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A working professional and part-time writer, full-time Mom and modern day Alice in Wonderland...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mona Lisa Smiles and the Climb

The summer here in the Northeast is winding down, a fact that seems to be registering in my daughter as she welcomes her last few days of sunlit freedom. We scramble to provide the last play date, day trip and summer-flavored adventure we can fit in as the first day of school approaches. I was looking at her this morning, tan and leggy in her favorite shorts, and I had to marvel at how beautiful she wears the summer. She is natural and comfortable in soft shirts and flip flops. Her hair is a shade lighter and her skin has toasted to a rich mocha which brings out her vibrant sea green eyes. She has matured this summer and its much more obvious when those little girl loose teeth are hidden by her shy, Mona Lisa smile. She looks older, less childlike. The hints of the young woman she will be are there in her candid postures and her quiet moments. I see those delicate lines of grace and poise and I find myself transfixed by her sudden and exotic beauty. My daughter is lovely and graceful in all the ways I failed to be at her age. I had been, and still very much am, a pale and ordinary child of Winter. This Summer has been good to her. It has wrapped her in its warmest embrace and made her golden.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 899 August 24, 2016
Prompt: "The Young and the Restless" has just celebrated it's 11,000th episode. With that in mind, what are some of your favorite episodes of your life? You can talk about your bad ones as well. I look forward to reading your entry.

I have had my share of bad episodes for certain but they are far outweighed by the good ones. A highlight reel of those good episodes would look a lot like your typical trip down memory lane with all the requisite milestones; high school graduation, first day of college, first day meeting my soul sister, a first date with the future husband, our wedding, the birth of our daughter...all those same really big "good ones" that anyone with a blessed life can claim. There has been so much more light than darkness, even if at times it seemed as if darkness was all I was due.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1379 August 24, 2016
Prompt: "But why did you go there in the first place?"

The end of the light came with surprisingly little drama. Like the final flicker of a dying match, the space around her winked into darkness. Mallory shifted her body in the narrow space, resting her back against the ledge. She slowly stretched one leg out, the tendons protesting, until her boot hung loosely out over a precipice that was darker still. Night was here and with its arrival, the knowledge that she had spent five hours alone trying to navigate the face of the evil Bodner's cliff washed over her.

Stuck. Five hours into her climb, Mallory had to admit to herself that she was stuck. Now having lost the light, she would be forced to wait out the night from her perch, facing long hours in which she would ask herself over and over how she had made such a deplorable decision to attempt this climb alone. She would think about her cell phone, mocking her from were it sat in her jeep's cup holder and her water bottle at the bottom of a ravine. Mallory had dropped it when she landed on the ledge, had listened to it clack and crack against rock the whole way down. She had cursed then, a stream of the worse obscenities she could muster.

Mallory had billed this climb as an empowering rise above a bad divorce. She was going to tackle the toughest cliff she could find in the fifty miles radius around the apartment she'd been forced to vacate and she was going to "climb the hell out of that bitch!". The arduous ordeal would be a catharsis. It would help her heal. The few friends she had managed to keep in the divorce had cheered her on. Her parents had upgraded her best climbing gear. Mallory had felt ready. She had not been. The cliff had bested her in the end.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Niagara Falling and Cyber Thoughts

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1367 August 12, 2016
Title Prompt: The Cyber- Thoughts

The Cyber isn't something I've given much thought to as an entity. I'd consider myself reasonable adapted to technology but not overly curious or enthusiastic about it in real way. I own a smart phone because of work. I don't own an e-reader of any kind. I have only a marginal understanding of web language, the importance of SEO and a working knowledge of social media and digital media marketing. I still feel a lot like a sci-fi novice when it comes to the cyber world. It even sounds too sci-fi for me. I didn't get the Matrix movies and I didn't care that I didn't really get them either. My daughter at age 6 is going up with daily exposure to technology and the cyber world. She's adept at using all the tools at her disposal to find what she needs and wants online, even if it is only watching other kids open blind bags and giant playdoh egg surprises on youtube, which is also something I simply don't get!

