Thursday, December 10, 2009

ghost adventures

At the tender age of six, I was prone to believe everything my 8-year-old sister told me. So when she stated, with round, sincere eyes, that the ghost of a Civil War veteran had a deadly grudge against me, I believed her. No questions asked.
Needless to say, with a homicidal spirit roaming the upstairs, I chose to spend as little time there as possible. But, when the occasional need arose for me to visit my small bedroom, I would dash like an Olympic sprinter up the stairs, around the corner to my room, and back down again. And for a little girl with a tendency to trip on anything, many times over her own fumbling feet, these were always stressful missions. Missions I was willing to attempt, with a brave, self-sacrificing nod, if my best friend, Colorful Bear, was in jeopardy.
It never seemed to register that my sister was always lurking somewhere nearby, stifling her maniacal laughter with a well-placed hand.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

paperback writer

I tell people that I'm a writer, but that's an empty statement. I love to write, I really do, but I know nothing will ever come of it. That's why I'm stuck in a major I have no passion for, sitting through classes that make me want to shoot up Harvey Hall, preparing for a career that will drive me insane. I mentally train myself to perk up when I think of my future prospects, telling myself that I'll find an internship and a job that will suit me, then, eventually, but not really ever, moving on to something I truly love. Just writing to make a living. Writing what, I've no idea.

Maybe I'll write a smut novel. My best friend and I enjoyed the selection Wal Mart had to offer.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I shut the lights off, closed the blinds, and covered my eyes with my hands. I laughed to myself, pretending someone was behind me, pretending my hands were theirs and we were playing "Guess Who?" I sat this way for a long time, allowing myself to take everything in. The shitty music from across the street, the shallow babble of three girls below my window, the shockingly loud rumble of yet another motorbike making its way down my street. I open my eyes again, feeling, but not really feeling, my pupils contract, and I allow myself to take everything in. An employee handbook for a sandwich shop, an unopened book on web design, a crinkled receipt from an expensive coffee place. Sometimes it amazes me how disconnected I feel from my surroundings. It's at times like these, when my belly cries out to me for food and my mind screams at me to GET OUT, that I calmly sit down at my computer and share this with you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

childhood fantasies

There's something magical about getting lost in a story. When I was a little girl, I would take every storybook off my tiny shelf, set them in a tidy stack upon the floor, and carefully spread them around me in a circle. I was literally in the middle of a sea of books, a flood of words that could take me anywhere I wished. I spent hours hiding behind the pages, never moving or making a sound, a trait normally found in older children. Hours happily spent with mermaids and dragons, and birds who could not only sing beautifully, but talk, and share memories and tales of different times.

I really miss that. I miss reading something purely for myself, selfishly hoarding my characters and claiming them as friends. Now it seems that everything must serve a purpose. I feel trapped within the confines of reality, and I wish I could go back to when my life was driven by passion and nonsense and fantasy. I still find myself drifting away every once in awhile, happily allowing myself to leave behind the mundane and ordinary life I lead, and sail, once again, on an ocean of neverending possibilities.

Friday, June 26, 2009

economic climate

I passed by a man today, a well-dressed man with a sad face, holding up a sign. A sign pleading for economic relief. I've passed by this man before. I pass by this man every day on my way to work. And it's a sight I never get used to, a sight my heart refuses to accept, but can't ignore. As usual, I averted my eyes, busied my hands, or pretended to notice something interesting in the opposite direction. And, as usual, I felt a strange mixture of shame and pity and anger, both at myself and at this sign-bearing stranger. In the brief two-minute interval between my encounter with the man, stepping out of my car, and walking into work, my mind is always fixed on his story. Every day, I write a personal history for this person I've never met. On bright days, when my spirits are lifted, the man's past is filled with laughter and light and splashes of color. On rainy days, when I'm feeling low, the man's past is riddled with depression and loss and bad luck.

I wonder what led this man, who probably has a wife and kids and friends, people who love and respect him, to peddle for petty cash on a street corner by a fast food joint. I doubt I'll ever have the courage to ask him. So, for now, I'm doomed to write his past for him, and he's doomed to accept that.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I think there is something wrong with the ol' ticker. Physically and otherwise. My heart does these strange sort of gymnastics moves sometimes, while other times I wonder if it will just simply stop. I'd probably be in the middle of handing a customer her receipt or something, when suddenly...nothing. "Would you like your receipt with you or in....?" And then I'd fall over. Probably crash into some display on my way down, as well. I'm sure, even in death, my clumsiness will find a way to fuck things up. I wonder what that unlucky customer would do. Having witnessed the level of intelligence of hundreds of eerily similar coupon-toting, sweater-set wearing shoppers, she'd probably be left wondering how I was going to finish my sentence.

