Monday, December 02, 2013

I write novels. Deal with it.

| |
0 comments


Just finished Act 1 of Novel-in-Progress, and no, I don't handwrite ANYTHING. It was fun, and a lot of work. I think what that means is less time devoted to Dust on the Piano as I write Act 2. Hope you enjoyed Letters from Chatt-Town. They were super fun to write. I don't think I'm done working with Blaine. But I need to hammer through some more chapters before I come back to him. You understand. Or maybe you don't. In the meantime, in case you didn't get a chance to read Letters from Chatt-Town, or if you missed a letter, you can read the whole story here. HINT: Don't start with letter 30. That's the end, y'all.
Read More

Monday, November 25, 2013

Letters from Chatt-Town #30: The Birthday Cake

| |
0 comments
(Last Chatt-town letter, guys. At least for a while anyway. Hope you enjoyed them)



Spencer,

Today, the world opened up, the sun shining down like a smile. I don't know. I just feel all mushy and stuff.

Ezra had the whole thing planned. First, we went to see The Great Gatsby at the cheap theater. It's odd. I'd seen the trailer a hundred times at least, and always took comfort in knowing what was coming, but the real thing was different. I loved not knowing where things were going.

Ezra, Lydia, and Charlie shared a massive popcorn. I can't eat popcorn. It's not that I dislike it or anything. I just literally can't swallow it. The last time I tried popcorn was at the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The next night, I was doing homework at 11, and choked up a kernel.

No thanks.

Then we went home, and invited Lydia to add her own pictures to our Instagram collage in the living room. Her pictures seemed to complete the artistic flow we were going for in the first place, the movement from cold to warm, from chaos to peace.

At 5pm, we played improv games. This is my new favorite thing. An invisible shovel can transform into anything you want it to be. A water hose, a sniper rifle, an anaconda. I love it.

Then Lydia came out of the kitchen with a birthday cake complete with candles, and we all sang happy birthday to Charlie. It wasn't his birthday, but also it was at the same time. You understand.

He blew out the candles, and Ezra presented him with the certificate we made. It was framed, and real official looking. Charlie stood confused as he took it in hand.

This kinda-legal document declares that Charley Peterson, 19, is an officially adopted brother of Ezra Brock, Blaine Cunningham, and Lydia Tinsdale, with all the rights of brotherhood irrevocably bestowed. 

It was complete with our three signatures. Ezra misspelled Charlie's name, but he laughed at that, praise God.

He hugged the certificate to himself, and rushed to hang it on his door, where everyone could see it, just beneath the taped-on pictures of us at Rock City and Disney World.

When I went to bed, I thought again about Corrie ten Boom thanking God for the gnats in her prison, and I prayed. I didn't thank God for the cancer Charlie had. Not necessarily. What I did was I thanked God for making us an unusual family, even if it took odd methods to make that happen. I recognized that probably meant Charlie's cancer. But I didn't say that directly to God. I think he knows, though.

I closed my eyes, pulled the covers up to my face, and asked him to tell you hello for me. To tell you that I love you, but that I'm okay, and very happy. I don't know if God relays those sorts of messages, but part of me thinks I needed to say it more to myself anyway.

And as I drifted to sleep, our childhood home grew smaller in my mind, as if shrinking away, closing like the last pages of a book. I held my breath and went to sleep. This was good for me.

Your brother,
Blaine
Read More

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letters from Chatt-Town #29: Spicy Gelato

| |
0 comments


Spencer,

Lydia held my trembling hand in the waiting room. Ezra leaned forward, propped on his knees, his feet drumming the white tile, and Charlie sat straight, perfectly still, perfectly strong.

The stale air of the room smelled of an all-too-familiar peppermint and Windex, the white walls expanding with each click of nails against computer keys.

The oncologist called us into his wood-paneled office, his desk still in need of dusting. I didn't like this. If the scan results were good, wouldn't the doctor just call? I don't know how these things work.

I started praying, there in the leather seat, as I waited to hear what the doctor said. It dawned on me that praying after the doctor already had the results in his hand wasn't going to change anything at this point, but it still made me feel better.

But then he gave us the results.

Cancer free.

I didn't hear anything else the doctor said. I sank into my chair, and tried hard not to cry. When we left the office, we stopped for hot chocolate gelato and went to the Tennessee Aquarium. Charlie dropped his beanie in the otter tank, and we all stood in reverent silence as it sank into the algae floor.

"This gelato is awful," Ezra said.

Everyone smiled.

Your brother,
Blaine


Read More

Monday, November 11, 2013

Letters from Chatt-Town #28: Foam

| |
0 comments
(Sorry this letter took so long coming out. Two Chatt-town letters left in this storyline. Can't believe it's already over)



Spencer,

Disney World was doing this whole save Mickey thing today, and I was really getting into it. It was a scavenger hunt of sorts, sending us darting around the park, searching for Mickey who, as it turned out, wasn't actually in danger, but secretly planning a surprise party for Donald Duck.

It reminded me of when I was a kid and I saw that bear on the TV, the one who said "Only you can prevent wild fires." As a five year-old, I believed him, and then next day, you caught me crying in front of a CNN broadcast of those California fires. So sorry, was all I could manage through the tears. So sorry. I didn't mean it.

You must have been so confused, but you held me there, turned off the TV, and rocked me back in forth as I apologized again and again. The next day, you rode your bike to the mall and came back with a stuffed firefighter Mickey Mouse.

