Halloween Stories written by TEFL students

All of my classes have to write an essay each month as required by my school. The younger students have to write a minimum of 100 and the older students write between 200-300+ depending upon the class levels. This month I gave my students the essay topic ‘Write a scary story’ ((The younger students wrote about their halloween costumes)). The purpose of the scary story essays was to get their creative juices flowing. Also, I wanted the students to get used to using descriptive words to make their stories more interesting. I’m not going to write or post each essay on here but I want to give you all an idea of the different story ideas they came up with.

Lucy F – A prince and princess want to secretly meet at an abandoned house. They are looking for each other when a male ghost arrives. He kills the princess before she can get to her prince and eats her flesh. Then he stalks the prince, falls in love with him, kills him and marries the Prince’s ghost. (((A gay ghost story?! Brilliant)))

Alex S – The story starts out with a brilliant description of a haunted house (“the steam from the pot looked like the breath of the Devil”) when two ‘creatures’ come to life from said pot. They are ‘Limon’ and “Strawkenstein”. Basically, they’re halloween candies (lemon and strawberry, respectively) who get put into pumpkin jail. Then are given to ‘two bloody ghosts’ as treats who then eat the candies and ‘the worst part is… the ghosts smiled when the candies screamed to their deaths’ ! Brilliant! Candy’s perspective of halloween.

Fred M – Astronauts find a person who can live on the moon without a spacesuit… until they realize it’s a goblin. 😛

Chris S – A boy gets lost in the woods looking for his dog. He comes across a ghost who is known to eat humans but can mimic any sound perfectly. So the boy tells him to sing like EXO (a korean boy band) and he does. So the boy captures the ghost and makes him audition for SuperStar K (american idol of korea). The ghost sings so well that he wins the contest and becomes famous. He earned a billion won and since he’s a ghost he can’t spend the money. So the boy gets it and becomes rich. ((((aka – a scary agent story)))) **fun fact, this kid wrote nasty stuff in Korean on the desk about me and is now in a lot of trouble with the school **

Sally M – A time traveling father-and-son-duo do just that. They find a time machine space ship and enter a room where they find Queen Elizabeth I. Robots are trying to steal her brain for their spaceship so they can control everyone in the UK. Father and Elizabeth fall in love. Father goes back to get his jacket from another room, but upon returning to the Queen’s room, she’s already long dead because that’s how time travel works. ((So original, but not scary))

Sarah j – A lonely girl is at an overnight stay at school. She goes to the bathroom and encounters a ghost. She can only see the ghost because the girl is so lonely. The ghost asks her to be friends. She goes back to the main area with her peers because her only friend is a ghost. Then her school peers take her to the roof and push her off. She dies and becomes a ghost with the other ghost.

Adam F – A guy goes into a haunted house and finds a ghost there. He leaves and thinks its a dream. So he goes back and finds a lot of money in the house and takes it. But when he goes outside again, he is now in a forest. And there are zombies trying to kill him. He runs out of the forest from the zombie and meets a devil. The devil tries to kill him so he runs back into the forest and finds a castle where the haunted house was. He goes in and sees a vampire. So he ends up being killed by a vampire, devil, and zombie.  (((A+ for vocabulary usage)))

Those are only a few of the many stories I received from my Korean students.

Advertisements

Pity: Party of One

Pity: Party of One.

 

I walked into this restaurant called Choice and asked for a table. “Do you have a reservation?” inquired the maitre’d. I shook my head. “How many in your party?” the maitre’d asked with a disapproving eyebrow raised. “Just me,” I replied. I glanced around the restaurant. The sign above the dining room read “The Bourgeois Bistro.” There were families laughing and eating mac n cheese and pizza. In a quieter area I noticed couples having their wine and steak while holding hands across the candlelit tables. This seems like a pretty nice restaurant. It’s different to seat families in one section and couples in another, but that’s a brilliant idea, I thought.

