Finding Something to Talk About

Good Morning, finding.jpg

I didn’t post the final version of “Childhood Photograph” because I’m still finding the story. The opening scene kept rewriting itself the way mysteries often do. Characters kept reintroducing themselves with new backstories and motives. Places like Lake Eola Park kept rearranging itself like replacing trees with bridges the more I stared at it.

This writing process depressed me as a college student. I wrote many research essays without a hitch. However, creative assignments like  writing collage essays about my self-identity confused me on which word to put down first. The blank canvas became a stage on which I couldn’t perform. Every time I opened my mouth the wrong words came out.

Untruths performed backflips in the shape of a familiar man. A brown man with curly black hair told everyone about the time he got lost in a New York City  gay club. The story sounded true enough that even he believed the part when his “hand moved up behind his (Snow Queen’s) neck”. He remembered certain events happening but the details faded long ago. I helped him get through the performance by making shadow puppets, distracting the audience, as he tried to recall the next scene.

The words came to him eventually and the show ended. I washed my hands backstage, trying to forgive myself, but the dirt never came off. I wanted to tell the truth but also a really fun story like other bloggers. Other bloggers talked about dating, current events, and coffee culture. I wanted to sound as interesting as those people and so chose certain memories to craft into an essay. However, my voice changed somewhere between senior year and graduation. I no longer wanted to talk about dating or about being an aspiring writer. I was already a writer. I was just trying to find something to talk about.

 

 

Advertisements

Safe Spaces and Dangerous Places

Morgin_Goldberg-pic3.jpg

At sixteen, I coward into over-sized sweatshirts during class so that no one could bother me. The soft cotton felt like a womb that isolated me from the rest of the world. A world in which two high schools took my attendance because one of them already knew my secret. In one of them I came out to a group of boys.

“Hey, kid. Are you gay?” one of them asked from the back of the room. Him and his friends all sat on the edge of their seats, waiting for my answer.

“Yes.” I said. The one kid laughed and turned around. My lips felt numb. I just told a total stranger my sexual preference and now that whole class knew. My stomach rumbled with nervous energy. A kind of energy that vibrated throughout my body for the next couple of months, as I skipped school and stayed in bed, shivering.

I needed to get away from everyone. My parents considered sending me to Harvey Milk High, a school in New York meant for LGBTQ teens. They considered this because back then any other institution seemed a threat to my mental health.

Day and night I imagined kids beating me up in the corner of a classroom. Any classroom that provided a safe space for their hatred. The locker room where no adult ever checked on students. The side of a trailer that the school never used after Hurricane Katrina blasted through the campus. The tennis court, band room,  or even the courtyard where one student got beaten up during lunch period. No on interfered until the hitter got in enough punches to give the victim several bruises to heal over the course of a few months.

I feared this even though I laid in bed a couple of miles away. So I never went back. Another school opened its doors to me. One with a whole body of students that never asked about my sexuality. A place where no one could suspect anything other because of my “shy” personality. I would just sit quietly until the last bell rang.

At sixteen this option might feel the most logical as fear installs itself into every body movement. It plans out everything from getting to school to eating lunch to someday starting a Gay Straight Alliance Club. A club where straight people could hug a gay person without any reprimanded by their friends. Friends that write “lesbian” on a teachers walls because she hosted the first club meeting. Friends that start rumors about two guys initiating intercourse on the stairwell between classes because they became the first gay couple at school.

I ran the club until my senior year and by then I made enough friends to no longer need a place to feel safe with people. I could wear a rainbow belt on campus without thinking about the violent repercussions it could potentially stir. Boys no longer seemed like a threat because a ton of them talked to me in class. We talked about poetry, guitars, and television shows. I made friends.

