30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 1

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Basic things about myself:

I’m a mother to an awesome 15 year old.

I’ve been married since ’99 (I was 18).

I’m 35.

I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary/Ovarian Syndrome … which should have a different name since it’s an hormonal imbalance that doesn’t require cystic ovaries).

I am a grad student attending ECU (distance education rocks my socks). I’m in their amazing MLS program. Future librarian right here!

I have a BA in English.

I write. Not enough. I’m trying. I’m hoping this challenge helps me practice up a bit and get into the flow of writing every day.

I love coffee. And willow trees. The beach. Sunsets. Rain (except when the dogs are stir crazy because it’s rained for too long and they can’t go outside to release some of their pent up energy). Playing Farmville2 and Wizard101 are my go-tos when I have some free time (if my nose isn’t in a good book). Reading. I love reading good books, short stories, and poems. I’ve loved reading since before I could read (when I just flipped through books and made up the story as I went along).

I have depression. Some days – most days these days – I’m okay. Some days I’m really not…no matter what I say. I have anxiety – not crippling – but enough to stress me out pretty badly. I know these issues most likely stem from PCOS and the embarrassing symptoms that come along with it, but I know it has to do with my past as well.

I am a feminist. And proud of it. I believe women and men should both be valued members of society, with equal rights, pay, and opportunities. I do not hate men. I simply believe they are capable of being much more than our patriarchal society tells them they should/can be. They are smarter than society gives them credit for. As are women. I could go on… but I guess you could just visit my Pinterest to see some of what I’m about.

Salty foods are my dietary weakness.

Books are my financial weakness (though I’ve tamed the beast inside and only buy books when I truly can afford to … and after making sure I really want to read the book I’m considering purchasing).

My favorite colors are deep/dark purples, slate grey, and green. I wear a lot of black (tops) because I think black looks good on me – as does green, but I don’t often find green tops for plus-sized women that aren’t hideous.

If there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to ask!

Are you participating in this 30-day challenge? If so, post your links. 🙂

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Clip

This story was written in response to the one-word prompt, “clip.”

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“Did you see Marina’s YouTube clip?”

Trevor noticed how Ayana’s cheeks flushed a rosy red at the mention of Marina. She’d obviously seen the clip. He wondered if she would ever tell her how she felt. It’s not like Marina would be terrible to her if she didn’t feel the same way. Marina was one of the nicest people he’d ever met. She never intentionally hurt anyone. She knew how it felt to hurt. But Ayana didn’t know her as well as Trevor, so he decided to give her the nudge she needed.

“Well, what did you think? Her song was dope, right?”

He noticed Ayana’s mouth twist into a slight smile and he knew now was the time to push. Not too much, but just enough.

“Her lyrics were really good, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, they were good. She was great. She’ll probably be a star.”

Maybe she wasn’t telling Marina that she’d practically been in love with her for a year not because she was too shy, but because she didn’t want to hold Marina back or get in her way. Maybe she was worried that if they did start dating and Marina became famous, she’d only end up being cheated on. Her ex had done a number on her.

Maybe he should stop pushing. He loved them both; they were his closest friends. He wanted to see them both happy, but now he didn’t know if that meant having anything to do with getting them together. He wouldn’t want either of them to end up hurting the other.

“Yeah, probably. She’s got real talent. She’s better than most of the so-called-artists today.” Trevor paused, fighting the urge to flat out ask why Ayana just didn’t put her feelings out there.

“People change when they get famous.”

“Yeah, but do you honestly believe Marina will? I mean, she’s not like most people. Marina’s Marina. Our Marina. She might make more money, but she’s still our sweet, wouldn’t-hurt-a-fly Marina. Don’t you think?”

He saw Ayana thinking about what he’d said. Her face was doing that scrunchy-concentration thing she always did when contemplating.

“I guess not. She’s pretty down to earth. It would probably take a lot for her to change too much.”

“Then why aren’t you telling her how you feel?” The words slipped out before Trevor could stop them. Well, they were out there now.