I waited and waited. It seemed like years went by. I watched groups of people walking past me and be seated. Some were seated right away while others had to wait a little bit. My stomach growled. Will I ever get a table? I’m starting to feel hungry! The speaker was turned on and I heard, “Pity? Party of 1?” I smirked as I thought, Whose last name is Pity? Sucks to be them. But nobody went to the stand. “Pity? Party of 1?” was repeated. I looked around and finally I realized the maitre’d was looking directly at me. I never gave him my name. Pity? How rude, I thought. He walked me past The Bourgeois Bistro. We walked into a brick walled section with a neon flashing “Off the Beaten Path Pub.” Then he sat me at the bar. The bar?? I’ve waited and waited and they put me at the bar?? I questioned a host and she said, “I’m sorry but we don’t allow wanderers into the Bistro.” Wow. That’s some bullshit. “But I’m not a wanderer, I know what I want in life,” was all I could reply. She smiled sympathetically and said, “You’ll enjoy being Off the Beaten Path.” Something about that was wrong, thought the grammar troll within me.

I sullenly scanned the bar area. There were others there, so I wasn’t alone at least. Some people were talking and smiling flirtatiously with each other – had they just met? Is this just a date for them? I received a gin and tonic and looked around again. There were some singles there, too. Some of them sipping soup, others were noshing on a fried appetizer plate. Off the Beaten Path didn’t seem so bad, so far.

I looked down and saw food sitting in front of me. I don’t remember ordering anything… There was curry, Kimchi, sushi, and other exotic foods. “But I didn’t order this,” I told the bartender. He was smiling as he shook his head. “Of course you did. This was your choice.” I started to get frustrated and replied, “What if I wanted mac n cheese like the family back there? Or a filet mignon? Or both?!” A few people were watching me make a commotion but went back to their own bubbles after I quieted down. “You’ll get your steak one day. It will be cooked to perfection. If not, you’ll get another steak. Maybe you’ll have your very own mac n cheese one day. You can have as many different cheeses as you want. But you made this choice.” I couldn’t think of how I made that choice without having actually stated an order.

I gave up and tried my sushi first. It was like candy. The tuna and salmon sashimi were like slices of heaven and paradise. Tasting the Hawaiian roll was like lying on a beach with the sun tanning my skin. I tried a mackerel nigiri – it wasn’t my favorite, but I wouldn’t know it if I hadn’t tried it. Every bite of sushi filled my heart and soul with wonder and happiness. I regretted taking that last bite because it meant my sushi was gone.
I took a few bites of my bread and it seemed to taste so boring and plain. I put it down. I went for the curry next. It was green and spicy. It was a challenge to eat. The heat was making me sweat. The vegetables in it were so different. I just couldn’t get used to it. I didn’t know if I loved it, but it was an experience.

I nibbled the Kimchi. Hmmm. It’s not unfamiliar. But it’s not completely familiar either. The spice was different. I enjoyed the vinegary taste because it reminded me of my beloved pickles from home. Mmm, I liked that garlic flavor too. I could savor this for a bit. I was slow to eat it. I took a bite of bread now and then for comfort. It only satisfied me for the moment though. What I was really craving was fondue…

I looked around again. These people who were occupying the bar seemed so different from the people in the main dining area. They came across as more casual. They looked a little worn, but not tired. It was almost refreshing to be around them. This isn’t an area for people who should be pitied, I thought. I wonder who all these people are? I started talking to people around me. A small group of travellers were eating different kinds of curry and talking about their gap year in Southeast Asia. A hippy looking girl was eating naan and lamb. She looked like she just came from a swim in the Ganges. I noticed everyone was eating something ‘exotic’ in one way or another. A soldier was eating sausage or and a sweet young blond was feasting on a pasta dish.

I approached a couple that seemed sweet and light-hearted. We had great conversation and shared insights and advice. They were drinking sangria, eating rice and beans, and yellow curry. They drank together and ate together. They travelled together. More travellers? ”Why aren’t you two eating in the main room? Aren’t you a couple? How did you get seated at the bar?” I inquired. “We chose to sit here. We’re not interested in steak and mac and cheese, ” he replied. “Not right now anyway,” laughed his strawberry blonde mate. We exchanged information, and I went back to my chair.

