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A working professional and Mom,a want-to-be full time writer and modern day Alice in Wonderland who's always "A Little Mad Here"...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Atwood's Handmaidens and Independent Moves

In this past week I've feel as if I've been battling a post-vacation hangover trying to reinsert myself into the chaos and demands of a stress-inducing job. I find myself checking email during dinner, waking up in the middle of night running worst case scenarios and generally worrying about the bottom line in a particularly slow cycle of sales. There doesn't seem to be much time or opportunity to write anything, let along work on my submissions. I keep telling myself I just need to get out in front of my work and I can score some breathing room to work on some things but so far that seems like little more than a lofty aspiration. One thing that hasn't escaped my attention is how drastically my daughter has changed in this past year. I was so blessed to have had a full, uninterrupted week to spend with her on vacation. I found myself just watching her at times, transfixed by how much she's matured this summer. First off, she's shed every once of baby fat, revealing that she will most likely and thankfully take after her father. I can see the familiar lines of his lithe build in her physique and also touch of athleticism I wished I had possessed at her age. The Florida sun turned her skin its loveliest shade of caramel which has brought out the jade colored flecks in her eyes. She seems for the first time, to be wholly unlike either one of us, but rather uniquely herself. She is developing her own sense of humor and her own sense of style. She had a variety of laughs at her disposal...a quiet giggle, a playful snicker and a full-on belly laugh that makes my heart joyful when I hear it. She often walks aside of us now but just as often slips her hands into one of ours and readily returns our hugs and kisses. She is still sweet, occasionally saucy and simply amazing to behold. And now for the prompts...prompts keep me focused, they keep me "in the ink" so to speak...

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1324, June 30, 2016
PROMPT: throughout history, stories have influenced a change in society (for example Jules verne's " from the Earth to the Moon,inspiring the moon landing, or 20000 leagues under the sea inspired the creation of electric submarines, or George Orwell's "1984" inspiring the NSA spy scandals, Using a specific literary work, explain how a novel might influence
change in society.

I think either read this prompt a little differently, or have a slightly jaded take on it because the novel that came immediately to mind was Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaids Tale". I read the book over a decade ago but the story stayed with me. For those who are unfamiliar, the novel of speculative fiction, tells the story of a future where women had been striped up their most basic rights. Following a terrorist attack and subsequent takeover, society has been rigidly restructured into a caste system whereby women are divided and devalued based on their fertility. It is a vivid depiction of the worse scenario for women in a society ruled by controlled by men and their archaic and brutal philosophical ideals. The reason this particular novel comes to mind is that we live in a time when the debate of abortion repeatedly surfaces in nearly every political race or round table discussion. The women's right to chose is repeated challenged, with constantly changing laws shifting the power balance in one direction or the other. It seems unstable and precarious sometimes...this sense of control over our lives and our bodies. We all know about places in the world where women do not enjoy the same freedoms, the same rights. We all know of places where women are not free, are not safe. We all know of places where women are enslaved by political and religious idealogy. There are places where the parallels between the fictitious Gilead and modern day society can be clearly drawn and that should be frightening to every global citizen. It certainly frightens me. The right over my own body is God-given and sacred and the thought that any government could lay claim to that right, could move to supercede my own authority over self, is simply not acceptable to me.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 844 June 30, 2016
Prompt: What is the most independent thing you have ever done?

I feel that I have been pretty independent my whole life. I've made some mistakes but I've always tried to push myself too. I elected to go to college out of state and after that first summer break, I made the permanent move out. My parents were already in the middle of divorce and after several brief months bouncing between "his" and "her" houses, it was very clear to me that I was better off on my own. I think though perhaps the most independent thing I have ever done was to buy my ex-husband out of of the house in the divorce. It was my first home and it was terrifying. It was a project to renovate, both emotionally and physically. The house had seen its far share of discontent and there were lots of bad memories there. I was determine to look past that and start over. With very limited knowledge, I patched all the fist-sized holes and battered doors. I threw away all the garage-sale furniture that was a scarred as I felt and replaced it with the bright and the new. I repainted, repaired and replaced with abandon. Eventually, I felt like I had reclaimed the space as one I felt safe and secure in. It wouldn't truly become a home for me again until I remarried and gave birth to my daughter. Today it is the first place I really feel happy and complete. My husband and our daughter have really been what have made this house a home. I'm grateful though, that I took that leap for myself. It was such an instrumental part of becoming the person, the mother and the wife I am today.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maria Elena

The call comes on what would have otherwise been a normal Tuesday afternoon. I walk through the door to find my wife Sarah in the kitchen, our son Ryder perched high on her hip. She has the phone pressed between her shoulder and her ear and she is nodding wordlessly. I reach to take Ryder but she pivots away, handing me the phone and mouthing "your mother...".

