About MiddleWestern Voice is the Elmhurst College art, literature, and music journal. All material is current work of Elmhurst College students. Selection is done blindly to ensure objectivity. The journal encourages the celebration of artistic talent on campus and the union of studnets, faculty, and the community of patrons of the arts
Cover Competition The MiddleWestern Voice cover art is competitively selected from student art submissions. All material is judged blindly by the Art Department Faculty. The cover competition is funded by the Elmhurst College Art Department.
The Carl H. Carlson Contest The Carl H. Carlson Contest is a literary competition open to all Elmhurst College students. The Carl H. Carlson prize is awarded to the finalists of the MiddleWestern Voice creative writing contest. Students whose works are selected are printed in the journal with the permission of the Elmhurst College English Department. The contest is judged by the English Department Faculty.
Gratitude Many thanks to persons on and off campus who have supported the MiddleWestern Voice, including the Elmhurst College Art, English, and Music Departments; President Alan Ray; Geoff Sciacca; Janice Tuck-Lively; Tim Hayes and Steve Kittay and Creekside Printing. Additional thanks to SGA for their gracious patronage and the hardworking staff of MWV. MiddleWestrn Voice is sponsored by the Elmhurst College Studnet Activities Fund.
Namesake Ursula Niebuhr wrote the postlude of Remembering Reinhold Niebuhr, a collection of letters her husband had sent her throughout their marriage. It was she who named his â€œmiddlewestern voiceâ€? - the voice behind his thoughts on humanity that he shared with a universal audience. For her it was reference to the place from which Niebuhr had come, and in recognition of his having something to say, MiddleWestern Vocie is a culmination of orgins and perspectives that come from this place at this time.
Creative Director: Alexandra Stark
Editor: Megan Kirby
Designers: Annie Balavitch Heather Pedersen Ellie Pipal Sarah Scauf Danielle Wagner
General Staff: Myrtle Castro Teresa Doyle Claire Drillinger Gina Kachlic Mary Podrasky Juliann Ranahan
General Staff: Megan Cline Anna Paul Lauren Smith
Editor: Sean Armbruster
Tim Hayes Geoff Sciacca Janice Tuck-Lively
table of contents
Intro About MWV ........................................................ i Staff ..................................................................... ii
Art AJ Barker .................................................. 15, 18 Kacey Bengston ......................................7, 39 Carolina Carmona ......................................52 Amanda Conrad ........................................... 17 Jessica Cranford ..........................................31 Danielle Dobies .......................................8, 52 Kristin Faleni ................................................... 17 Meliss Randi Holt .................................. 25, 31 Bennett Johnson ..........................................14 Angela Koch ...................................................13 Alexandra Konold ........................................26 Sabrina Mangan .................................... 13, 40 Hannah Manocchio ............................ 26, 32 Katy McEvoy .....................................Cover, 51 Chris Parsons ................................................26 Nicole Reichel ...........................................7, 18 Max Robertson .............................................. 17 Sara Schroeder ..................................... 51, 52 Dragana Sogura ......................................7, 13 Mackenzie Stern .................................. 43, 44 Erin Strong .............................................. 17, 42 Todd Suhs ......................................................26
Music Music ................................................................59
S Monday J York Th @
Feature Stories Q & A with Megan Kirby .............................. 5 Q & A with Teresa Doyle .............................11 Remembering Colin Pascoe .....................15 Mosaics ...........................................................27 Q & A with Katy McEvoy ...........................33
Fiction Dance Like No One is Watching ............53 Here To Set You Free .................................... 1 Lonnie's Room ...............................................19 Sign Above the Mirror on the Wall..........37 Universe Man ................................................45
An Eveningâ€™s Love Song ............................42 Anniversary ....................................................24 O Me .................................................................35 Overboard ......................................................41 Self-Addressed .............................................36 The Sound of Things Parting .................. 10 Wishes ............................................................... 9
HERE TO SET YOU FREE Megan Kirby Carlson Contest 1st Place Fiction Story
When we first heard Casey George got his brains blown out on the corner of Jackson and 8th, we thought there had to be some mistake. Casey was never supposed to come back to Terre Haute. He’d disappeared so cleanly and completely, only a month before his eighteenth birthday, that we’d turned him into a sort of legend—a magician who disappeared in a puff of sour smoke. Seven years later, we spoke of him with the sort of reverence reserved for deeds we could never complete ourselves. In a town that almost always meant a dead end for everyone else, Casey George had escaped. But then he came back. Stood on the corner in front of The Bramblebush where he used to wait tables. Pulled out a gun and started shooting at the telephone wires. Scanned his eyes over the ashtray-gray stretch of cement, flicked his tongue to moisten the sores at the corner of his mouth. Paced and spat and hollered over and over: “I’m here to set you free, boys! I’m here to set you free!” Five of us boys grew up on Hudson Street: Mitch, Terry, Spencer, Jim and Casey, but in those early days the group of us seemed like one solid thing. Our similarities made us interchangeable, nothing more than a tangle of skinned knees and slingshots and secondhand clothes, so that even our mommas hadto check twice when calling us in for supper. The first time we got drunk was on Casey’s Momma’s hot tin back porch. We were twelve years old that summer, and none of us was rich enough to have air conditioning or an above ground pool. His neighbor was a hunter, and last fall he’dtosseda doe’s headup onto the roof of his back garage. All winter long, crows picked at the rotting fur, and now the summer heat pulled back the remaining flesh to reveal a staring yellow skull. Through the open back window, we couldhear his momma snoring from her night shift at the diner. Casey bangedout of the screen door with five beers, passed four out and cracked open his own like he’d been practicing for months. He took an expert swig, managed to wince only a tiny bit, then raised
his eyebrow at us expectantly. What are you waiting for? Pussies. That afternoon was the first time he mentioned his plans to leave Terre Haute. Nothing concrete, just vague plans to fix up his old man’s old Chevy (the only thing his father had left before he blew town himself), press down on the gas and flick off the receding horizon in his rearview mirror. By the time we were growing up, Terre Haute had become a sad husk. All of the factories—the Root Glass company or the Columbia Record Factory—had skittish alley cats, or shoplift Marlboros disappeared over the years and left andPepsi from the gas station on Clancy the town crumpled and exhausted. Our Street. When the heat got so bad our parents worked mostly tedious jobs at tongues swelled and our lungs ached convenience stores with each spongy or auto shops, and we could “We’d ride all day, breath, did their best to put hike out to Honey pretending our down payments on Creek or Lost Creek, shotgun houses with wads of gum were their names like two scrubby back yards chewing tobacco sisters in a fairy tale and crackling grey our parents forgot to and the whir of sidewalks. tell us. baseball cards in Still, at that Or we could point we couldn’t always ride bikes. our spokes was understandhis pull to Casey worshippedhis the rev of Harleys.” bicycle—the speed leave. That summer, we were content with it gave him, the the few adventures Terre Haute had in independence, the sudden delicious store for us. We could sneak into the freedom. We’d ride all day, pretending abandoned Gershmeyer High through our wads of gum were chewing tobacco the broken basement window and play and the whir of baseball cards in our hide-and-seek in the musty gymnasium. spokes was the rev of Harleys. He led We should shoot beebee pellets at the and we followed; years before, we’d come to the silent consensus that Casey was in charge because he always seemed to be one step ahead of us anyway. When the sun started sinking, we’d head home for whatever our mothers were cooking for dinner, and Casey would just keep pedaling till the sun went down and the crickets shrieked. Our parents would spot him out sometimes, a quick silhouette in the fading orange light, and would talk
about him in bothered tones at the dinner table. That George boy was bikin’ two miles short of Riley today. His momma must be passed out already tonight. Least she didn’t have no more bastard kids after him. We wouldsilently poke our meatloaf, our spaghetti, our tuna casserole and wish we were out with him, evening breeze in our hair, bicycles swift and steady beneath our young bodies.
Casey right away. Mike himself had developed a beer gut and a certain bumbling, comical walk, but when we saw him we still pictured our childhood We all swore we heard Casey’s hero. So when he looked at Casey, did gunshots that afternoon, even though he see him in the ways he remembered instead of the ways most of us were too far away to hear a “Spencer dropped things actually were? Didhe look at Casey’s bottle cap popping. out to smoke red-rimmed eyes Four blocks from pot and work on and filthy Levi’s and the scene, Casey’s motorcycles” instead picture the momma says she chocolate-smeared stoppedpulling weeds from between the plastic flamingo and boy chattering in his patrol car? Or did the winking gnome, wiped the sweat he see the teenage junkie he’d driven from her seven-months-sober brow, home the night after the raidon Gentilly andfelt a pinch in her chest for every street? Whatever he remembered, it didn’t shot Casey fired. The only person who for sure heard matter in the end. He killed Casey each gunshot was Officer Mike, who was George just the same. patrolling down Quincy only a block Casey’s first escape attempts were away when Casey started firing. Officer Mike filled the role of our childhood brewed in a basement lab. By then, hero. He’d let us sit in the back of his we’d grown apart. Childhood ties only squad car sometimes, when he was off ran so deep, and by the time senior duty and we were young enough to be year rolled around we’d all become thrilled by such things. Four of us would tangled in separate endeavors. Mitch pile in the backseat and one (usually and Terry got steady girlfriends, Jim Casey) would perch up front, and Mike made quarterback for the school team, would flip the lights on, mutter a string Spencer dropped out to smoke pot of police code gibberish into the walkie and work on motorcycles, and Casey for our entertainment, and drive slowly started smoking crank. We’d still see him sometimes at to the gas station where he’d buy each backyard parties, standing on the bare of us a King-Sized Hershey’s. We wondered if Mike recognized dirt yards and scratching at the raw skin under his eyes. We were torn between pity and a certain sick sense of envy— Casey was a mess, sure, but he still seemed to know what he was doing more than any of the rest of us. When he got high he talked till
wheels, shitty country music crackling on the speakers. Casey livedfor that old Chevy. He’d load us up and drive too fast, swigging from a warm can of Pabst andhumming out of tune with the radio. We’d make it up towards Anderson, or down South past Bloomington before one of us would speak up and remind him we had to get home. For a moment, he’d seem not to listen. He’d stare at whatever highway we were cruising down, eyes glazing over at the sheer stretching distance of it, and press down harder on the accelerator. We’d all fall silent, waiting. Then he’dswing into a U-Turn andholler into the rush of air blowing through the windows. I’ll take you home, boys. I’ll take you home.
