Here I present my case that I can sometimes write stuff with substance.
A Short Story with Substance (or Something)
Yeah I’m done.
No baby don’t do this.
No stop. I’ve been patient with you long enough. I can’t keep going on like this.
Please. Let’s talk this out.
No there’s been enough talking. There’s been enough eating—
Wait what do you mean eating?
You know exactly what I mean eating. Don’t pretend you don’t.
No baby I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why are you so upset?
You know exactly what you did. And I know exactly what you did. Don’t pretend like I didn’t see you two nights ago eating those chicken nuggets.
Wait I can explain—
There is nothing to explain. You ate those chicken nuggets and betrayed me.
Stop that’s not fair.
You betrayed me and my family.
Baby stop. I can explain.
No, you listen to me. What you did last night eating those… Eating those chicken—I can barely say it—eating those chicken nuggets was an act of betrayal.
Baby listen for one minute.
I’m done listening! It’s over.
No wait. I didn’t mean any harm to you or your family. I know your dad means the world to you and I respect him—
Respect?! Please! You know my daddy is the CEO of Chicken Tenders International and what you did—
Stop please listen! Your dad is an inspiration to me. He’s fought his way to the top of the chicken snack ladder and has built an unstoppable chicken tender empire. Eating those chicken nuggets was in no way supposed to be an attack on your family. Chicken tenders are incredible, but sometimes, you know, you just want to eat chicken that’s a bit shorter and—
No I’ve heard enough! You know I love you, but what you did is unforgivable. You’ve shattered my heart into a million pieces and I don’t think I have the power nor patience in me to reassemble them on a kitchen table and then Mod Podge it all back together. It’s over. Goodbye Daniel.
The woman turns toward the camera. The director smiles at her.
Great job. You’ll have an Oscar in no time.
I can be serious sometimes.
A young boy no older than twelve sits on a bus at a station. Sitting behind him is a foreigner. Outside the widow are presumably the boy’s parents and younger sister. The boy’s backpack and durable clothing suggest he’s leaving for a retreat or camp of some kind. The pack’s modest size suggests he likely won’t be gone for more than a few days. With a gentle smile, his mother reaches up to the glass to say goodbye to her son. The foreigner notices and watches discretely. The mother has tears in her eyes.
On February 22, 1948, a large parade marches down the streets of Prague. The procession consists of Communist action committee members. A civil war looks imminent. Three days later, President Edvard Beneš appoints a new government in accordance with the demands of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
I step onto the bus, a foreigner. The driver’s terse request for a ticket no longer comes as a surprise. I’ve been in the country for two weeks now, and I’m still trying to understand the Czechs. Hailing from the land of hi-how-are-you, I find Czech mannerisms to come off quite cold. Not a refreshing cold, giving relief on a scorching summer day like today, but an iceberg cold that says if you get too close I will sink you. If you stay away, there will be no problems. I am a Christian missionary.
On March 10, 1948, the body of Jan Masaryk, the last non-Communist government leader, is found in the Foreign Ministry courtyard beneath a window of his apartment.
The tears are a surprise. No, not a surprise. More an anomaly, in the foreigner’s mind. For years, these tears could only be shed behind closed doors with close loved ones. The outside required a face of strength, resilience. Never weakness. Never resistance. For many, showing no emotion became the most effective method to face the collective nightmare. The foreigner feels he should look away. But then he notices the father. The father fights to hold back signs of the fatherly pride—and possibly the fatherly sorrow—he feels in watching his son go. But his eyes, too, betray him.
On January 16, 1969, 20-year-old student Jan Palach protests the lack of freedoms and the passivity of the citizens by setting fire to himself in downtown Prague’s Wenceslas Square. He dies three days later from the third-degree burns covering 85 percent of his body.
The mother stands outside, watching the bus pull away. Watching her son go. A son who did not live the horrors of the past but has surely seen its ghosts. They may float through classrooms during history lessons or emerge during discussions at the dinner table. The child is innocent, but he is growing. And his mother’s tears show how watching this next step happen in life can be hard, even for those who have lived through unquestionably harder times.
On the 20th anniversary of Jan Palach’s sacrifice, Czechoslovakians take to the streets in demonstrations against the totalitarian regime. Water cannons come out. Protestors are beaten by police.
The mother’s tears stay with me. It has been over five years since I sat as a foreigner on that bus. Those tears fought through a wall of protection erected during the era of quiet horror that the parents lived through, that all Czech adults lived through. It is a reality I will never know. It is a reality I can only try to imagine. It is a reality that consumed people’s lives. But it did not consume people’s humanity. I can still see the mother’s tears.
On November 17, 1989, student protestors march the streets of Prague. Near the city center, riot police respond with an attack. The Velvet Revolution begins. Peaceful protests gain momentum. A national strike receives recognition. On December 10, 1989, new leaders are appointed to the first non-Communist government since 1948.
On that day, tears surely flow.
Mission Emails But Make Them Me
As I put on the Czech missionary nametag, I pledged my commitment to Christ and my commitment to never writing dull event-log mission emails.
The Fetal Position
The fetal position is interesting. Lying on the ground, knees pulled up to your chin, arms around your legs. Going back to the state before you were even born. Going back to the state when you were innocent. Slowly growing and preparing to enter life on earth. There is something comforting about the fetal position. It feels so natural.
This week, there were several times when I found myself in this curious position. On the ground. Still. Breathing slowly. There were also several times when I wanted to go into this position but resisted the urge. The fetal position is interesting.
[The Series of Unfortunate Events that happened that week, including The Emotionally-numbing Emergency Transfer, The Terrible Trio, The Icy Investigator (the only investigator in our entire district dropped us), The Emotionally-draining Emergency Transfer, and The Sucky Sickness, which all culminated in me on the ground in the fetal position.]
