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posted by on Rambling, Rhymes Optional

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So…

I have been gone a while, haven’t I?

Life has been keeping me more occupied than I care to admit and very little of it has been constructive but some things have been pretty damn good. I will go into the deets in a later post but for now here is a project I am working on.

It doesn’t feel “complete”. I am not sure why but I will be tweaking it in the future I imagine.

Enjoy!

O&O.

Along the Shore

Along the Shore

Beside the Murky Stream

Upon a stream of memories,
You road a float of hope.
I watched you sail away from me,
Without a backward glance.

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow I didn’t know

I kept on my sandy path,
Loyal to torture and solitude.
Under the shade of remorse,
I tried to sing but only sat.

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow of wispy string

You watched me from afar
As my fingers danced on sunlight
I didn’t feel your stare
And dug deeper into yesterday

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow I couldn’t see

The stream began to overflow
Carrying you back with it,
The sun blocked my view
But you rode it all the same to me

You took a sliver of yesterday
Wrapped it in a cocoon of tomorrow
And nestled it into today
Tied in a bow of forever

We took our time wiping the mud off
I’m sure there is still some left
And sitting under that tree of remorse
I finally noticed some fruit

posted by on Rambling

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The Voodoo Snowman

The Voodoo Snowman Lives!

So…

Ever since I was a little girl I have glamourised new places, not really “things” because they didn’t stay new for very long and I had to share which I didn’t find fun at all. There was always something very private about discovering new corners knowing only I could see them in the way I was. I created stories for people and things with less to go on than stereotypical movie quips (South Africa was nothing like Sarafina when I moved there but in my head it was but in a happy way, like The Sound of Music in Brown Skin (in my head)). Beginnings give me hope that what I have had is not the best I will ever experience and fascinate me more than endings. This can be a problem when you are trying to be a writer because your stories need to end at some point or in some way. So how do you give endings to things when you are enamoured with starting new ones? Haven’t the foggiest but I need to figure it out soon because beginnings don’t really help me if that’s all they remain.

For as long as I can remember I have been in LOVE with Japan, not enough to learn the language (I have a concrete tongue that cant grasp the tones that my ears can) but I have wanted to “go” there and even declared that once I saw Japan I could die because there would simply be nothing else to live for… I may have been 13 or 23. I can’t remember. I planned on moving there to teach English after graduating but my graduating took longer than planned and by then I was a ‘responsible adult’ and that was nothing more than a longing of a little girl that didn’t exist anymore. Or so I thought.

A little before my 28th birthday, however, I took the plunge. Work was frustrating and draining me, I felt unaccomplished and miserable in my personal life and couldn’t appreciate the good I had because I felt I was swirling in miseries. The good moments seemed so few and far between that they became a punishment of their own. So, I convinced a friend of mine (from university) to go with me to a country neither of us could communicate in for an adventure that only we could share and since it wasn’t going to be cheap, we should do it in winter. Now… as the headline above says. I am an African… I had never crossed an ocean before and I get goosebumps at temperatures below 24 degrees centigrade and here I was saying we should frolic in below freezing weather because I needed a beginning (and my loon of a friend was cheering me on!). I needed something that said that what I had wasn’t the best I was ever going to have but I also wanted to know if Japan could still be the escape I had romanticised in my naïveté. I needed a whisper saying there was more to life than my daily toll.

Plus I needed to learn to give myself permission to give birth to schemes that defied my own personal logic. Responsible girls didn’t do such things and I was very responsible.