"Alejandro Rafael?" My mother asks, her voice sounds strained.

"Me Escuchas?" she asks, and I hear clearly the tremor in her words.

"Ponchito?" She says louder and her use of my childhood nickname has all my internal alarm bells ringing. I grab a chair and sit, waiting for the bad news.

"Senior Varga...he is muerto, mi hjio. Dead."

This is not the news I had feared I would hear when I took the phone from Sarah. This news is sad, but the death of our long time family friend does not begin touch the well of grief I have known. Though the news of his passing fails to evoke one memory of the man, I am suddenly assailed by memories of his daughter, Maria Elena. I push these thoughts aside realizing that my mother is sobbing softly.

"Mama... por favor, calmante..." my Spanish sounds rusty, oddly foreign in my mouth. I do not often speak in my native tongue.

"Alejandro, will you come home?" she asks, switching over to heavily accented English. I understand she makes this effort so it will be harder for me to deny her request.

I have not set foot in my parent's home in Cuernavaca, Mexico in almost 11 years, not since that summer, my last summer with Maria Elena. I frantically search for some viable excuse but I know I will go. At that moment I am already making mental notes about which patients will need to be rescheduled and which meetings I will be forced to postpone. My mother needs me. She has lost a dear friend and she is calling on her son for help. I tell her I will make the arrangements and I will leave as soon as I can. I hang up and Sarah pounces.

"Alex? What's happened? Your Mom sounded so upset. "

"An old friend had a heart attack. It happened in their yard. My mother is distraught, wants me to come home for the service. They were very close."

I start for the bedroom, tugging my tie free, feeling the weight of the news bearing down on me and the memories surging forward.

Sarah follows me, prying for details but she catches sight of my face and something she sees there makes her back off.

"Take a shower Alex. We'll talk about it over dinner, " With that my wife is gone and I am alone in the darkening shadows of my bedroom.

The memories are tumbling over one another in my mind, each one fighting for supremacy until at last I am overrun. They drive me to my knees in the hot spray of the shower, force their way inside, assaulting all my senses and I am powerless to prevent their intrusion.

The first time Maria Elena came to Mexico she could have been no more than fifteen months old. Her father Jose Luis had brought his baby girl to the big cement and stone house on Calle Primevera to meet her grandparents. The Vargas owned the big ceramic factory that joined both our houses. My father ran the factory for them and my mother was their housekeeper. The residences also shared a gated, earth and stone courtyard. There is a picture that I have seen, taken that first day, of Maria Elena and I. We are both wearing only diapers, sitting side by side on the grass in that courtyard. It is clear, even in this early, sepia-colored image, that Maria Elena is a force of nature. Her bright, wide eyes engage the camera while I shrink from the attention, hiding behind my mop of unruly black curls.

Maria Elena's father left home in his late twenties to make a life on the ranches and farms of the borderlands. He met Maria Elena's Irish-American mother somewhere along the way and their brief union resulted in the child that my father would one day aptly nickname, "la tormenta". She would come three months out of every year in the summer to visit her father's childhood home. He father would make the long journey from his ranch to the hills of Cuernavaca where the paved streets of the urban center gave way to ones made of dirt and stone and the colorful blooms of bugambilias hung heavy along the walls lining the streets.

For those first few years we played and fought as growing children do, confined as we were, to the narrow courtyard and rooms of our houses. As we grew older and bolder, our unsupervised explorations took us through the alleyways and abandoned yards adjacent to our properties as we hunted for fat scorpions to race. We would spy on our old neighbor Senora Pena, who it was rumored cleaned her house in the nude. In the heat of the afternoon, we would play hide and seek in the cool shadows of the ceramic factory until the workers kicked us out. When the weather grew unbearably hot, our fathers would fill an wide old steel tub from the hose and we would splash and play until the water grew lukewarm and muddy. These were sweet afternoons when Maria Elena's squeals of laughter were like balm on the raw soul of a lonely boy. Some days Senior Varga would take us down to the town pool. Maria Elena liked to float on her back in the cloudy water, the sun glistening off her caramel-colored skin, her wild mane of soft red curls flowing out behind her like a curtain of crimson.

