Writers Prompt.What would I tell my younger self?
This one is easy. Don’t be stupid. Think before you act. Don’t stay with an a hole. Don’t let an a hole move in with you. Don’t be distracted by a holes. Don’t marry Dave. He’s immature and will spend all his money at Shari’s restaurant. Always.
Finish a degree…accounting communications. Just stick with it til it’s done. See: don’t be distracted. Don’t leave a nice guy for an a hole.
Believe in yourself. Don’t do anything against your values to seem edgy or cool to others. It never ends well and it never works. Be you. Stay strong. Don’t be an a hole. You’re better than that. 🙂
If There Were No Thunder, Men Would Have Little Fear of Lightning — Jules Verne
So it is that time of year again. I seem to always do a new year’s post, and a birthday post. New Years is a time for starting fresh, setting goals and starting over, birthdays for me are also a time of change, of realizing that time has past me by, that another year is on its way out, and around my birthday I usually will do something drastic to my hair, or get some clothes that are different, maybe even try some new music. It is a time to rediscover me.
I did the hair cut, and It is a bit subtle, for a birthday haircut, but it looks nice. That day I felt and looked like a million bucks. But now I’ve come down to earth and still feel a little bit empty.
When you are a kid you can’t wait to grow up. Each birthday is a milestone an age where you can do more, be more. Somewhere after 25 this stops. Sure, you can rent a car but that isn’t that exciting is it? And then you turn 26, and you get what? nothing. You turn 30, you get, well to be 30. Hopefully, you are in some sort of career path so you can accomplish some financial goals or start paying off school debt. Or maybe you are getting into more debt trying to find your path still.
Past 35 and I see the white hairs. I feel tired in the morning. I just feel older. I can’t pull an all nighter like I used to. I can actually hurt myself and it takes time to recover.
I am trying to be my sunny optimistic self. I probably shouldn’t blog when I feel a little meh. Things aren’t bad. I am honestly in great health. I am writing on a regular basis, upgraded this blog.Things have been going up not down.
I guess if I had to put my finger on why I’m feeling meh I could have some guesses. I spend a lot of time alone or with my son, and I tend to overthink, and birthdays do remind you of your own mortality. I mean I felt like I was in my twenties yesterday, and now 40 isn’t that far off. I am turning 38 to be precise in exactly a week. I would like to celebrate but I am not sure what I am celebrating? Life so far? That I am getting older? That I still feel like things are a struggle personally and financially?
I get up most mornings feeling like I can conquer the world. Feeling like I can not only do this, I can own this. But by the end of the day I feel like my energy has been siphoned off and it is harder to be motivated. I feel frustrated. I should be grateful and happy with what I have but I always seem to hope for more and that is the recipe for unhappiness. Just like expecting things to go a certain way also adds frustration and stress.
I need to relearn to be happy with me. As I am right now. I am on a journey of self improvement and I am a work in progress. But right now in this moment, I am me and I am pretty damn good. I need to learn to love and accept myself with all my flaws before I can truly be happy and that has been a struggle as it is for people who were bullied as children.
It is just harder to trust your own judgment. You have to stop negative thoughts as they appear and stamp them out. It can be tiring. And, year after year, I still have to refocus on the positive things. The blessings of everyday life that are there to be cherished. Every day might not be sunshine and rainbows but neither is it raining.
Obit for Your Favorite Character Write an obituary for your favorite fictional character (literary, television, etc.), including how the death occurred.
This is hard because my favorite fictional character is one of my own. But it is like a bad inside joke if I were to use him because no one would know who I was referring to, nor would they have a reason to care. Of other people’s characters I have always had a soft spot for Sandor Clegane, but honestly no one would write an obituary for him. In fact, a lot of people probably would just assume he is dead. Maybe I can do King Arthur. Everyone knows who he is, and I love me some Thomas Mallory.
I think my favorite in those stories would be Sir Percival though. I can relate to Percival. He is minding his own business when knights happen upon him and he gets swept up in becoming a squire and then becoming one of Arthur’s knights, and eventually he looks for the Holy Grail. There are three main searchers and only one can grasp the grail. The one that can is Galahad who is almost a stand in for Jesus. He is the son of Lancelot and so pure of heart and just so perfect, he is like a prodigy who can do no wrong. In short, he is boring as hell. Then there is his papa, Lancelot. He is world weary, no longer innocent; he has had his torrid affair with Guinevere, and betrayed his best friend. He is basically too immoral, too worldly to see the grail. He ends up trying to atone and becomes a hermit. Percival is interesting because he is an innocent, he genuinely believes the world is a good place, has not had any affairs, and has not done anything bad. But the argument goes that if he was tempted he might, he is too naïve or stupid to be corrupt, whereas Galahad has been tested and is pure by conviction.
