The End (version 2)

The night you said you loved me, the stars fell into the lake. We sat on a hill watching them approach from the horizon. Pinpricks winked out and tails of flame extinguished themselves in the water. I wondered what would happen when the sky was empty.

You looked into my eyes and I said nothing, but thought if the world is ending, at least you’re holding my hand.

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When You Can’t Write

Lately one of my many story ideas has been fighting for prominence in my thoughts. I don’t remember exactly when I first had this idea. Sometime in the past six months or so. I liked it a lot then, but for whatever reason I don’t often start new stories unless I can see the entire basic outline of the plot–for novels, anyway. Short stories I don’t mind just diving into. But I like to be able to see a full novel before I begin, fully expecting many of the details to change, of course. So I haven’t written any of this story yet, even though I did a basic outline. Now, it’s like the thing’s knocking on my door. (Brain-door?) “Hi. Remember me? I get that you have a lot going on, but you said we’d hang out. Just give me a little time, please?”

And what can I do? My “responsible” side (that I’m currently hating) keeps telling me that I have to take care of my obligatory work first, so that I can pay bills and afford to eat and stuff like that. I have a tendency to listen to that side because I’ve always been pretty responsible. But now my creative side is getting angry at being neglected. She will not stand for it any more. I have a feeling she’s just going to keep bothering me until I give in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want to. There are two reasons. One: I cling to that silly notion that I need to be in a better financial place before I can really give my attention to writing. Maybe this means I’m not a “true artist.” Maybe it means I live in a ridiculous economy and like everyone else I have to pay for things. I even have to buy my own health and dental insurance. Two: Even though I want to write, right now, more than anything, and I can honestly say very few things would make me feel as good as writing this story that’s jumping up and down, waving its arms at me, when I think about actually sitting down to write it there’s a certain resistance. I’m not sure where that comes from, exactly. I’ve been trying to pinpoint what that feeling is. Maybe it’s the knowledge that I still sometimes rely too much on cliches. Maybe it’s being kind of out of practice in fiction writing, and wondering if I still have any talent and imagination or if the real world sucked it all away.

Or it could be the certainty I have, when I look back at the last seven years or so, that I’ve already wasted so much time I could have spent pursuing things I wanted to learn, do, feel, experience. Some of you reading this (people who know how old I am) will I’m sure say that this is ridiculous, but I feel very old these days. It seemed ok to be adrift and uncertain when I was 24. I was young, just starting to live on my own (sort of). Few people actually have anything figured out at 24. Not anymore. As I get older, more and more people my age are actually finding full-time, stable jobs or starting businesses or families. This tells me that it’s my fault I’m still in such an unpleasant, uncertain life situation. They say you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, but I bet “they” do it too…

So anyway, this story is about love. A fair bit of it takes place in dreams, and it will sort of explore and/or blur the line between dreams and waking. I’ve actually had a lot of story ideas that involve that aspect. I also like the idea because I can include a lot of fantastical elements even though the story is not in the fantasy genre. I’m hoping that I can push through all my doubts and obstacles and start writing it. I hate asking this but please, click “like” or comment if you think this story sounds interesting.

What Your Christmas Gift Says About Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about my frustrations and lifestyle choices. Most of them have to do with how I want to be seen by the world: thoughtful, stylish, interesting, smart… whatever. Put-together. I generally don’t feel like any of those things, so it can be a challenge. But before I end up getting off-topic (so early in the post!), I should introduce the actual topic: giving gifts, and how the things we choose to give make us appear to the giftee. (I apologize for use of the word “giftee” just now. I thought “receiver” sounded weird and “recipient” too pretentious, for some reason.)

Rarely have I done much exchanging Christmas gifts with friends, and when I have it’s never an expected part of our relationship. It’s generally been an I’ll get you something if I have money and see something you’d like/have time and energy to make something situation. So I don’t buy a lot of presents. Immediate family and one or two friends only. I would love to buy gifts for all my friends, but I don’t have enough money or energy to do so.

If you’re giving gifts en masse, it becomes impossible to give each person a thoughtful item (or collection of thoughtful items). I mean, unless you started in June… so you have to get little animal finger puppets or small boxes of chocolate for everyone and hope you don’t have any friends who hate finger puppets or chocolate. As I mentioned, this really hasn’t been a problem for me, so I’m just guessing that this is how it would go.

