Mini Post About Nothing #23: Some Things You Should See

This is going to be a very random post coming to you at a very random time, but there are two videos that I want to share with you. Two videos that I think everyone should see once in their lifetime. The first is amusing. The second is important (but also amusing.)


Even if you are not a fan of One Direction, this is funny. If nothing else, it’s self-deprecating as it mocks the sheer commercialism of the band. I think I laughed for a solid ten minutes after watching this. And then I watched it again.

#2: This video I think is extremely important. It’s about sex. But far more importantly, it’s about consent, and putting consent into terms that are both easily understandable and shockingly clear. If you are a teacher, a parent, or (as cases may have it) simply a good friend, you should spread this video like wildfire. So much of today’s problems come from ignorance and/or confusion. This video makes sure that there can be none of that, and that “oh, I didn’t know s/he didn’t want it” can’t be used as an excuse. It’s also funny as hell. I highly recommend taking a look!

What Have I Been Doing With My Life?

Ehem… Nothing.

That’s a lie– it’s been a lot of somethings, thus the not posting.

So, here it is:

I moved back into my on-campus dorm-apartment to begin training for my housing job (I work as a form of night security for the dorms on my campus) and have been spending 12 hours a day listening to people talk about how to do my job, how to be a good listener, etc. All very important things but all taxing when put one after another after another after another— you get it.

In the two weeks prior to me relocating my life back on campus, I was cramming in thesis research (which is really just me analyzing 6-7 novels in the children’s fantasy literature genre and making a shit ton of notes as well as finding scholarly articles and the like.)

I’ve also been pleasure reading various other books. If you like book recommendations, I will tell you that Sarah J. Maas’ book A Court of Thorns and Roses is very good. Fantasy is my favorite genre (if you couldn’t tell by my thesis topic) so I may be a little biased, but I honestly thought it was a very good read. The plot involves faeries but is quite different from any book I’ve ready in the past involving faeries (have to say they are usually not my favorite– like at all) but this one really grabbed my interest. Warning: the sequel doesn’t come out until next May, which is a super bummer because my friend who let me borrow the book didn’t tell me that until I was finished. You shouldn’t lead people on like that. It’s rude.

I actually got a chance to meet Sarah Maas at an author/book tour of Michigan a year or two ago (man, I can’t keep track of time) and she was super sweet. For that reason I emphasize that you should definitely check her and her books out. This is her second series, and I will be honest with you, I wasn’t too crazy about the first book in her first series, but since its publication and the 2-3 books following it in the series, she has been getting a lot of attention, so maybe I should try it again. Anyway, I can definitely see her growth as an author and it is very impressive to me, so if you like YA Fantasy, definitely give this girl a look.

I’m not going to be editing this post because I still have a ton of stuff to do tonight, the first of which is to take a shower because y’all I’m gross. I apologize now for the grammar issues I am sure this post is riddled with. I have had to press the space bar about a thousand times so far in this semi-short post which is typically not a good sign anyway. I’m also not wearing my glasses which is both strange and stupid because it could explain a lot of these errors, but I decided to do this in loo of taking my shower first, so I guess i just left them off and am only realizing it now.

Also sorry that this post is more like a stream of consciousness than a well thought out blog post. In the words of my boss: Awko Taco.

(I’m thinking I might just sign out with “M” from now on instead of saying Mel or Melanie. Just something I’m experimenting with. Will it stay? Who knows. I expect it will come and go with my mood. Might as well just keep with the theme of randomness in this post so far.)

Writing Prompts: “The Smell of Music” & “Five Easy Pieces”

The first of these prompts, “The Smell of Music,” is simple. Listen to a song you don’t know from a genre you do not (or rarely) listen to, and then write a response to it–prose, poem, or otherwise. I listened to a French “pop” song that I found on YouTube. I chose to write my response as a poem because it’s a form that I normally don’t use, and I thought it would be fun to experiment. (Is it successful–who knows?)

