Friday, December 11, 2009

Rusty Nails

Rusty Nails
D. Lawrence Ficklin

Once upon a distant time
There sat a house upon a lonesome road
Made out of thinnest timbers
Which could scarcely keep out the cold

These planks were held in place
By a collection of rusty nails
And together nail and planking
Made it through all sorts of ails

But one day the chiefest plank said:
'Why do we ourselves demean
By using all these rusty nails -
'Tis a thought at best obscene!

'I say that we be rid of nails
With e'en the tiniest flake of rust
Only in new stainless ones
Should we allow our trust.'

Said the oldest nail: 'It may be true
That we've rusted o'er the years
But forget not, dear friend of mine,
This rust comes from your tears.

'Were it not for us fine, rusty nails,
Your fate would be decided
Your planks would jumble to the ground
And be by the world derided.'

Now the chiefest plank was a prideful thing,
Full of insolence and scorn
To the rest he said, 'Listen to the nails!
This insult shall not be borne!'

And all at once the plankings stirred
In indignation most severe
And said to the nails: 'Be off with you!
You've no welcome to remain here!'

And one by one and two by two
The nails sadly went off to weep,
And the plankings smiled with content-
And then collapsed into a heap.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Walk in Winter

A Walk in Winter
D. Lawrence Ficklin

They fall like stars
Tiny, frozen stars
Caught by streetlamp and headlight
Brushing upon my cheek and brow
And as they melt
The droplets run
Like tears down the creases by my mouth
But I'm not crying

I swear.

While the droplets run
I walk on and on
Run down the creases by my mouth
But I'm not crying

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


D. Lawrence Ficklin

Don't, don't, don't, don't
Let it out, let it in,
Hold it back, make amends.
Why does this life move so fast
And, all at once, so slow?

Now, now, now, now
Dry your eye, shed no tear,
Take my hand, hold it near.
There is nothing I can say,
So silent, close, I'll be

There, there, there, there,
Can't you see, don't you know:
I'm right here, don't let go.
As your mind drifts off to sleep
My arms shall keep you warm

My, my, my, my
Go to sleep, hear me sing,
Close your eyes, dream your dreams.
In the morning when you wake,
You need not look far:

I'll be where you are.

Monday, October 12, 2009


D. Lawrence Ficklin

Nothing at all and everything to say
Each why and wherefore is melting away
The world is a dark, lonely place
But it needn't be so

If through this looking-glass I could pick out your face
See you standing beside at the end of this race
That I'm running day in and day out
But barely moving at all

Because the mirror is empty where I should see
Your smiling face looking right back at me
A stranger, a friend, right now
I really don't care
With my green eyes you said you could see through
The secrets up front to that hidden truth
That I always and never was willing and able to share
But you're not there
Tell me, is that fair?

The ground's running out from underneath
The end's coming up below my feet
And if falling through sky's what I'm for
Give me wings

The scenery's changed, it's brown where once green
And everything that I've done is in spite of me
So tell me, Why?
Why did you move me?

I can't see...
(So close your eyes)
I can't breathe...
(Have you tried?)
Hold me, please...
Don't leave...
No more goodbyes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ode to My Bonnie

I miss my car.

Ode to My Bonnie
D. Lawrence Ficklin

Were I indeed to start again
I'll let you know one secret, friend
There's just a few steps I should take
Before I see it through

You see before it all is said and done
I've got to make sure it's the one
I want before I let it in
And that's the simple truth

She's got to sing within my soul
And move with grace and pure control
To flow like glass and never shatter
Her every line and contour smooth

So until that day I'll have to wait
Pine 'til I hear those pistons 8
Oh, Bonnie, why did you leave me so?
I'm dearly missing you.


Monday, October 5, 2009

On the Unappreciative Nature of Cats

I do not like cats. They're very capricious. They shed. They claw. They smother you in the middle of the night. And I'm allergic to them. Which makes every one of these even worse.

There's a cat that lives behind my apartment inside a storm drain. It recently had kittens. You can here them mewling. Like I said, I don't like cats. But I loove kittens. They're small. Their soft. They nibble your fingers ad climb up your leg and fall asleep in your lap and chase around laser pointers.

After the final session of General Conference yesterday, I put on a jacket, and a scarf, and a fashionable hat, took up a book and a personal CD player, and made my way out to the Tree-shaded Grassy Knoll of Peace which also lies behind my apartment. Along with the cat. I sat down on the grass and leaned back against a big rock and read a certain fantasy novel while listening to Ray LaMontagne. The sky was cloudy. The wind was chill. It was, in a word, perfect.

Suddenly, what should I see but the mama cat all a-prowl. She slinks her way through the soft grass, weaving between the rocks and boulders, eying me hungrily. I thought to myself, winter is coming soon, and this cat will soon have a devil of a time finding food, and while I don't like cats one jot, they are nonetheless one of God's creatures. I decided to bring some food to the cat. (As I said before, Conference had just ended and I was in a slightly more charitable mood than usual.) I stood, brushed off the grass from my trousers and made my way back to the apartment, all the while feeling the eyes of mama cat sizing me up for her meal. I reached my kitchen, opened a can of Starkist Tuna (my reasoning for this literally being, "Well, Garfield loves tuna fish, and he's a cat...") and took it back to the storm drain.

This is where it got ugly.

From within the storm drain, I hear the mewling of hungry kittens. I loove kittens. So what do I do? I set the tuna to the side and crouch over the drain and start to meow. Like a cat. The mewling stops and soon I see the reflective eyes of a kitten peering up at me. "Meow!" says I, and the kitten's head cocks in confusion.

It's then that I hear it. A terrifying shriek of rage and bloodlust coming from directly behind me. Mama cat has arrived, and for all she knows I'm corrupting the minds of her kittens with my odd yowling. She latches onto my leg. I scream. She screams. The tuna is spilled in the ensuing scuffle. We fight and wrestle all across the Tree-shaded Grassy Knoll of Peace behind my apartment. Finally I manage to remove my leg from her mouth (the cat has meanwhile turned into a lioness and has consumed it down to the bone, or so it seemed) and I run back to my rock whilst she hisses and spits and paces around the storm drain before disappearing inside. I yell out to her a dirty name, then instantly feel ashamed, as General Conference had just ended and I was supposed to be feeling more charitable than usual.