You detached the tiny fire extinguisher from his hand and handed it to me. It was my super power, you told me. And I believed you. I scoured the yard, putting out imaginary fires with invisible fire-killing foam, for days, saving California.

So we were scouring Disney World, looking for clues to find Mickey. And at one point, we were supposed to find Cinderella and ask her whatever happened to her glass slipper. But when we found her, she ended up being someone Lydia knew from Chattanooga. "Holli?" she said.

Cinderella, or Holli (I'm not sure what I was supposed to call her) gave Lydia a big hug and introduced herself to us (as the princess, not the Chattanoogan). Then she sent us past the next three clues, straight on to Mickey hiding in the aptly named Hiding Place Tavern, the Donald Duck dace party having already started.

The dance floor was filled with foam. All the songs were Disney songs, but we had an amazing time anyway. Charlie swore that Snow White winked at him, and the rest of us played along. He smiled like a young boy, sweating beneath his beanie in the Florida heat. But we all knew everyone had a little foam in their eyes, stinging and swirling like fire.

Your brother,
Blaine
Read More

Monday, September 30, 2013

Letters from Chatt-Town #27: Room Service

| |
0 comments
Spencer,

When I step into a hotel room, I like to imagine the memories that have taken place. The happy couples, the families, the crimes. Each one leaves an imprint, a ghost of the event swimming through the room. These ghosts swirl and combine into what I like to call the personality of the room.

And when I stepped into our hotel room in Orlando, I felt light, lifted up, held. Charlie and Lydia each claimed a bed right away. Charlie climbed onto his and jumped up and down like a child. He's been feeling so much better recently. I hope he enjoys the park.

The evening sun carried a soft orange glow over the walls and framed artwork of Donald Duck. We ordered room service since Ezra was the only of us to ever do that before. Then we rented Toy Story 3 on demand and all climbed into one bed. And when the toys all hold hands in that incinerator thing, we all held the blanket up to our faces and cried.

Then I discovered my favorite new thing. Ezra bought this game Dixit. The whole point is to make up stories to these pictures that come in the box. We played until Charlie fell asleep on the floor around 1AM, and Ezra and I carried him to his bed and covered him up in blankets.

Then everyone else went to bed and I stayed up to write this letter cause I'm too excited. But I really do need to try to sleep. Tomorrow is Magic Kingdom.

Your brother,
Blaine
Read More

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald on The Great Gatsby

| |
0 comments
Road Trip Wednesday- What was the best book you read in September? Visit YA Highway to participate.


Dear Scottie,

I imagine your friends would call you Scottie. But I'm not sure you and I would be friends. So maybe I should call you F. But that sounds strange, and I don't even know what F stands for. I'd know if we were friends, but by then I'd be calling you Scottie. So since you and I are just acquaintances, I'll have to call you Mr. Fitzgerald.

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald,

I must start by apologizing for never having read The Great Gatsby before. That being said, W-O-W. The image that keeps replaying through my mind is the first description of the Valley of Ashes, how the people, buildings, and streets are described by how the ashes clumped together to form them. It was the most vivid set-the-scene moment I'd read in a long time. And why shouldn't it have been? You're a legend. 

The second moment in the novel I'd like to bring up is the last page. In a book about the American Dream hovering just out of reach, like Daisy's light, the next to last sentence -the one that doesn't finish-is haunting, gorgeous, and necessary.

Okay, enough about that. You already know everything about your book, and so does everyone else reading this (I have no memory of reading the book in school). Let's chat Baz Luhrmann. I wonder if you'd like his film. Many would agree it encapsulates the color and excess that fits Daisy and Jay. But so many complain that the film doesn't make use of the music of the time period (jazz).

Being a consummate Baz fan myself, I came into the film expecting as much. But Hip Hop and R&B? For a 20s film?

I heard someone say the other day that when you were around, jazz music was almost synonymous with excess and promiscuity. Hmmm... sounds a lot like today's Hip Hop, which leads me to think that Baz was trying to evoke the same response in his 2013 film that your novel made decades ago.

So yes, I think you'd like the film, but I think it would take you a while to warm up to it. Maybe we'd see it together? But we can't take alcohol in the theatre. You'll just have to be okay with that. 
Read More

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letters from Chatt-Town #26: Crying in Funny Movies

| |
0 comments
Spencer,

Charlie used to be homeless. I mean, not for very long. He aged out of the system and all. He was living on the streets for three months before I found out and made up the guest room in our parents' house.

He told me all about how he loved being homeless because he got to see how people really were. He said a rich man once passed him on the streets, picking his nose in front of Charlie. Charlie said it was because he didn't think Charlie human enough to hide it from him. Who knows.

But we were watching National Lampoon's Vacation the other day, and I caught Charlie crying. Obviously this struck me as odd given that no one cries in that movie, unless of course they're laughing too hard or something.

So I asked him about it, and he didn't want to tell me that he'd never been on a vacation before. He didn't want to tell me that he'd never ridden a roller coaster, or that when we were all laughing at Clark's planned-to-the-minute vacation, all Charlie could think about was how much he wished he could be so annoyed at someone.

That's when I got the idea. Ezra and Lydia helped. I drove Charlie's Beetle, and Ezra and Lydia made sure Charlie didn't peek through his blindfold. When we parked, Lydia led our blindfolded friend inside as Ezra and I followed close behind with everyone's bags. When we got the check-in counter, she removed his blindfold and I presented him with his ticket to Orlando and the gas station brochure I had found a few weeks ago.

We're going to Disney World.

Your brother,
Blaine
Read More