Again, as an African, I do not have the luxury of ‘getting up and leaving’ when the mood strikes me, it starts with the visa requirements and then the cost of the plane tickets (Oh my word! They should sooooo put better seats on planes for what they charge for long hauls), plus the whole not knowing anyone or the language made the whole thing rather daunting. But mostly I had to look at my own finances. A few of my previous posts point to me being somewhat of a people pleaser, so selfish trips that gave me no ‘direct benefit’ definitely are not the norm. My father was a civil servant and my mother was a teacher, they are retired now and have a very productive farm that keeps their greys at bay and when I told my father, he did not understand why I would spend my hard earned money on a trip ‘with no purpose’ when there were more responsible things to do with it and he was right. There is always something I could do that would benefit the family more than it would help me but that obligation was adding to me need for some kind of ‘fresh air’. But my Dad is awesome and didn’t try to stop me, and my mum quietly said I should do what I could because eventually I would not be able to, not in a miserable way but I am still young and there is nothing stopping me was more her line of thought.

Those two weeks in Japan were the best two weeks. Ever. On divulging my crazy plan to another friend, she gave me details of some of her friends and they were gracious enough to spend some time with me (and helped my friend and I birth that atrocious snowman in the picture above). I will be forever grateful to everyone who helped me out with that trip and I have tried to hold on to the memories of it because I want them to remain safe, inside me and pure, not tainted by life. That trip to Japan is my personal Patronus Charm, it defeats my personal dementers. It also helped me answer a very important question. Could I still move away if I wanted to? If I decided I wanted to live in Japan, could I settle there? Or atleast stay there long enough to study something while deciding. The answer was an un-resounding ‘YES’. I once had a Chinese maths teacher who felt I must have been Chinese in a past life and I can safely say she was wrong. Its more likely I was Japanese (oooh, or maybe I was a Chinese spy in Japan…that’s an interesting premise for a story… and African-Japanese spy on the Chinese mainland with a time warp element… ooooh! I like! See? Beginnings).

I cant ignore that after that trip, my savings were not the same but I do not regret it. Not the getting lost and wandering for hours looking for a sight we just could not see, or accidentally wandering into a ‘naughty’ store or heaving our baggage in the piddling rain not knowing where our apartment was because I read the map wrong (my friend did not know what she was signing up for when she agreed to go with me). Those experiences showed me that as restrained and sensible as I am, my imagination needs fuel and perhaps I don’t need to fly to the other side of the globe (but that’s immense fun) but when you know that doing something allows you to be the best version of you there is, why not dive in?.

If you don’t feed who YOU are, YOU will starve, you will wither away. I sat on trains in Tokyo watching people around me and gave them stories and imagined histories, saw a hot fella with a guitar on a platform in Kyoto and cursed my luck for being on the wrong platform (everyone knows that all musicians have stories and I was after stories, you pervs!), I watched families in museums in Osaka and wondered which kid was the favourite or what was the last argument between the parents about. I walked always looking up to take in as much as possible, its probably the tallest I have walked in a while. I ate way more than I should have of ‘cheap’ food that tasted divine. My relationship with God is not very solid at the moment but I felt at peace at the temples (except this one time, another guy took a picture with a ginormous camera so I thought it was allowed and whipped mine out, only to be finger stabbed but a very stern guard/policeman in a very smart white coat) and in those streets in general. I don’t know how much of that trip I will share, because it didn’t last very long and my friend is extremely private and may not approve me blabbing about our odd happenings but I am making a few of my own personal discoveries offline and I guess I should share them here. The fella in my life gives me odd looks when I mention the joy you get from being immersed somewhere new and he thinks I romanticise adventure; if you said there was free accommodation somewhere and all I needed to do was ‘be there’, you’d hear me knocking, he is a ‘purpose traveller’ my fella. I probably do romanticise it and I hope the next time I am planning a Japanese escape I lug him along and will refrain from reading maps as that served with incredibly negative results.

I hope you take the time to feed your inner cogs because if you don’t grease them, you cant do or be you.

O&O!

Happy New Year!

Jan
2014
02

posted by on Rambling

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Happy New Year

 

Happy New Year Folks!

I hope your transition into the new year hasn’t already dashed your hopes of a positive start to those new year resolutions. I am generally terrible with resolutions so I wont even bother trying but I usually start making vision boards around my birthday (which is less than two weeks away) and finalise them sometime in April… That’s not an awesome track record but we can say that I have jet lag from moving into the new year and getting a year older so quickly 😉

For those of you that got pummelled by 2013, here’s hoping 2014 is kinder and gentler and those of you that swam in all kinds of awesomeness, My hat off to you and I hope you don’t even notice that time is moving!