I (somehow) manage to stem the horrendous wounds I'd suffered in the mauling, then I sit down beside the rock and scratch my nose.

And sneeze. (I'm still allergic, it seems.)

And then it started to rain.

And I sat there thinking to myself, I really want a dog.


Friday, October 2, 2009


D. Lawrence Ficklin
I stood beneath the leaves today
Still. Silent. And I breathed
The cold and crisp air
I watched the mountains
Being pummeled by clouds
The wind stung my cheeks
My grimace couldn't help but be a smile
And as I raised my voice in adoration
The wind and the leaves said to me:
I became quiet again
Still, He knows how I felt
Standing beneath the leaves
With the cold wind stinging my cheeks

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The List

I was recently asked to make a list of all the qualities I desire in a spouse. It was to be thorough, they said, covering all aspects. This is the list I developed.

Desired Qualities in a Spouse

  • Elegantly beautiful (I think I’ve earned it)
  • Poised
  • Strong
  • Athletic/Active
  • Well-proportioned
  • A natural allure
  • Clean, but not afraid of getting dirty
  • A good smell
  • Not a lot of makeup!
  • Someone who can sing
  • Good fashion sense, physical taste
  • Not a picky eater
  • Pleasant voice

  • Smart. Very smart
  • Intellectually open-minded
  • Tolerant
  • Strong sense of motivation, and also the ability to motivate
  • Lover of Art/Music
  • Lover of literature
  • An intense curiosity for the past and also the future
  • Appreciator of Nature
  • Adventurous
  • A traveler! Someone with whom I can share the world
  • Humorous, a developed sense of irony
  • Witty (think Beatrice from Twelfth Night)
  • Compassionate. Someone who can truly love
  • FAMILY – Someone who will love our children
  • A romantic at heart
  • Curious
  • Someone who loves fun
  • Someone with the ability to look at the situation from different perspectives
  • Someone in whom that childlike sense of wonder can still be brought out
  • A woman in touch with her emotions, and yet not wildly controlled by them
  • Loyal and HONEST
  • Open to conversation on Delicate Matters!! Communicative without being chattersome
  • At the same time, someone who can appreciate watching a beautiful sunset without saying a word
  • Someone who hates being late as much as I
  • A wildness… and sometimes irreverence
  • Respectful of opinion, but adamant in course
  • Someone who genuinely wants to understand me… and does
  • A good friend

  • Unshakable
  • Active
  • Craves the temple
  • Intellectual rather than solely sensational, yet rooted in faith
  • Someone who knows the scriptures
  • Someone who does not rely upon the testimonies of others
  • Someone who wants more than anything to build a family that will last an eternity
After I made the list, I was then asked to make another list, being a plotting out of the man I needed to be to be worthy of this perfect wife.

I won't show you that list. But today I shaved my beard.

A step in the right direction. :)


Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have a roommate from China. His name is Song. He's a really nice guy. Sometimes a few of the things he says are strange (he asked me in church today if I could take him to see the golden plates... it took a bit of convincing for him to accept they weren't down here anymore), but he's still learning English. He makes sure everyone is up for church, and he chides anyone for breaking the commandments. As a result we all love him.

I spend a lot of my evenings with him, talking to him about China and America. He's amazed constantly by the girls who live here. He wants very much to get an American girlfriend and maybe even wife. "All girls in China are lazy," he says. "They only want to sit around and let the parents raise the children. I want my wife to raise my kids with me."

Not only does he want one for himself, but he's also become quite the crusader for getting me a girlfriend as well, which is a subject I'm still iffy about. "You're too shy," he says to me. "You so good looking. You write stories. You make all the girls laugh with them. You walk into group and your mouth stays closed. You need girlfriend."

I tried to tell him about the whole armor/hurt thing, but he said, "You don't need to hurt. Just open your mouth and talk."

I don't know if he knows how actually right he is.

It didn't really help that he kept introducing me to the girls in the ward after all the meetings and, with his broken English, announcing that I needed a girlfriend. I'd end up smiling sheepishly, shaking hands and saying, "Hi. Not really." And they'd laugh. And I'd laugh. And Song would huff in consternation and start to insist until I dragged him back to the car.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

To Run After

When I graduated my high school seminary class way back in 2006, I remember how excited I was. It was the first graduation ceremony I'd been able to go through, and it was just another little reminder that soon I would be out of high school and on to the wondrous world of college and freedom.

The ceremony itself lasted only about thirty minutes, I believe. Not too short, not too long. The majority of the time was taken up in the reading of the names and presentation of diplomas. We were all very excited. We had never received a diploma before. It was to be the first of hopefully many.

It went off without a hitch. Everyone was called up, myself included, and we all managed to shuffle back to our seats without incident or indecency. The closing prayer was said after a few words of encouragement and congratulations, and we all retired to the gymnasium behind the chapel for refreshments.

There were about two hundred students at the ceremony, and as the two stakes present shared incredibly small boundaries, nearly everyone present knew everyone else. Everyone mixed and mingled and hugged friends they'd known since being little kids, friends they'd known since junior high or even from just a few years before. And it wasn't just the graduates that were excited, but dozens and dozens of underclassmen were there showing their support and excitement.

I got myself a drink, said hello and congratulations to a few people whom I'd recognized in some fashion, and then... nothing. I stood there, cup in hand, and watched the people in front of me bursting with excitement and happiness and memories. That was what they shared. Their friendships had been developed through years and years of active memories, of being around each other, of hanging out, of misadventures and trials. I had friends in that room, many extraordinary people whom I admired and used as personal examples in many aspects of my life... but in the middle of all those people, in the middle of that buzzing, happy crowd, I felt deeply and intensely alone.

Through the course of my life I have moved several times. The first time I was about 9 years old, and I remember crying the entire drive to Indiana. I was leaving behind all of my friends, all of my favorite spots in the woods, my favorite climbing trees and sledding hills, everything in the world that was important to me at that small age. Several years later, leaving Indiana for Washington, I didn't cry until I finally reached my grandmother's house, where we would stay for several months while our house was built. I bottled in the loss of my home, my best friend, the Knight Sensations, the river and the greenery of the Midwest and my first girlfriend until that night, sleeping in a strange house in a strange bed while people sat outside on their porches appreciating a "Spokane Thunderstorm". I had always been a quiet kid, but I think that was really the point where I must have stopped trying to let anyone in deliberately. I was afraid. I had always after that been afraid. It was standing there, holding that empty cup in my hand, that I realized this, and I hated the fact.