his tongue bled. He’d go to Berlin and become a squatter. He’d go to Vegas and fuck a showgirl. The more he smoked, the faster his hands moved, sculpting invisible landscapes or In the months and years after twisting together in fleshy knots. Casey George came back, we couldn’t Casey wasn’t the only one with plans stop talking about him. To each other to leave, though we weren’t all so vocal. over the phone or out for drinks. To our Still, none of us wanted to stay in Terre wives in bed at night or to our children Haute for good. The stained sidewalks, when we ran out of bedtime stories. the mattresses soaking up rainwater To strangers on busses or barstools. on the curbs, the pervasive smells of Remember that crazy bastard? Asshole exhaust and tobacco and humid, dirty thought he was invincible. I had a friend air. We all wanted to leave, but who named Casey. Casey George. Fucking could compete with crazy Casey George. his epic plots? He’d “Remember that We talked about him head to Hawaii, or long after everyone crazy bastard? Chicago, or God grew tired of the Asshole thought story. Damned Gary if that was as far as he could he was invincible” And we thought make it. Wherever of him late at night, he went, he’d get the hell out of Terre when we woke choking on the scents Haute. of hot tin, cigarettes and dirty cement. But in the end, none of us got away Deep down, we couldn’t shake the idea for good. Not even Casey George. that Casey had once again realized some essential fact before we had, and We weren’t exactly surprised was trying to lead the way. We’d lay in when Casey’s truck was gone from his the dark andrecall the shooting as if we momma’s gravel driveway one morning. had actually been there to hear his wild He’d never talked about any real plans, shouts. His voice would echo through but his leaving had always seemed the years, the fading repetition of the inevitable. Still, over the years, we promise he hadn’t been able to keep for separately each clung to one specific himself or for anybody else—I’m here memory of Casey—that damned Chevy to set you free, boys. I’m here to set he fixed up our junior year. you free. How good it felt, to cram in the cab and head out on whatever rural highway struck our fancy. Windows rolled down, asphalt hushing under the
Q & A - The Carlson Winners Megan Kirby - Fiction
MWV: One of the most noticeable features of "Here to Set You Free" is its use of a collective narrator, a first-person "we." Why did you choose that lens, and what were its challenges? MK: Once I heard David Sedaris talk about how when he starts a new piece, he sets little challenges for himself—like working in an epic metaphor or having his last line repeat two times. So when I was working on this piece, I set a collective narrator challenge for myself—a voice I’d never used before. Turns out it’s pretty hard. I struggled with giving my boys distinct personalities while still including them in this Terre Haute chorus. I was heavily influenced by Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily—the idea of an entire town telling the story of one person, as well as Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides—a group of teenage boys forming one cohesive storyteller. This story changed a lot from the first draft. I originally wrote it for Dr. Ron’s Advanced Fiction class, so my peers were the first to tell me what worked and what fell flat. Since then, I’ve reworked it through another workshop. There’s this weird sense of discord between the solitary act of writing and the community feel of workshopping, but I’ve learned to appreciate the opinions and advice of a few trusted writing friends.
MWV: The story's setting is Terre Haute, Indiana -- a place you're familiar with. How did you go about researching Terre Haute? Was there anything you learned about it that was particularly striking to you? MK: My dad was raised in Terre Haute, and I grew up visiting family there a couple of times a year. Terre Haute is this weird American relic—the factories are all closed, so the city’s in this state of decay. As a kid, it kind of haunted me, and as I grow up I’ve been morbidly fascinated with the city’s decline. There’s a major drug problem there now, and it’s one of the crystal meth hubs in the Midwest. I wanted to set up the city as another character—much like Casey himself, someone who’s fallen on hard times with no visible way to recover. When I was researching, I looked up a lot of things on the internet, but the most helpful thing was sitting down and talking to my dad. He told me about the old Root Glass company and sneaking into his abandoned high school. So my dad’s definitely present in this story, as well—in fact, if I were to dedicate it to anyone, it would be to him. MWV: Is writing from a male narrator's point of view different for you than writing a female character? MK: I actually might prefer writing from a male perspective. I have a bad habit of turning female characters into loosely disguised versions of myself. I guess with male narrators, it’s easier to separate my own personality and get fully involved with the character. Plus, it’s fun to imagine the inner workings of someone so different than me.
Teresa Doyle, (left) with Megan Kirby (Right) Photo by Emily Mohney
MWV: You've mentioned that you write first in longhand, then type your work. Can you imagine what might change, in your work and/or feelings about the process, if you wrote your stories only by computer? MK: Writing longhand is a more involved process. The physical act of moving a pen along a notebook helps to get my mind in the writing state and block out distractions. Typing on a computer makes you think in such a linear way—plus, it’s really easy to doubt yourself and hit the delete button too many times (also, I can’t check my Facebook on a notebook). Typing is also much quicker—you can type faster than your brain moves—whereas when you write your mind can jump a line or two ahead from your pen. It forces you to slow down. When I actually write things down, I can scrawl in the margins, draw arrows, half-form ideas, play with the language, etc. It’s a lot more freeing, a lot more organic. Plus, my first revision comes when I type it out. MWV: You won the Carlson Contest for fiction last year, too. You write a popular column in The Leader, and you also stirred quite a buzz with the zine "Coffee Spoons" that you wrote and published this past year. What's the next step for your Englishmajor career at EC? MK: I want to focus more on my fiction, but I also want to stay open to any possibilities. A year ago, I was just starting to get into zines—and now I hope to someday work at an independent
publishing company or graphic novel distributor. So I guess I’ve learned to keep my mind open—I might not have even discovered my “next step” yet. Maybe I’ll write some monologues for Charlie Sheen’s one-man show. MWV: How has your Elmhurst experience changed your writing most? MK: I’ve learned how to revise—and how to swallow my pride in the process. I’ve learned how to get involved in the writing community—in some ways, by actually building a writing community. I’ve built some really great relationships with professors who will tell me when my writing’s good and call me out when it’s terrible. I’ve met some awesome students—including the members of my writing group, who meet bi-weekly to go over our latest short stories. Elmhurst has been great for my writing career— I’ve had so many opportunities, and so much support.
Teresa Doyle - Poetry
MWV: What inspired the sound of things parting? TD: Well, “the sound of things parting” is absolutely a list poem. I just started with the title, and then thought of things that fit with it, and it’s sort of a melancholy theme, really. But you have to make it beautiful somehow. Sometimes the poems that I write really come title-first like that. I have some that I’m working on now in my poetry independent study where I have a fantastic title and then just a shitty poem. I know that I’ll end up scrapping the text and then writing something completely different, because the title is just so fierce, I can’t let it go at that. But that’s maybe one in every four poems I write, that comes title-first. MWV: What’s your poetry writing process? How do you get from the first line to the last line? TD: I certainly don’t always begin at the beginning, but I never know whether that’s going to be the case when I start. I’ll be walking somewhere, or driving, usually by myself, and a phrase will just start tumbling around in my head. And I let it keep jostling around there, and it sort of gathers moss, you know, other words throw themselves onto it, and sometimes some of them fall off… it very much feels like a physical process. If I’m interrupted when I’m forming one of those lines – and usually it’s just a single line – I’ll totally lose the thread. So mostly it just happens when I’m on my own for a while, thinking about nothing in particular, and then this line will come into my head and I’ll tinker with it. Once I’m satisfied with the first line, I usually have a sense of where the rest is going. I have a rhythm, I have a tone of language, I have a sense of the levity and maybe the line length. I don’t always know in terms of content where it’s going, but it happens pretty fast. I’m reading this book of poetry prompts that says at the beginning of one chapter, “Can you write a poem in twenty minutes? We seriously doubt it.” I got so angry! When you count the time I’m making that first line, I guess it’s more, but from the moment I sit down for that second line to the end it’s very very fast and very organic. And then I’ll edit a week, two, three weeks later.
MWV: Your poem leaves off with an open ending, a hanging “but.” Did you originally plan to leave the poem with this cliff hanger, or did that come about in a later draft? TD: Well, it was the first draft, but I didn’t plan it. I just got to the end and I’d planned for there to be something after the “but” – only I didn’t know what – and after a moment of sitting there thinking I realized, “Oh! That’s it.” There was nothing to come after it. I almost added an ellipse (…) but then I realized, no, this is the poem parting from itself, or the reader parting from the poem, and I don’t want to make it too neat. MWV: What other poets would you compare yourself to? What’s your all-time favorite line from a poem? TD: Ooooh, I don’t want to compare myself to poets too much. I guess my great inspirations in the past year have been Sharon Olds and Pablo Neruda. I’ve always modeled myself after Olds, and I’m just now sort of breaking away from her style, seeing the ways in which I’m failing in my attempts to make this Olds-ish voice. My Doyle-ish voice is better. I definitely follow her to some extent in subject material – sex, faith, family, womanhood. My favorite line from a poem is, at least this month, from Neruda’s “Ode to Federico Garcia Lorca,” who happens to be another of my favorite poets although I wouldn’t say I’m much like him. This is
translated from the Spanish, so there are two versions and I love them both. The first one I read is, “When you laugh with a laugh of hurricaned rice / […] I could die for how sweet you are.” A laugh of hurricaned rice – that got me. But then the second translation I read was “when you laugh like rice driven by the wind.” Whew. MWV: Describe your writing afternoon.
TD: Tricky, because I’m absolutely a night writer. It’s changed because of the sheer volume of poems I’m writing for this independent study, I’ve learned to write anywhere anytime, but usually I write poetry late evenings at coffee shops, or I write them sitting in bed just before – or really as – I’m going to sleep. MWV: This is your second time winning first place in the poetry section of the Carlson Contest. How are your two winning poems similar, andhow are they different? TD: My first poem that won was “when names like katrina and rita come up in conversation,” and I think that’s a great poem to introduce me – to have introduced me, really, as a poet, to this campus. It tells more about me, and it’s
Teresa Doyle, (left) with Megan Kirby (Right) Photo by Emily Mohney
more personal. On the other hand, “the sound of things parting” is just playing more with language. It’s almost a work of fiction, really.
“when names like katrina and rita…” is definitely politicized– they’re both pretty heavy, they both deal with dark themes and people’s fallibility. And they also both lie, in a sense. The sort of “I” that’s identifiedin them isn’t me. In “the sound of things parting” I have a line about whiskey chasing tea. And I’ve never had whiskey. Things like that. MWV: Where do you see your writing progressing in the next five years? In the next twenty years? TD: You know, I write a lot of poetry now. The past year. I used to write a lot of novel-length fantasy fiction. I think
I’m going to keep up with both, find a balance. But I think a lot of what’s going to develop is a more serious, more… academic sort of writing. Right now I’m writing, as my Intercultural Studies capstone, a book that’s basically about students’ relationship to money. It’s creative nonfiction. This is an endeavor I’ve never taken on before, but I’ve always been interested in. I’m also definitely into journalism now. So five years, I’m seeing a less entertaining and more educational style of writing emerge… but twenty years, I see myself coming back more intensely to the novel at some time.
glass & flasks
1. Nicole Reichel - Haiti Poster Project 2. Kacey Bengston - Vaudeville Logo 3. Dragana Sogura - City Light 4.Danielle Dobies - What Giving Looks Like
Emily Darow I ripped the wishbone from my chest and pulled with all the strength I had left, but there was no one to wish against, so neither of us won. Defeated, I dropped the still whole bone into the trash can of my chest, leaving it for the next lonely wisher to try and fail. The wasted wish still sits there tapping impatiently against my insides because its tired of hiding its face. I am afraid to let it breathe, push it farther back inside me until it forgets what its like to see sunlight. Last night I dreamed of you dying, lying cold on the living room carpet, but it wasn’t too late. There was a while that I waited before I touched your chilling skin, but when I did you opened your eyes and looked at me, whispered softly, “I wished that you’d save me,” and in your hand I could see my still whole, thrown out wishbone. When I woke up I felt something cold in my hand. It cut the inside of my palm before I realized, it wasn’t you, but me wishing in my dreams to be saved.