Now, I don’t think Percival is stupid. I think Percival is child like in his innocence, and because of this he gets darn close to the grail. But doesn’t get it, because he gets tested and just falls short. But he is close. And the fact he isn’t perfect, like the rest of us on this planet, makes him the most sympathetic of the three. He sees the grail, which is more than Lancelot. But does not get to touch it like Galahad.
Still not feeling the obituary. But I suppose in medieval times an obit would be rather simple. It would be in Latin engraved on a stone saying, ‘Here lies Percival, one of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. He was great, and innocent, but not pure enough. He fell short but he tried till the bitter end. We should all be so lucky to see something so rare and to die with our childlike innocence intact and not corrupted by the world. His legacy will be his deeds as a knight and the search for the Holy Grail. He was an explorer and an idealist. May his name never be forgotten or the role he played in the journey.
They toured the house with the real estate agent.
“We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”
The agent looked down.
The agent straightened his tie, examining his shoes looking thoughtful. “Well, there is a reason for the price of this place. As you know it is two stories with 4 bedrooms overlooking a scenic garden in a great neighborhood. So, of course, you have to be asking yourselves why. This home has a lot of history. It is an old house. Some of it good some maybe not. I am sure you will hear some of the stories. Rest assured a lot of it is urban legend and not true at all. This house has great bones, and a lot of restoration work has all ready been done. It is a no brainer. A steal.”
I looked at my wife, and she looked at me puzzled. “So, what are these stories?”
The agent tried to laugh nonchalantly, waving his hand like it was all nonsense. “Oh, it isn’t anything too crazy. Nothing like the movies. Nothing too extreme. There have been rumors of this house being a temporary hospice during hard times for the sick and dying. Tuberculosis I think? Some history and rumors of multiple suicides having taken place here. Especially the balcony on the second story. Kids like to tell stories of ghosts, the usual nonsense. There was supposedly back in the 1800s a family who kept a mentally ill relative locked in one of the rooms instead of institutionalizing them. But I have found no records indicating that actually happened.
“You know how it is, the oldest house on the block, kids like to make stuff up. An old lady used to live here, and she kept to herself and I think had a bunch of cats. You know the stereotype. It’s all silly of course. The house has been vacant while undergoing renovations and the owner doesn’t live around here. Inherited the place from the old lady, his Aunt. There were I’m sure many happy moments here too, and a lot of the rumors like I said, I have found no proof of. It was just the usual tales told of an old house. “He laughed kind of nervously.
“Hey, can we confer in private a moment? If you don’t mind?” I say to the real estate agent. “Of course, I’ll just be right out there. Go ahead and wander around. “I saw him step out onto the front step, and take a cigarette out of his pocket, and walk out a little ways to light it. I walked with Beth into the kitchen area. Vintage cabinets, old style tile floor; it was part of the house’s appeal. Some things would have to be replaced of course, but the goal was to keep it in a vintage style, to retain its character. “So, Beth, what do you think? We could maybe lower our offer a little, you know, because of the history. It could help pay for some of the retouches. Plus, I am thinking we might have to replace the roof. We’ll see after the inspection of course.”
“I don’t know. Suicides? People dying here? This place has everything but the Indian burial ground. You aren’t put off by all that?”
“I never knew you were superstitious. I mean, really. It’s just like the agent said, stupid kids seeing a creepy old house with a creepy old lady living here by herself. Even if it briefly was a hospice, doesn’t that kinda add to the history? I mean, it has historical value.”
“Ugh, you are being such a professor right now. Some places give off vibes, feelings. You can sense it. This place, is grand beautiful, but there is a sadness here. I am not sure this is how we should start off our lives together. You got your new job, and I have my teaching gig, and this house is big enough for company and the future. But it is a big investment. This place will need serious upkeep. Take some serious money to maintain. “
“There’s the practical girl I remember.” I say smiling trying to lift her mood. “He said we could wander. Maybe before we decide we should look around again. Maybe I can get these vibes you are talking about.” She rolls her eyes at me and sighs. It has been a long trip out here and I admit I fell in love with this house online and had already made my mind up. She was the one I had to convince. She preferred the last house which was a simple three bedroom next to the school where she was to work. Convenient, but boring. Normal. I didn’t want convenient or normal.
We walk up the old staircase together hearing every creak of the wood and the floor as we go up. The banister was immaculate, and shiny from regular maintenance and oil. “This is craftsmanship.” I say out loud appreciatively. We go to the second story and open doors along a hall way that overlooked below.
“The rooms are sizable.” Beth adds nodding in approval. A lot of old houses have small rooms. It was the standard back then so finding sizable rooms in an old house was rare and a sign that the owner had a substantial income to have it so. It was also possible over the years that one of the owners had knocked a wall down or two and combined two small rooms into a large one. I had seen that done as well.
