Archive for December, 2012

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Say Farewell to 2012

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  My yuletide was certainly merry and bright.

Now the year is coming to a close, I don’t know about you, but it’s been a wild ride for me and I’m looking forward to what 2013 has to bring.  I like to make New Year’s Resolutions, judge me all you want, and this blog was actually created last year to accomplish one resolution which was to start focusing on my writing and get my voice out there…obviously a goal I’m still working on.   I thought it might be  fun this year to share my resolutions, maybe they’ll inspire you to write your own, or maybe they’ll give you confidence that yours were far more clever. 🙂

As an homage to the closing year, I made exactly 12.

1) Take Better Care of Yourself – One of the popular trends of New Year’s Resolutions has always been to start ‘dieting’ or ‘exercising more’ with the goal being to ‘lose weight’, ‘bulk up muscle’ or ‘get in shape’.  In more recent times, there’s been a push in focus from the promotion of a poor personal image that these resolutions create (ie. I’m fat and need to be thin), which thus creates a goal that is from the start doomed to fail, towards a healthier mindset (ie. I’m not going to exercise to lose weight but instead to feel better about myself).  While I certainly could use a change in diet (the lettuce on my hamburger apparently does not count as one daily serving of vegetables…), and probably an exercise regimen that goes beyond ‘bicep curls” with the television remote, my idea with this first resolution is to address more than just my body, but more so, my spirit, mind, and lifestyle overall, and it will set the tone for the eleven resolutions that follow.

2) Force Yourself to Create Daily – As an artist, creation is one of the most important parts of my life, in many ways, it defines my life.  Yet, over the years, my time spent creating (brainstorming) has dwindled, and now I find that my greatest effort is being focused on developing projects/ideas/stories that I created years and years ago.  While development is obviously incredibly important, if I never developed any of my ideas than they would forever remain abstract thoughts that eventually fade from memory, keeping my creative mind sharp is also of grave importance.  With this second resolution, I hope to brainstorm daily at least one new idea, to be jotted down in a journal or typed up on a word doc, regardless of whether I plan to further develop the idea and eventually bring it to fruition, in order to keep me on my toes, and re-train my mind to be continually looking for inspiration.

3) Read for At Least an Hour a Day – I have found, as I’m sure most people find, that the older I get the less I read.  Periodicals, newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, and likewise ilk certainly get skimmed daily, but books, which in my childhood were the very air I breathed, very rarely make it into my daily schedule.  I like to claim that it’s because I have no time, but I realized as I sat in my room watching some television program…on Youtube, egad, I could be reading right this very moment.  Time is not the problem, but in fact, it is motivation.  With this third resolution, which will care for both my mind and spirit, I plan to partition off at least an hour a day for reading.  I have a rather extensive personal library, but many of the books in it have yet to be cracked open, so I’ve made seasonal reading lists and as an added incentive, motivating factor, I plan to blog about the books once they are finished.  Currently, I am working on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers; expect an upcoming post reviewing the book.

4) Do Something New Every Week – I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate it now, for artists, specifically writers, I think experience and having wide and varied experiences is imperative.  Art is about life.  Capturing, cataloguing, recording life and to most accurately do this, one must go out and live life.  Doing something new every week might be a bit difficult a goal to attain, and I doubt that I’ll be able to with my limited resources, but it gives me the motivation to search out new experiences to be had on a daily basis and will help remind me to keep my eyes open for new opportunities, and more importantly, not to snub something new or different that presents itself based on some belief that it might not be fun or interesting, if it helps me to somehow achieve this goal.

5) Stop Making Promises You Can’t Keep – This and my next resolution are connected and they will also quite possibly be the most difficult goals I have ever set for myself.  I am terrible about agreeing to do things or proclaiming that I will do things, without regard to whether or not doing them is plausible or conceivable.  That is a longwinded way of saying: I make a lot of promises that I can’t keep.  Everyone does, and I think, everyone to a certain extent feels guilty about it, and if you’re anything like me, it also can make you feel like a complete and utter failure.  The automatic assumption as to what my problem might be is that I can’t say ‘no’, but I am actually incredibly good at saying ‘no’, I will say it all day long.  The truth is I am very bad at admitting when I can’t do something.  To look incompetent or incapable is perhaps my greatest fear, so I tend to agree to do things, because I am absolutely embarrassed to say that I can’t, for whatever reason, be it lack of time, resources, motivation, etc.  I plan to work on that in the coming year, by developing better time management skills, and a better grasp of what I can, in reality, actually accomplish versus what I want to be able to accomplish.

