Nine Incredible Songs

These are nine of my favorite songs. If you’re looking for something new to listen to, I highly recommend them.

  1. Gravity’s Union (by Coheed and Cambria) – an incredible ballad about love, uncertainty, and an incredible otherworldly adventure. I sing this to myself a lot.
  2. Neglected Space (by Imogen Heap) – this one is part spoken word and part immersive alternative from the perspective of a decaying structure that yearns to be precious to someone again.
  3. Precious (by Depeche Mode) – a chillingly beautiful and dreamy song about parents lamenting the destructive effect their divorce had on their child. The instrumental toward the end will give you goosebumps.
  4. Heal (by Kerli) – an absolutely breathtaking electronic song in which Kerli reflects on her long-past relationship with drugs.
  5. Mercy (by IAMX) – this is the song from IAMX’s period of releases about BDSM and unhealthy relationships that most effects me. This one isn’t safe for work.
  6. Red Dress (by TV on the Radio; Glitch Mob remix) – this one also has bad language in it. A decadent electronic remix of a song about war, mankind, and the cowardice of many civilians.
  7. Atlas Air (by Massive Attack) – this song is sleek and easy to listen to. Their juxtaposition of R&B, hip hop, and alternative electronic sounds is uncanny and completely unique.
  8. Sea Castle (by Purity Ring) – despite containing no innuendos, the heady bass and lyrics of this song, from the perspective of someone hopelessly obsessed with their love interest, are chillingly erotic.
  9. Master of Disaster (by Seether) – this song is one of Seether’s few that are bitterly, painfully raw and beautiful. Its lyrics are a tired and cynical but gut-wrenchingly childlike statement to a manipulative lover.

Admissions Letter

Since I could pick up a crayon, I have been drawing. Since I learned the alphabet, I have been writing. From childhood, the inexplicable need to create has driven me to expend hours upon hours wrought across thousands of sheets of paper. Booklets of crayon drawings I stapled together still fill my shelves, their subject matter so rough that I can no longer decipher it. Expressing myself through art and the written word is how I verify my own existence. By having physical proof, made of paper and ink, I can prove that I have worth at the end of the day.

Over the past several years, I have been fortunate enough have my efforts verified by others: I won the Best Book Award at the 2005 Ohio Young Authors Conference as a fifth grader, while participants from neighboring schools ranged from fifth to eighth graders. In the 2007 Ohio Power of the Pen regional tournament, I won third place for a short story. My art has been awarded over a dozen blue ribbons at the county fair in elementary, middle and high school, and I was awarded the first ever scholarship to attend the annual Writers’ Workshop at my college due to the former dean believing that my writing was worthy of being reviewed by participating authors.

Throughout my college career, I have discovered that my passion for writing extends beyond the realm of fiction. Writing research papers and persuasive material comes naturally to me. I enjoy posting concise statements of philosophical or political opinion on social media sites in order to provoke conversation and debate. Even print and television advertisements spark my creativity, frequently resulting in rants about how much more effectively I could market a product with the same resources.

This is something business courses have prompted me to realize; something that I had previously been unaware of. Without the ability to harness language to convey why a product or service is necessary to consumers, its quality, no matter how remarkable, is meaningless. With a degree from a university that shares my values and emphasizes excellence and hard work, I will be able to use my creativity to help businesses connect with potential consumers, and those consumers, in turn, will be able to select services that best fit their needs based on thorough and concise information.

I believe that your university is the best organization for me to pursue a degree in corporate communications through, and that my degree will enable me to harness my passion for writing and communications to connect to and benefit the world around me.


Depression is like molasses,

The gunk that fills up your joints

And stops up your head

Every time someone asks,

Can I get a gift card for $20?

What time are you free tomorrow?

How do I get to the nearest gas station?


The language I have spoken my whole life

Has suddenly become a jumble of noises

I can’t decipher.


Heady, unshakable exhaustion

Leaves me sputtering and frowning

As an undercurrent of prickling anxiety and

Burning humiliation warms my face.

Let me go check, I utter

(I don’t miss your puzzled look)

But you will move on

From the hard stop to the flow of things,

And I will become

But an irksome smudge on your memory.

