The Mountain

July 22, 2008

I wrote this piece for a creative non-fiction class the first time I tried the whole college thing.  We were required to choose a piece from the class to submit for publication, and I chose this one.  I didn’t really know where to send it, so I sent it to the New Yorker.  I received a very nice rejection letter.

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     The mountain is passing slowly along on the left.  The ground next to the car is moving quickly, but the mountain is not.  It never does.  It stands there with its scarred, wind-torn face diligently withstanding whatever cruel games nature plays with it.  Slowly, inevitably, it will be worn away.  A good part of it is already sandy, but still it stands.
     I look away from the mountain and watch the road slipping underneath the car.  I try not to move much.  It hurts to move.  Besides, moving too much might upset Dad.
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Tell A Story

June 7, 2008

I wrote this piece for Speech class.  The assignment was to tell a story.  There was a three minute time limit, I believe, so I had to keep it short.  We were required to have some sort of moral or lesson, hence the final line.  As I was returning to my seat, the guy next to me said, “You had a messed up childhood, didn’t you?”

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Imagine, if you will, a palace chamber, a throne room.  Magnificent in its size, glorious in its opulence, ancient beyond all reckoning.  Huge columns of carved stone stretch to the ceiling above, accented in gold filigree.  Statues line each side of the chamber, the lineage of kings passed down through the ages.  At the end, the royal dais.  Steps carved out of one massive slab, and at the top, the throne.  Once, it was truly regal, a thing of beauty, a seat of power.  Now, it’s crushed beneath a monster.

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My mother tells me I threw my first temper tantrum when I was three.  It was bed time, and I wanted to stay up.  She said “No,” and I peacefully started towards the stairs.  Suddenly, she says, I stopped.  My face lit up, my eyes got real wide as the wheels churned inside my head, and then I threw myself to ground and did my best imitation of what she assumes I’d seen earlier that day in the grocery store.  She got up, said, “If you’re going to act that way, I’m leaving,” and hurried outside before she burst out laughing.

I believe we need to stop rewarding people who throw temper tantrums, whatever their age.  No longer relegated to the realm of toddlers, I see temper tantrums being used as a tool of manipulation on a regular basis.  Because the people throwing these fits get their way, they continue to act in childish and unseemly manners.  My mother taught me to never reward a temper tantrum, and that’s a lesson I believe needs to be applied more broadly in the world.

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