6) Start Keeping the Promises You Make – On the flipside of the previous resolution, I do also make a lot of promises that I am more than capable of keeping yet don’t.  The main reason I have for ‘breaking promises’ is procrastination.  If it is a promise without a deadline, such as, a simple request that I paint a friend a picture, but, you know, whenever I have time.  Well then, I never seem to find the time, and although I continually say when I see them, “yeah, yeah, I’m going to paint you that picture”, and in that sense comfort myself that it’s not really a broken promise because I can still get it done, essentially, it is a broken promise.   Especially when I do schedule time to paint that picture, but then I don’t because…I get lost on Youtube, or I start writing some side project for myself, or I get caught up marathon-ing a new-old television series I discovered on Netflix.  Even worse are the promises I make of my own volition, such as, promising to write an article for this blog that never gets written, or promising to write a short story every day for NaNoWriMo, and then not.   I shrug them off because I tell myself they aren’t real promises.  Yet, in that respect, these are the most damaging kind of broken promises.  It severely detriments my ability to self-motivate, which in the artist’s world, is key to success.  No one else is going to tell me I need to get this shit written, that I need to make my art happen, that I need to create and get my voice out there, only me, so I need to learn to be accountable to myself.

7) Simplify Your Life – This may come as a surprise to some people, and others may just say “well, duh…” but, here it goes: Life is not actually complicated.  So why does it feel so complicated?  Why does it seem like such a chaotic mess?  Because we complicate things.  We make our lives more difficult than they have to be.  I’m going to digress for a moment, it’ll come back around I promise, but I’ve spent a lot of my life being depressed, just a miserable, bitter, spiteful person.  Much of this had to do with people around me, my environment, my home life, all of those external factors over which I had no control, things that were easy to blame, but then I was told, “Happiness comes from within”.  At first I thought, well, obviously, this person never had a psychotic mother and a father who breathes insults, but then I got a little older, became obsessed with the word “Perspective” in much the same way Robert Pirsig obsesses over “Quality” in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it occurred to me one day that what the message this saying is actually trying to convey is that Happiness is not some abstract intangible object floating out in the ethereal plane that you are sifting through life in search of, but in fact, something you create within yourself through your perspective of the world around you.  Being happy is as simple as just being happy.  At this point, my sister will not let me hear the end of it if I don’t embed this video here…it’s one of her favorite Youtube bloggers, and he just rambles on about being positive.  So watch that for a minute…or thirty if it interests you:

Ultimately, what I’m trying to get at is that, much like happiness, simplification comes from within.  I perceive my world as complicated and then I make that perception reality.  My room is a mess because my life is chaos, my writing is a disaster because I can’t focus through the disaster around me, I accomplish nothing because I have no time, I struggle in classes because I’m battling social life and work and personal projects and…I need to rearrange these thoughts.  My room is a mess, and would take me fifteen minutes to straighten.  My writing is a disaster because I focus on the false notion of how complicated my life is as an excuse not to focus on my writing.  I accomplish nothing because I don’t manage my time the way that I should.  I struggle in classes because I procrastinate and tell myself the work is too hard, except when I sit down and actually do it, it’s not hard and I ‘ace’ my courses.  So, with this resolution, I plan to stop viewing my world as complicated, instead to see my world as simple and then make that perception reality.

8) Organize and Reorganize Your Life – A lot of the resolutions I’ve covered thus far sound nice in theory, but practical application is going to require seriously organizing and reorganizing my life.  Right now, the way I live, I wake up and wing it.  Which is nice, really, most days I don’t put on any clothes, I drink beer all day (that’s a lie…I may have a beer or two, I’m such a lightweight one is enough to get me drunk…), make a mess of the kitchen cooking some new concoction birthed in the darkest recess of my mind (and it always comes out delicious, of course), and listen to music or watch television, when I should be writing or doing homework or reading or painting or just plain doing something productive.  Obviously, if I don’t set out to restructure how I do things, then most of these resolutions are going to fail before the ball in Times Square has even begun to drop.  My sister, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the world (and who is celebrating her birthday today, so Happy Birthday to my sister) is also one of the most insanely organized individuals I know.  She is obsessed with organization, and I think a lot of that has to do with how unorganized our parents were growing up.  She is making it her mission to help me organize my finances this year, so that will be fun, and I have harassed her about writing an article on organization for my blog, because I think it’s especially important for artists who must be self-motivated in order to be successful to know about organization.  In that respect, this resolution (though not numbered one) is priority one.