“I …” Ayana began to say something but thought better and closed her mouth. She looked down at the floor as if she were studying the fabric. He noticed her shoulders droop and she was chewing her bottom lip. “I just can’t. I don’t think she feels the same way and I don’t know if I can take that kind of rejection right now. If she doesn’t feel the same or even want to try dating, that changes the whole dynamic of our relationship and I want her in my life, even if friendship is all it’ll ever be between us.”

So, there it was. She didn’t want to ruin their friendship. Something was better than nothing.

“But, what if she does feel the same and you both just never say anything? How is that fair to either one of you?”

“She doesn’t. I just know. Just like you knew Jessica wasn’t into you, remember? How did that go for you? You knew she probably didn’t like you as more than friends and you told her anyway. You two aren’t even on speaking terms anymore.” Trevor knew she had a point, but it hurt to hear her talk about him like that. At least he’d been adult enough to say how he’d felt. It was only because he did so that he found out Jessica wasn’t the one for him. He was glad to know that … now.

“You’re right. But, you can’t use the Jessica experience as a scapegoat. You and Marina are not me and Jessica. You don’t know what you can be if you don’t find out.”

Trevor heard Ayana sigh, letting her hang-ups dissipate into thin air. He’d gotten to her. And he was glad for it. Maybe their relationship will change. But what is life without change? They may end up head over heels in love, or they could end up not talking anymore because things become awkward when feelings aren’t reciprocated. Either way, Ayana will know, and he’d be there no matter what.

“She comes home from Asheville tonight?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. But if I tell her and she doesn’t want anything to do with me afterwards, I’m going to need you to be close by. With a couple bottles of wine.”

“Of course … Hey, I’m proud of you.”

Ayana’s nerves were already wreaking havoc and he knew her mind was going a mile a minute. He walked the couple of feet between them and put his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. He may not be able to calm her nerves, but he could try. He wished he could tell her that everything would be okay, that he knew Marina felt the same about her, but he couldn’t. All he knew is Ayana deserved to know one way or another.

Sand

This story was written in response to the one-word prompt, “sand.”

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It had been four years to the date since Blythe had felt the cool, lovely sand between her toes. She loved days like these. Days she could smell the salt water, hear the gulls hollering at each other, enjoy the beach to herself, and when work was a distant memory.

Last time she was here Dante was also.

She hadn’t thought of him for some time. Three years, give or take. Not that he didn’t occasionally cross her mind, but he was just a part of her past she’d tried hard to forget.

But being here, in this place where they’d spent every anniversary, brought reluctant memories of him. Of them.

Four years ago, he was right here by her side sitting in the sand, holding her hand tightly. They knew it would be the last time they were here together. Everything they did that weekend felt like they were clinging to a moment, a feeling, that would never come again. They stayed in bed ten minutes longer than usual, holding each other because neither one wanted to be the one to let go. Each smile mattered more, so they smiled more purposefully. They watched the sun set each night instead of rushing in when it became too chilly to stand in the late October cold. They pretended not to care when the occasional breeze filled their bodies with goosebumps. Nothing mattered except the memories.

Blythe felt the start of hot tears form in her eyes and she let them fall. He should have been here with her. He shouldn’t have said good-bye. He’d broken her heart even though she knew it was coming. She wasn’t naive. She knew when a man was distancing himself, about to make her regret the wall she always carefully manufactured after she let anyone in and it ended in pain. She’d begun building her wall back up before he’d ever uttered a word indicating he wanted to end things.

She just hadn’t realized then what she realized now: Love is no match for a wall.

He hadn’t been happy in quite some time. At least that was his excuse. He never pointed the finger at her, but that didn’t stop Blythe from thinking if she’d just joined in on more adventurous, spontaneous outings and wasn’t quite so insecure about her weight that maybe he would have been happier, or at least tried to make it work.

Wiping the tears from her face, Blythe gulped back the remaining ones and stared ahead at the vast black ocean. She wondered when she’d be able to reclaim this beach as hers and not theirs. She’d been visiting this beach since she was in college. Well before she’d met Dante. She didn’t want to give up something she loved and seemed to love her back just because it was associated with a guy who wanted to marry her, then didn’t.

