|02-19-2009, 02:34 PM||#1|
Two years too late...
Join Date: Jul 2008
Blog Entries: 1
Another Quiet Night at Home
For my Intro to Feminisms class, we received a project to create a collage or similar work depicting, and I quote, what our "vaginas would wear and say."
One would think such equalists would tailor the assignment to the male portion of the class, but no: we are supposed to "just imagine."
Since I am far passed my glue and glitter days of academia, I decided to write a short story. Similarly, since I am far passed the ability to write "my vagina would..." every other sentence, I decided to simply allow the student teachers who will be grading it decipher that the protagonist of the short story is the essence of what the initial project was supposed to be (who we really are "on the inside," etc.).
It is due on Tuesday, and I wanted to gauge your reactions on the rough draft:
Alexander Sinclair was the sales manager of a local branch of the giant conglomerate ShopMart. His day was primarily focused around numbers and figures, which he had arranged quite neatly into various spreadsheets and reports. Expenditures, assets, income, net income; such were the driving forces of Alexander’s life from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon or possibly later. Alexander often worked overtime.
His office wasn’t much of an office at all but more a very large cubicle. The walls that surrounded him reached the ceiling, but they were temporary; put into place the day he arrived and he assumed they would be torn down the day he left. Covered in a grey-blue fabric designed for pushpins and staples, the walls had always reminded him of the admittedly cheap suit he wore to work every day. He often and sincerely wondered if the two were quite literally cut from the same cloth.
In a feeble attempt to brighten the depressing blue-grey overcast of the suit-walls, Alexander had pinned up and arranged a few personal trinkets and mementos around his office. “Make yourself at home,” his supervisor, David Edison, had told him on the day he began working for ShopMart.
Alexander first set up pictures of his friends and family upon his desk. Next to a standard ShopMart coffee mug containing various writing utensils, his parents smiled happily on their fourth family vacation to Lake Walnut, a quaint, cabin-dotted resort two miles south of Greenwood Ridge. Next to them sat a picture of Alexander and a small group of friends taken at his home town’s local Denny’s early one New Year’s day. Alexander couldn’t quite remember which year that picture was taken, but he was sure it was sometime after high school graduation yet before he started classes at the community college. He hasn’t seen those friends in over a year.
Not long after the pictures came a trophy Alexander won in a middle school spelling bee. He had been cleaning his old room in his parent’s house after having moved into an apartment of his own when he found the bauble. Jokingly, he placed it upon the filing cabinet positioned in the far corner of his office, diametrically opposite his desk. “Aberrant was the word,” he would often say with a laugh, “but that was a while ago; I don’t know why I even put it up there.”
Eventually Alexander grew bold enough to hang a poster on the wall behind him and his desk. It was a picture of a conversation between the Greek letter Pi and the English letter I in which Pi says to I, “get real,” whereas I says to Pi “be rational.”
“I don’t get it,” his office neighbor Nick Trenton said one day when delivering Alexander’s lunch. Nick had offered to pick up lunch for a few guys in the office earlier that day. Alexander distinctly remembered what he had ordered: a plain turkey sub sandwich and a side of French fries. Even the fries were plain, as Alexander did not particularly enjoy condiments.
“It’s a math joke,” Alexander replied. “You see, pi is a transcendental number - you know, that whole 3.14159 thing. It doesn’t terminate or repeat, so in math it’s called irrational. I, on the other hand, represents the square root of negative one, which cannot be expressed on the real number line and thus is called imaginary. So when pi says “Get real-”
“I get it.” Nick interrupted. “Well, I don’t, but I get where you’re going with it, and I don’t care. Math was never my forté.”
“French was never mine,” replied Alexander with a delightful grin, relishing what he considered a witty riposte.
“You just keep getting weirder and weirder, Sinclair.”
It had only been about four months since that day, and only about six since Alexander had begun working for ShopMart. He toiled his days away behind those figures and numbers, becoming lost in the vast expanse of what he felt confident enough to call particularly intricate matrices, and time seemed to escape him on a regular basis. Such was a day like today.
Alexander was hurrying back from the vending machines down the hall from his office with a makeshift lunch. He had not noticed noon had come and gone until it was 2:37, and he was scolding himself for even taking the break he had. He would often lose focus of a project if he took such breaks, but this day he found it rather difficult to ignore his rumbling stomach. A call through a nearby open doorway halted his march.
“Hey, Sinclair!” It was Nick calling him from the break room.
The break room was where everyone typically congregated during lunch time, and often Alexander would find Nick and some other co-workers relaxing there on slow work days. Alexander never had slow work days, he could always find something to do within one of his favorite spreadsheets. He took pride in their accuracy, design, and overall efficiency; there wasn’t much else he did at ShopMart anyway.