9) Expand Your Happiness – Despite what some people might think upon first glance of me, I have a hard-lined face and can be a bit standoffish, not to mention, my life right now is a bit of a jumbled mess (I am sorting it out…) and people might consider that a reason for being sad or something, not to mention the things I’ve implied or bluntly said about my childhood, I am actually an incredibly happy person.  As I’ve said, since realizing that happiness is not something you obtain, but something you create, I have been a happy person…I still get shaken sometimes, I doubt, I become emotional…overall, I am plainly put, happy.  I enjoy my life and I find joy in the simplest things in life.  As a creator, I always want to expand on my creations, and happiness is certainly no exception.  So far, I guess this resolution might not make sense or sound a little weird, but what I’m trying to say is that in this New Year, I want to find ways to be increasingly happier.  All of these resolutions I’m making are geared towards achieving this one, simple resolution, to make my already happy existence happier.  Really, though, I think that should be everyone’s resolution for every New Year: Be happier.

10) Redefine Your Boundaries – Everyone puts themselves in a box, some boxes are bigger than others, but we all do it.  We tell ourselves there are things we can’t do, we constantly set limits for ourselves, and we do this subconsciously.  We don’t even realize we’re doing it: when we see someone cute at the bar and decide not to talk to them, when we don’t turn in an application for a job because we don’t meet all of the qualifications, when we put something off for another day or for never because ‘we just don’t feel like it’.  On one hand, limits are good.  I don’t want to bash too hard on limits.  If they are realistic, then yes, limits can make you happy, healthy, and wise.  You know, if you tell yourself you can’t jump across the gap between the roofs of two buildings on a skateboard, especially if you’ve never skateboarded before or know next to nothing about planning a stunt like that, such as the basic physics involved, then that is a perfectly acceptable limit to set for yourself.  I do believe, however, that sometimes you should test those boundaries, just to double-check if you might be unrealistically limiting yourself.  For this resolution, I want to start examining the things I tell myself I can’t do, and then question whether I actually can, and then attempt to do it.  Hopefully, through that, I can also achieve resolution four, five, six, and nine.

11) Become a Better Blogger – This one is obvious and should be on every blogger’s resolutions list.  I would like to start posting full-length articles weekly (I have a slew of articles brainstormed on writing, critiquing, and the story-telling process, just need to get them written); I might start at bi-weekly though, to ease my way in, and I also need to start participating more in the blogging community, and to promote my blog.  Simple, straightforward, and should be easy to accomplish if I accomplish all of my other resolutions.

12) Continue To Dream – I like to throw this one on my resolution’s list every year.  I think as you get older, you stop dreaming so much and, maybe, if you’re lucky, you start focusing on accomplishing a few of the dreams you had when you were younger, but if you’re not lucky, you give up on your dreams entirely, which I think both, in their own way, are sad.  Although I want to focus on accomplishing my most pressing lifelong dreams (becoming a semi-successful writer, working on my art, finally finishing my degree and starting a career), I always like to remind myself that life is not short unless you make it that way, and that you should always continue to dream, to think of the future and what it could be.

I hope at the very least, these resolutions entertained you, and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and the very best of luck in the New Year.  

Early Morning Gray

Today seemed like an endless possibility kind of day.  Classes are behind me now and my workplace is slowing to a standstill, soon we’ll be taking a two week furlough for the holidays — time which I will be using to get some writing and artwork done, fingers crossed.

I decided to go hiking, invited my sister, our father, and his girlfriend.  I live in a city that translates from Spanish to “The Valley”.  We are surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides, each one carved out with numerous paths, treks ranging from easy, moderate, to couch potatoes stay clear of this path.  We picked Red Rock, it was closest and least likely to be covered in snow, in-spite of the season.

Red Rock is probably Nevada’s most gorgeous landmark.  If you’re ever in the area and you enjoy the outdoors — or perhaps you don’t, you just like to see it, there’s a scenic loop that’s about a 7-mile long drive — I highly recommend visiting.

