Recorded and Reposted: She Waits

She waits,
Like a mountain reaching for the sky,
Pushed up by unseen plates in an embrace
It will never know or feel,
She waits for a call
To hear a voice she knows
She may have already heard
For the last time.
She waits for comfort,
A desert cactus counting days
Since the last rain,
Pinning hope on each passing cloud
As the little water it has slowly drains.
She waits,
Breathing deeply, fighting anxiety
As each buzz of her phone,
Each ping on her computer
Resurrects hope she abandoned
When it pulled out her hair
And chewed her nails to the quick.
All I can do is stand by and watch
While she waits,
Useless words weigh down my tongue,
Empty gestures tie my arms,
And the knowledge I cannot fill
The void she feels bows my head.
She waits,
Knowing what might be lost
Cannot be replaced,
Like a dried up river
Leaves a furrow in the earth
That will linger on until
The entire world has changed.
So she waits,
Living the best she can
With one ear cocked for a sound
And one eye watching for a face,
And a smile to hide them both.

Every Day Grief

There is a particular feeling, sweet and sorrowful, that rises slowly in your consciousness as you near the end of something you have loved. A misty-eyed sensation you cannot address even in the privacy of your internal monologue because doing so means admitting it is real and present, and ignoring it means you can live in blessed ignorance for another day. It is a feeling as ancient and familiar to me as my own sense of self-hood, perhaps older even, because the day I was first aware of myself, this feeling was already there.

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I’m Tired and Sad, So Let’s Talk About The Legend of Zelda: Episode 2

Time for another episode of your favorite not-show on this blog! I’ve had a rough weekend, did an emotionally difficult thing, and just cannot shake the doldrums of my week because I’m in a tough but healthy situation of my own making that finally rejects the secret hope of my entire existence in order to move on with my life. No, I will not be getting more specific than that. Also, the day this is going up is my birthday and I can do what I want on my birthday, even if I’m writing this a week before my birthday.

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The Middle Distance

I nod, clumsy hands sweating
As they hold a phone to my ear,
But I cannot find words to answer
Beyond “mhmm” or “yeah” as my thoughts,
Tangled like my hand in my hair,
Lie in knots on the ground around me.
Knots I tied myself because this
Is harder for you than me.
You need to relay information
And I need to hold it together
So you can make another call after this one.

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NaNoWriMo 2018 Day 24 (11/24)

Yesterday and today have been weird. Between getting booted off my laptop for a surprise Windows update and trying to arrange a visit with my grandparents, I haven’t had much opportunity to get my writing done. I only got six hundred words in once my computer had finished doing its update as it was almost midnight and I was dead tired from two nights of sleeping in an unfamiliar bed that felt akin to sleeping on a moss-covered boulder. I wanted to do more, but I just didn’t have it in me. I also wound up sleeping really well last night, so I overslept my planned wake-up time and didn’t have the time to write before I needed to get out of bed, pack, and head to my grandparent’s place. So now it’s after seven in the evening, I’m sitting in my friend’s living room because I need to be around My People after a stressful weekend, and I’m trying to jam out enough of a blog post that I can justify hitting that “Publish…” button.

Honestly, I should probably just get this up, write one hundred words so I can continue my update streak on the National Novel Writing Month website, and then stop writing for tonight, but I’ve given up on my daily word count so many times lately. I don’t want to keep doing that. I’ve got a lot to do in order to succeed with my goals this month and I can’t afford to keep making excuses. I don’t want to keep making excuses. I want to get my words done, but that’s a tall order when all I can think about is how thin and frail my grandfather felt when I hugged him on my way out the door. How small he’s gotten. How he was too tired to crack jokes. How he didn’t once refuse any of the assistance we offered him. He used to be as big as I am and it’s startling to see how small he’s gotten. In my car, I have clothes my grandmother bought him that are too big for him that would fit me. These are different from the last ones I got. Those were given to me as my grandparents moved to a smaller house and needed to free up some space. They were extra. These are almost new and just don’t fit him now that he’s lost so much weight.

