Last month, Gavin came to me and asked if I’d like to contribute a monthly feature on his website like some of the other team members. Without hesitation, I said yes. Being added to the Kendall Reviews team in January was definitely exciting, but then being asked to do some writing of my own, that wasn’t necessarily reviews, and sharing my photography on the website was/is thrilling in a whole new way.
I wondered for a little while what to write, but the same answer came in the form of lyrics as it quite often does. “Perhaps you had better start from the beginning,” which is the opening line from Electric Head, Part 1 from the Astro-Creep: 2000 album by White Zombie. So, I went and dug out my big, fat binder of CDs, mostly from the 90s, and popped Astro-Creep: 2000 into my retro-looking record/cassette/radio/CD player combo, lit a candle, poured a cup of coffee, and here we are.
I like to tell people I was born with a camera in my hand. I’m sure there was a pen and notebook in the other. It’s not too unbelievable, really.
In first grade we were given a writing assignment. I wrote about a hungry, long-haired, solid white cat with blue eyes who had been out in the cold rain. She climbed through my window, onto the back of the couch where I was sleeping under a quilt, sick. I was allowed to keep the cat who I named Darlene. I won the young writers’ contest with that story, but where did it come from? It was a happy story with all the warm and fuzzies, but it came from a different place. A place deep down, a bad memory not too long in the past.
The previous year, I had obtained a kitten from friends. I was excited to begin Kindergarten soon and attempted to “teach” the litter of kittens in an outbuilding. I was teacher; they were students. After they were old enough to leave their momma, I brought my kitten, Wilma, home. For some reason, my dad didn’t like the kitten’s name, and he asked me to change it. He said the neighbor lady might think I was yelling for her as her name was Wilda, although she lived probably a quarter mile or so up the road. Frisky Betty Pepperoni and I got along just fine until the morning when one of the two school buses that ran up our little, one lane road flattened her out right before my eyes, her blood and guts smeared all over the cracked blacktop. Then, my bus was there, and I got on crying. Three of the older neighbor kids, ironically their mom was Wilda, tried to console me, telling me they had kittens that would be ready soon, and I could have one of them. The bus driver was an evil, cantankerous soul who yelled at my friends for talking and yelled at me for crying.
I think I wrote the story about the white cat because I knew, even at that young age, that I could write a happy ending. I could take something, a bad experience, and make it better.
The Beginning, Part Two:
Cameras always amazed me. I couldn’t get over how you could load film into a camera, take the picture, send it off in the mail, and receive the prints and negatives in the mailbox a few days later. I loved taking pictures; that will never change. Mom had a 110 camera. It was one of the long, rectangular kind with a built-in flash. She would let me use it to take pictures of flowers, my cats, my dolls, or whatever held my interest that day.
When I was between seven and nine, I received my own camera for Christmas. I can never remember if I was in first or third grade. It was a 110 like Mom’s, but it was the shorter version and pink. I couldn’t have been happier. I took a lot of photos with that little camera over the years.
This photo was likely taken in January 1989 or 1990.
For a high school graduation gift from my parents, I received my first 35mm camera. It wasn’t until around 2004 that I owned a digital camera. I remember I could take seven photos with it because I didn’t own a memory card.
Today, I shoot with a Nikon D90 and a Nikon D7500, both DSLR cameras with several interchangeable lenses and multiple memory cards and my iPhone. It’s good to go out and shoot as many photos as I want and not have to worry about running out of film, the cost of film, waiting to have them developed, or being limited to seven shots.
I was awakened by a nice, little thunderstorm early this morning. I got up, poured myself a cup of coffee my husband had made, and sat down to catch up on all the grand things social media and email has to offer. Facebook memories can be a bittersweet experience. Sometimes the memories are good, and sometimes I can’t hit the delete button quick enough, but sometimes it isn’t the post itself that crushes my heart. When something comes up with comments from people who meant so much and are no longer here to share words of encouragement, advice, a kind word, or to celebrate life’s milestones with you, it really hurts. It’s like their past words are solidified in gold.
Not long ago, I was afraid, too nervous, or worried of what others would think to really open up and share much of my writing, especially since a lot of it is dark. Last year, I came to terms with that, or so I think. People are going to either read it or not, and they’re either going to like it or not. It’s that simple, and there are going to be people who hate it and say so, and that’s okay, too. A little positivity really does go a long way, and I’ve been encouraged by several people to come out of my shell.
A poem I wrote last April, and was hesitant to post, came up in memories today. I’m surprised how much things have changed in year. Last April, I was reading a horror novel called “The Wicked Ones” by J.Z. Foster, and I loved that book.
It was really the perfect time in my life to read “The Wicked Ones” because my life was as dark as the book. Sometimes I think I was living in the pages. The poem was influenced by the story and my own Hell.
“I Don’t Belong Here”
I don’t belong here
A small place in Hell
Surrounded by creatures
Ceaseless chants and bells
Steam and dust
Dust moats sinking all around
I don’t belong here
On kaleidoscope ground.
Standing room only
In a crowded room
Yet I’m lonely
I don’t belong.
The chatter is useless
Ignorant and loud
I don’t belong in this crowd.
The walls are constricting
The hallways long
Too many doors
I don’t belong.
All the doors are locked
The floors twist and fall
The windows are mirrors
I don’t belong here at all.
The cloying stench of the creatures
And their unclean bodies
I don’t belong here in a world that is rotting.
The drugs float through the air
The creatures grab them greedily
They laugh at me as I refuse
I don’t belong here; not me.
I’ll stop rambling on about myself for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little backstory into my world of creativity. If so, I guess I’ll see you next month here on KendallReviews.com where I’ll talk more about what I’m reading, writing, reviewing, and photographing. Thanks for the spotlight, Gavin.
Miranda Crites is a reader, book reviewer, photographer, writer, and lover of horror from the ghostly woods of rural West Virginia. Miranda has always enjoyed reading, photography, and writing. She received her first camera as a gift when she was nine years old. The writing bug bit her at a very early age. She won the young writers’ contest in first grade and never stopped writing.
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You can find out more about Miranda via her website www.mirandacritesreadsandwrites.com