Posted by: Matt Y | 12/03/2014

Embarrassing myself publicly

When I was a teenager I went to a high school that had an arts/writing magnet program because I knew I wanted to write.  It’s kind of funny because I tell people I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up because I don’t see writing as something I would ever be able to live on, it’s just something I loved to do, not something I considered a career.  So I went to this broke school in a bad neighborhood for an arts program that had no money to spare for art because security was such an issue.  I’m glad I did because I loved my art teacher, she was the personification of an older 60s hippie that believed in the art of writing.  She was amazing.

During high school I had a helluva time with family issues, Child Protection Services and moving back and forth between two states (Minneapolis,MN to South Tahoe,CA and back to Minneapolis,MN) and my mindset during this time period is interesting to say the least.  When I was leaving California I had to bring what I could in one carry-on bag and one checked bag.  I choose clothes, mostly.  When I got to MN and my writing teacher here found out I left my notebooks behind for clothes, and worse that I destroyed them because I didn’t want anyone else to have them, she was disappointed in me.  Now that I’m looking through my remaining notebooks from that time, I’m disappointed as well.  I chose clothes that were bad and didn’t fit well and could be replaced over my writing.

What I do have I plan on sharing over the next couple of weeks.  I’ve found poems I forgot I ever wrote (whoo boy I really felt they were special then), random short stories that start nowhere and go nowhere, notes to myself, responses to myself, etc, all in between sketches, doodles, the creepiest Santa, notes from different classes, and Greek language that I was learning after school.  Often there is a bunch of blank pages and then all of these things jammed together filling up every corner of the page.  I don’t remember why.  Oh and I had a journal that was in code, using cribbed militaristic terms from tom Clancy books.

Here’s a fun blast from the past:

My current book Bedtime Stories for the Insomniac was a title I wanted to use in high school for a short story collection.  One or two are loosely based off of stuff I thought of back then but the stories I was originally going to put in were…different.  I came across one where two guys (John and James)are ordered by a King as punishment for a crime to go to an Island and teach the natives their customs and extend an offer to be a part of their Kingdom, and to not return until it was done under penalty of death.

There’s no one on the island except a bunch of sheep.  John takes this to mean they’re the natives and tries to set about teaching them.  James thinks John is crazy and is now stuck forever on this island with him.

I detail John attempts at teaching the sheep his culture, including a description of evolution that went like this: ‘One day mother nature decided to tell a joke, and that joke was called evolution.  It made the fish lose scales, walk on land and so forth.  It was a running gag filled with slapstick comedy.  Then one day the punchline to the joke came about: Man.  At that point nature thought the joke stopped being funny anymore and went into hiding.’

James keeps going stir crazy.  John keeps teaching the sheep and explaining to James all of their names.  He calls them Clouds instead of sheep now because he felt they were elevated from the animal.

One day a sheep that John particularly liked turned to him and said his name.  Breakthrough!

He ran and told James who couldn’t take it anymore and wandered away from the bewildered John.

The next morning John woke up to the smell of something cooking.  It was James, who was frying lambchops.  He rushed out and over the hill and saw a field full of dead Clouds.  Defeated he walked back to camp, sat down and told James to pass him a lambchop.

My potential titles for this?  Sheep to the Slaughter / Pass the Lambchops.  There was one title about clouds as well but I didn’t write it down apparently.

I was a weird teen.


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