Why does doing things have to be so hard?

I am hunched over a counter in a small food service kiosk. The kiosk is located in a large city library. The air is cool in the building and for that I am thankful. It is about the only thing I am thankful for at the moment. I am poring over a thick manual which is trying to communicate to me how to program the cash register that sits to my right. Each time I attempt to plunk in the specific series of code it is telling me to I receive a loud droning beeeeeeeeeep; impressing the ever expanding notion that, yes, I’m an idiot and cannot even follow simple instructions properly. Passersby startle from the beeps to which I awkwardly say, “it’s my first day!” with a shrug and a borderline manic laugh bubbling up from my nervous gut. I suspect this terrifies them more than the initial beeping had.

Each time I fail at inputting this or that into the machine a cruel voice in my brain grows a little bit louder. It tells me that I’m too stupid for this. It says that I am not cut out for the pressure in which this new endeavour is hammering down upon us. It drills into me that I do not have the wherewithal to run this thing. To build this thing. To be whom I have to be to get ‘er done.

With each hurdle that pops up, each landmine that blows my progress thus far to smithereens, I wonder how I will get this thing finished. The days in which I have to finish are slipping away. We need to get it up and running. This much I know.

Every ten minutes or so I have a friendly face stop by. Some of these faces I recognise from The Hot Wire, some I’ve seen around town. Some are not familiar but they all wear smiles and come bearing curious questions about hours of operation and opening dates and basically all of the things I have no answers for. I give them a, “We will sell sandwiches” kind of answer which does not seem to satisfy any of them. As lovely as these people are, as humbled as I am that they are interested in our business, I still feel a bubble of crippling anxiety swelling in my throat because as it stands right now I feel as though it will never be complete. I will never have these answers for them.

So I stop with the cash register. I stop with the service calls and the number crunching. I stop with the grocery lists and the budget planning. I stop with all of the things I feel I cannot look at for even one more minute because if I do I will crumble. I will fall apart dead smack in the middle of this library food service kiosk and that would be quite embarrassing. My brain is too tired, too tender, too self-aware to look at these endlessly infuriating numbers right now. So instead I look at the blank chalkboard I have hanging on the wall, waiting to be delved into.

I am no artist but I can wholly understand the appeal. To design and decorate, to think up an idea and lay it out on something that was nothing only moments before. It feels so good, and it relieves the stress of the morning, if only for a short time. This output of creativity gives me the extra confidence I need to carry on with the tough stuff.

There are so many moments of self-doubt in this business. It seems as though nearly every decision we make we can count on some obstacle rearing its head soon after. I am so tired. So run down and burnt out, exhausted from decision making and immediately after worrying if it was the right decision.

Some days, on the bad days, I look at the dark circles under my eyes and I wonder why we do this. Why do we run ourselves ragged? Why do we take the verbal abuse from strange customers? Why do we work so hard for so little pay off? And then, after my small pity trip has wrapped itself up neat and tidy, I step back and look at it all as a whole.

I look at my life. At the accomplishment of this thing; this beautiful, terrible, sleep depriving, exhilarating, outrageous, ever-growing, once unimaginable thing that we have built from absolutely nothing. And I am so proud of it all.

I am hunched over a counter in a small food service kiosk. I am admiring my half-done chalkboard menu. It’s not perfect but it’s us. It’s got charm and a tad of the “weird” that our patrons have come to love about us.  The way I see it, the way I really see this chalk board hanging in front of me is the same way I try to see this business when things get tough. The passion of what we are doing, the love from our people and of our product shines through and draws the eye away from the little flaws peppered throughout.

Sometimes it’s difficult to hush the cruel voice in my head that says I’m not enough. Sometimes I wish I could conjure up confidence the way I conjure up hilarious food puns for our sidewalk sign. Alas, I don’t know how confidence works. Whenever I ask the confident people in my life how they acquired so much of it, they just laugh a hearty chortle and pat me patronisingly on the top of the head. I suppose like all things, my confidence in this business will come with time and experience and until then I will keep my head up, pretend to know what I’m doing, and continue to remind myself to take creative breaks along the way.  38829211_2109328022727775_5393519582700896256_o

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Busy Hands

My life is spinning past me. I am not morose or depressed or even anxiety ridden (at the moment) but I can still see it spiralling past, not slowing, as moments come and go like birds overhead in a clear blue sky.

I am supposed to be writing a Hot Wire Recipe Bible right now. That was the reason I left the sanctuary of my garden this morning, poured myself another strong coffee and turned the computer on. I am supposed to be documenting all of our recipes onto paper then laminating them into a permanent state. I am supposed to be doing all of this because soon we will have more than one employee and they will need a reference sheet to bake from.

This idea should give me joy. I should be elated from the mere thought that it will not be just Jamie and me “doing it all”. And I am. I can nearly feel my body relaxing, my muscles releasing the pent up tension of the past two years.

I shouldn’t get ahead of myself though. The time has not come yet to hire. First we must open this second location, put the time in to get it running smoothly. First we must, once again, run ourselves ragged for the sake of the business.

It sounds horrible when I put it like that. I sound ungrateful and bitter. I sound angry. I know this, but I do not mean it that way. Maybe there are moments of bitterness. Moments where I am hunched over a bathroom sink eyes bloodshot, red-rimmed and exhausted wondering why we got ourselves into this. Maybe there are moments when it is too straining on mine and Jamie’s marriage or moments when I worry we are not enough for our kids. And really, there is no maybe—these moments are all for certain. But these moments are not very different from the bad times before the shop either. I think difficulties arise everywhere, anywhere. And when we boil it down to the basics, the good, the rewards of the now outweigh the difficulties. I don’t need to be a math genius to see that.

The real thing that weighs on me as our life begins to morph into something unrecognisable is how it will never be the same again. Jamie and I will never work together again. Not on the floor at least. For two and a half years we’ve worked side by side, and we are a good team. We are a strong team. We can read each other’s minds when the shop is packed with people and tensions are running high. We ground each other. We possess the same work ethic and drive. Our ambition for the future matches one another. We know how to nudge the other forward when energies are running low.