I just noticed something. I had every intention of pouring my heart into the empty white space of this little rectangle, but, as always, I've come across as a smartass.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

baby, we'll be fine

Two of the greatest people in the world, and I'm lucky enough to call both of them friends. And facing the dismal prospect of not seeing either of them very often over the summer. And them facing the even more dismal prospect of not seeing one another very often over the summer. My ability to emphathize overwhelms me sometimes. Gah, don't look at me, there's just dust or something in my eye.

Monday, May 11, 2009

sunflower seeds

I'll be able to walk, barefoot, through my forest of sunflowers, marveling at these towers of green and yellow and brown, smiling at how insignificant I am compared to such beauty. I'll be able to lie down in my forest of sunflowers, gaze up at the sky, the blue sky, and laugh as my monstrous sunflowers block out the very thing they are named after. No need for shade trees. I'll be able to sleep in my forest of sunflowers, unafraid of nightmares, nightmares of loss and sadness and darkness, for such things would surely perish in the face of such light and simplicity. I'll be able to daydream in my forest of sunflowers, and as I dream, my mind will be clear of anything that takes away from the happiness of such a moment. I will think of the person who gave me this forest of sunflowers, and wonder at what I'd ever done to deserve such kindness.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


What if there were magnets in everyone's hearts. And if you got too near your soul mate, or they got too near you, or you got too near one another, you'd fly right into each other's arms. Picture New York City. No, picture New York City on Valentine's Day. There would be more people zooming around the crowded streets than taxicabs. And everyone would be smiling. Even the people who weren't fortunate enough to find their soul mates on that particular day, for they would see the promise and the hope, the promise and the hope literally flying around them. They would feel it rushing past them--the tornado of newly united lovers--in the whirl of a young woman's skirt, in the whip of a businessman's tie. And imagine the moisture in the air, of coffee and cappuccinos and mocha lattes, milk and chocolate and vanilla all thrown carelessly up toward the sky, for the jolt from the magnetic heartstrings doesn't allow time to set things down. Imagine that. How wonderful. For those who are lucky enough to have already found their soul mates, they would look upon this wild scene, nod their wise heads, and smile. They remember what it felt like to defy gravity, to fly over the bewildered heads of the cynical and the hopeless, and land safely and gently, into the arms of a familiar stranger. And they remember knowing, without the shadow of a doubt or the luxury of memory, that this person was going to be significant.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

oh well, what the hell

This is the situation, and I get a sort of twisted pleasure every time I dream about it: I'm driving, and I must be on my way to Stout, for the railroad tracks are an exact likeness to the ones that cross that particular path.
I'm listening, loudly, to "Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl." This is a particularly important song to me, for it evokes a memory inside of me, a memory both sweet and heart-crushingly sad in nature. It's the day after Luke's funeral, and Missy and I are in Sam's bedroom, just about to drive back to school. Sam puts this song on, and we lay back on his bed, holding hands, with Missy in the middle, as usual. And this song plays, mixing the emotion of the lyrics and rhythm of the music with the emotion of our hearts and the rhythm of our breathing. Looking back on this moment, it's surprising how much I felt and how much I remember, for the moment ended with the last breath of the song. I remember a deep sense of calm, a true calm, not like the facade I'd been putting on all weekend. And I remember thinking about Luke, of course. Thinking about his goofy giggle and his startling, profound presence. I think it was easier to think about him, with Missy and Sam right beside me, instead of alone. That's what that one song means to me. That's why it is so important that it's the song that's playing. I just thought you should know that.
As I near the tracks, I notice three seemingly important, but rather unsignificant, things. I notice that a train is coming, so close I could probably see the conductor's panic-stricken face, if I had wanted. I notice that I'm wearing the simple, blue bracelet Sam's mom made for me. I notice that my brakes are out. How symbolic. And then, in true McWatt fashion, as I realize I'm fucked, I'm thinking, "Oh well, what the hell."
It's a fantasy of my own death, written and choreographed by me. It's almost amusing: the brakes on my car have a habit of stopping only when they feel like, so it's even plausible. My dad keeps planning on fixing them, saying, "Oh sure, hon, first priority when you're home for the summer." As he cracks open a cold one and sinks into the couch to watch highlights of some already-forgotten basketball or football or whatsitball game. I wonder if I should tell him not to fix my brakes, tell him I need them to go out, tell him it's my time, tell him how poetic that death would be. But no, he wouldn't understand. I don't even understand. I wonder how that conversation would go. He would probably look at me like I was crazy, like my family often does, yell something incoherent about baseball and the American Dream, and run off, leaving me to fix the brakes myself. Thanks, dad.
But, really, I don't want my life to end quite yet. As of late, I've been strangely happy. Even though I am discontent with my location, will soon be swarmed with bills, and I'm missing someone terribly. Yeah, I'm still happy. No sarcasm.
And it's not like I'm going to drive about hoping for a train to cross my path. I'm not going to drive without a particular reason. Gas is too expensive.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

prometheus entry. 2nd place. whaddya know.