Maria Elena acted like a boy herself most time. She was loud, burped and cursed with unbridled zeal and seemed determined to disobey just about everything the adults said. Her green eyes sparkled with rebellion. She would distract me from one chore or another and drag me off on some adventure that always ended with at least one of use getting punished. Though she was fluent in Spanish, she and I spoke only in English, knowing that this made it harder for the adults to eavesdrop on our hushed conversations and our secret plans. In those days there was no real danger we could encounter in our sheltered world. The crime and corruption that had begun to devour the country had yet to infect our corner of the world, high in those rustic hills.

As we grew, the months between Maria Elena's visits became increasingly unbearable. I had a few friends from school but none of them were a match for Maria Elena's fire and fun. When the rains ended, I would rush home each day and throw the gate open, hoping to see her father's beaten grey SUV in the drive. One day, on the summer we would both turn eleven, Maria Elena was waiting for me at the bottom of Calle Primivera. I saw her through the window of the ancient ruta as it bounced and squealed to a stop. Her red locks seemed to capture the blazing sun itself. It had looked to me for a moment that her head had caught fire and the flames were licking down her back and tanned shoulders. This day she was not wearing her typical cutoffs and torn tee-shirt but a plaid sundress and bright white sandals. Without thinking I told her she looked pretty and was rewarded for my candor with a punch on my arm. We walked up to our houses in silence, all the while I was sneaking sideways glances at my friend's new dress and the way it hugged her budding curves.

That summer our play took on decidedly different undertones. Maria Elena became increasingly frustrated with the rules levied against us by the adults. She had little interest in family dinners or group activities, seizing upon every opportunity to break away from their watchful gazes. One afternoon she surprised me by offering to hang the wash for her grandmother. She dragged me up onto the flat roof of her house and together we discovered a magic world. You could see for miles from the rooftop. You could watch the sun slowly melting while the music and noise drifted up from the valley below. Here you could audit life, from the heated words of a young couple having their first fight, to the soft and sweet chanting of the elderly man three houses down. One night we laughed into our fists as we listened to the grunts and moans of young couple who were making out in one of the narrow alleyways below us. Maria Elena rolled her eyes in apparent disgust. The next day during our game of tag, I pursued her on pumping legs into the farthest corner of the factory. There, amid the discarded molds and decades of dust, she abruptly stopped and pressed her lips to mine in the gloom.

That unexpected contact registered in my young body as a cataclysmic event. My skin was suddenly awash with prickling red bumps and my loins surged with a unfamiliar ache. The next morning I awoke, hard and heated. When she left that year, Maria Elena hugged me close and whispered that she would miss me. The dreams began almost that very night, dreams that would leave me festering and sticky in the morning light.

My mother eyed me suspiciously when the letters began arriving, pink envelopes scented like gardenias that I would snatch greedily from her hands. I would take her letters to the roof, lie on my back and read them. They would always begin, "My Sweet Raffy..". Maria Elena refused to call me Ponchito. She once said it was "a stupid name, more suited for a baby and made me sound like a snack made from pork fat."

Her letters were always long and rambling accounts of her days at school and on the ranch. I was compelled by these stories, drawn into imagining my friend going through her daily routines. I closed my eyes and pictured how she must have looked when she punched the school bully or climbed from the bedroom window to meet a friend after curfew. Those letters, read and re-read in the glow of the setting sun, filled the long hours and days until she came again into my world.

Then came that empty, endless summer when she did not visit. Senior Varga had gotten sick, too sick to make the trip that year. That summer her letters came with more frequency and were filled with regret and angst. Her prose was soaked in loneliness and worry for her father's failing health. I longed for her, in a way that was new and acutely painful. Then, shortly before Christmas, I came home from an outing with friends to find her father's car parked on the street.

I rushed through the gate. I stopped dead in my tracks, disbelieving the vision before me was really my Maria Elena. She had grown nearly four inches taller than the last time I had seen her and her hair, still that beautiful red mane, was tied back from her face with a pale blue ribbon that matched her dress. When she turned to greet me, her lips were wet with gloss and I noticed she was wearing makeup that brought a cheerful flush to her cheeks. Maria Elena embraced me and I felt the soft mounds of her breasts rise against me. It took an effort to fight the urge to kiss her mouth and wrap my arms around her slight frame.

