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The University of Mississippi Freshman Writing Magazine Volume 2 - Spring 2010

Venture Table of Contents

Volume 2 - Spring 2010

Cover Art by Natalie Moorer

Poetry Once A Lover, Twice a Stranger ........................1 by Brian Hatch, Oxford, MS Future Prospects ................................................5 by Jacob Waalk, Monroe, LA Out With the Old, in with the New ..................8 by Ryan Brown, Memphis, TN Disastrous First Love .......................................16 by Aleigh Pons, Florence, AL Child’s Play ......................................................17 by Brian Hatch, Oxford, MS unpretty ...........................................................24 by Sidney McLeod, Natchez, MS His Eyes ............................................................28 by Endia Mickey, Oxford, MS Thunder ...........................................................32 by Lexis Herron, Memphis, TN An Educated Mind ..........................................36 by Keosha Moorehead, Como, MS What Is This World? .......................................37 by John Jordan Proctor, Glen Allen, MS February ...........................................................42 by Liz Martin, Memphis, TN Tall Tall Tree ....................................................47 by Neely Claire England, Hernando, MS Unconditional Carelessness ............................50 by Krista Large, Houston, TX

Fiction, Essay Roaming Hearts .................................................2 by Morgan Hall, Annapolis, MD A Tasty Experience ............................................3 by Meghan Pettigrew, Glen, MS The Taste of My Origins: Ecuadorian Food......6 by Nataly Travez Garcia, Quito, Ecuador My Daddy ..........................................................9 by SaraBeth Morris, Flowood, MS A Life Changing Leap ......................................11 by Tyler Hughes, Bay St. Louis, MS Home and Beyond ...........................................14 by Elsie Okoye, Anambra, Nigeria Growing up in the Kitchen .............................18 by Ida Lutie Pryor, Savanah, GA

A Thousand Waters .........................................20 by Jacob Elrod, Carthage, MS Sykia .................................................................25 by Jim Barrett, Oxford, MS The Last Laugh ................................................29 by Molly Loden, Fulton, MS The Key Ingredients ........................................33 by Hope Russell, Pearl, MS Southern Cooking ............................................38 by Haley Halford, Brandon, MS My “Second” Best Friend ................................41 by Andrew Anderson, Nashville, TN YOU ..................................................................43 by Brian Hatch, Oxford, MS Need For Speed ................................................44 by Eric Spangler, Atlanta, GA Ringing in the New Year .................................48 with Pain Medication by Mary B. Sellers, Brandon, MS

Volunteer Readers Keith Boran, Jessica Stock, Abby Greenbaum, Mandy Murfee, Matt Saye, Whitney Hubbard, Amy Mark, and Chip Dunkin. Editor, Milly Moorhead West Assistant Editor, Ashley Gutierrez

Artists Natalie Moorer, Nashville, TN..........Cover, 8, 12, 23, 24, 31, 40, 43 Aleigh Pons, Florence, AL .....Inside Cover (i), 32 Krista Large, Houston, TX.............................1, 37 Rachel Bronstein, Alpharetta, GA ..........2, 17, 28, 42, and Back Cover Neal Tisher, Mobile, AL .......................................4 Emily Macon, Jacksonville, FL...........5, 13, 27, 36 Adam Grace, Forest, MS ....................................10 Madison Shepard, Memphis, TN ................16, 35 Kate Mislan, Glen Carbon, IL .....................19, 49 Andrew Anderson, Nashville, TN .....................41 Ashley McMahan, Austin, TX .....................46, 47 Tyler Storey, Columbia, TN...............................50 Sofia Helberg Jonsen, Stockholm, Sweden .......51

Painting by Aleigh Pons


Once a Lover, Twice a Stranger by by Brian Brian Hatch Hatch II met met aa Stranger Stranger in in aa class class II met met her her once once but but not not at at last last She She asked asked me me for for aa cigarette cigarette Then Then the the turning turning wheels wheels were were set set We We talked talked and and talked talked back back and and forth forth But But where where were were we we going? going? South South or or North North School School was was done done But But itit was was not not fun fun You You were were gone gone And And II was was forced forced to to move move along along Until Until you you saw saw me me there there Saw Saw me me with with your your beautiful beautiful stare stare We We met met again again and and wasted wasted no no time time You You told told me me your your secrets, secrets, II told told you you mine mine Now Now II ask ask you you to to come come with with me me I’ll I’ll be be Mickey Mickey and and you you be be Mallory Mallory


Laura by Krista Large

Roaming Hearts Morgan Hall Much do I see in the eyes of men and women yet rarely do I see contempt for life is spent with a roaming heart lusting for purpose for happiness for love whilst the cruelties of this world continue to mock us yet they continue to temper our spirits Many have I seen come and go from my sight men of valor alongside courageous souls of women how they stand tall dauntlessly unyielding to failure, welcoming to victory Long have I waited for these giants to return yet solace does not come to those who merely wait love does not come to those who think none of it but to those who strive forth into the mists of the unknown by their faith by their passion and hope for a better tomorrow Much have I seen come and go in this world of roaming hearts.

Seagull by Rachel Bronstein


A Tasty Experience Meghan Pettigrew If I had to pick the most memorable experience I have ever had with food, it would be the time I took a weekend trip with my family to New York and ate a very famous restaurant called Tao. Tao is a restaurant that you are almost guaranteed to see a celebrity if you go. This restaurant is very expensive, but I must say it is worth it. Tao serves almost anything you could think of. The three things I enjoyed the most that we had was the sushi, steak and dessert. The sushi we had was delicious. I do not even like sushi but we all enjoyed it so much we had to order more. This sushi was not anything like I have ever had before. The sushi we ordered was some sort of shrimp roll, smothered in a really tasteful sauce. At first I was a little skeptical about eating any, but my aunt talked me into it by reminding me we were at a five star restaurant. This sushi was so unbelievably incredible it did not even taste like sushi. It just melted in my mouth. The sushi was the best thing I had there, and if I went back and could only order one thing the sushi would be it. The steak was our main course. They brought out a tray of all different kinds of steak, sliced up in little tiny bite size pieces. This was also like nothing I had ever had before. I have grown up eating steak at our family owned restaurants that we have in town, but this was amazing. It was all cooked just right, and it was so hard to quit eating it. The steak was not the best part of the meal, the sushi definitely was but the steak was very memorable also. Last came the dessert. We ordered a chocolate fudge cake smothered in strawberries with a lot of different flavored ice cream on the side. This may sound like a typical dessert but it was definitely cooked to perfection. To this day I can remember how much I loved this dessert, and I wanted to take one back with me to the hotel. When our check came it was well over three-hundred dollars. I know this price sounds ridiculous, but it was not because of what we ordered, but because of how famous this place was. We saw the New York Yankees football team there after the game. This place was so delicious and I can remember the taste of the sushi, steak and dessert. My family has been dying to take another weekend vacation to eat at this amazing restaurant ever since we left. When we are all together and the subject of the trip gets brought up, Tao is what we talk about. If I could pick one place to go back to and eat, without a doubt, it would be Tao.


Artwork by Neal Tisher


Future Prospects By Jacob Waalk Become a broken marble statue and get lost on the island of Milo. Lose your sight, your hearing, your taste, and your smell…leave only the frozen, hardened, and numb sense of touch, and maybe then you’ll be loved. Half-naked and armless, you are still a masterpiece without a sin to lament, with a face to last for untold centuries, petrified in unseeing stare at creation. Feel the warmth of knowing that unknown people stand gawking at the “genius” of your beauty. Go and visit Venus, just for a night, and join the immortals, forever in sight.


Sicily by Emily Macon

The Taste of My Origins: Ecuadorian Food Nataly Travez Garcia Every year, for almost 60 years, since my grandmother had her sons and daughters, we get together in my house to cook something that is known as Chigüil. My mother’s family comes from a city called Guaranda, better known for its carnival. 50 years ago, my mother, uncles and aunts were part of this population. My mother and her whole family moved to Quito, which is the capital city of Ecuador. There she met my father and they got married. Even though my mother’s family does not live in Guaranda anymore, they still get together at my house to cook this delicious dish. The Chigüiles are basically made of corn flour, eggs, water, and cheese. It also needs the leaves of the corn plant in order to wrap all its content. Once we have the mix wrapped, we boil it and wait until the flour gets transformed into something dense. The best complement for chigüiles is coffee; nothing is better than a glass of black coffee made at the same time as this wrap. “You have to eat it when it is still hot,” my mother used to say. A chigüil has a special taste that cannot be described with precision, what I can say is that it tastes like corn with cheese. Not sweet, but salty. Because it is dense, is hard to eat without a beverage, and this is why my family eat it with a coup of hot black coffee. This dish is specially made on every Carnival each year generation after generation. The special attractiveness of this is, of course, the special moment where grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren help washing the leaves, or making the mix, or boiling the wraps. The second special attractiveness is the difference between this food and food from other countries. Finally, I have found that what makes a dish special is not its flavor, but is its history as well. Year by year, during the 12 years that my grandmother lived with us, my family knew that on carnival we had a meeting at my house. That day starts normally; we wake up at 8 in the morning. My aunts and my mother go together to the supermarket looking for the ingredients. Days before, they all had collected the leaves from a little plot of land on the outside of the city, owned by one of my older aunts Ana. Almost 5 years ago, my mother and I went to help her in this hard job. It is important to know how to collect the leaves; we cannot use a broken leaf. One leaf is used to wrap one chigüil, and because we are a big family, normally we cook 150 chigüiles. To collect 150 leaves is the hardest work I have ever had. The process of cooking starts at 3 in the afternoon. Everybody has to wash their hands, and make a big space with an empty table for the dough. My grandmother and