Fear (November 14th)

I’m afraid.

Of what, I can’t really say. I’m afraid of my mom dying. I’m afraid that Dan and I won’t make enough money to be okay. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find a good job because of my own self-sabotaging habits. I’m afraid that Dan will die in some freak accident and I’ll walk into his room and that handsome, sweet face will be pale and cold and still and nothing will matter anymore. I’m afraid of my mom feeling completely alone and abandoned when I move out, and that something will happen to her while she’s trying to do something stupid and dangerous that she could do when she was younger.

I’m afraid that a sect of ISIS will attack my loved ones for being too American or too Jewish or just too free.

I’m afraid of death.

I’m afraid of everything.

I’m afraid of the immense potential for me to live out my whole life without completing a single project that I know would inspire so many people.

Part of this is just depression, of course. The disease that surreptitiously sucks the happiness and beauty out of each moment until you’re terrified and empty and can’t seem to pinpoint why or when or where it all started.

Part of this is my insecurity. I’m afraid that my family looks down on me for being too liberal yet too conservative. For being too unmotivated yet too opinionated; for being too overweight yet too pretty. Every moment with Dan is silently undermined by the fact that I fear that my mom doesn’t approve of him and is too afraid of alienating me to say so. I alternate between being combative and passionate and uncaring of what other think, and being so scared of offending anyone that I am immobilized. Part of this is knowing that, back in school, people believed rumors that I’d slept with this person and was stalking and harassing that one, among a handful of more bizarre things. I’m sure there were more rumors that I never learned of. What I’m still too weak to get over is that people I loved and trusted spread these lies and that people I looked up to believed them. And in that sense, I’m afraid of letting go of these heroes I’ve created; these individuals I’ve put on pedestals who it breaks my heart to admit are just as selfish and petty and flawed as everyone else.

I’m afraid that I’ll just be good enough.

I’m afraid of the implications therein; that being kind and generous and godly for some reason aren’t enough in my own eyes. I’m afraid of my own ambition.

I’m afraid I’ll accidentally injure or kill my own pets. I’m afraid of sticking up for myself against the wrong person and getting shot or beaten or raped. I’m afraid of the giant invisible spider that will bite me if I don’t check every time before I sit down on the toilet. I’m afraid of cancer. I’m afraid of crowds. I’m afraid that I’m going to squander this gift of food and shelter and safety (that I am in no way worthy of) being afraid of everything.

So … that’s that, I guess.

And now the thing to do is get over it and live my life anyway.

BOOKS, Part 1

“So, Anna, tell me why you would be an asset to the Northton County Library.”


I swallowed. The dry patch remained in my throat, undisturbed.

“Well, I…” Gulp. “I love books. All books. I love to read them and to hold them and to feel the ink on the pages. I love the way different types of paper feel, and I love the sweet smell of really old books. I want to be around people who feel the same way as me, to share the joy of reading with as many people as I can.”

My hands were kneading against each other furiously. Linda Gausz stared at me patiently.

“All right … an interest in literature. That’s a good thing.” The pen in her hands scrabbled quickly across the clipboard. I felt ill. “Now, how skillfully would you say you interact with people?”

“Um…” Damn my ums. I kicked myself internally. “Outside of work … work scenarios, I tend to be quiet, but I’m pretty well-spoken. That comes from the reading, I suppose,” I chuckled.

Linda gave a small, sympathetic smile.


The pen danced across the paper. On the counter, the radio began to play Cher. I was vaguely horrified when the woman began tapping her foot and mouthing the words as they crackled across the room.

“What’s your grade point average from your most recent year of school?”

“It’s a three point five.” I could clearly see a “3.5” on the form, but she scribbled something down anyway.

“And are you currently in school?”

“Yes. Well, no, not right now.”

The pen’s dance stopped. The woman stared at me over the rims of her glasses.

“I mean, I will be in the fall. It’s summer break right now.”

Her earrings jingled as she nodded slowly. “…Right.”

My fingers had opted for picking at my nail polish, my knuckles dancing like piano strings. A flake of translucent pink fluttered to the carpet.

“All right, tell me one thing about yourself that you wouldn’t want me finding out from a mutual friend.”

