Five Minute Friday // A Purpose After the Fact

I grew up with religion. I grew up in churches with stories about fate, and destiny, and every human’s part in God’s plan, but I don’t believe in that anymore.

There is no purpose for any of us, not one we come into this world bearing anyway. It was a hard pill to swallow, but now that it has gone down and been digested, I feel better.

Humans need a purpose, though, and when I found I didn’t have one, I made one up. I found one or two that agreed with my interests and drives, my values and my hopes, and I got to work. I told myself the sweetest lie. I have a purpose.

Does a purpose after the fact count? Is finding a few things to inside a hand-made decorative bowl you impulse bought from Target the same as having a reason for existing?

I was sprung into existence on accident, and I figured while I was here I might as well make myself useful. I know this, and it doesn’t matter one bit. I don’t need fate or divine purpose. Meaning I made up, just for me, is enough to get me through this life happy and fulfilled.

I made meaning out of a life that might have been nothing at all.

That is magic.

***

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Written in response to Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt: Purpose

Featured image via Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // Wishing You a Very Happy Holiday!

Hello, dear readers! Thank you for taking time out during this very busy season to stop by and chat a little with me. I hope whatever your culture or beliefs I hope your celebrations are warm, happy, and filled with people you love and food you enjoy. I hope your preparations weren’t stressful and if they were, I hope you will join me in raising a glass of ‘nog and toasting to a whole year free from crowded stores and the pressure of making everything just perfect.

I love the warmth of Christmas. I love the family, the food, and I love giving and receiving gifts, but the pressure can Be a bit much. The pressure to spend enough, to buy the perfect thing, and to pretend to be happy even while you are tearing your hair out. I used to think my family was dysfunctional but now I understand, it is rare that a person can make it through this time of year without losing their shit at least once. Right?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the best part of the holiday was Christmas Eve. My girlfriend and I spent it entirely at home, just the two of us.

We made breakfast tacos with egg, bacon, and chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, then we watched Elf. We ate almost all day picking at sweets and scraps from pies and dips we were preparing for the next day. For dinner, we made a steam pot dinner with sausage, shrimp, crab legs, potatoes, and corn. We watched Nightmare Before Christmas and A Christmas Story, and for dessert, there was a sugar cream pie I’d made in the morning and spiced rum eggnog.

We bought the dog gifts of course, and we wrapped gifts for our family too. We cleaned the house (The best Christmas gift I could have asked for!) and just enjoyed each others company.

If it weren’t for that woman, I wouldn’t know how to enjoy Christmas at all. She really makes it something special for me. She makes it a holiday worth celebrating.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that since I am not religious and I don’t have kids, I’ve decided that instead of Jesus or Santa, I am celebrating the life of Sir Issac Newton!

Yes, if you didn’t already know, the man who formed the laws of motion and gravitation and invented calculus was also born on December 25th in the year 1642. On this day, let us remember his dedication and contribution to the fields of mathematics, physics, and optics. I don’t know of anyone else who advanced humanity more in a single lifetime. The man’s brain was incredible, and his work ethic seems nearly unmatched.

Raise a glass today to a new symbol of the season, Sir Issac Newton!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that gift wise I made out pretty well. I got a few gift cards, which I always appreciate, and a set of nice dip pens and inks and the biggest leather-bound journal I have ever seen! This thing has to be about half my height. I’ll post pics over on my Instagram as soon as I can. You have to see this thing! It’s pretty awesome.

I got a few small things too including a neat octopus tea infuser and plenty of my favorite kinds of “old people candy.”

I haven’t been able to give all of my gifts out yet, so I won’t list them for you, but I am confident that I did well. The best part of Christmas is seeing people’s faces when they see what you buy them. The gifts you get people show them what you know about them, what you think of them, and what you hope they can use in their future. It’s a lovely thing.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I enjoy talking to you, and as much as I have missed you too, I do have to go. We’re at my girlfriend’s parent’s home, and there is so much left to cook. I should go help I am sure. Then again, I might go hang out with her little brother who is enjoying his brand new NES Classic Edition and giving me intense nostalgic feelings.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. I hope you aren’t too stressed. I hope you gave and received everything you hoped for. I hope your families are well and that you are surrounded by love. If not, I hope you find time to care for yourself too. I love you all, I really do.