Take care of yourselves!

O&O

posted by on Rhymes Optional

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God’s Girl

There was a girl God gave the world to
But she had no eyes to see that she had it
For while her hands held it all
Her heart held none and beat for even less.

He gave her a smile to light the darkest days
Hoping she could ignite her dying spirit
The body of a Goddess encased in satin mocha wrapping
That danced in the sun and swam through the fields.

 

She had it all I tell you, but she never knew.
Her smile never shone in her reflection,
Her body, she allowed others to desecrate
Never finding the solace she sought

The darkness crept in as she watched.
Her eyes saw what her heart told her was there.
Her few flaws that made her perfect
Became the definition she had of herself

But God had a plan for her you see
He saw that while her road was smooth
She would never stumble and look within instead of without
She would need to fall before she could rise.

He wondered whether he had given her enough strength,
It does no good to break a doll that had no chance at all
When he doubted whether her will was enough to survive the coming storm
He decided that a broken doll was better than a perfect one that never saw itself

He sent a monsoon of horrors that left her beaten and weathered
Her teeth fell out and she could only smile for herself
Her body was bruised and beaten and scars marked her life
Her figure no longer as firm as it once was, became the foundation to her renewed spirit

Life happened, and took away what she once was
Finally she saw that she was greater than no one would ever make her
She saw that she needed only herself to draw strength
She had fallen many times and had risen just once more

Her bruised, weathered skin told a story
A story of a young tree that grew, at first in the shade
Then endured the harshest sunlight
To emerge the strongest trunk that ever stood

I tell you, God’s girl knew how to fall
But more than that she knew how to rise
She learned that without falling to her knees
She’d never have known how to walk on her own feet

And it was her hard feet that taught her to fly.

posted by on Rambling

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So…

 

November kinda kicked my glutes!

In my last post I spoke about all the things I was working on and had this massive surge of positivity that was kind of the decline but I wanted to trap it before the well ran dry. And then things happened that I had no control over and I crashed. Everything just “stopped”. I couldn’t function other than to do the bare minimum and then you do that little bit extra to “show” that you’re all right. You know that extra ‘show’ that takes people off your back about how you are or what’s wrong? Aced that.

Disclaimer: Please not that I am not a psychologist and am in no way qualified to impart advice. I am merely expelling my thoughts but they have no scientific justification and are biased based on my own experiences.

This was especially strong in the final two weeks of November and I am still trying to shake it off. There is no need to go into what happened but I lost my faith in certain things (that I guess I have taken for granted), and it forced me into a negative space. Now negative spaces (by their very nature) are not fun, and people in them are not fun to be around in general but if you have smidges of “people pleasing tendencies” it is likely that then you will fight your own urges to obey what your mind and body are telling you so that other people can be happy. This is counter productive, highly counter-productive! Because all you do is make everyone (especially yourself) irritable and unhappy.

Now, you should not make any decisions when you are drowning in negativity (some may argue the same rule applies for positivity) but generally, you are not likely to be as informed as you should be if you’re about to do something that will “bind” you and your vision is obscured by feelings that taint the possible outcomes beyond what is actually feasible. Your quiet inner voice that whispers on the edges of your dreams, will often guide you on a certain path but you need to balance that with the loud one yelling in the heat of the afternoon sun. Those two need to, if not agree, then “balance”.

Usually the quiet voice directs your intent and the quiet one gives you actions (or inactions depending on your circumstances), and when those two are out of alignment your head can really screw with you and the longer you let it do that and that “divide” widen, the unhappier you will be, well, the unhappier I am because I try to ignore that inner dialogue… it always screws me in the end.