 

 

Take A Pike

In the early 2000’s a yellow-paged book came into my possession. “The Last Vampire” by Christopher Pike slipped itself over the backseat of a traveling bus. I retrieved the soft cover novel and started reading about a five-thousand year old vampire, called Sita. In a matter of days the story came to an end. I passed the book back over the seat and waited for the next one to come through. 51WS2P2XR2L

Jackie, my dealer, supplied the novels to several people in class. A small group that used the books as inspiration for their own novels. We traded composition books full of vampires that lived in Egypt during a time before pharaohs, similar to Sita’s background. She lived in India where an evil spirit inhabited her dead friend and started the vampire lineage.

My version mirrored this heritage as the protagonist summons a spirit to revive her dead friend. This started the lineage of vampires to encroach the human world but without the promise of eternal life. A vampire would live the expected lifespan of a human but with superhuman powers, like telekinesis. I gave these stories to friends that gave them back with confused looks.

“If they don’t live forever then how are they still alive?” they asked, flipping to the front page of  my story. I saw that it began in modern day times with the same character that lived a thousand years ago. Somehow this plot-hole never occurred to me. I needed to revise the story.

I changed my vampires to infinite creatures of the night in exchange for their telekinesis. This allowed my protagonist to flourish with also a goal in mind. She needed to keep her life eternal while recovering her superpowers. I found something new and interesting about the story that kept me writing and reading stories.

Christopher Pike continued to inspire me as his characters often dealt with deadly matters. In the “Chain Letter” series, a group of friends submitted themselves to a mysterious contract that forced them to commit embarrassing acts in exchange for the send’s silence. This deal stretched over the length of three novels. I finished the last one in my dad’s car while on the way to high school.51YXS2N1PSL

At this point all my friends found different clicks of people to engage with. I ventured into the art department where I found the terror of commitment. Turning in a disfigured still-life embarrassed me more than an incomplete one. I turned in sketches of men with only half a face or two-legged elephants. Although earning a passing-grade they left me feeling ashamed of my inability to complete things, similar to Pike’s characters.

The unknown meant the unwillingness to find out the mysteries ahead. I needed to charge ahead through the gray between contoured lines and blank paper. I needed to stop fear with perseverance. This allotted my imagination to find a balance between the real and the unreal as projects completed themselves. Because the thing about art is that it only exists as it is made.

I still struggle with the ability to sometimes follow a professor’s instructions to finish a story. Sometimes my projects amount to nothing except fine detail and little character growth. These things matter little and a lot. Art needs time to grow , and I’m willing to make more deals with myself and others, in order to see that happen. After all, writers need readers as much as I want the next vampire installment from Christopher Pike.

 

Orlando Strong

BfYEUy95_400x400.jpg

Dear Readers,

Something terrible happened in my town. 49 people died while 50 others were injured. I found this out one morning when my friend called. She wanted to know that I was safe. I was safe but not from the effect of the tragedy.

If you’ve read my blog then you know that some of the posts were about Pulse. Holiday happened around this time of the year. It’s hard to imagine that my story took place in the same place that this one did.

I think that’s how a lot of people in this community are affected by this event. We all went to Pulse at some time or another. We all danced there. We all made friends there. We know the layout of the club and that’s what haunts us at night. We imagine the sounds and things that happened that night and wonder if that could have been us. For some of us it might have been, if our mother’s hadn’t asked us to babysit or if we felt too tired to go out after working a twenty-hour shift.

Thinking about this affects us each day. And each day it’s hard to believe that Orlando now has this strange history behind it. I came to Orlando to go to college. My friend came to Orlando because he fell in love. Someone else came to Orlando because they wanted to escape the boredom of living in a small town. We all found ourselves here and now we are finding ourselves again.

Grief is something that happens differently to everyone. Some people are attending the vigils. My friend is handing out food to people at the hospital. I am trying to do everything but there’s only so much you can do in a day. I want to feel this pain so that I can grieve with my community. The hurt must be felt so that we can move on eventually. But right now is not the time to move on. We must remember, cry, and live with each other. Here is Orlando and this is what Orlando Strong means to me.

Grapefruits 

 

The boy that sits in the back of the class never says anything. I note his attendance by the flexing arms muscles. He came but never left the space within my head. I think about him sixteen hours later when I’m feeling lonely.

