Monday, September 19, 2011

what does one do with a minor in english literature?

4 more years?

Using a film camera borrowed from the university's library, I walked around the seemingly dull streets of Menomonie, WI, searching for interesting subjects to photograph for my first (and only) photo course. I'm definitely not a photographer, by any means, but I was told I was good at capturing emotions. So I'll take it. Everyone thinks they're a photographer; I know I'm not. But, I like this picture. It captures a moment in history that I think is significant, for reasons personal and political.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


To me, there is nothing more terrifying than a sharp, black-tipped eyeliner pencil heading straight for my unprotected, struggling-not-to-blink eyeball. To my best friend, Missy, there is nothing more amusing.
Sure, from where she’s standing, it must be fairly comical, I’ll admit. Not only are my eyes welling up with tears, partly from the overwhelming stress of the situation, partly from being stabbed repeatedly with that jagged, hateful pencil, but my head, in one last-ditch effort to save itself, keeps trying to escape the pencil by slowly easing itself further and further away. So, by the time I feel ready to face that black tip of death, my head is facing upwards toward the ceiling, like I’m waiting for a dentist to come prod and poke my gums with his sharp, sadistic instruments. The only element separating my dear friend Missy from a dentist, at this point, would be the mask. I’ve always had this theory that they wear masks so that their patients won’t see how horribly disfigured and fluoride-deprived their own smiles are. Anyway.
We were discussing the worst moment of my life: eyes staring helplessly at the ceiling, noticing a curiously-shaped brown stain, while Missy towers over me with a look of triumph on her face, pointing the eyeliner pencil directly at me like an accusatory finger. Triumph, because she now knows I have nowhere else to go, unless I want to topple backwards over the chair, where, with my luck, I would probably fall face-down and my eye would be pierced by a piece of shrapnel, or something. Stranger things have happened.

damn french ... fries

I never want French fries until I see someone else enjoying them. I smugly choose a salad, smiling at the checkout girl, who looks at my tray and thinks, “Wow. She’s eating a salad. She looks like someone I would like to know.”
No matter that this salad is literally swimming in French dressing and cheese.
What is it with the French, anyway? See, they are the reason Americans are obese. It’s not the fast food joints lurking around every corner; it can’t be the fact that we consider watching sitcom reruns for five hours exercise; no, it’s those damn French. Them and their cigarettes and hairy underarms.
Halfway through the meal, my salad abandoned, my brain registers that there are French fries in close proximity. Not close, even. Right on top of me. I could reach out a quaking hand and touch the salty devils. My lunch partner smirks at me, dragging three of the delectable delights through a ridiculously large mound of ranch dressing. Rolling my eyes, I spear a piece of lettuce, or what my father refers to as "rabbit food", on my fork and pretend, as I take a tiny bite, that I'm having the tastiest dining experience of my young life.
“Damnit, Alyssa, just take a French fry,” she states, with equals parts exasperation and amusement.
Now, I have often been told I should have focused my studies on something of a more theatrical nature than writing. I widen my eyes convincingly, sputter incoherent statements of denial, and, to put the cherry on top, I crank out a few well-placed tears. Which causes Missy, whom I often wonder why I am friends with, to laugh. Not just any laugh either, but her annoyingly obnoxious, squinty-eyed, louder-than-all-hell laugh. Which startles me so much, my tears stop completely. The moisture halfway down my face gets so frightened that it attempts to flow upward, back into my eye.

Monday, July 25, 2011

food for thought

Through the slits of my bedroom shades, I can see that my neighbor is enjoying an episode of The Simpsons. The television set has been on since 5:30 pm, alternating from cheesy sitcoms to obviously-rehearsed "reality" specials. And although I have two fans blasting cold air, the whirring hum reminding me of a landing helicopter, I can still faintly hear the pumping bass of the upstairs residents' blaring music. It's nearing 12:30 am.

I can't sleep. Not really because of these distractions, although they certainly aren't helping. A textbook over-thinker, I'm finding many things to ... over-think. The ever-looming uncertainty of the future, each day creeping closer and closer to the present, is daunting when I realize I don't have anything figured out.

Maybe I'll write a book. Well. Maybe not.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

real love

And every time I think of you, every time, I think of shadow puppets and how shadows aren't always something to fear. I'll just hold your shadow hands, unless they are already busy making me laugh. Yours are better than mine, and we laugh at how my animals don't look like animals at all, but hands trying to be animals. Why, your rabbit's head looks an awful lot like a human thumb, you laugh, rolling far from me on the bed so my retaliation is made that much harder. I punch you and challenge you to do better. With the crooked, sly grin I love, you twist and turn your fingers to create something a magician would crave to have in his show. I politely applaud, saying, ahh, but a rabbit, a rabbit, my love, that's the easiest trick in the book. So you nod, furrow your brow, and allow your hands to do the talking, creating both wild animals and gentle creatures, looking back at my face each time, assuring yourself of my approval. Unlike mine, yours look as if they could jump off the wall and onto the floor, and they sound as if, if provoked, they could growl and scratch and tear. But under your protection, I know I won't be devoured, by the darkness or the shadows or the hungry animals that aren't animals at all, but hands trying to be animals. I'm afraid of the dark, but, with you, the dark is afraid of me instead.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"hey, you still workin' at scrubway?"

I work at a place where hope goes to die. Or at least be shoved in the corner, beside dirty mopheads and overflowing garbage bags, for six to eight hours. I struggle with myself each time I pull into the parking lot, my mind working frantically, going through violent, heroic scenarios of me stomping into the shop, throwing down my uniform, and declaring my intentions to never return. Possibly throwing in a middle finger, maybe even two, depending on who was working that day. In these scenes, every single customer in the shop realizes (at the exact same moment, mind you) that they cannot possibly support an establishment that treats their employees with such disdain and disrepect; as one, they stand up, throw down their food, and follow me outside, into the glorious sunset. This is usually where the daydream ends. Because what could possibly happen after several strangers storm out of a sandwich shop, united for that one brief moment behind a disgruntled employee who may or may not have had just cause to create such a scene. Would they all grab a coffee together next door, to further discuss what had just happened? Or would they avoid eye contact, mumble something incoherent about an urgent appointment, and all wander off in the direction of their vehicles? You see where I'm going with this, why sometimes daydreams are better left inside your head.
Despite these dramatic ramblings, there is really nothing that terrible about my job. What truly scares me are the "lifers", those people who wake up each morning with tiny sparkles in their eyes, at the prospect of being able to make sandwiches for grumbling, overweight customers, day after day.
You should really meet Steven. I mean, you probably wouldn't want to. He likes to yell out, "Good teamwork, guys!" after a particularly good bout of...teamwork. I refuse when he offers me his hand for a high five. If a bag of black olives mysteriously goes missing, his voice gets low and grave, and I fear he may cry unless every last veggie is accounted for. The best conversation we ever shared involved cucumbers and how "fun" they are to prepare in the morning. My co-workers talk behind poor Steven's back, whispering about how they hid the olives behind the bread cabinet just to see his reaction, or how they can't wait until the day they get to quit, it will be soon, they hope, yeah, just after they graduate, then they'll never eat a Subway sandwich again. Steven terrifies me. Not in the way that when I see him coming, I cower and wait for him to pass. I mean, I'm afraid, someday, many years from now, I'll be making my young co-workers laugh behind my back at how enthusiastic I am about the tomato slicer.