I drank alone for a bit more. Suddenly I noticed how loud the bar sounded. I checked behind me and saw a bigger guy with a full beard at a table surrounded by others. They were all laughing. The table was cluttered with food and drinks. The bearded guy was eating giant helpings of the food. The others around the table nibbled the food in front of them. I watched for a while. The guy would eat something, then make a joke and everyone around him chortled. Repeat. Repeat. This guy must be hilarious. He seems to have made so many friends! Then he turned and stared directly at me. I waved in embarrassment and he motioned for me to join his group. I grabbed my beverage and walked over. He was huge! He was a like a bear standing up! He draped his heavy arm around my shoulder and said, “Why don’t you eat something with me? We’re all here having a good time and sharing stories. I saw you had some curry. I had curry ages ago. Tell me about it.” So I did. This group of random people sat around laughing and eating and drinking. It was so familiar and comfortable. We shared our stories and experiences. All of us had been somewhere different.

After a few drinks and tasting wonderful treats, the big guy turned to me. “You haven’t introduced yourself, you know. I’m Boston,”  he smiled. “Boston? Like the city?” I asked. Boston replied, “Yeah where are you from?” “Orlando,” I said, sheepishly. “It’s nice to meet you, Orlando,” everyone replied. I was meeting people from all over the world: Seattles (loads of them), Michigans, Germany, Norway, France, Perth, Israel, Malaysia, Essex, Londons, and so many more people! Nobody had a real name, but nobody seemed to need it. We were all swapping stories and information. It wasn’t long before I realized that this Off the Beaten Path Pub was exactly what I wanted and where I needed to be right now. I’m sure one day I’ll get a table in the Bourgeois Bistro, but I’ll make that reservation when I’m ready. I guess it really is my Choice. So, until then, à la bonne vie!

Confessions of a Night Owl

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin

The only thing that makes sense about this to me is the keyword “man.” I don’t speak for every woman out there. But I can promise you this: I am not a man.

If I am ‘early to bed’ I won’t sleep for another few hours, which will only cause unnecessary overthinking and overanalysing about things that don’t matter.

If I should be ‘early to rise’ I can damn well guarantee that I will lose a lot of friends by 10am. My personal motto is “I’ll smile after 10am.” I’m not mean, but I don’t come across as sunshine and rainbows. I don’t need coffee to wake me, but it’s a good prop for ‘do not disturb.’

I sit here at 9:50am typing this entry. I am TrYING to type this entry. I cannot begin to tell you how many typing, spelling, and grammatical errors I have had to go back and change. ((In that sentence alone I think I had to correct 8 spelling and 2 grammatical)). I’m not a bad speller – in fact I’m quite good at it. But I don’t function. My body and mind coordination doesn’t work. I’ll be asked later how I got that nasty bruise in the strangest of places on my arm. I may not recall, but chances are it happened before 10am and it was due to my seeing an object, trying to veer out of its way, and then pummeling directly into it.

I probably sound spoiled. But I have been lucky in life. I’m a massage therapist and now a TEFL teacher. Only on two very limited occasions have I had to get up for a job early. I worked the beverage cart on a golf course a few times and that was DAMNED early. But I got to drive around and sip on a bloody mary (don’t tell my boss) waiting for my favorite old men to order a coffee with one sugar (two if he wasn’t playing with his wife). The other was for a company working on a very popular Mouse property. That was hell. And I didn’t do very well with my massages… so they switched me to a later shift.

I usually get jobs that don’t require me to be clocked in before 10am. For teaching in Korea, I don’t have to be at work until 4pm! This means I don’t finish until 10pm. Sometimes it stinks.. but then again… I go to bed late anyway.

“The early bird catches the worm” – English Proverb

they forgot to mention… the night owl gets the mouse and sometimes other larger creatures.

No, this doesn’t apply to me. But I think it’s fun to say it.

