DVDs $1, Stories Are Free

This house and its occupants are prepping for a garage sale this week. London’s help is extremely limited to nonexistent. She takes a long time examining every little thing we hand her, so she won’t be determining what we are getting rid of and what we are saving. She is most helpful when she decides to take a long morning nap on a Sunday so we can dig through the basement for potential hot ticket items.

We found lots of things to sell yesterday and just as much to throw away or donate. I discovered I had three copies of Goodfellas. (Hey, if there’s one movie to own several copies of it’s that one.) I have a DVD player to sell, but I can’t seem to locate the power cord or the remote. I am finally going to sell my Star Wars Pepsi can collection from one movie, which was both the most anticipated movie of all time and the most disappointing movie of all time, The Phantom Menace. But this can collection? Pristine. Complete. It represents a lot of work. It represents a lot of soda drinking.

For some reason I still had the majority of my class notes from the University of Wyoming. I chucked them all, but kept a few stories to possibly share on here. I threw out two boxes of old New Yorkers, magazines I had been saving because there was at least one tantalizing article in each magazine. I had lofty visions of getting to all of them some day, but having so many magazines and books I want to read around the house can really stress me out. It almost leads to less reading because I see the stacks everywhere and just think, I’ll never make it, why start now?

So, to those stories. I’m going to close this post with one. Please note, these are not my words. It was an assignment in an undergrad writing class for which you had to use a minimum number of sources to build one story or essay using nothing but quotes, a literary collage. And, here it is…

What I recall isn’t pain but a sense of jarring reversal, as of all motion, sound, and light encountering their massive opposites. I felt grass and dirt against my cheek, and sorrow that Dad was shot, and confusion that I couldn’t reach him. (1)

As I saw the last blue line of my native land fade away like a cloud in the horizon, it seemed as if I had closed one volume of the world and its concerns, and had time for meditation before I opened another. (2)

I shut my eyes, the old morte settled its grip, and the next country gathered itself under my feet. (1)

The grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise. (3)

I waded ashore with measureless relief. The bank was an even slope of waving knee-high grasses and I came up into them and turned to look back. It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you’d been wading and knew its current. Somehow I’d crossed it and somehow was unsurprised at having done so. (1)

There came into view a man, or so it seemed. (4) He had a blue coat and a long brown beard; his eyes were blue and bright, and his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter. In his hands he carried on a large leaf as on a tray a small pile of white water-lilies. (4)

“This is what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.” (5)

The words uttered by the person without, affected me as somewhat singular, but what chiefly rendered them remarkable was the tone that accompanied them. It was wholly new. I cannot pretend to communicate the impression that was made upon me by these accents or to detect the degree in which force and sweetness were blended in them. They were articulated with a distinctness that was unexampled in my experience. But this was not all. (6)

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (7)

It (the words) imparted to me an emotion altogether involuntary and uncontrollable. When he uttered the words my heart overflowed with sympathy and my eyes with unbidden tears. (6)

He sat down on a rock and swung his feet in a stream–it was deep and swift; it would take him in a moment. I seized his arm. Please, I said. Soon, he replied, which makes better sense under the rules of that country than ours. Very soon! he added, clasping my hands; then unable to keep from laughing, he pushed off from the rock like a boy going for the first cold swim of spring; and the current got him. (1)

Is there a single person on whom I can press belief? No sir. All I can do is say, Here’s how it went. Here’s what I saw. I’ve been there and am going back. Make of it what you will. (1)



(1) Enger, Leif. Peace Like a River. Atlantic Monthly: New York, 2001.

(2) Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. Penguin: New York, 1978.

(3) Tolkien, J.R.R. Return of the King. Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1955.

(4) Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1954.

(5) Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce. Harper: San Francisco, 1946.

(6) Brown, Charles Brockden. Wieland. Oxford: New York, 1994.

(7) Hebrews 6:12. Bible.


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