my older aunt were in charge of the dough; at the other side of the kitchen, my mother and two other aunts put cheese inside the dough, finally they wrap it, and the last aunt takes care of the wrap and the boiling water. My cousins, sisters, and I liked to stay in the kitchen looking with interest what the big people do, because we wanted to learn how to do chigüiles, so that we can preserve this dish. Right now I think I am not good at learning, I still cannot cook chigüiles. On the other side, the men of the house did not do anything in special. They just sat at the couches and started to make some jokes about wives and their ability to cook. My father in special was used to sit in the table waiting for the first chigüil to get out of the pot. I can remember him eating at least 3 or 4 chigüiles in less than 30 minutes. The best of this arduous job was to sit all together at the end of the day and eat chigüiles while somebody came up with some jokes about the food. Things have changed. Now we just look for other siblings that cannot do it as well as my granny used to do it. This year for instance, I will not be able to be at home, and probably not all my aunts, uncles, and cousins will be there. Traditions always change and every year less members of our family feel attracted by this event. The last time I talked to my mother I asked her if somebody will be going to my house to cook, and she told me that for this year’s carnival it will be only my mother, father, brothers, and sisters. Now that I am not home, my memory is the only thing that I have left, and it helps me to remember all kind of tastes. This is special. When I came here, I just found that nothing is similar to what I used to eat. Not even fried chicken! Chigüiles are not even popular in my country; perhaps we are one of the few families that cook this in Quito. In addition, our food is a mix between Spanish and native food, and this is the main reason why mestizos are used to eating this food as well. The principal ideology of native food is the fact of sharing with the family and the community. The chigüil is a dish that is shared in carnival to all the people that go and celebrate with them. And I think that for many years, that was our ideology too; cooking not just for eating, but for sharing a moment with family and friends. Every time I remember it, I just can smell the aroma of this food. I wish in the next years my family would continue to practice this tradition that makes us feel at home. Every bite given to a chigüil is an experience that tastes not just to food, but also tastes to my origins, and my family origins.


Out with the Old, In with the New By Ryan Brown We met that summer, a face I can’t forget My heart regrets the mistakes I can’t correct Your smile excites my soul, whenever in sight I feel the warmth in the ominous winter night The being in the mirror is torn to his essence From a past of burning fire, calmed by your presence She left me incomplete, with a heart locked by fear With an expression solemn and stern, pupils blocked by tears She left my heart to you, hardened and compressed to stone With her spirit stained in my blood, her memory carved in my bones But though left alone, I stand reborn as the Phoenix Engulfed in the embers of passion, ignited by the name, Brittany Ennix I yearn for greater commitment, avoiding deceit and inevitable endings I abandon past angels and demons, optimistic for a new beginning For roses weren’t red, and violets weren’t blue Sugar wasn’t sweet, until I met you…

Roses by Natalie Moorer


My Daddy SarahBeth Morris As I reflect on my childhood, the memories I have with my dad bring me great joy and laughter. My father is an interesting man; while a business man, he still has his inner “hippy,” and outdoorsman characteristics. A lot of my memories I have of my dad are set in the outdoors. Between my sister and me, I was the one most interested in nature, so my dad took me on camping trips. He didn’t have a son, but he had a tomboy. I can remember on the trip having to go to the bathroom and begging my dad to drive me to the bathhouse. He said it was silly to drive to a bathhouse when I could just go in the woods. At the time I was furious but looking back I laugh at his attempt to toughen me up. My favorite part of that trip was lying on the bank of a river with him, naming the stars. My dad and I derived a quote from those trips which is “Let’s talk about camping.” On Saturday mornings I remember waking up to my dad yelling “feed the birds.” We use to have horses so we own a decent amount of a land. Scattered all over our land are many bird feeders. It was a ritual to walk around with my dad, screaming at the top of my lungs “feed the birds” while we filled up all of the feeders. Saturday was a day of getting things done around our house so if I wasn’t inside helping my mom clean then I was outside with my daddy in the dirt. He would let me sit in his lap and drive the lawn mower. We also started many gardening projects together. My favorite part of that was finding earthworms and putting them in the compost pile. My dad loves giving original gifts. Every year my sister and I get something “Mississippi made.” Whether it’s a Wyatt Waters book or handmade jewelry there is always something neat behind his newspaper wrapped presents. He also loves to give weird gifts. Dad is normally the parent to buy the stocking stuffers at Christmas. For instance, this year in our stocking we had fishing tackle, deodorant, travel size shampoo, and pencils. My dad has had horrible eyesight for as long as I can remember. My family and I have enjoyed many laughs over his sight-seeing mishaps. One night daddy decided to scramble some eggs. He sprayed Pam into the skillet, or so he thought. My sister and I came into the kitchen following a horrible chemical smell to see where it was coming from. The Pam wasn’t greasing the pan so my dad continued to spray more into the pan. My sister and I screamed at my dad to stop. We then took the can from him and read the label out loud “Wasp Spray!” All three of us fell on the floor laughing at his mistake as well relief we didn’t all get blown up. My dad and I share a special bond that grows stronger as I grow older. We have so many quirky jokes and traditions. He has a very different way of teaching his children life lessons but it has kept me on my toes over the years. Whether it was watching me at every single ball game or taking me camping, my dad has supported me and been there for me. Businessman or Hippie, I owe him for the difference he has made in my life.


Barn by Adam Grace


A Life Changing Leap Tyler Hughes As we began to barrel down the narrow air strip, the three person aircraft began to shake. The single propeller of the plane began to make sounds I did not think airplanes were supposed to make. I examined the pilot’s expressions, trying to notice if these sounds worried him, but he seemed more relaxed in the pilot’s seat now than he was before, when we were waiting for the air space to clear for take-off. I began inspecting the aircraft that would be carrying the three of us 10,000 feet above the earth. The weathered floorboards under my feet made the age of the plane apparent. This flying sardine can had obviously been around the block a time or two. My observations gave me mixed emotions – this plane was a very reliable one, or the pilot desperately needs an upgrade. I watched my life flash before me as the plane began to ascend from the runway. Many questions came to mind during this time: Why am I doing this? What if the parachute malfunctions? What if the pilot passes out? All of these questions faded quickly as I gazed upon the southeastern Louisiana landscape. This sight was one to remember. There were a few large upper level clouds that the mid-afternoon sun shown upon, making the clouds seem like gates to a new world. I had never witnessed anything so breathtaking before in my life. The plane ride itself was worth the trip. As I continued to gaze out of the window, the jump master informed me that we were half way to our “desired altitude.” This caught me off guard and it felt as if we were in the air for an eternity. Time was passing as slowly as it ever has. Seconds seemed like minutes, minutes like hours. At some point, uneasiness turned to excitement, and nervousness to anticipation. I was as ready as I would ever be. “Let’s do this!” announced the jump master. My stomach dropped. I did not know what to think simply because I did not have time to. Before I knew what was going on, I was hooked up to a complete stranger, and the door of the plane began to open. Although it was a humid August day in the Deep South, as the door opened, the temperature dropped forty degrees. I grasped the handle above the opening and thought then that this was one of the most important things I would ever do. Skydiving would not get me through college. It would not guarantee my first major job as an adult. Jumping out of a plane would not give me the money to provide for my future family. But taking the leap would in fact give me the self-confidence to accomplish anything life had to offer. If I could jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, what couldn’t I do? I took a deep breath, counted to three, and took the most important step of my life.


