Thursday, April 21, 2011

Luke Lagraff - A Stranger Kind

The orbiter of odd
Has a few friends
A few go to lots
One is always the end

But unity can have division
It does love
It involves cohesion
And that stranger from above

The divide is grown
Through thinking like mad
It continues through when
When you have what you had

And all those strangers
The ghosts, the host, the
ones that matter most,
kindly give this cosmic day
a mind the reason to exclaim,"uh!?"

Cause it's such a sunny way
and a grand funny feeling
When you say to yourself,
"A stranger gave me this! UH?!"

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Scott Joel Gizicki - Blind Faith

I used to live in Chicago. I know when people say they used to live somewhere you expect them to say it was for at least a year. It actually used to drive me nuts when you would hear someone say they lived some where for two months and they acted like an expert. Well, I became one of those people to an extent. I lived in Chicago for nearly five months. OK, like four months and a week, but it was such a difficult time in my life living there and it was an amazing experience, however, in the aftermath that I feel I'm allowed to say it was once a home. You just got to love that hindsight. I moved out there because not only did I just go through a difficult and stressful break up, but I also came as close to death as I ever thought I would be when a medication I was taking caused severe liver damage. Thankfully, the liver; being a miracle organ, recovered fine with no long-term side effects. Anyhow, I digress. I very much so needed a change. Both of my sisters and several friends already lived out there so I thought it'd be perfect.

Boy, I was not prepared for this move. I was not prepared financially. I was not prepared mentally. I was not prepared emotionally. I took the first job I was offered which turned out to be a marketing scam and cult. Side note to the unemployed: NEVER WORK FOR A COMPANY THAT SELLS INNOVAGE OR QUANTUM PRODUCTS! SCAM! OK, I got the Caps Lock moment out of my system. So after those three weeks of hell I ended up working in this cafe that was the bottom floor of my apartment building. I loved it. I really did. Working there stirs up nothing but fond memories despite how bankrupted I was from the cult. I gave out free food all the time and in return would get higher tips. Yes, pretty much stealing, but you got to do what you got to do. There was a friend I made, Amber, whom I have unfortunately lost contact with, which is bizarre to think of in this socially connected world we now live in. She would stay late and help me close just to be kind. We would sneak around to the back for smoke breaks and she even bought me a real nice journal. She made those nights worth it. I loved her and I miss her. She was so kind and I hardly knew anything about her. I hated when I closed without her there. Not because I got out later than normal but because I missed her. Ted, the owner, once tried to put me on an opening shift. I came in an hour late from over-sleeping and it was closing shifts only from there on out. I had a crazy sleeping schedule if I even slept at all. I would work maybe 5/6pm-12/1am six nights a week. I would usually go out to the bars, which I could not afford, but when you're broke and depressed you don't really think things through. Whether or not I went to the bars, though, I'd be falling asleep as the sun came up. I put blankets over the windows in my room.

I remember one time on a day off, my cousin Steve was in town. I had literally slept an entire day away. I believe I slept for 20 hours and missed several calls from my cousin. I did manage to meet up with him near the midway Airport on public transit. It's a bitch to get there from Rogers Park where I lived. Well, we got some food and had some laughs and I was eager to get back home knowing what an absolutely tiring ride home I had ahead of me. So, I rushed down the escalator stairs and even got annoyed by an older woman who was walking too slow. I got about 20 feet in front of the escalator and I heard the old woman scream. Little did I know that this scream would lead to my most profound moment while living in Chicago. She was the reason I needed to live there.

I noticed that the old woman I so rudely rushed past was blind and carrying several bags. She had fallen at the bottom of the escalator. I ran to assist, considering no one else around me cared. I helped her to her feet and she told me that a Metro staff member was helping her but just left without a warning. I asked if I could help her carry some of her bags and offered my arm for her to hold. She complied. What if I had been a thief? I soon discovered we were heading in the same direction, only her stop was two stops before mine. I helped get her to the trains and we took the same trek home. She told me how she used to live in Hawaii and that she was attending school to go into real estate. She was a beautiful older woman of about 55 to 60. She had a sweet and soothing voice and an incredible sense of humor. We made fun of people's conversations on the train. I no longer had to kick myself in the ass for sleeping so late that day and missing all those calls from Steve. Oversleeping thus forcing me to only close at the cafe had a purpose. I had to be there for her and she had to be there for me. It may seem like I was the Good Samaritan in this story but she had no idea that she was that to me. During a time in my life where I maintained little self-respect and lack of self-compassion this woman's blind faith in me restored and healed me even if just for that night. I wish I could remember her name, but I know I'll never forget her and our moment together.

Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Emily Idzior - These are a few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things


The way the air smells in the morning in fall. It smells like cleaning supplies and new books; dew and dying flowers. The way you look at me with your eyes that are greenbrownblue covered in glasses. The way it dies, all of it. Something tells me to look left, right, forward. We were all trembling during the final chapter and then wished we could read the book again, fresh, like we had never read it before. Every time we kiss I think of how much I love you. Every time we kissed I felt courageous. Every time we kiss I don’t taste anything, is that okay? When you hold me in your arms and I think we were made for each other and I get up and my neck hurts. You made me drink coffee and you don’t even make it anymore for me. The way you brush my hair with your fingers, like so many men are doing right now, like us, in a cafĂ© somewhere.


The words felt dead on the page until I read them out loud and fall into the o’s and I’s and land in the middle of the lyrical sentences. Every word Emily Dickinson wrote. Every poem Billy Collins writes sounds the same but God, I’m telling you, it’s kind of good sometimes to read them. The way poetry brings me back to life and then kills me again at the end of each poem. The way I admit I will never be famous. The way I never submit work to literary journals. My favorite excuse: I’m not good enough. My favorite thing is everything about the page and the way it is so easy to fill it with words twirling inside my brain making their way out through bitten fingernails and soft fingers.


Memory. Picking raspberries in the backyard with my Grandmother. Camping in a pop up camper that made me think Camping was easy and cool like wind coming off the lake with the faint song of a loon miles away. Fireflies at night in a field look like little glowing periods at the end of lovely sentences. Sometimes the frogs sound like birds. A bird song scared me until I realized it was a bird song. I love the way the hair falls in my face, I might look pretty like that. The color pink makes me feel safe like it’s a big dose of Pepto-Bismol all around my consciousness. Soothing. I like the way organized books feel. Being in a library you know contains stolen kisses. Being in a nook looking out at the world unnoticed noticing the world walking back and forth.


I had a stuffed animal when I was a child named Snuggy. He was a bunny. He had no gender. Sometimes he was a girl and sometimes she was a boy. I loved snuggy. I don’t have anything amazing left to say in this paragraph except that snuggy was there for me every step of the way through childhood.


The snow falling in December, little embers put out falling to the ground. Frozen, dim fireflies fleeing the sky. A blanket of white word documents on the ground. Yellow splotches of highlighter in some places. Brown spots of color make me feel less excited to curl up in snow. Seeing my breath is never ordinary. I like looking at beautiful men and beautiful women. I like imagining them doing things like ironing or dancing ballet. Maybe they hate good literature but I imagine them reading it anyway. My birthday. My birthday and how I always manage to forget to ask for what I really want until after it’s over. The cat belly. The cat fur. The chin of a cat. Step of the cat.

Emily Idzior is an aspiring poet and librarian who has to shush people poetically. She has a MA in salad making and wishes she loved tea without sugar but, alas, has a sweet tooth. She cannot quit waffles or coffee and writes in her personal blog once a year.
Also she has a cat.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scott Joel Gizicki - What's Next

His laughter. It's so incredibly adorable. Unlike any I've heard. It was very charming to me then and still makes me smile today. When I mock it he laughs and tells me to shut up. It's OK because I guffaw like a drunken banshee. We both get embarrassed. It's fun. It sometimes sounds like a child being tickled. It might annoy others but it brings me joy. Even his snoring. God, how many times did I wrap pillows around my head with others? No, his snore is comforting. It's quiet enough and steady enough and predictable. Who needs the sounds of the ocean to fall asleep when you have that? He is so talented. His artwork is astonishing. It absolutely amazes me. He has a great lust for life and although he sometimes frolics instead of walks I'm there to play Devil's Advocate. I just don't want to see such a lively spirit torn but at the same time I'd like to think I help ground him just enough so he's protected. He believes in gnomes and fairies and mermaids. I laugh, but I know a part of me believes too, and he brings it out in me. But not mermaids. I won't believe in mermaids because as legend tells, the old sailors thought manatees were mermaids. Manatees = Mermaids. Despite my adamant disbelief on that mythical creature I still love the way he views life. His sensitivity and honesty blows me away. I've never had it this good. I never once found him unattractive despite his constant (my own exaggeration) preoccupied focus on his body. He is insecure and so am I. So sexy and fragile. So human. So real. He makes me feel so alive. Like no other. Now...Wow...Now is soon going to become a next. What are we going to do? Even while we are both aware of the inevitable I'm discovering more of my love for him. It's so difficult. But it's smart because of the different futures we see. The one subject that was essentially the tipping point in our relationship. So, we take it a day at a time. We've been able to tackle and do everything perfectly and honestly in our relationship. I find it incredible that we can even break up so well. We are almost perfect and I'm not ready for what's next.

Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Barbi Beckett - Dark Rooms

I was fifteen when Amadeus came out. It was a long-ass movie, with an intermission, but I couldn’t get enough of it - the music, F. Murray Abraham, the story and Tom Hulce…Oh, Wolfie. If I were to see it now I’d probably think, that’s a gay man, but at fifteen I just thought, dreamy.

By Oscar time I was 16 and the film was having a long run at a dollar theatre thirty minutes from my house. My dad would let me go by myself, with my brand new driver’s license, on SCHOOL nights to watch it – again and again. He must’ve figured there were worse things I could be hooked on.

When F. Murray won the Academy Award I learned that he was raised in El Paso and his parents were still there. I started plotting how I would get into their house.

I decided a fake interview for my school newspaper was the way to go. I was not affiliated with the class I would later learn was called “journalism”. I had never written anything. I actually struggled for passing grades (sometimes forging my report card) so I could participate in theatre and dance. To boot, I looked ridiculous. I had sort of a Brian Setzer/Cyndi Lauper thing going. Think pompadoured mullet. Still, I got the phone book out and rang up the Abrahams who, just, said I could come over.

I took a clipboard with a piece of paper on it, for my ‘interview’. I did not take questions. The Abraham’s home was bright and open with congratulatory balloons and flowers everywhere. On a sliding glass door was an Amadeus poster and, on the wall, a Fruit of the Loom poster. F was grapes before he was Salieri. I didn’t write a single thing on my clipboard in the 3 hours I spent in his parent’s home.

With great pride, Mr. Abraham showed me his reel to reel player and his extensive bathroom remodel. But, of course, the Abrahams were most proud of their boy. Mrs. Abraham told me that she’d been watching the movie in a local theatre when, at intermission, she overheard two women talking about how incredible that Salieri was. She said, “I leaned in and whispered, ‘That’s my son’.”

I did not want to leave and I had no excuse to come back. “I forgot to take notes” was too weak, even for me to try. And, I finally admitted to myself that there was no casual way to ask people to be your grandparents.

After I moved to Seattle, I was leaving a coffee shop when I saw Tom Hulce walk out of a Blockbuster video. As we passed each other on the crosswalk, I averted my eyes and thought, I wish you could know how you touched my little life.

Soon after that, my brother died. That was bad enough but the circumstances around his death were dark and horrendous. I wasn’t afraid to close my eyes at night because, graciously, the only thing my brain made me see when I did was a soothing, swirling fuschia. Open eyes were problematic. If you’re me, you can still see where his name once scarred my leg. If you’re my therapist at the time, I probably wasn’t the first person you warned against trying to drink bleach. “You won’t die; You’ll just end up in the hospital getting surgery after surgery to repair the damage.”


But then Forrest showed up. I’m not embarrassed to say that Forrest Gump may have saved my life. Another long movie; I sat for hours in packed, vacant, giant and intimate theatres relieved of reality. I came to know when a crowd was about to laugh and curiously observed how different moments landed on different audiences. After the 10th or 12th viewing, I was driving home and thought, I should really commit to acting. Maybe I can make something that relieves someone someday. If it doesn’t work out, I can kill myself. Later. With that, I’d taken the tiniest step back toward the living.

Just two years before all those hours and days grieving with Forrest Gump, I’d been doing Extra work on Sleepless in Seattle. At 4AM, between takes in a restaurant, I was standing near a booth where a shot was being lit. Tom Hanks sat in the booth and yawned, then I did and he said, “Made you yawn.”

I smiled at him – unaware of how he would touch my little life.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Best Week Ever

This past week was probably my favorite week ever in the history of weeks.

I think the blog was really awesome too (I was trying to make a joke, but then I realized that I'm actually really serious).

I want to revisit the twenty-minute stories again in the future. We got lots and lots of interest in it, which is what I thought would happen, but honestly had no idea how great everyone's writing would turn out to be. So, thank you so much!

I'm not here to get sappy. I'm just here to tell you what's up: Submissions for this upcoming week's theme, "Favorite Things" are due and so far I only have one submission! WHAT. IS. UP. WITH. THAT. Don't you have a favorite thing? You can draw it. You can write about it. You can write about your least favorite thing to be more original than the rest of us.

I want to shout out to Scott Joel Gizicki for next week's theme, "The Kindness of Strangers." And Shannon McIntyre for the following week's theme, "Things I Oughta Know by Now." Things you should know by now? That writing is so much fun!

So there it is. 4/15 The Kindness of Strangers and 4/22 Things I Oughta Know by Now. Write something. Send it in to: and we will love you and love you forever.


