Saturday, May 14, 2016

Habits in my writing

Here are a few things that I'm starting to figure out about my writing:

1) I don't know exactly what it is that I'm trying to say. Every artist must know their message, whether you're an actor or director or painter. Ambiguity doesn't work, even if the mode with which you are relaying your message is such, you need to know what it is you're trying to say. I have a hard time comprehending my own thoughts and so I suppose this is what makes it hard to always be clear.

2) I don't have a lot of patience. Thus it's hard for me to sit still and truly contemplate what makes people and characters interesting to me. I need to cultivate more patience.

3) My grammar is bad.

4) I need to say what it is that I want to say without apology. "Stay" is like that. I need to write the way I did in Stay.

5) I need to read more. I don't know what it is that makes me feel like I have no time, but I have plenty.

........

Time to break bad habits.

xoxo

Ashley


Friday, May 6, 2016

Blue Boys

I saw men love each other. Brothers, boys. Just like that.
They stood next to each other along the river bend watching the water go by.
The water carried with it seven tons of their powder, their life in buckets of white.
Just like that, everything drifting down. No River God. None of that.

Andre turned to the two younger and tried to search for a sign that could
Do more than remind him of his mispent youth,
An angry father and a missing mother and not enough of what should
actually be there, he said. He said he would be there for them.
Instead their father put the sissy middle compassionate heel wearing
brother in a trash can and watched the runt grow up to think he was king.

Nothing of what it should be. Just like that. Down the river.

Instead of finding an excuse Andre saw them 9 and 7
Little boys with no toys looking for him.
He stood in the blue light and realized there was more.
More than what the white powder promised, more to life than becoming whores.
He turned up and saw Him. The River God smiled at the predestination of his fate.
The three of them trapped. The three of them together. The three of them close.
The predestination of pain and blue and three men who finally realize they fight like boys for toys that do more to pull them apart than bring them clues.





Tight, Target Exit

Victoria stepped out of Target in her penny skirt and white blouse carrying the sound of her heels like a heavy and consistent weight. Her three inch heels stopped in their tracks at the site of a woman draped in shredded clothes, conceited eyes and terribly knotted hair with a collection of dumpster gems settled around her kneck: a bottle top necklace, a shoe string belt and duct tape strapped shoes.

"Hey! Hey you!" shouted the woman as she waved her weak hand and watched Victoria turn her head. The homeless woman felt it instantly, the immediate rejection. She stood up from her seat near the sliding glass doors and made her way fast as lightning toward the now terrified petite Victoria. The woman shouted again, this time making it impossible for Victoria to ignore.

"Hey pretty lady! Yeah! I'm talking to you!" The homeless woman got up behind her as Victoria turned her back on the parking lot and faced the woman. Victoria closed her mouth to try to prevent herself from inhaling the stench, which seemed strong enough to permeate even through Victoria's tight lips. She clutched her person again as she found herself examining the woman's face. Mona, she decided. Was the woman's name. She had to be named Mona, Victoria thought. Mona looked at Victoria too, but with less of an endearing gaze. She watched Victoria tighten her grip around her expensive Loui Vuitton purse.

"Yes?" Victoria finally asked. For a moment Mona didn't seem to know what to say. She was lost in the examination of Victoria's soft face - her big cheeks and small chinky eyes. Victoria shook her head and turned away. In a split second the homeless woman grabbed Victoria's arm. Victoria shook it away.

"Give me five dollars." Victoria turned away. She walked right behind the passing SUV as she made her way into the parking lot. Mona followed. "I said give me five dollars!" By the second car in, Victoria stopped and turned around. Mona looked around to make sure there were no guards.

"WHY?" asked Victoria. The aggression surprised Mona. It almost pushed her back. Victoria looked down, keeping her attention away from the woman's eyes. She fiddled with her keys. "I have to go."

"My daughter's sick and she needs soup" said Mona as she followed Victoria further in, ignoring the deafening sound of her heels.  "Come on now!  My daughter is really sick and I need to fix it and you look like you throw away five dollars three times a day on coffee and shit and all I need is a can of soup. Why are you being such a stuck up bitch? Don't you have a heart?" Part of Mona's shredded drape caught under in the duck tape of her shoe. She yanked it out from under her foot as she watched Victoria stop by her pristine silver Prius. "Oh so you drive this?" Mona asked. "You a planetary person or something? Okay, let me see." But Mona could only see the back of her Victoria as she stood by the door of her car. Victoria looked up at the sky. Mona heard a sigh as Victoria con ignored her. She let her attention drift down at the brown pencil skirt and three inch heels. Mona squinted at the discomfort it conveyed. She imagined the woman working in a high end stress ridden life. She shook her head at the thought. Victoria finally turned around, car key in hand. She looked defeated.