So now, as our world changes and events begin to slide by us, these ever-moving logs on a rapid current, I wonder how our dynamic will keep up. I wonder how we will keep up.

He will be at the main location, training staff and working lunch hours while I will be at the new cafe, growing it into something we can call our own.

We are bold in our objectives and as we grow our business these goals become bigger, better and more attainable. It is our desire to learn more and be more but I have to wonder, at what cost does this ambition come?

Could it have been enough to leave our little sandwich shop as is and just get by with what we have? I don’t know if you realise but sandwiches aren’t the most lucrative business. Could it have been enough to live paycheck to paycheck, throwing away our desire for more knowledge, bigger dreams—to remain on the “easy” path of which we understand and know?

Jamie often says that from the beginning of his career all of his best chefs would persistently remind him that success comes to those who possess “busy hands”.  If your hands are busy, you have the intention to do. You have the drive to earn your money well. You have integrity in the work you do. You are not looking for a free ride. And maybe it is this thought process which has brought us to where we are. We do have busy hands, and it is our busy hands that have helped create our success. It is our busy hands that have brought growth and change into our lives. And it is our busy hands that will continue to move us towards our goals. And every day we work with these busy hands, we teach our children why a strong work ethic is so important.

Most of the time I am proud of this. I am proud of the role models we are for Lars and Sophie. I am proud of how we came to be where we are. I am proud of the elbow grease and the countless late nights and early mornings logged into our business.

But sometimes I must remind myself that it is okay to stop. It is acceptable to put the recipe book/paperwork/goal charts aside if only for a moment and write a blog post about my fears and hopes and my “right now” life.

Sometimes it is necessary, or even essential, to live in this exact moment and take the time to appreciate how far you’ve come.

Summing Up Someday

 

The sour tang of a Vitamin C pill clashes horrifically with dark roast coffee. My coffee is especially dark roast, if that’s even a thing, because I use exactly twice as much coffee grounds as the recommended serving on the can. This is so I can taste the bitter black liquid as it slithers down into the depths of my soul each morning.

Okay, that was a bit much.

It’s been so long since I wrote on here, I don’t even know what I’m doing anymore. It was the stillness of the tree outside my living room window that did it.  The sunlight slipping through its leaves, playing peekaboo with me. Distracting my brain from its usual Sunday morning thoughts.  That’s what drew me in. I was noncommittally toying with the idea of going for a walk when the thought occurred to me. I haven’t wrote, haven’t even looked at the blog, in months.

I am chewing down Vitamin C because Sophie has a killer flu bug. Not actually killer, to clarify. There is no apocalyptic flu bug going around or anything. Not that I know of at least. Nevertheless, I can see it as it envelops our home despite my ravenous cleaning and disinfecting. I am at the point now of attempting to ward it off by pure mental willpower. The way I used to try to move pencils in math class with nothing other than the raw power of my brain. It never worked then but I suspect my brain is more powerful now, as an adult, so now I should be able to accomplish something in this department. Even if it is just that of me catching a slightly less awful strain of the bug.

The truth of it is, I cannot get sick. Not now. Before, like three weeks ago, it would have been passable to come down with a bug. We have our employee Cam who could have covered my shift at the panini factory. We would have been able to deal. In fact we have dealt with this exact scenario because I have a shit immune system and catch basically everything that goes around.

I can’t get sick anymore however. The ‘ol immune system is going to have to shape up or…Well, I guess I don’t want it to ship out, there’s no way that having no immune system would be better than have a shitty immune system. So it’s just going to have to shape up. End of story. I will start eating more vegetables and drinking more water. My mom tells me this is the answer to basically all of life’s problems. And she is typically quite knowledgeable on these types of things.

The reason I cannot get sick is because we are opening a second store location. We are aren’t doing this in the typical, hire more staff and be completely prepared for the extra work load, type of way. Oh no. We are opening a second location, continuing to run with three people and hoping to make a boat load of cash in the process. A “boat load” is an overstatement.  A gross overstatement. What we are really hoping to do is secure our business so that eventually we can hire enough staff to run the floor and Jamie and I can actually do owner stuff. Well, that’s an exaggeration too. Honestly guys, who knows what we want out of this thing. I’m pretty sure all of the glutinous flour I work with on a daily basis has begun to clog my braintubes (braintubes is most definitely a thing, despite what spellcheck, and perhaps science, tells me). All I really know is that we need to grow our business so it becomes something of value. Yeah, yeah, it is sentimentally valuable right now, but sentimentality ‘aint shit when thinking about the future. But I guess it sort of is in the grand scheme of things….But not in this scenario. Just stay with me here guys.

Still there? Awesome.

When Jamie and I dream of someday we are sitting in a mansion that we have built with our franchised panini money, sipping cocktails while I write my memoirs and he creates miniature models of specific points in history which he will display in his football field sized miniatures museum he constructed after selling the restaurant. We laugh and laugh at how difficult life used to be with memories that are hazy because if we were to really reminisce about the trials of yesteryear we would be in a constant state of manic depression.

Sometimes we dream that we build a blimp hotel and travel around the world at a brisk 60 mph while whisking our patrons off to their various destinations in aviation heaven.

Most times, however, we simply dream about simplicity. About having the ability to go on vacation with our kids without having to worry about a store to look after. We dream about taking the day off work to volunteer on a school field trip. We dream about lying in bed all day, worrying of nothing. Nothing at all.

Alas, we tried this life once, and dreamt of the life we are currently living. Which is exactly how we arrived here. So clearly we are physically unable to be happy with anything (unless it involves owning a blimp hotel). We are obsessed with the idea that there is something else out there for us to achieve. Something amazing to explore around the next bend. Perhaps, we will never learn.