Katie McMahon - Why we should hold hands. All the time.

6:12 pm

Aimee walked around holding people's hands. If you were walking down the street by yourself, she'd slowly come up beside you and grab your hand, as long as it was free for her to grab. She did it kindly and without being aggressive. If your hand was open and free, it would be held in her hand and you'd be walking side by side with a stranger.

Some people hated this and ripped their hand away from her, as if they were being terrorized. Some people even ran away. After all, holding hands can be the most intimate of actions for certain people. More than kissing. More than sex. Aimee knew this, but she wasn't trying to hurt anyone. She wasn't even trying to be funny. She was just trying to help.

Younger men would look at their hand in Aimee's hand and then up at Aimee's face and smirk, like it meant she was going to fuck them. Aimee walked with these men for about a block and then let go, quickly turning down a street or simply turning around and almost immediately getting lost in the crowd. These men would look for Aimee for about five minutes and then give up. Only a couple would look all day and lie in bed at night holding their right hand in their left and closing their eyes until they had a picture in their head that they could jerk off to.

Lots of people laughed when Aimee held their hand. Women would laugh and giggle and it would make their day, just to be able to tell someone else, "A stranger held my hand today."

A man named Walter didn't even feel anything when Aimee held his hand. She walked with him for blocks and blocks until they reached his apartment. He let go of her hand to take out his keys and looked at her face. First at her lips and then her nose, which was right in the middle of her face, and then he looked into her eyes for more than three seconds, which is a long time to look into a stranger's eyes. He didn't smile or say thank you or ask who she was. He just left her there in front of the apartment, where she stood for at least four minutes and then walked back the way she came from.

Tears formed in Alice's eyes when Aimee held her hand because she had always wanted to hold hands with a girl whose skin was just as soft as hers, but she had been too afraid to ask anybody. Aimee walked with Alice for what seemed like twenty-minutes and then, when Alice had stopped crying, she let go of her hand and walked away.

Aimee never asked if it was okay to hold a person's hand. She just wanted to, so she did it.

Tim had at first laughed when Aimee held his hand. He was walking home with a bag of groceries in one hand: a box of sugary cereal, two apples, two cans of soup, a loaf of crumbly bread. He gave her a look as if to say, "I think you're making a huge mistake," but when he saw her face, he could see that she clearly wasn't making a mistake. So they just walked, and as they walked, Tim began to really feel sad about Aimee leaving once they reached his door. He sat down and Aimee sat with him. He took out an apple and handed it to her empty hand. She bit into it and they sat staring at the cars passing them through the street.

And soon it felt like they were sitting right in the middle of the busy street. And it was raining. And it was snowing. And people in big cars that looked like boats were trying to parallel park around them. And it became dark outside. And Aimee held onto Tim's hand so he would know that it was okay. And he cried a little bit. And she cried a little bit too. And even though she didn't know anything about him, he felt okay being himself for a moment. And then, the sun came out. And he kept looking down at her hand to see that he wasn't alone. And that's all that Aimee wanted anyway.

6:32 pm

Katie McMahon is a lady who lives in the North Hollywood area. She has a bachelor's degree that she keeps on her bookcase and looks at sometimes. She is getting a master's degree to put on her nightstand. Sometimes she takes pictures which you can look at here, but you don't have to if you're busy right now.

Heather Painter - Twenty-minute story

I’ve been following Writing, Writer, Writest almost since it began. I think it started a little after my own blog. I never really thought about writing a blog before last year. I was talking with my friend Mikey from Seattle. He writes all the time and now makes a slightly bearable living off of transcribing jobs. I’m jealous in a way. I’ve always wanted to write since I was little kid. I was the girl with her nose in a book, being pround of reading a 150 page book in a week when I was in fifth grade. No pictures! I had a best friend, her name was Houng. We bought, read and shared books, then went the library together and checked out books and shared those.

I remember being on a bus for a field trip, having a copy of my Mom’s Stephen King book, "Nightmare & Dreamscapes" in hand. It’s a short story book. My Mom would read those stories to me and let me read them to her. I still remember my favorite story. It’s called, "Suffer the Little Children" ... very creepy story. It’s about a teacher who finds her students to be monstrous things and they get revenge on her. I don’t remember all the details. Maybe I should go back and read it again. There was also a story called House on Maple Street. Somehow it turned out to be an alien ship that all of a sudden took off in the middle of the night.