This self-disgust was what drove me to do the following.

I told my parents I was leaving. In a rush I left the building, got into my car and fled from that parking lot, tires squealing on the pavement. I was upset with myself for squandering my life all by myself, for not letting anyone in. I had let the fear get to me, the fear of loss. I was so transfixed by that fear, by that possibility that I might leave, move away and lose everything I had gained up to that point, that it overpowered any desire to have it. My only constant up to this point had been my family, and I had convinced myself my senior year that I hated them, that they hated me, and that I would be much better off without their interference. I am ashamed at how deep my cowardice had grown. I had gone through life and been bested by the ugly parts.

I arrived home and my mother, my sweet, caring and loving mother, who had never in her entire life put herself before any of her children, who was always there for everything we had done, who supported us and encouraged us and helped us grow every step of the way, followed me by herself. The rest of the family was still at the ceremony. I was inside the house, and my dear mother only sought to console me, to calm me and help me through the anguish I was going through inside, but, coward that I was, and ashamed of myself as I was, I chose the easier way out and blamed everything upon her and my father. It was their fault I had no friends, their fault I never went out to parties, their fault I never hung out or grew and shared those memories with all of those fine people at the Seminary graduation. We got in an argument. We yelled. I was vicious and cruel, probably the worst I had been. I wanted to hurt her. I wanted her to feel how shitty I felt at that moment. In the end I stormed down into my room in the basement to listen to music, ending the conversation, leaving her crying upstairs. I don't think I've ever apologized to her for it. I don't think I've ever been mature enough yet to acknowledge that I was wrong. It was so much easier to take that self-loathing and hate I had towards myself and channel it into pure malice at her. It makes my stomach turn thinking about it, and it puts an incredibly bitter taste in my mouth knowing I've never resolved it.

I'm sorry, mom. I love you, so very very much. Until I see you again, I want you to know that I love you.


The main reason I'm thinking of this tonight is because today is my big brother Chase's birthday. I think, more than anyone else in my entire life, he is the boy and the man that I have most looked up to. He has proven time and time again that he loves me, and that he'll stick up for me no matter what happens. Since we were little kids I've wanted to be him, or be like him, or be with him, and so I always followed him around, even into the "secret clubs" he would set up in the woods in Ohio with his friends, even though the initiations involved being thrown into the briar patches surrounding the place.

I didn't mind letting him win all the time when we played with Lego knights or pirates or cowboys or space men. I was always the losing side with army men. I loved watching him play StarCraft on the computer. Whenever I could be around him, I jumped at the chance. When I finally got to high school, he was the reason I got into the Varsity ShowChoir (he was a Senior and had been in it for years), and he was the reason I did football my first two years. All of his friends became my friends despite the fact I was ofen much younger than them, and I was suddenly one of "the guys", all because I was his little brother. All sorts of doors were opening up because of that fact. I wanted to be a Castle Knight, I wanted to be a Knight Sensation, I wanted to be a Boy Scout, I wanted to have the Priesthood, I wanted to serve a mission, all because that's what he had done, that's who he was. He was my big brother, and after all the arm-punching, name-calling, pranking and teasing was said and done, I loved him because I knew he would always be there for me. In the meantime, memories were made and enjoyed.

He's the best man that I know. He's kind and a gentleman to women, rough and rowdy with other guys, and has the most incredible charisma I've ever experienced. You can't help but like Chase. Really. Unless you're a total douche, but then he won't like you either (as a rule).

Anyways, tonight was his birthday party. My cousins Cohen and Tek were there, Chase and his new wife Sammy and some of her old roommates. And me. I knew all of them to a degree. I was (mildly) comfortable around them.

I think it's a Ficklin trait, but everytime you put one of us in a crowd (especially with other members of our family) it's as natural as breathing to reminisce about past exploits and memories, and so after dinner and cake that's what we did. We lounged in Chase and Sammy's living room talking about the old times, about the crazy things he had done, about the crazy girls he had dated, about mischief and misadventure... and I got really excited whenever I realized I had been there for any of them, because I could remember almost none. I hadn't been around.

Then I realized that I don't know my family, and that they really don't know me. I don't think any of them ever realize exactly what I'm thinking, and I can't think of any time in recent years I've gone out of my way to explain. In recent years I've often joked about being the "Black Sheep", sometimes half-believing it, but it really rang true tonight.

And sitting there, amongst that laughing group of happy, celebrating loved ones and friends, I felt terribly, horribly alone. And it was still my fault. And I hadn't changed a thing. And I don't know how.

I haven't treated my family with the love they so abundantly deserve... nor anyone else for that matter. Out of every friend I've made in this life I've only stayed in contact with one, and we only talk a few times a year.

I think I'm waiting for something, I think I always have been, and I think that must be one of the worst ideas I've ever come up with, because nothing has changed. I still feel that fear.

I don't know how you do it, Chase. I don't know how you got so amazing. Maybe it's just the fact that you are my big bro. Maybe every little bro sees their brothers this way. You're fearless. You're a man's man, and you got the girl, and you're happy. I wish I had your courage. I think maybe I do, and maybe I just have to find it deep down. Then I can do what you do. You make me proud to share your name. I love you, Chase. No one has had a better big brother.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Words on Papers

Poetry is one of my favorite tools of emotional expression. It feels natural for me to tell any old piece of paper how I'm doing, what I'm thinking, and especially so when the emotions are big ol' things. I'm tired of grumpy though, so I'll move on to some warmer stuff.

These are a few old poems I decided to dig out and brush up a bit. They were written anywhere between a year and three years ago. I'm proud of them, though, so I'm gonna hang the rules of originality and post 'em.

Into The Cold - a song
Someday this world will end
And when that happens will you be alone?
Will you have someone standing by
Before all goes black and cold?