1st place in the Carlson Contest for Poetry
like skin from a sweating red pepper or a newborn foal from its mother to make the first mistakes as it tumbles away from the familiar like a sojourn from the song that begat it into the twilighted trees like a twinkle from the mud-brown eyes of a widower and like clothing from damp summered skin like a belief from its anchor, to see if it dissolves in the light, like chamomile from the tongue when whiskey chases tea like solemn nations from one another like sated lovers, sweaty, retreating like palms from the cheeks of incorrigible children, like hair and lather from razorblades like the sea from the eroded stone banks: not entirely pleasant, but
1. Sabrina Mangan - Untitled 2. Angela Koch - Pollution 3. Dragana Sogura - Transformation 2 4. Bennett Johnson - Untitled
Remembering Colin Pascoe June 26, 1991 - Nov. 24 2010
Thoughts from the Staff
Whenever the MWV staff came together to discuss writers for our poetry and short story slams, Colin Pascoe’s name wouldinevitably come up. Andthen one of us would email him, or Facebook him, or corner him in the cafeteria and harass him until he agreed to read. He always said yes. Colin knew how to use his voice. He spoke with a soft intensity. His writing wasn’t about happy things, but about true things, sparkedwith quick wordplay and dark humor. The published piece is one Colin read at multiple literary events. We thought it fitting that in remembering our fellow student, artist and friend, we let Colin’s voice continue to shine.
1. AJ Barker - Ridiculous Crazy*
Piece created in memory of dear friend Colin Pascoe
Menstruation of the Mind By Colin Pascoe
Once a month, my mind bleeds uncontrollably With a flow so strong it stains the page. I’ll be completely honest in saying that I don’t know what it means, But I do know … I can’t stop the flow. I can’t stop the flow. There’s no worker’s compensation For the man who saved the world. No self gratification For the man that has no hands. Huge bazongas, Red hot mamas, They’ve got a score to settle! Murder’s a foot and I’m a leg … and sometimes… We tear shit up on the dance floor! We all share one occupation, Prostitution pays the bills. A new special edition, The lonely man’s guide to get some thrills. I’m screaming at a deaf girl, worried she won’t hear me. We’re a fountain of rationality And a fistful of passion! We made love on the tracks of a train station. CHOOO CHOOO! She felt the vibrations before I did And I died while still inside her. I was touched by an angel, But now she’s in jail…. Because I’m not of age! …And we happened to be naked.
Dr. Feel Good’s been arrested, The Godless smited, The in-between, slightly sided, Watched from below as the sight unfolded. I’ve got a pocketful of posies and pills and meth! Got my hand in my pocket and I’m touching Death! “Mhmmm! Excuse me, I’d like some substance, please! … And an order of fries … And a whole culture’s demise, if you don’t’ mind.” The fortune teller at Burger King got turned on as she read my future And fabricated all sorts of fiction. She said the sun was bound to get heat exhaustion, Soon, unsupported, the sky would fall in. Sometimes, My thoughts are so Big I get lost in them. When my cousin was 5, She told me she wanted to be a dancer with a pole. And I said, “Kailee, it’s good to have goals!” Yes! There are hundreds of billions of wonders in this world! With more wonders coming and some wonders going And sometimes, naturally, we wonders wonder how we got to be. “Human nature!” said the fly as it borked the bumblebee. And the wonders no longer wonder. The weatherman says it’s a good day for the world to stop. I half-heartedly agree as I listen to the rain Choking the rooftop, dancing on the sound stage, Drowning out the people cheering. Sometimes, weathermen are right. This poem ends with a period, no tampon intended.
1. Max Robertson - The Nuns 2. Amanda Conrad - Render 1 3. Erin Strong - Frank 4. Kristin Faleni - La-La-Limbo and My Other Half
Showing On Monday January 24 York Theatre @ 8 P.M.
1. AJ Barker - Men of Killer Colors 2. Nicole Reichel - Seuss
Lonnie's Room Lauren Dixon
ou walk into a room after a fire.
It’s not your room. But you know it as well as if it were your own. You fumble to make sense of the scene. You pick up things. There’s an ugliness creeping through every seam in the peeled, melting wallpaper. You touch the burnt crackling wood. You dust off unfamiliar items from beneath the rubble. You are thoroughly uncoordinated. Beyond this, you don’t remember what life was like before this moment. Before the ashes, blackness and obscurity. The only thing you know for sure is that the room is damaged. When someone dies, walking into their room is like walking into that dark unknown. It’s shocking, unexpected and unforgiving. It’s somewhat like you pictured it. There’s the bed, the dresser, the carpeting, the pillows. It’s all intact. But it’s also altered. Shifted in a way your mind can’t fully grasp. You want to walk in, examine,
explore. Touch the things that they once touched, feel emotions that they can no longer feel. But at the same time you want to run. This isn’t right. A house is not a home, when there’s no one there. My grandma lived 84 years: 30,672 hours: 736,128 minutes. The majority of them in this house, most of them in or around this room. She was Charlene DeTorrice, “Lonnie” as some called her, Mrs. DeTorrice to many. She lived in Riverside most all of her life, was married and had six children there. To me, as a young child, it was the most beautiful, desirable house I’dever seen. Oldcocoa brown bricks stackeddelicately two stories high, accompanied by a full porch and an aging wooden swing. A sweeping wrap-around driveway and fencedoff in-ground pool. Living in a ranch home in a less attractive town and sharing a room with two hardheaded sisters, this was paradise. Going to her home wasn’t so much a visit, as it was a vacation. Nestled in Riverside’s quaint picturesque town, my Grandma’s home stands in the middle of a unique, expensive neighborhood. Surrounded by million-dollar Frank Lloyd Wright homes, her house held its own. Every time I go back, it’s just as aesthetically pleasing. But the feeling of warmth is gone. She doesn’t greet me, I don’t go swim in her pool on a hot summer’s day, I don’t watch a movie with her sleeping on the couch beside me. As the only grandparent I had ever known, she was without a finite place in time, her love never-ending, her life without that undeniable, inescapable fate. She died on a Sunday. I knew that she was in the hospital and that my parents had gone to see how she was doing. They thought she might pull through. That whatever illness was pulsing through her these past few months might have subsided. Endless doctors, diagnoses and doses of pain medication. But this time, she might be able to come home. Just maybe.
“The same hollow expression filled many of the faces I came upon. ”
I knew when my mom walked through our front door, on that cool October afternoon, that my grandmother had passed on. Teary vision, aching hearts, desire at its apex to turn back time, my family and I headed to the house. Getting frailer with age but still indestructible to me, she didn’t greet us at the creaking backdoor. The stock memory of “Lonnie” with her bathing suit cover up, a round blonde bun atop her head, glasses dimmed to accommodate the sun, filled the doorway instead. We stepped inside. The same hollow expression filledmany of the faces I came upon. My cousins, many of them girls under the age of 14, clung onto each other and repeated the same phrases over and over again in disbelief, “It’s not fair” and “This isn’t real.” They haven’t
figured out the world’s indecencies yet. This might be their first true attempt at despair. I feel it, but it’s not the same. So I seclude myself. I don’t express my grief to them because it is on a different level. I know the world and its cruelties, at least more so than they do. So I wander around the house, every so often stopping to hug someone. I see things my grandma touched, stepped where my grandma did. I walk around until I find a spot where I can thoroughly let the flood gates crash down.
“We both come to the conclusion that here, she isn’t gone.”
I findmy mother here as well, in my grandma’s room. I want to be alone and sob, but I also want to be alone with her. We are oldest daughters crying together. I don’t mind that she’s occupying my place of grief. She understands my pain, though I don’t comprehend hers. She has lost a grandmother; but I’ve never lost a mother. We both come to the conclusion that here, she isn’t gone. The fading flowery wallpaper flows together into a mushy, damp palette. It’s tear-colored, a dark shadowy mess. Perfume bottles, indented shoes, the imprint on the right side of the bed. It’s all hers, and she’s present again. She isn’t dead at all, she fills the room. My mom’s arms around mine, we understand this together. I’ve gone back to her room since then. And every time, it represents a different shade of grief. The first time after I just wanted to look around to try to understand the pain I felt. I saw a box of necklaces that I had given her on the surface on her antique dresser. In a treasure chest painted with a world map, I enclosed beaded jewelry I had made for her 82nd birthday. She wore them daily, loved and was impressed by my talent. Now it’s here. No one to wear them, no one to brag about their beauty. Just a box, on a table, in a room. Crying into that inanimate object, I felt utterly helpless. I felt guilty that I hadn’t made her more. She was so happy on that day and I didn’t follow up with anything better. All around the room were reminders of what I hadn’t given her. Why hadn’t I done more? When I was younger, my sisters, my mom and I would take “getaways” to her home. We’d swim in her kidney-shaped pool, eat snacks like Gardettos and Triscuits and soak up our readily welcomed adolescence. We’d go out to a fancy dinner, head back for a quick twilight swim and, when our eyelids got too heavy to stand, go to the guest room upstairs. Sleeping arrangements were constantly a source of fierce contention with my sister. There were two guest beds in the room next to my grandma’s room. There were four people. My youngest sister, Annie, was still small enough to sleep with my mom in one. This left my younger sister, Beth, and I to fight over the other one like cowboys and Indians. The loser would
be forced to sleep on an equally comfortable floor mattress. But that wasn’t the point, I was older. But it was her turn and why couldn’t we just get along? This normally, even dependably, escalated into a screaming match. My mom played the part of the unsuccessful referee. We played the part of the angstridden, never-fully-satisfied children. That was until my grandma was beckoned out of her room from the noise. “For Pete’s sake! What’s the matter?” Did we need more blankets? Pillows? The scowl on my mom’s face was all my sister and I needed to make a peaceful agreement. Making my grandma exit her room after her nightly “I’m headed to bed,” to my mom, was an ungodly offense. Grandma needs her sleep. We were immature and selfish and my mom was right. Now, I would sleep on the floor for the rest of my life, if it meant that she couldcome back. The next time I returned, it was time for my cousins and I, as well as my mom andAunt Lisa, to go through her belongings. Rather, it was time to root through her things. A makeshift auction. Her scarfs, her purses, her shoes, her jewelery. My grandma was an accessory woman through and through. What came next caught me off guard. “This is cool.” “Does this look good on me?” “I want this!” Goddamit, put it down. Those aren’t your things to look goodin. Leave. You’re too young to appreciate it, to appreciate anything, let alone life. My only grandparent and she wasn’t around anymore to give me fashion advice, to tell me that she liked my latest accessory. The thought of any of my cousins wearing her things repulsed me. In an fantasy world, I’d swell to the size of a giant ogre, thrust my arm to the side and advise everyone to leave at once. Reluctantly, I was forced to fill the role of the bitter, angry granddaughter. It was, unknowingly at the time, my next step in grief’s winding ladder.
“ And now I understood the things she did see..."