Until next time :)

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***

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Featured image via Unsplash

Love Should Just Exist

A truth should exist,
it should not be used
like this. If I love you

is that a fact or a weapon?

Margaret Atwood (1971)

 

I recently signed up for the daily newsletter Pome by Matthew Ogle, in which he sends out a different poem to his subscribers every day. The subscription page says that the project is over, so I assume the poems are being sent in a loop now. I don’t care, though. I figure it will be a nice way to discover work I’ve never read or heard of.

One of the first I got was the above poem from Margaret Atwood. I wrote about her a few Writer’s Quote Wednesdays ago but I admit I have never read any of her work. This is the first poem I have seen by her, and I think it’s lovely.

I’m a sucker for short ones like this, and I fall in love with anything about love, especially when it is about the messy and cruel parts of love.

I can’t be sure exactly what Atwood is saying here, but I think about the ways people hurt each other in relationships. About all the ways I have hurt, and have been hurt, in my own relationship.

Who hasn’t used their love as a weapon? To do so seems to be a natural tendency of the human species. I don’t mean to say it isn’t wrong, only that we have to learn that it is wrong and how not to do it.

We have to learn that our love is a fact. Saying you love someone is like saying the Earth orbits the sun or that 2+2=4. It just is, and it should be allowed to mean nothing more than what it is. It shouldn’t be used as an argument, or a means of convincing, manipulating, or punishing someone. Your love shouldn’t be used to cause pain.

Margaret Atwood captured something very complicated and captured it in just four little lines. When I read it something clicked inside me, and I realized a truth that my mind and heart hadn’t been able to articulate before. I realized what I had done and what others had done to me was wrong, and I recognized why.

Love is supposed to be a force for good in this world and to use it as weapon feels like a great sin. Love should not be wielded like a sword. Love should not be destructive. Love should not leave shrapnel in your heart. Love should not be shot through the head and heart of another, leaving them damaged. Love should not be harnessed into a weapon of war.

Love should just be a fact of life. Love should be  part of the universe that belongs to no one and everyone. Love should feel like a part of the everyday world around us. Love should be a truth, all of our truths.

Love should just exist.

Writers Quote Wednesday // Joseph Heller

Hello, hello, and welcome to the middle of the week, dear readers. If you are feeling a little run down or if Friday is feeling a little too far away, I encourage you to check out Writer’s Quote Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes. My contribution is from the  American satirical novelist, Joseph Heller.

Joseph Heller
Author Joseph Heller in his publisher’s office in New York City on October 9, 1974. (AP Photo/ Jerry Mosey)

Joseph Heller was born on May 1, 1923, in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the son of poor Jewish parents from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; as a teenager, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland and sent it to the New York Daily News, which rejected it.

After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next year working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, a messenger boy, and a filing clerk. In 1942, at age 19, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to the Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.

After the war, Heller studied English at the University of Southern California and NYU on the G.I. Bill. In 1949, he received his M.A. in English from Columbia University. Following his graduation, he spent a year as a Fulbright scholar in St Catherine’s Society in the University of Oxford in England, and, after returning home, he taught composition at Pennsylvania State University for two years. He also taught fiction and dramatic writing at Yale.

He then briefly worked for Time Inc., before taking a job as a copywriter at a small advertising agency, where he worked alongside future novelist Mary Higgins Clark. At home, Heller wrote. He was first published in 1948 when The Atlantic ran one of his short stories. The story nearly won the “Atlantic First”.

He is probably best known for his satirical novel Catch-22. Set during World War II, it mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home. The novel has been frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century.

