Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I could really use a pot of gold

It was hard to come back to work yesterday after five glorious days off from work.  I did a lot of shopping (great deals with coupons were to be had) and cooked/baked and slept.  It was wonderful.  But back to work and getting back into a routine, which went out the window over the holiday.  Strange how easy it is to slip out of a pattern, but how hard it sometimes feels to get back on track.

Anyway, today is Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie asks us:

courtesy of we heart it

"All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy." - Spike Milliga

I wish for the treasure of enough money to thrive rather than barely get by.  Currently, money is extremely tight and any house issue turns into a crisis with lots of stress and anxiety as I freak out about where the money will come from and why does this keep happening?  I realize that ups and downs are a part of life.  I do understand how lucky I am to have a job that provides a roof over my head and food on the table.  And I know I could probably extend my budget a little further to make it last longer...but it would be nice to have a little reprieve.  Not a ton of money, just enough to live without constant fear of what could happen.

What do you wish for?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indie Ink: Colors Change for No Good Reason

"This is possibly the worst day of my life," I pause to sigh dramatically for effect and pout in Mike's general direction.  I continue before he can interrupt me though and say, "And yes, that includes the day that my bicycle crashed into the ice cream vendor at the pier."

Mike laughs and I hate him a little bit.  He chucks my chin and says, "I warned you to get the brakes on that death trap of a bike fixed."

I sit down on the front steps of the school and shake my head.  "That is not helping."

Mike wraps his arm around me and I'm inundated with smells that are so Mike - soap and wintergreen and pencil shavings.  I rest my head on his shoulder and close my eyes.  In this moment, everything is okay and I can forget how my life has fallen apart in front of me."It'll be okay, Elaina.  You always land on your feet."

I keep my eyes shut, but I'm back in my guidance counselor's office.  Instead of guidance, he stomps all over my dream and tells me there is no way I'll get into Yale without animal sacrifice.  He says it so easily, like it doesn't matter that every conversation with my father since I was five has been about Yale and following in his footsteps.  He says it with crumbs stuck in his beard between hacking coughs and shrill phones ringing.  Sucks to be you, Elaina.

"You didn't even want to go to Yale."

I roll my eyes and laugh mirthlessly.   Mike nudges me in the side and says, "You'll figure it out."

"You seem so sure of that."

"Because I know you.  You're relentless to a scary degree and you'll figure out what you want to do and where you want to go and god help anyone who stands in your way."

I smile reflexively.  "Thanks, I think."

He slides a few inches away and turns to face me and suddenly we're in this moment where time slows down and my heart hammers in my chest and my head is screaming to move away, but I can't do it.  All these feelings that I've been sitting on for months are bubbling up to the surface and the soft, endearing expression on Mike's face is all it takes for me to kiss him.

Logic and every reason best friends should not hook up begin to run through my head, but they're thwarted as Mike's fingers curl in my hair and he pulls me closer until I'm almost on his lap.  He tastes a lot like he smells, less the pencil shavings, and I feel like I will never get enough of this.

He pulls back and caresses my face which freaks me out because he's Mike, but also makes me shiver in a way I'm not used to.  He smiles and says, "I've been hoping you would do something like that for over a year."

I arch my eyebrow.  "What?"

"I figured you knew how I felt about you, but didn't want to ruin our friendship...and I didn't want to mess things up, so-"

"-so you were a big chicken?" I say with a laugh.

He rests his forehead against mine and holds my hands in his.  It's something we've done millions of times over the years, but it's different and exciting, my skin tingling.  "Are you freaking out on me, Elaina?"

"Surprisingly no."

"Are you sure?"

"Surprisingly, yes," I say and I kiss him again.  Maybe finding out I had no chance at Yale broke my brain and I no longer have impulse control.  It's a brief kiss and I pull back to look at him, making sure that this is really happening and I'm not having hallucinations brought on from a nervous breakdown.  I wouldn't be the first teenager to go crazy on the quest for the Ivy League.