I loved all sorts of stories when I was little. I’m still an avid reader to this day, which is why it pisses me off when all Hollywood can do is make movies from a book and butcher the hell out of it. Can’t people have their own imagination and fill in the blanks rather than have someone else’s vision shoved in their face? Don’t get me wrong, I love movies. But I would rather see an original movie than a movie based off a book. All it makes me want to do is go read the book. Which is loads better than the movie.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life lately and what I want from it. What I want to get out of it. What seems to make me happy and what doesn’t. Recently I’ve come to the somewhat wavering conclusion that college isn’t for me. Not yet anyway. I look at my boyfriend and he’s very accomplished when it comes to getting those pieces of paper that our society seems to think validates our so called “intelligence”. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in both economics and political science (he double majored) and just got his Master’s Degree in public administration. I’m so very proud of him and also a little jealous. I can’t stand being in college classes, I feel stuck.

I think I want to go to a culinary school. I want to work with food. Perhaps open up a restaurant of my own someday, maybe a bakery too. I’d need someone to help me manage it. I love cooking and honestly, serving people is fun for me. Sure, there are people out there that are just plain rude and have an entitlement mentality, but I love seeing smiles on people’s faces. I love getting compliments about my service. I get annoyed when the people around me don’t take it seriously. With the job that I have right now, the service needs to be top notch. I’d love to get into the kitchen at work. I’ve worked at a movie theater for almost a year now and come to think of it I should be farther than I am. I’ve been content at where I am for too long. I need to shoot for bigger and better things.

The only thing I know for sure in life is what I feel for my boyfriend, who I hope someday wants more. I won’t say it to him, not just yet. I love him very much and he loves me. I just want us to go farther. I wonder if he’s thought about it... maybe.

My twenty minutes is up. Thanks for letting me unload the things on my mind.

Luke Lagraff - Pulse-esque


"No, there is no way. That's right. Would I buy that? Do you want me to? Should I disclose that I would like to buy that? I would buy that. Excuse me. Excuse me. Just a little left. Here I come. That was way ballin'. Nah, brah! That was! It was somethin that you or me or him wouldn't have even done had we not been there, ya know? That's just the facts of stuff, ya know? NO. OTHER. WAY. Why are ya not drinkin?"

A shake of the head.

"You're not gonna be drinkin?"

A shake of the head.

"You ever had Monk Chunk I.P.A 8.9%? So dank. What about just Monk Chunk Gold 6.7%? It's actually some of the best brew to come out of Wyoming since '92. Ya gotta try it. Just go get some. Just go. I mean, Blue Moon is good too. It works. It does. I like art. I do art. I like art. I like art deco, art reco, art flamenco. I have a manager who has been trying to get me to move to Miami. I don't know about that though. I mean, I have to go to work on Monday morning, ya know. Anybody else have to go to work on Monday morning? Anybody? Anybody? Wow. It's quiet. Everybody goin home. I need some weed. I haven't smoked weed in, like, three weeks! Anybody have any weed? Anybody? Can you imagine... three weeks... I can't find nothin. Nothin. I really do like art though. Do you like art?"

A shake of the head.


A shake of the head.

"TV? Radio? Billboards? The internet?"

Shakes of the head.


A shake of the head.

"What kind of shoes are you wearing?"

"I don't remember," the other man said.

"That's the sign of a hard worker, man. You said it. I've been designing shoes for, like, 3 years now, and I don't see anything stopping the momentum I've amassed. The shoes are gonna just stomp, brah! I mean, think about it, three years, right. They better stomp! Right? God, why is everyone so quiet? Everybody's going home to eat dinner, uh? Everybody's got their dinners thought about. What are you gonna have? I would have that. I saw that movie 'Sucker Punch', man. It sucked, man. I mean, the first half was alright I guess, but then the director probably smoked too much meth and it just became all crazy and I couldn't understand it anymore, ya know? I mean, what's up with movies anyways? Ya know? What was the last movie you saw? I just saw Sucker Punch. Did you see it? I saw it. I saw most of it. I saw Spiderman vs. The Ewoks vs. Superman vs. Minnie the Moocher the other day. I saw most of it. What is up with movies? I don't know if I should disclose this. You're getting off here, too?"


Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shannon McIntyre - Why Can't I Write?

3:23 AM

Creativity is my home. It is my place of safety and joy and love. In my creativity, my home, I am fully myself. I have no pretense. No effort is spent to satisfy expectations. Every service given there is an act of loving generosity, never felt as an obligation or burden. At home I know I will always be taken care of.

I left home years ago to “make my way in the world”, because I thought that’s what grown people should do. I struggled and fought, and the harder I worked the farther from home I got. The life I’ve scraped up for myself is not easy, or joyous, or harmonious. No, it’s exhausting, and frustrating, and lonely. I dream constantly of going home!