This is one of those things that alters the course of your mind. I can feel my mental topography change and my thought’s about my grandfather show up in every mental space I have ever built. The mental image of my writing–the internal me slowly climbing a mountain without a clear path or a certain destination–is now done in the shadow of another mountain whose paths are all too clear. The empty darkness that is where my internal self lives, a place of calm emptiness where I go to get peace from the noise of my mental health issues and the noise of live, is no longer entirely dark. The ocean of my depression has a giant wave on the horizon that is moving at a speed I can’t detect, but I know it can crash over me at any moment without warning. There’s no escaping this.

I imagine I’d feel something similar if one of my parents was ill, but it’s hard to know. It’d probably be different and maybe worse in its own special way. My grandfather has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve him or stories about him. I remember when my sister was being born, the one who is only a couple of years younger than me. It is only a flash, a moment in time, a picture of a story someone once told me, but it’s still crystal clear. I remember my older brother and I playing some kind of game on the couch in the basement of their old home that involved taking the cushions off the couch. Maybe we were building a fort, maybe we just wanted to bounce on the springs of the couch, but our grandfather was there, watching over us as we played as he put up with our games in a way that let us know he’d rather be here with us than anywhere else. He was a bartender and union electrician until his retirement and he’s always been a tough old man in my eyes who still managed to avoid a lot of the more toxic bits of masculinity in his emotional dealings with us. That might just be the eyes of a child worshiping his favorite relative or the rose-colored glasses of an adult remembering his favorite relative since most of that side of the family has a tendency to engage in passive-aggressive bullshit more often than not, but it’s hard to believe I’ve imagined it entirely.

I want to be able to write about it, but I just don’t know how to fit him into a story. He’s always been a goofy, silly old man to me, and I don’t want to just drop him off somewhere that won’t do justice to the person I’ve seen my entire life. This is all still pretty recent and I’m pretty sure I just need more time to figure it out, but it’s hard to write anything without thinking him. I want to preserve a part of him in the stories I tell, just like I’ve got snapshots of so many people in my stories, but I haven’t spent as much time considering him like that. Even though I’m familiar with loss and the limitations of mortality thanks to the loss of high school classmates and my own traumas, some part of me just refused to accept that this man who always seemed bigger than me–even after I had an inch on him–would one day no longer be. I still don’t want to believe it.

Everything comes to an end eventually. There is a price to be paid for everything, even life. I’ve gotten a lot of life and happiness out of my grandfather, especially considering I know so many people whose parents have already passed on. I just always hoped it would be longer. I mean, out of all my grand-relatives, I always kind of figured he’d be around the longest. I feel kind of crappy saying that, but it’s true. Now I have to face the fact that it isn’t and I’m having a hard time reconciling my feelings and my knowledge. Especially when I’m struggling to figure out how to write about it.

I’m going to eat some kind of alcoholic desert my friend made and rejoin the group for a little bit, but I think I might take the night off from my National Novel Writing Month project and try my hand at writing about a man who is leaving a shadow larger than life. I hope your day was productive and I hope you manage to reach your writing goals today. Good luck.

 

Daily Prompt

One of the big Fantasy series I have been enjoying lately is Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. Despite being made up of three (of ten, according to what I’ve read) giant Fantasy tomes, his stories are fun, quick, and refreshing. This gigantic, sweeping series features a world that is different from most fantasy worlds I’ve read. The powers are novel, the means of getting powers relies on rules that are slowly being revealed but are incredibly interesting, and everything originally from the world has some kind of carapace because of the regular storms that swing through the area or is otherwise incredibly hardy to account for how insane the weather is compared to ours. Beyond all that, the stories aren’t afraid to confront difficult issues or show how terrible people can become good people. The effects of trauma, the reality of depression, and complexity of doing bad things for good reasons are all addressed (incredibly well) throughout the series.