That night our families joined others in the neighborhood procession for the Posada. We moved in groups by candlelight visiting the doorsteps to ask for shelter just as Mary and Joseph did on the night the Christ child was born. I recited the words of the Posada but I was transfixed by the way the candlelight lit Marie Elena's lovely features. Later, after the feasting, pinatas and the dancing, when the adults sat slowing getting drunk and reminiscing, she reached under the table and clasped my hand in hers. So began a sweet courtship that would continue for years, interrupted but not diminished, by the months Maria Elena would leave Cuernavaca to return to the wide fields of her Texan ranch.

That last summer our love bloomed with the same fragrant promise as the bouganvilla flowers that covered Cuernavaca. Midway through the summer, Senior Varga and his parents decided to close the ceramic factory for good. It was agreed that my father would stay on as caretaker and my mother as housekeeper to the aging couple. Maria Elena's father took everyone out that day for Botanas, a festive meal consisting of an endless supply of small plates and treats, tequila and dancing. I watched my parents dancing together. I was suddenly filled with dreams of dancing that way one day with Maria Elena, of being that much in love that we could effortlessly anticipate each others movements. I imagined her staring up at me, in the way my mother did to my father, singing the words to the old ballads as we swayed and twirled.

I caught Maria Elena watching them too and when our eyes met across the table, there was an unmistakable question both forged and answered in the smoldering silence between us. Later, when we returned home, the adults still singing and flush with drink, never noticed that we slipped away in the night.

The rooftop was lite by moonlight. The two of us found a shadowed corner where the linens strung up on the clothesline shielded us from sight. Maria Elena's eyes glowed deep emerald as she pulled me close and kissed me, the soft darting of her tongue instantly igniting a fire in my gut. Her kisses grew more fervent and I heard myself panting in ragged gasps. I explored her body at long last, like a starved man would handle sweet, ripe fruit. She helped me move aside clothing to find flesh that was warm and trembling. In between kisses I professed my love and I felt her lips curl into a wide smile under my mouth.

"I know Raffy. I love you too." she whispered back.

She pulled away from me then, took a step back and tugged her dress over her head in one smooth motion. There she was, standing before me, as magnificent a creature as I would ever lay eyes on. Her skin was flawless, shimmering under the stars. Her breasts, high and tight, were two perfect mounds that fit into my palms as if they were designed for just that purpose. I gazed at her, heaving with a desire that threatened to consume me completely.

We consummated our love that night on that rooftop in Cuernavaca. We buried our moans in each others necks and whispered our ardent promises until the sky grew lighter and the fear of discovery outweighed our desire. We spent the remaining weeks of that summer planning our lives together and making love wherever and whenever the opportunity arose. It was the best summer of my life, the one that would define my definitions of love and of lust. It would leave its indelible mark on me always, in a large part, shaping the man I would become.

That summer was the last I would ever share with Maria Elena. Three months after returning to Texas, she would be struck by a drunk driver and killed walking home from the library. It took a full week for my mother to find the words to tell me the news. When she finally did, she wept with me for hours, rocking me against her as she did when I was very young. The loss of Maria Elena was like a plague that swept through our houses, dosing the light and leaving a gray pallor that settled over everything in its wake. Her father returned to his parent's home for good, finding nothing more to keep him away now that his only child was in the ground. He returned a shell of a man, shriveled and defeated, his grief etched over his features like a mask he could never remove.

It was with a similar determination that I left Cuernavaca. In some strange way, knowing Maria Elena was never coming back there, made it less my home. I went to university in the United States, studied hard and started my own clinical therapy clinic. I threw myself into forging a life but would forever haunted by the specter of my Maria Elena. There were days I swore I saw her, a fleeting glimpse of flowing red hair, a smooth shoulder, heard her high-pitched giggle. In time, I met Sarah who, with her dark eyes and pale skin, was almost a polar opposite to Maria Elena. I have never told Sarah about my first love. She would not understand the affect her loss has had on my soul.

I pull myself free of the undertow of memories realizing I have been standing in the shower for far too long. It is a wonder my wife hasn't come in search of me. I think of poor Senior Varga and of how his broken heart must have finally given out . I am anxious about returning to Mexico. I wonder what lovely phantoms I may encounter when I return again to Calle Primivera and our rooftop.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Misery and Faith

I've been writing/blogging now for many years. I've had at least one blog running for over ten years and its served as a rather rare and consistent snapshot of my life through some of the most substantial moments of the journey.  I find its been a good habit to randomly select a page and revisit that entry, it helps me reconnect with where I've been and most important, who I've been in the past. I has been a revealing practice that has given me a lot of insight to the person I am today and the choices I continually make in my life. 