Owls are interesting creatures aren’t they? There was an owl that frequented my neighborhood in the US. It was amazing to me, seeing it sitting on a lamp post or on top of the stop sign. My media filled imagination hoped for a few moments that I would have an envelope fly to me inviting me to join Hogwarts. But I know these owls are delivering parcels. They’re just taking care of any small wildlife problem we may have had in the neighborhood. But they were still so majestic.

If I were any animal… I wouldn’t be an owl. I’d probably be a sloth. They get to sleep and do nothing. It’s brilliant.owl painting

The Fifth Housemate: A Scary Story Inspired by True Events

My students are writing scary/horror stories  as a monthly essay piece. I decided to write my sample essay as inspiration for them. The story is based on  some events that actually happened with a huge exaggeration from my fantastic imagination. The names have been changed and the relationships are semi-fictional.

The Fifth Housemate

Shannon

            It was a muggy summer evening in Thailand when the four friends moved into their house. Parkin and Paddy were brothers, and Kim and Shayla were best friends. The four had moved to the new town for work. It had been raining all day.

Parkin unlocked the door and opened it with a creak. The four friends all walked in with their bags. They looked around the big house. It was dark and dusty. There were spider webs in the corners. The house smelled like mold and dust. “This place is creepy,” Kim whispered. They heard a buzzing sound and the lights suddenly came on. Shayla gasped and Kim jumped. They turned around and saw Paddy standing next to the light switch. He laughed at their reaction. “Let’s put our stuff down,” he said. “Our rooms are upstairs,” Parkin replied. They all went upstairs and put down their bags.

As the brothers came back down, they saw the girls waiting for them with cleaning supplies. “If we do this together, it won’t take as long,” Shayla stated. Kim agreed, “Plus it’s raining out, we aren’t going anywhere anyway.” Shayla grabbed a feather duster and started to dust the cabinets. She opened up a drawer, screamed, and ran from the room. “There’s a freaking snake in the kitchen!” she screamed. Everyone looked at her like she was crazy. Paddy followed her back into the kitchen but no snake was found. After calming down a bit, Shayla began to clean again. She opened up a cabinet and gave a startled shout. “Oh my goodness! You guys, come here!” Kim , Parkin, and Paddy ran into the room hoping to see the snake. They saw Shayla holding a little doll. It looked like a laughing baby. It had dark skin and dark hair. It wore a yellow and red frock. Shayla giggled, “It’s kind of cute.” Paddy recoiled, “It’s kind of creepy.” Kim moved away, “It’s SUPER creepy. Please put that away!” Shayla put it down and continued cleaning.

After nightfall, the house was finished being cleaned. “I have never seen so many cockroaches in my life,” Kim remarked. The housemates decided it was time to eat. The brothers went into the kitchen to see if there was any food in the fridge. Parkin opened it up and jumped back with a scream. “Paddy! That’s not funny!” he cried. Paddy looked at him confused. Parkin pulled the doll out from the fridge. Paddy said, “I didn’t put that creepy baby there. Maybe it was one of the girls.” The two girls walked in to see what they were shouting about. “We didn’t put it there. We were just ordering pizza in the other room,” they said after seeing the doll. The housemates argued for a few minutes over the prank. Kim suddenly stopped talking. She looked around and said, “Guys, where’s the creepy baby?”

The terrified housemates looked around but couldn’t find the doll anywhere. Lightning began to strike and thunder boomed loudly. “Is anyone else getting scared?” Shayla asked. “Don’t let your imagination get to you,” Kim replied. The housemates continued to search for the creepy baby doll. They were about to give up when they heard three music notes being played from the pool room. They rushed in and saw the creepy baby lying on its side on the pool table. “I didn’t even know we had a pool table,” Shayla said. Parkin picked up the doll and said, “Apparently it was a music box?” He wound it up but no music came out. Paddy took the doll and tore off its head. “There, now it can’t bother us.”