“The Smell of Music”

Song: Révolution by Benjamin Braxton

It tastes like semi-toxic bubbles,

the vibrating thrum of flashing lights,

and the smell of fermented wheat

seeping through the exposed, heated pores

of twenty-somethings.

It feels sticky

and sour like sweat,

freeing like brief carelessness,

and the people are smiling, hair whipping toward the ceiling,

strands sealing to damp foreheads.

The taste is foreign, new, unexpected—

escargot and strobe lights.


This second prompt, “Five Easy Pieces” by Richard Jackson, is a bit more difficult. In five lines (only!) you must: 1) Describe someone’s hands. 2) Describe what s/he is doing with her/his hands. 3) Use a metaphor to say something about a (exotic) place. 4) Mention something you want to ask this person (in the context of 2. and 3.) 5) The person looks up, notices you there, and says something, suggesting they only heard part of what you said.

I found this one to be pretty difficult because I’m not good at metaphors and this is a very small space in which to create a full image. Again, is it successful? I shrug. But here it is anyway!

“Five Easy Pieces” 

Chef Baudin’s right hand grips tightly to the handle of a hissing iron skillet, fingers bending sharply at the knuckles to keep the heated pan firmly in place. He flicks his wrist upward and the smoking bits of chicken and onion scatter in the air. The Vidalias are caramelizing, earthworms shrinking in the pan, seasoned with Herb de Provence and the memories of southern France when the irises are in full bloom. I wonder if that is where he fell in love with cooking, in his hometown of Nice, his nose nestled between cookbooks and fresh garden herbs. I do not realize I have said this aloud until his eyes blink up at me, hand still swirling the inhabitants of his skillet, and says “There weren’t many children my age in the village.”

Flash Fiction: Flipping Houses

It’s 1:30 AM and I can’t sleep. Probably because it’s 100 degrees in my bedroom and my parents refuse to turn the air conditioner any lower. That, and for some reason I keep thinking about ghosts. I mean, it’s too hot in my room to sleep with more than one blanket, but one blanket is too light and leaves me feeling exposed to all of the bogeymen. And, yeah, I know I’m way too old to be thinking like this, but I am not about to be one of those people in a horror film who has their leg sticking out and gets grabbed by a ghost. I am well-versed in horror and I am not about to be one of those dumb hats. No, thanks. I’m good.

So, instead, I thought this would be a good time to share more writing from class. Because why not?!


Flipping Houses

Five plastic cruise ship keycards, “Miss Beatrice Stills” scrawled across a picturesque view of the ocean—to remind you what you paid three year’s rent for. And to keep reminding you long after. Three postcards from Bluegrass hills and thoroughbred racers, flicking their tales absentmindedly in the summer heat, million-dollar-foals suckling in their mothers’ shade. One old schoolroom photograph, disinterested children, half smiling, and four student ID’s; each marking the passage of another year in faded smiles and purple and gold letters: Yellow jacket pride. A beaded snake, a participation medal, a name tag—years of summer camp memories in three easy pieces. They do not smell like horse manure or sulfur water or old leather tack. They do not taste like bonfires or s’mores or hot dog eat-outs on the Great Lawn. They do not sound like laughter or horse whinnies or whistle calls hidden in the thicket of the woods, calling all riders to attention. They are plastic, paper, disposable. There are three abused homecoming tickets, but only one of them cliché: “This is where your story begins, Homecoming 2009.” Ink and stale sweat. One old movie ticket to Horton Hears a Who in AMC salmon with fading type—Horto Hears a Wo—complete with a butter residue fingerprint on the upper right corner. Two senior wallet-sized photographs: mementos of friendships severed by diplomas and Pomp and Circumstance. Only one of them still speaks to me, only one of them is worth keeping, but I place them both in the box anyway.

My room smells of dusty cardboard, of the backroom at FedEx where these boxes must have been waiting, accumulating dust mites and false hopes for a set of contents worth the battering of the U.S. Postal Service. I feel sorry to disappoint them.

One tarnished star necklace with “forever” and a pale pink gemstone on its sickly green-gold exterior. A metallic smell rubs off on my thumb with some of the discolor. I remember the day I first put it on ten years ago; it gave me a rash.

