Monday, August 30, 2010

What do you think about PTK?

Just yesterday I opened a letter from the new president at St. Petersburg College, Mr. William Law, or as some refer to him “Mr. Bow-Tie Guy.” The letter was to inform me that I’ve been invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, an academic organization. I am stunned by this news, as I consider myself no scholar and have had to work extremely hard to maintain my grades. Included was another letter from the advisor of the campus chapter—Eta Nu. Yes, the name on the letters and envelope is mine, so it must be real! 
They are having two information sessions for new invitees on September 20th, and I’m sure I’ll attend one of them. Some friends are encouraging me to accept the invitation, and I don’t see how I can refuse it. The benefits include scholarship chances, help getting into graduate school and letters of recommendation for schools and potential employers. And that’s only a few of the perks. 

I have to say I'm stunned by this. My self-esteem has not been very high lately, so I keep wondering if this is some kind of mistake. I'm afraid of what it may signify, and trying to process that fear. Am I more afraid of success? Or failure? 

I'm at a loss on how to approach this. 
I would appreciate it very much if any of my friends who’ve had experience with PTK, please leave a comment on about what you thought of it. Also, if you were in PTK, what is expected? What do I need to do for this invitee meeting? 

Thanks, friends. Your opinions mean a lot to me. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Way Home

Michelle sat under the crumbling gray eaves of the old house and waited. 

She supposed she was waiting for the woman to come back. But the woman, her 'mother,' had been gone a long, long while now. The house had been white when the woman last left it, and there had been doors which opened, and stairs and floors. Now, if there were doors at all, the hinges were rusted shut and they were impossible to open. The stairs had long since rotted away and the second story had collapsed and was now just piles of decayed rubble in the rooms of the first floor. None of this troubled Michelle.

The house was an empty shell without a middle. Michelle thought this was just fine, because she was an empty middle without a shell. In this way, she and the house complimented each other. She had no great love for the house, however.

She came to the house in the morning, and returned to her place down by the creek at dusk. She spent all of her moments from dawn to dusk at the old house, waiting.

She was also searching.

She sat on the sagging porch, or went inside the house and drifted like a pale shadow from room-to-room and dug a deep well in what passed for her memory, each day trying to dig a little deeper. 

Sometimes she found objects in the house that triggered memories. Like the poker by the fireplace, for instance. And the old blood stain on the kitchen floor. 

But the precise memory she was looking for had no attachment to the house, or her time spent here. She was trying to go back to the time before. Before coming to the house. Before the outbursts of an ill-tempered woman. Before the violence of fists and pokers. 

She was digging deep in the well today, tracing time backwards (there was only backwards-time now, no more going forward for her). She was in a car. Crying. Playing with a dirt-smudged dolly. It was raining. The woman was shouting at her. "SHUT UP" screamed in time with the thudding windshield wipers. A stinging slap. The first of countless other blows. 

Before that...dimly...another woman, and a man. She tried to dig deep enough to see their faces. It was all silver mists and shadows. She tried to see in her mind's eye the house...the other one...the one she'd been in before the woman had picked her up at school. 

"I'm your Aunt Sally. No, you've never met me before now. I just got into town. C'mon, I'm here to take you home," she'd said. 

Of course, they hadn't gone home. They'd come here. 


Michelle was sixteen years old when it happened. 

By that time a part of her had come to believe the woman really was her mother. But another part of her rebelled at the idea...a vision of a red-brick townhouse swirling in the mists of memory, something of pink hydrangea and a foggy image of a blond-haired man and woman. Hair as blond as hers. 

When the argument escalated (Michelle had wanted to go on her first date with Bobby Allen, but her 'mother', always overly protective, said 'no.') the mists cleared for a moment and she'd voiced her suspicion.

"You can't tell me what to do! You're not my real mother! You're not even my Aunt Sally!" She'd stomped angrily off to her room. She'd crossed the line, she knew it, and she waited fearfully for the woman's footfalls on the stairs. The reprisal. It didn't come that night. 

In the morning, she went downstairs to a quiet house and entered the kitchen in search of breakfast. 

She caught a split-second glimpse of the swinging poker in the corner of her eye, a dull CRACK! and she saw no more. 


She woke up on the creek bank. She could hear the woman somewhere nearby.  

Michelle stood up and when she turned around, saw herself lying on the ground. 

"I'm dead," was all she could think. 

The woman was digging her grave. 

She did not stay to watch her burial. Instead, she strolled along the creek bank, watched autumn leaves floating in the current and marveled at the way the sunlight made everything it touched look like liquid amber, and wondered why she never noticed these things when she'd been living. 


She returned to the house the next morning, consumed with rage. She devoted all her ghostly energy into tormenting the woman. Her favorite was walking through her, causing her sudden chills. She rapped on doors and windows and made loud noises at night, keeping the woman awake and terrified. This made Michelle very happy, to see her former tormenter propped up in bed, lights on, teeth chattering with fear, with the pouchy gray bags of sleeplessness under her eyes. Finally, the woman moved out, leaving Michelle alone. Other people lived in the house over the years, but they never stayed long. It was devoid of living dwellers for over fifty years now, left to fall into its current state of disrepair.


It's the memory of that car trip she most longs to recover from her deep well. But she'd spent most of it crying. She has snippets, though...hydrangea bushes...a turnpike...a long bridge over a wide river...but then the vision grows hazy and the mist closes in. She keeps trying, though. Every day she glides through peeling walls and digs desperately for each new vision along the road...and when she finally has it...the mists will part and there she will see it...

Like a signpost...pointing the way home. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mages of Morrow: The basic plot of my NaNoWriMo novel...

Sixteen-year-old Mercy Danville, like Alice, has fallen down a hole. Sucked into the singularity of a rare Earth black hole, she is plunged into world of Burr. Burr is riddled with planetary black holes that can take you to other alternate Worlds or to other locations in Burr.

A cold war is about to turn hot on Burr. Mages (scientist magicians) have biologically created many creatures, some are hold overs from old wars among themselves: sentient dragons and prehistory beasts they used as weapons. Now they are at odds with the Sages (scholar magicians—they call themselves 'true' magicians) who are in charge of the political side of things on Burr. They mistrust the Mages and their science, which incidentally caused all of the black holes, in a past with technology long forgotten.

Mercy is thrust into this scene, into her own personal hell. She lands on the doorstep of a brothel tavern in the town of Crope. The madam of the brothel intends to force Mercy into prostitution once she reaches the legal sexual age of seventeen. She has promised Mercy's virginity to a brute and callous thief named Clem. Mercy prays desperately to meet a Gypsy (wandering folk who may have magic Sage-like powers) who will take her through a black hole and home.

Enter Tom Stranger...a shadowy man who is more than he appears to be...a man caught up in prophesies...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On the Air

This is my latest published poem, "On the Air."

the Breath of the World is not
stoppered in a jar,
or produced with a machine.
the Wind whispers on its way
from Here to Somewhere Else:
it is Nature’s greatest contradiction.
it is neither close nor far.
it is invisible, 
and is as unknowable
as the hour of one’s Death.
it is as fleeting and as constant
and as precious as Life.
it moves---and lives:
with everything,
through everything,
in Everything.