Life is but the expressive result of dominant thoughts.

Prompt: Dominant 

I found the thread.

A tiny white string poking it’s head from the seam, teasing me as I tried to pinch it with my fingernails.  I could touch it.  I could not move it.

A few days later, it seemed longer.  But I had decided that I was not going to pick at it – I made a committed choice to ignore it (because that’s the best way to solve problems, ya know?).

A week later, it lay limply on my sleeve, flirting with my peripheral vision.  A challenge, if you will, to determine how steadfast I can be.

Or can’t be.

I pulled, just a little, just enough to feel the tiniest give, satisfaction of doing something I know I shouldn’t dripping cathartic into my veins like an IV.  I knew what I had started, but I smiled and swallowed back the lump in my throat.  Knowledge of a thing shouldn’t scare a person away.

A little bit everyday, a little more frayed around the edges.  Somehow my turtleneck shrunk into a tanktop.  I saw the end result when I began to dabble with this string, but it seemed far more striking when I saw the stark black tattoo boldface on my very white, very exposed arm.  The change didn’t seem this extreme – this violent – when I started.

And I suppose it didn’t because it wasn’t.  It was my doing: my rather simple flicking the string back and forth, caressing it’s silky thinness, the delicious wondering just how hard I’d have to pull for it to come out all at once.  I stroked it’s frayed strands and bit my lip in public when that little white thread slipped into my mind again, interrupting my thoughts with that temptation to play.

My shirt dangles on my bare shoulders, precariously balanced on my shameful spine.  I swallow harder than I did before, for a much different reason.  Curled in my open palm, the string (a miniscule piece, hardly a representation) holds no more allure for me.  It was my doing: the pulling, the straining, the seam ripping.

And yet, I wonder how strong this string really is.  My eyes skim what remains and the pit in my stomach feels far heavier than anything I’ve eaten recently.  If this is what that string can do, it’s certainly stronger than me.

Failure is a required part of the human existence.

Prompt: Carve

The curve of the clock
traced the motion of the second hand
as it curtly constructed
my schedule,
cutting my time
into precisely

The sheen of the blade
sneered as I sliced into succulent flesh,
steak steaming as my husband
sits silently
for his supper,
the rest of the side
served cold
and tasteless.

The lack of clacking on
the keys betray my writer’s block
as emails stack up,
stalking publishers
expecting drafts
that we both know
I cannot

And yet
I’m not sure
which of these failures
into me

Without continual growth, words like improvement and success have no meaning.

Prompt: Growth

You asked for a photo challenge about growth in midwinter Indiana.


Ah, the repulsive squelsh of filthy slush.

And how could this possibly represent growth?

Perhaps it doesn’t, not to you.  To me, it does.

All growth is a series of transition, moving from one season to the next, Newton’s inevitable prophecy of upness versus downness, winter blossoming into spring.  But before winter cleverly slips from our minds so easily, it always does this first.

It slushes. It convinces the road salt to pick at the paint on our cars like hangnails. It slobbers on our floors, leaving half-solid drools of ice on the carpet.  Winter hits a very ugly puberty before it ever dreams of spring.

Yet, it changes.  Like you.

And, most selfishly and most importantly, like me.

You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.

Prompt: Brilliant

Because that’s what all of this is, right? Bloody brilliant.

I didn’t get up in the middle of the night to write any of this; rather, I’m sitting cross-legged on my couch with my laptop balancing on my knees.  It’s uncomfortable enough to be considering “stretching” and precarious enough to resemble a yoga pose of sorts.  Multi-tasking, you see, is one of my many talents.  I can even type this sentence with one hand while sipping from my not-warm-enough coffee.

But why is this millennial not at work at 9:37 AM on a Tuesday?

Because I wanted to do something scandalous.  (To be fair, I’ve been doing this type of thing for several months now.)  Please hold all your gasps until the end:

  1. I got married at 21 without any intention of having children soon.
  2. I moved into an apartment on the side of town where I am the racial minority.
  3. I got a tattoo of a Celtic symbol above my elbow which – quite easily, actually – can be seen by conservative family members from both sides.
  4. I chopped my hair and got thick fringe bangs so that I don’t have to wax my eyebrows or put makeup on my forehead.
  5. I quit a corporate job with health benefits and a decent pay because I wasn’t happy with the environment and I wasn’t becoming the person I wanted to be.  Instead, I’m currently a writer and a tutor.
  6. I’m skipping a Master’s program to go straight to a PhD in Cell Molecular Biology (which is a predominantly male field, might I add) and I’m “just” going to teach.  Ya know, because what better waste of a PhD than going to teach undergraduate classes?