The trash can is two feet away, cold, black plastic and a fresh-linen Febreze lining.

I slide the chain into a corner of the cardboard box.

A pair of lime-green mirror-dice go in next. Several of the white pips have ripped away from the fuzzy flesh over the years, forming a pair of unique five-and-a-half-sided die. I’ve owned a car for six years and they’ve never made it to their predestined place on the dashboard. I put them in the box too.

Then goes the pin—National Junior Honors Society—another participation medal, but this one means something: 10 hours of community service, one meeting per month for two years, and 20 hours of 7 a.m. boredom, of eye-tearing yawns, of monotonous voices, of passive participation. But it was all worth it: I got a pin.

The trash can leers at me. On the television, the overly enthusiastic announcer for HGTV is narrating a frightening turn of events on “Flip or Flop.” With over $50,000 sunk into a house renovation in Palm Springs and no money left to fix the pool, will this house be a flop?

The houses never flop. What’s a flop for a couple of millionaires anyway?

There is an award for studying French: a ribbon and a pin that both say “Je parle français!” These are for gratitude, not participation. For sticking it out when no one else would. Bon effort et bon chance avec ta vie! Even the students whose greatest achievement was the ability to make the correct choking sound when pronouncing their r’s received a ribbon.

I try not to put this one in the box.

I slide the trashcan forward and its plastic bottom skips over the surface of the wood, skidding with a thunk-thunk-thunk until it bounces against my knee. It would be so easy to make the mocking gold ribbon disappear in a hollow void of Febreze darkness. So easy to remove it from sight—to forget.

I slide it into the cardboard box when I am not looking.

On the television, the host looks relieved. “After three weeks on the market we finally received an offer on the house,” he says. “If this deal goes through, we stand to make a profit of over $73,000. Time to find another house to flip.”

Short Story: Lessons Learned

Another short story from my creative writing class! Enjoy :) Also, today marks my third year on WordPress! Hurray!


Lessons Learned

Miss Papperman’s School for the Gifted Elite was both opulent and terrible. Referred to as “the bastille” by the students who attended it—sons and daughters of government officials, politicians, lawyers, doctors, ambassadors, and heir apparents—it instilled terror in every child that approached its leaden oak doors—not because the students were terrible, of course; the students were quite bright.

For Emilia Summers, the faded taffy bricks and dilapidated shutters, black with wood rot and stinking of mold, were nothing more than another stop on a long list of places she would rather not be. An unfortunate consequence of orphanage.

Lilian squeezed her sister’s hand, petite, white-laced fingers pressing insistently against the calloused skin. “Do you think,” she squeaked, peaking up at the decrepit school through a veil of lashes, “we will be able to find a mother here?”

Emilia shook her head. “This is not that kind of place.”

“Oh.” Lilian nodded, blonde curls bouncing. It wasn’t another minute, however, before her voice was ringing out again. “What are we going to do here?”

“Learn lessons,” Emilia said, drawing her lower lip into her mouth and chewing gingerly on a corner—a gesture much older than her thirteen years. “Mathematics, sciences, history, and language skills; things like that.”

Lilian accepted this new information with reserved silence, neatly folding her hands in her lap as they waited. They were perched on a carriage bench just outside of the wrought iron gate that separated Miss Papperman’s academy from, well, everyone else. They had been waiting exactly twelve minutes—Emilia knew because she kept checking the old pocket watch that she had stolen from their last home with the Bittermans before, once again, they had been sent away—and yet there was no movement from the grounds. In fact, aside from the coachman and his skittering dapple mare who had dropped them off with one meager trunk between them (apparently this far into the countryside they did not believe in cars) Emilia couldn’t remember seeing another living being whatsoever.

“Are you sure they are expecting us?” This time Lilian’s voice was like a fading bell, not much higher than a whisper.

Emilia’s head tipped to the side as the biting of her lip grew more adamant. “The letter most definitely said April sixth at two p.m. sharp.”