Will someone be there holding your hand?
Will their touch drown out your fears?
Will their smile take you away
Through a love that's lasted years?

Someday this world will end
No one knows when, but one thing's clear
If you're there when those trumpets sound
I'll be right beside you, dear

Someday this world will end
And when that happens I don't want to be alone
So I'll be with you, your hand clasping mine
We'll smile, remembering years of love, into the cold

Fate, Love, Death and Stars
In dying I found my life
In that life, death, and back again
Each time you spoke my name I was reborn
And we strode to that brink where
Fate, Love, Death and Stars collide
In ecstasy, insanity, in warmth
Taste and touch become glory's senses
And beauty of form cannot be
Dimmed, diminished, destroyed
Because it is all that exists
We still speak with lips
With tongues and teeth but without words
We drink life through our hands
Warmth through our eyes
Love becomes the only language
We will ever understand
Time passes without notice
Guard falls, music shut out
Until your heartbeat is my own
And my thoughts come from your mind
And I dream without knowing I slept
And awake to my smiling dream

Light, Contours
You have a way of attracting light
From all corners, it wraps around you
Begging, pleading, to be the one
To touch your shoulders and contours
To illume the grace in your neck
The glory in your face
The perfection in your eyes
It loves you in the way the wind loves
The sound of leaves
And the sway of grass
Your radiance needs no excuse
And the light, in bliss, in purity
Offers none, only love
And I can only wish, pray
To be as close to you as the light on your face
The glow on your skin
Nothing separate in our affair
Until jealous light blind me with
The perfection in your eyes

My Soul, Your Soul - this poem was written for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary
I am bound, yours, from this day
To the end day which is not
By resolve that shames iron or steel
For the heart wills what it will
And those golden cables can nothing fray
A million gloried bands draped between souls
Into a soul entwined, enclosed
Contained into a single form
Divinely crafted into that highest potential
That neither man nor death may split asunder
Where there is no beginning or end
To what we are, and what we are is this:
My heartbeat in your chest
Your breath in my lungs
And these million bands of gold bridging
My soul, your soul
To one

I hope you can appreciate them as much as I felt them... Words are important to me, like little pieces of myself that don't shift or fade away, and my poetry has always been me at my most honest. I haven't gotten the talent of uninspired lyrical creation yet. Don't really want it.

Anyways, let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is magic stuff for an artist willing to listen.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Even More Brain-Thinkings

I'm in an odd mood now after writing that poem... I'm thinking about a lot of things. Surprise. I think I think too much. The guys at the studio say so. A lot has to do with my curiosity. I'm curious about people and motivations. But I've already talked about that before. I think.


Might have gotten myself into a funny situation today... hope it all pans out. As usual, I got into it pretty blind, just going from my gut. Which is ironic because I just claimed to be a constant thinker. I guess there are just some things that make your brain shut down when presented, because it doesn't know what the heck to do anyways.

At any rate, whatever happens (if anything happens at all, just sayin') has gotta happen slow, because I'm not all ready, I think, to handle anything more. I'm blundering around in the dark here, and I don't want to bump my head or stub my toe on anything, nor step on anyone's foot or accidentally poke them in the eye. Or pile-drive them to the face. Just sayin'.

It's worth the try, though. I could really go for some excitement.

So this is a reminder to me: don't pop my bubble. Got it? Good. Good me.


The Peddler

D. Lawrence Ficklin 8.27.09

A-walking went I once in town
To ease an ache within my skull
Which dwelt on matters grey and dim,
Sapped happy whims lifeless and dull.

Peace sought I, and so I forged
A trail to take me to the park.
The sound of wind would do me well,
Mixed with the scent of earth and bark.

And while I walked beneath the eaves
I heard a curious sound arise,
Which wound its way between the leaves
Like a knife tearing a cloudy sky.

"Here, I have it here and now!
Take it while it lasts, my friend.
You'll regret if you let this pass by-
All good things must one day end.

"And what is more - this ends soon!
So grab it up before it's gone.
Gobble, horde all that you will-
It's what you've wanted all along"

To its small and red-clad source
I followed the raucous yell,
A man who barely reached my chest
Before a sign proclaiming, "SELL!"

"Good morn to you, my fellow man!"
He screamed at me in glee.
"You've heavy thoughts within your mind,
That much is plain to see.

"I give escape from want and worry,
From those weights within your soul.
You see, I'm a peddler of an ancient ware,
A remedy from long, long ago."

Intrigued, I bade the man go on,
So behind the sign he nimbly flew.
He emerged at once with a little box
Containing what he and God only knew.

"Within my hands," he screeched at me,
"I hold a singular power
To grant you freedom from your wants
And the thoughts that blacken every hour.

It's a tool that transcends life and death,
From kings to queens to the ragged poor.
One that any man could utilize,
One that every man may afford."

As he spoke his fingers worked
To unlatch the box-lid's lock:
It complied and clicked, and with a grin
The man presented me the box.

I took it after brief restraint
And peered through its vast depth,
And horror slowly iced through my veins,
For what I saw was worse than death.

I saw children crying in the streets,
Swollen bellies, shriveled limbs,
A world of men who clucked their tongues,
Their coffers filled up to the brim.

I saw old men at grand, long tables,
Their hands and faces smeared in blood,
As they ate the dreams of generations,
And ground the leftovers to mud.

I saw burning homes and shattered glass,
And countless swollen, weeping eyes
Alongside drunkard smiles, indignant shrugs,
Looking at laughing at the hideous cries.

And last I saw myself therein
And the part which I had played
In passing on without a thought
When a friend or neighbor needed aid.

Tearing my gaze from its black depths,
I looked to the man before me.
"Take this back, show me no more!
I'll not purchase your apathy!"

He cocked his head like a curious hound,
His toothy smile fully bared.
"Why give back what you already own?
The rest of your life you never cared.

"You never thought what you could do
To make one stranger's day the brighter.
You squeezed from all all you can take,
And when it's gone you've squeezed tighter."

Again I thrust the box to him,
But stepping back his eyes gleamed cold.
"All sales are final, I'm afraid;
There's no market for pre-owned souls."

Then vanished he within a blink,
Where he went I could not tell.
And the sign which once proclaimed the sale
Now promised only hell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Thoughts (grumble grumble)

Now for something completely different. Heh.