My cousin Emily started to go through her medicine. "What’s this?” "Yeah, what is this. This is weird!” “Maybe you should just put it down,” I said, forcibly calm. Allat once, I hated this room and everything in it. Everywhere around her room and everything I looked at made me fume. I went into her closet and sat on the cold wooden floor, her hanging, still perfumed clothes permeating my nostrils with memories I tried so hard to push away. Looking through
sleeves and coattails, I cursed the person who modeled her leather handbag. A few months later, my mom and I went back. Most things that indicated her recent death had been removed. No more pain medication or hospital supplies. Her walker was transferred to a location I didn’t care to ask about. The room held a different light. Boxes crowded the windows, but if they hadn’t, I might have opened a window. We muddled through her old photos. Instantly, I felt an influx of all the things in my own life she wasn’t able to witness: the stresses of my new apartment, the joy of seeing my name in the byline of a magazine, the hurt of my break-up tears. Good and bad, my grandma didn’t get to experience those things with me.
“...you scoop up the ashes and, remembering where they came from, toss them away.”
I continued through the fading black and white photos, watched them transition into color, let them register. Actually looked at them. And then I understood the things she did see: my mom’s first unsteady footsteps, her husband’s grin on her wedding day, a family portrait including everyone from her oldest sonin-law to her youngest grandchild, a vacation in Hawaii. The room now hasn’t changed much. But it has. It lacks certain things. It’s deficient in a way that only a loved one can sense. Coming in, a homebuyer would notice only the things: the bed, the chair in the corner, the moving boxes, a gradually emptying closet. They wouldn’t see the room for the person that lived inside it, the woman that laid in that bed for most of her adult life. A house is not a home, when there’s no one there. And then you began to rebuild after the fire. You get a broom, a dustpan and a mop. You scrub, sweep and gather the scorched memories. Or, if the damage was severe enough, you take down the walls and put up new ones. Even move out entirely. But before you can do that, you scoop up the ashes and, remembering where they came from, toss them away. The room might be new, clean, but it still marked in a way that only a previous inhabitant would notice.
Second Place Carlson Winner for Poetry
His outside is charred to match the inside, smoldering darkness that leaves people wondering why, but never the desire to make sure he’s okay. As a child his parents warned against playing with matches. Told him the dangers of trusting in curious fingers, but he was never one to listen to authority. He kept a book of matches in his back pocket. Never told anyone about it, but they found out when they found him. By then it was too late. You can’t turn day to night, but he tried. Allowed the fingers they’d warned him about to explore his aching body. Being a virgin makes you appreciate being touched for the first time. It was his first time. Couldn’t remember when he last smiled, honestly. He honestly couldn’t breathe sometimes. And while everyone else tried to tell him what not to do, no one could seem to figure out what to do so he did what felt right. Stood in the mirror watching the light dance across his face illuminating everything he’d ever hated about himself until the fire seemed like the only thing that understood. He should have learned that turning on the lights does the same thing lighting a match will without the harmful side effects, but no one took the time to teach him how simple it is to flip a switch. So it was without hesitation that he gave in to the impulse, allowed himself to become engulfed until he couldn’t see his face anymore.
1. Randi Holt - Why 2. Alexandra Konold - Grave Hill Stairs 3. Todd Suhs - Carrot Hand 4. Chris Parsons - Untitled 5. Hannah Manocchio - The Blood Transcendentalist
MOSAICS During the fall of 2010, the Elmhurst Art Department offered a Mosaic Course. Lead by long time moasiacist John Pitman Weber, a small intimate class was put together to construct a series of mosaics for the Elmhurst Campus.
During the fall of 2010, the Elmhurst Art Department offer ed a Mosaic Course. Lead by long time moasiacist John Pitman Weber, a small intimate class was put together to construct a series of mosaics for the Elmhurst Campus. At the start of the semester, most students in the class had never even heard of tile nippers. By the end, all of the student artists were very skilled in the medium. This came from hours and hours of practice, and a fierce determination on behalf of both the professor and students.
ABOVE: Weber with his team of students from the Special Topics course. OPPOSITE: Located on the 1st floor of Old Main. BELOW: In-progress work on one of the mosaics in Old Main. BOTTOM: One of the Schaible mosaics in process.
The first step of the course was brainstorming-- not just about where the pieces would go, but what their tone would represent and what sort of themes would come into play. Each mosaic subject revolves around a specific building on campus. Schaible Science Centerâ€™s mosaics center around chemistry and psychology and Old Main's mosaics overflow with themes of fine art, spirituality, and sociology. After defining the space where the mosaics would go, the class took measurements and decided how big the pieces could be. From there it was a matter of shape: what would be the best form for that space? Many, many different drawings of each piece were done, exploring specific images and color combinations. The class was then unleashed to critique each variation. After finalizing the design, the drawing was projected upon life-size scale grid paper, to make what was know as the â€œcartoonâ€?. The students then began to cut the pieces of tile that fit into each part of the design, assorting shapes of tile randomly as if filling in an ever-changing puzzle.
Cutting tile is one of the most difficult things to do during the mosaic process. Students not only had to master the skill, but the patience to complete the most time consuming part of the process. Each piece that is cut must fit into another piece and be no more than 1/4â€? away from its neighbor, creating a uniform grout line throughout the piece. This part of process is called tessellating, and can be very rewarding and almost meditative once a rhythm is found. Once a large enough area has been cut, it is taped together to keep the pieces from moving. When finished, the pieces are completely taped into place as one large composition. A strong glue is applied to a backing board and the pieces are set into it. Once dried, the tape can be removed and the piece is grouted and hung on the wall. In all, 12 pieces were completed and posted in spaces all over campus. The buildings now proudly housing mosaics include Old Main, Schaible Science Center, Circle Hall, Lehman Hall, and Goebel Hall. The work put into them cannot be measured in mere hours, but in cups of coffee and band-aids. Or perhaps through countless calluses on palms, or tiles that refused to cut the way they were intended to. In any case, the mosaic work put up around campus can only be described as a team effort. A truly unique class, this course allowed for one of the first art classes on campus that called for joint effort. It will never be forgotten by those who participated, and for sure will stay in the eyes and hearts of students who walk up and down the agonizingly steep staircases of Old Main, or through the once drab stairwells of Schaible.
1. Schaible West Stairwell - Eppur Si Muove 2. Old Main 2nd Floor - Untitled 3. Old Main 3rd Floor - Untitled 4. Schaible West Stairwell - Eppur Si Muove 5. Lehmann Hall - An Ever Widening Circle 6. Circle Hall - Mexican Gardens 7. Goebel Hall - Wild Roses & Sunflower Leaves 8. Circle Hall - Mexican Gardens
1. Randi Holt - Environmental Impact 2. Jessica Cranford - W.H. Taft 3. Jessica Cranford - To Be Announced 4. Jessica Cranford - Mammoth of Paradise 5. Hannah Manocchio - Skeleton Key
Q & A - Cover Contest Winner Katy McEvoy
The Elmhurst College Art Department holds a contest each year for the cover of MiddleWestern Voice. The works are blindly juried by Art Department Faculty. This year’s winner is Katy McEvoy with the above piece, Lookin’ Out My Back Door.
MWV: Where does the title “Looking Out My Back Door” derive from?
MWV: How did you decide on using the certain colors in this piece?
KM: This piece actually comes from an assignment to create a design that represents a song you like. The song I chose was Lookin’ Out My Back Door by Creedence Clearwater Revival, hence the title.
KM: I decided that I wanted to experiment with different colors and thought this one was the best.
MWV: What was your inspiration? KM: The song is about a guy who is having strange visions of creatures on his porch because of drugs. I was drawn to that song because of all the bizarre imagery such as the elephants playing in a band and the giants doing cartwheels. The song is very happy, andI think my work reflects that. There was no mention of light bulbs in the lyrics but I wanted the elephant to be walking through a forest of something strange, and I just chose light bulbs. MWV: Is this piece part of a series of a standalone? KM: I did a varied edition of ten.
MWV: Do you plan on ever creating more scenes from this song? KM: If I were to continue with this project, I would make a dinosaur Victrola, which is another piece of the lyrics. MWV: Where do you feel your future artwork will lead you? KM: Currently my artwork mostly involves digital photography transfers, which ties in with some of my printmaking processes. I gravitate towards nature in my art, in both drawing and photography. After graduation, my use of art facilities and equipment will be very limited, so it is hard to say what type of things I'll be able to create. However, I look forwardto combining the verious techniques I've learnedandexpirementing with new forms of art.
O Me Aspyn Jones
o me. the times have slipped away so fast and i’m still looking at my reflection in a bin of water. look to the left and i’m faced with a crystal blue aquarium. and past the fish, i see your face. o me. you are my humble love in such a short amount of time. you are the fuel to my passion and my libido. your eyes gaze upon me. and i welcome your hand to pray with my hand. o me. even if our parents can’t handle it i fully intend to see you whenever i can. a gracious lingering even between enemy lines. the most beautiful infraction in the entire world. o me. have not any doubts about the future if our lives shall at once be ended by wick’d poison. therefore, let us enjoy the limited future and present. make haste and allow yourself to submit to thee. o me. we’re living in a war. and every single person takes place in the fight. they just can’t handle our hearts of hearts. unique kindness and gentle strength. o me. our lips touch like pilgrims’ hands pray. and my mind wanders back to the aquarium. spare a dance with the love of your life, and we’ll simply move until death do us part.
