PARALLEL PARKING BY SACHA MOORE 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 62 IMAGE BY JONATHAN BORBA
“Why do you care so much?” Mike would ask me. “What does she have that you want?” I’m not sure I could have articulated it. I tried to tell him how she seemed above the rest of us, yet mysterious, perhaps hiding some secret pain. Mike said I had too much imagination and turned on the television.
LOOK UP BY CASIMIR GRABOWSKI 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 62 IMAGE BY COURTNEY CLAYTON
She walked into the elevator, an ethereal millennial with coffee in hand, earbuds in, and limitless data delivering her a steady stream of dopamine. She pressed the button for her floor without looking up. Hello? I wanted to say. Please help me! My phone is broke!
CARYVILLE, TN BY WA REED 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 62 IMAGE BY VICKI REED VICKIREED.COM
Let’s assume for a moment
you’re barreling through Caryville, Tennessee
when you spot a sushi bar along Highway 116
to be precise, situated right next door to The Liquor Barn
showcasing Climax moonshine, bathtub gin, & The White Dog.
Now picture this documented in an aging photo album
the images, originally captured in color with a Polaroid
but over time faded to a sort of opaque-ish patina
one image showing families gathered there, and another
your reflection in the blue-black plate-glass.
I was writing a lot about sex in my 20s and 30s. Then I was writing about non-sex (which some may confuse with nonsense—ha!); I was thinking a lot about how people avoid sex and get all caught up in their heads instead. I was thinking about privilege and what it means to have and have not. I was also thinking a lot about beauty and what being beautiful is all about, how very beautiful one can be on the inside, or how very ugly. I was thinking about being connected and not connected. I wrote Curt to explore a lot of these questions. I was in essence exploring the polarities of yes and no.
I have an MFA in Fiction and Poetry from the New School. I’ve had stories and poems published online at Drunk Monkeys and Referential, and in journals Zeek, Rosebud, Good Foot.
In the late 1800s my great-grandfather wrote poetry in the north woods of Maine, years later his son in the trenches of World War I. Today my wife Vicki Reed and I feel fortunate to find ourselves surrounded by creative people and to share a studio where we often collaborate on writing and publishing projects.
Because I’m always on the lookout, always open to new ideas, new approaches, my subject matter tends to be drawn from everyday life. If in a social setting someone asks, Did I tell you about Bill and the Yellow Pages? I hear Bill and the Yellow Pages as the title of a short story. So I tuck it away, confident that sooner or later a storyline will emerge. If they say, So Lorraine decides she wants to make her own shoes, I hear it as a first line. Caryville, TN was written on a road trip with Vicki through Kentucky and Tennessee occasionally stopping to taste interesting bourbons and the local cuisine.
My poetry and short fiction has been published in small press literary arts magazines and literary journals, most recently Zone 3 and The Main Street Rag. I’ve published several chapbooks of poetry including Still Waters (with photographer Vicki Reed), Text & Texture (with visual artists Deb Mortl, Claudette Lee, and Vicki Reed) and Collected Poems: 1990-2009.
I’m finding that every blank page I sit down at to write into turns out to be not blank at all, but actually quite full. It contains every possible story on every possible topic in every possible place or time I can possibly write in on or about. It may sound odd but writing for me is not so much about laying words on the page as it is removing blank spaces. It is starting to seem to me that my relationship between the blank page, the final text written, and the act of “writing” are quite like what Michelangelo felt his was to his art, as expressed in his quote, “The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.” This applies directly to how I feel about my writing now that I’ve so many years behind me with so many years to go (I hope), “The desired text is already complete within the blankness spread over the page, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to clear away the superfluous emptiness concealing it.”
My writing has been published in South Carolina Review, Xavier Review, Phoebe, Baltimore Review, New Orleans Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Literary Review, 34thParallel, 14 Hills, Witness, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Le Scat Noir.
My writing is fueled by anxiety, caffeine, and lo-fi beats. It happens in pockets of time, mainly in my iPhone notes while I’m walking or waiting for a train.
My to do lists act as a salve. (Because constant strategizing means you don’t have to take action.) Music makes me believe in God. Running clears my head. A glass or three of Malbec does too, for the moment, until I wake up the next day, pinned down by spiraling thoughts.
Writing is like a charismatic moody lover that simultaneously lifts me up and lets me down. I can’t get enough.
I started writing when I was in first grade. I used a long thin piece of paper meant for a basket-weaving craft project. I remember it being red but I don’t trust my memory. I folded it back and forth against itself like a fan, secured it with a single staple on one side and filled the tiny one-inch pages with the adventures of a ladybug named Legg. In third grade, I wrote my first nonfiction story, The Moving Family, based on my experience as an Air Force Brat living in Germany.
I graduated from University of Florida’s Journalism School in 2008 with a degree in Public Relations and moved to New York City and wrote, but only as a hobby. I interviewed artists and reviewed songs for music website Earmilk and curated a monthly playlist feature called The Indie Skim. Prior to that I penned a column on “the quarter-life crisis” for Stay Thirsty Media and was an entertainment writer for Z!NK magazine.