He died of a heart attack at his home in East Hampton, on Long Island, in December 1999, shortly after the completion of his final novel, Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man.

On hearing of Heller’s death, his friend Kurt Vonnegut said, “Oh, God, how terrible. This is a calamity for American literature.”

I think of writing as private enterprise . . . since so much comes from rumination.

// Joseph Heller, The Art of Fiction No. 51

This morning my girlfriend and I had a talk about her sharing a piece I wrote for a contest on her personal Facebook page. I was totally against it. We went back and forth, her wanting to share with the people in her circle that I had been brave to enter the contest, and good enough to win. I said no because a lot of her “friends” are not close friends and worse than that they don’t understand that:

  1. You can be a writer and not be writing an amazing best-selling novel at the moment. You can be a writer and never be writing that best-selling novel.
  2. There is more to becoming a writer than just sitting down and pulling a book out of your head. It takes time and practice. Very few of us are geniuses you know.
  3. Just because someone writes doesn’t mean they are a good writer, and even if they are a good writer that doesn’t mean they know they are, or feel like they are.
  4. Just because they wrote something and won something doesn’t mean they want to talk about it.

I think any creative person has difficulty talking about what they do with people who don’t do the same thing. They have no idea how it works but somehow they know exactly what you should be doing or where you should be by now in your progress toward fame and riches. They think it’s great what you do but they also talk about it like it’s kind of stupid. Oh, and they want to know everything you are working on and whether or not you can help them do the same.

I hate to rant about it. A lot of this is just pure insecurity and fear. It’s hard telling people that you want to be a writer and then a year from then they are looking at you wondering why you haven’t been published yet. They don’t know that you have no idea how to write a book, you have no idea what kind of writer you want to be, you don’t even know how to punctuate your dialogue correctly! They don’t get that you are going on nothing but a vague idea of a story and a feeling that this is what you want to do.

They think you are failing.

And you think you are too.

And all of this gets into your head and you can’t think or move forward anymore. So you stop talking about it. You blog quietly, you enter contests quietly, you write essays and poems in small print on notecards you carry with you that you hurriedly put away if anyone even looks at them like they want to ask a question. You keep it a secret as if you are ashamed. You keep your creativity away from people who will do nothing but question it and make you doubt yourself. You do it so you can be free to create. But you know you can’t be free forever.

I have to stop keeping it such a secret, I know that. But for me, writing isn’t something I want to talk about all the time. I need privacy and I need to not be influenced by what other people think I should be. There has to be a balance. There has to be a way to keep my process intact and tamper proof while also sharing myself and educating others about where I am going creatively.

Maybe one day I will get it right.

But today I am letting my girlfriend, who is proud of me and wants to share my small success with the world, do so. I have to start somewhere.

***

Featured image via Unsplash.com

The Raison D’être for Writing

rai·son d’ê·tre

the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.

There are many reasons why I write and from day to day each has its time being the number one. I think most writers can relate to them, and they may have many more besides.

Yes, I have a story to tell. Mine is a sad, but hopeful one, and I hope to inspire others with it. Yes, I have emotions I want to express. I’ve felt deep love and crushing pain and I want to share it all with the world. Yes, I hope to change the world too. I want to bring sight to the blind and feeling back into the dead. Yes, I even hope to find success and maybe make a living at writing too. The life of a writer draws and fascinates me.

Those are all good reason to write but none of them are the real reason that I write. Deep down there is a far simpler and yet, more profound reason.

I write because it feels like the thing I was born to do and I believe when something pulls at you like that, it is the thing you must use to prove your own existence. “I think, therefore, I am.” they say, “I write, therefore, I was.” is what I say.

Every moment every human on this earth is marching toward his or her death. We cannot stop it and we cannot know when we have come to the end. When you are gone, if you have not prepared for it, it can be as if you never existed.