When I think about reluctance, especially in myself, the first thing that comes to my mind is a wonderful, long and largely inconsequential list of excuses. Nevermind the whys, wherefores or whatnots, or whatever other reasons/hopes/possible fulfilment of dreams which may be involved, my mind gets stuck on the "what ifs" and the harm which some of the more negative outcomes might entail. All at a merrily subconscious level.

Like I said at the beginning of my last entry, I'm not one to plan (usually) my life. I let it run its course (I'm so terribly Bohemian). And like anything living on autopilot, there are only so many times you can run into cliffs and mountains before becoming fearful, wary and distanced from the ground.

Even if you need to land. More than anything.
(It doesn't matter.)

My favourite excuses are found in the following (very muchly incomplete) list. I won't bother explaining all of them... they're fairly simple (yet this fact makes them no less potent... my mind can be very convincing to my rest of me).

1. Fear of Pain (Loss, Rejection [Success? {?}]): Ah, how wonderfully hypocritical of me after what I said in my last blog. This, if anything, proves I still travel that road of improvement. Still, the veracity inherent in that particular muse cannot be discounted merely because I personally am moved by fear... at least to a degree.

2. Shyness:
It is a fact that I am something of a paradox. I often feel incapable of meaningful conversation with those with whom I would most love to express meaning/sentiment with, yet I am perfectly fine performing onstage in front of literally thousands. I sang for the late President Gordon B. Hinckley and every single missionary in the world, as an example, yet could not find a way to personally connect and relate with my companion in the Missionary Training Center. Likewise, I feel crippled when it comes to small-talk, or "making conversation," or whatever you'd like to call it. If the answer is not direct, I most likely will not speak, as I do not have the talent of easily conversing with people whom I am not properly acquainted with. Elizabeth Bennett would encourage me then to practise this skill, but like our pal Mr Darcy I would rather put up the front of arrogance/aloofness/indifference than go out on that very scary limb.

I know I'm nothing extraordinary, but I know also that I am a good, fine man, and I play it sometimes as though I were God's gift. This has cultivated itself into an all-pervading trait of expressed irony and sarcasm, and while no harm is meant by it, it does leave people confused and bewildered, which only succeeds in making me seem even more aloof and mysterious. Ugh... To speak plainly, everyone, no matter where it is (work, school, church) knows who I am. They know my name. They greet me in the halls, or on the street, and stop me to see how I'm doing (to their disappointment and possible offense, I'm sure, when they realize I'm not more forthcoming with whatever they seek to learn). I don't know why they continue to do this. It's how it's always been. I'm nothing special, yet "they" never cease in their attempts to "know" me, even though, out of the hundreds who know my name and (shudder) like or approve of me (...?) I can count on one hand the number of people who truly know me, or knew me, at least some part or version.

I resent it. I wish I could be more open to them, to cultivate more splendid relationships with people that I know to be good and honest and so very very interesting, but I know if I pursue those ends I shall have to unbuckle my own weary armor, which I fear to do, because knowledge, like love and hope, is a double-edged, razor-freaking-sharp sword, and, well, I hurt. Almost always, always easily.

I know. Man up. Rub some dirt in it. Still, the ugly, hypocritical fact remains that it is easier to polish that armor up to a mirror shine than it is to stitch up the heart beneath. (See previous entry, then accuse all you wish!)

See? Always a work in progress. The Mona Lisa took ten years for Leonardo DaVinci to paint. Three separate versions lie beneath the final. So, ya know, there's still hope. Booyah.

In short, I'm shy. And I dislike it. So give me a hand. Please. I overcome it when it is more than even my large and manly frame can contain, because my armor only keeps out the expression of the feeling, not the feeling itself. Which is all sorts of retarded. When it does come, it's in a flood, a rush, exhausting and usually completely overwhelming, almost always too late. No one likes emotional splurges.

3. Stupidity: Duh.

4. Logic and Reason: (Not mutually exclusive from the previous) If all of the factors on this list are already conspiring against me, not to mention all of the hardships waiting to pounce later on, then who am I kidding by thinking I can do it to begin with? Blame my mind. It works in mysterious ways.
for something completely different
... but not.

What makes it all better?

The fact that before long the reluctance I have is worn down by different flavors of idiocy, namely faith, hope, love, desire, etc... though it is still too often too late. Which means this needs work. Pronto. Because none of it ever waits, not should it have to.

Why is this so bloody confusing? Girls suck.



I've gone through this whole thing without a stitch of planning. Things seem to happen well enough on their own, and I do tend to make it through okay. Maybe a little battered and bruised, but no one lives long pristine. And, since I'm a splendidly average man, you can be sure that a phrase like "no one" does indeed include me.

This is a good thing.

No one wants an untested - and possibly unreliable - person to gum up the works, no matter how clean and polished they may appear. Because when it comes rolling right off the assembly line, there is no polish required, no sanding down or body work or engine tooling and tuning, and not because the rough spots aren't there, but because the rough spots aren't there yet. I know, I know, no one buys a used car because it's already proved its hardy worth, or a used diamond ring because it's already acquired some endearing dings and scars, but because the deal is better, because they aren't required to invest as much in its acquisition.

When this concept is applied to people, that investment isn't represented solely by money (hopefully). It comes in the forms of faith, hope and love... and by knowing that someone has gone through the rough spots and emerged with pride, dignity, composure (and even the slightest bit of polish), you can feel more confident and justified in giving them your trust. Who cares if you still have a few rough edges now? A diamond is still the toughest rock out there, and the world can be so very very harsh. The road is never fully traveled no matter how many miles you put under your feet. Just keep walking in that right direction, keep working away at the meanness that's working its way against you and stay positive...

I can't really believe I'm writing this. :)

To continue this topic in a direction which I am very fond of, I don't need to be perfect now. What I need to be is heading that way with pure focus and constant forgiveness in my heart, because even if I'm not perfect, I just might be perfect for someone else. You just never know. I've been hurt, I've been trampled and left behind and I've done my share of the same. I've seen parts of this life and world that still sometimes make me cringe, but despite it all (or perhaps because of it) I have turned into who I am, and I am proud to be me. (I really really like that I like that!)