“A couple of us are getting together tonight at my place - nothing huge, just something to kick off the weekend with. You’re welcome to join us if you’d like.” Alexander hesitated a moment.
“Sounds good. I mean, if I can make it. Not that I have plans or anything, but you never know what could come up. Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but mathematically speaking, with probability in mind…” Alexander drifted off, not even quite sure himself where he was leading the conversation in the first place.
“Cool, I guess.” replied Nick, somewhat puzzled, “I have to get back to work now, though; hopefully you can make it.” The day seemed to move faster after that, and Alexander soon found himself clocking out at precisely 5:00 P.M.
Back at his apartment, Alex began to prepare for the events of the night. He had taken another shower even though he had hardly perspired let alone physically exerted himself throughout the day. He applied a cologne of unknown origins that had been sitting on his bathroom counter for longer than he could remember. It wasn’t a vile concoction by any means, but it had no label. What could it hurt, he reasoned.
Alex then styled his hair with a bit of hair gel, a practice he had all but abandoned since high school. He enjoyed the messy, nonchalant look the product offered. He had always worried that his clean office crop-cut had appeared rather unkempt from angles unknown to him, and it was somewhat liberating to style his hair in such a fashion purposely. It’s not as if in this day and age it is a rather bold look anyhow.
Moving along hastily and seemingly without direction, Alex took a pair of blue jeans out of a drawer in his dresser he rarely found himself using as the years progressed. The jean bottoms were frayed from use and in this, too, he found an odd satisfaction. The jeans still functioned properly, he thought, why not put them to use? Quite a few of the belt loops were also broken, but one still existed for him to clasp the chain of an old wallet he had found to. The pant’s back pockets were rather loose; he did not wish to embarrassingly drop his wallet at Nick’s apartment.
Alex donned a plain white long-sleeve shirt with a blue polo shirt over it. He folded the collar nicely and tucked in the extraneous white undershirt poking out around his midsection. The white shirt was much longer than he had noticed. The blue polo shirt was not newly ironed, but it had retained a bit of structure from the last time he had ironed it, whenever that was.
Finally, Alex delved deep into his closet to find his old pair of Converse All Stars. He had initially slid on his Cap Toe Oxford leather shoes he wore to work every day, but soon realized how ridiculous they looked considering the rest of his attire. He had always regarded Converse as a well made, durable brand of shoe, and almost felt as if he was being fiscally responsible by wearing them again. With a breath of relief, he motioned towards the door only to be interrupted by the ringing of his phone.
“Hello?” Alex said, answering.
“Hey, it’s Nick. We’re sending out for a pizza, I was wondering if you were going to be able to make it?” Alex began to wonder when it was he gave Nick his number. It didn’t matter.
“Oh, well I -” Alex was interrupted by what sounded like a crash in the background of Nick’s apartment.
“John! What he hell?” said Nick, laughing and now away from the phone. He came back to say, “Hold on a minute, sorry.”
To Alex, it sounded like the small group were genuinely having a good time. There was a faint rhythm in the background of a song whose name he could not recall. He had always liked the song, but never questioned what it was called or who it was by. Over the song Alex could hear Nick and who he assumed was John having a friendly dispute, each calling the other playful yet vulgar names.
“Alright, I’m back. Sorry about that, John just broke a table.” said Nick.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear. What is expensive?” said Alex.
“What? No, it was just a cheap folding table; I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has. So, are you coming over?” Alex didn’t respond for perhaps longer than he perceived. “Hello? Sinclair? Are you there?”
“Yeah, sorry. No, I don’t think I can make it out tonight. I’m not feeling well; I think it was something in the vending machine food I ate earlier. I think I‘m just going to spend another quiet night at home.”
“Ah, well, if you feel better you can drop by any time tonight, we should be up for a while.” He sounded genuine.
“Hey Nick, I was wondering: why do you always call me by my last name? You know, you can call me by my first name if it‘s a matter of manners or something.”
“Alexander.” he corrected.
“Eh, I’d rather call you Sinclair,” Nick said with a laugh. “I’ll see you on Monday.”
“Alright, bye.” Alexander hung up the phone and retreated to his bedroom.
The next morning, he put on his cheap suit and his Cap Toe Oxford leather shoes and walked through the ShopMart doors at 8:55 A.M, clocking in precisely at nine. At his desk, a knock came at the door. It was Nick.
“Hey, you know we usually get together every Friday. Sorry you couldn’t make this one, but if you’re up to it next week, you’re more than welcome to join us….is that gel in your hair?
“Yes. Yes it is.” replied Sinclair. “Does it look stupid?”