Jump photograph by Natalie Moorer



City Arial by Emily Macon

Home and Beyond Elsie Okoye I am seventeen years old, the third of five children and have spent most of my life in the city/state of Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. This city is the most diversely and largely populated region in Nigeria, and probably Africa. Its population includes some or all of the two hundred and fifty ethnic groups found in Nigeria. Its official language is English, although it was originally a Yoruba (Ethnic group) state. The eldest man in Awka-Etiti (a village found in the eastern regions of Nigeria) once said, “Mmadu agaghi eji n’ihi na ubi nna ya eruka ahihia were gbahapu ya,” meaning: a person should not abandon his father’s farm simply because it has been overgrown with weeds. My father has lived by this proverb all his life and, as far back as I can remember, he has strived to inculcate this value into my siblings and me. Though we live in the city, we have learned that our roots, culture and origins will always be in us no matter what revolutions the place of our origin might undergo or how our kinsmen change. Lagos is a rowdy little coastal state (the smallest in Nigeria), stuffed to its seams with people. Like all of the other states found in Nigeria, it is found on the earth’s equator. Due to this, the weather has little or no variations and can be easily predicted (moderately hot or moderately cold). Anything can be found in Lagos, from timeless pieces to bargain items, from present day heroes to unsavory characters. The avenues for shopping range from open market squares to upscale boutiques. In the market squares, items for sale are displayed on crude wooden tables and advertised by tongue twisting calls from sellers. Others items are carried around on the heads of hawkers. In this setting, every item can be bought at almost any price. It could be likened to a showdown; either the buyer or the seller leaves the bargaining floor at a loss. It all comes down to the weaker bargainer. This ever-present bargaining of Lagosians, and Nigerians in general, washes into boutiques, and depending on the boutique visited, goods range from the famed ancient Nigerian artworks bought back from our British colonial masters to masterpiece watches and flawless gems. The famed phrase (or advice) told to all first timers in Lagos is “shine your eyes.” This simply means be aware of yourself, your belongings and your surroundings—be cautious. Lagos like every other heavily-populated city has its scenes of crime and criminals but, these unsavory characters are somewhat balanced out by the many great individuals found in the society which include Wole Soyinka-Nobel Laureate, Chinua Achebe-Writer, Dora AkunyiliMinister of Information, Enoch Adeboye-Pastor, Nwankwo Kanu-Footballer, Aliko DangoteIndustrialist amongst many other Nigerians who are not acclaimed, but who offer themselves for the betterment of the people and the society. Due to these great diversities, my movement in Lagos was always restricted to where I was


driven to by the story-telling family driver, when he was available. My father believes that; “Eze naani ya kwu aga gba oto.” Which means: the king that goes about unaccompanied could be said to be naked. As such, my siblings and I are clothed with chaperons of varying kinds twenty-four hours of everyday. Although I have lived in Lagos for seventeen years, I barely know the directions to any place beyond my estate. I have been sheltered and I am practically a stranger to the city’s beauty. My father is through and through an over-protective male. My grandfather once said, “Karichaa adighi naani n’ulo otu onye,” meaning: no one can claim the monopoly of strength in a house. This wise saying is the embodiment of the practice of most African men (including my father) as they often live by the unspoken rule that an entire village is needed to bring up a child. This rule is almost taken literally seeing as in most African homes, both nuclear and extended families are found living together. Awka-Etiti compared to Lagos, is the land my father calls my home. My family and I have spent most of our Christmas holidays in Awka-Etiti. It is at best, the family reunion location. I always anticipate our journey to Awka-Etiti not because of the thrill of homecoming my father hopes for, but for the gathering of loved ones. In Awka-Etiti, all my paternal and maternal relatives are but a stroll away. With all the restrictions of the busy city of Lagos forgotten, I am free to come and go as I please; everyone is set loose like the thick cocoa, banana and akwu vegetation of this rural setting. Walking on the dusty streets of Awka-Etiti is a pure delight as there are no worries such as being tackled by an unseen motor-cycle or being accosted by an unwanted admirer. Everyone seems to know everyone else in Awka-Etiti, even those from the city. On exchanging pleasantries, they carry on in the slow pace of rural life. The most striking difference between Lagos and Awka-Etiti is probably the difference in the smell of the air. In Lagos, the air is gentle and sweet with the scent of good cologne, or stagnant, thick and chokey with the smell of smoke from exhaust pipes. In Awka-Etiti, the air has a permanent woody smell, occasionally tinged with the smell of firewood and cooked food. It almost seems like Awka-Etiti is locked at a permanent equilibrium while Lagos is yet to settle between the two extremes. Lagos is the place I call home but, in actuality it is really just a home away from home. Awka-Etiti is the land of my ancestors, where my future husband should be from (if I intend to please my father) and where all departed kinsmen are laid to rest. It is also where my father grew up, where my parents were married, where my father set off from to conquer the city, where I am in close contact with all my cousins and where I am allowed to explore uninhibited and live free; but I will probably never live there—beyond a Christmas holiday.


Disastrous First Love by Aleigh Pons

new beginning fresh start nice people best friend completely open secret flirtation first love ignorant youth dragged along stubborn mind over exhausted broken spirit closed box never again Monkey photograph by Madison Shepard


Child’s Play Brian Hatch I feel like a kid again Genuinely like a kid My heart races fast My mind acts quickly, to stifle

A lover who has been scorned Scorned not torn, ready for more I wish the best and all of my luck But, that I am the one you find at night, too

I knew once before, but really not at all It’s fitting that I should be a child again I tried to walk before I could crawl Crawl towards solace, on digits of ten

Still I know how to act What happens, happens A deep breath sharpens the mind Count to twelve, all will be fine


Grasses by Rachel Bronstein

Growing Up in the Kitchen Ida Lutie Pryor I don’t have one experience that led to a significant change of my life, but rather, a combination of experiences concocted who I am today. My mother went to thirteen years of cooking school, where she learned different styles of cooking and about different cultures. Dad was a cotton farmer and owner of a farming company he had inherited from his father who came from respectable people. Both my parents used their experiences to parent me and my three siblings and give us a most idyllic childhood. We were given the best of both worlds; we could play in the dirt and raise chickens, and shower just in time to go to cotillion or the country club. I am the youngest but my parents and siblings all encouraged me to partake in the conversation, talking about politics, school, friends, work, literature, poetry, science, math, languages, traveling, and more. Sitting around the dinner table was my secondary education that was just as crucial and influential as my schooling education. Dinnertime was always an event, in the best sense, at our house. When I was growing up my older sisters, Amanda and Jane were in High School; Amanda was the poster-child for the nineties. They had friends that would always come over for meals and to stay when life in their own house was a little too much to bear; Kimberly was always over for dinner during her parent’s divorce, Taylor lived with us one summer and worked in the yard, and John Hopkins used to come every Sunday for breakfast dinner only because mom could make mass quantities of delicious food. We would all sit around the table, family and friends alike, for hours eating and talking about politics (my parents must have had a lot of patience to listen to kids ranging from eight years old to eighteen, talk about politics), education, and ethics. This is where I learned compassion, to help others whether in a small sense like just offering scrumptious food or in a large sense like offering a stable home life to those who need it. I also learned to have a voice and opinion about important things early in life; this was very influential to my development. The kitchen and dinner table were the center of a plethora of experiences, good or bad. I remember sitting in the kitchen with mom and dad, watching the announcements of the presidential elections. Throughout the campaign, I had heard all about both candidates and what their platforms represented. My parents, encouraging us to explain why we admired one candidate over another, made us defend our reasoning. This demonstrated to us that we are responsible for the claims and statements we make. Being treated as an adult starting at a young age gave me the opportunity to appreciate my own opinions and gave me a confidence that led to many successes in high school and hopefully to continue in college. Our parents persistently remind us of how proud of us they are and how capable we are to be successful in whatever we may choose. Because in the past we have been so open, I believe my parents’ encouragement to be true; if we were not able they would tell us. Not only were we expected to be responsible for our words but our actions as well. In high school, Amanda developed an eating disorder. Mom cornered my sister in the kitchen and demanded to know why she was “slowly killing herself.” After this incident Amanda received help and regained control over her eating habits. This showed me that the people you love may be self-destructive but this makes you


love them more, one’s concern for those of whom they love makes more of an impact than we can ever know. My parents encouraged and reprimanded when necessary demonstrating a non-selfish love. Because of this experience I have been able to help one of my dearest friends, Lucy, with her eating disorder. These experiences showed me the responsibility of loving someone and the responsibility of our actions, whether the consequences are positive or negative. Not all the memories from the dinner table are dramatic or exceedingly significant, rather the collection of the ordinary memories have become one great story and little lessons learned. When I was younger, I was terrified of tornados; north Alabama was an ill location for this fear. One time while sitting at the dinner table in candle light because the power had gone off, the tornado alarm went off. Everyone remained seated and continued conversation casually while I jumped up from the table, grabbed a sterling silver multi-faceted candlestick from the dining room table, and ran into the closet underneath the lower staircase. Dad asked me when I came out what the rest of the family was going to do if the tornado had been life threatening, to which I replied that I figured they already knew where to go to be safe and how considerate I was being by grabbing the candles, and we still laugh at that story today. Smaller stories like this one still have noteworthy impacts on my person, I am still rather sarcastic/ironic and this among other experiences show that I can react appropriately under serve circumstance. I want to be a surgeon and quick and efficient reaction time is a good skill to have. Events that occurred in the kitchen have molded me into the person I am today and will continue to mold me. When I go home during breaks, the first place we all end up is in the kitchen talking about school and all other things relevant to life. The kitchen has always been a forum for our family and friends; memories and news are shared with smiles and tears. My parents’ use of their diverse backgrounds created a superb secondary education for me and my siblings. We not only learned proper table manners around the table, but we learned to be considerate, strong-willed, patient (not always the easiest with the delicious food), respectful, and loving. A collaboration of events and stories from the kitchen and dinner table shaped me into the person I am and the person I will become. Because my family took the time to sit around the table and discuss, teach me to cook, what he/she would have done differently, or help with homework, I have developed into a healthy person— body and mind.


