the trappings of Paris, the girl, the romantic spectacle of nighttime churches and bistros serving Hemmingways. I laughed to myself and confessed that I’ve read about all these things. It was a cliché. It was grand. It was a confession… “Now, I could tell you that the city was built from the ground up – for a purpose. I could tell you that Paris was made so those café’s and butchers we love, and the pedestrian we love to watch, all had places. I. would. tell. you. About thousands of similar places. Everyone comes back to tell you about a place in Paris, if not the whole thing. A place where the idea of Paris happened. Some of us try to hold these stories in; others don’t. But I say, ‘Who cares?’ Paris is a cliché.” Stephen smiles. “I think it’s the cliché that all clichés aspire to be. “I didn’t learn much that first time. Just that idea. But living there for three months last year – I’m not afraid of clichés anymore. I got to see it was real. Paris is real like acne it’s so real and variedly human. I didn’t just visit there, I lived there. Clichés exist because people commit them. People do eat with candles sometimes. They do fall in love in Paris. I’ve done it and I’ve seen it. Maybe there is something in the water or in the space that lets you forget everything but the person smiling in front of you, and it’s sweet. But when you do remember the rest of the world -- and the words you’re not supposed to say because too many other people have said them -- are you really going to wish you never smiled at that woman? Peeked down her dress to see flashes of Tuileries in her bosom? No, because if you’re lucky she might peak down yours.” 60

I’m just looking up at him. I realize I’m in his audience again. I smile. “I told her I don’t think clichés need to be avoided for their own sake,” he said. “You just have to choose what to do with them.” “And, did she ever do it?” I ask. “Write the letter? I don’t know. I hope so.” “That little speech you gave her probably gave her the support -” “She needed.” Stephen finished my sentence. He nodded out, “Like I said, I hope.” Stephen had collected a press and some cappuccino glasses. He interrupted himself, and, walking backwards, nodded towards the refrigerator. “You still want a beer?” I slid my hand to dismiss it. Stephen led the way into the living room again leaving the kitchen light on. He added to the story as he was putting down our tea. “She was smiling like it might.” Stephen went to the sunroom, turned on the light, and got a chair. I sat on the couch. He put the chair across from me, and sat down on the other side of the coffee table. The light was still on in the sunroom. That fixture was in a position so its yellow only directly colored part of the floor, and diffusely tinted the wall above my head. Our pitcher, and our cappuccino glasses sat idly on the table between us. “It’s still not easy.” He leaned back in his chair, and looked down at his chest. “Putting your happiness into a letter. Folding the paper and placing it in an envelope; sending it to un-expecting hands. I don’t know if I could do it.” Stephen looked up at me again. “If you decided you loved him?” I asked. “If I decided.” Stephen said.

Stephen decided the tea had steeped, and poured it out into the glasses. He put blackness in little white molds with handles. One just right of me, one just left of him, and he left the press at ends with our glasses. It seemed the feeble light—yellow from one side, white from the other—cast about and made our 61

small circle of shadows in the negative space. We made a little pocket in the center of the room where the line between us seemed to have become round. I tried my tea but it was too hot to drink. It was warm in my hands though, and I left it there – holding it high with my elbows tucked into my sides. Stephen didn’t touch his for a second. “How many times have we sat in this room like this?” Stephen asked. “A lot,” I said. He didn’t look around the room, but he didn’t really look at me either. Thoughts seemed to come out of him - through his hands, and then shoulders, and chest. The thoughts themselves were not audible, they were not legible, but his movements were. Like the remembrances that prompted them – slow, soft, and powerful. These movements drifted up to his neck and pushed his head to look at me. “Do you remember Elizabeth?” he asked. “She once told me something that I will never forget.” “We were in a dark corner of a party, and she was talking about having spent six weeks in Mexico. A movie she had seen had simple Mexican men who spoke a little; and their accents were thick, heavy, and sweet like a chunk of marzipan. To her they were like a block hewn off the corner of her remembrances. And they were bitter for her not being there, and for her only getting to remember voices that felt like home. She bent over and said, ‘UUAAAHHH’ right there during the party. For her there was nothing else to say. “I’ve remembered that since. I’ve remembered the orange sky, and the view of the lake that was next to us. That moment did something. I wanted to be closer to her, sure, a font of barely expressible feeling, but I’ve dreamt of sitting with people also. “I wanted to sit with a group of friends that could say what had excited them that day like she had. They would say what bit at the heels of their stomachs. I hoped they would each tell these stories, one at a time while framed by some nighttime rite -- beer, a room, a park – whatever it may be. They would share what had made them excited, and they would recognize what about that feeling, what can barely be explained, in others’ eyes. “And then there would be one final bout as each of them settled down. They would become excited once more—this time in a very dull way that would be like how a well worn carpet feels underfoot—for they would realize the after effects of the crucible they had just shared. They would be compelled to admit that 62

they were friends – either from that day on or many, many days later. It would be my…” Stephen rented a smile. “…I stole it from a book we had to read freshman year. It would be my Durkheimian effervescence. It would be our adolescent religion.” He hadn’t shed his smile. It could have been mounted. Stephen looked directly at me again. His smile was like a certificate of recognition; the kind of thing your parents hug you for when you receive. “What was that girl’s name?” Stephen asked. “Alma,” I replied. “Alma. Do you think she will ever like to join a circle like that?” “We all do.” “My circle?” “That’s harder to say.” “I know.” “Are you going to find out?” “All I can do is say hello.” “She dances, you know that?” “Alma? Is she Eastern European?” “Bosnian.” “Does she smoke?” “Do you care?” “No.” We smiled at each other. 63

Stephen shook his head. “You meet some crazy people here.” I knew he meant interesting. “Yeah.” I laughed. “We’ve been here three years. You’ve just noticed?” “It hits you every once in a while.” He smiles. There are certain phrases that Stephen saves for special occasions. “Welcome to the ride” he said.