“Is that really up to me to say?”
“I don’t suppose it is,” Sinclair said with a confident laugh, ”I’ll see you next Friday.”
#define ALWAYS SOMETIMES
#define NEVER RARELY
#define ALL MANY
-=GIVE US SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN=-
|02-23-2009, 09:54 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Blog Entries: 8
Having experience with such teachers, I think she'll be offended that you have the gall to think you can truly understand as a woman does. 'Just imagine'. Wow.
But. As for the story, I don't know if it really follows the idea you had in mind. Maybe I haven't gotten a great idea of the prompt, but the character only slightly evolves in the piece, and you could say that it's less of a product of him actually being who he is, and more a product of him desperately wanting a friend or two to break up the monotony of his secluded life [humans are social creatures, yadda yadda]. The switch is so ... spontaneous, and isn't preceded by any notions of him being that person before, that it seems less like he's found himself and more like he's hidden himself.
Also, I caught this: 'John! What he hell!' should be 'John! What the hell'.
I just realized that it's ... right before Tuesday. Sorry. Been busy. ... :/ Hopefully if you're editing it right now because you're a slacker [like me!], this helps a little.
All the world's a stage & all the wo/men merely players: They have their exits & their entrances. & one plays many parts, Their acts five ages.
First the infant, puking on the nurse. Then the whining school-child, slothlike to school.
Then the lover sighing like a furnace. Then a soldier full of strange oaths, Seeking the bubble reputation in the cannon's mouth.
Last scene that ends this strange eventful history,
second childishness + mere oblivion:
-teeth, -eyes, -taste, -everything.
|02-24-2009, 07:48 PM||#3|
Two years too late...
Join Date: Jul 2008
Blog Entries: 1
I intended to show that Alexander wasn't "desperate for companionship," but more so that he merely had an aversion to society in general, and wished he could toss those notions aside and simply hang out at someone's appartment. I also didn't indend to show that he was upset with the monotony of his life: he enjoys math, numbers, and spreadsheets. He just wants a balance between all the conflicting forces within his life.
One, I wrote this in about an hour or so, mostly during commercials. But more than that, the story wasn't about him becoming something completely different, but more so allowing a part of him that has exsited to come out into the light. I didn't include a "shopping montage" because that would have meant he was actively making decisions to become something different, and that's not what I wanted.
The story actually has three different characters, each I reference differently.
Alexander is the math geek who works at the office. He is socially awkward and shy. I used phrases such as "Alexander grew bold enough to hang a poster on the wall behind him and his desk." to show this. For Alexander, the outward expression of a simple poster was something he had to take time to overcome. He "felt confident" enough to call his spreadsheets "particularly intricate matrices."
When he attempts to explain the poster, we see him slip into a hybrid of some sociable being and Alexander. He almost proudly explains what the poster means, but Nick, someone who is obviously able to assimilate into the office life as well as a healthy social life, shoots him down. Similarly, he displays the trophy and attempts to put himself out there more by telling the tale of the spelling bee: "Aberrant was the word." He timidly will question why "he even put it up there," something I'm sure we all have done when we wish to brag, but know it would look foolish if we did. We turn it into a joke, but it's still there.
The second character is Alex. Alex is who Alexander wishes he could be in public. He wears "laid-back" clothing, though even as Alex he still feels he has to justify what he wears. Converse are a fiscally responsible shoe, he doesn't wish to lose his wallet so he wears one with a chain, etc.
When Nick calls, and Alex hears an entirely different world in the background (a somewhat wild get-together, breaking tables and whatnot) he sheepishly reverts back to Alexander and decides not to go. He "retreats" back to his bedroom.
The final character is Sinclair. He is a compromise between the two. Sinclair is who Nick, a relative stranger, has accepted all along and someone who now realizes that it doesn't really matter what people think of him.
Currently, I am Alex. In fact, the things Alex wears is almost exactly what I was wearing the day I wrote that. I am not afraid of wearing those clothes in public, but I will admit I am not very outgoing. Alexander is who I am afraid of becoming if/when I slip into what will most likely be a boring job: a hermit office worker who loses touch with friends, family, and youth in general. Sinclair is someone I think we wish we could all be. He has overcome a character flaw despite all odds, and is pushing towards a more fulfilled life.
I won't dare compare myself to Vonnegut, but this story was inspired in a way by A Deer in the Works. Even down own to the writing style (very basic and un-detailed; I'm usually verbose in my fiction).
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as if the assignment was really worth anything. I thought it was. /sigh
#define ALWAYS SOMETIMES
#define NEVER RARELY
#define ALL MANY
-=GIVE US SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN=-
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