My selfish needs require me to spend quite a bit of time alone and I have not been able to do that nearly as much as I would like to and I understand that this is a pretty strong need yet, that people pleasing bit of me forces me not to and when you’re already aware that you’re not in a mental space you want to be and then you put yourself right in the path to cement that unhappiness where it can mulch and spawn other trampolines for mutated dissatisfaction… you end up with generally varying levels of unhappiness which clouds your whole perception of EVERYTHING. You pollute your own life.

Eventually, you will lose your ability to “spark” at anything because you are being “dimmed” by all this negative energy that just warps in on itself and multiplies and before you completely lose yourself you have to STOP.

Stop.

Really.

Just stop.

Breathe.

And try and claw your way out. I’d love to hear what your methods are, some people need to do something physically strenuous and I think I belong in this camp, I need to sweat the feelings out then I can find the words I need to get back to being me.

So, I’m shortening my ambitions and goals list, getting more physical and spending more alone time.

Be honest with that you need for you to be content.

Live in the moment in the best way that allows you to see all the colours out there.

Then maybe, your reflection wont hate you so much.

Over and Out!

posted by on Imaginary Tea, Rambling

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I cant remember the source but tis inspiration for an abandoned project. If the pic looks familiar, let me know so I can update this post.

So,

Firstly, I have no direct affiliation with Anna Akana. I am featuring a number of her videos so I need to put that out there, our only connection is in my mind and her cat collection freaks me out but I think we would have awesome conversations over stuff… non Batman related stuff, that’d be a black hole into nothingness… but I feel like I am running away from topic here.

Own up to what you really can do. That’s today’s video.

Sometimes it is bloody hard to keep a grip on what you know is important because so many other things keep getting in the way, do you know the feeling? You set off roaring at the start of something and before you even get to the first bend, you lose all steam and it seems like everyone you left in the dust took over while you blinked… or as you stood holding your aching sides expelling what you think is a lot of effort?

What have I imaginarily (its a word in my head) held onto lately? That I am more productive than I actually am. And I come to the crushing realization that I am not in fact an organising machine even though I tout myself to be (in my head).

When it comes to the work I am paid to do, you bet your kushy toushies that I will be on top of everything! What I need to know is rarely more than 10 minutes away and if it is, then I was probably the wrong person to ask in the first place but when it comes to my personal stuff, I feel like I am losing a spark. I am Smeagol searching for My Precious and even though I know it was stolen I wont stop looking where I know I wont find it. Does that make sense?

This is my positive space so I will not mope or have a pity party (people I know in real life have that pleasure, weep for them). I believe once you realise that you are getting in the way of you not being your absolute best, your own fabulousness, you need to do something about it. And that’s it at the end of the day. You have to be the person that says, “Yeah… what I did back there? I know I said I would go full throttle but I didn’t really dig deep enough to even fire off a cylinder and I am going to do something about that now.” Whether that now is a day, a year or a decade later than when you intended on doing it, once you own up, put yourself in a position to actually claim your awesomeness!

And that’s the hard part, actually accepting that the person you want to be is who you can be. In my part of the world, maybe even in yours, as liberating as the idea of following your dreams and doing what you love is, you need to remember to “be responsible”. Your pay cheque means a lot more than your happiness because your pay cheque is going to help out a lot more people than your happiness will. And I don’t mean in a metaphorical, do good with a donation here and there kinda way, I mean you’re going to see a chunk of your salary going to some cause in the family that will help other people out, sometimes its people you don’t mind, like your parents or siblings, other times, its a cousin in a remote village that you never speak to but calls you to ask you to buy a phone and you cant remember if she even has electricity to charge the phone! In such moments, you cant help but lose sight of those lofty goals that could make you impoverished but happy because other people rely on you to stay where you are for them to be comfortable, and if you are like me, that pull at being needed is a pretty binding tug.

But how long can you sustain living for responsibilities you never asked for? People treat us how we allow them to treat us (and I know this is a deviation from the video but I am already so far ahead, where else am I gonna go?) and you need to decide when you want to stop making other people comfortable with and in your misery. Then, organisation will be your best friend. You need to plan how you will make yourself proud of you and that will be work, deep, “gouge your eyes out in frustration” work at times.