Why don’t I go? Home is such a beautiful memory. The thought of home gives me comfort and hope, knowing there exists that one place where I can be free. So why don’t I go?

Because I am afraid. Because I’m afraid to return to my birthplace and find that my house has been knocked down and my family is gone. For then there would be no hope, and then I would truly be lost.

3:41 AM

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coco Higgins - Fortuitous Fate


They met at a hospital in the early ‘70s. Tom was a doctor and Connie just arrived as a new nurse. He asked a friend who she was and boasted that she’d be the girl he would eventually marry. Some mutual friends tricked them into running into each other at the bus stop, and he asked her out on a date. She immediately noticed the pack of cigarettes he had inside his breast pocket.

“No,” she said. “I don’t date smokers.”

Tom was a chain smoker who picked up the habit in medical school. At the time he had been smoking like a chimney, but he really wanted to go out with this girl. He told her he would quit. As a gesture, he threw away the Benson and Hedges and they started going out.

Six months later, Tom and Connie got married. They knew that they wanted to have lots of children since both came from large families – he with nine siblings, and she with seven. The birth of their son in 1974 was a complicated one, delivered through a Caesarian section and with a tremendous loss of blood. The doctors removed a small part of Connie’s uterus and told her that they should not try for any more kids. It was disheartening news, but they were happy to have had at least one and life moved on.

Seven years later, there was a recession in the Philippines and Tim was forced to look for work elsewhere. The country’s main export was the services of its people so it was not uncommon for the breadwinner to go abroad to earn money and send it back to a family at home. Tom was promised a teaching post in Libya. Gadhafi was already in power, but money is money, and that’s certainly better than receiving fruits, chickens and promises of favors from patients at home. When he got there, however, he ended up providing medical services in a desolate rural outpost.

After some time, a friend of Tom’s told him that the government was secretly planning to send him, a Philippine national with no actual ties to Libya besides this temporary medical post, to the front lines of battle in Chad. Having no military or combat experience (save the one-sided boxing matches he fought as a kid – he lost most of them, by the way), Tom high-tailed it back to the Philippine embassy the first chance he got and booked a one-way flight back to Manila.

Nine months later, Connie gave birth to a baby girl on Tom’s birthday. You might call my conception a mistake, or even an accident. But I like to think of it as a miracle. So something good did come out of Gadhafi being an asshole, but even that’s debatable.

Yes, they’re still together. And no, he hasn’t smoked since the day he asked her out on a first date.

3:30AM – sorry, it was 10 minutes longer than allowed.

Coco Higgins - The Illustrious Life of a Graduate Student


At the moment, I am in one of my city’s 24-hour coffee shops, sitting here with other nocturnal creatures at 3AM. I have a stack of 80 undergraduate exams I have to grade – some are quite impressive, but sadly, I question whether or not some of these students bothered to show up to any classes. At the risk of violating FERPA, I might even say that some of these kids are dumber than a box of hair. How unfortunate.

As I’ve implied above, I’m currently a grad student. This semester I’m taking two independent studies, which means that I have practically no structure in my life. Most of my time is spent napping, dicking around on the internet, and watching tennis matches that very few people care about.

A few weeks ago, I was in line for a concert when all of a sudden I became extremely fuzzyheaded, nauseated and almost fainted. I left the concert and hobbled over to my friend’s car. After a few wrong turns, I made it home and ate a salad. My dad told me that I might be hypoglycemic, which is a precursor to the diabetes that runs on both sides of my family. Sure, he’s a licensed physician, but I think maybe he just took this opportunity to tell me to stop smoking and drinking.

Suffice it to say, I started caring more about my health recently. I stocked up on protein bars and decided that I should start exercising. I wore some shorts and started putting around my neighborhood, looking the utter complete fool running for five minutes and gasping for air and crawling for the next five. Also disappointingly, these short shorts do not have pockets for cigarettes. Or a flask. (Note to self: should I start wearing cargo pants when I work out? Hmm.)

To echo my poor health, my fat cat Mr. Weatherbee (sometimes known as Creamsicle, Creature, Animal, Weatherpants, Puppy, etc.) has an ear infection. I’ve been putting drops into his ears the last week or so and now the poor guy looks like a drowned rat. I’ve also started calling him Mr. Soggy-Ears. I don’t think he’s all that pleased.

But to get back to my illustrious life as a grad student – I’ve come to realize that I suffer from impostor syndrome and a form of academic bipolar disorder. I’m waiting for the day they discover I’m a hack who doesn’t deserve to be studying at this fine institution. I keep losing motivation, coming up with reasons and excuses not to do research, and overall I become paralyzed by self-doubt. This leads to extreme laziness and procrastination. Witness exhibit A: hours on the internet, tennis obsession and a permanent imprint of my butt on the couch.