"It really happened.  No take backs," Mike says.  He always can read my mind.  He stands up and extends his hand to me, lifting me up onto my feet.  He pushes back a stray piece of hair from my face and says, "We should get you home."

"Want to stay for dinner?"

"You need support when you break the news to the parents?"

I shrug and try to sound casual. "Well, yeah, but I also just want to hang out with you."

He grins and squeezes my hand, "Sure."

"Good," I respond, even though it hardly does justice to how I feel.  In the span of one afternoon, I've gone from having one dream destroyed, but another one, one I was so scared of for so long, has been realized.  And who knows what will happen, but I'm definitely enjoying the moment.

This week’s IndieInk Challenge came from transplantedx3, who gave me this prompt: "For every dream that's shattered, another one comes true." I challenged Amanda with the prompt "I can’t get you off my mind."

Note:  This is a scene that features one of the characters I like to revisit, Elaina.  Other pieces with her can be found here.  Happy Thanksgiving to those that celebrate!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

do you remember the time...

It saddens me that I've missed the last few wischasting wednesdays, but I'm back today.  Life has been generally chaotic, but I'm looking forward to five days off and lots of deals on Black Friday.

This week Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

"Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering - because you can't take it in all at once." - Audrey Hepburn

I wish to remember how fortunate I am.  I tend to focus on all the things that are going wrong, running right to the negative and ignore the good that is happening at the same time.  Life is a balancing act, a mix of good and bad, and it's important to pay as much (if not more) attention to the wonders as to the woes.  

I wish to remember how my dad used to tell me that I could do anything I wanted with my life, that I could be whatever I wanted, that it was in the palm of my hands.

I wish to remember the good things about my mother and forgive the bad.

I wish to remember everyone in my life who has been there for me and make sure they know how much they matter.

I wish to remember all of you.  I am truly grateful for this wonderful wishcasting circle of people.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indie Ink: Don't Look Back in Anger

“Callie, so much has happened in your life even without even including the meteoric rise to fame at sixteen years old.  I couldn’t help but wonder, is there anything you wish could’ve been different?”

It’s always the same with these guys.  They think they're Dan Rather in the making except they're stuck on the teen beat and ask stupid questions.   If they insist on treating me like an idiot, I can only do as my publicist and agent suggest and play dumb.  I flip my long, blonde hair and narrow my gaze on the perspiring loser in sweatpants sitting across from me.  “Not really, Dave.  I never look back.  My motto is what’s done is done.”

He laughs in that faux Hollywood way that means he thinks I'm barely functional.  He jots notes down with one hand while the other keeps straying into my personal space and grazing my thigh.  Note to creepy guys everywhere:  thigh high boots and short skirts don’t mean I’m a personal plaything for groping.  I shift in my chair to create a bit more distance between our almost touching knees – creepy dude sweat is so gross – and laugh right back at him.  I say, “I’m much more interested in living in the moment and enjoying what’s happening right now.”

“And who could blame you, considering you’re currently celebrating three consecutive number one songs, an album gone platinum and a sold out tour.”

There is something depressing about hearing your hard work and accomplishments shortened down to one sentence.  I try not to let it bother me though.  I need to be on my A-Game with the press at all times.  I nod and smile at Dave like my publicist instructed me to do.  We rehearsed this interview (along with several others) for hours and I’m afraid her head might explode if I veer off script.  No one wants a rogue pop star on their hands.

“But…” his voice raises an octave like he’s about to catch me in an A-HA question.  Like any of this can phase me anymore.  Like I’m not beyond it and more concerned with what to wear to the AMAs – the Vera Wang or Stella McCartney.  I stifle a yawn and bat my eyes expectantly and he says, “…but I can’t help but wonder if there is some part of you that not only thinks about the past, but has trouble letting go.  How can someone come from such a trying childhood and not occasionally revisit her history?”

I nod again like I’m considering the statement.  I’m so bored with this crap.  Yeah, I had a crappy childhood. Who didn't?  “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Dave, but I choose not to dwell on my past.”