When I decided I wanted to write write, I decided I wanted to do it right, and needed the hypothetical gun-to-my-head to actually carve out the time. Spending thousands of dollars on school turned out to be a pretty threatening weapon. I started my MFA in Creative Nonfiction with the New School in New York City while working full-time in advertising. And at some point, I tapped into the power of persuasion for my own personal use and morphed my love of pithy prose into a career as a copywriter. Before moving to London this past fall, I lived in New York City for 10-plus years.
I had to scour for moments to write. I found them hiding: in the delicious sun-streaked silent hours of early morning, while waiting on a subway platform, or waiting for a friend at dinner, and when I’d miraculously have 10 precious minutes between meetings.
My story is about the in-between. When a kaleidoscope world turns grayscale, and the past and future collide in a suspended convergence of complacency. The depressing, statistical fact that nearly half of my life is behind me and although I can course-correct, I can’t change my trajectory. Not truly. For example, I probably won’t be an investment banker or an actress. It doesn’t matter if I want either, neither, or both of these things. It’s a matter of simple math and lack of time. I’m on the path I’m on.
Speaking of paths, I’m in danger of you running me over with your car as I type, because I write while I walk. I’m a walk-writer. Which is really just a euphemism for jaywalker. I like to write what moves me, and typically me moving helps the overall movement of my thoughts. Like when pregnant women take a lap around the block to get things going. Or so I’ve heard. And at this stage in my life, my words are my babies in need of constant coddling and attention. So when they cry out, I pick them up and swaddle them safely in my Notes app. I know it isn’t the traditional, seductive literary way, but right now, this is what works for me.
And like with That Gray Area, which is a color study about the murky and mundane, I believe, it’s in the seemingly insignificant in-between moments that life happens. It’s when I overhear conversations that I would never be invited to, that I have a front row seat to humanity or hatred, that I am in the world and my eyes are open even if my thumbs are tap-tap-tapping and an older gentlemen in the Tube station raises his fist in my direction shouting, “Watch where you’re going!” Even that. There’s a story there.
instagram.com/anna_murphy, twitter.com/anna_murphy, medium.com/@Anna_Murphy
Since the Maidan revolution of 2014 and the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine has been stuck in a seemingly endless conflict against itself and Russia. Due to the lack of news coverage in recent years few people outside of Europe seem to know about it, and out of those few even fewer understand the complexity of it. For centuries the borders of Eastern Europe have been constantly changing, and before the fall of the USSR countries like Belarus and Ukraine never existed as independent nations. Eastern Europe’s ethnic majority is slavic, and many Eastern Europeans see this as a strong bond between the nations of the region. In fact Putin’s primary justifications for his actions are based on the idea of a unified slavic state (though in reality he just wants to be the man known for the restoration of the pre-Soviet, great Russian empire). Many of the affected people are not opposed to the idea of slavic unification, but they are opposed to rule by Russia and the conflict that this recurring push brings. The conflict is not only complex from a political and human rights perspective, but also an emotional one. All these people want is to be able to live safely and comfortably, and they are lost as to why their governments see the need to create enemies out of people who share a similar heritage and culture. Yet still the rain keeps falling.
I am 19 and currently studying Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Film is my primary artistic interest, and my short films, Swallow, and A Perfect Day, have won awards in festivals. However, writing comes a close second. I simply enjoy creating, and I try to create using whatever mediums I find I have some level of “skill” at. My written work has never before been published.
The pieces of art that I adore most are those that create concrete images of emotion, because language still fails to define human emotion clearly. We know what words like “sad” and “happy” mean to us, because we feel and experience them within ourselves, but we have little idea as to what “sadness” or “happiness” might look or feel like for another person.
Ever since I can remember I’ve categorized things, like the ways people dress. I was obsessed with the quintessential preppy professorial look of my English teacher, so I wrote down what he wore every day (blue oxford shirt, white oxford shirt, khaki pants, blue jacket, etc). I have a maniacal compunction to Write Things Down and keep records of my experiences. This is like an insurance policy, for what I’m not sure. I think of it as a way to access your internal state because you’ll never know when you might need/want to do this. I’m forever on some kind of amorphous quest for Greater Awareness which I can’t quite define but would like to think I can sense when I’m walking in that direction. I live in a 350-square-foot apartment with my two kids (ages 10 and 7), two cats, a rabbit, two fish, and close to 70 plants. My writing has been published by bewilderingstories.com/issue785, spiritofchange.org, purpleclover.com, and life.ca.
Let’s put our phones down and be human again. My personal attempts at this, though somewhat respectable, always end with a relapse for more of that cheap dopamine. I think about writing more than I actually write. Your smile and friendly chatter will make my day. Bukowski, McCullers, and Eminem echo in my mind. I get stoned off the weather and drunk off the romance of my urban neighborhood. Give me overpriced rent, rough sex, and Middle Eastern food. Look! We’re all so millennial and good looking!