The fetal position is interesting. As I was lying there on the ground last week curled up, it felt natural. There was something comforting about it. I was going back to the time where I wasn't even a human being yet. I was growing. I was totally protected. I was loved by my parents. As I was lying there this week, I felt the love of my Heavenly Parents. I might not understand everything that is going on or the reasons why, but I don't need to. I am still growing. I am still being protected. I still have Parents in Heaven who know me perfectly. I am still loved. I just need to trust that everything will work out.
And it will.
Pirates on a Tram
Pirates on a Tram would be a great movie. I can imagine the intense swashbuckling plunders on the 1 line cruising along the highway to the church building’s safe harbor. Or the suspense of pirates transferring trams at Česká. Or even the shocking plot development of when they discover the mermaids that ride the trolleybuses. It would be a fantastic film.
This week people thought we were pirates on the tram.
And like the movie idea I just came up with, this week was a little rough.
How do you start an end?
What do you do when the curtains should close, the credits start rolling, or the book be put back on the shelf?
How do you say goodbye to two years of adventures and miracles?
How do you say goodbye to the beautiful, little Czech Republic with its breathtaking countryside and magical city centers? How do you say goodbye to the stunning city skylines dotted with cathedral spires that stand as evidence of the strong faith that once was? How do you say goodbye to the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of walking around these streets trying to bring back that hope? How do you say goodbye to the amazing Czechs who have over their dark history become an example of strength, courage, and loyalty? How do you say goodbye to their love of dogs, their quirky habits, and their ability to stuff you with food? How do you say goodbye to these people who have stolen your heart?
How do say goodbye to RoboDog, the BABY TOWER, yellow twinkie trams, life in the hood, and long-legged horse statues?
How do you say goodbye to full days of contacting, not understanding people, constant phone calls in the office, love confessions, rainy days, brass knuckles, disappearing investigators, and fetal positions? How do you say goodbye to these things that strengthen us, that open our eyes, and teach us to trust in God and His higher ways?
How do you say goodbye to the church members here who face trials every day and stand strong with faith? How do you say goodbye to their love, the visits to their homes, the opportunities to hear their remarkable conversion stories?
How do you say goodbye to being a full-time missionary?
... [My testimony—that's how I end it.] ...
Love never ending,
Short Sections of Longer Stuff
Did I write a seven-page analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo?
Here's a taste:
"Like a subtitled Southerner phoenix rising from the trashy ashes of a lowbrow television dumpster fire, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo started with a fart and skyrocketed into a ratings giant for TLC. And when I say it starts with a fart, I mean it literally."
Did I also write a six-page research paper about how the urinal has changed the world?
It only seems appropriate that I give you the tail end of the paper:
"This research paper is slowly coming to a close, so now we must apply the lessons of a urinal’s power to our very own lives. We must also end on an uplifting and stimulating note that instructs the reader where to go and what to do after reaching the paper’s final period. We could take the route of assessing and analyzing the things we value in life. A common urinal does not cost much to make, and yet people are now valuing eight of them as each being worth over two million dollars. We are talking about a society that sees things men pee on as being worth more than triple, quadruple, or even quintuple the cost of most people’s homes. I just spent seven pages and many hours of my time writing a paper on these ceramic pots with holes. Is that truly a worthwhile undertaking? Are we careful about what we put value on in our own lives? We should move forward with caution and be careful of our daily endeavors.
We could also take this ending in a different direction and champion the notion of a common toilet’s ability to be valuable. It may be a simple thing, but because of the efforts and vision of a noble creator, the urinal was given worth. We’ll stop this idea right here before peeling back ambiguity and venturing into the realm of what some may call sacrilege with a direct relation to God, but I think you see where we could go with this thought. We should move forward with our heads high and with confidence in our self-worth.
Or we could include both endings and close with the paradoxical personal applications of the enigmatic urinal. In admiration of the urinal’s power, we’ll do just that."
From my essay "The Color of the Year is Dying in the Ocean"
Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky once wrote, “Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow” (71). Now I’m not going to pretend that I fully understand what he’s saying, but color me impressed. It seems as though Kandinsky has dived head first into the color commentary swimming pool, trusting that it is deep enough to allow for a safe plunge. To some, the topic of color may not appear to have enough depth for such complex statements and daring dives but rather be more fit for those wanting to splash about in the shallow kiddie pool. Last December, a company named Pantone made an announcement that could fall into this debate of depth. After “[combing] the world looking for new color influences,” this company in charge of determining color trends and creating color palettes announced the 2019 Color of the Year, Living Coral. This hue, a relative of our near-to-humanity orange, draws inspiration from the “glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea” (“Pantone Color of the Year 2019”). Caring about the Color of the Year may sound trivial at first, but if we are willing to daringly dive into this seemingly depth-deprived topic, we will discover that it truly is important.
A Brief History of British Reality TV
'Tis such a shame that, for quite some time, the dear Brits (and everyone around the world, in fact) did not have the glorious pleasure of sitting back to soak up the sugary schlock that has come to be called reality television...
Or did they?
I wrote an essay that was published in a magazine.
It is a piece of literary criticism published in Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism, and it is called "Zitkala-Ša and the Holistic God: Redefining American Spirituality in 'The Great Spirit.'"
Is it thoughtful and evidence of critical-thinking skills? Yes. Is it kinda dense and less than exciting to read? Possibly.
So we'll leave it at that.
Once in a writing class, I did some writing about my writing.
And in honor of words, it is quite wordy.
Stream of consciousness incoming...