Tag Archive | college

Miss You, Love

Our talk turns to crushes. “I just miss that feeling, you know?” I say. “Like when you’re just so alive that even when it hurts you’re just glad you can feel. I miss the excitement.”

Jillian says, “My friend Emily calls it the ketchup phase.”

“Catching up with what?” I ask, uncertain.

“Well, because it’s like, when you first fall for someone, they’re all you think about. No matter what the subject, it reminds you of them. Someone could say, ‘pass the ketchup,’ and your first thought is, oh wow, my guy likes ketchup too.”

I sigh. “Yes, that’s what I miss, the ketchup phase. I hope I’m not too old or numb.”

~~~

A tiny little conversational snippet from Moonchild. It took place almost fifteen (!!!) years ago, this talk, but the funny thing is that I feel a little bit of that at the current moment, too. And wow, the topic of passion, in so many different forms, keeps coming up in the manuscript. It may be more of an underlying theme in Moonchild than I realized.

Check out other Samples, Published and Early Work!

~EJ

When You’re Eighteen with Crippling Writers Block, Music Can Set You Free

EMindexInstead of sitting down to absorb the album, I let it trickle in, play it over and over while I read my astronomy textbook, when I doodle in my journal hoping to come up with story ideas for my creative writing class, when I’m on the phone, when I’m reading books and when Jillian comes over to chill.

One night I sit on my inflatable chair writing away in my journal with half my mind on the page and half with the music. As I try to think up story ideas, a song called “Moonchild” starts, launching me into the ether in its intro. Something about the words, the singing, though I don’t know it by heart yet, makes me feel at all like my old vibrant self, or at least its shadow. By the time I get to the bridge, the song stops me in my tracks, using my foot absentmindedly against my bed to rock my chair. I have the seed of a story idea.

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When You’re Eighteen with Crippling Writer’s Block and Rehashing Old Relationships

writers-block21I try to have crushes, because it’s one thing I’ve always done without much prompting, and if my most recent breakup shut me down, then what better than infatuation to open me back up. I don’t care if I get burned. In fact it might be better that way.

I rehash all the things I told myself when Nick and I started going out. I thought then that I was enlightened, that all my previous pain was acceptable because it helped me get to that precious present moment. Nick was very practical. When I had problems with my parents—which I wasn’t supposed to have because I was enlightened, but which I did, because I always did, and because I was a teenager and they still treated me like I was twelve—we approached it in very rational, spiritually advanced ways. I wasn’t supposed to get mad, or let it bother me much or dare dwell on it, Nick kept reminding me.

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Icebreakers

whirlwind-passion-neil-shapiroMy friends and I hang out in Stacy’s room and read from a questions book meant to give interesting topics to discuss at parties, to get to know other people better than those icebreaker games during orientation.

“Okay,” I say, flipping through the book. “Would you rather live a life that’s simple, safe and secure or one full of adventure and passion, with high highs and low lows?”

“I’d vote for the latter,” says Jillian.

“I don’t know that there’s a such thing as a simple and secure life,” says John. “I mean I think they’re getting at the whole like, house with kids and a dog, but I think that’s a pretty unsafe, insecure, exciting life too. Anything could happen even in that situation.”

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Crabby Girl

crabindexOne night in early September, there’s a crab feast in the cafeteria for dinner. Everyone’s so excited, especially the students from Maryland. I’ve never had crab before. John, sitting next to me, demonstrates for all of us. He whacks his crab a few times with a mallot, and then pulls the crab apart. I watch closely but can’t see how he knows what’s the meat and what’s pieces of bone or innards. It looks like brain surgery.

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Writers at Sunset on the Eve of College

marylandsunsetindexWe go back to the outdoor school for dinner, then they drive us all to the beach for the evening. I hang out on a towel on the sand and watch a fiery, cloud-filled sunset with Jen and Christina, two writers who live in a dorm by the Lit House. The Lit House is a special building on campus for all the English majors to have meetings, workshops and readings. Most of our Sophie Kerr weekend events took place there.

“Are either of you taking the freshman creative writing class?” I ask.

“I am,“ says Christina. She has long straight dark blond hair, and wears a beanie. She’s small, one of those small people like my mother who carries a big voice.

“Cool,” I say, flexing my toes and watching a cloud fill with red like a pen burst inside it. “Me too.”

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She’s a Girl Rising From a Shell: A Memoir Chapter

So today, I’m giving you a full chapter from my memoir Moonchild. Now, this is actually up on this site but almost no one has found it, so I’m just pulling it out of hiding. Link is at the bottom of the post.

Another interesting tidbit: Seven years ago, I did a full-length spoken word performance show thingy-dingy and this was the first piece I read at the show. The other day, while on a rampage looking for the earliest version of my manuscript, I came across the recordings from that show. So I am toying with the idea of putting the audio up with the chapter. I don’t know. It has people’s real names. And whenever I hear my recorded voice, I sound like a twelve-year-old with a cold. But I’ll let you decide, should I include audio or no?

All the chapter titles from this book are lyrics from songs. This one comes from the song “Ribbons Undone” by Tori Amos, on her 2005 CD, The Beekeeper. I wrote this piece during that spring, with that album infusing into every corner of my life. At the time, I was about to leave Camp Orkila, where I had lived and worked for more than two years, and my brother was about to graduate college and my sister was about to graduate high school. The theme of graduation kept playing through my mind and it just felt like I was coming to the end of a journey that had started when I first left for college, which is what this chapter is about.

It was one of those things where you look back at the beginning of something and ask yourself, if you had ANY clue where it all would lead, would you do it over again? I was looking back at a time of innocence, of blissfully not knowing what that journey would entail, so this song, where Tori looks at her young daughter starting out on life journeys, just completely resonated with me at the time I was writing and the time I was writing about. It’s a really sweet song and if I’m feeling especially sentimental, it will totally make me cry. I’m a sap like that.

Another cool tidbit: About a year after I wrote the piece, I woke up one morning, way too early, to the sound of my ringing phone. Who the f was calling me at 6 in the morning? It was Tori Amos’ dad, calling from Maryland (where this story mostly takes place) to give me permission to use the lyrics. He also told me I should change the name of my book (which I did, back then it was called Learning to Swim, which is now a tattoo rather than a book title). Anyway, I always thought that was kinda cool.

BUT ENOUGH OF THIS BLATHERING. Here it is:

She’s A Girl Rising From a Shell

I decided to go with the audio addition, so here it is:

Now I’m going to go back to editing this same book manuscript, and listening to Rihanna. For real yo. Cannot even believe I’m fessing up to that but yeah, I kinda can’t get enough of a certain song. Have a good weekend everyone!

~Emilia J