I have come to the conclusion that the real key to living happy is to somehow merge these two fantasises. And this, my friends, is the meaning of life. Boom. You’re welcome. And we are trying to achieve it. The kids have begun to help us at the shop. We show them the ropes and so far, they swing from them joyously. Lars is great with customers and talks their ear off while Sophie is happy to help in the baking department when given the chance. I took them to see the new café yesterday and they both immediately began to make plans of how they would be involved in this new place.

So maybe our life is not the typical one of a growing family. Maybe we are a bit more complicated. Maybe a bit unconventional. At times I worry about the kids and I wonder if they would be happier if given a different life. I wonder if they are okay. Then I look at them. Like, really study them. They then look at me like I’m a crazy person but quickly sluff it off because I am forever doing strange things like this.

I see Sophie and her artwork. The artwork that she has honed in and made her own over hours of drawing weird and wonderful pictures from the two seater table of a sandwich shop. And I see Lars and his genuine and lovely and kind personality. His empathy and outgoing nature towards any other human being continues to astound me.

I will write little blurbs on this blog when the muse takes me and Jamie will continue to craft miniature models from the paint speckled table in our living room while we binge watch bad Netflix originals. We will take mini vacations to the mountains when the stars have aligned and we find ourselves with two consecutive days off work. We will enjoy backyard bbq’s and watch as the kids swim in the pool and scream out in unabashed joy when the water is too cold to bear. We will find joy in the time spent together, even when together is at the shop showing our children how to talk to customers and make bundt cakes.

I see the pride the kids have in our little sandwich shop when they tell perfect strangers about The Hot Wire Panini and they call it “their shop”, “their restaurant” and I realise that maybe our life isn’t cookie cutter perfect but it is our perfect. Our right now perfect. And just like all things, it will evolve and grow with us, and that will be perfect too.

 

 

Taking Back Control

We are fastened to one another by fraying knots.

Mottled steel. I want to rid myself of you.

Shrug you off like a winter jacket on the first day of spring.

Breathe relief into the heavy air as I feel you slide away from me.

I don’t want you to be happy, I don’t think you deserve it.

But is there even a you to begin with? Are you sentient? Are you real?

Because you are not true. I know that much.

I know that you can make me feel unworthy and small.

I know that you have the power to change me.

Shift and model me into whatever your will suggests.

I know that this control you have over me is no one’s fault but my own.

I know that life would be much cleaner, much healthier without you.

You whisper insecurities in my ear then shout them to the world.

You tell me it’s not enough. Nothing I do is enough.

I reach for happiness and feel my fingertips graze atop joy’s ruffled edges. Just as quickly gone. You’ve pulled me away, back to reality. Back to misanthropy. You stunt my happiness in ways you’ll never care to know.

You will take and take and take until I am a husk.

An empty shell awaiting orders from its owner.

Because eventually you will own me. My person, my spirit, my life.

You are a festering sore upon my back. You cultivate deeper into me with each passing day. Each passing hour.

This is why I must bid you farewell dear ego. For it is no one’s fault but my own. These deep seated cries of sorrow you sow.

I cast you away from my soul, as I have so many times before.

No longer will I allow you to live at the forefront my will.

No longer will I let you inside my common sense or rational thoughts.

I will leave you stranded and wondering what happened.

Alone and desolate.

Bereft.

But how long will it last?

When the Word-Floors Collapse

A pressure that is dainty but daunting wiggles in through my ear disguised as hopes and dreams of a rewarding future.

I wish I could tell you why I am so frightened of it.

I wish I could explain why I am terrified of the words that pour out of me like syrup globs over big round pancakes. The way they fall out of my brain and into sentences and paragraphs and stories.

Because the prospect of them dropping into the meaningless places, the void, frightens me the way the fox frightens the chickadee.

The idea that these floors upon floors of connected words will end up meaning nothing. That the anecdotes are flat and the meanings meaningless leaves a pinprick hole in some subterranean part of me. I can feel it expanding. I can feel it growing.

And the words are plummeting into this black hole now. Lost to the bottomless anxiety of the deepest clefts.

So I put fear around it all.

It sort of encapsulates my person like a blanket tossed upon the shoulders of a nearly drowned woman.

The terror shrouds me.

But I manage to push it down or pull it out or maybe I just banish it away to a nowhere place just long enough to rid the dark self-doubt from my mind.

Then I begin to regurgitate the words once more.

I remind myself that I am not my fear. I am not my insecurities. The words are terrifying as they fall out me, but they are also my liberator.

Glass Surface

Some days my life feels like a vast ocean.

Stretching far across a skyline

That seems unending. Daunting.

Tasks pile up. Unread books

Upon a dusty shelf.

Waiting for someone to pick them up.

Waiting for someone to sort it all out for me.

And somedays it all appears to be too much.

The bulk of obligation buckles my knees.

Wobbles my feet.

I wonder somedays if I can lasso it

Into regulation.

Can I compact the monthly, weekly, daily duties

So they become attainable?

Tie them into a routine?

Neat and tidy.

While floating over this sea of responsibility

Moons passing. Water droplets detach

In skyward propulsion.

And the anxiety melts away,

Fat in a red-hot pan.

Starlight glimmers off the tasks

I once obsessed about.

Now casting perfect shadows, lengthy as the threats

Of incompletion which worried me moments before.

Handsome. Disordered. Ruffled chaos. Beautiful disaray.

Bliss peeking through slats of agitation.

Fence posts of contentment erected amid

Goals for future days.

And it occurs to me that most days,

This life-ocean seems vast and unnerving.

But it also builds dreams upon its glass surface.

The You’s of Yesterday and Tomorrow

Once upon a lifetime, you were never tired. Minutes passed by like molasses through a sieve; long lasting and bittersweet.  You didn’t know that one day the easiness, the jovial adventures of youth would flit away like tissue paper pieces caught in a windstorm. Altering and shifting ever so slightly so you wouldn’t detect the change until years later. You didn’t know that life was so delicate. So defining.