I smile brightly and touch his arm.  I notice his pen slip for a nanosecond mid-scribble and I know I've got him.  He won’t know what hit him and I'll be able to get the hell out of here.  None of my fans want to hear about a girl who grew up with a nomadic aunt for a guardian while her parents went off to find themselves.  I don’t particularly care to look back on my pitiful origins either.  It’s over and done with.  So what if I have issues with being alone – it’s not really a problem for me anyway as I can't recall the last time I was by myself for more than two minutes – or can’t let myself trust people?  I am fine.  More than fine.  I’m a fucking star, who graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine at sixteen years old.  I have enough money to feed a small country and to insure my aunt can continue her flighty existence with hobby after expensive hobby.  And surprise, surprise, my parents finally found themselves six months ago…at the gate of my Bel Air home.

“Not even a little bit?”

I giggle like I’m about to offer up some secret inner-working of my soul and respond, “The thing is, life is hard all over, ya know, and the only reason I’m different from any other sixteen year old girl with a sad story is because I write fun songs that people can dance to.  I feel like if I focus on the past, it lessens the gratitude I have for God and my fans.”

He raises an eyebrow, but he wouldn't dare call me out on my load of crap. He says, “Some say if you forget the past, you’re doomed to repeat it.”

He’s getting on my nerves with his profundity of nothing and sweaty brow.  The truth is that there is no way I am going back to living in a shitty apartment with no heat or air with my crazy aunt.  I’m done with that and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it never happens again.  Door is slammed shut on my humble beginnings.    My jaw tightens and I know I’m making the fish face that my manager hollers at me about.  I force myself to smile through it, but I end up coming off even worse, like an alien freakshow about to suck out poor Dave-the-blogger’s brain.

As if he can sense weakness bubbling under my sunny exterior, Dave presses, “Your parents are back in your life after abandoning you when you were three.  How does that feel?”

“It’s complicated,” I state.

“Do you worry they’re back in your life simply because you’re the Callie McCallister and worth millions?”

“I try to keep my personal life separate from the professional, but I will say this.  We’re all learning as we go.  Will it work out?  I don’t know.  Yes, it’s hard sometimes,” I pause, resisting the urge to shoot daggers at mister wannabe hotshot reporter.  I take a deep breath and breathe – in spring blue sky, out tar black – and continue, “If people really want to know more about who I really am, I think my emotions truly come through in my new single, Inner Me.  I wrote it late one night on a tour bus while we drove across Kansas.  You see, Dave, music is the way I allow myself to deal with life’s trials and tribulations.  It’s what allows me to sit here and tell you that I never look back and feel good about it.”

I don’t give him a chance to respond.  I stand up, shake his hand, and hurry off toward my assistant.  I’m so over this.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Floreksa challenged me with "I never looked back" and I challenged Bran mac Feabhail with "If I had known yesterday that he would be gone, I would've done things differently."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indie Ink Challenge: Destiny Is Deafening

“…Well I don’t believe I’m beautiful,
but at least I have my sister’s smile
And I resist the muses,
but they sing to me in exile
And destiny’s not deafening,
but it hushed me like a child…” 

Music is such a huge part of my life.  It’s one of the constant companions to my day whether I’m stuck in traffic on the highway, working out, or attempting to create a genius piece of writing.  Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I’m always drawn to lyrics.  Beyond melodies and harmonies, the actual words of a song are what tend to make it a lasting fave or a flash-in-the-pan-feeling-of-regret later in life (I’m looking at you, Vanilla Ice). 

There are certain songs that I feel automatically linked to; ones that resonate on a level I’m not sure that I appreciate on first listen.   It feels like the songwriter stole my journal and wrote exactly what I was pondering.   There also certain artists that tend to do that for me more often than not – Ani Difranco, Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Springsteen…their lyrics are poetry to me, ways of explaining life that make me wish I was more eloquent.