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 887 August 12, 2016
Tell me about a road trip you've taken? Would you do it again?

In 2011, my cousin and I took my Grandmother to Niagara Falls. She had always wanted to go and my grandfather had never taken her. We rented a car and drove, taking turns on the long trip to the border. We crossed over at Niagara, checking into a nice hotel directly across from the falls. It was magical. We did the Maid of the Mist, smiling broadly in our ponchos with those powerful torrents roaring behind us. We visited butterflies and got a little tipsy in the casino. Later after a bad slip and fall, my cousin and I debated whether to call my Uncle and chain-smoked, outside while my grandmother iced her knee. The knee was fine and the crisis had been averted. As a bonus we had a great story to tell about the now legendary fall and how an entire city has seemed to rush to our rescue. We laughed a lot. Especially after a very tired and a little buzzed, my grandmother accused one of us as having left the water running.

She insisted she could hear it until my cousin had flown out of bed asking sarcastically, "Gramma, I don't know, could you it be this?"

In one exasperated movement, she tugged open the wide curtain covering the wall of windows revealing the whole of Niagara Falls, the rushing water lite up and glowing in a rainbow of colors. We laughed about it for days. It is still one of those favorite family stories that gets told and retold, each time evoking the same peals of laughter and embarrassed giggles from Gramma.

After we had thoroughly done Niagara Falls, its butterflies and novelty museums, we continued on toward Toronto via the "wine route". We stopped along the Queens highway, hitting up a wine tasting or three before hitting the city. We did the CN Tower, the glass floor, even a high-end adult shop. Gramma was a good sport. After nearly thirty minutes, she came rushing up to my cousin and I as we were perusing a shelf of novelty sex toys. She whispered conspiratorially, "Girls, I think we are in one of those sex shop places." We fained innocence and quickly left, laughing behind our hands and chiding each other for having dragged our grandmother into such an establishment!

The ride home passed quickly. We slipped back through the border, tired but content. It had been a great time, we had built wonderful memories. My grandmother had enjoyed every minute. I'm grateful we had that chance, that experience with her.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gold Medals and Black Nights

Last night was a difficult one. On nights like last night, it is the little things that make all the difference. The simplest gestures can bring the most comfort, like my husband coming upstairs to find me and give me a hug, wordlessly wrapping me in his arms for a few moments. Or my daughter, just about to throw a fit about wanting to eat her dinner in front of the television, taking an extra moment to register the look on my face and deciding instead to calmly walk with me hand in hand into the dining room. The little things my little family does to make my world a little lighter...make all the difference in a day.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 885 August 10, 2016
Prompt: What Olympic Event would you like to have a Gold Medal in?

I can answer this one without hesitation...Ski jump! I don't think there is anything more badass than rocketing oneself down a ramp at over 60 miles per hour for the sole purpose of launching into the air, traveling over 390 feet and landing, ON SKIES...with all your internal organs still in place. If I were to win a gold medal for such a thing, my supreme awesomeness would nevermore be in question!! 

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1366 August 11, 2016
The door swung open but no one was visible.... and?

The rain soaked stoop stood empty in the amber glow of the porch light. Alexia had hear the knocking, the rabid banging, only moments before. She had rushed from the kitchen, her hands still wet from the dishes and trailing suds across the wood floors and her heart pounding away in her chest, to throw the door open. Nothing. No one. She peered out into the night, looking for anything through the curtains of black rain. She stepped back, about to close the door, when she saw something. She stepped forward out onto the stoop, started down the brick stairs to the walkway. On the second step, lying half off the edge, was piece of waterlogged notebook paper. She gingerly picked it up, unfolded the wet edges and struggled to read the fading ink.

The first line she was fairly certain read only, "Tick Tock" in a narrow, neat script.

The second line was harder to decipher, the writing more obscured by rain damage. She brought the paper closer toward the light and tried again.

"Your Alice ran out of time." Alexia felt shock radiate through her body as the words swam into clearer focus.

She flipped the paper over but there was nothing more than the cryptic message bearing her late mother's first name.

