Sunday, November 30, 2008

the winter

Solitary, melancholy, misunderstood. . . that is how I feel today. I do not want to go outside. I do not want to paint this morning. I am profoundly uninspired. So I look out the window and see flat black tar roofs of squat apartment buildings rimmed with melting snow. But the snow is turning gray and dismal and the sun can’t cheer things up. And I know it’s still cold, in spite of how the sun creates the pretense of warmth. The trees are bare, sparse, and futile. They are that nasty color of old cement, so faint that they barely seem to exist. Now that they’re dead and have no leaves, they don’t seem to matter anymore. And the sky is trying hard to be blue, but it seems sick and pale to me.

And that’s why I can’t paint today. Today I feel exiled. Today I feel sequestered. Today I feel trapped. And all I can do is write about it. Today it just seems like there is nothing to paint. Why reproduce the ugliness outside? I’ve had enough of dead trees, of buildings with all their color drained from them by the feeble rays of a tired winter sun. And the snow pretends to melt, trying to fool us all. But everyone knows it will come back again, to slow down traffic, to cover the ground like a cold white scab that’s only pretty for the first hour or so and then the dogs pee in it and the drunks puke in it and everyone dents its smooth surface with muddy boots and it gets all gray and nasty around the edges.

And the sky tries so hard to be a nice poster-colored non-photo cerulean blue, or azure, or some other color you’d buy in a tube of paint or colored pencil. But a rampart of clouds between its midsection and its horizon spread a sickly grayness and defeat it all. That’s what a winter sky is, defeated. It is there to let a little sun through, to illuminate the dirty snow, to distinguish night from day. But it doesn’t inspire me to paint.

So I sit here in bed on sheets of true azure. And the radiator pipes clang in their usual annoying way. I sit here not wanting to go and not wanting to stay.

©2000 Tiffany Gholar

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Raven's Song excerpts

about Raven’s Song:
Raven’s Song is the story of Raven, a 15-year old girl who has been sent away to a boarding school by her parents in order to safely hide her away from her stalker ex-boyfriend Tiyon. Raven is miserable because she is interested in art and the school she has been sent to specializes in math and science. She also feels ashamed that she ever got involved with Tiyon, who had a long history of emotional problems. One day she discovers that Tiyon has sent her a letter at school. One of her friends had been tricked into giving him her new address. Now realizing her cover is blown but not wanting to transfer schools again, Raven decides to take things into her own hands. She will get revenge. She will stalk him. But will her obsession with getting revenge take over Raven’s life?


His hands were long with spindly fingers. His arms were gangly and covered in dark circular scars. Burns from the tips of his mother’s cigarettes. Whenever she was angry—because she couldn’t find work, because of rats and roaches in the apartment, because he looked like his father, or just because Tiyon was her son–he became her ashtray. The arms, he thought now, were a good place to burn. They could mostly be covered with sleeves while school was in session. And it kept the caseworkers out of their business most of the time.

He was drawing in his art class. He was no good at it. He told his friend Chanara that the futuristic military base he’d done looked more like a deformed mushroom on a pogo stick. She laughed. He was good at that, making girls laugh. That’s all he ever was to them, a clown. At school, a clown. At home, an ashtray. Never quite human.

She sat across from him. She had small hands, like a little girl. Hands the right size for dressing dolls and petting hamsters. Small, drawing hands with a callous on one finger from years of holding pencils too tight. And that meant one thing: either she liked to write or to draw. Looking at her single-minded concentration and the way she held the thick Ebony pencil in her hand, he figured it must be drawing. But he couldn’t tell, since she sat across from him, whether her picture was good or bad, since it looked upside-down to him. Freshman. Fresh meat. Easy prey. He could tell.

So he got up and went to her side of the table.
“Mind if I have a look?” He asked.
“Well, okay. I mean, I’m not finished yet, but if you want to see it—“
He could tell she was one of those types who could never quite bring themselves to say “no.” He could tell she was his kind of girl.

Raven writes about Tiyon

He was sort of like the character in a movie that none of the other characters seemed to understand. And you want to help them, but you can’t. Nothing you do will ever be able to effect them at all. That was how I felt. And it frustrated me.
“He is not a monster. He is misunderstood.”
That is what I used to tell myself. I read his poems. They were about being lost in a terrible storm with no one to hold his hand and nothing to shelter him. I was so stupid. I fell for it. I drank in all the crazy lies he told me. Even when he said the bomb threat was not his fault. I know he’s crazy. I know he did that for me. And that’s what really made me hate him. I hate him from the bottom of my heart. I don’t care. Nice little church girls can hate people, too. I hate him as much as he thought he loved me. I hate him form the bottom of my heart.

the bomb threat

Our school was on the news that day. He’d called the school and said there was a bomb inside. They made us all stand across the street. My father didn’t want to let me out of the car. He was getting ready to drive away when I saw somebody standing on the roof, waving his arms like he was crazy.

He yelled out my name.

“Raven! Raven! I’m doing this for you!”

Over and over again. My father turned and gave me a look I’ll never forget.
And I heard kids asking each other, “Who’s Raven?”
So now they all knew.

Raven in 3rd person
She wears mostly black, walks alone, with a distant expression on her face. She does not want to he here, but knows she should be grateful. Her old biology teacher has pulled some strings, and now there are strings attached, and so she is all caught up in string. Sometimes she tries to humor herself, pretending she is an undercover agent on a mission, and that’s why she has to check in with the security guards three times a day. It’s a deadly mission, and headquarters has to make sure their spy is still alive. It is a game she can only play with herself about 5 minutes at a time. She cannot get too close to anyone here. She sits at a different lunch table every day. She does not want to make friends here. She feels she can trust no one.

Two months into the term, in October and very close to Halloween, she gets a card in her mailbox with writing on it that is indistinguishably his. Opening it makes her feel sick, but she can’t not open it either. So she does. There is a cartoon drawing of black cats, ravens, and pumpkin heads. It is still addressed “My Dearest Raven,” just like always.

Raven’s Poem about Tiyon:
Elegy for your Memory

I let your memory die
yet your memory
still haunts
the empty chambers
of my mind.

Your memory is embedded
in my mind
like arsenic deposits
in fingernails--
a grave reminder that I
ingested something

And every night
you visit me--
a poltergeist
who rattles my thoughts
like dishes.

You’re mad at me
because I left,
because I let
my feelings for you die
like your memory.

I hardly remember
your voice anymore
and I wonder
if you died
like your memory,
your haunting memory.

©2002 Tiffany Gholar

Thursday, November 20, 2008

excerpt from "My Island, Nueva Playa"

Somehow there is a terrible loneliness that comes form knowing that you are in love with a place that no one else can fully comprehend. I want more than anything to go back to my island. So we were saved, we were “rescued” by the Coast Guard. But it feels more to me like I was banished from a magical place. And I must be the only one who remembers taking showers outside in the rain, roasting the fish we caught over open fires, the hot sand feeling like dry, gritty fire under my bare feet until the cool ocean water melted it away. Because my parents have already forgotten. They’re too busy trying to figure out how much they owe to all these bill collectors. And to my brother. . . he’s just glad he’s back here in time to get all the latest video games. I’m the only one who remembers, I’m she only one who misses it, and that’s why I’m completely alone. Leaving Nueva Playa has left me heartbroken and it just might take me a lifetime to recover.

But you can believe I’m not about to find out the hard way. I’m going back there as soon as I can, even if it means swimming out into the ocean. It’s where I belong. It’s the only place where I belong.

©1999 Tiffany Gholar