Suddenly Mona forgot about her $5 demand and let the idea of a cold beer slip her head. She wondered about the woman behind the veil, behind the expensive bag. She stepped closer. She saw chinky eyes that conveyed more exhaustion than anything else she had seen in a long time. Mona recognized those eyes. It was the same pair of eyes she saw in a mirror every time her heart broke over a man that didn't love her back.

"What did he do to you?" Mona asked, standing beneath Victoria's tired gaze. A crease in Victoria's frown finally began to form as Mona lit up too at the smile she was beginning to see.

"What makes you think it was a man?" asked Victoria. Mona kicked back her head with a laughter so loud and so full, it woke up the dead. The security guards approaching her from the front doors of Target heard her too. Victoria laughed, in a more subtle manner as she unlocked her car and made her way in. Mona watched as the silver Prius drove away. Before she knew it, the guards were there, wrapping their large fingers around her tiny arms. She shook them off as she turned around and made her way back to the store doors. She looked up at one of the buff men.

"All I wanted was like five dollars. Not a declaration of independence!" The men did not share her sudden burst of light.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My disclaimer

I saw this Facebook post a few days ago on tips to spur the creativity of an artist. It caught my attention because it was geared toward artists who have day jobs and who don't have the luxury yet of doing their art full time (for decent pay). As I read it though, I discovered that a few of the ideas were out of the box - some I've never considered before. Two I'm going to commit to for a year. The writer suggested to:

-Write a story every day.
-Cary a came corder with you everywhere.

The writer suggested that stories can be as small as two lines or as long as a chapter. And for the camcorder, he said it needs to be big and bulky with buttons I can press and touch. I need to film SOMETHING every day. The idea is to be more connected with my craft by doing these things and I think he's right.

I am already overly excited about the idea of writing a short story a day. Yesterday morning while I was walking around looking for my pants, competing against time, I jotted down six different story ideas for shorts I could write  day over the next few days. To top it off, the past two days have been marked by this growing excitement to get home and write so that I can get home as fast as I can and type out  and type my short for the day. I'm fighting back the repulsion of my body odor as we speak. I shouldn't be writing. I need a shower. Now. But I'm writing.

I'm going to call this Project A, because X has such a mysterious connotation to it - almost manevolent (and it's a cliche - I'm trying to do away with cliches.) With that tag you'll be able to read all of my stories regarding this practice and hopefully see my growth as a story writer.

My disclaimer:
-I struggle with grammar. And I write about sex a lot. To be clear, sex between women. I think you can tell a lot by how someone touches another human being. By how they embrace. And so I write about it. I also struggle with the necessary skill of showing and not telling so the first 100 days of Project A are definitely going to be challenging, as I fight the urge to hold back my melodramatic tendencies.

My goals:
To grow as a writer and to sharpen my insight and skills in communication. I want to find my style both with the pencil and camera. I also want to document my life with all of the clips I take every single day. I'm twenty-eight and very well aware very fortunate to have the grace and fortitude to go after what really matters to me.

Please note that NOTHING I WRITE IS TRUE. Parts of it may be true but all of it stands as fiction, work for practice and that I will also tag it as such to emphasize it's veracity. But the emotions are true. The events, not unlikely.

I wrote my first story last night. Tonight, I shall write another.

Come on this journey with me.  Please come because I'm oh so very excited.

Ashley

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Red from Me

I left a stain on her bed, the first night I slept over. I saw the color spread over the white sheets as I discovered the moist between my legs. I left a stain on her bed.