I am nowhere near perfect. I'm no paragon of the species or even an especially admirable example deserving the adulation and recognition of great men like my father, my grandfather, or many other characters who have had their various entrances and exits over the course of my as-yet-brief personal history, but I am me, and that is a perfectly fine thing to be, and it gets better every day.

There are shadows on paths we would rather pass by
Truths we'd like not to admit, to forget all the whys
To ignore and let be the more challenging parts
Without chancing exposure of our fragile hearts
And so behind armor of iron or steel
We keep ourselves sane through sheer force of will
To never be scared and neither ashamed
To never know love, adoration or pain
Averting our eyes from the ways it might be
For true happiness means to risk misery
With both moods entwined in an unending dance
Always the worst of the two a possible chance
But let us still live despite all these fears
As life will heedless advance through the years
And a life that's half-lived is still just as long

As the life you've been dreaming to live all along


Sunday, August 9, 2009


D. Lawrence Ficklin

Please come out and take a bow
You've put on quite a show
Kept us all guessing to the end
But I guess now we know

So thank you so much for having us
Thank you so very, very much
It's been a pleasure being played upon
Thank you so very, very much

Your act was so believable
We'd forgotten about the stage
Silly we took it all to heart
The playacted love and rage

So thank you so much for having us
Thank you so very, very much
It's been a pleasure being played upon
Thank you so very, very much

So no need explaining any more
We get the joke and it was swell
It's all on us and we don't blame you
The deal was always too good a sell

We should have seen, we should have known
How far you led us on
So thank you, Hope, for what you've done
In cruelty you are alone

So thank you so much for having us
Thank you so very, very much
It's been a pleasure being played upon
Thank you so very, very much

Friday, July 10, 2009

True Story.

There was a pretty girl in the hot tub tonight. She was having an "awful day. Absolutely the worst." It's a Friday, and so every male not on a date (about fifteen) was also in the hot tub, and as she was certainly pretty, she instantly garnered the attention and concern of all of us.

What's wrong? we asked. "A guy rejected me!" came the horrible reply.

Shocked gasps from those assorted. A few stifled chuckles from a certain few (I admit my participation therein).

She continued, "I can count on one hand how many times I've been rejected, and that was one of them." She raised her right hand out of the steaming water and waved it in the air for the more visual learners, a look of preposterous shock and disgust on her face, as though merely the sight of those damning, rejection-representing fingers insulted her by their existential necessity. In the fingers' defense, it's not as though they could help it.

A young fellow who'd come with her countered that the rejector in question had not rejected her, that he'd merely vacated his seat to get a glass of water, but our victimized heroine was adamant. "He rejected me. He definitely rejected me. He rejected me right in front of me. I know. I was there. He rejected me to my face." Her companion insisted that the offender meant no such thing by the gesture.

By way of a quick vote, it was determined by those assembled that the matter of whether it was a TRUE REJECTION had to be concluded by an impartial third-party, represented by a committee headed by yours truly (appointed as I was by unanimous decision on account of my speaking voice), and whose membership comprised of all other males in the hot tub (with the exception of a few exchange students from Japan who had no interest in the matter and soon left to have chicken wars in the pool).

From the testimonies of the two witnesses present at the scene of the so-called "rejection" has been the following description of the relationship between the victim and the offender, as well as the event itself:

They had hung out for two weeks now as part of a larger group. He was nice, smart and handsome. They had spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at group activities. Then, earlier today, she had seen him sitting on a couch at another gathering of friends. She had sat on the opposite side of the couch ("not right next to him or anything" the victim made clear to us), when the horrible fellow had actually stood up, fetched himself a glass of water from across the room, and sat on another couch without so much as a howdy-do.

Upon the conclusion of the story, the Committee of Impartial Third-Partiness held its collective breath, waiting for the rest of the story. As spokesman, it rested upon me to voice the question:


The reply?

"I can't believe he actually would reject me like that."

Wishing somewhat to soften the blow for this sadly confused individual, I asked if the young man was aware that she liked him.

"I'm pretty sure that his roommate has told him that I might like him maybe. I even pretended to like chess, for crying out loud!" She also reminded me that they had been hanging out for two weeks as part of a larger group, and also that this group had hung out three days before today this very week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to be exact).

I expressed that I held such evidence as very circumstantial. I believe my exact phrasing was "So?" I informed her that we were in fact talking about a male, an adolescent male what's more, one of the most terrifically oblivious creatures to stumble about on God's Green Earth. In all likelihood, unless you've told him yourself that you like him, it is highly unlikely that he is even aware of your interest.

"But it's his job to do tell me he likes me, not mine," she insisted, quite blissfully unaware of the howling error of logic lying within that tepid pool of thought.

I attempted to enlighten her of this particular monstrosity explaining that sometimes guys don't know that they like someone until such a relationship is presented through a wonderful tool known as communication. To my understanding, I stated for the Committee, I see no evidence that the boy is even aware that you like him, and that therefore his rejection, if it could even be called such, must have been done in ignorance, and not as the horrible drama it had been presented as. I encouraged her to tell him how she felt, saying that oftentimes the direct approach is exactly what is needed.

"It's creepy when people are direct, though," she countered.

You would rather it be all deceit and guile?

"Well, it's his job anyways to tell me that he likes me, not mine," she said.

Perhaps he doesn't like you, I said, by way of hypothetical exercise.

The reaction was, as you can probably imagine, immediate, dreadful and violent.

"Why wouldn't he like me? Everyone likes me! I've never met anyone who doesn't like me! If he doesn't like me then he must be an idiot. Or gay. I can count on one hand how many guys have ever rejected me. One hand!" (She deigned it necessary once more to present her hand for our viewing, this time the left one.) "Why wouldn't he like me? I'm amazing! I'm prettier than any other girl who comes to this pool." (An untrue statement.)

Eventually she got what she needed to out of her system while the Committee sat silent in (slightly offended and indignant) shock, a few dunking their heads under water to ostensibly wet their faces (we all knew otherwise, of course, and sat jealous of their quick thinking, as not all of us could suddenly go beneath the water to escape the blood-thirsty tirade).

I would suggest moving on, I said to her. The rest nodded their agreement.