They went back into the living area to relax now that the creepy doll was out of their hair. Paddy complained about being hungry. The doorbell rang as more lightning lit up the unnerved room. Shayla screamed. “Calm down, will you?” Parkin requested, “It’s only the pizza guy.” He went to the door and opened it up. There was nobody standing at the door. He closed it and went back into the hall. “Nobody was there. The doorbell rang, didn’t it?” he asked. Everyone agreed they had heard it. Then they heard three music notes coming from the pool room. Shayla sat on the couch quivering, “Nope. I’m not going in there!” Kim stayed with Shayla while the brothers visited the room. There was no doll there this time. They agreed to not mention it to the girls. They didn’t want them to freak out. They were assuring the girls the doll was still in the pool room when there was a loud knocking on the door. They all looked at each other. This time all four slowly tiptoed to the door. When they opened it, they found the creepy baby sitting on top of the pizza box with it’s laughing head back on.

 

 

The creepy baby doll that inspired this story ….and the painting I did of it.

Creepy baby

When controversy becomes too controversial

These days it seems many young and up-and-coming celebrities use controversy as a means to gain publicity. Yes, I’m referring to Miley Cyrus. No, I’m not only referring to her. Miley Cyrus is using sex and her inability to twerk to gain public interest. ((Seriously?? Naked swinging on a wrecking ball? Girl doesn’t even have a good lookin’ bod!)) Lady Gaga has used outrageous costumes to grab the attention of her ‘Monsters’ (rightfully called if they follow her so religiously). She has tagged along on the gay/lesbian/other train with her hit ‘Born This Way.’ Rihanna has ultimately failed in every women’s rights categories. She had the world behind her when Chris Brown kicked her ass. But then she comes out with songs like ‘Love the Way You Lie’ and ‘S&M’. Her most recent hit ‘Pour it Up’ is about making it as a stripper.

But it’s not just celebrities. Politicians pave their political path by supporting or not supporting the important controversies: gays rights to get married, women’s pro-or-not choice, social security (which my generation will never see), and healthcare (Which my generation is seeing for the first time – outside of 26 years old). 

If it wasn’t for this controversy being brought up, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It was a big deal 50 years ago for someone to admit homosexuality, or birth control or abortion. Now two men or women in love can get married with a former president as a witness! A woman can be encouraged to use birth control and sometimes even getting an abortion. Not everyone is meant to be a mother. And women shouldn’t have to be forced into it if it could be a danger to their health (mental, physical, or emotional). It’s our body right?

 I watch as ‘friends’ on Facebook state they will ‘unfriend’ anyone who prefers one way or another. I can understand, I’ve been there before…but mostly because I no longer know the person/care about their personal life and/or their posts are dramatic and overzealous. 

This is all fine and dandy. But upon actual face-to-face/voice inclusive conversation with friends (new and old) I realize how uncomfortable it is to have a controversial opinion. So much so, that I don’t even want to mention what my controversial opinion is.

Yet, I feel trapped and confused. I’m watching and hearing ‘big’ controversies being discussed on television and radio but when I bring smaller or subcategory-type discussion up, I’m shot down. A writer should be able to face these controversies straight and tell it how it is. An opinion is ONLY an opinion. It doesn’t change who I am or who they thought I was. I still act the same way and wear the same clothes, but now they know something about me that they probably wish they didn’t know. But the danger of opening up and giving my opinion is that it now changes someone else’s opinion about me. In someone’s eyes, I have just lowered myself in their totem pole of respect. 