She was tall and pathetically skinny with a big nose. I was tall and bulky with a big belly that I wasn't exactly ashamed of. She brought Jesus to our campus by the beach - a small community of intellectuals hiding outside of the rush of Miami, nesting in the trees and swamps of south Florida wild life. Miami brought with it two major colleges. The University of Miami is where all of the rich (Jewish) kids went. For those of us who couldn't afford it, Florida International University is where the rest of us went on our bright futures scholarships - free tuition given to students who graduated high school with a certain grade point average. I went to FIU but the main campus was too vast and big for me. With over 30,000 students a day visiting that campus, parking was the least of my worries.  Instead, I settled for majoring in English so I could spend the next four years in isolation along the beach with the rest of the book worms and introverts. But there she stood in her skinny legs, cheap t-shirt and short auburn hair. I don't remember when I started attending her small group but each time I did we prayed and discussed "current events." One time she showed us a documentary on Israel and Palestine. Or on how Israel did everything it could to demolish Palestine people who lived along the border. It showcased the extreme destructive tendencies of the Israelites, who wicked they lived, taking what was not theres covered under the protection of an disgusting ancient argument. Watching a bulldozer push over perfectly competent homes makes you rethink right and wrong even in spite of the divinely sanctioned role the Jews held in our global community, in our history. I shuddered at the thought that perhaps everything I had been told about God and the world and how I as supposed to live was wrong. That perhaps nothing much has changed since trench war fare and that up until that point I was fed lies and lies and more lies concerning everything from what it meant to be a woman to what demographics truly made up the Jewish nation. Like a naive babe, I hated myself for willingly settling for what was told to me instead of asking questions. She saw that. She saw the change take place in me as I listened and watched and learned and hid from the one who saw me.

The Miami bay breeze would creep through as she opened up her weathered pocket sized Bible and read to us. It was the first time since I had fallen from grace at my home church that someone looked at me with eyes of warmth and amazement. I was amazing again.

"You're awesome." she said. Not just once or twice but several times with her lips and her eyes and her hips in the way she tilted them toward me when I walked in under her pavilion each Thursday at one. I tried to ignore what it did to me inside when I felt her close to me each time. Every morning I would beat the traffic and drive out east toward the beach to be on campus as long as I could to see her and listen to her and memorize the shape of those slender hands. Little did I know that the eclipsing escape brought me closer to a certain home as it brought me further away from the house I had known my whole life.

She said there would be a conference for groups of college kids like us. College students who followed Jesus. I wanted to go if only for the thought that there would be more like her, more tender souls in adoration of a divine Savior. I could do without her tender beauty. I just wanted to be around people like her.

That month I saved up what little cash I had and swiped my debit card to attend the conference. She was again, mystified by my commitment, the commitment of a commuter who lived one hour away. I told her I came for the community and I didn't lie. There were parts of me that shut off when my church shut me out. Little did she realize when she looked at me she was looking at dry bones. God was blowing off the dust. I was rising again.

I don't remember her name but we were assigned the same hotel room and the same bed. I vowed to keep as still as could in hopes that my whole being didn't explode right on top of her next to her on the bed. I dropped my bags and looked at her. She seemed busy in her mind and busy in her eyes and so I left my things and ran away to the conference without her.

She was right. There were songs and stories of truth and new visions - new visions in particular of the Christian and the artist. I learned about the gift of the complex heart and how important it is to navigate our culture - not avoid it. The fusion of reality and Christian engagement was paramount. We did not need to only listen to Christian music. Holy could indeed be in the eye of the beholder. The conservative ideas of a hyper evaluative culture simply was another form of legalistic righteousness, a righteousness that did more harm that good when it came to living authentically in an increasingly shallow world. I was right for wanting isolation. The heart of an artist needs isolation. And love. I was home. It was a healing.

That night I got back to the room before her, as I was sure she was still networking, I mean fellowshipping, with other Intervarsity leaders in the conference. My soul was still mending walls and so I decided to go back and sleep lest I forget the reality of what was said that day. I forgot to brush my teeth. I didn't care to shower. I just slid into bed and let my hand cover my abdomen which spoke of impending pain. Cramps. They were tight. It started to hurt. But I was too tired to care.

I woke up to the sound of the air conditioning vent. It was loud and noisy and roared like an aging lion with only one more song to sing. I swung my arms wide open, not realizing she was already sound asleep next to me. I had forgotten she was there, that we were sharing a bed. I pulled my arm back mortified and cradled into a fetal position under the sheets. I turned away. My left side would quickly become numb since the bed was hard and I didn't want to turn to breath in her face. She didn't need that. I've been told my breath is quite harsh at this hour. I suppose sleeping with me was enough for one night.

I drifted asleep but woke up again soon at the feeling of her feet touching mine. I quickly moved my feet. As if on que she rapidly pulled her feet back! I laid there mortified at my hormonal urges. For a moment I seriously considered getting up and sleeping on the floor. Who knows what else could happen given the chance to slip into deep REM? But before I could close my eyes in prayer, prayer for divine self-control, I felt her feet slide over to mine again. They didn't stop sliding until her toe-to-heel was touching my feet. I looked over and she was finally asleep. My eyes drifted up to the ceiling as my anxiety to pray diminished. I closed my eyes letting the warmth of her touch permeate my entire body.