"Oh, I have," she said, nodding with us sagely, "I'm done with him. He had his chance with me. I've totally moved on."

The Committee sat still and silent, confusion screwing our brows into interesting arrangements. Then why did we just go over all of that? I put forth.

"Because he's a jerk. He actually rejected me. He had his chance," she said. She stood out of the hot tub, hot water steaming off her embarrassing swimwear. "This water's too hot. Anyone want to go into the pool?"

Naturally, we all declined.


Monday, July 6, 2009

The Silvered Road

The Silvered Road
Dane Ficklin

Wanderlust and restlessness
Called him from his bed one night;
He sent himself upon the road
While the moon above shone bright.

A fog moved between the hills,
Mist wove amid the leafy trees,
The lamps lit fire to golden pools
By dark windowed homes of shady dreams.

His footsteps did not tire nor wane,
As the journey thrilled his heart.
No thought gave he of turning back
While the golden lamps drew more apart.

A mile he walked, and a mile more;
The city vanished far behind.
And as lamplight now was scarce indeed,
Disquiet grew within his mind:

For the final lamp now shone before
An expanse of shaded mystery,
And he paused within the shining light,
Torn between the future and his history.

He looked then upon the path -
A silver ribbon 'neath moon and star;
His route was there, beneath the sky,
With dreams lain out both near and far.

Thus, firm of mind and set in course,
He stepped without the golden light.
He sent himself upon the road
While the moon above shone bright.

And so he walks and wanders still,
A trail of silver shows the way:
The moon above looks down at night,
And the sunshine leads him in the day.

And when he sleeps a whisp'ring voice
Murmurs softly in his ear:
"Your dreams await you now, my child,
You have nothing now to fear."


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Would've Thought

BE YE WARNED: This blog is more random than a Doctor Steel album.

Is it weird that I sometimes look myself up on google? No? Good. Because sometimes I look myself up on google, just to make sure I haven't been put up on "Most Wanted" lists or anything like that.

In sooth, I jest.

I found this article written by an old friend of mine. It's strange... I remember that night clearly. In fact, I wrote a few blogs on the occasion myself. It was my birthday. I don't usually think of myself as someone who makes a difference in someone's life, or who can positively (or negatively) influence the course. It's strange for me to consider. I'm not used to it.

On another note: Another party! Or rather, another night spent with new folks. I don't know if they're friends yet. There's that whole rating system to deal with (don't think me a cad for suggesting it, because I KNOW it's much the same for most of you):

Acquaintance (a person whose face (not name) I will recognize in a certain environment but woefully (blissfully?) ignorant of outside of that habitat);

Lowercase friend (a person with a conversational history or with whom mutual benevolent attitude is shared: I may be aware of their name - I'm dreadful with them);

Uppercase Friend (a person with whom I spend time with in social settings, (i.e. parties, movie nights, car trips, performances) and with whom I engage in frequent conversation, the topic of which is generally of no real specific import other than the task at hand);

Best Friend (a person with whom trust is given freely and returned in kind, a person with whom I spend a great deal of time thinking on, and whose concerns are both shared and mirrored by me);

Dear Friend (a person of singular importance and trust from whom no secret is withheld, who knows intuitively when something is wrong even when a smile is on your face, who overlooks your failures and tolerates your successes, who knows everything there is to know about you and is still there every time you need them. You would gladly give your life for one such as this, and think it an even trade.)

Anyways, these new folks, some of the first I've met since coming up here... they're certainly above acquaintance level. They've included me two nights in a row for outings and I know their names (which is odd, for me). A., outgoing, friendly and a fan of fireworks, pines for his gal in Idaho, W. is a friendly sort who always seems preoccupied and busy even when sitting watching a movie, like his hand he's been dealt is making decisions for him without consent. Don't get me wrong, he's a swell fellow with an incredible smoke cooker, courteous and generous. Then there's H. a lovely miss who resembles Audrey Hepburn in nearly every way from looks to spunk (an unflattering sounding word that does no justice to the sentiment), as well as incredible fashion sense.

... Heh.

I think I just realized why so many guys have tried to get me to come out of the closet. Sorry, but straight men can also be sensitive (while tough) and fashionable (yet rugged). This calls for...


My Top Five (5) Occupational Choices/ Categories (I'm so indecisive... there are worse things to be):
1. Novelist/Screen-/Playwright
2. Musical/ Theatrical Performer
3. Fashion/ Interior Designer/ Architect
4. Park Ranger (Or any job that gets me out into glorious nature)
5. Painter (which, incidentally, is my current profession)

Civilized society (and especially the Church) encourages us to become as well-rounded as possible, to cultivate not only our minds and bodies, but also our sensibilities and tastes. It helps that so many aspects of artistic culture are so intricately interlinked (music, dance, sculpture, architecture, painting) and that within each of these categories lie categories which progress, develop and expand ad infinitum, and that beauty in physical, emotional and spiritual form can be found through so many diverse mediums. Are we not taught to "seek after these things"?

I'm a lover of beauty. Of creation. Of emotion made physical and tangible, or perhaps just more ethereal and penetrating. The world needs more.

That's all for now. I'm to bed; I need to help set up the Sacrament in the morning (I love being able).


Friday, July 3, 2009

Speak ye?

I'm happy where I am, with who I am, and with what I'm doing. I don't know many people here, and I suppose that's much to do with my dreadful habit of spending my nights watching films on my laptop on my massive bed, but that hasn't happened so much of late. I've been swimming a lot, nearly every night now for the past two weeks, and even though I don't know many people, a night doesn't pass where I fail to make a new acquaintance. It still surprises me (a bit) and confuses me (a little) when complete strangers take to me like a long-lost relative, and soon we're romping around playing very rough basketball, throwing elbows and shoulders and anyone smaller than ourselves (my favorite part). I guess that's just Provo. I still hold myself as hard to get to know, and while that has yet to be disproved, the fact that I am easy to talk to is becoming more and more clear.

Who would've thought. :) Little wonders.