Perhaps I’m a hypocrite. What I am bothered by is in direct relation with something I support passionately. Can this be? Am I fooling myself? I’ve always considered myself open-minded. I went to massage school with hippies who literally had to be told ‘please shower or wear deodorant’; ‘please wear clothes’; ‘respect others eating preferences.. not everyone is vegetarian’… but can I tell them how annoyed I am by drum circles?! No. Because then I stand against their musical 5th amendment. They had a day dedicated to nudity. I’m a massage therapist, yes I know what the body consists of, HELL NO I don’t want to see yours! Especially as they run wild among the grass and wildflowers. Veganism? Vegetarianism? Sure Yea I get it. And luckily, my friends and family who are among the not-meat-eating-type are respectful enough to not preach about it. In fact, they’re so cool, they’ll say ‘BYOM – bring your own meat (hopefully cooked already)’. But it sure is difficult to be yelled at by a strict vegan for giving her child a banana brownie (VEGAN!!) using white sugar and all-purpose flour. What? It’s vegan! Yes, but you used bleached aka unnatural flour and sugar. —Hmmm. I went out of my way to figure out how to make vegan brownies so your children don’t feel left out during a bake sale. I hope their banana-chocolate farts fill your sunflower-covered-van. 

But I know my intentions. I know them well enough actually. I know when I’m trying to be spiteful and hurt someone. I’m a writer. I’m an actor. I know how to hurt on cue and twist the knife for good measure. But I don’t use that. And my intentions are not to bring harm. My intentions are good and I always do my best to clarify my intentions. I understand that I can be misunderstood. I have mastered the ‘stone face’ but that doesn’t mean I don’t care or am not listening. In fact, it means I’m blocking every thing else out so I can care and listen more to/for you. 

There’s nothing harder than for a person to admit something they know may not be good in another person’s eyes. It’s hard to stay quiet about something truly controversial. I can FEEL the controversy in my own heart and battle it in my mind. But it’s harder to watch the disappointment in someone’s eyes when you admit those opinions. Anyone can master the stone face, but the sparkle in one’s eyes can dull out a bit if they disagree. I know because I’ve felt the sparkle diminish in my own eyes. 

 

Not Just Another Beautiful Face – A Dedication

I saw my great-aunt for the first time in years. She was in the hospital getting ready to go for surgery. She called me a few months ago and when I asked to see her before I left for Korea, she said ‘No my sweetheart. It’s better this way.’ I’ve felt heartbreak before. I’ve felt it from young love, and the death of a beloved pet, and realizing that my dream would not be my reality.

But to be told by a dear family member that I may not see her again… that was new. I’m not happy about the circumstances that allowed me to see her. I ‘facetimed’ with my uncle while she writhed in pain in her hospital bed. But I saw her. I was as close to her as I may ever be again.

I looked at her aged face: the deep wrinkles, her teeth, her white and thinning hair. But what I saw for just a moment was such a beautiful smile. I know the smile masked the pain she was in. But we got to see each other. After years of not reaching out enough, her family surrounded her. Her nephew and sister in law (my uncle and grandmother) were by her side. They turned the camera away while she was in pain, and we talked of things far less important than her health: sports, tv shows, wedding details. I may not have been in the room to witness it, but I could hear her cries of discomfort.

Maybe this is a horrible thing to say, but I’m glad I wasn’t there. I mean, in the room. If I was in Florida, I would have dropped my life and been there in the fastest way possible. But to see her in pain, in a hospital bed, pale and frustrated… this would have torn me apart. Here was a woman who talked me through some hard times, hugged me in the few instances I saw her, and I couldn’t be there for her today.

Perhaps I’m making this sound morbid. She had a successful surgery. She woke up to her husband and only daughter, her brother and his wife (my grandparents), and her nephew. She had family surrounding her. This is something she had not experienced in YEARS. I can only imagine how happy she was to see all their faces. Maybe a bit humiliated too.. she doesn’t like others to see or feel her pain.

Now she’s headed to a rehabilitation center. She suffered from broken metacarpals (fingers/knuckles) that has her in a cast up to her elbow. She needs a walker too, which will be interesting I think with a cast. But she’ll have the help she needs, that my great-uncle could not provide.

Her strength empowers me. The thought of losing her weakens me. I suppose this is part of the balancing act of life, huh?

Here’s to you Shirley, you’re not just another beautiful face!

It’s Not Fair to Compare

It’s Not Fair to Compare.

 

my input in the form of an article for the new online magazine Tickets To:

%d bloggers like this: