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Volume 9

The Elm City Review

is a publication of the students of the

University of New Haven.


Joe Chapman

Robert Lumas

Catherine McClellan

Lynn Werkheiser

J. Ezra Gordon

Cover Art


Jax Andersen

Cover Design
Lynn Werkheiser

Special thanks to Stephen Listro, Donald M. Smith, Terry Recchia,
Henry and Nancy Bartels, and the English Department.

The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the official
views or policies of the University of New Haven

All rights retained by the authors, 2007

Printed by

Royal Printing Service

Guilford, Connecticut


Table of Contents




Jax Andersen

Of Sound and Silence

Lynn Werkheiser


The Man in the Ink Blot

Alana Danois


Why He Rolled Away

J. Ezra Gordon


Crack in the Wall

Guadalupe Hackett



The Grass' Reflection of a Veined Sky and Liquid Sun

A. Michael Forgette


Becoming A Pretentious...

Dan Sorrells

Into the Woods

Dorothy Mec;

The Big Takeover

Chelsea Marie

Uncle Ron

Robert Lumas


Kim Mello

Challenge is Inevitable

Lewis Letang



Jax Andersen






An Elephant Never Forgets

Dorothy Meczykowski



Mike Tobey


Ihe Birth of Tragedy

Jayson T. Jones


Angels are Evil

A. Michael Forgette


Our Generation

Robert Lumas


Tomorrow's Just a Day Away

Dorothy Meczykowski



Mike Tobey



A. Michael Forgette


The Traveler

Krista Bianchini


One Night in Paris

Class Composition


Lincoln Logs

J. Ezra Gordon


Of Sound and Silence

Lynn Werkheiser

My story begins in a house much like any other. It had bedrooms and a
kitchen, pictures hung on the walls, and the sound of footsteps echoing through
the halls. One could always hear voices in our house, whether they were raised
in anger, twittering in laughter, or floating forth from the television to drown
out the sounds of others. Many people say that their fondest memory of home is
the way it smelled, whether it was fresh-baked bread or coffee or their father's
cigars. But for me, it was the sound. There was always sound: the scuffling of
my little brothers' feet on the wood floor as they got up for school, the whirling
of mom at the sewing machine creating her next masterpiece, the hollow pop of
my father flipping pages as he read in his recliner after work. Some may think
that so much noise would impinge on one's feeling of privacy. Well, I suppose it
might. However, I never developed a concept of "quiet time." I couldn't escape
from sound even if I wanted to. It was everywhere, in every movement, every
breath, and every minute of my life. I have come to treasure it.

Sitting in the living room of my apartment, I realize that I miss my
childhood home. For all the stubborn arguing that it took for me to be able to
move out and establish my place in the world, I miss it. I miss the knowledge
that my family was always around me, there to support and protect me. I miss
hearing the tales of my little brothers' latest escapades, the creaking of the house
caught in the throes of a summer storm, and tiptoeing to the end of the hall to
secretly watch television shows when we were supposed to be sleeping.

From the time I wake in the morning to the banshee-like wail of my
alarm clock until the moment I fall asleep at night listening to music, I feel the
need to be surrounded by the sounds of the world. I have become dependent
on them. I crave the little ticks and whirls that tell me life is happening.
Unfortunately, here, in my place, there is little sound and much silence. The
track lighting in my living room has the faintest buzzing emanating from it.
Occasionally, I can hear water running through the walls from other apartments
or the tick-ticking of the backwards clock in our hall. That is pretty much the
extent of the ambient sound. So, I always feel the need to fill that silence. The
first thing I do after entering my apartment and taking off my shoes is to turn on
music or the TV. Then I'll put away my groceries or deal with any other pressing
matters, like light.

Mind you, it isn't all that difficult to find a radio in my place. I live in
a one bedroom apartment with my roommate. We have four stereos; one in the
bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen. Two CDs sit in the
kitchen. One is a mix of classical pieces which we listen to when we make and
eat meals. The other is a mix of progressive, speed, and death metal which we
listen to when washing dishes and cleaning the apartment. The living room has
a variety of acoustic and new age CDs that we use to create a mellow, relaxing

. 7

atmosphere. The bathroom has a CD of upbeat classic rock for quick showers
and a mixed CD of opera and new age music for soothing baths. As for the
bedroom, it has CDs of relaxing music to aid sleep and studying.

Oddly enough, for someone so enamored with audio input, I can greatly
appreciate silence. Particularly when stressed out, meditating, surrounded by too
many people, or suffering from a migraine, I can't get enough of silence. In fact,
I crave it. Aside from those instances, however, extended periods of silence tend
to unnerve me. I can't concentrate on my homework unless there is some kind of
sound. If my roommate or friends aren't hanging around, I turn on the TV in the
other room so I have background noise. It makes me feel like someone's around.
It actually helps me work better. I often hum or mentally recite lyrics when
thinking. I actually convinced a high school teacher of mine to let me Usten
to music while taking tests. She ended up playing Mozart during our exams.
Believe it or not, the average test score increased.

My biggest issue with silence is not concentrating, but sleeping. I wake
up in a cold sweat if everything is too quiet. It feels like something's wrong. It's
like in a horror movie. Right before something startling happens, all sound just
stops or drops really low. Then, bam! Death and destruction reign supreme. In
my case, I associate the silence with a lack of family. It means that there is no
one there to help you if you need it. There is no one home to comfort or care for
you if you get hurt. No one will hear you scream, cry, laugh, or anything else. It
means I am alone.

I've spent my entire life falling asleep to music, even at home, but
there, it was to drown out the sounds of everything else. When I moved to
college, however, that changed. My roommates had the opposite problem. They
couldn't sleep with music playing, and since I've suffered from insomnia for
years anyway, and because I was outnumbered four to one, I opted to let them
get sleep. After living with me for four years, I imagine they got tired of me
tossing and turning all night long. One of my roommates bought me the single
greatest gift I have ever received, a beanie pillow with a speaker built into it.
Now I can just plug it into a stereo or mp3 player and fall asleep listening to
The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack. Don't ask me why, but I fell in love with
its haunting strains when first I heard it, and it has lulled me to sleep for almost
fifteen years now.

As you may have suspected, the most powerful sound, for me at least,
is music. Its ability to change moods, liven parties, and bring movies to life
fascinates me. All of these are possible because it taps into the very core of our
being. Music has the ability to conjure forth memories of loves past, friends lost,
and times forgotten. The way the notes flow can arouse feelings ranging from
hope and sadness to anticipation and anxiety. Thus scenes can be made so much
more powerful and memorable through the use of sound and song. This is the
reason that films such as Star Wars and Jaws have become identified with the
music in them.


I am continually amazed at just how much music can affect my mood
and actions. One of my favorite songs is "Faithfully" by Journey. Some days
it will make me feel happy and optimistic, while the next day, it may bring
back painful memories. And sometimes a piece of music, like the theme from
Schindler 's List, is so moving that my chest hurts when I listen to it. If I crank up
the blindingly fast double bass beats of a speed metal song, I find myself driving
at speeds that greatly exceed the posted limits. If I need to slow down, usually
due to poor weather and road conditions, I literally have to change the music to
something slower and mellower. When I'm stuck in traffic, I blast music that I
can scream to, thereby venting my frustration without taking it out on the sea of
incompetent drivers that surround me.

I suppose it's not surprising when I tell you that my favorite physical
human characteristic is the voice. It is the first thing that catches my attention
when I meet someone. If they have a pleasant voice I can sit and listen to them
speak for hours. In order for me to be attracted to a man, I have to like his voice.
Deep, assertive, strong, and rough voices are incredibly sexy, but not required. It
simply needs to be pleasant. Considering that when we marry, we vow to spend
the rest of our life with one person, waking up to them, falling asleep with them,
spending the days discussing all manner of subjects, maybe it isn't so strange to
want to enjoy listening to them speak. I cannot pay attention to a professor for a
three hour class if they have a high pitched, nasally, really passive, or otherwise
irritating voice. Just listening to Fran Drescher speak is enough to make me
cringe. Heaven forbid that she laughs. As stuck-up as it sounds, I cannot imagine
spending my life with someone like that. I might be tempted to rip my ears off

People always talk about having a soundtrack to their life. Well, I
actually do. There are songs that I associate with certain people, places, and
activities throughout my life. Just hearing them can trigger flashbulb memories,
where I can see a perfect snapshot of what I was doing or feeling like the last
time I heard that song. I will forever remember the year's worth of Thursday
afternoon drives my friend and I used to take, just driving for fun and catching
up on everything that happened during the week. A year's worth of philosophical
conversations while on road trips with "Autumn's Monologue" by From Autumn
to Ashes playing in the background. And so my music playlists are sorted by
how they make me feel; "Woohoo" for energizing tunes, "Varoom" for songs
that make me drive fast, "Whabam" for the sucker punch of depressing music,
"Sizzling" for those that turn me on, and so on and so forth. Plus I have lists of
songs that remind me of certain people. If I miss them, whether from just not
seeing them in a while or because they have returned to the earth, I can simply
flip on their music and remember all the times we spent together. It is one of the
best forms of therapy I have found.

Each sound can mean something completely different to each person
or situation. All across the world, there are people who react strongly to music.
I love knowing that somewhere I might be helping someone like me. That is
the reason I sing. It is a spiritual experience sometimes. I feel connected to

. 9

everyone, united by a love of and dependency on music. However, it hurts
more than I can describe to know that no matter how much work I have put
into lessons, I have never been more than mediocre at playing any instrument.
It pains me to know that there is so much more I could be a part of. The way a
violin can stand on its own or raise its voice to join in the choreographed dance
of a symphony is something that I can at least cherish, if not create.

While I realize that I have become dependent on sound, I wouldn't
have it any other way. I enjoy all the emotions and memories that are conjured,
even if they are painful. It makes me feel at home wherever I am because it
reminds me of the people I love and the moments and places that I have shared
with them. The sound of my neighbor's cat clawing at my door reminds me of
the scratching of my oldest brother drawing with pen and ink. The groaning of
floor boards reminds me of my brother sneaking back into the house in the wee
hours of the morning. Isn't it funny how people can identify individuals based
on the sound of their keys, the weight and movement of their footsteps, and the
sound of their car pulling into a driveway? That connection between sound and
life is what keeps me sane. Even when oceans, conflict, and death come between
us, I feel as if the people I love are only a few steps away, as if I could just walk
down the passages of my memory and find them sitting in the next room.


The Man in the Ink Blot

Alana Danois

Dr. Smythe held up the ink blot that looked to me like a grisly monster
with huge feet. Squinting in the back of the classroom, I could cleariy see it — a
giant, beastly creature, preparing to squash something or someone underfoot.
After a few moments, I sat back in my chair, looked around the room, at my
blank sheet of notebook paper, at the shoes of the kid sitting beside me. I fiddled
with my pen, curling it like a baton in and around my fingers. I didn't know
why, but I did not like that card. It was a quick and definite decision, but I had
no sense or basis for it. Glancing up again, I shuddered then exhaled as my
professor turned it face down, moving on to the next.

After clearing through all of Rorschach's inky images. Dr. Smythe took
us over them again, explaining in slight detail (clinical psychologists — even the
professors — cannot reveal too much about these tests) what certain reactions to
specific cards reveals about a patient. There was so much to see in each card,
and no facet was complete on its own, but had to be considered in conjunction
with the whole.

She held up the monster again. "This is what is referred to as the
Father Card. How a patient initially views this card is indicative of their
relationship with their father or father figure. A healthy viewing is Bigfoot or
a bear — something big but cuddly, commanding but non-threatening. Many
patients will even smile and say how much they like it. Others take one look at
it and don't like it at all. Some even get angry or frightened. They see a monster
or a big scary guy on a motorcycle who thinks he's all that. These are unhealthy
responses that say to the clinician that the patient has a distant, an unhealthy, or
possibly a victimized relationship with their father or father figure."