And just for kicks and giggles, my husband and I are moving at the end of our lease because management here still hasn’t fixed a broken pipe in our bathroom after 3 weeks of emailing videos of the water streaming from the ceiling into our shower.

The most brilliant thing of all?

My decisions had nothing to do with any of you.  Well, most of you at least.

Some of these choices were made solely by me, and others were split between myself and my gem of a husband.  We decided to become the best type of human beings that we can, to excel in our gifts and abilities, to welcome all people into our tiny home (please excuse the mess in the bathroom), to reflect the light that we find in this life.  We are just trying to truly live, develop into the fullness of ourselves, and slip into our created being like a silk robe.

So yes, darling.  You can judge me and my choices, my lifestyle, my priorities.  I’ll smile gently and send you on your way with a wave of my hand, my watch – a present when my phone was stolen and I purposely lived without one for several weeks – glinting in the light.

Because my life, with all it’s chips and flaws, is brilliant.

If you stay drunk on writing, then reality cannot destroy you.

In general, writers have to know and understand the human psyche on such an intimate level in order to properly construct a plot, introduce characters, and even dream of decent dialogue.

Writers know that some people feel like rays of summer sunshine, taste like cherry Popsicles, smell like vanilla candles, and flirt like a dusk-kissed sky. Writers know that other people feel like white marble floors, taste like black ink, smell like Wright’s All-Natural Liquid Hickory Smoke, and tease like Orion’s Belt shining through the broken ceiling of a Roman temple.  Writers know that still other people feel like silk trickling across your skin, taste like mountain spring water in March, smell like green tea leaves floating on surface tension, and skim through like the moon on a puddle.

That’s why Christmas is so emotionally draining for me.

I can sit in a room surrounded by my family and know exactly what they are feeling – because at some point, I felt it too.

Sister, I know that you spent over $200 on your boyfriend’s entire family only to spend a total of $47.59 on all 6 of us.  I know you did it because you think that your boyfriend’s family gets you and that they treat you better than we ever did and you want us to feel bad – as worthless as you felt.  I also know that every time one of us tries to explain that you don’t make us a priority, that you hurt us when you sleep through breakfast (and lunch and sometimes until we call you for dinner), that you make us feel friendless when you ignore our calls and our texts, that you pretend to be asleep when we go into your room and try to invite you for coffee – but when we try to explain all of that, you shut us down.  Somehow we can’t tell you how we feel, but you can instruct us in the correct way to communicate emotion.  I know that act, Sister.  I write it myself.

Brother, I know that you are 13 and selfish – not because you mean to be, but just because you simply forget to think about other people.  You don’t have mean intentions, but you don’t have any intentions at all.  You want distraction, entertainment, noise gobbling silence at every point in your life because you’re terrified of being bored and alone.  It’s hard to feel alone with light and voices from every virtual game you play.  I know that feeling, Brother.  I’ve written it before.

Sister, I recognize the pain in your words when you lash out and make fun of other people’s accomplishments; as soon as you make someone feel ashamed by what they’ve achieved, no one can hold it against you for not reaching that goal yourself.  Your mocking jokes reveal exactly how jealous you are of everyone else’s dreams – you’re terrified of being left behind in the rat race that our parents encourage us to run. I know how you feel, Sister.  I’ve lived that before.

And yet, it’s funny.  If I were to tell them all of this, they’d laugh and say I was making it up – because writers don’t understand.

And I’d smile back at them and shrug my shoulders.

Because I knew that’s exactly what they would say.

The world is blessed to welcome you.

I have 11 different kinds of tea, bagged or loose-leaf, including various varieties and mixes of herbal and black, ranging from 120mg to 30 mg of caffeine.

I have a French press and a Keurig, with light, medium, and dark roasts – decaf and regular.  I even have a medium roast with shredded dried cherries – just in case you were feeling adventurous.

I have cream, cane sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, and honey.  Take your pick of any of the 24 coffee mugs hanging on the wall.  Make yourself at home.

I have white wine, red wine, rose; gin and tonic water; scotch and Irish whiskey; two different flavors of vodka; Jack Daniels, Fireball, apple moonshine.  If you don’t like it straight, I also have ginger ale, Coke, and apple cider as mixers.  My husband has graciously filled a special ice tray with large single cubes – perfect for connoisseurs or people who just want to look “cool.” Enough of any of this, and you might be sleeping on my floor (I did tell you to make yourself at home).

And if you don’t like hot drinks, you better believe I can offer filtered water (for you city folks) and tap water (for those of you country people with cultured, palettes who enjoy the complex assortments of minerals).  I even have ice cubes with separate trays for filtered and tap water that correspond to your preference – although you could mix it all up with different proportions of each.

One could say that we aim to please, in this apartment.

I suggest, that we make everyone try to make everyone feel welcome.

I want everyone to feel welcome.  And this is why I get angry.  And then I get sad.

I want people to feel welcome, so I invite everyone in my small office to lunch.  It makes me angry when certain people wearing gold crosses around their neck mock the vegetarian Muslim man.  It makes me angry when they turn up their noses at the strange smells wafting from the lunch boxes of the two Filopena women I also invited.  And when those people leave, it makes me angry that the Muslim and Filopenas assume that I “simply couldn’t be a Christian” since I didn’t judge them in the first place.

Even though I am.

It makes me angry that my generation is frowned upon for believing in happiness enough to finally go through with following our dreams – and abandoning the American one.  Maybe we don’t want to buy houses, maybe we don’t want to have children, maybe we don’t want to work 9-5 for 45 years in the same office job before we can retire and eat microwaved frozen meals at the nursing home our 2.5 children chose for us.  And if we do want those things, we still don’t have to explain why we are following in our parents’ steps.  Regardless, we shouldn’t have to defend our own choices to you because they are our choices – not yours.

Even though, I still do.

I am angry because politics have to divide everything these days.  And they don’t have to, but we want them to because it’s easier to justify evil-spirited choices on party affiliations than it is to admit that we are actually jerks.  I am angry because when I try to explain to my parents why this current proposed tax plan will murder the graduate student population and the middle class and healthcare for minority and elderly people, they shake their head at me and smile – because what could I possibly know? I’m looking for the freedom to quit a job in unethical corporate America to improve education, and I don’t even have the guts to tell my own mother for fear of judgment and yet another obstacle in our strained relationship.

I am angry.  And now, I’m sad.  Because humans have such potential.

If I were God, I’m not sure how I could keep from wiping the slate clean again and again until we get it right. It’s a good thing I’m not God.

So I welcome everyone.  You don’t have to agree with me about anything, but you are welcome in my 658 sq.ft apartment.  You are welcome to sit on our hand-me-down couches, burrow in our fuzzy blankets, fix yourself a drink, peruse our multiple stacks and boxes of books (still working on getting that bookshelf…..), and choose to light whichever candle you want.  I have 5 different scents so you can pick your own atmosphere of smells.

Life is hard enough as it is, darling.  So you are always welcome here.

Change is the end result of all true learning.

Hello again, dear ones. I abandon you once more.

But – like every narcissistic lover – I always reappear when you have given up hope on hearing back from me.  I use you for my own selfish purposes: vomiting ill-conceived thoughts on your blank screen, dissecting secrets amidst your black font, bruising the backspace button as the wrong words tumble down.

We both know I’ll leave. Again.

That part of me will never grow up.  I’ve written in my public diary for 3 (nearly 4!) years now and I don’t foresee myself stopping any time soon.  I’ll actually have more time for it, in just 23 days.

I’m quitting my job, you see.  My regular-paycheck-every-other-Friday, PTO and benefits, 8-4 job.  Not that I’m giving up, per se.  Just choosing a different route.  This is my gap year, after all, and I intend to live like it.

I’ll be spending a lot more time on here.  I’ll be free for the next 5 months to type what I wish, when I wish it.  I’ll be focusing on my writing and tutoring part-time.  I plan on doing daily “writing sprints,” where I will post a prompt and write non-stop for 10 minutes.  You have the ultimate pleasure of reading my uncensored thoughts, should you so choose.

I never stopped being a writer.  But I stopped identifying as one.  Well, no more.

You smile.

You truly know me so well, after all this time. And I think that’s why I keep coming back.

I’m remembering what it’s like to be human, again. I’m going to create once more, frustrate myself with my lack of inner thesaurus, drink endless cups of tea, and poke around in dusty corners of my brain.  I’m going to write – not from the heart – but from my soul and discover who I am.

I’m going to change.

Welcome to my new year.