Here is one from April 12th, 2007 that I entitled: Misery and Faith

The rain outside is pelting my office window. Certainly today's gloom factor weighs in somewhere are 9 on the 1-10 scale of such things. My little dog is sleeping in front of the space heater by my feet. I reach down to pet his soft head occasionally, as if to assure myself he is still there and that the good and gentle elements of my life are still alive and breathing. Not bearing to wade into the pile of stress-producing work on my desk, I've busied myself with seemingly more trivial tasks; looking up the addresses of long lost relatives, reorganizing my purse, filling out the health questionnaire for my new doctor. Its been a difficult morning. I woke up this morning cocooned around myself. I drove the sleep off with a hotter than advisable shower and loaded the dog and the latest bills into the car. I put more gas in...again. On the drive to work I was suddenly assaulted by a memory I can scarcely recall now. Driving to work under the pelting rain though, it was clear and bright. It was the memory of walking along the sandy path that curled around the Avery Point college campus. It had to be Spring, because though the sun was out and warm against my back, the trees were just beginning to bud and the air was still crisp with a winter not to recently forgotten. I was barefoot and he was dilligent in pointing out the little green land mines of goose poop so I could avoid stepping in one. He was walking beside me, as he often did, his lumbering gait keeping him just ahead of me. It was a memory so vivid but so fleeting it left me floundering about, my mind trying to re-access all the elements but coming up empty. It was from the time before all the darkness, when our lives were still comfortably linked by common threads of friendship, work and an appreciation of the sea and this beautiful, open place. Was it a message? A unexplicable communication from the beyond? And if it was, what was it meant to convey? I am more a daughter of science and matter than one of spirit and faith, but if I were to suspend that instinctual need to have all explained for a moment and just listen to my heart, I think I'd find a message. I think it was a reminder from my dear friend that life is full of small, contented moments and not to lose myself too far in the low and darker ones. The rain will stop and the sun will come out. The grass will get greener and the sea will beckon me again and there will be sweet afternoon walks when all I have to worry about is dodging piles of goose poop and breathing deeply of the ocean air.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Escaping Octopi and Sweet Moments of Motherhood

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 829 June 15, 2016
Prompt: What was your worst summer job? What was your best summer job?

The best summer job I ever had, was oddly enough, also the worst. I'm not sure it would even qualify as a "job" in that I didn't even get paid. It was a volunteer stint, meant to garner my resume and expand on my experience, as a Sea Urchin at my local aquarium. The job lasted approximately three months and provided many rich experiences for an aspiring marine scientist.

Not all those experiences were wonderful however. The work was tough some days. Messy. I spent lots of hours pressing meds into the gills of freshly gutted mackerel or blending the odious mixture of "fish chum" that comprised a major part of our exhibit's diets. I also cleaned tanks, scrubbing stubborn deposit stains off the glass until my fingers ached. One time, while cleaning a bi-level exhibit featuring a trout stream, I slid down the artificial hill and into the "stream". The thigh high waders I was wearing quickly filled with the cold water and the trout. I struggled to find my footing and my dignity while an excited family laughed and took pictures on the other side of the glass.

The worst day of that summer job however came at the hands of our aquarium's residence Pacific octopus. I loathed cleaning that dark tank and had to lean way over the edge to scoop out the strands of feces at the bottom, my eyes constantly darting back to the blurry pink blob pressed into the far corner. This one particular day, as my luck would have it, the octopus made his move. He grabbed my pole and used it to lever most of his body up and over the edge of the tank. I'll never forget the cold, fleshy feel of his tentacles sliding over my arms or how quickly it moved. My heart racketed with alarm and I fought to drive him back into the depths. I've never quite gotten past the experience and I never cleaned that tank again, begging off each time it appeared on my roster.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1309: June 15, 2016
Open Prompt