Would he climb into bed with me? No, probably not. Not even if he was single. His body and mine might inhabit the same room but not the same bed. Play dough can mold itself into a rock but it can never become an actual rock.3008888f770977e9ba0efe4bd7a4d634.jpg

I try to tell myself that this thought is unfair to my self-esteem. But the feeling of insecurity guides me to the bathroom mirror. I look in it and notice all the lumpy shadows. They gather beneath my chest and around my belly like an impenetrable ozone layer.

I sigh. They’ll never go away. Three months ago I began a new workout plan. Six days a week I’d push and pull weights in hope of transforming my body. The boulder-thick men at gay clubs garnered all the attention, and for once maybe that could be me.

Small grapefruits rolled down my arms whenever they bent down to pick up a pencil. I began to see changes but my dating life stayed the same. No one seemed to notice the grapefruit man.

This leads me to believe that no one cares about body image. The couple next door seems happy with one another. They hold hands despite his pregnant belly and her bloated hips. Love exists between humans and not within words.

I get up to look in the mirror. A different kind of man looks back. His gray skin glows beneath the bright lights. He wraps himself in a half-hearted smile. Tonight will be the best night ever.

I take myself out dancing. Twinkling lights spin around me like fairy dust. Hands pump up and down. A guy named Carlos dances two feet away. We close in the gap and feel happy.

Crossing Paths

I saw Phillip walking towards me from across the courtyard. He wore a grey shirt with matching slacks that made me envious. The clean-cut style never suited my scrappy nature. Frayed jean shorts and midriff shirts mesh well with the hipster places I like to visit off campus.

“I like your outfit,” I said to him. He thanked me before inquiring about my day. I told him about the hours spent prepping for a presentation. He told me about a job interview that would take place the following day. We continued this banter until the subject of love popped up.

“I met someone,” He said. cc9e8c9cc85ef28eb6d06bd717a43e2as

“On Grindr,” I said and nodded.

“No, in real life. Not everyone meets on Grindr,” He said and laughed. I felt a hard lump in my throat. Of course people met in real life because only shut-ins, like myself, rely on technology for romance. This might sound sarcastic but I assure you that my love life depended on both OkCupid and Grindr in the past.

In fact, my first boyfriend and I met in a chatroom. We exchanged flirty texts before exchanging emails. The fifty-miles between us seemed the length of a shoelace with modern technology. I spoke to him every day until the breakup happened. Then I switched to Facebook and found someone new to write to.

Fast forward to present day and I still rely on text-message-introductions with men. Meanwhile, Phillip told me about meeting this guy in a club via eye contact. The idea of two people meeting because of an energy exchange confused me.

“He saw me and we started talking,” Phillip said. The simplicity of this sentence made me feel envious. I swallowed the lump and curled my fists. We soon parted but I carried the feeling with me to work later that same day.

I served couples their food with a firm hand. Glass plates clacked against the tape tops. Silverware pelted against the wall above the dishwasher. The shift ended with me slamming chairs on top of one another outside the restaurant.

“Excuse me, is this place any good?” a square faced man said to me. He stood a foot away with another man behind him. I nodded and continued stacking.

“Do you think my friend’s cute?” He said. The other man laughed and walked closer. His bubble butt and thick arms interested me.

“Come on, he’s not gay.” the friend said. I rolled my eyes. This comment might flatter some macho-homosexuals but I’m fully aware of my flamboyancy. My graceful walk and soft voice come at the expense of being “outed” everywhere I go.

“Yes, I’m gay.” I said and stacked another chair on top. flirting.jpg

“Would you go on a date with my friend? He’s a great guy but he always goes out with assholes.” the square faced man said. I smiled and told them to come back next week.

“Is something wrong?” the friend said. I wanted to tell them that they both seemed drunk.  They kept touching my face and elbow. Only drunk or insecure men think I’m incredibly sexy. Of the which I prefer the insecure because then at least they’re being sincere.

