“Breakdowns and Boxes” (+BIG TIME GRAD STUFF!)

Boy, our problems look so small from up here...

Boy, our problems look so small from up here…

Hey, happy summer! So since my last post, there’s been some considerable developments “behind the scenes” here, which is part of why it’s been so long since there’s been a last post. But in any case, before we move on to the story at hand, the biggest announcement must be made: I have officially graduated from the University of Washington, and I’m also-officially headed to Cornell Law this August!

(Candid shot from my uncle)

(Candid shot from my uncle)

Needless to say, the last rush of assignments before the camera flashes and mortarboards started popping was both nerve-wracking and exciting. However, it turned out I managed to stave off senioritis, and cleared my final quarter with two 4.0’s and a 3.9! That latter grade was for English 484, which you’ll remember as having previously produced “Bread and Buttons” and “Day of a New Dawn“, and I can thank the success of my last two assignments for it. The last, last assignment was to reimagine a story from earlier in the quarter in a totally new form (or give it a major text-only revision–but where’s the fun in that?); some conveyed their tales through photography, a short film, or even a cooked dish, but what I decided to do was turn Bread and Buttons into a videogame… minus the actual game. Confused? Well, take a look at these pics I snapped before turning it in:




The basic idea here was, seeing as videogames have been such a big part of Dan Brooke’s life, could he be the kind of guy to see his that life in game-like terms? So though the disc itself contains only a slightly-edited text file of the story, I designed a full PlayStation 2-style cover and brief instruction booklet (it’s shrunken because Photoshop and Windows Photo Gallery can never seem to agree on real-world dimensions) for Dan’s “game of life.”

I can upload some high-quality JPEGs of that later, but I don’t want to hold up the main focus here any longer: my second-to-last 484 work, a “revision” of “Bread and Buttons” based on N+7, a writer’s game of sorts that involves taking every noun (alternatively, verb) in a piece of text and replacing it with the word seven entries ahead in the dictionary. Obviously, “the dictionary” is a broad concept–and the afore-linked program’s identification of nouns was shaky in places–but the assignment’s guidelines permitted keeping only a quarter of the new nouns. So after copy-pasting “Bread and Buttons” page by page, I was left with an utterly chaotic pile of text; in a way, my work was cut out for me by the images formed from the most striking words repeated throughout (“aphrodesiac”, “rosary”, several varieties of flowers), but I still had to make sense of the whole thing. The resultant narrative retained only the loose structure of its predecessor–a lone guy pacing his home and ruminating–but took a totally different turn into…

Breakdowns and Boxes


I think this story turned out considerably grittier than anything I’ve ever written, but that’s partially because it almost exclusively focuses on characters and situations that I’ve never written about before (an elderly man, for one, but to say more would incur spoilers). As such, I’ll admit/agree with my professor’s comments that it has moments where believability is stretched, and others that come across as a narrative cop-out. However, I wholly invite your criticism! As always, I hope you enjoy it–and everything else I continue to write, as the summer is set to give me some quality time to continue my novel and submit shorter works to academic and creative journals–but I can only get better if someone outside my own head tells me how.


  1. Hhahah….so this is all so cool!
    I’ve no idea how to tell you whatever you want to hear…
    So, well enjoy summers.

    • Thank you! And a good summer to you, as well.

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