The rocks which are this park’s namesake are a brilliant red color.  They look lit ablaze.  They’re breathtaking in the summer, but heats out here can reach as high as a hundred and twenty plus degrees by ten or eleven in the morning, so unless you’re a desert animal like me, attempt to visit in the chillier months.

I didn’t snap any pictures of the red rocks while I was there, as I didn’t hike along  their trails.  I went, instead, along a trail called Keystone Thrust.  It’s a short hike, 2 miles round-trip, but I went with a few sedentary office workers antsy to return home, alas, we couldn’t take a longer more strenuous trail.  Regardless, it was a good time.

Keystone Thrust is lower in the valley.  When people think of Las Vegas, they tend to just think of it as a desert, yet we're actually a very diversified region with several different biospheres ranging from desert to tundra to forest.

Keystone Thrust is lower in the valley. When people think of Las Vegas, they tend to just think of it as a desert, yet we’re actually a very diversified region with several different biospheres ranging from desert to tundra to forest.

The air was cold enough to be refreshing, not so much as to be a hindrance or bother in any way.  There were some patches of snow on the ground here and there.  My father would sneak handfuls of the delicate fluff and form balls to lob at us ladies.  He tossed four my direction, the first flew well overhead, the second came no where close, the third fell to my left-side as I attempted to scurry past his girlfriend in a rush to escape, and the fourth whizzed so close past my ear I felt its icy nip.

Squint and you can see the snow in these tree branches.  The sun's rays were peeking through the branches, I tried to get them in the picture, but I had trouble doing it without blowing the shot out altogether.

Squint and you can see the snow in these tree branches. The sun’s rays were peeking through the branches, I tried to get them in the picture, but I had trouble doing it without blowing the shot out altogether.

There was a bit of fear in planning that the hike would get rained out, but we got lucky.  The weather was beautiful, slightly overcast with sun peeking out here and there.  The temperature was brisk, roughly forty degrees, warm enough I didn’t need the sweater I brought, but I was glad of my long sleeves.  Clouds hung low over the mountains, fogging the tip-tops of several hills.  It gave a melancholy, almost somber, scene to the right of our trail, which contrasted greatly to the clear and cheerful nature of the scene on our left.  The mountain has so many faces and she shared quite a few this morning.

Low clouds smothering the hill tops.

Low clouds smothering the hill tops.

We only stayed for a couple hours.  I hope to do more hiking during the winter break.  I have a season pass, good until April of next year.  If I can ever find my camera, I can take better pictures.  I like to hike alone sometimes, which makes my friends and family apprehensive — describing scenes from 127 Hours in effort to scare me away from the mountain, but it can be perfectly safe if you take the proper precautions, which you could read about here if you so desire.  Most of it should be common sense: let others know where you’re going and when you intend to get back, take trails you’re familiar with, know your limits, pack plenty of water — more than you think you may need, bring a first aid kit, check in at the ranger station, etc, etc.

Hiking alone is nice for numerous reason.  You can take your time or move as fast as you want to, there’s a greater sense of  adventure and independence.  You can dwell at overlooks, snap as many pictures as you need of the scenery without someone nearby hounding you to keep moving or simply standing over your shoulder making you feel as though you need to keep moving.  Also, you can stay as long as you want on the mountain.  This morning I was revved to keep moving, but my hiking pals were ready to call it a day before we’d reached the trail’s end.

Not to mention, the experience is so different, even on trails you’ve trekked hundreds of times in the past.  Without other people around to occupy part of your attention, your entire focus shifts to your surroundings.  I hardly ever see the wild-life (birds, rabbits, squirrels, so on) when I hike with others, but when I’m by myself they seem to come out in full-force.

When it comes to hiking alone or hiking with others, however, I don’t really recommend one over the other.  Both are equally enjoyable and really depends on your mood.

12162012 135

Of course, if I hiked alone, there would be no one to take this full-body shot picture of me with the landscape as my backdrop.

I had put ingredients for a Creamy Bratwurst Stew (one of my favorite crockpot recipes in the world, the stew is so hearty, I’ve shared it with people who didn’t even like bratwurst who’ve loved it) in the crockpot before leaving for the hike, and when we returned home the entire place smelled delicious.  The stew, however, wouldn’t be ready for another several hours, so I ate leftover Chinese food for lunch and drank a couple glasses of a red wine, a brand of Melbec called Cupcake, and curled up with the first book on my winter reading list “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Heinlein.