Get to the finish line you want to hit, but know that there is one heck of a climb between now and then, and part of that may mean alienating the same people keeping you where you are now, and when you think of it that way, maybe it isn’t so bad after all.

Over and Out!

posted by on Rambling

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So…

November already? Where did time fly away to? In my part of the world, Halloween isn’t really “a thing”. I don’t know anyone who actually has a party without knowing a foreigner planning/holding it (generally American) or a local person feeling nostalgic about the time they spent abroad (again, usually in America) and wanting to re-live the ”epicness” with varying degrees of success.

It’s been a quiet two weeks on here and I have to apologise. I have not been nearly as productive as I meant to be and of course that got me down. Many things get me down, I should really kick that habit but failure sucks even if it’s the only way we learn, and I wallow before I ‘surge’. Tis my process.

Anyhow, so what’s been happening in my corner of the universe?

1)      Short Story Collection – That’s still a struggle because I keep trying to put the book together and lose sight of the stories which kind of zaps my creative abilities and convinces me that it will amount to nothing more than an idea in my head.

2)      Procrastination – I am a GRAND procrastinator. This applies to all facets of my life, if there is a delay I can do/have on anything, you betcha I will make that stick! Heck, I even procrastinated graduating.i figured I could do it later (no, not really, I graduated later because I was a terrible student at university, really terrible… that’s the only reason).

3)      Fresh Stories – I have this useful little app on my phone that I make notes of ideas that pop into my head right before I nod off and that document is getting a little long but, number two kicks in and I don’t finish anything. I may plot or just plod ideas down for something and then leave it alone to fester. This isn’t a great plan because when I go back for inspiration I think of all the things I am not doing which leads me to…

4)      Performance Anxiety – Now, most people have some kind of ambition or dream. Some are grand, some are not. But when you understand what your personal goals are and you set out to achieve them, at some point you will find yourself second guessing your abilities. Your ability to translate that desire into what you envision it can be seems further that you think you are able to go. When this happens you need to find the joy.

5)      Assignment: Finding the Joy – You need to re-discover why that goal is important to you. My happiest moments are when I create something from nothing. I don’t yet have a process for how to regularly churn out my work and reading other people’s methods cripples me because of all the excuses I come up with at the time.

So, how am I going to find my joy? As it needs to link back to my writing I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I have never finished it successfully and only really tried to twice but this year my goal is to enjoy the process.

I will be writing about three friends who re-unite at a school re-union and try to reconnect while dealing with their own disappointments and accepting who they are now versus who they thought they would be then. This will  probably will never see the light of day but it will help me bring the fun back to my process. It is tentatively titled “My Skirt Wasn’t That Long”. If it isn’t too terrible perhaps in the future I’ll make some snippets available here. But I really don’t expect that to happen…

So, if anyone reading this is also doing this, check me out here

That’s it for now.

Over and Out!

posted by on Imaginary Tea, Rambling

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So…

I’m an Anna Akana fan and I think as many people as possible should see it but it feels like cheating to just put a link here and its theme isn’t very tea friendly.

Suicide hurts those left behind. Don’t do it, please.

Death is hard enough for the living when they can blame someone else for taking away someone important from them. It’s even harder when within their grief they blame you. Death is easy for dead people because well, they don’t have to deal with anything anymore (probably not my smartest line). I am Catholic (by birth, I inherited it like I did my creepy long, skinny toes), I don’t really have a problem with the Catholic faith but no religion is perfect, I think half the test is picking something to believe in and sticking to it… but I digress, death sucks for the people left behind to death with the gap caused by you no longer being there.