“That is correct,” came a barbed voice behind them, interrupting the silence. A woman had appeared on the opposite side of the gate, though Emilia couldn’t remember seeing her approach. She had a sharp nose that jutted away from her face and hooked at the end like a beak. Her shriveled lips pinched into a thin, bloodless line, emphasizing the paleness of her complexion and the large scale of her other features.

“I am Miss Papperman,” she snapped. “You are Emilia and Lilian Summers?” She didn’t wait for a response before spinning briskly on the soles of her feet, her gray carpet-dress swaying as much as the overly starched fabric would allow. “Follow me.”

*          *          *

There was a pond on the farthest corner of the school grounds, one that could not be seen from the windows of Miss Papperman’s office-apartment. It was tucked into the corner of the fence that surrounded the academy—red bricks ten feet high, the color of the school before one hundred years of weathering—protected by overgrowth and clinging ivy. The pond’s surface was mossy, smelling of greenery, fish corpses, and still water. The shadowy figure of what could have been a carp meandered close to the surface, bobbing just below the water’s edge, and disappearing back into the murk before Emilia could tell for certain. She wasn’t sure why she thought it was a carp, except that every time Mr. Bitterman had returned from his fishing-hole, weary and stinking of fish guts, he would always mention carp. If he was bustling and tart it was because only carp were biting that day.  If he arrived at the house whistling “Daisy Bell” it was because the snappers were biting, or maybe the bass—as long as it wasn’t the carp.

Looking around, Emilia sighed. This was definitely a carp kind of place.

“You really shouldn’t be sneaking off on your own,” a voice said. He stepped forward from behind a cluster of undergrowth, wild grasses extra high near the brick wall. All five feet and six inches of him, his arms crossed over the chest of his uniform, creating wrinkles, a sneer on his lips.

She recognized him from her class—the fifth years—Daniel McGuill, governor’s son.

“What do you want?” Her voice was firm and his eyes widened in surprise. She hadn’t meant to be so forceful but she didn’t regret it. He was always leering at her from the other side of the classroom, through the clouds of chalk dust between instructors as the class president swiped away the history of the Opium Wars or several half-attempted solutions using the Pythagorean Theorem from the board. It had only been three days, but Emilia was already used to the stares, not just from Daniel but from almost everyone; some curious, most spiteful. She was one of the orphans, one of the two students who definitely didn’t belong. A charity case.

He brushed off the surprise of her last comment with a shrug, though he refused to answer, trudging forward and toeing at a pile of dirt clotted near the edge of the pond. He kicked it into the water, breaking the surface with a hollow plunk and agitated ripples, and the shapes beneath darted away. “How did you find this place, anyway?”

“I walked,” Emilia said simply, pursing her lips and brushing damp palms against the edges of her hand-me-down navy skirt, left behind at the academy by a past graduate. Emilia imagined that the girl, whoever she was, now lived as a farmer’s wife, enjoying the quaint solitude of milking cows in the morning, or as the mistress to Leonardo DeVelli, Magic Man Extraordinaire! Touring the globe and astounding the mind! Leaving Miss Papperman’s School for the Gifted Elite far behind her.

“What are you doing here?” she asked as a way to break the silence, though she didn’t much care. She just wished he would leave.

Daniel McGuill had dark, untrustworthy eyes. Emilia had decided that the first time she saw him. His eyes had glinted as she passed him in the hall outside of the history classroom, scrutinizing her. And when he had turned away to whisper something in a friend’s ear, resulting in a snicker in her direction, she had been quite certain she could never trust him. Now, watching him brush a hand through his hair—an unsuccessful attempt at nonchalance—she was sure of it. “I wasn’t going to,” he said at last, taking a step toward her, and she found herself with her back to the water’s edge. “But then I realized I was the only one who saw you leave the classroom, and I thought this would be a wasted opportunity if I did not—” He paused. “—invest quickly.” Words he had heard from his father, no doubt, Emilia thought as he took another step forward—the last step—closing the space between them.

Her stomach clenched and she leaned away, nose crinkling from the over-pungent smell of moss. She squared her hips above the soft earth, boots sinking a centimeter or two into the water-logged ground.

