The Calm Before The Storm

I don’t actually think I believe in the calm before the storm. The storm always breaks well before the rain, you can feel it in your mind, watch the darkness gathering in the distance, pulling you towards it like a wave rolling towards the shore. Feel the dread in your guy, heavy in the air, saturated.

York was lovely, a truly adorable city, but marred by the doom waiting to tip over our heads, the water balloon already in transit to smash into our face.

You’re never just paranoid. You know when something isn’t right. When something has gone unsaid.

I made myself horribly sick on it and have made the long-overdo pact with myself to give up drinking. Not in a black and white way. In a way that’s like… Why have I ever invested so much time and energy to make myself sick in a new friend’s dirty toilet for a day?

How would I need that when there is this?

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Also, we went to a drag show.

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But now we are back in Edinburgh, waiting out the storm. Maybe one of these days the rain will stop.

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Bacon and an Impulsive Trip to Croatia

Every now and then I feel guided by a crazy impulse. This morning, my friends and I planned brunch. They are not here so I think I’m just going to eat all of this bacon and drink a bottle of champagne and probably book a trip to Croatia.

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Mmm bacon.

Anyway, the impulsive trip to Croatia is going to set me back a bit…. But… I could use a new adventure. And, well, $300 is far less than I’d pay if I were coming from America. Nevermind that I’m moving to one of the most expensive American cities at the end of the summer… Ah. Life.

This is the moral dilemma. Responsibility. Or… Croatia and a plate full of bacon. I am the greatest obstacle I will face in my own life.

What’s the point in being 23 and poor if you don’t at least have a few good memories tucked under your belt? I don’t want to be the kind of person with no good stories and only $500 to show for it.

And seriously… I don’t trust anyone that says no to bacon.

Let’s go to Croatia!

You Can’t Go Back

For a moment, let us be needlessly sentimental.

The day my oldest sister moved away to college I cried. This had nothing to do with losing my lifelong roommate who’d tolerated (albeit barely) my atrocious brand of childish messiness. I cried because sometimes the moment washes over you in a clear wave that tells you that nothing will ever be the same again.

Soon after, my family crumbled. We each retreated to our separate corners. I drowned myself in the depths of my bed.

I can’t say precisely that I love my life. I have been looking for something. A feeling that rushes through your chest. A feeling akin to happiness. Every now and then I feel it brush across my skin. The wispy entrails of feeling that could, potentially, solve the unknown question (42).

I find myself retracing my steps, looking back to the places where this feeling once brushed my life. I have returned to the place. Maybe the place has not changed, but the feeling has left. Like my sister leaving home, it’s become markedly clear that my life will never return to those moments of bald joy.

You can’t go back to those slippery moments of happiness. Why am I lingering, waiting for them to return to the places where everyone else has left? Why am I still the one, swimming around in the past, looking for those last vestiges of long-extinct moments. Why can’t I get out of my own superior, possibly imaginary, memories?

Let us find new moments. Let us find new happiness. This one is no longer waiting patiently for our return.

Saying Goodbyes

I don’t know why but it is incomprehensibly hard to tell people goodbye.

Le Novio’s visit to Einburgh ended this morning. All of my previous guests (little brother and bestest buddie) I’d forced to sneak out in the quiet hours of the wee morning (which was apparently very rude, but the honestly least-painful way to leave, if you ask me)… But for some reason the censure of my condescending British hosts had me on the airport bus with Le Novio while he struggled to fill out forms for tax refunds on whisky.

Why do we prolong goodbyes? Can’t we just make it short and simple? Goodbye. Have a good flight. Let me know that you made it ok. Now get on the bus, please.

This is not an abrupt declaration that I don’t love you or am glad to see you go. This is me trying not to torture both of us by prolonging the inevitable. I will miss you, get back to your life, and someday I will see you again.

Why do we keep talking when nothing is going to make that person stay?

