Your Daddy writes to be heard. Your Daddy writes to let the world know that he’s here. Your Daddy writes because he feels that he has something to say, a message that needs to be delivered and pulled out of his gut like some-type of science fiction movie. Your Daddy writes to not be interrupted when he speaks. Your Daddy writes to be loved. Your Daddy hopes to be understood, but at this point feels that most people will never understand him. Your Daddy writes because he cannot say what he means on the top of his head without the other person giving him time to think or respond. If Daddy were to try to verbally express what you’re reading now, he would sound like the under-educated, working class kid that he was. Your Daddy writes because he’s an artist. Your Daddy is an artist, someone that sees things so…
A mini-story from my mini-book, So You Say You Want An 80s Childhood?
The Homework Thief
Brian Ross was my friend.
“Are you friends with Brian?” Anna said to me, sitting on the floor in gym class. “I think he puts mayonnaise in his hair.”
“No, he doesn’t,” I said.
“Yeah,” Frieda said. “He smells like my lunch bag.”
“No, he doesn’t.”
Brian Ross was my friend, even if he were to put peanut butter on his head. Brian liked what I liked on TV, and we could play the same characters every recess without my having to tell him about them. He was the only other kid that laughed at my cartoon jokes and references. Brian Ross was my friend. Then Brian Ross stole my homework.
It was there in the bin. I told Mrs. Cain that I swore I did my homework and put it there when I arrived at 8am. So she looked through all of last night’s assignments and pulled it out. I could see my name erased and Brian’s name now on top of it.
“That’s it,” I said. “I know because I wrote my name nice and big.”
Mrs. Cain turned to the class. “Alright, let’s go to lunch. Marc and Brian I want you to stay behind.”
At recess, my classmates surrounded me, trying to piece together what happened.
“He tried to make it look like it was his homework?”
“Did he ask to take it?”
“Is he getting in trouble?
I answered the questions as fast as they were given, and I assured them that I didn’t give him the assignment. I liked this feeling, this attention. It felt good. All eyes were on me for the first time in a very long time. The boys even stopped playing kickball to question me, and the hopscotch girls left their beanbags unguarded. This was nice.
Within two minutes, they’d gotten all the information they needed, and I ran out of things to tell them. They began to talk amongst each other about Brian.
“Yeah, he smells like ham sandwich.”
“He took my pencil.”
“Why’s he always dirty?”
They kept going on about different circumstances involving Brian. I laughed at a joke without even hearing the punchline.
“Mrs. Lee looked mad,” I said.
They kept talking.
“He got upset.”
They kept talking.
“I think he’s scared.”
They kept talking.
“He picks his nose too.”
They looked at me.
“I know. I saw it,” Lucy said. “He does it all the time.”
I continued, “He used to be my friend, but he acts stupid sometimes.”
“He thinks he’s funny,” Elvin said.
Their circle opened up, enough for me to fit in. It was as though they made the perfect spot for me with my name on it. I walked forward. The circle closed again. I was in. I was there. I was one with the rest.
Brian walked out of the building and onto the playground pavement. His head was pointed down to the ground as he zipped up his thin red jacket. The kids turned towards him. I backed away just a bit.
He stopped and scanned the playground, then turned and looked at me. I looked away. A kid in the group said something that made the other kids laugh. I chuckled at the joke without even hearing the punchline.
The boy looked down at the worm, squirming on the backwoods trail. A ray of light illuminated its pinkish hue and a warm breeze hit his face.
“Eat it,” she said. “I’ll kiss you.”
“No,” he said.
“Then no,” she said.
But he had wanted to kiss her all summer, floating in the deep in the pool, bumping her hand at the movie theater as he reached for soda, lying on the grassy field with the late morning sun warming him enough to feel bliss.
He looked back down. Then kept squirming and picking up dirt.
“It tastes like nothing,” she said. “Go ‘head.”
He thought of candy then reached down and picked it up.
He could feel its life force as it wiggled and expanded on his palm. Candy would be pointless, he thought, “It’s too fleshy.” Then he imagined roast chicken instead.
“I’ve done it,” she said, “You won’t get sick.”
He popped it in his mouth and could feel it slither then contract, the dirt turning to grim on his tongue. He swallowed it and closed his eye. It slide down his throat quickly and he could feel it move. And like everything else he ate, the feeling disappeared just before reaching the stomach.