Yes, if you’re wondering, I did chose the wine because it was named after one of my favorite pastries in the whole world.

Anyhow, here are a few more pictures of the mountain top.  It really is beautiful in person.  I know, you all wish you’d gone hiking with me.

Doodles and a Cupcake

12152012 007

The mystery box…

The other day, I came in to work and found a cupcake on my desk.  Now everybody in the office knows I am a sweets fiend, so nobody would be so foolish to leave a delicious dessert like a cupcake carelessly on my if it were not meant for me.

I demanded to know who’d left it there, but none of my co-workers fessed up.  I took it home for closer inspection (and eating…).  I thought at first I might’ve known who left it, but now I think it was someone else.  Of course, I don’t know why that someone else would’ve gotten me a cupcake, as far as I know, I’ve done nothing deserving of one.

There were insinuations it might be poisoned.  I decided to eat it anyway, as I proudly proclaimed, “I would die for a cupcake”.  Yes, my sweet tooth really knows no-bounds.

Here’s a picture of  the cupcake itself.

12152012 008

If looks could kill.

It’s quite festively decorated.  My father’s girlfriend suggested it might be a “Secret Santa” type gift.  We aren’t doing Secret Santa at work this year so…I kind of doubt that.

It’s a mystery that will probably drive me insane until it’s solved.  I hate not knowing something.

As with the cake on my last post about my workplace, if you never hear from me again: It was the cupcake!

Also, we’ve been absolutely dead at work recently.  I’ve been burning back-up disks, which you’ll probably note, involves a lot of blankly staring at the computer screen.  So, I’ve been doodling to occupy my mind.  I joked to my boss that in the slow season I get more artwork done than I do all year, I should start bringing in my sketch book.

Anyhow, here are some of the doodles I did while burning disks.

i ish not alien.

i ish not alien.

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I got bored half-way through doing the thing I was doing to kill my boredom. Irony.

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Can you see I like drawing these tentacled beasties? I have a few more at work I should snap pictures of…

i'm'a rugged man

i’m’a rugged man, roar!

i'm'a funny lookin' gal

i’m’a funny lookin’ gal

Yes, sometimes I like to write comments on my own artwork…I don’t know, I’m sure everyone does it.  One of my co-workers saw me doodling and was like, “You drawing a comic…I mean…ahem…” donning a mock-husky voice with (oddly enough) a slight British accent, “A graphic novel?”  And I was like, “No…but I should…I really should.”

Do I smell a series of sketch comics in this blog’s very near future?  Hm….

I don’t need no book-learning anyhow…

As of Wednesday my classes are all over. I have no clue how I did on my finals but oddly enough I’m not really concerned about my grades. At midterm I had A’s in all of my courses, I find it hard to believe I’ve fallen very far from there. I feel like I’ve finally figured this school thing out. It took me long enough. 

 

I never understood why I struggled so much in school growing up. I like to learn and, as one former classmate once put it, I’m not “disintelligent”. Not a word, I’m aware, but his intelligence has never been debatable.

 

In elementary school I did alright. I was the only one of my sisters that wasn’t targeted for the prestigious GATE program, but my fifth grade teacher – a lovely woman I will always remember, Mrs. Tramell Henson – was the one that told me I would be a writer and set me on my lifelong journey into the land of prose.  

 

In middle school my grades were average. I managed to garner from my eighth grade English teacher, Mr. Christ. the longest parting passage of all his other students. He told me I had brightened his days with my insights and passion for writing, but his closing words, “I wish you’d shared more in class” continue to impact me to this day every time I raise my hand to share in discussion. 

 

High school saw me hit the lowest period in my academic career. I was lucky to graduate, I was ranked third lowest in my class. I spent my last two years there the sole dedicated member of “The Writers’ Response Club” with my favorite teacher – coincidentally my English and Creative Writing instructor, Mrs. Fabbi. It was her off-handed comment to my sister one day, “is she like this at home too,” that first solidified a life-long suspicion…I wasn’t like other kids. I’d struggled my whole life to connect with others. I never understood why people strove to be different, I was different – though I didn’t know why or how – and I suffered everyday for it. But it was the way Mrs. Fabbi pointed it out, with a touch of delight and endearment, that first made me think, “maybe it’s okay to be different.”