"Your Alice", she read aloud again, the words settling upon her like a sudden chill.

Alexia found herself desperately wanting to be back inside her little house. She backed up the stoop, reluctant to turn her back on the night and fled inside, the paper clutched in one of her small hands.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Agony of Certainty

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 883 August 8th, 2016
Prompt: What do you think about this feeling of “I should have done better!” in any area? Can it be a positive or negative motivator in some way?

This prompt feels dangerous to me today because despite all my knowledge and effort, the doubts have been hovering just outside my thoughts lately, insidious and seeping. I see him, stumbling across the road, swaying on his feet, the effort to keep himself upright painfully obvious. I see him in my dreams, and all day long as I try to get my work done. I see him and I think, could I have saved him? Can I still? I ask myself the questions and doubt bites raw, bleeding ribbons into my guts.

I think back to the all the chances, to all the opportunities I watched him burn through. I think back to how so many tried to help him. There have been many kind people who have stepped up, who have extended their hearts over the years. I've seen the progress he's made under the right care, promises of a hopeless path digressed and a life renewed. I've been there when he's walked away, back into the darkness again. It is beyond tormenting.

"Should I have done better?" I don't know. I did the best I could the first time I lost someone to the black pit of addiction. I had given so much away, I nearly offered up my own life in the process of trying to save his. I knew it was not something I could bear ever again. No human on Earth should have to suffer through the pain and agony of addiction and loss more than once. It rips out your soul at the roots and breaks your heart in a way that it can never fully heal again. Its a endless wound and scar tissue burns hot with every reminder, with every memory thrust upon you. You never forget and when you see it again, that toxin demon in another, your entire system engages everything it can to protect you from getting sucked down again. For each moment that you search familiar eyes and see the light fading behind the irises, the certainty rises inside you like some terrible tide. And so I ask myself, "should I have done better?" And there is both a terrible doubt and an absolute certainty at the same time and the dichotomy is pure agony.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1363: August 8, 2016
Prompt: Each time the wind blew, she could hear the flowers talking to her. Tell me what the flowers said to her.

The brittle branches above her head bob heavily with the fat, fragrant blooms. She reaches up and traps one in her palm, burying her nose in the tiny purple flowers, breathing deep their perfume. Its a familiar scent that evokes memories of her childhood. She remembers cutting and arranging the lilacs into thick bouquets with her grandmother. She remembers bouncing on her toes under the blooms, tapping the rain from the blossoms with a thin branch and squealing when the water hit her bare shoulders and back. Each year the lilacs bushes would bloom at the edge of her grandmother's property, healthy and full, the higher boughs reaching into the skies three of four feet higher than her head. They had all but died out now, thinned to where they had to be cleared out. She had loved those flowers and when she had driven past the wide wall of lilacs, she hadn't been able to resist going back. She had wanted to touch them, breath in their sweetness. She wanted to reconnect with a part of her past that was simple, fragrant and full of promise.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Blue Whales and Wailing Banshees

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 879 August 4, 2016
Prompt: A girl sitting alone on a rock at the edge of the woods jumps when she hears...... You take it from here.

The wail came to her through the tangle of dark trees. Her ears registered the sound and her heart named it in the dark. The girl slipped off the rock at the edge of the woods. She back away, not daring to turn her back on the sound. The wailing rose up, a terrifying crescendo of agony, and it turned to gut into an icy pit. It seemed to thicken around her, become more than a sound. She felt it press against her, so cold and empty. It felt like talons had pierced her chest, sinking into the soft and vulnerable tissues of her lungs. She began to run backwards, racing away while keeping her eyes pinned to the black line edge of the forest expecting at any moment to see the hag emerge, gray and mottled, red eyes searching and screaming maw agape.

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
Day 1359: August 4th, 2016
The prompt for today is:
If you were to live under the ocean, what would you look like? What would you eat? Who or what would you interact with? Paint a picture of your life under the ocean.