I hate that I have to die but I hate the idea of being forgotten even more. People have to know I was here. I have to know that when I die there is a part of me that can go on living and having an affect on people and this world. I want to always be a force in this universe.

I refusing to let go of this world when it is my time. Everything I create is one big “Lisa was here!” sign. I am trying to make my name mean something and I am trying to make that meaning significant.

When I write I think of the Dylan Thomas’s poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight. It is one of my favorite poems and while it was written for Thomas’s father, the message—to cling to life all the way to the end of it—can be an inspiration to us all. When I write I hear him whispering “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”. The more I write the louder he gets. The louder he gets the faster I type.

I will not go gently into the night. I will rage and maybe, if I get better and I say something worth remembering, I can always be a part of this world long after I am dead and gone.

***

Written in response to this week’s Discover Challenge, Raison D’être

Featured image via Pixabay

R is for “The Royals”

“There are reports this morning coming out of Washington, D.C. of shots being fired as the Queen arrived at north wing of the Capitol to preside over another Senate session. This is Meredith Scalia and you are watching Citizens Cable Inc breaking news.”

“We are following what appears to have been an assassination attempt on America’s beloved Queen Olivia Carter. We are hearing from witnesses in the area that anywhere from four to six gunshots were heard and the Queen herself was hit. We have not had confirmation on the Queen’s status yet.”

“We go to CCI reporter Amy Delarosa who is on the scene, Amy what can you tell us?”

“Thank you, Meredith. The scene here in Washing is quite chaotic. Witnesses say about 10 minutes ago, as Queen Olivia was walking up the steps of the Capital, someone called her name very loudly and yelled ‘Democracy will be bathed in blood.’ and opened fire. As she turned they heard four or six very loud gunshots. Those who saw the man are saying he was wearing plain jeans and a brown jacket, and that he had a scarf around the lower part of his face. They did see that above the scarf he appeared to be a white male and his hair was brown.”

“As for the Queen herself, the Royal Tactical Response Unit is being very tight-lipped about her condition. We have heard reports that the Queen herself was shot but that the wound is not fatal. Witnesses who were in the area say that she was up and walking after the shots stopped and may have been shot in the side or shoulder. We do know that there were no other injuries today. This attack comes days after  a reports leaked of a terror threat from the rebels, The Democratic Front of America’s Free Peoples.”

“We have not been able to gather more information as of yet. The Royal Tactical Response Unit is keeping civilians and reporters out of the area while they conduct their investigation. As more information becomes available we will update the public. Back to you Meredith.”

“Thank you, Amy. We have helicopters on scene, and you can see the RTRU have set up a perimeter around the capital and are even keeping the Metropolitan Police Department back as they begin to conduct their initial investigation. They are keeping everyone back to protect Her Majesty. At this point, the entire population could be a suspect of the assassination attempt, including law enforcement.”

“We suspect the DFAFP is responsible and we are checking their Facebook and Twitter feeds for confirmation. In the last five years, we have seen a rise in their activity as the Royal Family has moved from their role as representatives of American pop culture to a role in government and actual law making. The rebels have threatened to remove them by force and return America to her purely Republic roots.”

“If you all remember your history you know that as Americans became less adept at following politics and voting in their best interest, the Royal family was put into place to give American’s something simple to follow, something they could understand.”

“Queen Olivia has had different ideas in recent years and has taken an active role in law making and has expressed intentions of expanding her family’s role and responsibilities. They currently hold controlling positions in each branch of government and retain absolute veto power. American’s may love her but as she has moved from a symbol of the country to a woman who wishes to truly rule it, the population has become divided and tensions have risen.”

“No one can deny that since she has began actively ruling the country has seen a rise in job creation, expanded civil liberties, better international relations, and unprecedented economic growth, but some believe none of that matters if Americans are not truly free.”

“We are getting reports now that the Queen has suffered only minor injuries and not only will she address the public but she will still preside over the Senate session today. We go live to the capital where Queen Olivia is speaking now.”