I woke up again. This time, she was looking at me. I saw her eyes and as if in a dream, she pulled the unruly strands of hair away from my face and leaned toward me. Before I could speak she reached over to my other side with her leg, saddling me in the dark. I laid there beneath her stung, looking up into her now large and glossy eyes. Before I could reach for her, for my arms now felt heavy and full of weight, she leaned in an kissed my nose. Then she kissed the corners of my mouth before she parted my lips with her tongue and went in.

I reached for her bottom and pulled her in deeper. We shared several moments being lost in the trance as we embraced. Finally, I pulled her back on her side, inside of my arms and held her for I quickly fell fast asleep.

That morning I woke up and saw a puddle of blood. It was almost three feet wide and just as long - a dark red stain on the sheets. I stood up mortified and checked my underwear. Red. Moist. Everywhere. I quickly rushed toward the bathroom, tripping over her ripped jeans and well-worn sneakers. I grabbed my bag and shut the door. I locked it tight as I leaned my head against the door and sighing.

About an hour later I had showered and shaved and scraped every ounce of female purification off my body. I had felt so whole so quickly just an hour before. Now I felt dirty, disgusting and I panicked. How quickly everything unravels. I finally garnered the courage, tightening my grip on my bag lest she confront me with my embarrassment. I opened the door. She was there waiting, standing with her Jansport backpack on her shoulder.

"You ready to go?" I nodded my head and we left.

She never brought it up - the stain on the mattress. The ensuing days simply brought clasped hands and long prayers by the beach and Psalms. She loved to read Psalms. When I think upon that night and wonder at the site of  my blood I wonder what it meant to her for there to be no mention of my stain? How she could see it as not that dirty, not that messy. Part of me.

For everyone else I ever known was quick to remind me that I had fumbled and fallen and messed up their perfectly thought out plan and that the only place for scoundrels like me was in the wilderness - alone, away from site less someone else catch a glimpse and learn from me. So I commuted away, back and forth from the concrete suburbia in search of breeze at my feet with her arms and soft lips. I learned to turn away from what my fear and the scraping of myself clean and think on back into what caused the stain -  the red so powerful. The red from within. The red from me. Each time I look into her eyes it only grows. The things that she can see.

And then I remembered that her name was Ivy. And she grew up among tall trees.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two Queens

A friend of mine who lives in DC and who has a special eye for discernment has commented on my writing and suggested that I find healing in love. That is perhaps, why I write about it. In my mind, love heals. And not just any kind of love. Not love from parents or love from friends or love from strangers. Love from lovers. Love from romance. And she's right! She couldn't be more right. When I realized that was the driving force behind a lot of my writing it gave me a clarity of vision that I didn't have before and questions. Lots of questions. I began to think about:

1) In what ways am I being healed in my current relationship(s)?
2) Why is it only in romance that I feel healing?
3) What makes romance special?
4) What needs to be healed so badly that I keep writing about it over and over?
5) Why do I over think things?!?!?!

As you can remember, I felt a personal betrayal when Caitlin Jenner came out. I felt hurt. Like I was lied too, along with all of America. Which is ludicrous. This isn't my Dad. This show could very well be the most well fabricated lie in all of American television but I still felt hurt. And maybe it's because I cut my own hair and now look so very much like a man (instead of a woman) but my thinking has changed and now I've been considering gender a lot lately and it's place in relationships - romantic relationships.

I've been asking friends and trusted fellows around me about what they would have done if that was their husband or wife. It's hard. Most say they would be okay with it. Only the brave confess would-be anger and resentment. Which is to be expected. But what isn't expected is when I suggest of course, my new thoughts on the situation: the idea that perhaps, Kris and Caitlin could work this out together. I have this idea that perhaps in some alternate universe people could move past gender and it's very important place in their lives and find their way back to each other again. BECAUSE, dear reader, I do indeed believe that when we love we love the secret hidden person. The person behind the eyes, the human and their mind. When forced to experience someone separate from the gender that you fell in love with them in, you are forced to experience people for who they truly are.

And so I'm writing a play. It's called "Two Queens." Maybe, this new writing adventure has a lot to do with me reconciling who I am now with who I once was with all of my long hair. I got away with a lot with my long hair. Now who I am is undeniable. Or maybe it's just a fantasy about how I need the world to be better because my tv mom and dad are having issues. Who knows. Time to write!