“Did I hear some approval in your voice?” I say in mock shock. She swats at me playfully. I finally see a glimmer in her eye. Maybe the house is winning her over. We go into the master bedroom. “Walk in closet. Good.” She says opening the closet door. French doors open onto a large balcony. “The balcony,” I say matter-of-factually.
“The balcony. Hmm.” She echoes brow furrowed in concern. I open the French doors carefully examining the beauty of the old frames. I take her hand and walk out on the balcony. She follows reluctantly. “He didn’t say anything was in disrepair. I’m sure it is safe, come on.” She frowns.
“You know Joe, I don’t want to go out here. It is kinda chilly. You feel the wind. I didn’t dress for this.” I take off my coat, and put it around her. “There. Now you’re okay. Come on look at the view. You aren’t still thinking about those silly stories are you? I am sure no one jumped off of here. Come on.” I pull her hand toward me and she takes a few more steps out onto the balcony hugging onto my coat with her other hand. I feel her hand grip mine tensely. I don’t like this. Can we go back? I wanted to see the size of the master bathroom. That could be a deal breaker for me.”
I shake my head. “Come on, I think you should face your fears. I want to prove to you how silly this is.” I yanked her hand and prodded her to the railing with me. She was stiff, and uncomfortable. I knew she wasn’t a fan of heights but I had no idea that it was this bad.
“This railing looks so old. How do you know it can take much weight? This place hasn’t been inspected yet. “
“Just needs a fresh coat of paint is all. Nothing to it. See?” And I press my weight against the railing, her face drains of color and her hand tenses again. “Let’s go back inside.”
“No, I am going to show you how silly you are being.” I took her and pushed her to the railing next to me. She resisted and then I felt her lunge forward as her shoe got caught on a nail. It was in that horrible moment I felt the wood groan and break and I was left with a coat and one small shoe on the balcony. Wood splintered and she was gone. It was only a second. I looked over the railing and she was on the ground broken and pale. The agent had run up to her talking on the phone. I stood there holding my coat looking down at that scene from above, confused by what I was seeing. The agent was yelling at me to get down while talking to what I presume was a 911 operative. I couldn’t move. I just stayed there looking at the broken wood and the small shoe. Such a small shoe, I thought absently, still holding the coat in one hand like I was holding it out to someone that wasn’t there.
Back From the Future
A knock at the door catches you off guard. Upon answering it, you’re greeted by a man who
says he’s from the future—and he can prove it. More important, he says he has information
that will save your life.
“What? Go away. It’s my day off. No work today! Ugh.” I stumble out of bed, bleary eyed, rubbing my face, grabbing a random shirt and jeans, throwing them on, go to the bathroom run a brush through the tangled mess of long thick hair, all the while the insistent knocking at the door continues unabated.
“I’m coming. I’m coming, okay? It can’t be that important. I glance at a wall clock. 6 Am. Maybe the neighbor locked herself out again. It has happened before. I go to the coffee machine, going through the motions like an automaton to get it started then reluctantly shuffle to the door. I look through the peep hole. Kind of early for Jehovah’s, I think sleepily yawning. I see a young man in a suit. But he doesn’t seem to be carrying a bible or a pamphlet. I squint. Have I seen him before?
“Who is it? No solicitors. I even posted a sign.” I see the person looking anxiously at the door, and glancing at a watch on his wrist. It was a weird looking watch. Maybe one of those smart watches? I couldn’t keep up with the latest tech if I tried.
“It’s important. I don’t have a lot of time. I have to talk to you. Your life depends on it.”
“My soul doesn’t need saving, Junior.” I say grumpily. I was having a pretty sweet dream when I was so rudely woken up. I couldn’t remember the details now. I just remembered it was nice.
“I am talking about your life. Please, open the door and hear me out.”
I reluctantly unlocked the deadbolt, opening the door a bit, looking him over.
“May I come in? For just a moment?”
“Who are you?”
“You can call me Eric. I don’t have much time. So I’ll make it quick.”
I sigh, against my better judgment I open the door further and wave for him to come in.
“You probably won’t believe this. But I am from the future. And, I can prove it.”
“Are you from some weird new age cult?”
“No. See this watch? It is going to move me to another timeline in about 2 minutes. It is my job to ensure the future of humanity. Well, there are many of us with this job, but I was sent to your time to save you, because if you die in the car accident you may get hurt in later today, then an important philosopher won’t be born, who starts a whole movement to advance technology so we can live on other planets. His writing becomes so important it starts a chain of events. But, when we sent someone back to save someone else, somehow that caused you to die in a car accident, so now we have to save you.”
“Okay. I think you are missing the point of the butterfly effect. I’ve seen the movie you know. You can’t keep going back messing with time, or you will have to continually go back fixing your mess.”
“You may be right. But, it is too late now. I have told you your fate. So, stay home today. Your boss is going to call in about 15 minutes to call you in to work at the restaurant. I need you to not answer. No matter how many times it rings.”