***

Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.

Featured image by Ludovic Bertron from New York City, USA (Miss Liberty I) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Q is for “The Question”

I wasn’t sure whether to kill her or kiss her.

The job called for bringing her in alive, but after the stunts she has pulled over the course of our return trip I didn’t feel like the money was worth it. Here I was, one of the top rated bounty hunters in the country and this woman had pushed every button and worn down every nerve. I had never dealt with someone so difficult or angry.

Being one of the only female bounty hunters meant dealing with some of the worst of the worst, the women. The guys hated going after the girly ones, they were almost always worse than any man, no matter what his crime.

The men might fight at the beginning, and if they were bigger, smarter, or gutsier than you, they could give you a real run for your money, but once they were caught they usually gave up. The men knew when you had them. They knew when the game was done.

The women never knew they were caught and so, the game of cat and mouse never ended. They never stopped fighting you. You couldn’t turn your back on the women. You couldn’t trust the doe eyes and the meek demeanor, they were always looking for their chance. They knew we were limited in our ability to use force and they knew we would only resort to lethal force. They pushed you.

The men were mad at first but during the cold nights camping in the desert or trekking across wastelands, you could talk to them, you could get to know each other and become something like friends for a while. Oh of course with me they were crass. Of course, they made grotesque comments but they were predictable. The women were wild, you stayed on your toes with them.

The job was for a Jasmine Quinlin. She was small, she appeared delicate and feminine, but she was wanted for murder. She was beautiful so I was surprised boys turned it down and since I didn’t have a job at the moment she was mine.

Took me months to track her down, which isn’t unusual  for someone who knows they are wanted. It took me weeks more to catch her. She was adept at finding unusual hiding places. It doesn’t help that there are so many abandoned buildings and cars to sleep in either.

But I got her and now we needed to start the long journey back. She kicked and screamed, she bit me and fought me. She wasn’t bigger or stronger but she was fast and ruthless and fought with everything she had. All women did. I fought too, I was a woman after all, and I matched her blow of blow, and beat her in experience.

So there we were. After many such brawls and almost nightly escape attempts, we were both sleep deprived, injured, and angry. I was out of bandages and because I had to watch her I couldn’t find food. If we kept it up we might both die out here and I know she didn’t want to die. No one who fought that much wanted to die.

We couldn’t fight anymore and I couldn’t keep going like this. I watched her over the fire and she watched me back. I asked her with my eyes if were going to be fighting again tonight. She answered with her own that we would just have to wait and see. I sighed and settled down for sleep. If she tried an escape tonight she just might make it, I couldn’t subdue her again.

I drifted off thinking momentarily of the stories I heard of the life that used to flourish here before everything died. I slept lightly and my mind swam with memories of the places and people I’d known. And the hardship and the suffering we’d all seen and inflicted. These were my nightly thoughts, and just as I was going to give up on real rest, I heard the jingling of chains and held my breath to listen.

I felt the warmth of a body near me and I wondered if she was going to strangle me or worse. I didn’t move, though. If she tried there were ways to put her down and I would be justified. I couldn’t keep going like this. It had to be over, I would find a new job, one that didn’t look at me like she wanted to gouge my eyes out.

I held my breath and waited for her hand on my throat, what I got was her head laid gently on my chest. Her hair smelled sweet and she felt warm in the cool desert air and for just a second I relaxed and forgot who we were and why we’d been thrown together. It’s been so long since I had been this close to a human being who wasn’t trying to harm me.

When I snapped out of it I opened my eyes and looked down at her. I silently asked if this was a ploy, if she meant to hurt me. She answered with a raised eyebrow, daring me to find out.

So I asked the question of myself, do I kill her or do I kiss her? Because I can’t go on without doing one or the other. We had a long way to go and if something didn’t change we both might die.

Do I kill her or do I kiss her?

She didn’t give me a chance to answer.

***

Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.