 

There were many factors that contributed to my bad grades, namely troubles at home – isn’t that always the case? Grades were never as important to me as worrying over what would happen when school let out. I’m lucky to have had wonderful teachers that imparted lessons which have done more for me in my everyday life than a letter grade ever could. 

 

At the close of this semester, however, my lack of stress about grades has less to do with the home life (which is great now, if you’re wondering), and more to do with the fact I actually studied! 

Taking a break from writing an essay for one of my finals and thought I’d stop in and share a video from TEDTalks.  The gentleman giving this performance, Lemon Andersen, masterfully demonstrates the diversity of the English language and the power of voice and style.

Mister Andersen’s lecture following the poetry rendition is very eye opening with a few outstanding take home messages, such as, studying the work of others within your field, and that there’s more to poetry (and, as an extension of that, writing and, as a further extension of that, art in general) than just “expressing yourself”, and to constantly seek to expand your world and that experience is about more than what you can find in a text book or in the print of a bought and paid for college degree.

Anyhow, the video inspired me somewhat and I sincerely hope that it might inspire you as well.

because the other post was melancholy…

Work today is going great. My co-worker just brought me cake *and* cookies without my asking. I think he’s sucking up because he said something earlier this morning that made it sound like he wanted me fired and I called him out on it.

Yes, sometimes it pays (in confections) to be brash and outspoken. Either that or the cake is poisoned and he’s trying to get rid of me…

If you don’t hear from me ever again, it was the cake!

Things that can’t be undone…

(Just sitting at work thinking about the year coming so quickly to a close and dwelling on things I will probably never forget. Wrote this based on ideas about how sometimes we think we’re saving someone when we really might be throwing them farther into the fire. It’s not really anything, just a bit of mind-dumping, but feel free to comment if you like.)

I open my mouth to let the air escape, and rushing from my lips, licking off my tongue, are sounds not my own.

Your eyes are searching, imploring skyward for reprieve, dark and hollow things that no longer see and I am at your shoulder, my hand outstretched toward you but you are too far away to reach.

I am not a kind and merciful spirit sent to lift you up to siren’s sweet symphony nor drag you down to brimstone’s brazen embrace. I am not your salvation and I will not grant you the release you seek. I am instead your prison warden, borne here by fate’s fleeting grace, to tighten your bonds.

If you ever loved me, now is the time to let it go.

Post NaNoWriMo: Mermaid

Well, NaNoWriMo is officially over.  Sadly, I barely scratched the surface of that “word count goal”…well, sort of.  If I count the chapter story I’m working on, I may have just barely reached 50K words.  I really wanted to get more short stories written though…ugh.  Seriously, who decided that National Novel Writing Month should be smack dab in the middle of the school year?  And not just the middle, but nearing the end of a semester?  They couldn’t declare some month in summer or winter National Novel Writing Month!?

Oh well, regardless, I brainstormed quite a hefty number of short stories, roughly 15, that I intend to work on over the coming months, so that has me a little excited.  I may even post some of them or, gasp, attempt to get one or two published by some real, actual literary magazine type of deal for something along the lines of payment, pennies on the dollar type stuff, as if I were an actual, honest to goodness writer.  Oi, I’m speaking hubris now…

But, sigh, dreams.  Aren’t they lovely?

Anyhow, I mentioned I was working on this story (see below) in an earlier post and promised to finish and upload it, but I’ve kind of hit a standstill…I’m not entirely sure how I want it to end.  It’ll come to me later, I hope.  This is only, maybe, a bit less than half of the story.  It’s about a girl trying to sort out the events before and after her attempted suicide.  Maybe one day I’ll finish it and post the rest.  Fingers crossed!

Mermaid
current word count: 1,840

              Perish the cold fish that drowns in its own sea of tears, cowering in the darkest corner of its tiny pond, shivering rippled messages through the water, whispers of sorrow that fade away before they reach the next fish in the vast, expansive sea.

Forgive it, the pale, cold fish, that cannot float up to the surface and, if only for a moment, bask in the glorious light of day and relish letting its cold heart melt in those warm glowing rays.

Forget the cold fish, whose leathery lips brushed limp against your own, whose slippery scales slid unwilling from out of your grasp, whose eyes like glass see through everything, including — if not especially, you.

Fish.