I haven’t had a suicide that was that close to me really. In high school I had a friend who had made a suicide pact with another friend of hers but he decided to go it alone and she was left behind to deal with not wanting to do it without him, they weren’t dating and she had a lovely sweet boyfriend who seemed there for her and for the life of me I can’t remember why she wanted to commit suicide because her life was well… pretty damn perfect. She had the ‘normal’ issues a teenage girl would have with a Dad… she was well liked, she was so damn pretty I wanted to wear her skin for a while…yeah, I may have been slightly creepy in school.

When I was, I think, in the tenth grade, a cousin came to stay with us for a week or so, to do some school shopping before going back home. I remember hanging out with him like any other cousin but we weren’t that close really, “cousin” is used very loosely in my family… most terms for any relative is randomly chucked about, you never can be sure there is actual familial attachment when you refer to someone as an aunt or uncle, again I digress. So this cousin of mine, a few weeks after going back home had a disagreement with his father and decided to make him ‘pay’ by killing himself. He succeeded. His dad was not the same man after his son killed himself and even though there were other factors that led to his Dad’s eventual death, his suicide did not help.

In both these cases, I saw what happened after, the pieces those left behind had to put back together. For one it was the broken promise, the other it was the constant internal back and forth over what could have prevented the suicide, both different forms of betrayal.

Suicide is selfish, it is a self centred escape from whatever you think is caging you in or what you are running away from. I fear the nothing of death more than I do the misery of life because as much as I want to believe that there is a heaven waiting and a room with my name on it, I don’t believe I have earned passage into paradise. I understand the forgiving nature of God as I understand him can wash away my sin but that just makes me a clean slate, no different from that slave in the parable of the talents who didn’t multiply what his master left. We have to “do” to “earn”, that’s what I believe.  And when what you do is leave behind holes in people’s hearts because you feel your internal hole is too heavy to bare… you need to reach out to someone, anyone. Allow other people in to reel you in from drowning in yourself.

What am I trying to say… when you choose to end your life, people get hurt. If you are thinking of ending it all, chances are damnation from God isn’t going to deter you, but surely the pain and devastation you leave behind cannot be worth the empty sleep you are rushing for.

Talk to someone, try and find something that can ease the pain of what you are going through instead of passing it onto loved ones who will have no way of washing out the stain of blame that festers within their grief.

Please just watch the video and get help if you feel there’s a chance you may need it.

There’s always someone who can help, even if you can’t see them yet..

Over and Out.

posted by on Look! A Story.

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  ...

Indigo Sunset

By Claudie Muchindu

The moonlight crept into the large warm room, landing on a bare foot that had escaped from a vibrant red and brown quilt. The foot belonged to Noora Kim, she was sprawled across a couch that was not designed to be slept in but was not necessarily uncomfortable.

She had fallen asleep trying to read a copy of an 18th century Portuguese poem written by a traveller to ancient China which now lay on the floor. Her plan was to translate it and then make her way to bed but she soon found that it made no sense to her. The notes on this copy of the poem had Arabic notes and she only had a basic level of spoken Arabic and had more of an inability to read it than anything else. The document was useless to her and for quite a few of minutes she wished her mother had been more forceful in getting her to learn the language. Her mother had tried to get her to be literate in it and Korean but Noora believed that European languages were her path to a future with opportunities and her predication had been right. Noora had become an expert translator of English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, Spanish and German but she shunned anything Asian. Noora had no interest for Asia and the Middle East.

Noora woke with a start, she couldn’t tell what had woken her up but she was wide awake. She lay back for a few minutes waiting for a sound to come to her and when nothing came she swung her feet onto the cool wooden floor. She walked over to the large window and looked down on the quiet street from an 8th story view. The streets had been asleep for a while and the only traffic that she could make out was pollen. Flowers were in bloom and the scents wafting into her open window in a glorious medley. She shut the window and drew the curtains closed.
Her apartment was silent and dark and she turned on the lights in the living room, checked her front door. She hadn’t locked it but she bolted it then and went into the kitchen and closed her windows there. There were no curtains to draw though. She put a container that had some leftover lasagne into the microwave to heat up while she closed windows and drew curtains in the 2 bedrooms upstairs. There was no need to close the bathroom windows because she didn’t usually open them. She returned downstairs as the microwave gave off a reminder beep that it had finished its cycle and she took the lasagne out and made her way to the more comfortable couch in the living room, putting her feet beneath her she turned on the TV. She settled on a re-run of an Italian cooking show and ate her lasagne with an Italian chef keeping her company. The phone rang mid way through her meal and she glanced at the clock by the door as she reached over to pick up the receiver.