Matthew Kovich Record this week in coffee cups and dates with women, chapters of the book you're reading, minutes wasted sixty at a shot. Write down how being decent enervates you sometimes, how you woke each morning fearing that the man you hope you are, you're not. Scratch deep into the paper how you've lived life like a drinker, spending nights and money drowning your emotions on the rocks. Then piss and moan how nothing satiates you lately, and these past six days of jerking off were such a burden (dot-dot-dot)
The Sign Above the Mirror on the Wall It was a small, black sign, about 7 inches on each side, that in white writing read, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”. I found it arbitrarily, one random day while shopping for room décor. It was in a knickknack emporium – the type of place that carried bookends adorned with small glass ladybugs and lanky, animated, smiling women with sunglasses and yellow sundresses. They had a display of signs tucked into the back right corner of the store, next to 3 large shelves carrying nothing but books on dogs, and table with Asian themed picture frames. The signs, when placed on a wall, protruded about three inches. They all had different, somewhat inspirational, quotations on them. My eyes fell on my black sign immediately. And while slowly reaching for my wallet, I mentally placed the picture in my room above the mirror on the wall. What first attracted me to my particular, simple sign was its flagrant black and white appearance. The theme that I had, while finishing my senior year in high school, decided was going to welcome me into my bedroom and new
life was a straightforward but intricate black and white. But what had undoubtedly hooked me to this modest piece was what was written on it. The anonymous quote that had so boldly told me what existence was all about, with the words “life”, “finding” and “creating” all relatively larger than the rest, was going to be the motto that I would live by the minute that it was purchased and formally belonged to me. I had begun to figuratively, and almost literally, claw at the walls of my high school, wanting out. After my acceptance letters to various colleges and universities arrived in the mail, I made the conscious decision to slack. I would ditch class to get coffee or smoke cigarettes, and occasionally play a game of hide and seek in the hallways with the school security guards. I had become reckless, as I knew that the official freedom of being a college student was only a short amount of time away. So when the summer of 2007 approached and my high school diploma was so proudly acquired, and began to revamp. My new, sophisticated bedroom would be ornamented with pictures of Paris and other black and white photography,
with a white comforter on the bed and black throw pillows. Fake white roses with fake black baby’s breath would sit in a glass vase on my dresser. The only color I would allow in my bedroom was the walls – a deep and calm periwinkle blue. The theme would work perfectly, and all be completed with the placement of my special sign above the mirror on the west wall of my bedroom. Up until that point of my reformation, I felt it was obligatory that my surroundings be rambunctious, as my personality and habits were. The haphazard lifestyle that plastered my walls and the unkempt floor that I would shamelessly step all over pleased me in an odd way, as chaos pleases those who find pleasure in disorder. But as days and months fell behind me and I found myself close to the end of my blameless youth, I had the notion that pandemonium was not the most feasible route in successfully beginning my adult life. So, I tactfully kept every piece of my new room in place as I began my college career. A majority of my notebooks and folders were black, just in case they ever escaped my backpack and found
themselves on my desk. My clothes were neatly stored away behind my white closet doors, as I wanted no color to intrude with my atmosphere of sheer simplicity and elegance. I kept organized. I did my work and I did it well, I kept my surroundings both at home and school clean, and I pushed to be punctual. This was a new me, starting a new life. And this was who I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I saw the sign every day, as was the way that I wanted it. I would sit at the mirror for a while, linking my existence to the anonymous words that hung above my reflection, occasionally scanning my bedroom walls to ensure that all black and white themed items were intact. The straightforward, colorless life I was leading was running quite smoothly. But I began to loosen my grips. Classes became harder. Theories became more real. Simple questions became what seemed to be those of life and death. I started to sleep longer, leave later, and arrive after class had already started. I met people whose characters were so opposite of mine that I found myself questioning what I really found enjoyable, appeasing. What I really liked. Conversations would lead into arguments, and what I had been so headstrong about for a majority of my life failed me. I was proven wrong. I was proven right. But as I trudged through each minute of my education, my life was slowly but surely succumbing, yet again, to chaos. I would find less and less time to sit in front of my mirror, and at times, would almost completely forget about my sign. Sophomore year had so quickly fallen upon me and I was making new friends, and discovering new things. I didn’t have time to keep track of my theme, much less the motto that I had
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
held so highly. The outside world was where my life was now. And without realizing it, I was bringing it into my bedroom, every time I would come inside. I began to enjoy the boundaries that I was unknowingly crossing. I found myself interested in topics that before, would seem drab and unimportant. Things that I had believed for my entire life had nothing to do with me seized my heart and clenched onto my brain. I questioned my upbringing, my faith, my morals. Smoking became heavier as I would stand outside of school buildings, rain or shine, debating the worthiness of one philosophy over another. Words and music moved me differently. Ideas and people changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Old friends became enemies, and those who I understood to be so different from me became my closest and dearest companions. Relationships in the home became strained as I expressed my longing for the up close and personal understanding of things that I had known to be forbidden. What was taken from me I had now discovered, and I wanted to understand it, breath it, and live it. Anger at who I was becoming was made clear, and I took it in willingly, recognizing it only as an inevitable element of my life. And frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had begun my college career by rebelling against the person that I had been in high school. Now, I found myself flicking off the black and white loving, high school graduate. I found myself sitting under my mirror early in the fall of 2010. I had just moved out of the house to be closer to campus, but had come back home to visit with family and retrieve the last of my belongings. I finally find time to sit at my mirror, and examine the reflection. Black and white photographs of Paris have been replaced with colored maps of Istanbul and India. The white roses and black baby’s breath have become dusty and look drab compared to the yellow scarf tied around the vase. Salvador Dali and Picasso dot the walls, and the linen has gone from stark white to deep green, and clothing is strewn all over the floor. Evidence of my travels are on display, all as vibrant and colorful as any souvenir can get. My reflection stares back at me, quizzing me, asking me, “Remember what you were like 3 years ago?” Yes, I remember. “Remember what it took for you to get here?” Yes, I remember. “How does it feel?” Unbelievable. I am staring at my own creation, and everything around me has changed, just as I have. My room is different. The bed, the desk, the dresser. The walls. The room is different. I am different. As I begin to walk out of my room, I take one last look and notice that contrary to what I had believed, there was one aspect that was unchanged. And that unchanged object was a small, black sign, about 7 inches on each side, that in white writing read, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”. And it remained above the mirror on the wall.
1. Kacey Bengston - Edie 2. Sabrina Mangan - Untitled
Honorable Mention in the Carlson Contest
Under the darkness of the muchpurple starry aftermidnight, this lady and I have found a place. One kiss, then eight, then (eversogently) we are knees shoulders backs elbows thrust against the cool picnic table planks -- hands lips here there. (here there is a loversâ€™ bedroom, with silkcurtained walls of tree-shadow; the beams of our room are shadow, our rafters are elm) Here there is starlight falling over her ebony cascade of curls (through which my fingers swim) while her soft, olive-skinned thighs enclose me until the stars hide, and the shadows flee, and I depart to sleep the night alone.
Matt Faleni Iâ€™m lost at sea, waves crash down upon me, further and further I go. Sinking away from what I used to be. My lungs are gasping for air, the surface is always just out of reach.
You are the undertow, forever dragging me down. Setting sail was never what I do best, I sailed north when it should have been west. Iâ€™ll cross you off my map, a place only a broken compass would go.
Come closer to me, and take a look at what you abandoned out at sea. An eye of the storm, calm before you swallowed me whole.
1. Mackenzie Stern - Wilco Electric Factory 2. Mackenzie Stern - Castelvet 3. Ering Strong - Saving Private Ryan 4. Mackenzie Stern - Dr. Manhattan
Jospeh Zanona Second Place Carlson Winner for Fiction
Universe Man - Part I
(Guinnein Artainne and the Jupiter and Mars Bar) Guinnein Artainne walks his dog in the brutal cold, and he cannot say fuck enough times when expressing his absolute and unequivocal real time displeasure at having to walk his dog, at least two times a day, every day, for the rest of his life, or for the rest of the dog’s life, whichever ends first. “I told you I’d shoot the dog and I mean it.” said Scary Gary “I will shoot the dog if you really want me to, just say the word and I’ll do it.” He doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t own a gun. He loves dogs. They were at the Jupiter and Mars Bar, on a residential corner, on the north side of a working man’s city, by an ocean, somewhere in the northern hemisphere, not far from Aberdeen, or Boston, or Vladivostok. They’d been meeting there every Wednesday night for months. There’re globes hanging everywhere at alternating lengths from the ceiling; different shapes; different sizes andthemes, andmost of them are illuminated Earth, Venus, Jupiter, and Mars globes, but Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, and the rest can be found if you look hard enough, as can some asteroids, comets, and even planetary nebulae complete with gaseous clouds made of colored paper, bubble wrap, and clear styrofoam. There’re sofas and end tables with lava lamps scattered around the bar, and it feels like a living room, but its not. It’s the Jupiter and Mars Bar and the walls and ceilings are made of stamped tin panels, painted green, and the bartender spins vinyl records like Heaven Seventeen, Yazoo, andThe Flaming Lips for the “Its
late and I’m tripping” crowd. “Garry, I don’t want you to shoot my dog, but I have to admit that sometimes I hate that fucking dog. I mean it’s not so bad when it’s eighty degrees in July and I’m looking forward to an icy cold Hacker Schorr with a lemon slice [on the rim of an unusually tall German beer glass], but its not July Garry, andits colder than shit, and I’m pissed. “He’s pissed.” ‘Yeah. I’m pissed, because it’s not July, but I’m also pissed because my life is slipping away from me.” “His life is slipping away from him. Oh fucking no.” Said Scary Garry, who breaks away from his Scary-Garry-forwardlooking-empty-stare. “Do you really think your life is slipping away from you genius?” His name is not genius. His parents named him Guinnein, something he always assumed was due to a bad mix of the sixties and mescaline or mushrooms or the pass-out game. This name however is too much for Scary Garry, so he calls him genius instead. I know. It’s not even close. Scary Gary was a towering man with huge thighs, and shoulders, and arms and hands, and a planet sized head, and everything about him was oversized, but nothing about him was out of proportion. Let me be clear about this.Nothing about him was out of proportion. Everything about him was self-evident and brilliantly dummied down to nothing but the apparent truth, a universal point of singularity truth, something Guinnein would soon
come to realize. Garry was bald because he wanted to be and he knew the exact location of every planet in the bar, even the doubles and triples of Pluto; even those planets Guinnein had never heard of like HD1461c, even the marble sized asteroid in the corner, next to the non-illuminated blue plastic Neptune. Garry even did his own tattoos and had burned Saturn, complete with Titan, Rhea, Pheobe, and Pan, into the back of his head using a hand held mirror in his bathroom. And it was perfect. This night was not the first night they’d engaged in a stirring discussion about Guinnein’s self proclaimed miserable existence. In fact, it was the only topic of conversation that seemed capable of distracting Garry from his incessant Scary-Garry-forward-looking-empty-stare. Everything else bounced off him like radio-waves. Guinnein Artainne explains that it’s the loneliness; and being alone; and not having anybody; that it’s not knowing how to find anybody, yet still thinking “I’ll findher, you know, the one”, andwhile they both agree that she exists; that he will ultimately find her; that maybe he already has found her; Guinnein secretly concludes that they’re both wrong; that he’ll never find her; that it will always come down to the “perfect-fucking-being-thing”. “Garry. I’m hung up on the perfect-fucking-being-thing and I just need to settle”. “What are you fucking stupid? Do not settle. Look at me in the eyes.” He grabs Guinnein by the hair on both sides of his head and yanks it around until he’s facing him straight on. Guinnein can’t help but focus on the tattoo of two-zero-two just above Garry’s upper lip, imagining some sublime purpose; the date of a death; or a birth; or maybe a motel room number. “Look at me in the eyes motherfucker, do not settle. Do_not_settle. Repeat after me, I will not settle.” Still in his meaty man grasp, “I should settle Garry because I’m hung up on the perfect-fucking-being-thing and she just doesn’t exist. I mean maybe she does, but there’s probably
only one of her, and she obviously loves somebody else.” Garry releases him. “No”, said Garry, “You’re wrong. She doesn’t love somebody else, you’re just trying too hard. You’ve got no perspective man, and you think you’re too much of a fucking loser for the perfect being, but that’s only partially true.” “Thanks Garry.” Guinnein paused to regather his strength. Bella Trix, the irresistibly gorgeous and long-legged bartender with steam roller straight blue hair and orange colored contact lenses flipped the record to side two of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and refilled Guinnein’s neon blue drink, complete with a glowstick in the bottom and a hint of fog rolling down the sides of the glass. “I have something important to tell you.” said Guinnein as he took a deep breath, and engaged in his own momentary Scary-Garry-forward-looking-empty-stare. “I was walking the dog on Douglass St, you know, across from the Jerrymart, hoping she’ll shit someplace where nobody’ll see so I wouldn’t have to pick it up, and that’s when it happened.” Important clarification. When its warm outside, he always bags it. He picks up the shit piles with his right hand wearing a plastic sandwich baggie like a surgical glove so that he can safely transfer the shit into a larger plastic grocery bag, usually from Minnelli’s where he buys pints of homemade Bolognese to heat up and serve over a lonely plate of tortellini or ravioli or something stuffed, careful to leave at least a third of them untouched by any sauce at all, as he has learned that just a bit of pepper and parmesan works nicely.