The word is scratched, a branding letter like the scarlet ‘A’ of Hester Prynne, into the chipping sickly blue paint of my locker door.  It scrawls outwards and inwards and every which direction, lightening clamoring without thunder.   All around me, and pressing into me, the peers, they are the air slamming into my lungs, the stench odiferous, the beady blacks and blues and browns and greens and grays, tiny pearls in an ocean of bodies that whisper behind clandestine hands, “fish, fish, fish, fish…”

I pushed my way through the turbulent tide, “Move, excuse me…please…please move…” Stumbled through crashing waves, desperate to tug me with the undertow, broke the surface and burst down the hall.  I felt them watch me go. I heard their laughter at my back. I knew they’d never let me swim beyond the coldest parts of the sea.

Blue is an eternal color.  It imagines endless.  I have seen it stretch to the horizon, meld and fold into itself and roil back, forever cycling in and out and onward and beyond.  It is the sky.  It is the air.  It is the sea.  It is me.

“Are you cold?” she speaks.

She sits in a chair, high-backed, rigid.  It is a brown thing, smells of polished leather, legs and frame made of oak and upholstery studded with gold nails.

It is ugly.

She crosses her legs, slender, smooth things.  Her calves pop shapely outward from her knee, pronounced with muscles developed from years training in high stiletto heels.  Her skirt is a pencil, pinstripe, black and shades of gray.  Her blouse is ruffled in the front, soft and silken looking, sleeveless and low cut.  Her lips are painted mauve.  Her eyes are shadowed browns and apricots in tandem.  Her cheeks are a healthy rosy sheen.  Her hair, black and silvering in places, is pulled taut, wound into a neat bun.

She balances a pink colored legal pad on one knee.  Her hand, trembling slightly, precariously poises a ball-tipped pen across and between her middle and index finger.  Her eyes, shuddering brown and gold-flecked, three-quarter moons, gaze expectant.  Her mouth is pressed so firmly together, it is whiting around the edges and its corners are all but disappeared.

“Yes,” I tell her.  She shifts uncomfortably.

“I could get you a jacket,” she offers.  It’s perfunctory.  I doubt she has a stash of jackets at the ready to appease her chilly clients.

“I’m not that cold.”

The room isn’t overly engaging.  It is small and impressing.  Shelves line every available wall, filled to overflowing with thick, leather-bound books engraved in fancy gold, tomes wrapped in hard binding, manuscripts of pliable paper and typed in faded ink.

The desk near the back wall is passive aggressive in appearance.  It is dark oak, a rosy black color, glistening on its top.  It is flat paneled on the sides, muted and unnecessarily bulky.  It is scattered atop with papers and notebooks and an old computer coated in dust and the recording device that she uses to capture our – mine and everyone else whose sat in that office with her – every word.

“You don’t have to be polite.  I want you to feel comfortable,” she says.

Her words sound sincere but I don’t believe her.  How could I?  Her job is to make me trust her, and isn’t as though she lies about it, its advertised in the brochure.

I sit in a chair smaller and less brown than her own.  It is swarthy and underwhelming.  Its cushions are hard and carved as if from ice.  It gives away nothing beneath my sore flesh and aching bones.  Its feel is more akin to an iron maiden than a piece of furniture.   It is no wonder.  This has been, from the start, cruel punishment.

She taps her pen against the legal pad.  Her lips curl up at the corners, tug down and press into oblivion again.  Her eyes sweep over her minute scribbles, sloppy, willowy hand.  Her foot shakes and shimmies, pauses, shakes and shimmies again.

“Your mother tells me they call you ‘Fish’?  Is that because you like to swim?” she wonders.

“No,” I reply.

I chew my thumbnail, rip its top off in splintered shards, take them from my mouth and flick them across the room.  I watch her as they fly.  Her eye crinkles in the corner; her cheek muscle gives a tiny twitch.  I scratch at my bandages, cellophane-like wrapping laced tight around my wrists.  They feel as though under siege by a thousand and one ants.  They pucker and pinch, and sound as though I’m unfurling the packaging of a piece of candy so I can suck its sweetness brittle.

“Then…would you like to tell me why it is they call you ‘Fish’?” she asks.

“No,” I reply.

She smiles at me, nods short and stilted, with that kind of concession that says: fine, be that way, bitch.  She writes something on her pink pad, taps her ball-point pen, and looks up at me expectantly.

“So then…what would you like to tell me?” she asks.

I met Leah the summer before last.