My daughter open her sleep tired eyes this morning and told me, with a furrowed brow, that she had a bad dream. It was only 6am and since school is out for the summer, it was very early for her to be awake. I pulled her close and felt her little arms encircle my neck, felt her slide one leg over my hip, drawing our bodies even closer. In a few minutes, she drifted off to sleep again, feeling secure and safe from whatever had chased her in her dreams. I gave myself an extra thirty minutes on my alarm and settled in with her, feeling secure and safe myself. At 6, my daughter is more than capable to sleep in her own bed, on her own. She does, on occasion, spend entire nights there. More often then not, I wake up to her presence in our bed, waking to find she's wriggled between our sleeping bodies in wee hours of morning. The truth is, I don't mind. These moments of comfort and cuddling will be sweet but brief. She won't always want to sleep in our bed. She won't always need my reassurance after a bad dream. I won't wake up with her arms or legs wrapped possessively around me, or open my eyes to find her and her father entangled, face to face and snoring happily. Fleeting are the sweetest moments of motherhood. I cherish these little moments - treasure our sun-filled Sunday mornings, our family walks, our lazy afternoons....

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Call Them Not Champions

I've taken a few days off from writing, afraid maybe of what I might shake lose should I attempt to express myself in electronic ink in my current state of mind after the recent devastating news stories. I've avoided listening to the opinions and commentary from our abysmal choices for candidates in the wake of yet another hate-fueled attack on American soil. Instead, I've tried, as I often have, to find the humanity at work in the chaos and place my faith there. It is easy at times to believe this country has become so divided, so crippled by political agendas that we have mortally wounded ourselves and have stalled our evolution as human beings. As humans we are endowed with these amazing abilities to think and feel, to design and engineer, to philosophize, to create beauty, to heal, to become champions of innovations, to evolve. Despite all our abilities and potential, we are so easily distracted by the insipid, captivated by the fear, lead astray by false prophets and their empty promises. I refuse to accept that all our fates are left in the hands of a cultivated and practiced liar who doesn't deserve our trust or an obnoxious and small-minded egotist who can not change his bigoted nature for the good of uniting an ailing nation. I refuse to accept that, as a nation build on the ideals of diversity and tolerance, that we would build walls or let the acts of a few poisoned extremists corrupt our perceptions of our fellow citizens. I refuse to believe we have failed our children by creating a sense of entitlement rather than rewarding them for excellence and achievement. I refuse to accept that we are a nation who would neglect our veterans or condemn others on the basis of their gender or sexual preference. I refuse to believe that as humans we can not appreciate that the love for God, our love for others, not only comes in many forms but originates from a place of peace and respect for all those who believe. I refuse to accept that hate has become a defining feature of our genetic makeup. I have more faith in us as humans. I refuse to accept those who falsely claim to be our champions and instead look for those quietly doing good, promoting the positive, evolving into the best versions of themselves they can be and encouraging the same in others.

“If you don't choose heroes, heroes will be chosen for you, and they will not represent values that empower you, they will represent powers that will enslave you”― Russell Brand

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1308 June 14, 2016
Let's talk about first impressions. I read an article in Family Circle about the importance of your front door on your home. They say that your front door gives an impression and says a lot about you the resident. Do you agree or disagree on it's importance? Do you feel it matters what the outside shows or is it more important to you what the inside reflects?

I hope my front door doesn't tell my story since its been adorned by a Christmas wreath and we are already in June. It my front door where to make a statement, it might be an unflattering one unfortunately. In general, I think outward appearances are far less important that what is inside. These days with social media, it is so easy to perpetrate one's life as being something it is not just by posting beautiful images and giving the impression of perfection and contentment. In much the same way, I believe a person's actions speak louder than mere words.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 828 June 14, 2016
Prompt: “A perfect life makes horrible art.” -- Chris Rock, comedian
If you had a perfect life, would you give it up to create brilliant artwork of any kind?

I don't believe in the concept of a perfect life. No one's life is perfect because that's a very relative term. For me, my writing often comes from a place of turmoil, a place of extreme emotion so I welcome the dips and curves of an eventful life. It helps keep me creative, keeps me honest in my chosen "art".

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Happy Crow

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1302: June 8, 2016: Prompt write a story or poem about The Happy Crow.

I had to google "Happy Crow" - because it seemed like an actual thing...what I found was a morality tale about a Crow and a Peacock.  Link to the story that inspired this retelling...http://www.moralstories.org/happy-peacock-crow/

So here is my version/retelling of this old fable...

Crow was perched high up in her tree, enjoying the sunshine on her glossy black feathers and feeling at peace. Crow was content. Her forest home was wide and welcoming. One day, she looked down to see a graceful swan moving across the still waters of a pond. Crow was transfixed by the soft downy white of her feathers, so different from her own. Crow thought, this fine Swan with her lovely snow white color must be the happiest bird in all the land. She flew down to ask him if he was.