It made this week’s prompt harder than I expected, but I ended up going back to one song over and over again.  While it’s not my overall favorite song of all time, the lyrics in this song just tend to capture how I feel about life.   I used the lyrics as the title of this blog – Destiny Is Deafening – and I often find myself, good or bad, resisting the muses.  It gets me in a lot of trouble, actually.  Whenever I attempt to approach my writing (or my life), with a set-in-stone plan or outline, things shift into rapid descent, the breath rushes out of my lungs and I’m left unsure of what the hell happened. 

In the refrain, Idina Menzel sings, “Still I can’t be still, still I can’t be silent...”  Even when life and destiny are upon us, even when we feel like things are out of our control, we keep moving.  We’re not still or silent.  I never know if that’s good or bad, but it continues to sum up how I feel on almost any given day.  I don’t claim that’s the healthiest mentality and maybe part of what attracts me to these lyrics is the idea that there are others like me.  There are those of us who don’t feel completely right, haven't quite conquered life and destiny, but we keep moving and trying.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Alisha challenged me with "hands down most meaningful song lyric(s) to you & whyt" and I challenged Gehan with "I hate that he tells me how much he thinks I'm worth and I really hate that I listen to him."  The response from Gehan is here.

Note:  I always recommend people check out Idina Menzel's music.  Her first album, Still I Can't Be Still, is my favorite and features the above mentioned song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Indie Ink Challenge: Life of a Wannabe Couch Potato

“I like being a couch potato,” I stated.  I shoved a chip in my mouth and stretched out on the ugly-olive-but-oh-so-comfy sofa that my brother and I had found on Craigslist a couple of months ago. Our last one suffered a horrible demise during a run-in with a bitchy coven of witches, who overran the apartment with pestilence.  I cannot explain the levels of awful that was without shuddering.

My brother rolled his eyes and sat down next to me with a book in his hand.  He had the same light brown hair and blue eyes that I did, but even sitting down he towered over me in height.  Sean also looked much wiser and cooler than I did, which was never fair and I wondered if it was just because he was older.   The one thing I was sure of in that moment as he flipped the pages of his four hundred page novel…he would never make a good couch potato.

When Sean didn't say anything, I continued, “There’s something wonderfully normal about vegging out on a rainy day with some junk food and nowhere to go.”

“Yeah, it’s like Christmas,” Sean replied without even missing a beat in his book.

I glared at him and said, “This is the first Saturday in forever where there wasn't peril at the hand of jackasses that we had to handle or you weren't in annoying dictator mode.”

“I’m hardly a dictator.”

“ Isn't that what all dictators say?”

“No, they throw lazy bums like you in jail for insolent behavior and go on with their day.  I’m just not that lucky.”

I continued to glare at the side of his head.  Over the years, I've had to listen to a lot of girls go on about how handsome and great my brother was.  If only they could see him in all his snarky glory.  I yawned, stretched out again, and began the important task of flipping through the list of programming on the television.  It had taken years of whining, but I had finally convinced Sean of the wonders of cable.  Maybe in another ten years, he’ll be ready to try TIVO.

I glanced over the list of upcoming shows.  This was part of the trappings of cable. I already knew what I was going to watch, but I felt compelled to see what else was on.  It wouldn't have surprised me to learn that the cable companies were in league with a few demons on the invention.  It definitely screamed evil in that I-love-it-and-can’t-stop-myself way.  I popped another chip into my mouth as I scrolled through the long list of channels and upcoming programming.

And I gasped in horror.

Sean’s eyes snapped up from his book and focused on me.  “What’s wrong?”

“My day.”

“A minute ago life was grand.”

“That was before I was in the middle of a freaking television crisis of epic proportions.”

“Sounds awful.”

“Did you not hear the epic proportions part?”

Sean shrugged.  "I honestly don't know how to respond."

"This is serious, Sean.  I was planning to spend my afternoon catching up on Ghost Hunters International, but I just noticed there is a Teen Mom marathon on MTV.   I haven't seen the current season, but it's such an awesome train wreck - always makes me feel better about my own lame existence."