“Is that all? I think I can manage that. “
The man boy had a serious look, eyes of concern that seemed phony. “I’m sorry to do this, but you can’t tell anyone about me, either. “
“Like I would. People would think I was crazy.”
“That’s the spirit. Well, looks like I have to go to my next posting. Good luck.” And he was gone. I shook my head. Maybe I wasn’t quite awake. I got one cup of coffee down and the phone began to ring insistently. I was told not to answer it. I let it go to voicemail. Checked it to see if it really was my boss.
“Meg, Stan called in, I really need you to cover his shift. I know it’s your day off but it would mean a lot to me.” My boss sounded panicky and frazzled. I looked out the window at the trees and other apartment buildings. I watched the cars zipping down the road. I just watched the traffic in a fog for awhile. A couple hours went by; I ignored several rings and beeps from my cell phone. My boss wasn’t going to give up easy.
As the cars continued to zip by I saw a cat dash across the street and I saw a small blue Corolla slam on its brakes suddenly to avoid hitting the cat, the car behind it crashed into its rear and the Corolla ended up hitting a tree. Soon ambulances and police were there lights flashing, street completely blocked off. I felt a chill, and put a sweater on, hugging myself. Was I still dreaming? Again the phone started ringing. Finally I answered it, it was my mom. “Are you okay, Honey? I just heard of a multi car accident in your neighborhood and I thought of you. I wanted to make sure you were all right. Why haven’t you been answering your phone? Your boss was worried too.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Guess I was feeling under the weather, “I say lamely. I could never explain that morning. I didn’t even know how to try.
This last writing prompt was hard because I have never really tried my hand at poetry. And there is something inherently intimidating about trying your hand at something you haven’t done before. I have always handicapped myself unnecessarily with wondering whether I am good enough or not, whether I should bother trying or not. If I can’t attain perfection what’s the point?
But then I remind myself it isn’t always about the destination but the journey, I know how cliche, but it is how we learn and grow, how we become the people we are in this moment. I remember signing up for college at UW Tacoma to get my Bachelor’s in Communications. I failed, I let life distract me and get in the way of my goals. I had this dream of becoming an editor maybe even going to Manhattan, publisher’s row as they call it. I remember talking to my mom on the phone and she telling me I was wasting everyone’s time and money. I should give up, I won’t get the degree. To this day I am sorry I didn’t prove her wrong. It wasn’t that I didn’t have it in me. It was I got lost along the way. I got wrapped up in the unnecessary drama of life.
I let someone force their way into my life and home and completely destroy me. He also told me I was worthless, a piece of garbage and undeserving of life, an utter failure. I think we do internalize what others say, especially if it mimics our insecurities as this did at the time. I was depressed I know now, and that’s why my grades slipped and I eventually dropped out with nothing to show for it except a mountain of student debt.
But, my mom, this guy, they were wrong about me. I was wrong about me. I know this now. They didn’t really know me, they knew what they thought of me, and I think mirrored their own insecurities onto me. They couldn’t do it. They wouldn’t do it. They would be wasting their time and money. I could have, had I been a stronger person. If I had learned to say no. If I had learned to stand taller, straighter and say, get the hell out of my head, i don’t need any naysayers. I can do whatever I damn well please, within reason. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but they all help to make up me. Who I am and who I will become. Being a life time learner means constant change and growth and never allowing oneself to become stagnant.
So if this poem isn’t a masterpiece, oh well. At least I tried my hand at it, and I didn’t give up. It was simple, and I did try my best and attempt at refining it in my clumsy way. Writing lifts me up to that higher place, where I can be at the mountaintops, where I can go to the moon in a rocket ship or sip coffee from a balcony in Sicily. I can do whatever I want when I am writing and it is nice to have some control when often in life your control is limited.
I am beyond caring about what people think of me but what matters to me is when I close my eyes, I know the person I am, and I care about what I think of me. Being true to myself and others and taking personal responsibility is the cornerstone of my life. That guy who was momentarily in my life also told me that the world was a dark and dreary place full of evil people and liars and that I wouldn’t stand a chance. I was too much of an idealist. My worldview wasn’t realistic.
I say I don’t want to live in that world, I would rather believe in a fantastical world than believe in his ugly dark world. Perceptions are part of reality and I choose to live in a brighter more beautiful world by choice. I choose to believe people are good at heart when I meet them. I choose to believe there is beauty truth and hope in the world. And, I believe I can attain perfection in a perfect moment at the perfect time. It is momentary, but when it happens you know, and it is the best feeling in the world. The striving is what counts. Keep striving, don’t give up. Knowing is half the battle, from GI Joe. Wisdom from a kid’s cartoon. But I have never forgotten it. Wisdom comes from everywhere.