Needless to say, I am sad. Very sad. This mornings departure was unnecessarily and particularly hard. I tend to withdraw (in case you missed it) from emotional situations. Standing there watching someone walk through security in the perfunctory hallway of Edinburgh Airport…. Rough.

I miss everyone, not just those I’ve recently said goodbye to. And when I return to those people in America, I will thereafter miss people here.

That’s the problem… I can’t be everywhere, but I love people that are. It’s not my fault. I never meant to.

Flash Fiction: Keys

Keys

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She slipped the first one off her key ring on her last day of work.

“I guess I won’t need this anymore?” she said as she placed it on the granite countertop and slid the brass monstrosity across the surface to her employer.

“That’s so sad,” her boss stated mildly, looking down at the key kissing the countertop in front of her, but quickly too distracted to pick it up and pocket it somewhere safer.

She guess the key would be lost before the end of the day, forgotten or stolen, and shoved into a toy box for the children to fight over later.

#

To her landlord, she enclosed both her square deadbolt and green door key in a white envelope she’d asked someone to steal from their work supply closet. Her roommate dropped hers, in inverted colors ying-yang to hers, in the envelope too and they both scratched out their forwarding addresses on the front with an old pen, just in case.

“This is stupid,” they both seemed to be thinking as they stood huddled by their front door, unable to re-enter their recently polished apartment. “Why are we doing this?” echoed silently.

They dropped the envelope in their landlord’s mailbox and stood around joking with each other for as long as they could manage before finally the lingering sadness became unbearable and they both got into their separate cars to drive away in different directions.

#

“I dropped by to say goodbye.” She was already on their couch waiting for her friends when they got home from work.

“I feel like we’ve done this a few times already. You sure you won’t be back anytime soon? You keep leaving and then we find you here all over again.”

“Pretty sure,” she replied, hopping off the couch and grabbing her set of keys on the way out the door. “Oh, I almost forgot–” she stopped halfway out the door and started to pry apart her key ring, sliding the colorful–decorated like a puppy–one off and setting it on their kitchen table. “Won’t need this anymore.”

“Wish you hadn’t done that,” they protested as she edged towards the door. “Now it feels so final.”

#

“I’ll walk out now then, if you don’t mind. I don’t want to prolong this longer than necessary and I have to get back to work.”

“No worries. I’ll be gone in the next ten minutes anyway. Just need to take my bags down to the car.”

They kissed briefly goodbye and he set off down the hall. They both tried their hardest not to watch the other leave, but she stuck her head out the door and watched him go anyway.

It took her two trips to get her suitcases from the past month to her car. She still had his keys, but it seemed oddly irrelevant now. She tried to shove them under the door, but the crack was too small. She tried to put them on the top of the doorframe, but the ledge was too thin. She had to unlock the door and put the building keys inside.

She balanced bags filled with dirty laundry and books. A soda fell to the floor with an unsettling fizz. She locked the door again and forced the plain, silver key as far as it would go under the door.

#

“For some reason, I’ve lost my mailbox key, do you have one still?” her father asked.

She looked at her now-dismal key ring. Where once there had been an eccentric collection, now only a small metal family of three remained, and a cheap bottle opener she’d gotten at a street fair.

“Here, sure. Do you want the spare?” she started to pry the key ring apart again to remove the gold mother-child combo, but he stopped her.

“Why don’t you just give me the whole set?” he asked, holding out a large calloused hand to her. “We’ll need the car key too.”

“Oh, yeah. That makes sense,” she muttered, and reluctantly placed her last possessions–two gold, one small, one big, and a gnarly black car key–in his hand, shaking a bit as she dropped them in his weathered palm, the remaining keys jingling. She didn’t quite know what to do with her empty hands. “Guess I don’t need any of them anymore.”

“Here,” he said watching her. After a quiet moment he slid the rings apart and looped the cheap plastic off the ring. “Why don’t you keep the bottle opener?”