Sean dropped his book and snatched the remote out of my hand the same way he would a weapon - quick and efficient, leaving me to wonder if he was part ninja.  He put on the National Geographic channel, smirked at my groan, and said, "Problem solved and neither of us will be stupider afterward."

I crossed my arms.  "That was not one of the choices."

"I'm not watching Teen Mom."

"But Macy and Ryan are fighting again--"

"I am not watching Teen Mom, Cady.  I prefer not to partake in a sociological experiment gone completely awry, leaving me worried about the future of the human race if these are the people procreating."

I was not beyond a full-fledged pout-turned-tantrum if necessary.  I unfolded and refolded my arms in a very bratty manner and said, "That's what's so great about MTV shows."  His look was unflappable as he picked his book back up.  Sometimes I hated my brother.  A lot.

I grabbed the remote from his lap and said, "Ghost Hunters it is."

"That's not much better."

"You're ruining my happy lazy day."

"You know as well as I do that nothing on that show is accurate."

"It's a television show, not a dissertation on the proper techniques for dealing with ornery spirits and poltergeists."

Sean shrugged in the way that said I could do what I want but it wasn't the right thing to do.   It was a fixture in my childhood.  "Do what you want, but it seems like a waste of time."

"Seems like a waste of time," I mimicked in my best Sean-is-boring voice and I stuck out my tongue in his direction.  I flipped through the channels and settled in on Ghost Hunters as a new episode was starting.  I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Sean was back to reading his book.  We might not have the same ideas for how to spend a quiet day, but the lack of impending doom was a nice break.  I said, "Wouldn't it be great if the biggest decision of the day is whether to watch Teen Mom or Ghost Hunters International?"

"If you say so."

"I have nowhere to go and nothing to do and I'm going to enjoy it."


"I mean it," I replied.  I turned my attention to the show for a few minutes.  Not that I would tell him, but Sean was right about this show.  There really was a disturbing number of inaccuracies in how they dealt with ghosts.  
I tapped my foot against the coffee table and fanned myself.  It suddenly felt a bit hot in the living room, despite the wind billowing in from the open window.   I resisted the urge to get up and pace around the room.  It turned out being still and zoning out were not for me.

My brother glanced at me and said, "Let me guess, this is boring and you want to go do something."

"Yes please.  I'm not made for mindless television all day, just at night," I said.  I hopped up off the couch and slipped into my boots and jacket.  I bounced on the balls of my feet while I watched my brother amble around the room like an old man, gathering his keys and wallet and patting his jacket pockets.    Once he was ready, I flung open the door and hurried into the hall of our building.   "Sweet freedom!"

I wasn't looking at him, but I knew my brother was rolling his eyes in my direction as he locked the door. 

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Stefan challenged me with "Two things happened at once, it was which one to act upon that I couldn't decide..." and I challenged Sarah Cass with "It was a case of mistaken identity." (Her response is here.)

Note:  My piece is pretty liberal with the prompt - but it's what came out, so I decided to go with it.  This is another piece that uses my character, Cady.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A spring in my step and a wish on my mind...

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step.  Definitely a nice reprieve after last week's bout of stomach grossness (the correct medical term) and overall blah feel of the week.  This time of year is lovely in many ways, but the cold air and less light just put me in a funk for a little bit.  It's Nanowrimo time.  I, however, am doing a version called Mini-Nano, where you make a word count goal for each day.  When I did Nanowrimo, I could never finish, but when I started participating in Mini-Nano I found I did a much better job because it was a smaller word requirement (though I'm wordy and tended to write more than my minimum) and I could work on multiple projects.  Day one went well.  I made my goal, which was great considering yesterday I was dead on my feet.

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday!  That's always a nice spot to the week.  Jamie asks us:

courtesy of we heart it

"Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out." - Tina Turner

This week's answer is simple and yet sometimes so hard to do - isn't that always the way?  I wish to nourish myself through creativity.  I want to continue to branch out creatively.  I wish to make time for being silly and playing and creating without feeling guilty about the things I'm not doing during that time.  I want to create more and through that get to know myself a little bit better.