 

Sharing Inspiration

How does your protagonist respond to interpersonal conflict? Are they a pot-stirrer, or do they hate the idea of being involved in the nitty-gritty of other people’s lives? Some people immensely enjoy setting up conflicts between people and some people would literally rather die than engage in any kind of emotional or verbal conflict, let alone a physical one. How does your protagonist feel about them? Is it something they can handle easily or is it going to be a struggle they’re going to need to muddle through? Write a scene showing them responding to or engaging in some kind of conflict.

 

Helpful Tips

Don’t chain yourself to continuity when you’re writing. If you get hit by a great idea for something that’s pretty far down the line from where you’re currently writing, pursue it. Don’t put it aside and expect to remember it when the time comes. The same goes for entire scenes or chapters. Or plot points. Or books. If an idea comes to you, record it. The idea might change as time passes and it might not fit when you finally get to it, but it’ll still inform how you write the parts around it. Maybe it’ll bring you back to an element of the story you lost between writing that section and reaching it. No matter what, though, it’ll be worth recording because at least it’ll get the idea down somewhere so you can keep your mind focused on moving the story along rather than trying to juggle story pieces that showed up ahead of their moment.

Saturday Morning Musing

In most of my circles, social and professional, I’m known for having long hair. Typically, I grow my hair out for two years, get a buzz cut, donate all the hair, and then let it grow for another two years. Because my hair grows very quickly when it’s short, I spend a lot of that two-ish years with what would be considered “long” hair for a guy. Right now, it’s long enough to touch the bottoms of my shoulder blades and I’ve gotten to the point where I’m wearing it up or pulled back almost all of the time because it makes my neck sweat during the summer and always falls in front of my face when I’m configuring hardware at work. Which also means I’m considering cutting it.

This time is a little different, though. Now, in my mid-to-late twenties (I’m getting close to twenty-seven), male pattern baldness is firmly taking grasp of my head and my hair is thinning to the point where it doesn’t seem to be growing any longer, aka my hair is falling out faster than it’s growing back. I’ve always had a pronounced widow’s peak, but now I’m getting a widow’s mountain and the peak is slowly sinking back into the rest of the mountain.

There are plenty of options out there for the man who wishes to fight back nature and hold on to his hair, but most of them are a lot of work and no method is certain to work. Nor is any method cheap. I wouldn’t call them expensive, especially in terms of medical procedures or many life-sustaining medications, but they cost enough that I’d have a hard time justify sticking them into my budget since they’re nowhere near necessary. I like having hair. I like long hair I can pull back, that is thrown around on windy days and can that I can run my hands through when I’m busy thinking about something (stroking your beard only works for so long, so it’s good to have a backup). However, I’m not so attached to the idea of having hair that I’m going to freak out about losing it or spare no expense in trying to prevent it from disappearing entirely.

Honestly, I’m pretty lazy and only started growing my hair out originally because I didn’t want to take the time or spend the money to go to a barbershop in college. Donating it just became an easy, go-to explanation to give when strangers (usually older people) would inevitably demand to know why I had such long hair. However, after donating it the first time and getting to see the wig made from my hair (there was actually a local organization that’d take your hair, turn it into a wig, and donate it to the big cancer center nearby), I decided to stick with it. It kept my life easy, did a good thing, and I got to enjoy having long hair without needing to deal with too many “get a haircut, hippy” comments. I’d like to keep growing it out and donating it, if I can. I think that’s a good cause and it makes me feel good to be able to contribute something.

That being said, I’m getting to the point where I’m not sure how well my hair’s going to grow back after I get it cut the next time. I’m pretty sure the length of my hair has done a fair amount to conceal just how thin it’s getting up top. Without some kind of medical or pharmaceutical intervene, this next haircut will probably be the end of growing it out. One of my uncles had the same problem around the age I’m at now. He had long hair and, when he got it trimmed for a wedding, it never really grew back enough for him to want to let it grow out.