It's probably got a lot to do with the way I talk. I hate calling it an accent (it makes me feel weird and, well, kind of like a freak) but it's the first thing that people notice when I'm talking around them. "Do you have an accent? Where's it from?" I counted, the other day, how many times I had to explain my entire locational history since birth (Oregon, Canada, Ohio, Indiana, Washington, Idaho, Washington, Mexico, Arizona, Utah), and you will notice that nowhere in there is anyplace outrageously foreign (Canada is, at best, moderately foreign). Ten times. It was a Sunday, so that might explain it (Church and all).

Funny story: My junior year was my second year living in Washington, and for the first two or three weeks of it I had several people question me on why I was still there. Apparently I was believed to be a foreign exchange student by some of them. Heh. Weird.

It's tiring, and somewhat embarrassing, for reasons mentioned previously, but even so, it's my thing, and it makes me feel kinda neat even as it embarrasses me. It's what I've done my entire life. My mom says I've talked that way since I was a little kid. A customer of mine a few months ago was a speech pathologist, and she swore it was from Canada. I've never heard a Canadian speak like that (nor anyone else, for that matter), but who am I to argue with a PhD? But I digress. It's my thing, my little slice of uniqueness, and it adds a little flavor to, well, me. I think most everyone has that one thing, that one quirk that makes them stand out from the crowd, if not readily then at least after a bit of observation.

It doesn't really matter though. Not in the end. I don't think I can take credit for making new friends... ever, now that I think of it. Looking at it from a removed distance, I can definitely see how I put off a show of indifference and aloofness, which (admittedly) merely masks a more pervasive trait of shyness... which is weird to say as well. I do talk easily to people, at least when answering questions, but unless I know and trust them I almost never offer information beyond that. I like to keep people at a safe distance, so that I can't hurt them and they can't hurt me. ... It's pathetic, but I've got to work on it. I mean, for crying out loud, I even do it with my own family! I'm not sure I'm linked with anyone's morphic field right now, which is a silly little thing. Ah, well. It could always be worse.

Much worse. Because, right now, I'm happy where I am, with who I am, and with what I'm doing.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

(Edit: An Exercise in the Wonder of Small Things) It was 4:30 in the morning

and I suddenly got really hungry. I remembered in my brain thing that there is a McDonald's just down on Freedom and Bulldog! I was almost to my car when I realized I had forgotten my shoes. So I retrieved them. They are green flip flops. Everyone keeps asking me, "Dane, don't your feet get cold?" This, to me, is a ridiculous question. I don't get cold, and what's more: I have never had just my feets get cold. That's like walking down the street and saying, "Gee, my torso is just really chilly today," or maybe, maybe even "Whooee! My elbow is sweltering!!"

But that is beside the point.

To continue my story, I was on Bulldog headed away from campus when I saw a DEL TACO! With ALL of its lights on! I wondered to myself, is it open? And it was! There, inside, was a man with a bright green apron! And I thought to myself, I am wearing green flip flops.

But I was unobservant of my forward travel and bypassed Del Taco. Then, there on the left, was McDonald's, and I remembered that it was now around 4:35, and they would be serving breakfast items only. Yuck. I wanted a burger. And Del Taco had burgers!

I turned into McDonald's! Then I turned around and went back onto the road and missed a big white dumb pickup truck! And I drove to Del Taco! And I pulled into the parking lot, and two Asian students were walking and looking really sad and I thought, I hope my headlights don't offend them. So then I pulled into the drive-through (which, I just realized, bothers me when it's spelled "thru". It seems grammatically, or perhaps literally, lazy. Like the word "til", which should always really be "'til".)

There is only one car parked in the lot, so I think to myself, perhaps it is just the manager, and he is opening the store really early to get it ready for a busy Tuesday! Which made me sad and uncomfortable. Was I sitting in the drive-through for naught? After a few moments I drove away towards McDonald's kinda confused, but then, looking back, I saw the man in the green apron looking at my car through the window! I thought to myself, Am I allowed to eat? I hunger for burgers with cheese and pickles! So I turned around in the street and drove by the Del Taco again, but the man in the green apron had disappeared.

I resigned myself to the breakfast menu sadly.

I got to McDonald's and ordered some biscuits. With bacon. And orange juice, because my thirst was great for citrus things. And also a hash brown. The lady in the first window forgot how much I owed and had to enter it all into the computer, then I gave her some paper and she gave some back to me in addition to some coins (!!).

The man in the second window gave me my orange juice, and I drank it. A headache I'd forgotten that I'd had went away, and also my craving for citrus was quenched. I waited ten minutes for my biscuits with bacon and hash brown, during which time I saw what led me to write this very blog:

Through the little window I looked into the restaurant behind the counter, and there on a little metal rack, right next to a big box labeled "Ketchup Packets" was a green wicker basket!!! I did not at that time recognize a correlation between the basket and my green flip flops, but I do now.

Driving home, I took one more look at Del Taco as I passed, and on the front window, brightly illuminated by neon, was a sign that read "DRIVE-THRU NOW OPEN 24 HRS!"

But all I could think about was, Who uses wicker baskets anymore?

I am tired and no longer hungry, as I have eaten my biscuits with bacon, and also my hash brown, and I have also drunk my citrusy orange juice. I suppose I shall get some sleep.

Good morning.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

So Lovely

Dane Ficklin, 6.18.09

Believe this.

I look into your eye
I don't fear this or any day
The rain is cold, my heart is beating
I'm beaming, breathing, bleeding
All at a merry once and all
Old photos, new memories
Move, flash, burn so suddenly
Languidly and lazily
So lovely to the mind
And soul
The wind is chill, my eyes are wet
The grass is swaying

And I remember.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attempt the Second - or - Where The Road Falls Out

Have you ever felt like you have something so... so important to say, but you just can't get the words to come out? As though your whole heart and soul were screaming to let loose their bloody entirety on your page, but in the end the noise is just too furious and frenzied to make any sense? What if you knew that if you could make it out and speak the words the world would weep and stars would fall and the moon crack and the earth shake? Would you still want it to come out? Even though Heaven would crumble and Hell would freeze and Creation would die?
I would.
I just don't know the words. Perhaps tears can say what lips cannot.
I want no one to touch me or come near me. And I want a friendly shoulder very, very badly.
Leave me alone.
But, God, please don't.

Thirty-three Minutes

To go until I've reached twenty-one.

... I'm trying to remember what I've done, but I can't.

Damn this.