The behemoth broke the surface of the bay, rolling forward with the surf, an impossible blue in a dark gray sea. She expelled as she surfaced, sending spray in a foaming tower into the atmosphere above her. The miles had been endless as she crossed oceans to reach these temperate waters rich with food for the baby she carried. There had been moments in the journey that had been difficult. A close call with a tanker had left a raw and raging wound in her side. She had bled into the depths, an open invitation to predators that had stalked her. Their prey drive thwarted only by the sheer size of her. There was some comfort to being the largest living creature on the planet.

She suddenly felt the vibrations in the sea around her. She recognized the signature of an approaching school of fish. She was starving. She turned toward the food, feeling the baby stirring inside her cavernous body. She called on her remaining reserves and prepared to dive. She was soundless as she slipped into the shadows, a massive wonder of evolution.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Human Slugs and Looking Up

I feel very much like I have been slogging through today. My desk has been a jumble of the kind of work you need to catch up on periodically like piles of junk mail, industry publications to sort, followup letters to go out. They are necessary tasks that give you no level of satisfaction when completed other than a space of clear real estate which will be inevitably filled by other things in piles before the day is out. I'm struggling to keep a bad mood from growing worse and failing miserably. I want to go home and crawl in bed. I want to wake up some other random week.

I'm trying to focus on the bright spots lately. My daughter lost her first tooth this weekend...a tiny one in the front of her mouth. We never found the tooth but her wide, proud smile was a beautiful thing to see. She had been waiting patiently as friend after friend regaled her with stories of losing their teeth and visits from the tooth fairy. It was one of those sweet first moments that mark the passage of time in family's journey together. Thinking of it now makes me feel marginally better but I know it won't stave off the black mood hovering just under the surface for very long. Maybe it has sometime to do with turning 42 this week...maybe its just an accumulation of the stress and frustration that's been building for week...maybe its just the general discontent that seems to resonate from everything these days. I'm so sick of the same talking heads, the same obnoxious bullies spewing their political garbage and turning the world into a place where I feel divided and isolated instead of welcomed and included. Maybe...I don't know. I just know I feel like a human slug, a moderately unhappy one at that!

After several prompts have slipped by unaddressed over the last few weeks, I have to get back on track with at least that part of my life so here goes...

"Blogging Circle of Friends "
DAY 1356: August 1, 2016
Prompt: "My first poem was a bolt from the blue... it broke a spell of disillusion and suicidal despondence... it filled me with soul satisfying joy." - William Carlos Williams.
Have you ever written something or encountered a piece of writing that filled your soul with joy. If you haven't had that type of experience when writing did you have it at any other time. Tell us about it.

I wish I could say that something I had written had filled my soul with joy. I think I am too much of a self-critic to let that happen. I've written things that have brought me peace and closure which I am thankful enough for. I think joy is an emotion reserved for very powerful experiences. It just seems much less accessible than happiness, less stable. Joy seems to be a more compelling, encompassing feeling that overwhelms you temporarily. Joy seems to me like it may be too intense to be experienced in any sustained state. You experience joy at those tremendous moments of life. For me, my most joyful moment was seeing my daughter for the first time. I had been an emergency c-section and the sudden onset of fear and trauma had been almost too much to bear. Then, that moment when they brought her to me, showed me her perfect little face, and I knew my daughter was healthy and well...that's when joy hit me. It drove everything else out and I was floating - blissfully.

"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
Day 876 August 1, 2016
Prompt: Right now I am looking up at the ceiling; when outside, I look up at the sky, the clouds, and the tops of trees. Do you ever look up, and what does looking up mean to you?

I try to remember to look up now and again. I had a good friend once who tried very hard to impress upon me the wonder of clouds. He spent a lot of time looking up there, into the blue. He could always find the most amazing things. He told me it wasn't about what you could find, it was able taking the time to look. In my busy life, I do try to take that time. Not just at the clouds, but into the vast network of limbs of the oak in my yard or out into the wide expense of long island sound. I look. I remember. Sometimes I am even rewarded by a glimpse of a massive owl, a fleeting hummingbird, the rolling back of something big breaking the water. It is good to look up, to look out. It gives us a few minutes to breath and connect with ourselves and the world around us.