Day Fifty-Four: Good News For People Who Love Good News

Almost six months ago I applied to do my MFA in Creative Writing and on Friday, after leaving the Lego Movie with Le Novio (which was actually incredible and self-deprecating and great), I got an e-mail with my first acceptance!

I had prepared myself for months now for blatant rejections, so I’m a bit at a loss for what to say when it comes to positive news. I had developed some really great insight into the importance of rejection and why it wouldn’t stop me in developing my career but FORGET THAT!

Just over a year ago I made a very important decision. I was working a job with no long-term goals other than a weekly paycheck. I was living in what I consider to be a fairly unambitious city. The only people who “make it” in New Orleans are in the culinary industry… and possibly healthcare or environmental policy. My mother had me really and truly convinced that I should become a Librarian.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d be a great librarian and I think that it would be a fantastic career… surrounded by books all day… lot’s of new technology. Really great, consistent job. But I don’t want to be a Librarian. I want to be a Writer.

I mostly keep my writing to myself. Ask anyone in my life and, outside of this blog which is my first committed attempt to public writing, and they won’t have read more than a piece or two of my work. Complete strangers I shared classes with have read more of my stuff than most of my friends.

When I was still an undergrad I’d let my mother sucker me into sending her a play I’d written for class. I was wildly proud of this play. It was read on stage by a group of professional actors. By Christmas, however, my mother had circulated this play to my entire family and it had become a running joke. I didn’t know this until my sisters started quoting it over dinner, much to everyone’s amusement at my expense. After that, I swore I wouldn’t share my writing with people I was close to… My latest project has been one of three times I’ve let a personal relationship read my work.

If I wasn’t going to let anyone read it, my work would never be more than a hobby.

Last year while at the park with the children I cared for, I ran into my Freshman Writing professor with his kids. I hadn’t been writing much at all. I’d been too tired from the kids and too distracted by my personal relationships. He seemed surprised that I wasn’t writing, that I wasn’t applying to school.

“I’d bet if you submitted works just from Freshman year, you’d get in. Doesn’t hurt to apply.”

Seemingly innocuous enough statement, but his words changed my life.

I had failed at writing. I had failed at writing because I’d stopped trying. The worst kind of failure is when you give up on yourself. If I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, I was the worst kind of failure imaginable. I was a coward.

So here I am a year later. Grad schools take a national percentage of 6% of applicants in America… and as of Friday I’m in the 6% and more than halfway through my first novel.

Forget the numbers though… They make this career look impossible. Work hard. Write well and often. Take rejection on the chin. And just keep putting yourself out there, no matter what it is you hope to accomplish. Only I will decide when my writing career is over.

I’m not all the way there, we’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m closer than I was last year.

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Nothing anyone could say would make me feel like a failure right now.

Day Twelve: There Are People I Remember

I must admit that I haven’t written much of anything yesterday and today. Yesterday was productive enough, edited my first four chapters and sent them off then spent the rest of the day with my face in a book and catching up with some friends. I am sorry to have skipped my blog, but felt that if you really wanted to hear about my reading of The Mysterious Benedict Society (which was a lovely read) then you could wait a day.

However, while trying to go to sleep last night, I had a rather odd thing happen and lost vision in one eye. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this happen, but it’s pretty freaky so I was a bit concerned. Luckily, my vision cleared and I fell asleep without putting too much thought into it other than a bit of irony. Just the other day I’d been trying to write a scene in which one of my characters loses their vision, but found I couldn’t quite describe the feeling (I think I’d do much better at it now!).

Anyway, this morning I had big plans for starting chapter five. I set a nice early alarm. Slept through it twice and woke up at the normal time (which was 11… best part of being unemployed, by far). I called my father to ask him some general questions (I’m attending a wedding with him in a few weeks) and happened to slip into conversation that I’d lost vision briefly the night before.

“And did your ear start ringing and your face go numb?”

“Yes?” That was strange. I had been a bit freaked-out the night before and the thought had occurred to me that if something was going horribly wrong, then who would be here to notice. I have almost completely withdrawn from the world. My closest “friend” is my mother and she is still an hour and a half away.