“Oh my BMW just pulled up,” the square faced man said and climbed inside with his friend. They rolled down the window and asked me my name. I told them. They told me theirs.

The night ended like any other with me coming home alone. I logged onto Grindr looking for a conversation. Profile picture after profile picture zoomed by. No one said hello. If maybe I could learn how to play the game outside of this app then I would find someone. Someone a little drunk. Someone a little too touchy. Someone a little bit more than no one.

My Voice

IMG_1230

Essay and Photo by BoyKitsch

I’m trying to find my voice in the bright green trees of Florida. It loves to swing off  one branch and onto another during the day. The woods sigh with delight because no one ever pays attention to them. At least not the neighborhood people.

They sit beside television sets inside of their apartments. I look up into open windows and find blue faces. A cold sensation spirals up my spine. The image reminds me of the curly-haired-boy who once watched Netflix for four hours in my apartment. He felt happy.

A blue light disappears from one of the windows, so I turn back to the trees. My voice rustles the leaves as it climbs higher. The ascension seems easy but that’s because I’m standing outside of the action. I know that when my voice returns it will tell me all about the trouble it got into.

It will tell me about the thug squirrels that hid inside a tree hole. They threatened to kill it if my voice wouldn’t give them a song. My voice shivered beneath sharp claws before  spitting out a rhyme that lifted up greedy paws and escaping to the branches below.

“Sometimes danger happens but that’s how we learn about the world around us,” I will tell it. It’ll stomp and pout around the trees because I never taught my voice patience. When it stops I’ll say, “But most people would rather live through the danger than watch someone else live through it.” It won’t understand and go back into the trees while I listen to the distant laugh of an informercial somewhere above.

 

 

“Don’t Wanna Fight”

redeye-alabama-shakes-video-20150210

The band: Alabama Shakes

The song: “Don’t Wanna Fight”

Alabama Shakes is a band that I first listened to back in 2011. I was sitting on the living room floor at a friend’s party when Brittany Howard came on the television set. She sang “Hold On” and I remember feeling grateful. Grateful that somebody was talking about the struggle that comes from holding on to a dream. Today, the band’s lyrics continue to inspire me.

I’m just your local part-time server who is familiar with having a bad day at work. It’s the kind where the restaurant is full and only three servers are working the floor. Every guest wants, of course, their refill of coffee as soon as I am delivering another one’s eggs. I might be a fairy but there isn’t a wand powerful enough to make everyone happy.

“Excuse me, have you been helped yet?” I said to a table of four. They had been sitting in the corner of my eye for the past couple of minutes.

“No,” They said. I smiled and apologized before taking their orders. Even though it wasn’t a table in my section, I understood how it could have been overlooked. Attention is like a Sticky Toy Hand that a server throws in every direction during a Rush. Sometimes it pulls away too quickly because someone is shouting for more free bread.

Back in the kitchen I stood by the computer. On it I saw all the tables that were waiting to be delivered. Four red squares stared into the back of my head. I didn’t know how I was going to be able to deliver them all and hand out checks to the other tables in a timely fashion. My coworkers were just as busy as I was.

“Your food is up,” my coworker said from behind me. I felt my heart speed past the adrenaline rush and straight into panic mode.

“Can you help me, please,” I said. Drops of sweat were trickling down my backside. My coworker agreed while I handed out the last of my checks. As I headed back into the kitchen I remember feeling relief, like it was all going to be okay.

“There should be ten orders there,” I pointed out to my coworker, as soon I was back in the kitchen. They nodded just as another order popped up in the window. I told them to go on ahead while I plated this one. It was for the table of four that I picked up.

I counted, “One. Two. Three…” There were only three orders. I had forgotten to punch in the last one. I felt my arm wrap itself around my waist. My stomach turned like a waffle in its iron. I didn’t know what to do. It would take another five minutes to cook their meal. I checked the time-ticket and saw that it was already twenty-minutes old.

