Hey Future Lauren! (alternatively, Dear Reader)

It’s a late April evening and you are trying to reflect on what you wrote for this semester. I am sure that you (well, me.) will look back on this and say “god lauren why were you always such a dweeb?” You’re not a dweeb, you’re trying to be genuine. You had feelings that matter, damn it! And you wrote about them! Maybe not well the first time but that’s what drafts were for! I’ll look back on this letter and say “were you drunk?” to which I will answer my own question: no. I’m not. I’m exhausted and burnt out.

I have been in school for 16 out of my 21 years on this earth. Not even 21 years! My birthday is the first which is before this will be due. Keep this in mind as you read your own writing, and cut yourself some slack- you don’t know what you don’t know yet. Long division scared you once and that passed, so this will too. The burned out feeling will pass. You will get some of your traction back, you will hopefully feel like to start to matter more. Hopefully you will stop grumbling at people who tell you to stop stressing out. They try to care about you, they just didn’t have sixty pages of revisions to do in less than a week. They just don’t understand. Cut them some slack.

As far as writing, you did pretty well as far as you can tell. You struggle with poetry but with every draft, you tried to write more images and put them in there. You tried to show a lot and tell less than you had in the draft before. You strived especially to be concise in your writing, which you struggle with in other classes. You hated poetry significantly less than you do with other classes. Your rhythm is still off but hey, you will survive. You can always revise. You probably won’t, but you can.

Go take a nap or something.


Lauren J. Hurlock
April, 2013.


James was thirteen when he got his first tattoo. He sat on the peeling linoleum in a double wide trailer, with no shirt or shoes, watching his best friend get a tattoo. The tattoo “artist” was his best friend Mat’s older brother. Bryan was paroled that morning, got home and immediately started making up for the lost two years of getting Mat in trouble. Bryan held the tattoo gun (which was really only a melted tooth brush, a pen with a needle stuck in it, a little motor and some other stuff James couldn’t identify) and dotting a smiley face with crossed out eyes on his younger brother’s shoulder.

“Stop moving,” Bryan said, and tried to hold his squirming sibling still. It was already crooked from Mat’s fidgeting but Bryan’s shaking hand didn’t help, either. Bryan pushed the needle deep into his brother’s soft shoulder, marring it until his brother finally asked him to stop in something closer to a sob than a scream. After pelting him with curse words, Bryan dropped the tattoo gun, picked up his cigarettes and stepped outside.  Mat tried to play the pain from his shoulder off, “Well at least I didn’t pussy out”

James had declined earlier, saying: ‘ladies first.’

“Let me do it,” James said — he had seen Mat cry after falling off their skateboards, so he was sure that he would be able to do better. James flipped on the tattoo gun and paused— not for fear of pain, what his mother would think, or future regret, but deciding where it should go. The hair on his legs and arms were just starting to darken, his chest was still bare as it had been on his birthday thirteen (and a quarter) years before. He decided on the nautical star (he was not a sailor, but had seen it on a band’s album cover and had doodled it ever since) should go on the left side of his chest, where he put his hand over his heart for the pledge. Instead of pledging allegiance to the United states of America, he would give his to punk rock. James took several deep breaths and then plunged the needle into the skin of his left pec, exhaling through gritted teeth.