Swan told Crow that he believed he had been the happiest bird in the world until he had met a Parrot. The Parrot had vivid feathers of blue and green that were stunning to behold. Swan knew then that Parrot, not Swan, must be the happiest bird in all the land.

Crow set off to find Parrot. Crow found Parrot soaring above the jungle canopy. Parrot was indeed beautiful. Crow thought, this surely must be the happiest bird. She asked the Parrot and he solemnly replied...

"I once believed I could not be happier, that I had all I could ever want with my beautiful multicolored frock. Then I met Peacock. I only have two colors and Peacock has so many more. Her Feathers are magnificent. I knew then that I could never be the happiest bird in all the land."

Crow set off to find Peacock. She had to travel far and wide until at least she found him in a tiny zoo in the center of a large city. Crow approached Peacock and said, "Peacock, I am in such awe of your beauty! Surely you, with your lovely feathers in all the colors of the rainbow, must be the happiest bird in all the land."

Peacock gazed at the Crow for a long time. He finally bent his beautiful long neck and the delicate crown of yellow gold feathers on his head caught the fading light. Crow thought that Peacock did not look happy. He looked quite sad. Then Peacock spoke, "Dear Crow, I once believed that I was the most beautiful and most happiest bird in all the land. My feathers rivaled all others but because of my beauty, I am trapped in this zoo. People come from all over to gaze at my feathers but I am not free to leave. There are many birds here, some are white like the Swan, some are multicolored like the Parrot. We are all colorful and we are all confined but you Crow, you are free. I think that must make you the happiest bird in all the land."

Crow looked at the Peacock, then up at the blue sky above, and knew he was right. Crow spread her glossy black wings, caught the currents and headed for home. THE END

I think it is easy sometimes to lose sight of ourselves. In a world driven by the material trappings of success, it is hard not to look at around and see what others have and think, "if only that were me..."  I have often found myself imagining how my life could be better if I were thinner, more attractive, more wealthy, more successful in business. It is human nature to covet what we don't possess. It is hard to be content to be a Crow when there are so many Swans, Parrots and Peacocks out there. I have come to realize though, that people are not always what they seem - or what they project. Success and wealth are all relative. You can be very rich, and still be very lonely. You can be very beautiful but have an ugly heart. The test for each of us is to look at our lives and figure out how we measure our own relative success.. Maybe we might own a tiny home but we hold the mortgage, free and clear of any bank...Perhaps, we have a tedious job without glitz and glamour but we get to be home every weekend with our kids...Or maybe we live paycheck to paycheck but the bills are paid and we appreciate the little extras we afford ourselves...

Maybe we are just plain Crows, but we are free and we are happy.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Lot

The vacant parking lot welcomed her in the dark. The dead leave blew around her feet and sounded like anxiously chattering children. The lot lights blinked and buzzed randomly and the headlights of all the parked cars seemed to watch her like silent, hulking guardians.

She stopped, feeling the cold pavement through her thin slippers. Should she call out or would he just know she was waiting? It was funny, she didn’t feel frightened now, at least much less frightened then she’d been moments before in her bed. It had been hours and hours of ceaseless tossing and turning before she’d finally made her tormented decision and slipped softly out into the darkness. On her way down to the lot her head had cleared, her lungs had filled with the crisp air and she’d begun to feel instantly better. This was meant to be after all, wasn't it?

Her thoughts dropped off suddenly. She’d heard a noise coming toward her very fast from the right. Panic bolted her feet to the ground and terror cut off her breath and steeled her limbs. Two small deer crashed out from the brush in front of her and passed so closely by that she could feel their heat. They jumped, crashing into the woods on the other side of the lot. Her next breath came as a loud and painful wheeze.

The cold was beginning to seep through her nightclothes and the pale cotton was growing damp under her arms and between her thighs. She looked up at the sky. It was a resilient midnight blue. Was he also taking the time now to notice how lovely the sky was tonight? She sought familiar constellations, desperately trying to ward off the growing anxiety and nagging doubts tugging at her stomach.

There was another noise. This time not a deer but the certain sound of heavy soles on pavement, not rushing of course, but steadily coming closer. The anticipation had a remarkable effect on her, an almost sexual response. Her hardened nipples brushed up against cold cotton each time she moved and a deep trembling shake moved down inside her most intimate places.

