Creative Writing

This page contains short stories, interviews, reviews, literary analysis and general blog posts about student and teacher life. Stories marked (OP) are from the original, now defunct; all new posts will appear at the top of the page.

Online Class Rules

Today is one of the last days, if not the last day, of this massive finals push I’ve been on over the last two weeks. In the span of that time, I’ve written between thirty and forty pages between all of my classes, moved my entire apartment, worked a couple of days (once my schedule got really hectic, I got a sore throat and was sent home for a couple days straight), and fallen asleep about four or five times more than I think I probably should have. The biggest issue that I have noticed is the difference between online and in-person classes, something which I have fairly extensive experience with.

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Sailor Bob’s

As the train glides along, I lose myself in the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The armed guards’ walkie talkies at each end of the train car buzz with the same message, shocking me out of my reading rhythm. Something about a seventeen in progress on a red line train towards Shady Grove. Most everyone on the train, most Metro riders left in the city, understood what that meant; there weren’t too many of us left who hadn’t witnessed a seventeen on one of our daily rides. Robbery in the train system had become a common occurrence in the late stages of the pandemic.

I glance up toward the sound of the radio static cutting out on the walkie talkies, then look back to the novel in my lap. Two more stops, I think to myself as the world of Macondo and the Buendias encapsulates me once again. The train slows to a stop as the mechanical voice overhead announces, “This is: Georgia Avenue-Petworth” A couple of people stand up and make their way to the door.

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Affirmative Action (OP)

Recently, discussions surrounding affirmative action and its fairness have become more and more frequent. On Twitter, I often see the ignorant argument that it isn’t ‘fair’ because a more qualified white student may be passed over for a slightly lower-achieving person of color. But I was shocked after recently being pulled into an argument about affirmative action with my own cousin. Though I knew the children of this particular aunt had taken to their father’s conservative views, I didn’t know the indoctrination was so complete. As I gave evidence, from redlining, Jim Crow laws, and mass incarceration to wealth’s impact on academic performance, I was met with anecdotal evidence from him. “Well, Indian immigrants don’t have a problem attaining prosperity so…”, “A black guy was valedictorian at my school…” , “We’re Irish, and the discrimination we faced…” were all responses I heard. First of all, I would like to say that the United States has a population of 330 million; for any situation, an anecdote to refute the norm will exist. That is why stories are not accepted as good argumentation. They appeal to one’s emotions while statistics and facts appeal to one’s logic. That said, I’d like to put forth evidence based on logical reasoning for the existence, continuance, and amplification of affirmative action.

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April 15, 2019 (OP)

Today is Monday April 15th, 2019. My last computer was stolen on Wednesday April 3rd, 2019. My landlord disconnected power at the shed on Monday April 8th, 2019. I refuse to let any of this discourage or define my life path and residency in DC. I resolved back in September not to leave the District of Columbia without my degree…

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East of Eden & Timshel (OP)

For the last three weeks, I have been immersed in John Steinbeck’s masterful East of Eden. Determined after his release of The Grapes of Wrath, he set out to write one more classic novel of epic proportions. It took him twelve years, but by the end he released over six hundred pages of pure gold. East of Eden was released in 1943 and spent two years atop the NYT Bestseller list. The book is often simply described as Steinbeck’s modern-day retelling of the Book of Genesis. This is accurate, but perhaps simultaneously too broad and too narrow. First, the book truly only focuses upon the first four chapters of Genesis, the story of Cain and Abel. More than just a retelling, however, the book is a modern Epic, an offspring of Homer’s great poems. This intricacy allows for deep character development throughout generations. In no other book, besides Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, have I been so invested in so many fictional characters’ lives. Steinbeck’s writing was so beautiful that, when I finished the last line, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. I am straying perhaps too far from the biggest message in the book, but to understand this we must first know the story of Cain and Abel.

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Emotion and Experience: The Two Es of Art (OP)

A week or so ago, I read two books from completely different authors. One was The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, a sprawling familial narrative that took place in the United States and the Dominican Republic and utilized elements of magical realism and a distinct voice. The other was Black Dogs by Ian Mcewan, a story that traces a British couple’s lives throughout Europe after World War II through the lens of two conversations that the main character had with his in-laws. The thing that most struck me about these novels was the authenticity and literary excellence that was being achieved. It made me think about how I could imitate this same literary excellence. These books were both very different with some stylistic similarities.