But the other day I had a fantastic conversation with my advisor. I presented some of my work to him and he used the O word on me. He said it was ORIGINAL. How fantastic is that, right?! He said it was refreshing, and that I could turn it into a thesis. BOOM. Euphoria. And just a few hours before that, I was wallowing in self-pity about how I’m not producing anything of value. I’ve been riding this high for about 36 hours now, and I’m not sure how long it will last. I bet by tomorrow, I’ll be feeling sorry for myself again and not doing anything. See – small academic validations produce a few highs, but for the most part, grad school is a place for self-loathing.

Why am I doing this again? Oh right, I want to teach one day. Get kids excited about art and learn about themselves through the application of rigorous critical thinking. How lofty. I’ll be lucky to get a post-doc in Nebraska, or some underpaid no-benefits gig as an adjunct prof in Wyoming. But hey, with all my physical training recently, maybe I’ll look into becoming a luchadora. Who doesn’t like masks and wrestling boots, right?

Back to grading.


Courtney Colbeck - Sympathy for the Devil

Start 3:58 am

Her French manicured nails were impeccable as they traced endless circles on the inside of his forearm.

"You honestly don't think that I've thought of that before? A simple 'I'm sorry' and everything is alright again?"

He shrugged, not knowing what else to do or say. Non-plussed, she continued.

"it's so easy for you and your kind. The way He looks at you, the way He really sees you... Nothing you can say or do will ever really make Him turn away. It's frustrating and infuriating, but underneath it all, it's beautiful. I think that's why it hurts so much...

You know what they say about Hell? The never-ending inferno? The flames in which non-believers will burn in for eternity? They're real. They're just not real in the literal sense...

Have you ever felt alone? I mean truly and REALLY alone? The kind of alone that makes you feel so isolated that you're BURNING for human contact?

That's Hell. That's what they meant by 'the fires of Hell.' We burn for all eternity to feel like we are loved."

In that moment, he could say nothing. The profound sadness he felt for Lucy stifled every impulse and left him immobile.

Sensing his discomfort, she continued, never breaking the physical contact between the two of them.

"They're right, you know? The atheists and agnostics. When they die, there is nothing. A nothing you can't comprehend."

And maybe in the end we're all right...

Maybe the crushing loneliness and longing that unites us here on earth, the burning desire to belong somewhere, is a taste of hell. Maybe that's all the fires of hell are... Maybe that's why Lucy tries so hard to keep us for her own?

After all, misery loves company, and who is more miserable than the devil herself?

End 4:08 am

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dominic Cooper - 11.23-11.43


Here's my first Writing, Writer, Writest story. Did I use correct grammar on that? I don't know. Each word seems kind of important, but I don't want to be unfaithful to the website. I could open up my facebook window again and double check, but I feel like that would eat into my 20 minute timeslot, and my internet connection is... tragically slow at best...

I guess I can write you a story about what's going on in my life right now huh? It has to do with the internet connection, so there's a through line here that I'm sure you'll appreciate. I'm not really a writer by the way... I can already feel the self deprecating hand on my shoulder... Is this what all writers feel? That other people will look at their work and find it utterly mundane? Anyway. My internet connection is slow because my landlady, who lives in the same property as me, has selected the slowest internet setting from AT&T for all the tennants. You could call her money savvy, but it's best to call her, evil. No, that's a bit harsh. She's Austrian. and about 73 years old. And she likes to run the house like an Emily Bronte upper class British mansion circa 1853. She doesn't like electricity. Water's in short supply, and heat for the winter should be supplied by a single log fire in the living room. One of my roommates raised a concern about the heating the other day. My landlady doesn't handle opinions or requests for better living conditions well, and she served him his 30 day notice.

She slid it under his door in the middle of the night. It was a waking up present. We don't know much about California law. But, we're going to fight it. We're pretty sure two of the rooms being rented aren't legal... One was a study and one was a dining room with no electrical outlets. Amazing. Conditions in the house are tense. I feel almost certain that I'll be evicted too because I've taken the side of my roommate and asking for better living conditions isn't really a cause for eviction.

Is this what you wanted? In the 20 minutes? This isn't really a story. It's more of a blog right? I think I should have read the rules through properly. It's 11:34 now. Now I'm wondering if what I've written is a decent amount in the time given. I feel that it is. But I'm not a real writer. Sometimes I type fast and when I mean to write "the", I type "teh"... I've sent frequent emails to important people without spellchecking. I should use spellcheck more often. I even think my hotmail account has a spellchecker now. I remember when it didn't, and you used to have to open up 'Word 97' to copy and paste the body of the email to check it all. Now I feel old. Should I spellcheck this email? Or should I let the Writer, Writer, Writest editor do that? And should that be 'Writer, Writer, Writest'?

