June Writing Challenge

For the month of June, I've challenged myself to answer one prompt out of 642 Things To Write About. So far, so fine. Writing short form is hard for me, so I've focused instead on imagery and making interesting word connections. Only one of those things has happened so far, but the rest of June lies ahead. Thanks for being a part of this accountability project.

The Loneliness Epidemic & Other Stories

When I moved to Boston in 2017, I wanted to be a clinical psychiatrist. After working as a therapeutic writing facilitator, I was so intrigued by the thought of helping people heal that it became more important to me than being a novelist (plus no one was interested in a fictionalized account of the French Revolution, despite its cultural and political relevance). Add in my new job with Harvard Medical School, I realized there was a lot of growing I still needed to do before spending any more time as a student. My life had to start, so it did.

The Least

The young man who lives above the organ rents his room for ten dollars a day. It’s a good deal for a student in the city, especially for one who’s rarely home and doesn’t mind choir practice on Monday and Thursday afternoons and during Sunday services. He’s rarely home on Sundays, anyway, spending those moments instead doing rounds at a community clinic. Though his mother raised him Catholic, he doesn’t spend much time in the sanctuary. He sees God in the world, in the face of the sick, the poor, the forsaken. Being a Christian, he thinks, means that you are a servant as Christ was. To be a Christian, one with absolute faith, your life is in service of love, no matter how painful that love often is.

How I Used to Play the Cello

It’s been such a long time since I saw you on stage, honey dripping from your hair in the spotlight as you transformed from one of those caged birds into a wild falcon. You were all motion and music. And as your violin cried out its sequacious notes, I sat in that uncomfortable auditorium chair with stemmed roses and baby’s breath digging into my forearm. Lateness forced me into the back of the room due to lateness, but you reached me from your perch a dozen yards away, standing before the conductor, swaying in time to his baton.

Down South, Days 1-4

Going back to your Gulf Coast hometown after a long time is weird, a little uncomfortable, especially in the middle of a highly politicized pandemic. Things look the same; they look different. Buildings you grew up in became Panera Breads or are abandoned altogether. Your childhood home is still yellow but is covered in the green mold your mother pressure washed off every summer. There are more broken shells on the beach than you remember. It’s weird to be a Southerner who’s become a Northerner in so many ways.

Slivers

In Salem, there are a lot of doors. There are a lot of doors to be seen and a lot of doors to be seen by the right pairs of eyes. Not everyone has the gift; this is just something you’ll have to accept. But, if you do have the gift, then those doors are yours to open. That in itself requires a different set of skills, brave ones, but you can go far on something like bravery. I’ll tell you where one is (a door, that is) if you promise to say anything to anyone. This must remain between us. Here are your instructions.

Projects in Progress, pt. 1

Every year, the master’s students I work with at Harvard give a five-minute presentation on the work they’re doing out in the field. It’s a hard thing to encapsulate months of work in that amount of time (though three or four always go over their allotment), and I admire them for it. Really seems to focus their attention; to help them hone in on what’s important. In that spirit, I will attempt to do the same for myself and those of you on a path of creative exploration and growth.