Author Archive

Monday, October 21, 2013

Zombie Party

by Steven E.A.

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The secret is chocolate sauce. If you want your blood to look nice and dark you need to add chocolate sauce to your mixture of corn syrup and red food dye. Plus it adds a little depth of flavor, which never hurts. So there I was, taking handfuls of blood and smearing handprints down the front of a brand new white t-shirt I’d just spent the last fifteen minutes destroying. First, I used it to wipe down my apartment. Everything received a rub down–from the windowsills to the sauce spattered stovetop. Next it was out to the yard where I stained it with grass and dead leaves and soil. Once my shirt looked like it had been through a hardy game of football, I gave it that special zombiepocalypse feel by caking it with blood.
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Monday, June 10, 2013

Reflection and Appreciation

by Steven E.A.
Three years ago I was picked up at a Korean airport in the middle of a rainstorm. My friends Kate and Chaz had already been there for a year and they took us on a combination bus and taxi ride to their apartment. The lights in Busan shone red and orange and yellow and reflected like glowing shadows off the glossy water glazed streets. I knew then what it must be like to be illiterate, the words nothing more than geometric dashes. The taxi’s window was streaked and speckled with rain as I watched the passing buildings and people. There was more of everything. Advertisements, people, cars, and even the apartment complexes were put together en masse along the mountains’ edges like rows of giant legos. I kept thinking to myself that if I were ever to navigate this city on my own, that in itself would be a miracle.

Now I find myself in anticipation mode. Korea has been a fabulous home to me. The experiences and lessons will stay with me for the rest of my life. But now I’m headed back to my home country, and not just for a short visit, for an indefinite amount of time. My wife and I have already sold and gotten rid of a large amount of what we’ve collected over the years. We’ve been cleaning, organizing and packing our suitcases. Anytime Kimmy and I go out, we look at our surroundings fully aware that this could be our last time seeing this area or trying that type of food. America calls to us like an old, favorite sweater you’ve discovered buried in the attic. Just the sight of it reminds us of all we’ve missed and forgotten the last trio of years.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Getting Trustworthy Input

by Steven E.A.
During my university years, a writing instructor made certain to drive home the point that it’s extremely important to find someone you trust to read your work. Luckily for me, I married that person. Kimmy is not one to shy away from a harsh critique. After finishing a novel shortly after college, I printed it off and loaned it to anyone who would take it. My wife (then girlfriend) was one of those unlucky victims of my coma-inducing writing. I had to prod and prod her to read it, and since I was wearing some pretty blinding pride goggles, it took me much longer than it should have to realize she didn’t like it. No, no–she hated it. If I had covered it in gasoline and set it ablaze, I imagine she’d have applauded, her hand claps fanning the flames. That novel has become the Voldemort of our household. It is the novel whose name we do not speak, and in those rare moments when it is spoken, Kimmy lets loose an audible groan to remind me of my malfeasance.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Little Tea Shop That Could

by Steven E.A.
On a whim, my wife and I took our scooter up into the mountains behind our home to visit our most favorite traditional tea and pottery house. The tea service is free, and all of the kettles and pottery are handmade with amazing attention to detail. We’ve got only five weeks left in Korea, so our trip was one of nostalgia. We’ve made a number of trips to this humble, welcoming shop, each time bringing a different set of friends, but this time we went alone. We didn’t expect to stay long, but once we arrived we were welcomed by the owner, his daughter-in-law, and two men we’d never met before. They invited us to sit with them and enjoy some green tea, which we did, and then we engaged in sloppy conversation in mixed English and Korean. All of this was unexpected, but after living in Korea for the last three years, the unexpected isn’t as surprising anymore.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Amends

by Steven E.A.

This ending to an imaginary novel is the first post of flash fiction week V.


I had come this far, so I certainly wasn’t about to turn away. But there was a part of me that wanted to, that knew it was easier to keep things unspoken, hoping that, perhaps, when she saw me we’d hug and fall right back into our rhythm. I’d sit down and she’d pour me a cup of coffee and we’d sit at the dining table, talking about the last two years as if they were fond memories and not stories we’d never heard before. Down the front path I went, approaching my mother’s door as if I were a stranger, hoping that she’d locked the door so I had an excuse to turn away, but knowing that, since living in a small town, this was something she rarely did.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Surpassing Self Satisfaction