Daniel’s voice was lower when he spoke next and he leaned so far forward she felt the heat of his breath brush across her chin, humid and smelling of strawberry tart. “It is very important that you follow the rules here. Rules are meant to keep things in place. Including people.” When he pulled back his dark eyes glinted. “Know yours.”

The force of his shove was even stronger than she had anticipated and she sensed the loss of traction before she felt it; boots sliding, skirt lifting, arms flailing—


Submerged beneath the murky water, lungs tight in her chest, clamoring for air, she felt something brush against the back of her hand—then two somethings. It wasn’t long before the shadows she had seen beneath the water were swarming around her. She lunged for the surface, spluttering as she choked on water that was forcing its way down her throat.

The pond was shallow enough that she could stand once she’d managed her footing, and stockinged thighs protruded from the water just beneath her water-logged skirt. Emilia glanced to the edge of the pond but Daniel was gone. She imagined him staying for the splash and then leaving with a satisfied grin.

Her shoes were heavy, suctioning into the muddy bed of the pond as she trudged toward shore, stopping only when a jerking movement in her skirt pocket startled her. Her prodding fingers were hesitant as she lowered her hand to remove whatever it was inside. She winced when she wrapped her fingers around a slick object that lurched when she touched it. Collecting her breath—and wishing it was as easy to gather bravery—she pulled the thing away from her.

In her hand, floundering, its red-brown scales flashing beneath the sun, was a carp.

Flash Fiction: A Celebration at Holly Lake

I recently shared a small piece of writing- here -that I did in my creative writing course this summer. Here is the full, finished short story (although it’s definitely more of a flash-fiction piece).

A Celebration at Holly Lake

Tic-tic-plume. Tic-tic-tic-plume.

Skipping rocks dive underwater, upsetting thick layers of fleshy moss as they sink past. He fondles a stone between his fingers and some of the cruor brushes onto the slick gray surface. Except for the ripples left in the wake of the stones, the lake does not move. Nothing breathes. Not even the wind.

He turns the blemished rock over in his palm and squeezes it, enclosing it in his fist. Skin stretches white over his knuckles. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones—’ the singsong reverberates through the aspens, leaves shivering. He coughs a laugh, digging a nail into the crusted red on his sleeve. Chips of dirt flake off with the blood. He is tempted to remove the jacket—faded tweed and threadbare edges—to fill the pockets with rocks and sink it into the depths.

Sticks and stones. Broken bones.

His fist tightens. The muscles in his jaw contract. He grinds his teeth.

Beside him the woman lays sprawled, lovely, over a sheer piece of table linen. The fingers of her right hand brush the stem of a rose-colored glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, cracked along the rim in a way that adds character, he thinks, next to which lies an assortment of cheeses. Perhaps on a nicer day the spread would appear colorful, smelling of age and a hint of higher class. Today it is gray and odorless.

The woman’s eyelids, thin and veiny and nearly translucent, shield her irises and dilated pupils. He can almost remember their color. Was it blue, delicate like forget-me-nots, or the tint of the gray-green lake?

With a flick of his wrist he tosses the rock into the shallows, listening for the plunk. He imagines it settling into the suctioning mud of the lakebed, camouflaged. He steels his eyes toward the woman. Her lips, a hushed almost-pink, like they struggle to remember color, curl upward. Looking down at his sleeve of stained tweed, he sighs and meets her smile.

The love line from his palm is reflected on the flesh of her throat, surrounded by an elegant band of ruby and adorned with a smattering of purples, blues, and blacks. He could not afford diamonds. This, he thought, was much nicer.

He settles on the damp earth beside her, toying with the tablecloth between his right thumb and forefinger. He reaches toward the soft layers of auburn hanging delicately from her shoulders and draping over a set of scattered china plates and cutlery, chipped and abandoned by the cheeses. She leaves the loose items otherwise undisturbed.

“This was a good idea,” he says, running the tip of his thumb over the shell of her exposed ear. “I’m glad we came here.”