KIWI and Other Fruit by Kate Mislan

A Thousand Waters Jacob Elrod I spent the majority of my life in a small Mississippi town that borders the Brivick River and Louisiana. The name of the town is Sleyter, complete with a kudzu-laden welcome sign that adorns the city limits. Sleyter is simple by design. Nestled on its southern side is the town square which consists of the typical buildings: city hall, the courthouse, the pharmacy, and the clinic. Three miles north of the town square lay the homes of Sleyter’s inhabitants. Structurally, each house appears to be identical, with two stories of square rooms that are patterned with windows and topped off with a shingled roof. Near the woods that separate the river from the town were my house and the house of my neighbor, Clayton Frick. I can remember waking up one morning in April when I was twelve years old. The light peered through my second story window and pierced my eyelids. Sighing, I laboriously rolled out of bed and made my way downstairs and into the kitchen to get something to eat. It was Saturday and both my mother and father were gone to my great uncle’s funeral in Alabama. I was a responsible child for my age and capable of good reasoning, so my parents felt secure in leaving the house under my care. I grabbed the first box of cereal I could see through my still sleepy, sticky eyes and began to pour it into a bowl. Unexpectedly I heard a knock on the front door. Turning the cold brass doorknob and pulling against the weight of the wooden door, I created a sort of polite yet wary crack and prepared to greet the visitor. A boy of my age stood at the doorway with wandering eyes and looked at me when he noticed the door was open. He wore a long sleeved collared shirt and was about two inches shorter than me with brilliantly parted blond hair that was freshly combed. “Hello,” the boy said in a clear accent, “my name is Clayton Frick the second. I am your new neighbor and I would like to make friends with you.” Not knowing how to respond to such a greeting coming from a twelve year old, and being slightly delirious from lack of sleep, I opened the door and said, “C’mon in.” Due to his age, I disregarded my manners and shuffled back to the fridge to get the milk for my cereal. Against the light of the still open door, I could see him wandering lazily about the entranceway, touching various whatnots and pictures as if he lived there. I stood there watching him contemptuously as if he had violated my title as the new man of the house. “What is your father’s social standing?” he asked holding one of my family’s portraits. “Whacha mean?” I asked cautious of the nature of his question. He pursed his lips and said impatiently, “What does your daddy do for a living?” “He works at the mill in Jasper,” I said, and then added my personal touch of defense. “He is a foreman, which means that he pretty much bosses people around.”


“Mmmmm...” he said still looking at the picture. “My father is an accountant. He has been reassigned from his job in Boston to manage the bank in Jackson.” Looking back down at my cereal, I realized that I had been defeated and that I didn’t like Clayton at all. “Let’s go exploring,” Clayton said, “I am your guest and it is your responsibility to show me what little this town has in it.” For a moment I thought leading him outside and then shutting and locking the door, but I knew how disappointed my mother would be at such behavior. Therefore I grudgingly complied and led him out the door. We walked through the neighborhood of houses that could be told apart only by their color. Praying that a brier would tear into his neatly ironed shirt, I then backtracked and took him through the woods to show him the river. The river was sacred to the people of Sleyter. During the Civil war it was used by the Confederate Army as a natural defense against the Union. It was a terrible yet magnificent marvel that roared along its banks sweeping away anything that dared to deny its course. “This is all there is to see?” he asked in a spiteful tone, “This is unacceptable.” Enraged, I looked at him. He had just offended the one place where I felt like a man. I remembered how my father would take me fishing there for hours and how we would leave with only sunburns and a loss of bait, but I always left with a smile on my face. Clenching my fist, I looked at him, but I reminded myself of how disappointed my father would be if I were to strike someone who didn’t physically harm me first. “That’s it,” I said. “Figures,” he scoffed. I led the way back through the woods with the leaves crunching beneath my feet and the river’s wind ripping against my face. We were nearly to the point where the green paint of my house could be seen when Molly, Mrs. Inez’s Labrador retriever, wearily crossed our path. “That is a fat ass dog,” Clayton said. This time the intent to insult was obvious in his clear deviation from his normally proper tone. “She is pregnant,” I said defensively. “My dad says she is going to have puppies any time now.” “Well, she doesn’t have to look so repulsive,” he said indifferently. We had now made it back to the doorway of my house. Grinding my shoes against the doormat to rid them of the red clay from the river bank, I opened the door and secretly hoped that Clayton wouldn’t follow me inside. My hopes were shattered when I heard the door slam and the squish of his muddy shoes against my mother’s carpet. “Alright, show me something cool,” he said, “the coolest thing you have.” “Alright,” I said. I thought, “This will show him.” I took him into my parents’ room and pointed to the wall. Against the white wall hung a proud display of color that was a painting my grandfather had brought back from Germany after he returned from World War II. He had chosen it as a gift to my grandmother because he was a simple man and it was beautiful and expensive, the two things that men like him believed to be the most meaningful gifts a man could give to a lady.


Clayton stood, hands in pockets, scanning his eyes over the painting. I stared at him curiously, and our eyes met. His left eye twitched slightly, and a twisted smile grew on his face. “Oops,” he said calmly. I watched him, and the purpose of his words became evident as he deliberately lunged forward, hands outstretched, and in one swift movement ripped the painting off the wall. I looked down in disbelief as he sat, legs outstretched, leaning his back against the wall. He wore that bright, twisted smile on his face and held the ruined painting like a trophy. “OUT OUT OUT YOU SONOFABITCH!” I exclaimed. His smile melted away and he ran out of the house. I sat in the darkness of my living room that evening, hating Clayton. Watching television, I tried to block the events of the morning from my mind. I began to shed tears at the thought of my grandmother’s ruined painting and then sobbed at the thought of how angry my parents would be at the sight of the ripped canvas. Suddenly the television flashed a brilliant white and the noise of a weather alert sounded. Bold red lettering panned across the screen and the prediction for flash flooding was focused on Sleyter. It was then that I noticed the rain pounded with fury against my roof. Curiously I edged toward the window near my front door to watch the rain. A pale face was looking inside, it was Clayton. Jerking open the door, I looked at him and waited for him to speak. “I came to apologize,” he said looking down, his golden hair pressed flat against his face. “My actions were inappropriate.” “Goodnight Clayton,” I said and began to close the door. “Wait!” he exclaimed jutting his fingers in between the shutting door and its frame. I stopped my arm from shutting the door and regretted not pulverizing his fingers. “What?” I asked annoyed. “I want to go back to the river,” he said, “I feel like I didn’t appreciate it before.” “Are you crazy?” I asked, “It is going to flood at any min-,” but my words were useless because he had already begun to run toward the woods. Rushing forward and fighting the pressure of the rain at the same time, I knew I had to get to Clayton before the Brivick River did. I sprinted through the dense woods feeling the thin branches whip against my face. My breath was short as I inhaled the cold wet air. Panting, I came to the clearing fifty feet from the river. Clayton’s blond hair radiated against the setting sun and glistened in the rain. “Look what I found,” he said. Through the pelting rain I squinted to see him. He knelt down and picked up something. The object squirmed in his hand. It was one of Molly’s puppies. With one powerful push of his arm Clayton slammed the small dog into the oak tree that had sheltered it from the rain. I screamed and lunged toward him, but my feet betrayed me and I fell into the muck. Then, in a split second, the most terrible noise I had ever heard pierced my ears. A vibrant flash of Molly’s beautiful, white coat tore across the air as she lunged toward Clayton’s neck. They fell onto the ground as Clayton screamed and then gargled as Molly jerked Clayton’s head violently from left to right. Fear para-


lyzed me, and I was unable to move. Raising her head, Molly turned around and stared at me with her old familiar eyes. Even in my fear I could see the beauty of the dark red blood against her white muzzle. We stared at one another for what seemed to be an eternity and she then turned around and began to carry her puppies one by one away from the river. Gripping the earth and regaining my footing, I edged toward Clayton and took one last look at him. He lay there, eyes lifeless, his collared shirt stained with the blood that washed out of his neck. I turned south and walked toward the courthouse, away from the mighty Brivick. The flood was the largest that the town had seen for generations. The Brivick had widened five hundred yards and devoured my family’s home. My mother was brought to tears about the loss of the house and especially my grandmother’s painting. I would often embrace her, and she would smile and thank God that I was still alive and had not drowned in the flood like the neighbor’s son whom we had never met.