What the heck?

My mouth was moving before I knew it was going to. “I only pain my toenails on Sundays.”

Oh my God. What?

Linda stared at me. The humiliation made my ears buzz.

“Uh – ahem.” She tapped her pen on the clipboard. “Why wouldn’t you want me finding this out?”

“It’s obsessive – neurotic,” I amended when Linda’s eyebrows twitched upward at such a strong word. “I have these little weird habits and I need … I like to have things done at a certain time so I don’t have to worry about them.”

“Oh! Well, that’s good.”

“Is it?” Beneath me my toes burned with righteous anger. I had painted them yesterday, which was a Tuesday.


A few more smears of ink decorated the forms, and the woman clicked her pen and clasped her hands. “I think we’re about done here, Anna.”

“Mmmn-” The lump reluctantly left my throat after a series of swallows. “-okay…”

“I’ll get this in for processing and we’ll contact you in the next five days to let you know if we’re interested.”

Nodding, I croaked out an “Okay.”

“Thank you for coming in, Anna.”

I jumped up to catch her outstretched hand. Thank you.”

The thudding of my heart slowed as I left the break room and carefully descended the stairs. The sunlight blinded me as I stepped into the entrance and when the automatic doors opened, the breeze hit me in the face so hard that it sucked my breath out.

Pulling the hairs away that were stuck to my mouth, I walked to the nearest trash can and vomited.


He sits down next to me on the first day of class,

Handsome, anxious, pensive.

The proximity to another human being makes me shrink against my seat.

Murmurs swarm the air,

Of awful jobs and horrendous dates and weather

That stirs up muddy filth and homicidal urges.

Hey, he says, and I nearly jump. I smile and say hello.

Wide, intelligent eyes framed by a dark and beautiful face

Make my hands shake as I reach in my bag for a pencil.

He asks me if I’m excited for this semester.

I tell him I’d rather be at home playing Minecraft.

He laughs. Acquaintanceship has been broached.

He tells me that his sister lost her license,

That he almost didn’t make it today because his parents made him drive her.

Is there a favoritism issue somewhere in there?

He rolls his eyes.

Does them making me pay for her Starbucks when she has no job answer your question?

When I laugh and nod, he turns toward me a little.

Conversation has started.

I have actually made a friend.

The second hand hits the twelve and class begins.

Syllabus, expectations, weekly assignments, no extra credit. We begin chapter one.

The PowerPoint is in Garamond, the bullet points are little stars.

You draw faded, Expo marker lines between us. Dissect the room.

Teach us the futility of fairness, the satire that is understanding

And guilt piles onto my shoulders

For the actions of my great grandfathers and their fathers before them.

Pens tap on papers, pop cans hiss open.

A chime – someone was just mentioned on Twitter.

You reveal the subliminal messages

In everything we do;

The fear we don’t realize we’re feeling

And the oppression exacted by people who don’t intend it.

Monsters or victims,

No one is the equal.

I look down at my spidery hands,

At the sickly-pale skin

And what it represents.

The shrill cry of a zipper welcomes another – and another –

A whirlwind of coats and purses ensues as the period nears its close.

You give us our homework – one through seven in complete sentences.

The boy turns toward me now,

His lips parted to speak

I duck my head to hide behind my hair

Gather my books

And hurry out the door.

Urban Legends

The first person to approach Neil was Jared. He placed his coffee cup on a stack of completed forms and seated himself in the chair facing Neil’s laminated name plate, scooting forward and folding his hands on the desk. Neil patiently removed the mug from his stack of papers, setting it on a coaster.

“Man, we gotta talk.”

“All right,” Neil responded, setting down his pen.

A long moment passed during which Jared watched his coworker, his face a careful blank that was negated by the blatant concern in his traitorous, expressive eyes. He cleared his throat, looking down at his hands. “Man- I don’t know how to say this.”

Refusing to engage the man with the disheveled hair and the crooked tie, Neil waited.

“You are an awesome guy. You’re smart and funny and- and I know you don’t want to hear it, but Becky really does like you. Anyway, the bottom line is, you’re really important to this business. And I know I’m not best friends with Bossman, but I can tell that he thinks highly of your contributions.”