The people I usually shop for get good presents. Sometimes they’re really good, because I found this perfect thing, or I remembered something they really wanted. Other times it’s not quite as special but still something they’d appreciate. Occasionally, it’s something that was really given minimal effort (in terms of the actual search) because I thought for weeks and couldn’t come up with any ideas.

It’s easy to buy nice, personal gifts for people you know really well. You understand their tastes and what might actually be useful to them. You see stuff you know they’d like all the time. Often, this is because their tastes overlap with yours–but not always. Like, you don’t like the grass-scented Yankee Candle Company mini-candle, but it’s your friend’s (weird) favorite, so you get them one. However, if you’re close enough to know that they have five of these at home, that’s not what you buy them.

Often, you will have a certain gift in mind because the person has mentioned to you at least once, but more likely twice or more, that they want this thing. If they mention it more than once, there’s a good chance they haven’t bought it for themselves. So you can get this thing they’ve specifically told you they want, which means there’s a good chance they’ll like the thing, and as a bonus you’ve proved that you listen to them.

Then there are those times when you don’t have a specific thing in mind, and when you try to think of something the person will definitely appreciate, you realize you don’t know them that well after all. You know about some things they like, but you really aren’t sure what they want or need. You don’t want to get them something dumb or silly, because that’s not special. So you make do with something you know they like and hope they’ll appreciate the thought enough even if they never use the gift you get them.

When I give someone a gift, I want it to give the impression that I actually care. That I took the time to understand something about them and that I’m intuitive, creative, clever, sweet, etc. I want to give a gift that is among those gifts they’re really happy they received (at least for a few weeks. I guess if they forget about it after that, I won’t be offended). I want to impress.

If I do give you a box of chocolate, it’s not because I couldn’t think of anything better. I actually think chocolate is a great present, for someone who really likes chocolate. But unless it’s this special kind of chocolate that I had from this place once and I haven’t been able to find it since, it’s not really as personal. Almost everyone likes chocolate. You see what I mean?

I don’t know how much my gifts will impress this year. Most likely not that much. And of course I preemptively feel inadequate and selfish because of that. But I guess every year can’t be THE gift year. I can only hope the people I’m giving to can see that there was thought and love behind the choice.

Currently Reading: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Although I enjoyed Pale Fire as a unique and well-structured book, I’m enjoying this one much more. It’s just easier to get into, in the sense of both the story and the philosophy. So far, this is my favorite quote:

 

“We all reject out of hand the idea that the love of our life may be something light or weightless: we presume our love is what must be, that without it our life would no longer be the same.”

This quote appears in a passage that talks about the chance circumstances that brought the two main characters together: The idea being that if the love of two people is what must be, then no matter what they do, they will end up together – but this is the way people want to believe it is, instead of the way it really is. Think about that…

Another Life #1

My home was an island, a small place with a tropical look and a temperate feel. Time passed slowly. Everything was leisure. Not much changed from day to day, but for my face, slightly older every time I saw its reflection in the crystal-blue waters of the surrounding ocean. I didn’t mind. I knew the same people since I was born, and we were family. A small number of people left our island and moved onto it, respectively sent off with tearful joy and welcomed with open hearts. I never fell in love, but I was well loved and I loved greatly. I did not have everything, but I had everything I needed.I pursued creation in many forms – painting, drawing, writing, weaving, cooking. One day I stepped back from a painting and realized with a great sense of accomplishment that I had pictured a perfect sunset. The canvas emanated the light I had painted. Such a small achievement, but it did not seem unimportant to me. I looked back over my life and I was content.

In Progress

Here are two short story projects that have been sitting on the shelf (figuratively) for ages now.

1. Cleopatra’s Barge – a story about a young homeless woman. I’m now thinking that it should be split into two stories; one strictly abstract-ish, from the woman’s point of view, and the other in the style of reporting, explaining why she is homeless and written as if by someone observing her. A third-person omniscient. It wouldn’t be specified in the stories that they’re connected, but it would be fairly obvious to anyone who read both.

2. Creme Brulee – relating the narrator’s experiences with the dessert compared to her relationship (or lack of one) to a certain love interest.

One has a completed draft, but needs a lot of work before it can be allowed to see daylight again. The other barely has a page written, and also needs much work before there would be any point sharing it. I very much like the ideas of both of them (a good sign). Sound interesting?

Coming Soon: an author bio page. Look for it under “Pages.”