He opened his eyes and looked to her.
“Yuck,” she said.
He stepped forward and closed his eyes again.
His lips touched hers.
But he felt nothing in return. He held the kiss and waited for her to reciprocate. But he felt nothing in return. He stepped forward and moved his face closer to her. But he felt nothing in return. He could feel nothing but the dead lips, hear nothing but the cicadas and crickets chirping. Just the dead lips and live bugs and the hope of something in return.
She pulled away and jabbed his stomach.
“Gross,” she said, “I’m not kissing bugs.”
As he held onto his gut crunched over he could see her walk away down the path and out of sight. The pain spread across his abdomen and he wasn’t sure if he needed to go to the bathroom.
He could hear the bird chirping and an animal moving in the brush. He had to go home now. If he was late for dinner one more time, he’d be grounded for two days.
Rays of light disappeared as a cloud rolled in. A cooler breeze hit his face. He wondered what boy he’d get to tell first.
I never wanted to be a writer first. I wanted to be Steven Spielberg. At age 8, I asked the school librarian if she had a book on Spielberg.
She said, “No, but he’s a very interesting person. I think I’ll look for one and order it.”
I kept going back to the librarian nearly every day to see if she found the book and she eventually ordered it.
“It’ll take two weeks to get here,” she said. Once again, I went to the library every day and asked to see if the book arrived. I thought that maybe asking for it would speed up the process and ever time she told me that it takes two weeks to get to the school.
So as I waited, I tried to imagine what the book would look like and what it would say about Spielberg. I wanted to know about every movie that he made and what it would take to be a movie director. All I knew was that this was the man behind all of my daydream fantasies, and he got paid big houses and cars to make them. Movies allowed me to explore a more courageous side of myself that was not manifested in my interpersonal social life. I could be anyone I wanted after the credits started to roll, and I believed that I had a few characters of my own to share.
When the book arrived it was thinner than I thought, but I opened it and took in the new book smell. I could hear the glue of the bindings and the hard cover crackle. The pictures were in color, and I sat down to take them in.
I can’t remember exactly what was said about him in the book. Over the years I would take in more information about him and all the information seems to conflate to that book. But I do remember that this was the first time that I read a book that was purely informational. Until this day, I’m good at absorbing trivial information and consider myself an info junkie. I have so much data in my head that it fuels my imagination and serves as points of references in my mind. This book started it all.
The book didn’t help me become a filmmaker, but it helped me see the world more critically as non-fiction has allowed me to do. It helped me become a better writer and artist, who work deals with the critical analysis of reality and its nature.
This is my former professor’s posting. It’s hard to imagine the Harry Potter series being banned when it got so many children to read. I honestly believe that if it weren’t for those books, the YA market would not be where it is today.
As the creator of the ULS, The Underground Library Society, and at the request of several followers, I have decided to put up lists of books that have been banned or challenged. If a book is challenged, that usually means there were people who wanted it removed from a school or library. Both are forms of book censorship. It is important to note that I am not focusing only on books banned or challenged in the United States of America; unfortunately, censorship is a world wide action.
Here is my initial list of banned and challenged books:
Today’s sit went by fast, but was hard. I want badly to catch the previous experiences, that deep experience. You feel like you’ve touched something. Today, I just didn’t touch anything.
I’m blocked as a writer, so I tried to start a screenplay today. I’ve completed screenplays in the past in between ages 14 and 21. I was bad at it but you couldn’t tell me otherwise back them. I thought that maybe since I completed screenplays in the past, I could finish one now and at least have a piece of work in my hand.
I had an interesting idea. But I couldn’t see the world of the story nor the protagonist. The elements that would compose the word of this story seemed flat and uncertain of itself. It was grey, cold and ashy. I reasoned that it was because I picked the wrong protagonist, so everything else fell apart. Story just might be too boring for me anymore. Not enough time to indulge in another writer’s stories, not sure where my story is going.
The last thing I saw was Moby Dick. Also, I could see the sea vessel on choppy water.
Sometimes meditation is like dreaming. When you wake those thoughts and images slip away. But with meditation they just fade out like a candle and all you have is the smoke.