My dad likes to go through a huge ordeal when he makes "his sauce."
He slices the peppers — yellow, red, orange — and mushrooms, minces the
garlic, and rolls the seasoned meat and bread crumbs into juicy balls with his
large brown hands. I think sometimes he even adds fresh spinach toward the
end — I don't know — I don't pay too much attention, just steal a meatball or two.
But the funny part is that he adds all this stuff to a huge pot filled W\\h jarred
Classico brand tomato sauce. I can almost hear the Italians out there cringing,
moaning, and lamenting at the shear blasphemy and waste of time. But it
must be understood that my dad is a workaholic when he's in the office. In the
kitchen, he takes the easier route, with enough manual labor thrown in the pot to
make my mom and we kids pat him on the back for a tasty job well done. We're
Puerto Rican anyway — we don't rest our cooking credibility on how long we

• 11

slaved over a pot of tomatoes fresh from the vine out back.

I don't even eat the sauce. Marinara and meat sauce give me a not-
so-happy couple of hours of lying prone on the couch with some Imodium
channeling through my system. The best part about this process is that my dad
does it all while watching The Godfather on the kitchen television.

"It puts me in the mood," he tells me as I sit at the dinette table to
watch it with him and nibble on a meatball or a hunk of cheese. I can honestly
say that Goodfellas; The Godfather trilogy (he and I laugh over the fact that the
first time he ever let me watch it, the only thing I could ever remember actually
having seen was the horse's head in the bed. Most everything else my mom
would yell at him to fast forward through.); Donnie Brasco; A Bronx Tale; and
Serpico are some of my favorite movies, not to mention the 007s (the only name
worth discussing being Sean Connery), and all three Indiana Jones'. My dad and
I are the only ones who truly get excited over the mere discussion of a marathon.
As I've grown older, it has become a common meeting ground in our less-than-
normal relationship

Since before I was delivered into this world, my dad has been an
architect in Manhattan, specializing in low-income housing projects in every
borough of New York. From my birth to the age of fifteen we had lived in
Florida, and he commuted every two weeks — four days with us, ten in the Big
Apple. For those fifteen years my world was ftiU of estrogen — my mom, my
older sister Danielle, and my younger sister Cristina making up what I viewed
as my everyday family, my oldest sister Missy and her husband Doug popping
in every now and then from a town three hours away. My two brothers were a
lot older and lived in other states in the northeast, and we rarely saw them unless
they surprised us by coming home for a weekend with dad.

My dad was a tall, dark, bald man who invaded my house every two
weeks. When I needed my mom at night or just wanted to crawl into her cool
sheets and wrap myself in her scent, my little hand would find the door handle
caught, the lock firmly in place. The tomboy of all the girls, / opened the jars, /
hopped onto the counter to reach the high shelves, and / killed the spiders and
cockroaches that made my sisters scream, /was mommy's little darling, the one
who would be soothed or commanded by no one but her.

But what could I say? He brought us presents from The City —
cinnamon buns. Hello Kitty paraphernalia, Polly Pockets and other little toys,
and Jelly Belly jelly beans. I thought he was the only one in the world who
had access to Chiclets and Mentos, and he took us for rides on his shoulders. I
can remember asking once or twice, "Mommy, when's Daddy coming home,"
not because I necessarily missed him, but because I wanted whatever he was
going to bring me. I didn't recognize it then, but he was and is one of the most
generous people I know, willing to give all he can to make his girls smile. No
matter how he disturbed my little nucleus, he seemed to make my mom happy,
my sisters laugh, and we got to go out to dinner at least once on the weekend,


often driving as far as forty-five minutes away to Ocala for the pleasure. I loved
him, in my way. At least, I didn't hate him. He was my dad, and it was this way
for everyone, wasn't it?

I feel like someone should have known or seen some kind of signs that
something was clearly wrong with me when I was a kid. I zovX&feel it because
it was as tangible as a fear can be. I didn't know where it came fi^om, I didn't
know why it only seemed to happen to me, but when it hit I was scared, alone,
and didn't know what to do or say about it.

I was afraid of any male bigger than I was. I was afi"aid of good-looking
men. I was afraid of my best friends' dads. I was afraid of their older brothers
who would seek me out to grin at me and say "Hi, AXaaaacmdi'' dragging out the
middle syllable seductively, laughing as I would dip my head in embarrassment
and move away. I was afraid of our church pastor. I was afraid of their smiles,
their outstretched arms, their big fingers that would grab and tickle me around
my middle or in my arm pits, sending me whining or shrieking for my mom,
everyone laughing.