Eating dinner with my family is a lot like falling into a sitcom with bad writers. You desperately want to change the channel, but the remote is too far away and you're too lazy to get up. This is what I was thinking, through the narrowed eyes I always get when I'm deep in thought, when my mother's shrill voice snapped me out of my reverie.
"Steve," she suddenly shot. My head jerked up, revealing to my wondering eyes a scene I'd witnessed many times before: my mother, a gentle-hearted woman with a beautiful and enduring soul, glaring daggers at my father. Not at my father, even. At his ear.
"What, hon?" My dad casually answered back, with a mouth filled to bursting point with carrots and pork chops. Growing up with eight other siblings, my father has perfected the Schulte tradition of "grab 'n' shove."
"You have potatoes behind your ear," my mother exclaimed, in a voice thick with disbelief and disapproval.
"Well," he grinned, his brilliant blue eyes crinkled in amusement, "whaddya know?"
As soon as I saw the corners of his chapped lips twitch, I knew my dad wasn't about to let his children leave the table without a show. We had been, were, and always will be, his favorite audience. And, although we would never admit it, he had been, was, and always will be, our favorite performer.
He extended his pinky finger, as if he were a British royal sipping tea, and swiftly removed the white mush from behind his near-deaf ear. Wracked with silent giggles, my sister and I spurred our hero on with jerky head nods and winks of support.
"Steve, don't you dare," my mother warned, raising her utensil as if it were a weapon, as if she could somehow "fork" her husband into behaving as the head of the household should. But it was too late. It always had been.
We watched-my scowling mother, my awed brother, my laughing sister, and myself-as my dad, the biggest ham you will ever meet, raised his pinky to his lips and dropped the mush into his awaiting mouth.
Amidst his children's applause and his wife's playful nagging, my dad smiled and scooped more potatoes onto his plate.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

frightening lives

My lack of interest in...everything has reached an all-time high. I don't want to see people, I don't want to go out, I don't want to do anything. I want to sleep until the world fails.

I had an interesting conversation with my mother today. I told her I was tired, that I wanted to nap, and she exclaimed, "You're nineteen! Why on earth are you tired?" (Cue my bored answer and the tiny click! of me hanging up.)

I'm tired, mom, because there is nothing that I want to get out of bed for. Does she really expect me to jump up in the morning with a smile on my go to an 8 a.m. physics lab? I refuse to waste my excitement on something that drains the life out of me. Ah well.

Wouldn't it be just wonderful if, somehow, the world that's inside your head, that marvelous place of no responsibility and passion and wide-eyed innocence, that forgotten dream of wonderment and creation, that out of reach fairytale of life and beauty, jumped off the pages and became real? If that was the world that was awaiting beyond the confines of my small, modest bed, well, I'd gladly wipe the muck out of my eyes and dance my way through the day, no matter how early the sun chose to rise. But, instead, I look out my window and see what really is waiting for me. And what I see does not impress. What I see is like a needle to my fantasy balloon. POP! It's gone.

And my bed looks awfully comfortable.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It is a year to the day since someone very dear to me took his own life. God, that's weird to say aloud.

You know, I've never enjoyed Valentine's Day. But it was in more of a humorous manner, you know? Jokingly coloring pink hearts black, drawing "X's" in Cupid's eyes, that sort of thing. Now, however, this day of love has taken on a whole new meaning.

On a day when happy couples are swapping spit and candy hearts, I am sitting here remembering. I'm remembering, in the most lovely and heartwrenching way, how much this person meant to me. And to my two best friends. I'm remembering his goofy grin and his gentle heart. And, although tears were shed today, right now I'm smiling, because I'm picturing this person crashing into a room, with a beaming face and a handful of movies. And I'm remembering, hearing, now with a fresh wave of sadness, his footsteps as he crosses the room with his fuzzy red blanket, and I'm feeling, now with a smile on my face, as he softly tucks the blanket around me, doing all he can not to wake me.

One year ago, my best friend and I were driving from college back to our hometown. One year ago, we saw the sign for La Crescent and both started crying. One year ago, upon seeing that normal sign, a sign I see nearly every day when I'm home, everything became real. Luke was gone. And, one year ago today, he still is.

I miss you, Luke, every day I miss you. You cannot possibly imagine how much your short, sweet presence in my life changed me, for the better.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

in the park, under a tree, talking to a spider

I've got music in my pocket, a pen in my hand, and a book under my arm. It's a good day. Probably one of the last perfect days before winter hits. You know when you are feeling so lost and so irritable that you just need to walk away from it all for awhile? That's what today is. Sometimes the only cure for depression is sitting under a shade tree listening to Broken Social Scene. I wish I had found this spot earlier in the year. But, no matter, I have it now. It's kind of like making a new friend, except it doesn't end in disappointment. (There's a spider on my book. I didn't expect him to have such good taste in literature.)