You were wet cheeked and waiting for trouble. You had faith. Not confidence, more of a conviction for the unthoughtful standards which surrounded you.

You were beautiful. Fresh faced, energetic—never dog-tired and dragging your body from A to B as you do now. You were filled with lifeblood. You exuded it through tiny pores upon your glistening skin.

You were oh so positive. Dappled envy and the want for material goods had not yet sullied your go-getter attitude. You bled eagerness.

You look back on these days not with bitterness but an unbidden appreciation.

Because despite how able and animated you once were, you decide as you sit and sip coffee this early morning that you wouldn’t trade it back. You quite enjoy the person who writes these words today. You now have the confidence to take this realisation and lay it out, spread it along the various nooks and crannies of your life, let all the past and future you’s see it.

Life is defining, and the actions of the past have prepared you, primed your inner and outer self to be melded and shaped into a future person. Days, years, lifetimes past have initiated the process and it is your job to continue the construction until there is nothing left to construct.

Collecting brain-frizz and releasing it.

Admittedly I am a brain-frizz collector. Days stretch by where I have no desire to learn or grow, to read or even write. These are the times when I sit on my phone frying my thoughts with Facebook nonsense and addictive games with bright colors and flashing lights. If I listen just right I could probably hear the sizzle of each brain cell as my endorphins run rampant from reaching a high score. Like yolk hitting a hot pan.

Sometimes it just is too much. The worries that accompany the everyday, the stress of tomorrow, the constant angst that comes with being a business owner. Sometimes everything stacks up so high that not even a good book can show me sanctuary. Sometimes turning the brain off and mindlessly looking at hilarious memes or carelessly stacking colorful blocks to reach a goal is just what I need to get past the hump I find in front of me. Sometimes I just need a pause.

But look, I can clearly see that the continuation of this practice would be insanely unhealthy. I’m not so naive to think that ostriching this shit is going to make any of my mental or emotional baggage disappear. If anything I am just hoping to stack it up up and away like the little blocks I stack in the phone games. This method is unreasonable at best. At worst it is completely delusional. And lets be honest delusion and I go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Or corn and a husk. Or a lava lamp and the goopy “lava” that is inside of it.

The worst part is now. Right now. This precise moment when I realise that I have to stop hiding away from everything. I must confront my stress. I must challenge my worries about the future. I must put down the phone with the Facebook and the games and the other distractions that make life so easy to forget about and I must go out in the world and live.

So I have roughly three hundred unfinished writing projects on my laptop right now and I suppose this is as good of place as any to get started. The realisation that I cannot live on pause for the rest of my life may be a tough one to take but once I fling myself out of it and get back on track I do not regret it. Because it feels good to try again.

Maybe sometimes we all just need a little pause to appreciate the hard work we put into this life.

Nails on a chalkboard…that’s the mood this morning.

This morning I wake up and the worries of the world, no, the worries of my world stick to the front of my brain like a sloth to its tree…hmmm, that didn’t quite hit its mark did it? Like my daughter’s candy-glue fingers to the public bowl of toffee treats? Like my daughters candy-glue fingers to the whitened wall? Ah what about, like the tiny bit of tinfoil wrapping to the smarmy butter stick. Ugh, you know what, today is just not my day.

Anyways, the worries consume me. They eat up all of the joy and excitement I am supposed to have at this time of year. It is all of the normal things I worry about. Like business and money and how to possibly forge my way into the writing world when I have absolutely no qualifications to do such a preposterous thing. You know, the usual. It is not as though I am worrying about the extraterrestrial beings that are invading Earth or anything direr than that. I suspect my worries are quite similar (in a roundabout way) to those of anyone who woke up this morning with worries swimming through their brain’s wavelengths (perhaps a bit better?).

A deep sigh releases from my chest. My fingers keep pounding these keys looking for some kind of an answer. Some kind of release from the tightening sensation I’ve felt in my chest since opening my eyes this morning. They search for all of the things I want out of this life but seem to be finding impossible to gather up. The solution must be out there somewhere. In some deep recess of imagination or future thought or intention. It must be floating aimlessly; hoping and praying that sooner or later I will get my shit together just enough to reach out and grasp its concept. Put the pieces together and get the plan formulated to action. However right now, right here as I sit in this Christmas clad living room I cannot fathom even the smallest morsel of what this scheme could possibly be made up of.

At least the clinging anxieties of this morning have ebbed since placing my fingers to this keyboard. They will likely emerge again when I am driving or playing a game of Monopoly with the kids or shovelling snow from the driveway while cursing under my breath about all of the god damned fucking snow, but I suppose that is for later torment.

Maybe the trick of it is to find that release and work it regularly. Write out the worries. Sing out the stress. Draw out the disturbance. Everyone has something and the beautiful part of this strategy is while we are releasing these ill at ease feelings we are practising our craft, perfecting our craft. Carrying us closer to the endgame. Bringing us to where we want to be.

Read to me, you.

I wonder. I wonder, if you and I were to read the exact same line of poetry would we see the same thing? On the surface, yes. A linear stroke of verse written to satisfy collective logic. A sentence.

But deeper down, where irrational thoughts rest like tadpoles in a still pond  I suppose it is most likely that the words are made up of biospheres. They are unlike each other at all. They have different meanings, different shapes that take base from one brain to another.

The significance of one sentence, loose and languid may fall upon my subconscious like raindrops popping on cement. While sticking sternly, unrelentingly to the wall of yours for later use. For later amplification.

Ideas will worry away in some inside tunnel, diverse and hot, forever wandering if not quelled with common sense. They wrap themselves around the way we walk as we mull them over in our thoughts on the bus, at the party, in the supermarket checkout line.

One line of poetry can make a difference. It will change me internally. Capture a small part of my existence never to be returned. While these words breeze by your eyes like the white feathers of a dandelion on the air once they are touched to a child’s lips.

I have come to realize that it is the words who decide. They choose their captors; sinking their sights into unsuspecting souls who are merely looking for a quick read, some rouge knowledge, a bit of word to tide them over until their next fix.

One piece of small familiarity is all it takes. An acquaintance of time or space or person or feeling or language, and the sentence has taken you as its own.

This is why reading is such a miraculous thing.

Ideas transferred from one paper, one screen, one diner napkin old and coffee stained to the mind’s eye of the reader. Instantaneous, infectious. Soapsuds bursting under a running faucet, ideas pop and float into the atmosphere slightly changing the way we forever imagine life to be.

For me at least.

How about you?

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Working The Words Out

I am unqualified this morning. Blank and impotent. Usually the glow of this monitor helps me rummage up something, anything, before my time has waned. All it takes is one word. Or maybe several words joined together; mismatched and messy like the Velcro straps of a child’s shoe. Like the shoe, it allows me to get to the place I long to be. An idea will bloom into a great bulbous sphere of anticipation. The sphere screams out, pleading to be popped, insistent on spreading words and thoughts and ideas and presence to all who might look its way. These words long to leak outwards into a weary world. Into a vibrant world. Into a world that has not yet read these precise words in this precise way. Perhaps this morning, as snow filters downwards from a boundless black sky, my thoughts are too trivial, too reedy for something of that splendour. I glance towards the bottom left corner of this luminous screen and see that somehow, beyond all blight, my quota has been filled. The words are out of me. I’ve managed to pull them off my tongue in tiny bits and pieces in hopes that some word-famished fool will come to devour the tastes I leave in my wake. And I am satisfied. At least for now.

A notebook by the bed would be nice

Lindsay is lying in bed thinking about topics to write about. She really really, truly, really wants her blog to be hip and pop and fresh but sometimes she feels her writing is missing some vital element of…She can’t quite put her finger on it, perhaps, pizazz.

So most nights, this night included, she rests in bed for a few minutes thinking over new and interesting things to write about.

The snow outside is drifting downwards in tiny specs, Lindsay does not let this fool her though, if this keeps up by morning the city will be nearly snowed in. Hmmm that won’t be good for business, Lindsay worries, but she pushes that thought from her mind. Stressing too much about work and snow and money and having to drive on treacherous roads puts a bit of a damper on the creative process. So she shoves the idea to a corner of her brain where she can rummage it up flap it out for later use.

But what to write about? What to pizazz them with? What words to use to wrap ideas around her readers brains? What subjects to sprinkle out upon conversation’s floor? What stories to tell?

That’s it! She’s got it! By golly gosh she’s gone dog gone and done it!

What a fine-looking first sentence, she thinks, as the words skip over her thought process like pebbles across a glass lake. Oh yes, this is good. So good! Lindsay is reveling in the pure pleasure of having thought of such mastery of her craft. Oh how glorious it feels to have done something well.

And with that thought sleep swims up from the place she keeps it in while the daylight hours shine and slowly pulls her down into the depths sleepy-time dreams.

The alarm clock rings at 4am sharp. Generally Lindsay wakes up a few minutes before the melodramatic droning of the alarm begins but not this morning. This morning she is dreaming about being locked in a reality TV show where she must sing Christmas carols in outlandish fashion to gather points in which she must horde in order to buy her way out of the house to freedom. If she does not get enough points by allotted time provided she will be promptly consumed  by Ed Sheeran. So needless to say, Lindsay has got to lay off the hot chocolate before bed time.

In any case she is excited to wake up because there lingering in her memory is the fact that last night she had rummaged up the greatest blog topic of the century and this morning she is going to bring it to fruition. It’s going to be awesome man.

She lays stock still. She is quite sure if she refrains from making any sudden movements it will come to her. The idea was huge. Colossal. There is no way it won’t come to her. Right? Any time now it will surface. First, nothing but the tiniest tip will show itself over the immense surface of the oceans which lives in Lindsay’s imagination. After she has deftly hooked the beast she will begin reeling it towards her, every inch closer it comes the more detail of the thing will be made clear. Eventually her fully shaped, fully beatified idea will be waiting in front of her, waiting to be written out for the peoples reading enjoyment.

She waits.

She waits some more.

Come on. Lindsay says in an anticipatory tone. Much like the tone one uses when waiting for the john on a morning following chili cheese dog dinner night.

Nothing. A stagnant tundra of nothingness is all that fills Lindsay’s brain this cold and dreary morning. She pulls herself out of bed and towards the coffee pot. She begins to brainstorm. Back to the drawing board. Square one.

She manages to piece together some convoluted piece of weirdness about writing and planning and forgetfulness but it just isn’t what she had hoped for. She wanted pizazz, she wanted grandeur. She wanted that damn idea she had come up with last night. She will have to keep a notebook by her bed from now on she thinks. It is the only way.

Lindsay’s only consolation on this morning of non creative accomplishment is the knowing that tomorrow is another day. Another blank space to fill. Another post to write. Or, more accurately—because Lindsay learns her lessons when need be—another post to copy down from her notebook from the night before.

Walk it off baby

 

I am making my usual rounds through dew dampened sidewalks when a phone chimes lively inside of my pocket. I’m about thirty minutes into my daily walk and I’ve built up a pace. I do not so much decided to ignore it but simply do not acknowledge its reality. My joints are well oiled from the natural lubricant of movement and they feel strong and able and willing. My arms swing slightly by my sides giving me momentum to travel forwards.

I walk because it clears my brain of the worry clouds which often muck things up in there. There is a lot of that. My imagination is on overdrive as of late and walking calms it to only a minimal hum. I can deal with humming. Humming won’t drive me nuts. I walk for the solitude of the matter. When I walk, I slap on some headphones and turn up whatever audiobook I am listening to at the moment (right now it is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale) and I fall deep and uninhibitedly into the plot. The story clears away the stress that presses down on me, the same kind of stress that presses down on everyone. It allows me to mull things over and that gives way to the pea green sprouting of ideas, activating the forward thinking part of my brain.

When I am in the solitude of a daily walk, while my feet pound dirt clad walking paths, while the branches of trees reach down to greet me as I move deftly under them and the crisp air shrouds the exposed skin of my face I am bucolic. The hastiness, the cram of the daily grind is set to some invented side and an expressive feeling of simplicity slides through me. Before life became so impossibly important. Before newscast articles painted huge red exes upon our brains forever marking us in their forever ways. I walk a little faster now and the boot clop sound of a well-worn shoe smacking against ground sends me trance side.

I am so happy here. Maybe happy isn’t the word to use because I am often happy elsewhere too. The feeling I have for here, this universe I find myself in while I am walking, is something altogether different. It is not to be shared. It is its own entity like the space inside a snow globe. It cannot be touched.

I am grateful to have this time to move and think and listen. And that is just one more thing that glasses over my thoughts as my feet move forward on my daily walk.

Chocolates in a bag

The woman’s face is wizened. Ripened from years of talking and laughing. It must be from laughing, or smiling at least because of the wrinkles which huddle around the corners of her mouth; all tiny sideways smiles themselves.

We make eye contact through the glass of my passenger side window. The Chinook winds cause her to squint and pull a hood up over her head. Oh for shit sakes, I mumble trying not to move my lips in case she is a lip reader, what the what is this now?

I busy myself by touching imaginary buttons on my phone. Busy people are unapproachable because they are too engrossed in whatever they are doing to speak to other humans. Or maybe it is because they have such a vital and important air about them. Or maybe they give off the undetectable stench of standoffishness. Or maybe it’s just that the brain is intuitive enough to detect that this person simply does not want to talk to you. In any case, this woman’s detector sensors are broken.

However she does not approach my car but the one parked behind me. I stealthily slip out of the driver’s seat to slink into the store without having to engage. Human contact, ugh. I hear a, “Oh thank you!” coming from the woman who sits in the vehicle to my rear. Her voice peaks at the end of the sentence as if she is partly asking a question. Something rectangular dangles from her fingers, she seems hesitant to touch it. As if it is slathered in goo.

The old woman gives a courteous nod of her head and moves on from the exchange. I realize I am staring, thus, I am caught. For being so seemingly delicate the woman moves with great agility towards me. A similar rectangle bag-box hangs resolutely from her fingers. She is upon me within seconds.

“Oh hello.” I say as I note that she has noted me noting her approach.

“Merry Christmas Dear.” Says the woman. Her voice is as you would expect the voice to be of the elderly. The bag-box dangles in the air. It begs me to take it. “Oh, what is this?” I say with too much question upon the question. She nods her head, inaudibly saying, don’t worry it’s not poison. And is that what I think? Am I so jaded from this damaged world that I would actually envision a lovely grandmother figure giving me a bag of fatal toxins in the Walmart parking lot?

I take the bag because it would be rude not to…No, correction, that is not why I take the bag. I take I bag because this little old lady’s eyes bore into me like a drill bit into origami paper. She smiles and says, “God bless dear.”

Ah I see, it is the pious on duty—spreading the word of Christmas to any unsuspecting soul who will unquestioningly take presents that are tossed in their general direction. Candy from a stranger. The bag is filled with stories about faith and the Lord Almighty and chocolates and a hymn printed out on a piece of yellowed paper.

I plop one of the chocolates in my mouth with one last lingering thought about poisoned apples and whatnot but push it away. I hope that one day I too can believe in something so unwaveringly, so devoutly. I smile and pop another chocolate in my mouth. Maybe one day.

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And then love happened.

Hand on mouse, fingers hovering over a keyboard. Ready. Waiting. Ideas tumble out of my brain. Vortices of possibility twirl towards the 4am sky. 80 words to go. Will that be enough? This morning my thoughts have tuned to love and in my core, at the very base of me, I know that not any amount of words or finely tweaked sentences will be enough to bring these thoughts to fruition.

Devotion is an enigma wrapped neatly in decorative papers of blue and gold.  We tie bows around love like it is a package that once passed along will provide some predestined shroud of unending happiness. The very idea of falling in love encapsulates us. It is somehow protective simply in its impression. Let us fall. Fall from where? Fall from one intended to another? Fall from a tall building and have hope that the recipient of our ultimate adoration feels that same way we do. Heroically coming to save us from our plummet.

Some of us do get lucky. Some of us, somehow, in the cosmic wilderness of modern day romance find the love we had sought out for. It begins with shyness. Everything does. The coy wariness of perfect strangers meant for something more. Lightly fingering our way through the idle and awkward moments of the first few years of the togetherness. We will whisper wants to one another. Furtively, with a nonchalant air about our words because God forbid our new and shiny dearest thinks us odd.

We silently chant mantras of normalcy and routine ourselves. We are super-human people with no foibles or flaws because that could be undesirable and if even one of these idiosyncrasies flops to the surface, this tentative thing, this love thing, will surely wither and die. It is a wonder any of us survive the initial staging process. However, after an undetermined amount of days, weeks, years, millennia moves past we become easier, more ourselves. The weirdness leaks out onto the floor whether we like it or not. And the floor hasn’t been mopped up in days. The cautious stroking of yesteryear has evolved into a weighty hand on familiar skin. A comforting presence among the constant chaos of the everyday.

This love will manifest itself in the tiny places we never think about. It is the intense light between the bulb and the shade, only those inside the lamp’s protective cover can understand its brilliance. It is brown leaves pressed delicately between the softened pages of an ageing book. It is a blanket placed over chilled shoulders, a promise of warmth when the room seems subzero.

Love is not grand and glorious. It does not lift us up out of the depths of depression or carry us over the puddles of sadness which accumulate over a lifetime. It is not like the songs say. It does not fix our worries but usually causes us more worries to worry about. It is not magical or almighty.

Love is small and sacred. It is to be nourished. Grown from nothing over a lifetime of trial and error and strife and hardness. Love makes the difficult certainties of life a bit easier to live with. Love gives us the courage to try the new things. Love holds us tight when the new things do not work out as we had planned. Love comforts. Love soothes. Love does not define who we are but grows alongside us as we determine our unique paths in life.

Love is not our life preserver but the warm cup of coffee after we’ve fought off the flood. And if you should be lucky enough to find this sort of love, do not take your fortune lightly. Know that it is delicate and rare and beautiful. Hold it carefully and cherish it always. And in turn, it will have you too.

 

Being human is a strange and scary thing

 

Everyone wants to be just a little bit freer. Free of the worries which cloud over us like rising waves out of a stock still sea. Free of the pain and the sorrow which soars inches above our head allowing us to believe we have just barely dodged it. It circles round. Free of the tiny things, the ones we do not know are doing us harm. The head in the sand things. The turn your gaze to another things.

We want to be taken as well. Take your freedom and stuff it, says us. Roll it away to darkened corners. We do not want the heavy weight of decision-making upon us. We do not want to create or to resolve or to amend. Life has an abundance of idea-men already and autonomy is far too overrated.

We want to be in charge. We want the reigns.  The power, the prominence. We want, we want, we want too many materials to name. Want becomes need because the line here is thin. It is emaciated from eons of manipulation.

We want love. Light, luscious, luminescent love. Take you away from your own personal horror love. Save you love. We bargain for this love in friends, fans, mistresses, men and children. Dogs. Especially dogs. Dogs are not truth tellers—this is why we love them so.

We are all experts, yearning for a pat on the back. We know it all. We do it best. We say it perfectly. We are always right. If we are not, we will die. This is obvious from the strong personal vigils we stand yelling about our ultimate rightness to all those who will listen.

We are humble. We want to be humble. So fucking badly. We want to stand in a public square, baring our soul to those who seek it. Allowing strangers to touch our tarnished humanity, let go of the fear which holds us back. We want to be okay. We want the other people to see that we are okay. There goes the humility.

We want faith if it comes with statistics. We want happiness if it comes with a bit of pain. (Not too much pain because that would hurt.) We could use a little more sadness if it comes with tactful sexual allure. And we want it now, but only in small slices because we cannot handle a lot of anything at once.

We want our mothers, without their philosophies. We want fame without talent. Prestige without having done anything at all. We want blood while keeping our hands clean. Beautiful smiles which obscure the malice that lies beneath. We want strength without training. Exploration without danger. To experience life without living.

And each day we grapple with these morbid thoughts of want versus need. We jumble them, mix them into a giant bowl of universal subject matter. As we lay them out to dry, frightened for what we might discover, we forget that this is our impermanence we organise so deftly within our imagination stations. We look it over. We stare into its abyss wondering how to work it all out. How to consolidate this mass of mess in just the perfect way so it will come out inline with what all the other humans are doing.

So it will be undetectable. Desirable. So we will fit in. So we can simply be.

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Where Words Come From

 

I am falling headlong into to a blank brick wall.

The compact space around it taunts me with particles,

Specks of interesting elements,

That might break down the blockage.

If only I could form these half-baked ideas

Into a full thought.

I wish I was not so afraid to write.

I wish that those innermost thoughts

Which dampen my brain with their

Coverlet of dark concepts and odd impressions did not

Embarrass me so.

I wish that I could pull together these

Strange happenings,

Write them down; file them out in single rows.

Tell them, ever so gently, they will do my bidding.

Afraid isn’t the proper word.

It is not detrimental enough.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that I cannot, or maybe

Will not, write down these truths

Which grow haphazardly from the brain branches

Inside of me.

Browbeaten and defeated.

I plod onwards.

Upwards?

Sideward at least.

One day I will be versed, proficient in my craft,

One day I will have the ability

To take the rawness of the words

Round out the terrible edges with pretty prose and vivid imagery.

One day, I will wake up knowing which bricks to pluck away at.

Lithe starlight that stings my eyes will

Gleam through those gaping holes.

The wall which once caused heartache, strife

Will have distorted into the grandmother’s doily,

Dainty, light.

Gone is the reddened brick,

The hardened mortar.

Gone is the density.

The solid safety of rock-hard matter.

The word designs,

The thoughts once safely locked behind,

a robust fortress, now slip through lace

Like sand units falling over children’s fingers.

If not careful,

They will all just blow away.

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Another post on writing and junk, you’d think we were all writers or something around here…weird.

 

The power in our small bi-level home surges as I hit the SUBMIT button. Wait, was that a sign? A message sent from the great beyond? My skin turns to gooseflesh. I think of Grampa Bert, my all-time favourite storyteller. Maybe? Bah! Hogwash. It’s an old house and the electrical in this bitch sucks. I guess it is more likely that my brain, the soft part that need constant reassurance, is really just teeming with anxiety over the new flood of rejection messages I will be receiving in two to eight weeks. Prepare yourself, rejection is coming.

Side note: there is a fly in this room right now. A FLY IN DECEMBER! Its buzzing is infuriating not only for the distraction but for the sheer perplexity of its existence.

I’ve begun sending out stories, essays, blurbs and whatever else a publisher may want to take a look at. I’m like a teeny-bopper clad in fluorescent pink and the personality to match—look at me, pay the attention to this gal over here!

A few days ago my sister-in-law asked me why I write online. Well she didn’t come out and literally ask me. We were talking about writing and I naturally assumed she wanted to know every possible detail of my writing career so I willingly divulged my secrets…that are no more secret than my dirty erotica writing forays.

I told her that I write to obviously become rich and famous because, you know, that’s what all art is about. Duh. But as a secondary motive I write to simply tell the stories that are buzzing around (like this damn December fly) in my brain. It seems as soon as I drag one out and place it to word processing document another one begins to unfold into reality.  The more I write, the more stories are waiting to be written.