“You fucker, you lit the dog on fire, didn’t you?”
“This was the night Garry. I mean it...you know...I met the One.” “No way. The one? You think you met the One? Bullshit.” “I mean it.” Once again, he paused to regather his strength__and__ he continued. “So I’m walking the dog, taking yet another complete inventory of my life [with the same final outcome as all complete inventories of his life] and it hits me Garry. I’m alone, with a dog and a pack of matches, and I don’t have anything to smoke or to burn, except the pack of matches, or maybe the dog, and then it happens.” “You fucker, you lit the dog on fire didn’t you?” “No. I didn’t light the dog on fire Garry. I walked right into her.” “The one? You walked right into the One?” “Yeah, the One. Literally, I walked right into her. With no snow on the ground and no streetlights in the neighborhood, and the Jerrymart closed and shut down for the night, and the headlights from the oncoming cars blinding me [turning an already vacuum-of-spacedark- neighborhood into complete blackness] there she was, and down she went. It was her. I couldn’t fucking believe it, but it was her, and there I was, with the dog [and thankfully no bag of shit because its winter and he only picks up the shit in July, or when somebody is clearly watching him, and he didn’t even see her, so she doesn’t count] and I knocked her over.”
“Did you have a bag of shit?” “What?” “Did__you__have__a bag of dog shit?” “No.” “Did it ever occur to you that you would have been better off with a bag of dog shit? Anybody worthy of the One, would pick up their dog’s shit whether or not anybody is looking, and whether or not it’s July. This is basic stuff man, and it’s at the very locus of your problem, and you don’t even know it do you? A real fucking Genius.” Guinnein realizes he was right. A bag of dog shit would have been perfect, and while he thinks Garry means well, he needs a Garry break, which happens every twenty minutes, so he gets up and works his way through the solar system, past Neptune and Uranus, and to the men’s room, which is a one stall amazingly cramped and tiny old bathroom, just past the old and still functioning photo booth, with people playing pinball right outside the men’s room door. Let me be clear about this. The pinball machine is right outside the men’s room door leaving the toilet itself less than twenty-seven inches from the bumpers and buzzers and bells, oh my, separated by two sheets of dry wall, and a four inch empty space between them.
Guinnein Artainne goes to the Jupiter and Mars Bar often, and he understands the bathroom is tiny and he knows there’ll be people right outside the door, so he wouldn’t normally put himself in the situation of having to shit while there, but tonight is different and he doesn’t care. He feels that meeting the one, touching the one, knocking her over on Douglass Street across from the Jerrymart, and probably never seeing her again, has released him from all vain and conceited cares and concerns. He just didn’t give a shit, and anyway, he thinks, Garry would say there are two kinds of men in the world. Those who take shits confidently and without issue or concern, and those who cower and fastidiously plan their night around taking a shit to insure they don’t have to do it at the J&M Bar, in the small cramped one stall bathroom just past the photo booth, twenty-seven inches from the bumpers, buzzers, and bells, oh my, with their shit smell creeping out through the crack under the door. Being merely on a Garry break, he splashed his face with icy cold water, over and over, and he returned to Garry sitting at the same spot at the bar where he always sits, with his Scary-Garry-forward-looking-emptystare. Bella Trix smiles at Guinnein as she blows the dust off of Pink Floyd’s Meddle. “So what happened next genius” said Garry, still looking straight ahead. “Well, she looks up at me over her left shoulder, while picking up her collection of Buck Rogers Little Big books that I had splattered all over the frozen parkway on Douglass street, and I say ‘Fuck, I didn’t see you with the headlights in my eyes and all’ and I stand there and carefully analyze this statement with her looking back up at me. ‘Fuck, I didn’t see you with the headlights in my eyes and all’ and I can’t believe I said fuck.” “Fuck”
He had said fuck again, and while we have already established that he cannot say fuck enough times, this was probably not a well placed fuck, if there is such a thing, and your narrator knows for certain that there is, and that this was not one of them. “You’re fucked up man, and you’ve finally fucking cracked. Your head is cracked open and your brains are oozing out down the side of your head right now, and I can fucking see them. They’re green. Look, there they are,” said Garry. “ No I haven’t cracked. Don’t you see? The One knows she’s the One which brings considerable leverage to the relationship, after all, she wouldn’t be the one without being fully aware of her oneness, which brings up the final dilemma. Is she the one for me, or is her oneness interchangeable from one lonely-fucking-dog-walking-urbanzombie to another?” “Do you hear yourself? Am I the only person in the universe who can hear you right now? You are fucking pathetic, do you know that?” “Look,” said Guinnein, “I don’t need anybody to tell me how pathetic I am Garry, especially you. I mean what do you know? You sit here every night by yourself drinking fucking grapefruit juice and smoking cigarettes. How much grapefruit juice can one person drink anyway? Your gonna to turn into a fucking fruit or something, or maybe you already are one. Yeah, your an orange Garry, you fucking orange.” “Alright,” he says, “so let me guess, you find your way around the fact that you knocked her on her ass on Douglass street across from the Jerrymart, andyou convince her to meet you for coffee or wine or some stupid shit, you fall in love, but
“And so they stopped and parked the Harley, grabbed the sleeping bag, and began a silent and blusterous journey...”
eventually you run out of ways to be cool and entertaining and before long its just you and your endlessly pathetic efforts to be somebody your’e not and she comes to realize that your not a real fucking genius after all, and she escapes and leaves you there alone with a coffee or a wine and that forlorn little boy look on your face. About right?” “Basically, yes”. Guinnein realizes that it hasn’t been quite twenty minutes yet, but he’s had enough and feels the very real urge to smack Garry in the back of the head, understanding that if does, Garry would likely kill him, so he quietly grabbed his parka and began to work his way past Mars, andthe asteroidfield, and the Kuiper belt, [which rhymes with viper belt], towards the back of the bar where he slips out the rear door along King Georges street and turns west towards the alley. BAM-SMASH *** Against the wall Guinnein goes! “You’re coming with me”. It was Scary Garry.
“Trust me, please. I promise. This is why I’m here man. I’ve been waiting and tonight’s the night. I think you’re ready.” Guinnein stares at the tattoo of two-zero-two above Garry’s lip and he imagines a hotel room, and final night of epic love making between Garry and his beautiful but doomed soul mate, and her flowing nordic hair, and six foot tall frame, and an angelic operatic voice and her complete and total devotion to everything that is Garry. “Trust me motherfucker,” he says. It was another brutally cold night, and they walked around the corner, past the front door of the J&M Bar, andheadedsouth stopping at Garry’s chopped motorcycle with the extended forks, leather gunslinger seat with red flame stitching, and a huge army surplus sleeping bag rolled and attached to the rear. He lit a cigarette and flashed his signature Scary- Garry-Crazy-Smile. “No fucking way” said Guinnein. “I am not getting on that motorcycle, I am not going to be your bitch, I am not going anywhere with you Garry, ever, do you understand? Do you fucking understand me?”
“...he understood there could only be one saturn in the sky, and he felt very very very very small.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you. I just snuck out of the fucking bar to get away from you. Are you dense?” “I need to show you something. Trust me”. “I do not trust you.”
Universe Man - Part II
(Scary Garry’s Harley and the talking trout) And so Guinnein Artainne and Scary Garry, without a last name, were on amotorcycle, not far from an Italian grocer, a convenient store named after Jerry, and a pub with planets and stars and asteroids hanging from the ceiling. Guinnein, who cannot say fuck enough times, hated the motorcycle, hated the winter, and was beginning to hate Scary Garry as well, who conversely, was oblivious to the sub-zero cold, the jet-enginetesting-windtunnel wind, and the ice stalactites forming on his eye brows, nostrils, and off the corners of his mouth. He urged the beast on towards the ocean; towards the half-mile long cement pier, covered in ice and snow, towards the lighthouse at the edge of a lonely continent. “A lighthouse.” screamed Guinnein over the sound of the wind and the road, and the Harley. “A fucking lighthouse. A fucking lighthouse? Really? A fucking lighthouse Garry?” “Forget the fucking lighthouse...” shouted Garry, rotating his head to the right so as to be heard clearer, “...and focus on the universe genius. It’s all around you man. You are surrounded by billions of mother fucking stars. Forget about the fucking lighthouse at the edge of a shitpuddle. Get some perspective genius.” “My name is Guinnein, and its really not that hard to say,” yelled Guinnein, straining to breathe and yell and hang on at the same time. “And I’m not a fucking genius, so stop calling me one, and by the way, there’re zero fucking stars in the sky, so let’s get on with whatever the fuck it is we’re here to do.” And so they stopped and parked the Harley, grabbed the sleeping bag, and began a silent and blusterous journey across an ice coveredpier, flankedon both sides by the crashing waves of a northern ocean. Garry led the way, negotiating the jagged ice and snow, reaching back and catching Guinnein often, just before he crashed to the ground, which happened every four or five steps, lifting him back up to his feet with one arm, effortlessly, without losing a beat, without looking back. Guinnein, with both arms feebly clutching the sleeping bag, struggled to stay on his feet and he wondered, what the fuck am I doing here, and Garry wonderedback, relax, stop worrying, you’ll figure it all out soon enough, trust me, your not such a fucking loser after all Guinnein. When they finally reachedthe base of the lighthouse, with waves and white caps crashing around them, and the sky blackened and cold and unbearable, and with their backs to the rounded lighthouse wall, they slithered and side-stepped their way around the base, on a one foot wide ledge, hanging precariously over the ocean wall. When they reached the ocean side, the furthest point from the edge of the world, the ledge widened just a bit, and Scary Garry turned around and thought, we made it genius, we fucking made it. Where? Everywhere, Everywhere? Nowhere, Nowhere?
No, where doesn’t matter. What? Just relax man, relax. And so he rolled out the sleeping bag, sank down to the icy ground, crawled inside, pulled the bag up over his head, and he relaxed... ...Guinnein Artainne wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep. The sleeping bag was wet and warm, too warm. He was sweating profusely. He unzipped the bag and he sat up; he removed the parka and his brown woolen turtle neck sweater; he removed his white v-cut tee shirt and he stripped down to his waist; he leaned against the lighthouse wall, surrounded by stars, and planets, and comets with tails, and the spiral arm of the Milky Way, bent and curving across the entire sky, so much so, he was forced to move his chin from shoulder to shoulder in order to take it all in. The wind, the waves, the ice, and the cold; gone. The night was calm and cool and comfortable and the galaxy ruled the universe, without compromise. Scary Garry stood in front of him, just inches to his left, and was facing outwards towards the ocean horizon. He was completely naked. He stood so that the Saturn on the back of his head was perfectly aligned with the real Saturn positioned at a point exactly two hours and two minutes above the horizon. Guinnein watched as Garry’s shoulder blade began to slowly freckle with stars of varying magnitudes and colors; his back and buttocks and thighs and legs broke out into spectacular superclusters of nebulae, of all colors and distances. There were globs and infant suns, and doomed red giants and white dwarfs and other things unseeable with the naked eye, and Guinnein understood that with a small telescope he could gaze through Garry’s skin and muscle and veins and rib cage; into his lungs and fleshy, pumping heart, and through his soul to the furthest reaches of the universe, and Guinnein realized that Garry had completely vanished; he’d melted away. Guinnein was alone, surrounded by billions of mother fucking stars, and he understood there could be only one Saturn in the sky, and he felt very very very very small. And a trout...