I didn't want to go to my fiiends' houses if I knew their dads were
home. I'd stay clear of them if I could. I didn't have a man at home. How was
I supposed to act? My sisters never seemed to have a problem at the time, but
maybe they could just hide it better than I could. Everyone would cock their
heads and remark how shy I was.

When dad was home, his key outlet for relaxation was his two-car
garage-sized model train set, housed (where else?) in our two-car garage. We
weren't allowed in there when dad wasn't home, so when he was, my sister
Dani and I would watch the trains go around and around the track, sticking our
fingertip-sized Polly Pocket dolls into the cars. My dad spurred my fascination
with hand and power tools, letting me use a phillips head to twist screws into
pieces of styrofoam. Over the years to come, he would take us into the train
room to awe our fi*iends and build race cars for church club model car races.
For science fairs he would gather leftover foliage and paints, wires, Styrofoam,
mesh, and paper mache' to build realistic and bubbling volcanoes. When my
sister and I wanted to get really crafty, my mom would say the same thing: "Wait
until your father gets home."

We were the envy of our friends, taking yearly trips to Manhattan to
see the sights and visit my dad's office, see a play no one in my town had ever
heard of, and eat foods from which my little fiiends would turn their noses. To
this day. New York in my brain is synonymous with my dad. When we were
there, we were in his world. It was a busy world, a gray-suited world, a gritty,

. 13

inky New York Times scented world. It was a car and taxi crowded world where
I had to hold somebody by both hands to cross the street. It was a world where
without asking I grew to learn the importance of the "New York face" and the
power walk, where I saw my first homeless person and my first snowflake. I
felt his power in that city. It was enormous, but my relation to him gave me an
insider's view. He could strike fear into his employees with the slight raising of
his voice, then turn to one of us and wink. In his office, he ran the place — his
word was bond because he was the boss. I can remember asking him over and
over again "Daddy, do they have to do exactly what you tell them?" and "You
don't have to go to work. You can stay home with us. You're the boss; you can
do whatever you want, right?"

Sometimes I didn't want him to leave. We had had too much fun, done
too many swell things, and I knew it would end once he got into his car and
drove to the airport. I was always conflicted — without him was the familiar;
where my role seemed that much more important; and with him was the
unexpected gift, the car ride, the hustle of "when's he gonna get here?" even
though my usual position was pushed to the side. For many years, I couldn't
decide between the two choices.

After my freshman year of high school, my parents decided to move
to New Jersey for the sake of their marriage and our future. I think it was more
my mom's idea than anything — she was tired of her four-day consolation prize,
longed for a more normal marriage, and an hour's commute was much more
palatable. I can remember visiting my parents' bedroom every once and a
while long before this decision, just to look at my dad's picture on the dresser.
My mom caught me once (we weren't supposed to go in her room without
permission), and I had to explain that I simply didn't remember what he looked

I can say without qualms how freakin' weird it was having a man in the
house every evening, every night, and every weekend. He was only one man, but
I can remember feeling like I needed to either best him or ignore him. He was
under foot, in my way, and I was a pimply, attitude-prone teenager with a chip
on my shoulder and a lot to prove. Suddenly we were supposed to be chums,
mates, pals? Um, how 'bout no? We went fi*om having a weekend dad to a daily
parent we were supposed to treat as if he had always been there. Cristina, at
nine, took it the best. She was a daddy's girl to the core, and she soaked up every
ounce of attention he gave her, giving ten-fold in return. Dani was about to turn
eighteen. She was done, checked out, swiftly becoming her own version of adult
that didn't need crap from mom or dad. Especially dad. She and I had many
"who does he think he is?" conversations, and we grew closer in our animosity.
We had moved during the summer— I was fifteen, had no ftiends, no place to go,


and not even a lick of homework to keep me occupied (oh, were those straights
dire!). I took to locking myself in my new room when he came home from work.

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