We spent an hour more together. “Have a nice night,” I said. He shut the front door behind me. It’s three blocks more to my place.



Business Writing Concisely Informative Style


Selections from a Response to a Request For Qualifications for an As- Needed Project Manager at UCSD Construction Services on Behalf of Chereskin Architecture

Letter of Interest Founded in 1990, Chereskin Architecture is a full service architectural and project management firm. We offer unique design solutions to the Southern California construction and design marketplace. Our experience includes a wide range of medical projects - from large to small - office spaces, and residential buildings. We completed a new lab in 2010 within the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Building on the UCSD campus. We would like to continue our relationship with UCSD after that successful enterprise. Chereskin Architecture is a member firm of the American Institute of Architects and the International Council of Building Officials (ICBO) which ensures that we are tested in our field, undergo continuing education, and that our firm is chartered to provide a standard of excellence. Our services stem from the detailed needs of each client. Chereskin Architecture’s dual experience as both architectural designer and project manager forms a holistic understanding of project schedules, budgets, and team building. We are accessible and proactive guiding our documents through planning, approval, and construction. We are small, but powerful. We excel in comparison to larger firms on mid-sized projects. Our team has over 120 years of cumulative project experience. Each client has the force of that experience behind them, exercised in precision and savings. We submit our credentials for your consideration. Thank you for your time.


Response to Selection Criteria Chereskin Architecture has extensive experience in securing approvals from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). We are familiar with their procedures for permitting and inspection, and with their personnel. We know, and have done previous business with, the Senior Architect for the Southern California Region, the Fire Life-Safety Officer, the Area Compliance Officers, etc. Our experience with OSHPD projects means we have worked with Inspectors of Record. Recently we worked with Terry Riggs, the UCSD IOR, on an equipment replacement project at the Hillcrest Medical Center. Working in hospital environments incites sensitivity. Our project listing shows that we understand the impacts of renovation on acute healthcare, and we work to reduce patient impact, enhance environmental safety and maintain infection control. Construction phasing is a certainty as virtually all of the proposed construction must be conducted in-situ. Concise project scheduling is required to prevent delays and their corresponding gaps in hospital service. Chereskin Architecture is currently enrolled in a ‘Master Project/Construction Management Services Agreement’ with Kaiser Permanente National Facilities Services. We have acted as Project Manager on various projects with them since 2002. We are also currently working with Nicole Kirk on the UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center S-18 Air Handler Replacement. And, last year we worked with UCSD FD&C Project Manager Mark Rowland on a lab conversion within the Skaggs Pharmaceutical Sciences Building on the UCSD Campus. Two of our staff are LEED certified. Current LEED projects include the Camp Pendleton Navy Replacement Hospital and the Palomar College IT Building. We believe in the LEED approach to building team consensus in our design phases. Energy and atmosphere sustainability options are explored early in order to achieve LEED certification. Commissioning is a prerequisite for certification, and our commissioning agent, The Ecologic Studio, is a leader in assessment for healthcare facilities. Our goal is to maximize the return on the owner’s investment through improved energy efficiency. On any project the omnipresent questions are “what’s the cost?” and “is it done?” Successful projects are born from sufficient planning and through communication. Critical path scheduling gives a more precise view of what each of the interdependent project team members is doing, and of what needs to be done next at each phase of planning and construction. We list all activities needed to complete a project, and the time it takes for each to be completed. We identify critical points and activities along the path towards completion so that the project can be completed efficiently, with minimal cost, and in the shortest amount of time possible. As Architects of Record on many healthcare and commercial projects, we understand that the success of the project will depend on the information that is gathered early in the process. We will confirm the project program with UCSD management and facilities personnel, and ensure that a thorough field investigation is conducted before schematic design beings in earnest. Progress throughout the design and construction phases will be monitored in regular meetings between the owner and design team. Meeting


minutes will be recorded and disseminated, and documents, drawings, schedules, RFIs, etc. will be posted to a FTP service for comprehensive team access. It has often been our task to assemble appropriate, talented, and comprehensive teams that can excel in a hospital environment - a place filled with integrated systems. We work with MEP’s, structural engineers, and life-safety consultants with tremendous amounts of experience in Acute Care Facilities to make sure their systems and advice work together instead of against each other. With IT, we have worked with the owners IT services and with outside consultants, depending on the owners preference and capacity, to install Information Technologies and other low voltage systems. Diversified experience is what makes us better. We both design and manage projects. Our work as architects of record has given us technical knowledge from the trenches. We have comprehensive knowledge of California Health Care Codes above and beyond what a project manager is normally called on to engage. Our 120 + years of combined design experience, including experience coordinating team members to form complementary versus mutually interfering technical systems, has given us intuition, knowledge and speed. Our project programming with UCSD and our CPM scheduling will be more accurate because of this knowledge. Other project managers may not have this experience. So it has been of benefit to us and to our clients. In conclusion, Chereskin Architecture offers full Project Management services from planning and programming through closeout. The strength of our team can be a great asset to UCSD for our experience as well as our familiarity with healthcare projects. Working closely with UCSD, we’ll start with intensive team activity early in the process in order to identify major issues and act upon potential problems. We emphasize team coordination, scheduling and cost analysis in order to ensure our mutual success.


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