A drop of hazelnut coffee had been standing guard on the rim of the mug and now began its journey downwards.

“Man, are you listening?”

Neil looked up. “Yes.”

“Are you sure?” Jared leaned forward. “’Cause I don’t think you are.”

“The boss thinks highly of my contributions.”

One dark eyebrow rose. “And?

“And I’m awesome.”

Jared threw his hands in the air and an invisible burst of energy exploded forth from his endless reserves. He leaned back in the chair to cross one leg, his face hidden behind his knuckles in thought.

“You really are something, aren’t you?”

Neil forced himself to maintain eye contact. The bead of coffee dripped into the coaster and disappeared.

“You got everything, man. Nice house, good money, great family. That mama of yours makes hash browns like she has a black belt in it… I don’t get it. What’s not to like?”

“What do you mean?”

 “I mean why you gotta go and make stuff up for attention?”


“I haven’t lied since last January when I told the waitress at Krazy Fries that I’d take the online survey.”

Jared’s hand dropped to his lap. “Really? You are really going to do this right now? To me?

Neil stared at Jared, blinking once. Shaking his head, the man stood, grabbed his coffee, and left the room.

 – – –

The next person to confront him was Janet. She knocked three times, loud enough to make the pens rattle in the penholder. They seemed to Neil to be shuddering in fear.

The fabric of her corduroy skirt groaned in protest as she shuffled in and slammed the door. She seated herself with an unceremonious exhalation of air. It reminded Neil vaguely of a gas-filled yard decoration deflating.

“Mister Astor.”

He waited patiently for her to continue. Her eyelids batted sluggishly, the left a split second ahead of the right. She let out another whoosh of air and continued.

“As you know, my position here is as the public relations advisor and administrator. It is my job to ensure that employee interactions with our cherished customers are upbeat and productive.”

Neil wondered privately how he wouldn’t have known such a fact, as he had worked with Janet for just under seven years.

“It has come to my attention that you have been discussing work-inappropriate issues while on duty.”

This moment, apparently, was the appropriate one to heft her gargantuan, construction-site clipboard onto the desk. One of the faded orange flower stickers on the plastic was beginning to peel.

A seafoam-colored pen clicked, poised in the woman’s endless fingernails. She jotted down what appeared to be the date on the top line of the legal pad.

“You’ll have to excuse me, Janet.”

Janet looked up, her brow furrowing as if she would never forgive him for interrupting her writing of the number “3.”

Swallowing, he continued. “I’m not sure what I’ve said that was inappropriate.”

The woman’s massive body heaved upward, settling in a dubiously upright position. “Well what do you think, Mr. Astor?”

Mr. Astor took a moment to collect his thoughts. “It has been my understanding that inappropriate subjects are threatening or sexual in nature, or are the spreading of rumors. Or lowering morale in general.”

The gust of air that emerged from Janet could’ve knocked him out of his chair. “It has come to my attention that you have been discussing questionable issues in the workplace. And by questionable, I mean that they’re distracting, and they put employees in an awkward position.”

Neil cleared his throat. “Awkward, ma’am?”

“It means people aren’t sure how to respond.”

At this moment, crinkled flower sticker decided to make an escape attempt.

“You’re telling people to believe things that they aren’t sure they believe. It makes people uncomfortable, Mr. Astor, because they’re torn between acknowledging you by lying and being honest about their feelings.”

“But wouldn’t that make any opinion a party disagrees with an inappropriate workplace discussion?”

“I’m here to tell you that it can’t happen again. If it does, you’ll be in quite a spot. If it happens in front of a customer, Mr. Lewinsky will be offering that spoiled brat of his a nice consultant job.”

When Neil had no more contributions to make, Janet scribbled something down on her pad of paper. The flower raised a single petal to Neil. Neil thought it must be asking for his help.

When she left the room, the door slammed so hard that his monitor flickered before returning to his screensaver.

 – – –

After a day of relative normalcy, the door creaked open so quietly that Neil hardly heard it over the hum of his computer.

“Um, Neil?”

Minimizing the spreadsheet he was filling in, he looked up. Becky’s eyes were wide, and she shuffled through the crack in the door before closing it as if her life depended on the finesse of the act.