Her eyes were aquamarine, the color of the deepest and farthest tropical seas.  Her hair dripped like golden rays of sunshine in her face.  Her skin was burnt the hardest bronze.  She wore a pink and green string bikini and I felt overdressed in my halter top and board shorts.  Hemp cords were wound tight round her wrists in braided layers, and draped over her neck, intertwined with glass beads warped and shaped by the ocean tide. She glistened in the beach sun, still damp with dew-like drops of salty ocean water.  She held her board, dripping water pooling in the sand at her feet, beneath her sinewy arm.  When she smiled and laughed, the entire world seemed determined to smile and laugh with her.

“You’re such a pretty girl,” she told me.

I thought to tell her the same, but the sentiment wouldn’t sound as genuine, falling under the shadow of her words.  It would be a returned gift, null and void.  Instead I asked if she surfed, as if it weren’t obvious.  She laughed at my stupidity and sprinted into the ocean, board gliding beneath her and torpedoing out into the crashing tides, and left me standing cold and alone and humiliated on the beach.  I watched her in the water for hours, sitting on the sand, breeze ruffling my hair.  She didn’t ride the waves, she became them, roiling and rippling, crashing and clashing, pushing in and fading out, erupting in froth and foam.

She came in with the tide.  The sun was setting, a grapefruit exploding across the horizon.  She walked towards me, abandoned her board, knelt in the sand in front of me and smiled toothily into my face.

“Next time, you ought to surf with me,” she suggested.

“Next time,” I promised.

We got hotdogs on the boardwalk.  I slathered mine in relish, onions, ketchup and mustard.  She paid extra for chili, nacho cheese, and jalapenos on hers.  We sipped cola and ate and walked around the boardwalk, peeking into store windows interestedly, pointing out clothes, shoes, jewelry that we’d “just die to have”.  We sat at the park benches and watched the boys and those few girls skateboarding and rollerblading in the concrete vert ramps, full and half-pipes, and skirting across the rails.  We cheered when they landed their aerials, booed when they splattered onto the pavement, laughed at their displays, and played hard to get when they whistled and hollered at us.

“You’ll be my best friend,” she decided.

“And what will you be?” I teased, and she giggled uproariously and I grinned and we slung our arms around one another and swaggered away into the night.

Mom sits on the couch, her feet up on the ottoman.  She watches her primetime dramas eating a microwave heated dinner: turkey in gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and apple dessert.  Her hair is in curlers, pink and made of plastic.  She wears a pale blue nighty, and a tattered robe draped open.  Her slippers look like white rabbit faces, except their eyes are missing and their fur is stained and smudged with dirt and debris.  She barely acknowledges when I come into the house still wearing my apron from work, and hair falling from my ponytail.

Daisy and Dukes greet me at the door, their wet snouts sniffing intently in every inappropriate nook or cranny they can find.  Daisy is a chocolate lab mix.  Her eyes droop and her paws are huge.  She drools constantly, dribbles in long, lathered chains to the floor.  Dukes is a beagle but thinks he’s a Great Dane.  His tail is missing and eye permanently sealed shut, mementos of an altercation with a Rottweiler he refused to back down from.

I push them away, pat their heads, and tell them they’re “good dogs”.  I shuffle into my bedroom.  My curtains are open but it is too dark outside to see out the window.  Light comes from a lamp shaped like a mermaid lifted up on a rock as dolphins leap from the ocean behind her.  I have a twin-sized mattress.  It sits on the floor without a frame, wrapped in graying sheets and a red and blue quilt my grandmother made.  There is also a bureau.  It’s made of beech wood, a sandy, creamy shade of brown.  My closet doors slide, they’re both full-length mirrors framed in faux gold.  My dirty clothes sit in a pile on my floor. My walls are bare, but sun stains in the white outline where the pictures once hung.

I put my house keys on top of the bureau.  I take off my apron and untie my hair.  I change into night clothes, a t-shirt and loose fitted drawstring sweat pants. There’s a book on my pillow, the story of some girl that can’t decide between her lifelong crush and a boy she’s only recently met but who has swept her entirely off her feet.  Romance, it’s not something I can relate to.  I pick it up, sit down, and start to read.

“How was it at the psycho-doc’s?” mom asks.  She fills my doorway, leans against the frame and leers down at me.  Her program, I can hear, is on commercial.

(And that’s all I have so far…um…I take criticism well, so please, if you have some, give it to me.  And be harsh.  Or nice.  However you honestly feel.  Otherwise, thanks for reading!)

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