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Fear and Desire (OP)

         Fear. It seizes one’s heart, constricting their life. The brain is overrun with irrational yet terrifying thoughts while the body is shackled in place, too frightened to move. Fear is the drug of choice for many, a hasty and firm rejection of those sweet things the world has to offer as one cowers and roars not to come near. Fear is simultaneously loud and meek. Boasting and braggadocios words and actions obscure a venomous, crippling fear beneath the surface in some. Others can barely muster the strength to speak, much less scream. Fear of death drives many to lives of longevity and monotony as they reject experience after experience only to die anyway. Fear of love and life imprisons those who hold it in solitude; many doors of life remain eternally closed, opening only after this fear is released. Fear, valid or not, is a trap that catches many of us.

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Find Your Boat (OP)

In my brother’s apartment, I sit and let myself be hypnotized by his fluid fingers moving along his Les Paul. He makes the strings sing in a style cultivated by years of hard work and a lifetime of listening to Jimi and The Beatles. Once he’s well into the jam session, I look up and see Jack smiling down at his guitar, completely immersed in the music. At Howard, I sit in a dorm room crowded with incoming and current freshmen. The conversation flows from a regional discussion on music taste to the party later that night, from social issues to everyone’s plan for the future. With each plan comes the means by which that person is currently pursuing their overall goal; when each person describes his or her goals, passion dances in the speaker’s eyes. Back in my own home, I listen to my close friend who has dreams of being a published author. He speaks excitedly, going over points twice and three times, revising the style and plot right before my eyes. The story gains depth and nuance with each passing day, and I can slowly start to see the novel’s framework forming. In each of these situations, one constant is present: true ardor. Ardor for music, ardor for career aspirations, ardor for writing. An enthusiasm and love for life.

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Inspiration and Creativity (OP)

When I made this blog, I was amazed at how much effort it took to write about things that I wasn’t passionate about. In its first months of existence, this blog was meant to be my online journalism portfolio. The pieces of writing varied from reviews and interviews to personal essays, but the feeling that I didn’t like this kind of deadline writing persisted. I eventually switched my major from Journalism to English, and went completely dark at the same time. My second semester at Howard was even better than the first. I was finally studying material that excited me in the same amazing environment I had thrived in first semester. My friendships were amazing, and I was blessed to fall head over heels for Tendai Fara Musora, a woman who is even more beautiful and entrancing than her name. And yet throughout all of this life and love, this site remained in the back of my mind. Whenever I thought of it, though, I assured myself that I would take back up the writing as soon as inspiration struck. As time went by and I continued to wait for this inspiration to visit me, I became less and less confident in my own creativity and ability as a writer. Recently I either stopped lying to myself or had an epiphany about “inspiration” and “creativity”. I figured sharing these thoughts as my first post back would be a nice way to return to regularly posting on this site (and motivate myself in the future).

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Interview with John Simko (OP)

Just today, I got the pleasure of interviewing John Simko, a close family friend. Through my discussions with my parents, I knew Mr. Simko was an amazing athlete, but as I prepared for the interview I was reminded of how amazing he really was. He attended Sioux Falls Washington from 1953-1957, when it was consistently one of the largest high schools in the US at over 2,000 students. At Washington he was a four sport letterman. He won tennis titles in both singles and doubles all four years of high school, played on a state championship basketball team and an undefeated state championship football team, and was also a state-champion hurdler. From there, he went to Augustana where he was a four-sport athlete again. After college, Simko was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers; he continued to compete at tennis for years as well, winning many tournaments in SD, ND, NE, IA, and MN in singles and doubles. Today, he continues to play tennis and golf and be an all-around great person to be around.

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My Path to Howard (OP)

May 8, 2015 and the ACT

My entire life changed May 8, 2015. On this day, my father had a lower aortic aneurysm and passed away in our Sioux Falls apartment. When I got home at 4:00, my life exploded in front of my eyes. The man who was there for everything, my biggest motivator, the one who believed in me when all others doubted, was gone. The next month was a blur of sorrow, pain, and grief. I finished finals at school early, then spent the ensuing weeks with my family. On June 4, 2015 my life changed again, in a very different way.