She seated herself in the chair across the desk and immediately began to squirm. “Um.” The blonde let out a small laugh, prompting her face to flush a brilliant red. “I guess I heard from Jared that – well, and I heard it myself too. Um.”

Brown eyes flickered up to his gaze and immediately dropped back to her lap.

“You said you’ve seen something s-strange, and I – I guess I wanted you to know that we don’t all think you’re crazy. Not that you thought that we thought that you were crazy. I just wanted you to know that you’re important to me – well, important to us.”

Becky pursed her lips and squeezed her eyes shut for a brief moment. Neil could see her pulse in her neck, hammering like that of a tiny bird.

“When I was little, I would see things. I … I knew that they were real. So I know what you’re going through, not to insult you in case I don’t, but I just…” The petite woman sucked in a breath and held it for a long moment. “At the time, the things I saw seemed so real that I believed them, but I know now that it wasn’t my fault. Things can seem so real, and that doesn’t make you crazy. It just makes you flawed, a-and that’s what I like about-”

I’m not seeing things.

Neil had risen to his feet and slammed his fist on the desk before he knew he was acting. The crease in his brow disappeared and his mouth fell open, embarrassment blocking the flow of any semblance of an apology from forming on his lips.

A sob tore itself from the woman’s throat as she cowered back into the chair.

“I’m sorry,” he felt himself mutter, mind a haze of disbelief at his own rage. “I’m…”

Becky had run out of the room before he could complete his sentence.

 – – –

The next discussion off the matter came not five minutes later when a small but round figure appeared through the mottled glass of Neil’s office door. Mr. Radjeet’s tired, sorrowful expression seemed for once to be intentional. He seated himself without a greeting.

“Mr. Astor, do you know why I’m here?”

Neil stared at a spot on the desk between them. “Possibly.”

“Rebecca Morrison just walked past my office, very upset. Several of your co-workers reported an altercation of sorts that came from this room. A shouting.” He cleared his throat, a task that sounded like a great and fruitless undertaking. “Would you happen to know anything about that?”

There was a speck on the desk, Neil realized. Dirt, perhaps. “Yes, I think I would.”

“Neil,” Mr. Radjeet uttered, leaning forward and forcing his weary gaze to be met, “we’ve had this issue before. A few months ago something was said repeatedly to employees, and it started up again a couple of days ago. I sent Janet over to speak with you, and she seemed assured that the issue was resolved.”

“She was mistaken,” Neil heard himself reply.

A sliver of irritation was beginning to line the chubby man’s voice.

“Neil, this behavior is unacceptable. You cannot force your urban legends on people who are here to do a job. It would be one thing if you say you think you saw something in the woods once while you were drunk, but you’re telling people it’s coming into your house!” He sat back, and Neil’s eyes returned to the speck on the desk. It couldn’t be dirt. Maybe ink?

“I have given you ample time to fix this problem, Neil. Our benefits cover counseling services as long as your doctor refers you. You’ve been employee of the month six times! I don’t understand why you aren’t content with your position here.”

He looked back up at his boss. Yes, it was most definitely ink. A rose-colored sheet of paper slid across the desk, pushed by Mr. Radjeet’s stubby fingers.

“For the good of the business, I have to let you go, Neil.”

 – – –

The door closed behind him with a creak, and the man shuffled his feet across the welcome mat. His shoes clattered to the floor followed by his keys clattering onto the bookstand. Not bothering to remove his coat, Neil shuffled into the kitchen.

The figure at his kitchen table set his beer down when Neil entered. As usual, a deck of cards was sprawled across the table. “Hey, man. How was work?”

“I got fired,” Neil answered simply. The figure grunted, and his eyes lowered beneath the thick curtain of fur that covered his face.

“Awww. I’m sorry, Neil.”

“You have to leave.” Gathering his courage, he looked at the massive creature and forced his voice to be stern.

With a sigh, the thing in his kitchen picked his hand of cards back up. “Now why would I do that? Free power, hot showers … and those hash browns your mom brings over every Sunday? Amazing.”

When the thing said no more, Neil shook his head tiredly and went up the stairs.