Road Lines photograph by Natalie Moorer

unpretty Sidney McLeod Everyone seemed more beautiful More exquisite in every way She could never tell anyone The things she wanted to say They’d laugh and say she looked “fine” But “fine” wasn’t enough The other’s eyes shone like diamonds While hers seemed to fade Boiling hot Growing inside Envy soon took over It never seemed quite fair Comparing herself to others Would soon be her downfall She felt like no one was there Staring in the mirror All she saw was a blur with hair

Young Woman in Stairwell photograph by Natalie Moorer


Sykia By Jim Barrett It was the first time that I left Thessaloniki on a weekend trip that truly experienced something Greek. I had finally settled into my dormitory apartment with my roommates Ben and Richie, the latter of which came with me on the excursion, and had attended the first few weeks of class at the American College of Thessaloniki. But, I was finally going to get the chance to see what life was like outside of the school in Greece’s second largest city. The school was providing a trip to the village of Sykia which lies about 150 miles to the east on the Aegean coast. Twenty of us were signed up to visit a vineyard there and learn about the wine-making process and upon our arrival, were greeted by the family who owned the vineyard. Five little children followed our bus up the dirt road to the house, which looked like nothing more than a couple of sheds cobbled together. In the middle was a porch with a wooden dining table surrounded by benches, mismatched chairs and rusted articles of the past. We began our duties that morning by cutting down grapes and tossing them into crates. The bad grapes we would cut down and leave on the ground in order to allow the vine to continue to grow. With my hand oozing blood due to an accidental but self-inflicted wound from a rusty grape-knife, I quickly headed back to the house to clean up so I could continue with my work. I walked up to the porch where the older women sat preparing dinner and one of them tended to my hand by cleaning it with ouzo, the national alcoholic beverage of Greece, and then bandaging it with a white cloth. I learned that day that there are multiple uses for ouzo… After another few hours of hot, backbreaking work Richie and I decided to head back to the house for a snack and a cigarette. What we didn’t realize was that our entire group had the same plan. The Greeks who had been working with us in the fields were noticeably confused by what we were up to because they didn’t normally break for lunch until three o’clock, but they didn’t seem to mind as they went back to humming their work songs tossing empty crates over the rows of grapes waiting to be picked. However, Arian, our trip leader, was becoming increasingly irritated by our laziness and ordered us to return to the fields. Richie and I, along with a Greek-American student from New York City named Ben, decided instead to check out the wine-press and waited for everyone to leave before we snuck to the other side of the house. The two brothers that were working on the wine-press, both with identical scruff and Camel cigarettes hanging from their lips, invited us to jump in and squash some grapes. We were ecstatic jumping in that juicy purple pool with our pant-legs rolled up.


“If you stay in there for a while, my friend, the grapes—they go to your head,” bellowed one of the brothers. “Duuuude,” Richie said. “We’ve got to stay in here all day!” Ben and I both yelled in agreement as the press slowly began to fill up with our fellow students who noticed that we were getting out of all the hard work. The rest of the workers, students and Greeks alike, slowly began to migrate to the house where the mothers had begun cooking the fish we were to eat for dinner. The porch was transformed to a covered, open-air dining rooming with which it seemed the whole farm revolved around. I’ll never forget that meal: fresh fish, salad, bean soup, with wine and ouzo to wash it down. All of us stuffed ourselves with great food, and repeatedly thanked the women for the feast. Being from the Southern part of the U.S., I naturally began to compare Greek Hospitality with Southern Hospitality and I came to realize that both people treat guests with the upmost respect and generosity. I felt connected to this family because of my heritage and the traditions I had grown up with, but I wasn’t in reality. They showed me that you don’t have to understand what your guest is saying to include them in the festivities. You can toss your cares to the wind and let yourself go is what the happy eyes of the old women serving us seemed to say. Back home, it would’ve been more of a conversation about families and different anecdotes. This family simply opened their doors and showed us what farm-life in rural Greece really was. After our meal, Richie and I were given a plastic bottle full of sweet wine from our hosts and we decided to share with some others. Ten of us, mainly study abroad students, sat in a circle and continued to marvel at how far we had traveled in only a few weeks, and proceeded to finish the wine. Sitting in that circle at sunset surrounded by the mountains, friends, and our wonderful Greek hosts is a scene that will never be erased from my memory. Meanwhile, the two old brothers that owned the farm were coaxing their son to turn his car stereo on so that everyone could dance. And dance they did, starting with the children who danced around their grandfathers and waved branches ten feet taller than their fragile little bodies. Their parents came next. These two couples, instead of forming a half-circle holding each other’s shoulders decided to form a full circle dancing around the children. Finally, the grandparents danced and received a rapturous applause when they finished. After the dancing, one the brothers from the wine-press, gave Richie and me a ride to the house where we were staying “I was an amateur race car driver. I still race when I’m not helping Papa at the vineyard,” he said. “Racing was my first love, wine was my father’s.” After he said this, he slowly increased his speed until we were flying past farms and finally other traffic. I caught a glimpse of the speedometer. It read 130 km/ha,


and was climbing. In what seemed like 10 seconds we arrived in the village, but rather than take us to our house he jumped the curb and started to do “doughnuts” on the sandy beach. He returned to the road but had gotten a flat tire. “It’s OK, we can walk the rest of the way,” I said. “Signomi, my friends. I hope you enjoyed you’re evening, but I’m afraid this is where we must part ways.” This was the last I saw of the Race Car Driver but every day, even back at school in Mississippi, my mind returns to those mountains and that little house and those fields filled with grape bushes.


photograph by Emily Macon

His Eyes Endia Mickey What are these balls of light That grab hold of me in an act of spite? Lipid pools of aqua blue I am captivated by their luminous hue As they tighten their grasp I can’t help but simply ask, “Why do you hurt me so, To taunt me constantly and still not let go?” The only answer I receive Is the cold touch from a hand unseen Unseen to me although I know it’s there But a bright new world owns my stare Yes! The shackles are no more And I am free to walk out the door And as I turn to bid this scene goodbye I still can’t help but wonder why Each time I long to be set free I let them those eyes take hold of me

Fountain by Rachel Bronstein


The Last Laugh Molly Loden January 6, 2010—one year to day that he was buried, and one year to day that I said goodbye to my best friend… I know what you are thinking, that this is going to be one of those depressing stories from my past. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. This is the story of how one man changed my life and taught me how to smile. Iven “Pudd” Loden was a man like no other. He had a hard life, but he was constantly smiling. He was successful, but he was always humble. He was quiet, but he could always make me laugh. Papaw Pudd, as I liked to call him, worked all 94 years of his life. He was good at many things. He was the one that taught my father how to work in the propane gas business, and he was there to help when my dad decided to start his own company in the industry. Papaw Pudd was still riding in the gas truck just six months before he passed away. He knew a lot, and he would constantly share his wisdom with me. However it was laughs that we shared more than anything. Around January of 2008, my papaw’s health began to decline. He was 93, and his doctors had decided to change his medicine. He didn’t respond well to the changes. His mind was still strong, but his body just couldn’t keep up. Papaw Pudd still lived on his own, and once he could no longer take care of himself my father, along with his brother and sister, had to make the decision of how best to take care of him. Unlike many people who would have sent him to a nursing home, they decided to stay with him. So, every third night my father stayed with my papaw. This meant I was able to spend a lot of time with my papaw, as well as share a lot of laughs with him. It was in October 2008 that Papaw Pudd and I shared our last big laugh. My father was working around the clock pumping gas. We could tell that it was going to be a hard and busy winter, and my father was already working himself to the bone. It was his night to stay with my papaw. We had already eaten dinner, I was back at home asleep, and it was late-very late. It was around two o’clock in the morning when my father was awakened by a sound in the living room. As he got up to check on everything, he already knew what he was going to find. My papaw liked to get a snack and watch the local gospel channel during the night. To my father’s surprise, however, he did not find my papaw eating and listening to the Gaither Vocal Band. Instead, he found my grandfather in a state of shock and excitement. “You will never believe what I have found-a goldmine, a pure goldmine!” shouted my grandfather. As my Papaw Pudd was trying to control his excitement, my father was trying to figure out exactly what he was talking about. “What did you find?” my father asked tentatively. “$1,500, and I just found it lying here in these pants!” my papaw responded back


excitedly. “You mean my pants, the ones that were lying on the couch?” my father asked knowingly. “Well yeah, I guess, if those were your pants, ‘cause that is where I found the money,” said my papaw. “Daddy, that is my gas-pumping money! Customers gave me that, and I have to take it to the office in the morning,” my father responded franticly. “Well, that could be a problem-being as I hid it all,” stated my papaw dryly. Thus began my dad’s and Papaw Pudd’s hectic search for $1,500. Now, my Papaw was not one to hide things in the most obvious places. He was smarter than that. Not to mention that he lived through the Great Depression and learned why you should hide your money in your mattress. They found $400 dollars in his billfold hidden in all the pockets and folded in a variety of ways. $300 was found throughout the kitchen, and $600 throughout the bedrooms. They found another $100 in the pocket of Papaw Pudd’s pajamas. By this time, it was four o’clock in the morning, and they had only found $1,400. My father was exhausted, and he had to get up a six in the morning to go to work. They decided to call it a night with $100 still missing. The next evening, with two hours of sleep and about two days’ worth of work behind him, my dad came home and shared with us the events of the previous night. The next day when I saw my papaw I couldn’t help but ask him, “Why did you take the $1,500?” “Well Sugar, the money was in the pants, the pants where on the couch, and the couch was in the living room of my house. I guess I just assumed that meant those were my pants,” Papaw Pudd responded dryly. He then gave me a sideways glance and his crooked smile, and we were both laughing like maniacs. Shortly after that long and amusing night, my Papaw’s health declined drastically. He was soon bedridden, and few short weeks later he could barely recognize me. I did not go visit him like I should have once he reached this state. I only wanted to remember his crooked smile and the way he could make me laugh. He died the first week in January 2009. I did not cry, and I honestly could not really explain why I was not crying. I knew that it was going to happen, and I knew that his dying only meant he was no longer suffering. I once overheard my father tell my mother that I reminded him a lot of his dad. Hearing him say that was my proudest moment. Papaw Pudd was gentle, but strong. He was loving, kind, and genuine. He was intelligent and successful. He was everything I am striving to become. None of these traits that we share, however, is what I value most. What I value most when it comes to Papaw Pudd is that I got to share with him the last laugh, his last great-big-laugh.