Featured image via Pexels

P is for “The Prison”

November 12th, 2116

They say I am a murder, or that will be at some point in my lifetime. The technology is new, so they can’t say when, or why, or how, but all the same it will be murder and it will be committed by me. Only, it doesn’t make sense.

I never doubted the crime predictions until now, I never thought much about them at all, until it was my turn to answer for a crime I hadn’t even committed. I have no problems with anyone, I’ve never hurt anyone, nor have I wanted to. I don’t see how I could ever kill. They wouldn’t hear me.

I brought many character witnesses to the trial. Coworkers, friends and family who all said the same thing, “He’d never hurt a fly, there had to be some mistake.” But there wasn’t.

The infamous and powerful Center for Crime Prediction and Prevention had my chances of killing at 95.5%. At the trial the prosecutor presented it as meaning I would definitely kill. The machine wasn’t allowed give a 100% reading, but if they had that’s what I would’ve received. This makes absolutely no sense and I can feel my mind ripping at the seams to try to wrap around the conclusion and conviction. I am a murderer, and yet I am not a murderer.

They treated the case as open and shut and now I have been sent to rot in prison, and the guards have just shut the door to my cell, and the walls are closing in. I keep telling myself this is a mistake.

January 15th, 2116

I am not like these people. I am not who they say I am or who they say I will be. My mind rolls over and over the paradox: I will commit a murder. I am sent to prison. I am prevented from killing. I am not a murderer. I should not be in prison. If I am out I will murder. I must be in prison. I am not a murderer. I am a murderer.

At night, I go over and over it. I wonder who I would have murdered.

Would my wife have cheated on me? If I were to get a wife in the future that is. Would I have gotten into a drunken fight at a bar? I don’t even drink but it’s the future, so, who knows. Would I have gotten fired from my job under some unfair circumstance and came back to massacre the staff?

I don’t know if any of these, or the hundred others I imagine, will come true, but each scenario feels more plausible every day. I lay away every night remembering all the ways life has treated me badly. All the slights I never noticed before but have obviously contributed to my turning into a monster of a man. I am beginning to understand how my future self would be so angry and more and more I see myself moving into the future that is him.

March 13th, 2116

I am not suited for prison life. The food is horrible. The guards us the foulest language when speaking to us, they violate our most basic rights and strip us of all dignity. I remember all the rumors I heard when I was on the outside about the deplorable conditions in prisons. I wish I had paid attention, or protested, or sent a letter to my congressman. Maybe then I wouldn’t commit the murder I haven’t committed but will but won’t because I am here but would if I weren’t.

The day time offers no privacy and the night holds not safety. I hear the guards opening cell doors, they aren’t supposed to open the cells at night. I hear screaming and in the mornings, someone is always missing from the yard.

More than the guards the other prisoners scare me. I’ve had almost all my possessions stolen from me. My family and friends no longer visit nd they no longer give money toward helping me get things I need again.They’ve stopped visiting altogether. They say they thought they had known me but the man they knew could never kill. I must have been lying all along. I must have been hiding some very dark thoughts.

I guess they must be right. I don’t even know myself if that is the case. Now that I think about it, any of the could have been my victims. I mean, if they thought they knew me and didn’t, I guess I didn’t know them either. I never thought they would abandon me in a place like this. I thought they would fight for me. I thought they would not let me rot in here.

Now I am here with nothing and no one and still they never leave me alone. The thoughts of what my future might have been, the screaming in the night, the inmates during the day, the silence where my family used to be, the man I used to be. They all torment me and when the lights go out at night the walls close in and I fear the cell door will never open again each time it is shut.

June 24th, 2116

I have only now recovered enough to write this. The guards opened my cell one night and it was my turn to go missing from the yard. A broken arm, a fractured orbital socket, and one less tooth  to brush each day, not to mention various bumps and bruises, and a sprained wrist, now healed.

I have nothing, I have no one, I am a murderer who never even got the satisfaction.