by Steven E.A.
My students call me a fashion terrorist, but I’d like to disagree. Open up my wardrobe and you’ll see primarily earth tones. I’m huge fan of navy blue, brown, and gray. I know what I like, and I stick to it. Am I fashionable to others? Probably not. But I’d much rather feel comfortable in what I’ve picked out than what a magazine tells me would properly accent my eye color. The same goes for most other things in my life, too. I like a wide array of music: hip-hop, dubstep, instrumental, folk, indie, and even 90s music if I’m feeling nasty. I love everything Stanley Kubrick touched. Kathleen Graber is my favorite poet. Deadpool is my favorite comic book character. All of these come together to form a rich amalgamation of Steven soup, and, since I’m an aspiring writer, these influences come out in my writing. And just like everything else, I know what I like when it comes to my writing, but in this instance, it definitely matters what others think. Writing can’t be just what its author likes. It has to be more.
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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Old Man and the Sea of Self-Doubt

by Steven E.A.
I’ve not often considered myself a fan of Hemingway, but a few years ago I decided to give The Old Man and the Sea a try. It wasn’t especially exciting, but it did evoke nostalgic memories from my childhood of fishing on lazy summer afternoons with my father. Shortly after finishing, I sat down at my computer to write a short story that harkened to those memories, but fast forward about two years and a 117,000 word novel has now sprouted from my fingertips. It’s the novel I’ve wanted to write for years. As I look over some of my old work, I see influences rooted throughout. But now that I have finished a readable draft, I’m plagued by the question, Is it any good at all?
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Monday, April 29, 2013

English Major Confessions: Reading

by Steven E.A.
I sat crouched over Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, so enveloped by the story that I could hear the sounds of the jungle. The story became real and visceral to me, so much so that to this day I’m still haunted by the images I read. I was in sixth grade and back then it took only a few sentences for a novel to hook me. After that, the world materialized in my mind and reading was almost like a film being projected in my brain. Just as the dilophosaurus was about to attack, my study hall teacher made a rather loud announcement that caught me so off guard I jumped out of my chair and nearly fell to the ground. She looked at me and said, “Are we okay, Mr. Athay?” I nodded to stave off further embarrassment. In middle school I devoured books. I read nearly all of Crichton’s novels, then moved on to Mary Higgins Clark, Christopher Pike, Dixon’s Hardy Boys books,  as well as R.L. Stine’s high-school-centric Fear Street series. My love of books followed me into college and I declared myself an English major, but here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn. Throughout high school, my recreational reading slowed and by the time I’d gotten into college, it was essentially nonexistent. Further, and perhaps my most grievous literary crime according to my wife, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in literature, I’ve read nearly no classics.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Catching Up with Poetry

by Steven E.A.
Grass stood in patches and small tufts, like the patchy beard of the Earth. As a fourth grader, I sat and fidgeted, but soon the small movements of insects caught my attention, and I imagined them a story. We’d been instructed to sit outside and observe nature, taking mental notes to serve as inspiration for a poem. Mine was inspired by ants, and dealt with a horrible mishap during a picnic in which a grape smashed and killed a particularly bold ant that had snuck onto the blanket to steal some food. With it came a crayon drawing depicting the event, the ants legs frayed outward from underneath the fruity boulder. My mother liked it so much that she’s kept it to this day in her small treasure box of memories that’s stored beneath our living room couch.

In seventh grade, I left a girl for someone new, effectively breaking her heart in the process. But due to the tumultuous state of middle school romances, I soon wanted her back. To apologize and win her heart, I penned a long sappy note full of regret. I can still see it scribbled in ink, folded neatly into a scare, with her name scrawled on the top. But before I gave it to her I had a (girl) friend of mine read it. She held it to her chest after she finished and said, “You should be a poet.” And if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that seventh grade girls are experts on what makes excellent poetry. With my ego inflated, I passed the note off to the broken hearted girl, we made amends, and had a very solid, three-month long middle school romance. It was magical.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Swearing in the Classroom

by Steven E.A.
Ji-eon approached me while I stood at the lectern. She sheepishly grabbed a  black dry erase marker and wrote “sheet” followed by the word “shit.” Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

“How to say?” she asked.

I showed her the vowel sounds and had her mimic them back to me. The i in kid or lift is especially difficult for Koreans, so this was worthy practice. Then I pointed to the words and spoke them, showing her the difference. She nodded and turned to head back to her seat, but by now, the rest of the class had seen what we talked about.

It was Ayoung who raised her hand first, “Bitch and beach?” (Both nearly identically pronounced.)

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