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Summer 2017 Movie Review (OP)

Logan – 7.5/10

At the time that I saw it, Logan was the best superhero movie I had seen since Guardians of the Galaxy. It was refreshing as a fan of X-Men to see Hugh Jackman back in the role of Wolverine, and he put forth possibly his best performance in the final movie. Wolverine is an old man, struggling with a sickness and trying to manage a mentally deteriorating Charles Xavier. In the middle of this chaos, a young girl shows up. She possesses claws that eerily resemble Logan’s, and she brings heavy military scrutiny with her. After being around this girl for a while, it becomes clear to Logan that she isn’t alone. His mission becomes to get her to North Dakota and reunite her with the other children like her. All in all, the storyline was plausible and the fight scenes were sweet. The violence got to be a little bit gratuitous by the end of the movie, which is why I didn’t rate it higher. Even so, it was a pretty good superhero movie.

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Technological Warfare (Mock Epic) (OP)

Attention and honor, both battled for

As man’s sweet ways are lost in bloodless war.

Gorgeous people and malignant machines

Wage their small war every day, unseen.

And yet, for these men I still do grieve

Like God did the Fall of Adam and Eve

Or fleet-footed Achilles did his heel

When that fated arrow’s hard tip of steel

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The Nature of Joy (OP)

Compassion, generosity, and love for our fellow human beings. This is how I would describe joy in the sense that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke of it. I just recently finished The Book of Joy, which these two coauthored with Douglas Abrams. In the five-day interview, the two holy men speak expansively upon the nature of joy, its obstacles, and how to attain lasting happiness. The book touches upon grief, temporary happiness, anger, envy, and myriad other related issues, but both leaders agree: to have true joy in life, one must simply look beyond himself. Caring for other humans and having true regard for their health and well-being is the key to the joyful disposition that nearly all holy men seem to have. This jubilation and happiness comes from their unconditional love for their fellow human beings, and it is because of their compassion, intimacy with grief, and generosity.

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The Over-Parenting Trap (OP)

There is something about coming of age that is universal. It spans across cultures and time periods, stretching into all facets of humanity. Tribal cultures often marked this transition with a rite of passage into adulthood, whether that be a solo hunt, retreat into the woods, or a Sundance-like self-emasculation ritual. In Eastern Uganda, a rite of passage called Imbalu is practiced. This is a public circumcision taking place between the ages of 16 and 25 to pass into adulthood; one must remain stoic and show no signs of distress during the circumcision to be considered a man. Even the Amish and Mennonites, cultures which historically reject modern technology in favor of a simpler life, recognize this transition. The tradition of Rumspringa, meaning ‘running around’, is a time when adolescents in the community go off into the modern world and experience all of its pleasures and pitfalls. Some return to the community, completing the rite and reentering as an adult. Others opt to join the modern world, knowingly leaving everything they’ve ever known. Whatever the rite, whether it be grizzly, challenging, or enjoyable, the end result is the same; maturity. The United States is no exception when it comes to these transitions into adulthood although the vehicle through which this transformation is undertaken has changed over the years. It used to be war, as it was for many societies, but since WWII it has transitioned slowly to college. And it’s in trouble.

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The Woman of My Dreams (OP)

There she is. She keeps walking back and forth between beautiful, translucent pieces of purple silk. All I can focus on is the distorted outline of her glorious figure. Her hips sway irresistibly as she turns to me. The gaze she fixes upon my body would have frozen 10 million charging armies dead in their tracks; I don’t stand a chance. She pushes her braids aside and gives me a small smile. I feel my entire body below my collarbone melting into the floor as my head bursts with fireworks. I start to ask what I can do for her, anything for her, but she speaks before I can say anything and I am frozen.

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Two Renditions of the Same Story (OP)

Over the past two months, the process regarding my now impending suspension completely overtook my thoughts, actions, and lifestyle. Throughout countless meetings and hearings and many sleepless nights I tried to keep a level and adapt as the decisions came down. I was able to do this largely through cathartic composition of stories and poems that helped me to rationalize and reason through the situation. In the following two pieces, I attempt to describe this process in a writing style that mimics F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jean Toomer. Each piece is radically different in form and content, though the styles mimic each other. Additionally, I have chosen to include a poem from another section on the site in the Jean Toomer imitation piece as I feel it is the best presentation of the story and representation of the artist I sought to emulate.

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Untitled (OP)

The roses bloomed elegantly in the makeshift vase on the desk. The petals curled outwards toward the sunlight like welcoming hands as their gentle cayenne-orange color filled the area around the bouquet with a brightness only nature can add. The energetic tones of Miles Davis’ trumpet played over the cool, relaxed beat laid down by the saxophone, horns and drums, all drifting out from the bathroom. The blankets on the bed droop lazily as if they are tired from a long night of work.

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