Young Man with Reflection by Natalie Moorer

Thunder Lexis Herron As the day got still and quiet and the clouds closed in overhead The calmness in the air relaxed me, The wind was whipping, blowing the trees back and forth making a sensitive noise to my ears. As the rain began to fall from the sky, it was like the heavens were crying out for help. The roaring of the thunder shook the porch I was sitting on making me a little uneasy, I felt like the heavens were trying to tell us something, but we could not understand, as the rain began to slow it was like the crying out for help stopped, I felt better when the storm was over; I got up turned out the light out then went inside.

Tower by Aleigh Pons


The Key Ingredients to Geometry Hope Russell Ms. Sowell was an interesting enough character. Her hair was as tame as a lion, her eyes as fierce as a gale, and her voice as booming as the miner’s TNT. This was my ninth grade Geometry teacher. I never really enjoyed Algebra and I was told that it was because of that dislike that I would genuinely enjoy Geometry. I usually was not one to attempt to disprove the logic of intellectual thinkers, but after day one I knew this theory could not possibly be more wrong. Ms. Sowell’s ability to teach was about equal to that of a turkey’s ability to fly. No angles or measurements were ever discussed in class, only the whirlwind of her deranged family-life. You see, it had happened again. Once again I landed the single teacher of Pearl High School that was going through a divorce. The previous year it had been my English teacher, Ms. Pauly. Our class did not prepare for the state writing test—which having a passing score was mandatory to graduate, instead we discussed much more important things such as whether or not the moon landing of 1969 was staged in Arizona. Poor Ms. Pauly was in therapy now. I guess that Ms. Sowell awoke one morning and at a loss for a final project, and in desperate need for a little TLC, because later that morning she announced that our grade would solely depend upon our ability to cook or more specifically, bake. I thought that she was joking or had completely lost her mind. What relevance did a cake have to do with geometry? With the stunned attitudes of dunce sheep, she herded us into groups of four or five and handed us tiny slips of paper with our assigned types of cake. When I looked at her specifications I was completely dumbfounded. Her instructions may as well have been a death sentence: “Make a three tier cake entirely from scratch.” After reading that, I didn’t think that it could get any worse. Making a cake completely from scratch was like asking me to sprout wings and fly. The dreaded list continued: “Keep your recipes. Have icing and decorations.” Then I read it. The geometric nightmare of a twist, “The dimensions of the cake are to be as follows: base: circumference of 18” middle: circumference of 15” top: circumference of 12. Your flavor is strawberry. Good Luck!” Luck just was not going to cut it for this monster of a project; I need much more than luck. I needed a miracle. When I took the project home and showed my mother, we mutually concluded that Ms. Sowell would more than likely be joining Ms. Pauly in therapy. But there was no point in putting off the daunting task any longer. I personally have never seen a circular cake pan that was any larger than 9” across much less one doubled in size! So, with a requirement of a base circumference of 18” improvisation was required. After much searching, my mother and I finally managed to find a pizza pan that spanned this massive circumference. Once a recipe for a strawberry cake made from scratch was found, the ingredients acquired, and the group notified, I began bracing myself for the battle ahead. My misfit group of a jock, an “artist,” and an exchange student slowly arrived at my home, and with a final breath we tied on our aprons and went to war. Splattered with batter and loathing strawberry flavoring more than ever before, my wartorn group collapsed in victory once the pans were in the oven. It was the eye of the storm,


the moment of pause between battles, for we knew that our task was far from over. As we all sat around my kitchen table, I examined my fellow soldiers. We were all so different. I never thought that Dillon Walker, Mr. Popular himself, would be seated at my table licking the gritty batter off his hands, or that Jordan Enriquez, a Goth, would be smiling and laughing with Kevin Warren, the German foreign exchange student. My mother equated this hodge-podge group with the teens of The Breakfast Club. We were all so different, but we were all united in surviving this disaster of a final project. There was a certain element of beauty found in that thought of unity. I was suddenly snatched from my daydreams as the fateful timer sounded. Slowly we peered into the steaming oven. Miraculously, all three peachy layers had baked perfectly. Cautiously and praying for God to smile favorably on us, we removed the pans and began to attempt to get these monstrous layers out. Trial number one was finding a plate that was large enough to hold an 18” base. This was quite the feat and required creativity. The result was half of one side of a refrigerator box covered in aluminum foil. Trial number two was actually getting these massive layers out of the pan without them ripping in half. After lots of pan shaking, prying, gritting of teeth, and with a little luck we managed to get all three out— almost painlessly. Then the time came for the sticky, pink icing. This was a nightmare! It was adhesive as super glue and literally ripped hunks out of the cake. At this Jordan, Dillon, Kevin, and I exchanged tense glances and erupted into laughter. With flushed faces and tear stained cheeks we began damage control. After some remixing and piecing back together, a rather lumpy, lop-sided cake was the result. Standing back with the rest of my brave cadets, I realized that this cake was quiet possibly the worst end product I’d ever had a hand in producing. It was massive, and goopy, and sticky, and reeked of putrid strawberry flavoring, but it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It was truly a masterpiece, our masterpiece. It was in this moment, standing there staring at the beautiful disaster consuming my kitchen table, that the perfectionist in me melted away and was replaced by someone far more daring—a side of me that wasn’t scared of gigantic cakes with gooey icing, or an eclectic group of misfits. Facing my fear of the seemingly impossible and merely surviving was the icing on the cake literally. Life doesn’t come in a box with handy step-by-step directions on the back; it’s just not that simple. Life is much more likely to put you in a group that’s less than adequate for the task and then hand you a tiny slip of paper with big expectations; but if it weren’t for those moments you would never discover the delicacies that you can cook up. Just imagine if life did come with cookie-cutter recipes on the back, then we would all be the same. There wouldn’t be the Goths or the jocks or the perfectionists of the world. In that moment of quiet victory, I looked at the people in my group and realized, not only the beauty of our labor, but the freedom we found outside of the directional box.



Surfin by Madison Shepard

Columns by Emily Macon


What is This World? John Jordan Proctor What is this world where we live and we breathe? Where we drive to Wal-Mart for everything we need A world of impatience and a sea of trash A number four, supersized and make it fast

What is this world where spouses cheat Where we sacrifice to make ends meet Where corruption is common and honesty is not Where the ice is melting and the world is hot

What is this world where money thrives Where chasing the paper is the point of our lives Where the Right is wrong and the Left are crazy Where our values are lost and our kids are lazy

What is this world that needs Him so bad Where we should all say a prayer before we get mad Where we should be quick to accept and slow to judge Where we should forgive everyone the way He forgave us.


Cups by Krista Large

Southern Cooking Haley Halford My Saturday mornings as a young five year old girl would not have been complete without my unskilled and clumsy hands alongside my granny’s wrinkled and wise ones. We would spend our early Saturday mornings preparing an assortment of delicious southern breakfast foods for my family. Almost every week my cousins, my sisters, and I would spend Friday nights at my granny and granddad’s house and the Southern warmth poured out of my granny’s kind heart. She would make anything from chicken spaghetti and banana pudding, to chicken and dumplings and angel food cake with homegrown strawberries. The breakfast food my granny prepared was and still to this day is my favorite of out of everything in her cookbook. She and I would get up early, get the flour out and would begin to heat up the kitchen. My favorite thing to make was the biscuits. I loved digging my hands into the soft flour and transforming it into a plump, sticky ball of dough. Granny would show me how to knead the dough and prepare it to be cut up in circles, so it could become a wonderful flakey piece of heaven. When I finally got to the last step of pulling it out of the oven, I pared it with the only syrup worthy to touch this piece of heaven, Blackburn’s syrup. This syrup was the only one I had ever known and the only one I ever wanted to know. It was stored in a jar as big as my head and had so much sugar it made my head spin. My biscuits and this wonderful syrup went perfectly with the other items my granny and I prepared. The smell of the sizzling sausage and bacon, the thick grits, hardy gravy, and fried eggs filled the house and brought my sleepy sisters and cousins to the table. My granddad, who had been up the whole time reading the paper, would walk in the kitchen as the cooking was coming to the end, fill his coffee cup up, and give my granny a kiss on the cheek. We would all then sit at the table, and my cousins, sisters and I would sing the blessing. This was a tradition that my granddad loved, but we hated doing every time we held hands. When the singing was done, everyone would dig in and my granny and I would look at each other and smile then dig in ourselves. After everyone cleaned their plate, we cleaned up the kitchen and Granny and I would begin to plan the menu for lunch. It never took us long to decide on what we wanted to prepare. We would have chicken salad sandwiches and green beans. I would always come up with the idea as I looked at the rising dough Granny and I had put together the day before. This dough, after being baked at 350 degrees, became the best bread we ever put in our mouth.