He’d been watching her for over an hour and had finally come to the impossible conclusion that she was there for him. The absurdity of it nearly made him laugh out loud. He hadn’t even felt particularly hungry tonight but the longer he watched her, the more her silent vulnerability enticed and provoked him. He couldn’t tell from this distance if she was pretty but then it really didn’t matter, her sudden accessibility made her flawlessly beautiful. Standing there, so still in the soft glow of the lot lights, her little pink slippers looked like pearls. Her hair was tugged back in a messy ponytail that twitched as she shifted from foot to foot. As he watched her, the sweat ran down between his shoulder blades and the need drove him more urgently forward.

She felt him coming toward her now, faster. If she looked hard enough into the inky blackness she could almost certainly see him. She knew she didn’t want to look. She didn’t want to watch him advancing on her. She wasn’t so sure she wanted to be here anymore at all. If she thought she’d stand a chance, she would certainly bolt back to the safety of her dorm. She knew now, she would not make it. The fear finally solidified in her stomach.

He paused for a moment. What was this? He had picked up on a change. She was afraid. He sensed she wanted to run. He was disappointed. He had hoped this once would be different; after all she had come to him. She had seduced him.
Disheartened, he sank to his haunches and prepared to leap. Perhaps, at least, this little one would not be so loud…

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Summer Leap and the Looking Glass

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 815 June 1, 2016
Prompt: "I knew who was when I got up when I got up this morning but I must have changed several times since then." Alice Through The Looking Glass Do you ever feel like this?

There was a time, during the darker times of my life, when I would have said I often felt like this. It wasn't uncommon for me to spend many a sleepless night making decisions and coming to reasonable conclusions only to wake up in the wee hours of morning, plagued by second thoughts and doubting my nocturnal convictions. It was a time when my heart was misaligned with my head. I wanted something so badly I was able to defer reality and sound reasoning...but only for so long. I remember feeling trapped in this impossible place, locked in love with an addict that was determined to find the bottom - with or without me. I was lost, looking for hope and promise in every corner of every sad, empty room in our broken house. I am thankful for that one horrible, heartbreaking day when I finally saw that it had become him or me. I chose me. I look back at the time now with some measure of pride. I ultimately did make the right decisions for my life and my wonderful little family is my reward for getting my heart and head on the same page.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1295: June 1, 2016
June 1 is Dare Day. I dare you to take the challenge and write something using these words: dice, provoke, fluffy, wind, dare, purring, nuts, aid. Write a story or poem about something daring or challenging. Have fun.

It had been a stupid dare that brought him to precarious point. Tyson turned his face into the wind and tried not to look down.

They had called him chicken shit, each of them hurling the insult back over their shoulders as they launched their summer browned bodies over the edge. They had meant to provoke him but instead of stoking the fire of pride in his gut, their chiding had only serve to cement his fears. He heard their raucous laughter. He could see them splashing about in the dark, still waters below each time he dared to glance down from the lip of the quarry. Tyson knew, to the very core of his soul, that this would not end well. His knees began to knock as he felt the heat of the July afternoon bearing down on his bare shoulders.

All at once there was a soft voice at his ear, a sound like warm honey.

"You don't have to listen to them Tyson. I was scared to jump the first time too."

Tyson turned to stare at Myra Wilson. She was a vision. She had a smattering of cinnamon colored freckles on her smooth, pale shoulders. Her long red hair was pulled back and piled high on her head showing off her lovely, long neck. Her suit was bright yellow with white polka dots and had fluffy ruffles on both hips. She stood, looking at him kindly as she so often did.

Tyson swallowed. He hadn't even know she was there that day. Tyson felt the heat rise into his cheeks, felt a pleasant, purring vibration in his center. Now what? Could he really tempt fate? Should he risk his life or risk looking like a baby in front of the girl he'd been in love with since the first grade? On the other hand, he was only twelve...he had not lived nearly long enough and Tyson thought he only had a 50/50 chance of surviving the jump. He looked at Myra, then down at the water. He tossed the mental dice...and ended up with snake eyes. Tyson launched himself out into the atmosphere, instinctively cupping both hands around his delicate nuts as gravity claimed him and dragged him down toward the depths below.

Tyson prayed for only two things as he impacted the water's surface...first, that his joker friends would be quick to respond with the necessary first aid and second, that on the off chance he survived, he'd get to kiss Myra's beautiful face before the day was over.