“Its 10 o’clock mum” she said into it as she put it by her ear. “You are awake aren’t you?” her mother said with a heavy Korean accent and Noora smiled to herself.
“I could have been busy” she replied.
“You never busy. You maybe eating some silly food now, aren’t you?” her mother accused and Noora put the container of lasagne on the side table and lay back on the sofa.
“Maybe.” She said,
“Maybe, uh?” her mother asked, “Maybe you eat proper food once in a while” she went on to add without waiting for a reply.
“I make some homemade dumplings and sweet bread for you, you coming to the meeting tomorrow?” she asked.
“What time will Dad be there?” Noora asked lowering the volume on the TV before her mother made some comment about it.
“You can call him and ask if you want,” her mother said briskly and Noora rolled her eyes,
“Ma, its his mother that’s just died” she said softly.
“And mine has been dead for longer, he didn’t come to see me then but I better than him. I go and say my goodbyes…” she paused as if shuffling around, “after all, you should not be angry with the dead.” She finally added.
Noora nodded “Should I pick you up?’ she asked
“No, too much trouble. I think drive will be good for me. You remember directions to the house?” she could imagine her mother putting together the final touches to the basket that would feed everyone although chances are there’d be enough food without her having to bring any extra.
“Yes Ma, I remember the house. I’ve spent a lot of time at Gran’s, remember?” Noora was referring to the numerous holidays she spent at Petals Estate when her mother would give her over to her grandparents to bond with.
“That was long time ago,” her mother said with a whisper of sadness in her voice.
“OK, I tired now.” she said abruptly as if Noora had made the call and Noora smiled to herself.
“See you tomorrow Mum” Noora said
“Yeah, don’t sleep late. Also drink some water. Probably lots of oil in that food.” her mother added and Noora glanced at the container and surely enough a sufficient amount of oil has coagulated in some places in the short time she had put it down.
“Not that much” she said guiltily and her mother chuckled.
“12 o clock?” her mother asked,
“12 o’clock.” she agreed,
“Tomorrow.” she said softly,
“Tomorrow.” Noora said and hung up.
Her mother believed goodbyes were for the dead.

Finally feeling tired she picked up the container of lasagne, finished it quickly, turned off the TV, put the empty container in the sink, gulped down a glass full of water and walked upstairs.

She was still wearing the shift dress she had worn to work in the morning and it had wrinkled considerably due to her nap in the study and she glanced at her reflection in the mirror as she took it off. Her hair was dyed a strawberry blonde and the braid that had started the day a little too tight was a glorious mess on her head and her underwear was definitely not a matching pair. She’d have to make sure she wore a matching pair tomorrow.  Her mother hated mis-matching underwear. Unclipping her bra she climbed into bed and fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow. Noora never had trouble sleeping.

Noora woke up at 6AM in went for her half hour cycle as usual, she compensated for her oily food by regular exercise and her body rewarded her by not punishing her too much. On Saturdays there were more cyclists than usual and she smiled to a few that she knew but mostly she rode with her eyes on the road in front of her, she stepped into the shower and had a warm long and lazy bathe. She decided to wear a brown and blue dress her mother had made for her that she never wore. It fit her very well and had the slim bodice and poodle skirt she loved. Having a designer mother had its distinct advantages.  Finding a matching pair of underwear proved a little more difficult for her though but eventually she did. The bra had been worn on Tuesday but her mother wouldn’t know that. It was practically clean and the underwear was ‘decent’ in her books.