...the size of a nice loaf of crusty french bread, appeared half in and half out of the water; it had a monocled eye and a Marlboro hanging from its gill, and Guinnein looked down at the trout, and he marveled at its perfect proportion, oblivious to the fact that it was smoking and monocled, and so, with schools of smelt and other small fishes arcing out of the water behind and around him, in perfect union, and in perfect harmony, and by the light of the universe, the trout looked up at Guinnein, smiled, and said fuck. The End
1. Sara Schroeder - Millfall 2. Katy McEvoy - Faded Wing 3. Melissa Giese - Dante
1. Carolina Carmona - Florence Italy 2. Danielle Dobies - Paper Plane 3. Sara Schroeder - Protest
Honorable Mention in the Carlson Contest “Again, Annice.” The sharp command came from her teacher. Her father. He was leaning up against one of the floor-length mirrors, crossed arms matching his frown. Sweat plastered her falling-apart bun to her neck and her chest heaved up and down beneath her black leotard. Her legs trembled, but she knew that saying no would lead to nothing. She leapt into a flurry of moves – arabesque, plié, fouetté, jeté, leaps – muscles burning as she spun across the floor, leaping as high as she could, landing each graceful jump with perfection. Each time just hoping to see a smile, a nod of approval. Four hours later she’d only seen the face of a blank wall. She hadn’t expected anything else. Just hoped. With one last jump she came to a stop, arms curved above her head and feet aching as she rose on her tiptoes, cheeks flushed with exhaustion as well as pride. Despite her pain, she felt like she’d nailed that set. Her father merely stepped away from the wall and threw a towel at her. “Work on your instep,” he said over his shoulder in parting. “You only have a week before we leave for New York.” “I know,” she said softly, collapsing in a graceless heap on the floor as soon as he’d closed the dance studio door behind him. The NYIBC – or New York International Ballet Competition – was starting in a few days and she had been invited, already a huge honor especially at just seventeen. That was the youngest you could be to be invited. Her father didn’t see it that way though. He expected her to be invited and now he expected her to win. He always expected her to win. When she was younger ballet had been a fun hobby for the both of them. He taught the dance and she had always wanted to spend more time with him, especially after her mother had walked out on them when she was four. So she’d come with him to his studio and mimic all the other dancers, trying to be “more like daddy.” Annice gave a wry smile at the idea that she’d once wanted to be like him. Pulling off her shoes, Annice massaged both of her feet, towel draped over her neck as she leaned forward, trying to stretch out her sore muscles. The problem wasn’t the dance. She loved ballet. It was that her father saw her potential and worked to bring it out. It had moved from their activity to do
after dinner to consuming both of their lives. He’d pulled her out of school, hired a tutor, and coached her for hours a day. He’d always wanted to be a famous dancer, but an injury to his left foot from a car accident had crushed his dream. So now he lived out his life through her. And Annice just wanted to make him happy. He’d raised her, always been there for her, and used to be her best friend and confidant. She missed the fun they used to have and their laughter. He had such a nice laugh. She hoped, sincerely hoped, that if she won the NYBIC and got accepted into their program he’d be happy. She just wanted things to go back to the way they were years ago. Sighing, she pulled herself up from the ground and trudged off for the bathroom for a shower and then to her room to finish up the calculus homework her tutor had left her. Despite the ridiculous dance regime, her father still expected her to keep up her learning. She knew it was all to help her succeed in life, but it was hard to remember that when all she wanted to do was curl up under her covers and sleep.
At nearly midnight Annice was finally able to put the pencil down, close her books, and crawl into bed. But like every night, her sleep was not restful. She dreamed she was a horse. Whipped and spurred on, blood and sweat covering her heaving flanks, the sharp bite of the crop stinging her side as she was told to go fasterfasterfaster while her heart felt like it was going to burst as she tried and tried but knew she wouldn’t be the first to cross the finish line. She spun around, working to keep up with the 47 other dancers that were competing for either of the two awards that would launch them into a dancing career. But compared to everyone else here she looked so out of place. They were almost all in their early 20s, bodies finishedgrowing andsculptedwith hours upon hours of practice and training. Clad in her navy leotard and gray tights that didn’t show off any curves Annice felt more like a little kid than ever. For two weeks she had to maintain this ridiculous pace of showing off for the judges and dance companies and not
letting them see how tired she was and prove to them that she could be the best so her father would be happy. She could feel him watching from the corner, where all of the coaches and trainers were sitting. He looked so serious, as usual, and Annice wished he would just smile. She was here, wasn’t she? One of 48 dancers from all over the world. She wouldn’t go as far to say that all of the other instructors were smiling and looking cheerful. There were other serious ones mixed in too, arms crossed and expressions calculating. But, she thought as she broke into a plié, he was her father, not just her instructor. He was supposed to be the proud parent, bragging about his daughter’s achievement at such a young age. At how she’d worked herself into the ground every day, digging deeper and deeper until she would probably never get out of her hole. A sharp clap caught her attention as all of the dancers came to a halt, staring expectantly at a woman dressed in a modest black leotard at the front. She was Jennifer Stahl, one of the masters of classical ballet and one of Annice’s idols. To be able to work under such an accomplished dancer was every dancer’s dream, but to Annice she was a breath of fresh air. Despite her age and the gray starting to appear in her hair, Jennifer Stahl could smile. “Good job all of you,” the woman said. “We’ll be dividing you into groups later this afternoon so you can all begin to learn the routines for the Gala in Lincoln Hall in two weeks. As I’m sure you all know, you’ll be taught three pas de deux, two classical pas de deux and one contemporary dance. We’ll be performing these in front of the judges to see which two of you will receive the awards for places in either the American Ballet Theatre Company or the Joffrey Ballet Company. I have faith in all of you, so just make sure you do your best and have some fun. I know this is a competition, but I want to see some smiles on the dance floor, understood?” Many of the dancers around Annice smiled and bobbed their heads, but her lips remained pressed firmly together. “Well then, let’s all break for lunch and then meet back here at one,” Jennifer said. “Dismissed.” All at once a flurry of conversation broke out. Annice ignored it and went to where her dad was standing with a towel and her water bottle. “We’ll need to work on your foot placement when you come out of your leaps,” was his greeting. “You’re taking an extra inch up compared to the dancers that were next to you. You could have caused an accident.” Annice only gave a glum nod as she accepted the towel. She noticed her little slip up sever al times, but it didn’t seem to be as dire as her father was making it out to be. It was hardly noticeable. “What did you think other than that?” she asked, taking a careful sip from her water bottle, crossing her toes despite the pain it caused inside her tight shoes. “Decent.” She supposed she should be happy with that. At least it wasn’t entirely negative, but her stomach only clenched at the
emotionless reply. She was trying. So, so hard. And he never appreciated it. She wasn’t sure when he stopped giving her compliments or encouragement. It had to have been gradual; she couldn’t recall him ever just stopping one day. And she’d let it happen for so long, she wondered if he even knew how to give compliments anymore. He still taught at the studio, but she no longer went to visit him. She often wondered if he was encouraging to the dancers there. But if he was she knew her heart would break, so she just lived in her little bubble of ignorance and waited for the day he’d give her a heartfelt compliment. All around her dancers were talking excitedly as they exited with their coaches or friends they’d made, while she just stood there. Her father had already started walking off to lunch, talking in serious tones to another just as serious looking instructor. What she assumed was his student was walking just behind them, dark red leotard making her bronze skin glow. She wasn’t talking to anyone either, just sipping from her water bottle. Annice sped up and tapped the girl, who only looked a year or two older than her, on the shoulder, flashing a brilliant smile when she turned around. “Hi, I’m Annice,” she said, holding out her hand. She never really got to spend time with anyone her age since she’d been pulled out of school. Once in a while she
saw some of her old acquaintances from middle school walking around the town, but they never had time for more than a wave. She was no longer a friend to them, just someone they could say “Oh, I knew her. Yeah, she got pulled out of school for dance. She thinks she’s so much better than us.” “Lo siento,” saidthe girl, a small smile on her face as she avoided making direct eye contact with Annice. “No sé nada de Inglés. Pero mi nombre es Rosalinda.” Annice’s smile faltered as random Spanish words filtered across her brain. “Rosalinda?” she finally repeated. “Well, it’s nice to meet you.” Rosalinda ducked her head and remained silent. Annice sighed. Her first attempt at making a friend in forever and she didn’t speak English. What were the chances? Actually, Annice realized, as she looked at many of the dancers, probably very high. This was an international ballet competition. Since the dance terms though and movements carried across all the countries though it was how everyone could understand and still participate. Some, like Rosalinda’s coach, she guessed were bilingual. When she reached the dining hall a large buffet was set up along one wall and tables in the middle of the room. Setting her water bottle down at the table placement next to her father’s Annice picked out her lunch: a scoop of cherry jell-o, a bowl of grapes and apple slices,
what looked like a turkey sandwich on wheat, and a cup of diet Sprite. It was good food, but her heart wasn’t in eating it. Her father ate stoically next to her, while Annice kept her eyes trained on the table, picking up bits of conversation from the tables around here. “—I can’t believe we get to train under Stahl! I’m so excited!” Annice agreed, popping a grape in her mouth. Maybe she could find that girl and make friends with her? She sounded excited. “—Dieses gtränk schmeckt komisch. Ist es nicht wasser?” She wasn’t even going to try and translate that one. German, maybe? “—Did you see her? She’s so small. She’ll never make it.” The voice sounded haughty, overconfident and Annice flushed, desperately hoping that whoever was speaking wasn’t talking about her. There had to be another small dancer, right? Why did she always assume something negative was directed at her anyway? “She has good form but she’s too young,” said another voice, deeper. The first voice spoke again. “She’s built like a stork. And what awful colors to wear together. Really, that shade of blue with gray? And the way her bun is? Like a little girl’s.” Laughter. “I can’t wait to see her perform.” Sarcasm. Annice stood up, pretending to go to the buffet table to catch sight of the two. It looked like they were both dancers, young twenties, one very pale skinned
“That night, tucked away in a hotel room all by herself, she dreamed she was a lion.” girl with a pointed nose and a boy with dark curly brown hair and a sweet smile. The boy looked away quickly but the girl smirked at her. That proved it. Walking over to the drink table, she felt tears prick her eyes as she refilled her glass, not wanting to believe them but knowing they were probably speaking the truth. Once she sat back down and blinked away the tears, she looked at her father, who was now spearing tomatoes and lettuce on his fork. “Dad?” He glanced over at her, features as hard as always. “I… I don’t know if I’m ready for this.” He finished chewing, swallowed, and then took a sip of water, eyes never leaving her face. Only after he’d dabbed his mouth with his napkin did he speak. “You will be.” Annice could only nod, throat tightening. That night, tucked away in a hotel room all by herself, she dreamed she was a lion. Caged and shackled while being tamed and forced to submit with only the cruel slash of the whip as a reward as people, people with sharp noses and curly hair, came by and leered and laughed louderlouderlouder at the once great creature, king of the forest, who was forced to be another’s amusement. They did solo dancing during the second week. It was just as terrifying to Annice as it sounded. She had to get up in front of all of the dancers and instructors and perform a series of moves from two of the dances they were learning by herself while they critiqued her. And they weren’t holding anything back. Already two dancers had broken out in silent tears while they took the remarks, meant to help but could seem cruel, especially in front of such a large, competitive group. Diana, the girl with the pointed nose, had been especially malicious, quietly snickering at some of the comments. Annice had hoped the girl would receive bad remarks, but the routine she performed had required little criticism or teaching. She really was a wonderful dancer, if one with a horrible personality.