Standing up and brushing the sand from her pants, she bid the ocean adieu and forced herself to enjoy some wine and a nice, luxurious bath to ease the tension stiffening her back and pounding inside her head. One day at a time, her mother had said. As if there was any other way. She set the glass of red wine on the side of the jetted tub and slipped in, instantly feeling the pulsating water relieve some tension. The memory of Dante’s hands as he rubbed her shoulders from behind in this very tub made her cheeks flush a scarlet red because what happened afterward the time before last had given her so much pleasure that she couldn’t help but long for it now.

But she was alone. And she should get used to it. Even if she felt in her gut that saying yes to his marriage proposal was a mistake, she’d loved him fiercely and she didn’t think she’d feel that way again anytime soon. It was good for her to be alone, to find herself again. Or maybe that’s what her best friend, Becca, had convinced her she needed. Either way, here she was, trying to relax and forget about human connection for more than five minutes, but failing.

She wanted to meet ‘the one.’ She wanted to spend a lifetime with someone who loved her wholly; someone who didn’t want to change her or belittle her when she tried to change but just couldn’t. Secretly, she liked herself. She was strong, smart, giving, and supportive. It was her self-doubt that twisted her into thinking she should be what others want her to be. As if she wasn’t good enough as is. She wasn’t some worn out toy that needed to be fixed.

No longer enjoying the bath, or the wine, Blythe got out of the tub, wrapped herself in the soft cotton robe provided, and lied down on the bed. Looking up at the log beams of the cabin, she appreciated how sturdy and beautiful they were. They didn’t come crashing down on her, like her love life; they gave her refuge and protection, and an aesthetic appeal she liked. Snickering to herself, she thought, Now how about I find a man that I can say the same about?

To be continued…

The Not-So-Casual Observer

I don’t intentionally observe people. Many writers I know, and know of, people-watch to get ideas for their work. Little nuances, memorable dialogue, facial expressions, odd or interesting actions. And I get why they do it. Maybe someday I’ll do the same.

But, for now, I’m content to distance myself from strangers. That is why it is confusing to me why I care about a stranger I know. Odd thing, isn’t it – knowing a stranger? Someone I thought I knew has become a stranger and it irks me. Not the changing part – change is a natural and inevitable part of human character – but I feel sad for a person who becomes someone they’re not, and quickly. As if being one’s true self is so abhorrent that the only way to salvage life is to become someone else – or an alteration of a former self.

We are never truly, completely honest with each other – or ourselves. We tend to reserve parts of ourselves – our true wants, desires, goals, beliefs, and experiences – because we don’t think people will understand, or they’re embarrassing, or shameful. That’s human nature. But, convincing those around you that you are completely fine and über content in life – happy-go-lucky and the most upbeat, positive, and good person in the world – while things are falling apart, crashing in around you, because of decisions made, is ridiculous and an insult to my intelligence and any emotional tie – however weak it’s always been – we have.

It’s okay to admit mistakes. To not be perfect. To be yourself. To not put on a new face and act like everything’s okay when things are most certainly not. But accountability is important, too. Even if you’re just holding yourself accountable. It is on each of us, individually, to own up to what we do, and to learn and grow. But if we live a faux life and pretend reality doesn’t exist, we’ll just end up worse than we ever were. I say this because I’m human and I’ve made mistakes – big ones, too. I learned from them and I grew as a person. I had to admit to myself that I was wrong and try to figure out why I made those mistakes and how I could fix or grow from them. Self-reflection is an incredible tool. We can learn so much about ourselves if we bother to question why we do the things we do.

It’s okay to be ourselves. We do not have to adapt to someone else’s interpretation of our lives to fit in, to be loved, or to be accepted. If we do, we’re surrounding ourselves with the wrong people.

Do you live with the truest version of yourself you’re capable of, or do you take on a different persona when it suits you or those around you?