We would mix the yeast, honey, flour, and a lot of other ingredients that combines together and creates a big ball of dough. It usually took a whole day for the yeast to rise enough to make golden, fluffy bread. When it finally got to the perfect height we would stick it in the over and then start to create a chicken salad so good you could scream. The mixture of ingredients, when I first made chicken salad, sounded so gross I would not eat it. Then the next time I went to Granny’s I gave in because I already knew how scrumptious it would be. When we finally started to prepare the chicken salad, the absolute worst part was peeling the chicken off the bone. This process takes forever it seems like, and when I would finally get done my fingers would be burned because I peeled it too soon. My granny always told me to wait and let the chicken cool, but like most five year olds I was impatient and did not listen. As soon as the chicken was taken out of the boiling water, I would dive in and pretend it did not hurt. We then added an assortment of things like pickle juice, mayonnaise, mustard, and whole bunch of other stuff that made it so good. The green beans were simple. Granddad would bring them in from the garden, and then they were put into a pot of boiling water. We would add a cut of onion, salt and pepper, then let them sit. Granny always said, “you don’t need to add a lot to something already perfect.” When lunchtime finally came around and we were all starving hungry from playing outside, we gathered around the table, sang the blessing, and dug in this delicious sandwich and green beans. When dinner planning came around there was only one thing that could satisfy the hungry bellies of my family, chicken spaghetti. The combination of tender pieces of chicken, soft slippery noodles, and spices mixed so perfectly it makes you wonder why you would eat anything else on this planet. This is the one dish my sister, Erin, would not have anything to complain about, and would come to expect every time we made a trip to see Granny and Granddad. Now that my cousins, sister, and I have gotten older, we do not have these wonderful enlightening weekends. My sisters and I have gone to separate colleges, except for my oldest sister, and I can’t remember the last time I spent more than an hour with my cousins without it being a holiday. Time seems to go by much faster than it did when I was five years old. I do not stop and think about how simple things used to be standing beside Granny, kneading dough and running around with my cousins. I am always writing a paper or getting ready to go out on the town with friends. Then I get a phone call from Granny, and it seems like time pauses for the few minutes we talk. I go back to feeling like that five-year-old girl without a care in the world, except for getting the recipe just right.


Photograph by Natalie Moorer


MY “SECOND” BEST FRIEND Andrew Anderson Dogs can be useful for many things— companionship, transportation, food, and service to the handicapped. I consider my dog Huckleberry as a service dog. I got him when I transferred to Ole Miss. I transferred to get away from the absolute insanity that was my everyday life at West Virginia University. I would stay up on average almost every night till 4 am. I would rarely study and cared more about having fun than going to school. I came to Ole Miss with one goal: to graduate with a GPA above a three point five. I realized, based on my extensive experiences at WVU and talking with my father, that in order to achieve this goal I would need discipline. I would need to put myself on a regular schedule that I could do every day that would over time become routine. I knew that to stay on routine I would need something to force me to be disciplined. So my twin Brian and I decided to get Huckleberry. He is a ten-month-old, seventypound, blue-tick coonhound. If you do not know what type of dog that is, it is the mascot for the University of Tennessee. We wanted to get a big, active and trainable dog, and our neighbor back home has coonhounds, so we decided to get one. Huckleberry keeps me on track and he makes sure I remember why I left my friends and older brother back in Morgantown. Huckleberry forces me to stay on track because I have to let him out around nine am every morning, in-between classes and twice a


night. That means I have to go to bed at the latest by midnight every night. If I don’t then I will have a mess to clean up. Huckleberry falls asleep around ten pm every night, so when I see him go over toward his dog bed, I know that I should be heading to bed too. He is also my alarm clock. When he needs to go outside to use the bathroom, in the morning or any time of the day, he rings a strand of bells with his nose that we have hanging on the door handle. If that doesn’t get me up, then his very loud howling will. I live in an apartment complex and if I get three noise complaints I get kicked out if the apartment. So when he starts barking, I have to get up. Huckleberry also keeps me in check because when I want to spend all night out partying or hanging out with friends I cannot. Huck needs to be fed three times a day and walked twice a day. Over time he has also become like my triplet, my second best friend. He goes out on the lake with me and my family and swims. He likes to run with us and chase us around the backyard. He goes on bike-rides with Brian and me. He is always with me, just like Brian. Without Huckleberry I fear I would be the same person I was at West Virginia, just at Ole Miss. He is like a service dog because without his help it is hard for me to stay faithful to my routine. He is helping me reach the goal I came to Ole Miss to achieve.

Huckleberry by Andrew Anderson

February By Liz Martin Where did February go? It seems like yesterday I woke up and it was February 1. Now it’s already March. Where did February go? It seems like yesterday Was Valentine’s Day Now it’s already Spring Break Where did February go? Next thing I know I’ll be waking up And it will be April, then May Before you know it, I’ll be graduating Then I’ll ask myself Where did time go?

Flowers by Rachel Bronstein


YOU by Brian Hatch It feels good to be able to move along. For more than I can remember you've been on my mind. I would have done anything to be with you, and I'll still do anything for you. It's just that now I can get out of bed and enjoy the things that make life worth living. You see I was so enthralled that I was damn near blind and mad at the same time. Yes, it would have been lovely. From that perspective I couldn't imagine anything grander. Still, it would have been bitter sweet. It was a Catch 22.

There is no doubt that I was deeply in love. No, that's out of the question. In my heart I knew it was hollow. I saw it as if it were a vivid dream. As mad as it seems, I was not afraid. I was willing to jump off a cliff with no parachute. Good thing I waited: now I'm ready to fly.


Clean Break photograph by Natalie Moorer

Need For Speed Eric Spangler When I was growing up, life always seemed to want me to go faster. To this day I don’t understand why. I was the youngest of three kids. My brother, John, is four years older than me and my sister, Jennifer, is six years older. They were always very close and played together a lot. I always tried to keep up with them. Physically, I was less developed but my leg muscles were strong. I didn’t want to be left out. This obsession with speed started when I was three years old. While its origin is unknown it manifested itself with a need for speed. My Mom was cooking dinner one night and the three of us were outside racing on bikes. Strong sibling rivalry prevailed. There was no way I could compete with the restriction of training wheels. I asked Mom if I could take the training wheels off my bike. I informed her that I could not keep up with my siblings. I whined and told her that I hated being the last one in line. My Mom told me, “Three year olds don’t ride bikes without training wheels” and went back inside. My Mom thought that the subject was closed, but I had other ideas. I went to my Dad’s workbench for a wrench and began taking off the training wheels. The workbench was covered in tools like a messy teenager’s room is covered with clothes—there were tools everywhere. There were so many different size wrenches; I didn’t know where to start, but I got lucky and found the right one. My brother and sister watched me, snickering the entire time but did not tell on me. Finally I had their attention! I got on the bike and they pushed me in the grass to help get me going. I drove in circles for a minute then was off and never looked back. I realize now that was my first brush with speed. I quickly pumped my legs until I felt the wind in my hair. Even today a windy day reminds me of that first breath of freedom. At age five I got a bright red, electric powered ATV (all-terrain vehicle) for my birthday. This thing was awesome and my siblings were jealous. My sister always wanted the pink motorized Barbie car, but my parents thought it was stupid. I went through many expensive batteries and ran it so fast that I always had to take it to the shop. But no worries, my siblings and I also had roller blades, which were pretty intense. My older brother showed me how to take the brakes off of the wheels. We would race on the roller blades, down the hill in front of our house, without brakes. I’d go as fast as I could and would jump into the highest grass possible to stop, right before a crash. After the first time I beat him he began to take me seriously. He taunted me no more about being a “baby.” Looking back I also understand that racing fed my need for speed. People were always stopping their cars and yelling at me for my speed on my various machines. Once the mailman took me home, rang the bell and told my Mom I’d raced in front of him. My Mom did not know how to handle the situation. As I grew she began to realize that I knew what I was doing. Although I had a need for speed, I was under control. I followed her rules and wore my helmet and kneepads. She put reflectors and lights on everything so no one could miss me. The problem was I constantly discovered new ways


