Army Brats

Six grumbling bodies in the back seat.

Heads toss back, mouths agape as swallows work slowly behind growing adams apples.

Limbs toss sluggishly, yet slap strangely, breaking the monotonous silence.

Breathing heavily, to prove to themselves that the world wasn't paused.

Fingertips drumming.

Cars for miles in every direction, obscuring sanity to the point of hysteric snorts of laughter and muffled, teeth clenched screams.

Dad and mom sighing in front.

Through this purgatory, excitement about getting close enough to see what was causing the traffic jam they are so bored to be apart of is fed by the sight of a Turkish police officer. They all sit up in their cramped seats, straining to see what is hopefully multiple cars crumpled like the soda cans they so often smash beneath sneaker clad feet. Next to the stoic gentleman, emphatically flailing his pointing hand at their car, is a train conductor—the train conductor.

Six pairs of panic-stricken eyes watch as the two men make their way down the line of vehicles, stopping at the driver's side door of their car.

Hearts pounding in ears, stomachs doing flips, toes tapping furiously,

as Dad slowly, carefully

slides out of the car. The conductor is yelling at him, still frothing at the mouth, trying to incriminate them all. They were going to jail, there were going to get tortured. They were guilty, there was nothing anyone could do.

It was an accident—kinda...

They squint out windows, at fingers and toes, and the backs of their parents' heads harder than ever before, hoping to simultaneously discover their long dormant telepathic abilities, to establish a plausible and cohesive story.

As memories focus on earlier in the park, they collectively ponder their routine game of “Derail the Train.” It never worked of course—was merely an exercise in combat, survival, and ingenuity. Whenever they were at the park, they threw branches, rocks, and debris over the fence, onto the track, each time refining their strategy, and enacting dramatic events of explosions, evasive maneuvers, and touching acts of bravery. Every day they ran for cover when they heard the train coming, the conductor screaming in Turkish at their antics as they watched hopefully, only to disappointedly move on to the jungle gym. Today, however, they had grown tired of waiting for the late train, and had forgotten about the whole thing, lost in the throes of “Lava monster”.

It was only now, as they are trying in vain to drive back home to the base that the conductor's presence reveals that they had finally succeeded in knocking the cargo train off its tracks. And they are going to get it.

“You have a problem with my boys?” Dad drawls.

The conductor looks up at Dad, head craning to meet the eyes of the six foot something, black, military officer. The conductor shakes his head


moving on to the next car.

The six brothers tremble with pride and gratitude that their father had defended them—saved them. Hearts swell to capacity and smiles plaster to faces all around as they file into the house an hour later. Confused, they line up as Dad instructs them, oldest to youngest. Then,

“I don't know what you did, but I know that you did it.” He states darkly.

They all shrink several inches, wishing for invisibility.


Loyalty. Spit brothers. Potions. Keep out signs. Owl pellets. Everything under the porch. Our tree house: a piece of paper warning non-members taped to a muddy plunger not to walk up the tiny strip of dirt next to the ivy bed that led up to the corner behind the tree. It was screaming as the news of the twister about to hit came up on the computer even while the velociraptors were trying to pry the door handle out of our hands. Making double layered, extra frosted mud cakes. Fighting over who got to be kidnapped next. Changing the password every few minutes. It was the Titans performing “One More Chance” and “Here Come the Titans” at the fourth of July barbecue. It was picking at scabs to get cool scars. Comparing them like battle wounds. Scraping the white stuff off with your teeth first, then nibbling on the chocolate cookies. Fishing chips‘a’hoy! mush out from the bottom of your milk. Letting the full foot hang from your mouth as you played tag, devouring it an inch at a time.

It was Rugrats and Recess. Blanket forts. Leaving a trail of kibble to the garage when grandma’s dogs were over. Knowing that the knots at the base of redwood trees were actually doorways to the trolls’ hideouts and that flicker of shadow in the corner of your eye was you just missing a glimpse of a fairy. It was finding dinosaur bones all over the house and painstakingly putting them back together.

Screaming because everyone made you think your hair was on fire when actually one strand was smoking softly. Hiding out at the back window, watching the gardeners trample all through the ivy house while they laughed at the sign. Jumping from bed to bed to keep out of the lava. Dying dramatically for ten minutes. Having telekinesis in our sleep. Explaining a previous existence of being a salt lake hot spring spirit.

It was what are we doing tomorrow Brain? Waking up Saturday morning and opening the craft book. Sock puppets. Homemade potpourri. Code names. Blowing on grass till they yell at you to cut it out. Turning the park water fountain into a river. Laughing at kids who thought they were the first to work on it. Trying to eat wild walnuts and chewing on sour grass. Collecting roly-polies. Secret agent missions to the pantry after bedtime. The cousins, mice for the day, hiding from all the adults who had recently become cats.  Rescuing baby squirrels and blue jays. It was ‘tend you said’ and ‘ring-a-ring-ring, ring-a-ring-ring, phone call, phone call’. Pleading for quarters until acquiring every tattoo at pizza hut, while trying to get that one. Rocks that were worn away arrow heads or had fossils in them if you looked hard enough.

It was life turning into a musical. It was movie moments. Conspiring in the backyard. It was stand by me in the sandlot with the Goonies. Knowing they’d have your back no matter the circumstances or consequences. It was a new club every week with a new frontier. It was written in permanent blue house paint on the dog run of the rental house.

On The Story and Thesis Series...

I found the statement I wrote for "The Story" and "Thesis Series". Here it is. 


For a long time now, I've had recurring fantasies of something extremely traumatic happening to me or my loved ones--the pleasure however, coming from imagining the emotional period following the event, where I was socially justified in any response. I would be free to have over the top, indulgent, emotional outbursts where all I'd have to think about was myself. Such irrational, satisfyingly numbing cathartic releases are just not acceptable after a certain age. This fantasy intersects strangely with my relationship with certain friends--something horrible did happen to a loved one, but neither of us really was afforded that emotional period. I certainly didn't, but even they still went through the daily motions, their life unfolding at the correct pace. Few people outside our inner circle knew anything was off.

This (within the context of my parents divorcing, questioning my upbringing, my middle class childhood, etc cliches) started me on thoughts about the Christian concept of "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" and the recurrent reminder that it could always be worse--what have I got to complain about? Also, looking at myself and friends' recent bad experiences spurred the question of whether we're ever prepared for life. Or is it that to become self aware/grow up/understand life we have to go through something awful? My friends and I are all exponentially more mature than a year ago, when all these things happened. Would we have maintained a childish mentality otherwise? And when is the cutoff for adulthood? How long is our behavior excusable as a child's mistake and when do we become truly culpable?

Stories, since my dad would read to us or make them up as he went, have always been big to my sisters and I. Though now that we're older, they've changed. While we still love Disney and all the ones from our childhood, we also know they're completely unrecognizable from the original. But we love both the tale we grew up on and the perspective we've gotten with age and reading. It makes me wonder how many stories my parents told me. As a cliched angsty teen with nothing to really complain about, I loved escapism through stories, where things happened. There was trauma, catharsis, costumes, and intrigue--but structure. Even when it was sad, it all made sense in a way life never could.

So my work is putting a visual to that ambiguous line through manipulated imagery of objects that, for me, point to a state of naivete but also understanding. Of seeing both ends of the spectrum and wanting to exist somewhere in between instead of having to choose.