To make matters worse, my beard is still slowly filling out because genetics. I apparently inherited the slow-arriving-but-eventually-thick facial hair from my mom’s side of the family and the once-per-generation male pattern baldness from my dad’s side of the family, so I’m pretty follicly challenged. The only thing I’ve really got going for me is how soft all of my hair is. Which doesn’t count for much when most of my hair is going to be on my arms and legs a year or two from now. The chances are good that I’m going to go bald but, unlike all of my bald associates and family members (there are only two of them and they’re both on my father’s side), I won’t be able to grow a lustrous beard to compensate for it. Which is a total bummer. I want nothing more out of my hair than to eventually have a giant wizard beard. I feel like that shouldn’t be too much to ask considering how hairy I am in general, but my beard is still slowly working on connecting over my upper lip.

Personally, I’m getting to the point where I kind of want to just shave my head. For one thing, I feel like a nice big change is exactly what my life needs right now. I already moved my room around, so maybe I should just change something about myself if I really want to feel like something is different now. For another thing, I’d save a lot of money on shampoo and a lot of time in my morning routine if I no longer had hair that needed washing, combing, and drying. Plus, it’d be easy to maintain. Heck, I could ask my roommates to just buzz my head clean every week and then I’d never need to do anything but buy a new trimmer every few years. Or I could learn to do it myself, since I’ll like live with the remnants of my hair for the rest of my life, just like my grandfather and uncle. Aside from the need to shave/trim regularly, going bald would make everything much easier.

I’d just really miss having long hair. I enjoy having it and not needing a hat during the winter because it keeps my ears cold. At some point, probably soon, I need to make a decision. Shell out the money to try to get my hair back into sustainable condition or commit the bald look and figure out where to stop trimming near my ears so my beard looks natural. Is it where the sideburn reaches its consistent width, or is it level with the part of my ear that connects to my head? Or do I just trim to until the hair is all the same color (my facial hair is a reddish-brown and my head-hair is dark brown)? There are so many unanswered questions and I don’t really care enough to seek out the answers. Maybe the knowledge will just come to me when I pick the bald route. Spontaneous knowledge, like my parents expected to happen when I first started growing facial hair.

Is it common for parents to not teach their kids how to shave, or was that just me? My childhood was weird, so I’m not sure I can take my own experiences growing up as an indicator of the general way things go…

 

 

Filling

When the days are long
And everything turns to ash
At your touch;

When your favorite things
Are just another way to forget
The march of time;

When you pour in words
Or images like an alcoholic
Pours drinks;

When you escape with
Fleeting success the drudgery
Of your life;

When you are simply
Trying to fill the hole inside
With anything, like dropping coins
Into a well–
              Coins carrying dreams
              And whispered prayers
              As if the weight of each
              Did more than weigh
              Down your soul–
Hoping that the next one
Is all that you really needed
To fill it up;

Do you ever fill the whole inside?

Morning Coffee

Harris woke to the scent of frying bacon, birdsong, and early-morning sunlight. He blinked his eyes, trying to adjust to the light from the window Linda had thrown open.

“C’mon, get up!”

Harris pulled the blankets over his head. Linda sat down on the bed, pulled the blanket back, and gave him a kiss on the nose. “If you wait too long, breakfast is going to get cold!”

Harris smiled as Linda pulled the sheet back, putting up only a token resistance as she hauled him out of bed. “Alright, alright.” Harris pushed himself to his feet and hugged his wife. “You win.” After putting on his bathrobe and new slippers, he followed his wife’s singing down the stairs to the kitchen. He watched as she flipped pancakes for a moment and then started making coffee. Five minutes later, they were eating.

“I’ve got a few errands to run, Harris, but I’ll be back shortly after one.”

“Alright. I’m going to work on getting our taxes filed after I clean up here. Should be done before you’re back.” He smiled at Linda.

He lifted his mug to take a sip, but the handle slipped in his hands and hot coffee poured into his lap. Even as he leapt out of the chair, part of his brain pulled at him and, instead of a coffee stain on his robe, he was looking at his bedroom.

The shades were drawn and the window was closed. The air smelled faintly of sweat. He looked around his room and tried to see it as he had when he was still asleep. He tried to remember his wife as she had looked that morning, but all he could remember was how her face had looked when she handed him the divorce papers later that day.