“I’m sorry. That was my fault,” I said to them. “It’ll be right out.”

The boy sighed. “We’ve all been coming here a long time and this is the worst service ever.” The three girls around him waited for me to respond. A cold wind blew through my open lips. I wanted to tell him that I had five other tables and one of them had ten people. I could have easily pointed this out to him except I couldn’t. My job is to serve him his food.

“I’m sorry.” I said again and made my way to the ten top behind us.

“How is everything?”I said. A woman in the corner waved me over.

“There wasn’t any bacon in my wrap,” She said. I apologized before walking to my manager’s office. I explained to them the situations at hand.

“I made her wrap and there was bacon in it.” They said. I rolled my hands into fists. I knew then that it wouldn’t make a difference what I had done. Each table was going to complain about something. Still, I had to deliver their checks with a smile. My manager walked out to check on each person before discounting their meals.

I followed him until suddenly “Don’t Wanna Fight” came on the radio. Brittany Howard’s wheeze perfectly described the frustration I felt. There was no explanation that I could have given to either person, because I wasn’t allowed to speak. I had to lay down my pride along with the check.

That’s exactly what I did, but at least I had Howard’s words in the background.

Noble Phoebe

catcher-in-the-rye-2

Dear Friends,

Today has been a delightful one. I am putting the final touches on my literary paper. It’s about the speaker’s self-discovery in “Theme For English B” by Langston Hughes. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Meanwhile, I’ve finished reading Catcher in the Rye for my pleasure reading list. It’s an insightful novel that most people get to read in High School or Middle School. However, my opportunity never came along due to a constant change in class scheduling.

Here is a favorite quote of mine :

Here’s what he said: ‘The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

I love it because of how it compares the novel’s characters to the protagonist. Holden is forever criticizing the “phoniness” of the boys and girls he meets. I say that because they are consistently avoiding their conscious desires with meaningless talk. This to me makes them children, yet ironically Phoebe is the only one Holden prefers talking to. They talk about celebrities (The Lavender Bar), the theater (Sally), or avoid talking altogether (The Wicker Bar). Phoebe, however,  is the only one willing to ask her brother about his life.

I think this makes her a noble character and person. She is a ten-year-old that knows what she wants. She wants to be Benedict Arnold in her school play. That goal might seem simple but it’s honest. Everyone else trades in their desires for attention like Hollywood deals (D.B) and a normal life (Sally). I’m not sure where this puts Holden on my scale but I’m glad to have read this novel.

-BoyKitsch

“The Brief Life of BoyKitsch”

There’s something tough about writing a piece at home vs writing a piece not at home. Maybe it’s the condition of being alone. When there’s people around I find my thoughts navigating about the cafe, the park, people’s heads, and into the clouds where there’s a plethora of ideas. At home there’s just the roof. 


 

 

This week I’m reading “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz for a school discussion. Half way into the book and I find myself feeling for the character. I’m feeling pain, love, motivation, for the protagonist because I want him to live outside his state of mind. Depression is a condition that he has allowed himself to be put in. Then again there are so many variables in the story that allow to believe otherwise. 

Junot_wao_cover

When I think of the “conditions” that have put myself here today there are feelings similar to that of which I feel for Oscar. It’s pains me to realize that maybe I give myself too much alone-time. Compared to my friends I would consider myself a hermit. Something I love about the story around me though is that I interact with imagination everyday. 

His hand crept up and down the bookshelf in search of the right inspiration. Cover after cover he heard the echoes of warriors, villains, and romantic beasts. However, after much consideration he allowed his attention to be directed to another story, the one on his computer waiting to be written. 

Writing is something I love to do. The motivation I have for writing though comes from all other outlets. For Oscar his inspiration comes from Sci-FI, games, amongst other nerdy things. Some of mine come from fashion, pop music, philosophy, and stories of pioneers. So while Oscar and I may be a little different or a little the same, reading the story has pushed me to take my life and read about it some more. So with that said I’ll be finishing my New York Story sometime next week.