So, these past couple months have been a whirlwind. Can you believe we’re already at the end of February?! I’m lucky that the New Year energy has actually carried through until now. Just yesterday I managed to go bouldering properly for the first time in about five years. I’m still sore, but I would love this to become a regular thing. #fitnessgoals! Continue reading
Originally published in Headwaters 2011, the UNCA Creative Arts Magazine.
When I was a child, we attended mass every Sunday, arriving early so that my mother could prepare for the scripture readings. Always as we entered, the colors and smells of the church would overwhelm me: the white altar, the golden tabernacle, the heady odor of incense and of the wine that I was not yet allowed to take—more than a metaphor, the real blood of Christ. But then we would sit and my legs would itch, and I would wonder why anyone ever bothered with church.
My father cared little for the faith. He was there because my mother was there. He only listened when she read. Her strong voice, shaped and accented with the dark tints of her native tongue, would rise to fill the nave, and while I was too young to understand the meaning of the verses in full, this was the voice that had read me bedtime stories, and it soothed me.
I left the faith when I was sixteen. It ended when my religion teacher made a comment about homosexuality—about how their love was less pure: that it was not what god intended. I asked him how he could possibly know exactly what god intended. When he couldn’t answer, I politely told him I would not be taking my Confirmation and walked out of the classroom.
Mother shook her head when I told her. I wish you could see what I see. Then she pulled me into a hug and told me that it didn’t matter. So long as I believed in something—the sky, the stars, the possibility of good—she would be proud.
I was twenty three when we found her unconscious in her bedroom. I had awoken to the sound of my father crying into the telephone, yelling at someone for an ambulance. It took a moment for me to realize what was happening; even then, I didn’t understand until I walked into the bedroom and saw her lying there, her eyes blank, not breathing.
I began to scream.
My father dropped the phone in frustration, and I could hear the dispatcher asking if he was still there. I picked it up.
Can you do CPR?
The dispatcher told me how to find her sternum, how to place my hands. Push down two to three inches, firmly. I felt her ribs break under my palms.
I never heard the sirens, but I suddenly found myself pulled out of the way by the EMT. They loaded her into the ambulance, and my father drove us to the hospital in silence. After an hour of waiting, the doctor came in to talk to us. He told us they had managed to restore her heart beat, but that her brain was damaged beyond repair. She was gone. He asked my father whether they should keep her on the machines.
Her funeral was held in the new church that I had never seen built—the church that she and my father had donated to, after I had left the faith. It was the first time in seven years I had stepped foot into a Catholic place of worship. The smell of incense was overwhelming, the carpets red as the communion wine. When time came for the sacrament, I remained seated—I was a child once more, unworthy of the saving graces of communion. I fidgeted in my seat, my legs itching with the effort of sitting.
I waited for her voice to comfort me.
Ten days in, it’s STILL a new year, and that means new goals, new missions, new inspirations, and hopefully keeping your motivation the whole year long. But as a writer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of simply making the resolution to “write more,” which rarely manages to actually motivate us to do anything more than stress about about how much we’re not writing. Continue reading
This week’s trope is brought to you by truth in television.
My week’s been a lovely mixture of waiting-for-Godot -type existential angst (while recovering after last week’s maelstrom of finishing things) and more nerve-wracking anxiety concerning every and all things that are my life.
In short, I’ve ended up in the place between things, and it’s a very unpleasant place to be.
In television and serial narrative, the Filler Episode (usually fluff, sometimes just a one-off monster-of-the-week type thing) is used to pad out the series, to space out plot progression, to give the audience breathing room between the ramping stakes and escalating conflicts. They may be extremely light on plot and are those episodes which contribute little or nothing to the main arc of the series.
And yet, while filler may be an undesirable side effect of needing 12 issues per volume, or 26 episodes per season—a demand of media convention and expectation rather than a narrative necessity, there is something to be said for breathing:
“One reason that people have artist’s block is that they do not respect the law of dormancy in nature. Trees don’t produce fruit all year long, constantly. They have a point where they go dormant. And when you are in a dormant period creatively, if you can arrange your life to do the technical tasks that don’t take creativity, you are essentially preparing for the spring when it will all blossom again.” –Marshall Vandruff
The truth of it is, I’ve reached a milestone at this point. And though I need to recover, though I need time to breathe and live and BE: to allow the stakes to stand, the action to calm—while I do need time to refresh, it doesn’t feel so much refreshing as frustrating.
In short: My life right now is a badly done filler episode. Let’s hope next week brings back the plot.
You will wait for emails and the waiting will feel like an eternity being chewed up in the center of the frozen lake in the ninth circle of hell, but then the email will show up and you’ll end up rolling on the floor laughing maniacally, with your friends hugging you.
And then you’ll get up and know you have work to do.