There is no response and he shifts to the side, lying on his back and staring at the expanse of gray above them. Huffing impatiently, his hand searches blindly for chilled skin and frail fingers, and he grips them tightly. Something hard presses into the tight crevice between his third and fourth fingers, and he feels the half-moon indent that it leaves behind. He drags his thumb over the back of her red-scabbed knuckles until he reaches the stone there—ten carats with lackluster shine. It reminds him of a face, a lawyer dapper in a maroon suit and black silk pocket square. A face like a stone.

He tugs the ring from her finger, perhaps a little too roughly, her knuckles cracking with the pressure, but she does not open her eyes. Instead she lays there, like she has always laid there: unwilling, unresponsive. He opens his mouth to speak and closes it with a snap, but not before biting into the soft flesh of his tongue. Blood fills his mouth and he winces as he shifts to his feet, ring in hand, and sidles to the water’s edge.

Sticks and stones.

Mansions and diamonds.

Things that do not belong to him.

He throws the ring. Tic-tic-tic-plume. The water ripples, submerging the small stone like all of the other rocks that rest in the lakebed.

He brushes his hands on his pants and sits beside her again. Grinning, he takes a piece of cheese from the platter. Bringing it to his lips, he sniffs: aged cheddar. He leans back, satisfied, and takes a bite.

“Happy anniversary, my love.”

To Me, Who Thought Poetry Was Hard: It Is

The following two poems came from prompts in my creative writing class. The first prompt is extremely simple: begin or end your poem with a specific number of “things”–what those things are is up to you. The second prompt is a little more complicated (but I”m going to simplify it here): tour someone around a town; it can be a town you know or one you have made up in your head; the person you are touring knows you very well, so they will be lenient with any digressions you may make mid-tour.

Poetry is not my forte.

This is what I came up with. Please go easy on me!

Also, the spacing keeps getting messed up as I send this post to publish, so as it stands (until I can figure out why) there is no spacing within the poems. The first one is only one stanza, but the second one has multiple, so we’ll see if I can make this computer dohickey thingy-ma-bobber work for me, huh?

#1: Three Black Bears 

My grandfather—

native to the bluegrass hills

of Kentucky,

riverside of the concrete Paradise—

unearthed three black bears in the coal mines.

The beasts were hulking, sooty, and chafed with mange;

stifled with rancor and smoker’s cough.

Black Lung, he said.

Enemies of Smokey the icon and hard hats.

They were the starters of fires:

little bits of cinder and flame with

hands balled into fists.

They speared them with pick-axes

and choked them with dioxide.

The cannery froze,

toppled in its cage,

and the mine sighed,

entombing them in stone.

#2: An Informational Tour of Redrock by a Relocated Petoskey Real Estate Agent

This is Redrock.


Those fences there—


cultivated cedar,

smelling like fresh paint—

those are Petoskey.

This is Redrock.


That barber shop with

red and blue striped


is owned by a man named

George Hermer.

I met him yesterday.

The bookstore, Halfway to Narnia,

has three owners:

Brenda, Brenda’s Daughter,

and Mr. Pickles.

He’s a Boston Terrier.

He signed the deed of the store with his paw

in purple ink.

I met them yesterday too.


See that bench there?

The one next to the lake—

this lake?

It’s painted white to match

the other benches.

That is Petoskey.

This manhole here—

this is Redrock.


That little girl,



pink Barbie tutu,

standing next to City Hall,

she is Redrock.


But she lives in Petoskey.


The docks

over there

beneath the red arch—

the ones with sailboats tilting

back and forth

in the reflected sky—

those are not Petoskey.

I’m not sure what those are.


This road,

this road that you’re standing on

is new.

This road is fresh tar

and yellow lines.

Guardrails and light reflectors.

You can take it to Petoskey.

You can take it to the Rocky Mountains

and pine trees dusted with snow.

You can take it to the Painted Desert

with its parched, orange sands.

You can take it to the Land of the Free

and the Home of the Brave.

But this, here,


this is Redrock.