August 18th, 2116

Today I earned my place in this hell.

I write this with another man’s blood still on my hands.

I would not be a victim anymore, and I would not continue to pretend to be something I wasn’t.

The man I was is dead.

And I think it may be his murder I was was convicted of.

***

Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.

Featured image via Pixabay

Because I Always Feel Like Running

I always feel like running.

I always feel tense, no matter where I am, or who I am with. Sometimes it is only a little, like when I am only hyper-aware of my surroundings. Sometimes it is worse, my hands are balled into fists, my jaw in cycles between clenched and unclenched, and my shoulders are raised. When it is really bad I start to twitch, first my right eye, then my shoulder, then the muscles in my thighs. I feel trapped, I feel surrounded, I feel as if I am on my way toward the danger even as I sit here perfectly still. I am in a constant state of worry, of fear, of fight or flight from death, and I need to get away.

But where do you run to escape the dangers around every corner. Cover and safety are illusions, do not be fooled. You cannot hide from Death, the only question is, is it running at you as fast as it can, or is it slowly stalking you, getting ever nearer, wearing you down for easier prey? Death could come in any form, a slip, a fall, an unknown heart condition. It could come in the form of a stray bullet, a four-car pile-up, or a burglar in the night. Death is approaching, of that, there is no doubt. No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, it is keeping pace. It watches always and it never rests.

Now I am tired. My heart beats hard, and I get the feeling it may stop. I cannot focus and I cannot just be. My mind races with all the things that can go wrong and even in my sleep I dream of being chased and threatened with violence and harm.

I am told to relax, to take it easy, to put my mind to work on other things, but it isn’t so easy. Can’t people see that staying put is what is dangerous? Can’t people see that through running I can save my life? Why does no one else run? Maybe no one sees the dangers that I do. Maybe the danger is in my head and no one else’s?

No one really cares when you are scared. You must always be strong and you must always appear relaxed. You can’t talk about it, you can’t look like it, and you definitely can’t act on it. So I sit here, tense and twitching, scared and worried, watchful and anxious, waiting for the danger I know is coming. I will sit here and plan and plot to escape and wait for a reason to run.

Because I always feel like running.

***

Inspired by the poem Running by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron.

Featured image by D Sharon Pruitt , CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia

I’m Learning What Christmas is All About

If I am being honest, I admit I am not the biggest fan of Christmas. I try every year to make it something that I can really get into but every year I end up feeling like the whole thing is a bunch of hassle and wondering what the point is. I get what it is supposed to be, but we all know it isn’t that any longer. But I’m not here to whine about consumerism.

Growing up in a dysfunctional, broken family meant that there was always family members missing and family members fighting. It meant mom had to work and dad may or may not call. It meant playing quietly so we didn’t upset anyone and being grateful for whatever we got. Growing up in a dysfunctional, broken family means as an adult I reject tradition and anything that evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. It’s called a defense mechanism.

As an adult, I don’t understand how people have the kind of Christmas I see in movies. Do people really sing and aunts and uncles and grandparents come in from out of town with a troupe of cousins to eat a big dinner? I never had anything like that, but I’m not here to whine about my childhood either.

I’m here to say that every year I do my best to find the thing that makes this time of year so wonderful for other people and every year I get it a little bit more. Before I felt like I was looking in on a bizarre ritual I wanted no part of, and while I am still looking in from the outside, I at least want to be a part of it now.

Christmas has gotten better for me now that I am an adult, even being with my family has become something I look forward to. We’ll have gifts and a dinner, and there are more of us to be merry with. Maybe I already have the Christmas I longed for as a kid, and maybe tomorrow I will be reminded of that.

I am not here to complain I swear. I just want to say that I am getting better and that means I wish you all the kind of Christmas that you see in all the movies.  I hope you all can see that family does mean something and so do the decorations, and the food, and the gifts. I hope you enjoy a holiday of hope, love, and giving.

Merry Christmas dear readers.