Annice was thanking her lucky stars her name was towards the end of the alphabet where she could put if off for as long as possible. It was only three or four minutes up there, but she bet it felt like forever. “Annice Thompson,” Jennifer Stahl finally calledout. Annice would not have minded being critiqued by Jennifer. Although her comments could be harsh, she was her idol and she’d take any of her advice with a grain of salt. But she was worried about what her fellow dancers might say. On slightly shaking legs Annice made her way to the front, taking a deep breath and telling herself to be thankful her father was in a meeting with the dancing coaches – at least he wouldn’t have fuel to add to the fire. “Begin,” came the start command, as a strain of the music picked up. Forcing away the grasshoppers doing jumps in her stomach, Annice started into her routine, firmly telling herself to point her toes, smile, raise her arms, and keep her back in check. By the time the music finally stopped she was breathing heavily, mind racing and trying to see if she’d missed anything. The instructors started to speak. “You seemed a bit unsteady on your left leg,” said Jim Abrams, the modern dance instructor. “Have you injured it?” Annice mutely shook her head. “Then I suggest trying to place it more firmly on the floor.” “You need more graceful flow lines to your arms,” said another, standing up and moving her arm slightly. “See? Your elbows are very rigid; relax them.” “Don’t take off so much on your right foot when you jump.” “You needn’t strain your head forward so much. Are you a giraffe?” “Try loosening up your facial muscles; you looked very tense.” The comments continued to come, some helpful (mostly from the instructors) some more nasty, often from the dancers themselves. Not one compliment or encouragement. She knew it was a critique and not to really expect any, but the barrage of things she’d done wrong made her the third person to start to cry that day.
“She cried herself to sleep that night, haunted by her peers’ taunts.”
As she headed back to her seat, wiping at her eyes, she heard Diana stage whisper “That was awful” as she passed by. “That’s considered dance?” She cried herself to sleep that night, haunted by her peers’ taunts. She dreamed she was a dog. Placed on a pedestal and shown off to probing eyes and intrusive fingers, forced to walk and run at a command and jump higherhigherhigher through hoops and perform tricks just for the tiniest sliver of praise that would never come. The stage was huge. That was the only thought running through Annice’s mind as she stood in the wings of the auditorium, red velvet curtain lightly tickling her leg. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t seen the stage before – she’d been practicing on it all last week for the performance tonight – but it suddenly just looked so much bigger and scarier. “What’s wrong, Stork? You scared?” Annice stiffened as Diana came up behind her. “There’s no need to be. You’re not going to win anyway.” “H-how do you know?” Annice asked, turning to face the older dancer. “I have the same chance as you.” “You honestly believe that?” the blonde scoffed, peering down at Annice like she were some bacteria under a microscope. “Please. I’m just trying to let you down now so you don’t wail like a little baby when you’re eliminated. I’m doing you a favor.” She was never good with attacks like that. She could say something like “Well, thanks for the advice but maybe you should take it yourself” or “Me, the baby? You’re the one who’s acting like a brat” but she said nothing, only turned and looked back out at the stage, worrying her lip between her teeth. Diana scoffed and then left the way she came, feet barely making a sound on the wooden floorboards. Annice honestly wasn’t sure why Diana seemed so intent on making fun of her – granted, she was probably the easiest, youngest target, but she hadn’t done anything to the older girl. She hadn’t really done anything, period, aside from practice. Secretly she hoped it was because Diana felt threatened by her dancing abilities, but she doubted it. Diana, as much as she disliked the girl, was truly a
beautiful dancer and Annice loved watching her move. Diana just plain didn’t like her, and Annice really wished she knew why. She’d wanted to make friends, sure. And although many of the dancers were nice to her during lunch or practices, she was never invited to hang out with them later. And she guessed it was all right. She was younger than many of them, but she had hoped to make friends with some of the eighteen and nineteen year olds, but no luck. Just practice, practice, practice. And it all came down to tonight. In an hour she’d be on stage performing their routines, trying to blend in and stand out at the same time to move on to the next round where the awards were. Where she would be able to make her father happy at last. She pulled herself away from the stage, heading back for the dressing rooms to get all dolled up in a sparkly black leotard and light pink skirt. Even then though she still looked like a little girl caught playing dress up as every other dancer in the show was elegant, curved, and grown. The time flew by until Annice found herself once more backstage with her group of sixteen dancers who would all be performing. These were the people she had trained with for the last two weeks, and they were now the people she had to outshine. Jennifer Stahl came aroundthe corner, a wide smile on her face as she looked at the first group of dancers to go off. “You all look beautiful,” she said, herself clad in a very pretty dark emerald evening dress. “Ready?” There were a few mumbles, some head nodding and shaking, andJennifer frowned. “I know everyone’s nervous,” she said, “but do remember to smile all right? You’re here because you love to dance. Let’s show that love to the world.” Annice actually found herself beginning to smile at that, so surprised she was smiling that she smiled even broader. “That’s what I’m talking about,” Jennifer said, indicating Annice, who now turned a delicate shade of red and ducked her head at the sudden attention. “Smile people. Let’s put on a great show.” As she followed her fellow dancers out behind the curtain and into their places, Annice’s smile remained firmly in place.
She did love to dance, she loved ballet. She loved the leaps and jumps and twirls and the costumes and the movement and music. She loved it all and it was time she remembered that. Vaguely she heard the announcer introducing her group before the curtain was drawn back and hot, white lights were suddenly shown down upon her. The audience was muted in darkness, but the auditorium was packed. A table was set up directly in front of the stage, three very proper looking judges sitting there. Her stomach gave a little flip of either nerves or excitement, she wasn’t sure. The music started and Annice began to move, gliding low and then leaping into a synchronized leap with the twelve girls in her group while the four boys went low and in the opposite direction. Her steps gradually became faster, skirt whirling behind her like flowers caught in a summer breeze. She had never felt so confident, so alive before, just relishing in the movements without worrying about the end result. She was having fun. When the music came to an end and she stopped, arms raised gracefully above her head and heart racing, the applause was deafening. She glanced over at the judge’s table where they were hurriedly writing down notes, hushed tones not carrying over the clapping. The curtain closed and Annice allowed her hands to fall, beaming excitedly at her fellow dancers, who smiled back just as wide. For the next twenty minutes she waited impatiently backstage with the dancers as other groups went on, before they were all finally called back up on stage where the judges had made their decision on the ten dancers moving on. She stood with just as much anticipation as everyone else, knowing that she had given it her all and for the first time in a long while she had enjoyed dancing. For her, that was already a reward. A small giggle escaped her lips at that thought – what would her dad say? And for once, she didn’t really care. The judges announced that the names would be read in no particular order. Three of the older girls were called up in a row. Then Darren Potter, the curly haired boy. Another boy. Rosalinda. Another girl. Two more boys. There was now only one name left to call, and Annice couldn’t help but hope that it would be her.
“Dianna Moss,” was finally called, andAnnice foundherself clapping and smiling with everyone else as the pale blonde went to accept her medal. She comforted herself that if it had been a personality contest then Dianna would have lost for sure, but since it was a dance competition it was fair. Annice scanned the audience for her father, but couldn’t spot him amongst the large crowd. She gave up on searching for him and decided she’d enjoy the rest of the show and sit in her front row seat and cheer for everyone who’d moved on. And hours later, when one of the older girls and Rosalinda were awarded the two prizes, Annice felt that it couldn’t have been a better ending. That is until she finally met up with her father, who was already waiting with their bags packed and ready to fly home. “You didn’t even place.” “I know.” He looked surprised at her tone, frowning when she only smiled up at him. “That’s fine with me, Dad. I had fun. I learned a lot, I had a wonderful opportunity, and maybe they’ll invite me back in two years. I didn’t need to win this year.” He only shook his head and was silent the rest of the way to the airport. When they’d gotten their seats and were buckling in for the four hour trip home, he finally spoke. “You did a good job today.” She blinked, confusion giving way to elation and then back to skepticism. “Thank you?” “You still need to work on your instep but you did good. You looked nice.” She smiled for real then, and hugged his arm gently. “Thanks, Dad. That really means a lot.” He didn’t say anything else, but it was good enough for her. Snuggling down in the airplane chair, content for the first time in a long while, she dreamed she was a cat. Curled up in a warm ray of sunshine, tail wrapped snugly around her body and a bowl of milk and a ball of yarn just a few paces away while a hand came and scratched behind her ears with a loving pat. She gave a contented sigh and let the sunshine lull her to sleep.
MiddleWestern Voice chose to continue its tradition of having a green music section. Helping the environment is very important to all of the MWV staff so the tracks will be available to download at www.middlewesternvoice.com in lieu of a CD.
1. Jake Davis ...................................................................................................................................... Diamonds in the Sand 2. The Captain Hates the Sea ............................................................................................ What the Big People Do (Joe Crutchfield) 3. Mark Colby Combo .................................................................................................................................................. Zipper (Joe Re, Dave Kaiser, Tom Zimny, Shelley Bishop, Sean Carolan, Matt Kellen, Richie Palys) 4. Blaine Brown ...................................................................................................................................... Star and the Moon 5. Zak Johnson ...................................................................................................................................................C’mon C’mon 6. The Fuckers ..................................................................................................................................................................... F.S.N. (Mark Rutkowski, Phil Courtright, Andrew Lewis) 7. Austaras .........................................................................................................................................................Wreck of Hope (John Becker, Adam Hansen) 8. Kirk & the Mountain Top .................................................................................................................... Jeff Goldblum (John Garcia) 9. Eric Lutz ........................................................................................................................................................ Fear of Heights 10. Erin White ...................................................................................................................................................................Untitled 11. Joe Re ................................................................................................................................................................. Ta Panta Rhei Mvmt I – Flux Mvmt II – Unity Mvmt III – Logos 12. Teresa Falsone ............................................................................................................................................................Colin
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by Katy McEvoy