to go faster and drove my parents crazy with requests. My life revolved around discovering new ways to feed this need. When the electric ATV could no longer keep up with me, I decided I needed a faster vehicle. The next bright idea I had was a dirt bike. After much badgering I won. For my tenth birthday I got a dirt bike. It was a Dual Sport 80cc, bright yellow, with spoke wheels, a headlight and a taillight. It was like a miniature sports car because of the six speed transmission. It was the perfect present for a ten year old kid. My mother closed her eyes when I raced around the yard. She added layers and layers of pads after my first crash into the metal fence. My Dad took me to courses where I could be set free and go as fast as possible. I sailed over bumps with mud flying everywhere. The bike and I were brown and dinged up by the end of the day. Georgia red clay does not wash out of clothes. This was something my brother couldn’t do! I got a lot of recognition in my family for this need, and I was the only one getting this kind of attention! When I turned fourteen I traded the dirt bike in for a blue moped. While it was “street legal” it was still a dangerous machine. Looking back I don’t know how I got away with it. I was expanding my territory and needed some means to ride around town and visit friends. I could go anywhere! Now I did not have to depend on my siblings who could drive. They were often “too busy” to take me to my friend’s house so I solved the problem on my own. I couldn’t go as fast as a dirt bike but I went as fast as I could on it. For two years I’d return home black and blue, bloody or with various body parts injured. If I was not careful, the curb would rise up for a crash or send me sailing over the handlebars. Now my mother closed her eyes when I walked in the door! At age sixteen I got my driver’s license and realized the moped wasn’t so cool. I sold the moped and used the money to buy a fire engine red, 1986 Chevy pickup. I loved this truck, but it had too small of an engine in it, so after two months my Dad and I put a 350 crate motor in it. This made it go much faster. My need for speed was now satisfied by larger vehicles. Ever since age sixteen I have had a passion for cars. I took all my earnings and purchased fast wrecks. I am in the process of restoring a 1975 MG Midget, a German sports car. My most recent car with a lot of speed is my 1980 Camero Z28. It has blue with white stripes and is built to compete in drag races. This is the same car as the yellow one in the movie, “Transformers,” called “Bumblebee.” My need for speed developed into a grown-up hobby. Looking back I realize that life didn’t want me to go faster, I did. I needed to go fast to keep up with my siblings. It was really a need to belong, to be a part of something and to join in the sibling rivalry. I felt left out of their play because of my age. It’s tough being the youngest, especially by four years. Speed helped me be a part of the group. It made me into the person I am today. Over the years I have been battered, bloodied and bruised. I drove my parents crazy and littered the driveway with fast vehicles. I loved every minute and have yet to slow down. I don’t know my need to go fast has not been satisfied. It’s grown from a three year old’s love of a bike to an eighteen year old with a fast sports car. All I do know is that I still need to feel the wind in my hair.


Palms by Ashley McMahan


Tall Tall Tree Neely Clair England Tall Tall Tree looking at me Tilting to the left and swaying with the breeze Old Rugged branches with finger-like leaves Reach out their hands looking for something to cling Brown, dark bark etched with wounds from Mother Nature’s storms


Rain Drips Drips Drips… like a river’s running course From the tip of her trunk she towers graciously Over all God’s creation meant for you and me Tall Tall Tree looking at me

Tree by Ashley McMahan

Ringing in the New Year with Pain Medication Mary B. Sellers Wisdom teeth are viewed as a right of passage to the general teenage population. I watched as all of my friends went into surgery one after one, each disappearing for a couple of days, and then reappearing with fuller cheeks and a suspicious-looking coco butter chap stick, no memories of how they got to their houses, and few comments on their disappearances except, “It was great” and “I didn’t feel a thing.” It always perplexed me when they described it as “great.” How could anyone in their right mind think getting teeth dug out of their gums as great? And how do they actually know if they “don’t remember a thing”? It made me uneasy and even more curious because they seemed mysteriously calmer and wiser with their wisdoms out, like a band of surviving veterans from some war waged in their mouth, them coming out as the victorious, if slightly groggy and swollen heroes. They chalked their personality changes up to their pain meds, but I didn’t buy it for a minute. They reassured me that “when my time came” I would love it, and not to worry about it. I began viewing my wisdoms as something precious, and decided that I’d rather not sign myself up for finding out what actually goes on in the mysterious Dr. May’s office. I felt like I was in that Twilight Zone episode where everyone who reaches a certain age must go in to “the doctor” and be “fixed” for the next chapter in their life. It ultimately was discovered that they rewired your entire body and facial structure to look like a plastic Barbie and Ken doll while wiping your memory clean. I was mystified, terrified, and completely certain that at my next dentist appointment I would opt out of getting the little buggers removed, and settle for a life of no temporary memory loss and slightly crooked teeth. Of course, when you don’t pay the bills and are relying on your parents for a disposable income, their word is law. It just so happened that one of my wisdoms got infected conveniently over Christmas break, and before I knew it, I was sitting in the office of the infamous doctor himself. I tried to remain calm, reasoning with myself that if I did happen to die, or meet a fate worse than death, I’d had a pretty good life with few regrets. The office smelled like teeth, or what I would imagine them to smell like—an odd mix of chlorine and formaldehyde, and I felt like I was going to be sick. To make it worse, my mother began recanting the story of her own wisdom teeth, and how they had had such a hard time that she was put into the hospital for a couple of days. I asked her if this was what she thought a pep talk should be, sarcastically, and she


finally quieted down with an apology and the “I was only trying to help” look. I had secretly known all along that I would, eventually, be faced with this. It was kind of like childbirth, I’ve always known that “someday” I’ll have kids, but I’ve never given it much thought, nor imagined it happening in the near future. Except, you can’t take a pill to stop the teeth from coming in—so it’s a much more one-sided decision than getting pregnant, and I’d rather not keep and raise the teeth after they’re out. He finally swept into the room, his white coat gleaming in the bright fluorescent light. I stiffened and braced myself for my impending doom, but he merely smiled at me and announced, “You’re going to need all four out.” He then went on to list all of the possible consequences and risks to wisdom extractions including, “I could possibly break your jaw, or cause your sinus to squirt blue and red. You’ll be popular at the next football game.” He laughed and clapped me on the back, obviously finding his joke extremely amusing. I merely grimaced and held on to the back of the chair weakly. If I had had any sort of reassuring thoughts before now, they were all killed in that one instant. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the room where I was to have my surgery, twisting my fingers and mapping an escape route in my head. I examined the window to my left, and ultimately concluded that the glass was probably much too thick to break and that there was a lock on it. The door was open, but I suspected that I would probably be seen walking away and in due course would be returned to this very room by either my mother of a nurse. The doctor came in, hooked me to the I.V. and the nurse strapped a small tube under my nose and told me to “breathe.” Then, he began asking me about my friends and my boyfriend, if I’d had a good Christmas, and I wondered if he really knew just how transparent his motives were. I was not about to let these people take away my memory and “mold” me to fit my societal role. I would resist! I would be the first to stand up to this type of conspiracy and find out what exactly they really wanted! But, oh! I was becoming so dreadfully dizzy… and the room went black.


Coke Can by Kate Mislan

Unconditional Carelessness by Krista Large He loves me I love him not It’s hard to flee When your legs are caught I will never forget The promises made I hope you feel regret Our bond you betrayed Feel threatened by her No excuse for a man Claim that life was a blur With a beer in your hand When your vision is clear And you can finally see Know that I am not your daughter You were never a father to me

Father by Tyler Storey



Snow by Sofia Helberg Jonsen

From the Editor On the last day of putting this wonderful 2nd edition of Venture Online together, I am full of relief but also full of gratitude. Our designer, Larry Agostinelli from the Division of Outreach here at Ole Miss has once again proved his genius in working wonders with the words and images of our Freshman writers and artists. We could not exist without the support of Outreach and the inspired talent of Larry. Larry Agostinelli Designer

Having completed the selection, I want to let all the writers whose work was not accepted know that we had over 50 entries and only just over half are included here. You all have talent and we at Venture encourage you to pursue it. This year’s entries have strong dialogue, comedic scenes, drama, suspense, dog attacks, and stories about food, travel, and home. There are love poems, poems of determination, simple and honest writing. This Freshman Writing Project started in the summer of 2009 when I met with Doug Robinson in the Freshman English Department. He called in the new Director of the Center for Writing and Rhetoric, Bob Cummings, and together we plowed forward with a call for entries, enlisted Freshman writing teachers as readers and judges, and turned out Volume 1 last November. That edition was 40 pages. This issue has 56 pages! The talent of our young students has always been apparent to those of us in the classroom, but now everyone can log on to the English Department website (look under links) and read the magazine no matter where they are. Students can send the link to their parents and friends anywhere in the world to show that they are now published authors and artists! I want to give well-deserved thanks to Ashley Gutierrez, my assistant editor, who worked as a diligent liaison with both readers and students, sending entries back and forth for review and to me as those results came in. I also want to thank the readers who took time to read and respond to the work. My continued thanks go to my friend Deborah Freeland, Senior Designer in the Division of Outreach, who encouraged me with this project from its inception. She puts the magazine in ISSU for online viewing on the Outreach site. Just three months after the link to Volume 1 was up, she called to say that there had been over 2500 “hits�! Finally, to the students who go above and beyond what is required to make a grade by thinking and writing about your own life experiences, you have our admiration and thanks. We look forward to more creative endeavors from each of you. Sincerely, Milly Moorhead West, editor


Editor Milly Moorhead West Email: Assistant Editor Ashley Gutierrez Email: Mobile photograph by Rachel Bronstein

Venture Online vol2  

Freshman writing project at the University of Mississippi, spring semester, 2010. Includes art, poetry, and short stories submitted to the...