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.

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I’m just blowin’ smoke…

The holidays were great.

Everyone’s happy and singing Christmas carols while nibbling on cookies shaped like the candy canes that they would later dip in mugs of hot chocolate. Everyone’s wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and exchanging White Elephant gifts. Everyone’s putting on their best face to see family for the first time in a long time, if not the first time all year.

The holidays were great.

If she tipped her face up slightly, the light would kiss her hunger-sharpened cheekbones just enough so that you couldn’t see the dark shadows that hovered in the hollows of her eyes. Her lips were thin and wrinkled and puckered so naturally around a Marlboro Red that you’ve thought she was born with a cigarette in her mouth. Glittery strands of grey hair poked out from her wavy mass of dark hair that revolted against the hairspray but the hardness around her eyes almost let her pull it off in a severe sort of way.

Merry Christmas to you too.

The holidays were great. The few family members that still talked to her gave her gift cards which she sold online for cash. Cash was easier to spend.

She never got them anything. Cash was easier to spend on herself.

She was surrounded by family members in her living room with forced smiles plastered on their faces, staring back at her. She picked up one of the frames and wiped the smudged glass with her sleeve.

There you go. Gotta put on your best face for the holidays.

Family gatherings were easy when no one could talk to you. There was no one to pointedly ask how your boyfriend is when they all know that he left you a few month earlier. No one to inquire after your friends when they recently heard that the best one left with your boyfriend. No one to make small talk and ask how work is going when they found out that you don’t work anymore after you were late one too many times.

Of course, then again, there was no one to wish you a “Merry Christmas”. The holidays were great.

Merry Christmas to you too.

Home is where my bunch of crazies are!

The family on my mom’s side is congregating and commiserating (my Aunt Whitney’s words!) in Connecticut for Christmas. I hear it’s chaos and a lot of fun — which sorta describes all our family gatherings.

Since we have such a large family, my Aunt Karise organizes a Secret Santa for the adults and for the kids. Once a kid turns 15, my Aunt Ashlin conducts an induction ceremony into the adult Secret Santa group.

By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve mentioned 3 different aunts. Trust me, there’s more to come.

Since our family couldn’t make it, I presented my Secret Santa gift over Skype. My Aunt Kris (told you there was more!) held the camera and I performed an elaborate gift reveal to my Uncle Mike.

After the induction ceremony for one of my cousins and a slightly off-key rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, I got off the loud chatter of Skype to hear the very quiet, very spacious, very lonely house.

I miss them. A few of them read my blog (hi guys!). I hope they know how much fun it was to Skype with them.

I miss you. Merry Christmas.