I think about reading stories that stick with me for days, weeks, hell years afterwards. I will remember images or a plot twist or the simple construction of the first sentence, the hook, and I realise how essential the written word can be. Stories entangle our imaginary lives with reality giving us the perfect amount of unrealistic expectations to keep us moving forward and striving on. They feed our waning imaginations. The older we grow the more fiction we must consume to keep our brains hale and hearty.

Great literature from the past, blogs posts, short stories, online magazines, a funny Facebook post; we read and write to connect with one another.

The idea that something I’ve written could affect someone like this intoxicates me. I could be like an imagination doctor! To think one story, one sentence even will stop the reader and make him say, “Hey, I never thought of it that way.” It is a mesmerising goal to reach for. If I can write one blog post that someone reads and thinks, “That is exactly how I feel too sometimes, at least I’m not alone.” I’ve scored the big one.

I’m a peopley person. What can I say, I love them humans. And I’ve obsessed over writing since the beginning of time, my beginning at least. Writing and the human condition fit hand in hand. Or existential crisis in existential crisis. I guess it depends on how you’re looking at it, where you’re positivity meter stands at the moment.

So I’m going to keep on writing, keep on submitting my work and rejection messages be dammed! I’ll wear them down eventually…or I’ll get better I suppose. Whichever comes first.

I’ll show ‘em, I’ll show ‘em all! One day you’re gunna see my name in lights!

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The shiny things have distracted me again.

My eyes part to the sound of an energetic whirring that is coming from my right. The sound seems to be magnified in the otherwise dead quiet of our bedroom. It drones merrily, LLLLLIIIIIIIIIINNNNNDDDDDSSSSSSAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY (but not really because in the morning ones imagination is soft and pliable, it will believe anything). It nearly jumps from the ledge of my bedside table.

I wish I was the kind of person who did not need an alarm clock. You know the type. Those people who boast that they are so in tune with their own body, the internal clock which lives somewhere in their brain—or maybe it’s their foot, you know, to get them moving—anyways, it wakes them without incident every single morning. Yeah, I wish I was like that.

Alas I’m still using my trusty cell phone (like a sucker) perched to the side of my bed with a message splayed across it saying, “GOOD MORNING!!!” in what I have come to believe is a seriously passive aggressive pre-dawn text revulsion.

The street is speckled with hundreds of tiny multi-colored lights. Cheer bottled-up into filaments the size of a cat’s claw. The radio serenades me with Jingle Bell Rock and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus because it knows that is what I want to hear this fine and frosty morning. Obviously.

I had toyed with the idea of writing something profound this morning. Wowing you with my inexorable insight, my glass-windowed vision. I imagined exhibiting my heartache, my unrequited culpability, up like a farmer does his heifer for market. I would try to sell it to you, get it into your brain and out of mine. Pass the pain along. Share it among the healthy folk. Or, perhaps, the unhealthy ones. They will gobble it up faster. No questions asked.

I was thinking of showing you the guilt that sometimes claws its way to the surface and spills over the top (because it is over the top) in ill at ease times of aforementioned heartache. The times I let down those I love and those I do not love in a cataclysmic foray of disappointment. The times I must deliver the bad news, the stuff of plugged ears and dull faces.

I could have wrote, this morning about misery and mountaineering. I could have turned it all around and shone some upbeat and blinding light of positivity into the murky thoughts that sometimes cloud my better judgment. I could explain (in my very best self-help voice) that if we shoot for the sky we will reach the stars.

I might have slid words together like children gliding down an icy knoll. Content with jibber jabber and momentary answers to questions never asked, at least not by me. My prophet days are probably still ahead of me, oh how I will profit one day.

I could have carved it all out upon this word document and felt lighter in the end. I should have tossed it down intending to leave it where it lay. Rid myself of the word plague I struggle against everyday. Instead the flicker of pink and green and red and blue lights dance just off the flank of my vision. It distracts me for the times being, it is shiny and bright. Familiarity hugs me, and what kind of monster fights against hugs? I guess the lights will do for now. I’ll preach tomorrow.

 

FEAR

 

Some days I am afraid. I am afraid to start writing each morning for fear of discovering I no longer fall fast and deeply in love when placing pen to paper, finger to key, idea to world.

Some days I am afraid. Most days in honesty, panic strikes long and unabashed as I ready the babes for their school time escapades. Am I enough?  Can I do right by them? Will my guiding hand be strong and kind enough to chaperone them around life’s sadness and hurdles?

Some days I am afraid. Afraid of the tiny soloist who lives in the deep of my character and sings stridently about wasted opportunities. Rejections. The awkward moments and the ill-advised decisions. He will remind me of former days and he does not quiet. He does not calm.

Today I wake with a different type of fear dripping from my better judgment. Afraid that the fear which drives, the fear which pushes me to places I once imagined never gracing, will leave me lonely and lackluster.

For it is not the fear that holds us back—that keeps us indolent. It is a lack thereof. It is an emptiness in that place that gives us butterflies when dreaming of future days. It is a hole in the fabric that weaves together our motivation in all things seemingly impossible. It is a gap in the driving force that gives us grounds to reach into the farthest depths of our will for the people we love. It is desolation upon our plain of imagination.

It is this loss of motivation, this loss of fear that scares me most of all.

We tell ourselves that the fear is what we should fight against. The fear of this and the fear of that is what is holding us back. I have come to disagree. It is the fear that keeps us going. It is the fear that tells us we will never be good enough. Never be strong enough or smart enough or happy enough. It is this terror of “not enough” that keeps us striving. It keeps us living.

I suspect the fear will forever live somewhere just beneath the surface, and in hopes of eradication it will remain just out of reach. But close enough to keep me lively. Incentives towards growth. An aid in personal evolution. So I will hold my fear close at hand and continue to do the things which scare me.

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