“I think you may have had a seizure,” my father decides. He’s not panicking. He says it in the same voice he uses to tell me that it’s very warm today. “A small one though.”

We laughed a bit at this, I packed up my bag, text this to my best friend as if it were a bit of a joke and set out the door to walk two miles to the library (which was by far a bad decision because my feet hurt like crazy now). My best friend does not think my text is funny. She’s a bit worried. Half an hour later and my father calls me again.

“I think maybe you should go see a doctor today,” he says. This time he is not laughing. Somehow he convinces me to go to Planned Parenthood of all places. I call them when I finish my hike to the library and they ask if I’d like to talk about birth control. I don’t want to talk about birth control. I make an appointment anyway and go to the library to try and get some work done.

Perhaps it’s just me, but someone telling you that you may have had a seizure is not conducive to a good day’s work. Inevitably, I end up on WebMD. I normally avoid this because everything on WebMD seems to conclude that you are going to die. However, when you put in the symptom “loss of vision” on WebMD, it doesn’t even give you a diagnosis. It just flashes a warning screen and says “This is a very serious symptom. You should go to an Emergency Room or call an ambulance.”

Huh. Now I’m freaking out and my best friend is composing my eulogy over text. Ok, I look up every doctor in my area. I call a lot of them only to find that I can’t get appointments. I’m frustrated enough to decide to give the whole thing up. My father convinces me, however, to hike the two miles back home, get my car and drive to a emergency care walk-in clinic.

Don’t worry. I am fine. The doctors examined me, said I look fine. They think perhaps I’m having migraines. That’s all. I hate doctors because all they ever really do is tell you that you’re a bit crazy. (Maybe I’d like therapists? Because maybe they could tell me, I’m not crazy.)

Anyway, somewhere along today I started playing a game I haven’t played since a child. From about the age 11-18 I suffered from crippling depression. I hate talking about it, not because I’m ashamed, but because a part of me is quite saddened by the fact that this is probably the most “interesting” thing to ever happen to me. Yet, particularly when I write, I always end up back at it because, let’s be honest, it has been a huge influence on my writing; and my writing on it.

Anyway, when I was young and horribly depressed I used to have these funeral fantasies the way most young girls have wedding fantasies (which are something I’ve never personally experienced). I dreamed about my funeral at great length. I had the whole thing planned very nicely. Never mind the fact that in reality I would have almost no say in my funeral, I dreamed up the best, most horribly depressing funeral of all time. I say this because the funeral of my childhood dreams was entirely empty. No one came. Not even my own parents (who, clearly, in reality would have been there and very sad).

It was strange. Your brain does strange things when your panicking about your health. Mine, today, decided to have a funeral daydream. After all these years, for I haven’t had one in a long time, my funeral daydream has changed quite a bit. It’s definitely not empty. There are lots of people there that I love and who love me in return. I think, though, the major difference is that now I really want to be there too. I want to be at my own funeral so badly that it actually makes me sad to think about all my friends being there without me. It makes me sad to think about my inability to console them or that I would have hurt them by dying.

My 11-through-17-year-old-self would never have been able to fathom that so many people would become so important to me that my life would be worth living. Man, that’s the worst part of depression. People say focus on the good when you’re sad, but when you’re depressed there just is no good to focus on.

I guess, it was just nice to look at my life today and realize how far I’ve come. How much my life is worth, even if no one would find my body right away and I might be eaten by wild dogs, in true Bridget Jones fear. I’ve been reading a lot of this young adult literature and, clearly, I’ve been writing things directed at the age group I was when I was grappling with the inability to live. It’s been taking me back to that time in my life, a time which, when I closely examine it, seems really blank.

I made a really important decision today for my characters: If I could survive the emotion that takes so many people from this world–the emotion of nothingness–at age 11, then my characters are able to overcome anything. I will never underestimate my readership. My characters will be fighters.