The window in my room has cracks around its frame. I can tell the season of the year by the type of insects that are in here. I can tell spring is approaching by the amount of baby beetles that are spawning daily. I tried blocking the gaps with tape. Then I took to spraying bug repellent around the window every other day. Nothing has really worked.

20 minutes is a long time to type without a mission. I'm going to spellcheck now. At 11.41pm. That will give me time to correct anything.

Hmmm... seems that Spellcheck is actually two seperate words. Who knew? Look at me defying the correction.

It's 11.43pm. You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scott Joel Gizicki - AM Observation

Start time: 7:37 PM

Almost every morning when I get off the train to go to work I see this same guy. There is nothing unusual about his appeareance. He typically wears a thinner sweater over his dress shirt of a muted grey or white or eggshell or charcoal. He is a thinner man but doesn't wear those tight khakis that only make skinny guys look like broomsticks which is not at all attractive. He carries a modest briefcase bag-ish thing and wears fashionable glasses that compliment his average hair style well, not well but good enough. The thing that boggles my mind about him is that every time the little white guy appears allowing us pedestrian slaves to cross the street he runs. And I don't mean jogs or speed walks or just rushes himself he actually runs. Oh, and he runs in that awkward Freshman in high school way, carrying far too many books in their backpack because they're afraid of stopping at their locker in between for classes for whatever reason that may be. As soon as he gets to the other side of the street he stops running. He's clearly not in a rush otherwise he'd continue running onto the next crosswalk and then begrudgingly sigh at the rest of us as we catch up to him before our walk friend replaces Mr. Orange Hand once again. I thought that maybe he was terrified of getting hit. Maybe he has been hit by a car before or someone he cares about has. Now, I know it sounds rude, but him running like that makes me want to hit him. No, not with a car, but with my fist. It's almost like when you come across a kid in public that reminds you of yourself at that same age. You just want to go over to that kid and shake them and say, "Stop acting so weird!" I want to punch dorky kids. I get that it's a phase more of us go through than will ever admit, but it doesn't slow my urge to exact violence almost as if to get revenge on myself but in cathartic manner of speaking. I, of course would never want to act on this urge unless I was somehow able to beat up myself. See the thing is, I feel I'm constantly going through phases I want to beat myself up for. I would go back three years ago and beat myself up if I could and when I come back to my own time I'm sure the-future-three-years-from-now-me will be there to punch present-time me. It's not that I regret any decisions or the person I have become because I love me today but I'm always striving for better so I'm sure I'll love the me three years from now more, well at least I hope. I just get so embarrassed thinking about things I did. Running around finding sticks that I said I would marry because I thought my friends thought it was funny, rushing through the halls of high school at the end of the day saying I'm looking for Elephant tracks as I'm pushing my way to my locker or even making out with strangers at that one drunken party that I had no reason to be so drunk at. It's all ridiculous things that I've learned from and so I guess when I see ridiculous behavior I want to share my knowledge and help those people learn quicker what has taken me 27 years to learn. But, I guess that could be the difference between me and Mr. RunsNotWalks. Maybe he's done learning. Maybe he is perfectly okay with who he is despite what others may say and think. I envy and pity him if that is the case. You see, I believe we as humans are always capable of learning and growing as individuals until the day we die. It's why I'm always analyzing myself and comparing my past to my present and applying it to the future. It makes me sad when people give up on that potential we all have but at the same time that man probably has a better chance at finding the comfort of settling down and establishing himself with a life with stronger roots. Of course, the grass is always greener, but I can't help but wonder if there is something wrong with me that I get bored easily in life. It's probably why I enjoy acting. I get to jump into different shoes and really get to know the characters I'm portraying and in the end I usually tend to find out more about me as well. Still, at the start of my days I can't help but to have that urge to shake that running man and tell him to walk like the rest of us, and not for safety reasons, but because in a few years he may want to go back in time and do the same thing.

End time: 7:57 PM

Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit. :)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Luke Lagraff - Bum Master

This day feels rented
With morsels of blood
That flow through dented
Hearts wanting love

I get up with another
Quarter’s worth of will
He didn’t want to give
But I told him I kill

I look like shame
That question’s all the same
I guess I’ve learned that pain
Is inherent to the game

But I’m seen everyday
Paw-happy in rain
Managing my spirits’
And the famous nicknames

Do I think about tomorrow?
Do I give? I can make it there.
Will I make it by on sorrow?
Will I forgive? I’ll only bum air.

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.