She made her bed up, decided against opening her windows because she wasn’t sure how long she’d be at her Gran’s place. She trotted downstairs and washed the container that she had left the night before and put some music on while she made her cereal breakfast and sat down in the living room with a fashion magazine she had bought the day before and hadn’t read, she usually read magazines with a purple pen in hand to put her notes and ideas as she read. She wasn’t one for passively taking in information.

By the time she was done it was almost time to leave, her Grandparents lived two towns away and it was a three hour drive so she went into the study, picked the handbag she had taken to work the day before, decided it didn’t match her dress and transferred her purse into a larger blue bag that had similar detail to the hem of the dress she was wearing.  She briefly looked through some translations that she’d have to get through next week, picked up the translation that had fallen to the floor the previous night and made a note on her desk to pick up a few sheets for her Comparative European class before Wednesday and almost left the house bare foot before going back into house to pick a pair of pumps by the door and remembered to lock it before walking down the stairs to the parking bay of her building.

It was a few minutes after 12 when she pulled up to The Petals Estate. Her paternal grandparents owned a large farm estate that exported flowers all over the world. She remembered her grandmother claiming the judge of a woman was how she grew a garden because children have minds of their own and aren’t copies but a flower was the sole product of your efforts. She parked and noticed that her mother hadn’t arrived yet. She hoped she hadn’t met any trouble on her way. The large door stood open and she walked in to find her Grandfather sitting in silence staring at a large portrait of him and his wife.

“Baba?” Noora said kneeling down beside him,
He kissed the top of her head and reached for her hand.
“I was supposed to go first.” he said to no one in particular, Noora squeezed his hand and stared at her grandfather who looked like he had aged in the last 2 weeks since his wife’s death.
“She used to say that the first thing she would do when I died was replace that painting.” he said with a smile on his face.
“She did hate the way the painter made her smile look,” Noora said remembering all the times her grandmother would complain about the portrait that hung in the living room.
“I love that smile,” her grandfather mused, again, apparently to no one in particular.
“I fell in love with it.” he said to Noora with a smile on his face.
“She used to smile like that when she had an ‘inappropriate’ thought, well, thats what her mother called them” he said with a chuckle.
“She had a spirit that no one could pin down or hide and this painting is the closest I’ve ever come to replicating it.” he said and Noora felt his hand shake a little within hers.
“She was supposed to leave after me.” he said in a whisper and Noora was stunned into silence. She didn’t know what to say to her grandfather. Her grandmother always overpowered him but there was no doubt that his wife was as devoted to him as he was to her. She just had a louder voice.

“I hope everyone hungry” Noora’s mother had walked in and stood in the doorway with a large basket.
“I not smell food and that very bad Uncle” she said shaking her head as she walked into the living room.
He smiled and tried to say something but Noora’s mother shushed him and he sat back with a grateful look on his face.
“Auntie would be very upset with you” she continued to chastise him with mock anger and Noora walked over to her mother and helped her empty the contents onto the bar counter.
“You know, she no like it when you don’t eat” she added and he nodded with a smile on his face
“The judge of a man is by the width of his belt” he chuckled to himself and Noora thought briefly that her Dad had a very narrow belt.
“Noora, go get 3 plates” her mother commanded her when everything was displayed and uncovered.

“4.” another voice said from the door.
They all watched Noora’s father close the door behind him and there was silence for almost 5 full seconds before Noora stood up and gave him a hug.
“Play nice,” she whispered as she squeezed her father in greeting
“I can play as un-nice as I want to, I’m grieving.” he said through gritted teeth
“That doesn’t mean you have to be mean today” she replied with a large fake smile on her face and thought briefly that he never needed a reason to be mean she groaned inwardly. It was going to be a long day.

Her mother plated up while her grandfather went to wash up.
“Did you have a good drive?” Noora asked her parents
“No, its so far all the way up here and all the pollen made my nose act up.” her father complained
“Lovely drive,” her mother said, “You know, they put a new coffee shop with different teas at the bottom of the hill” her mother said cheerfully.
“A tea shop then?” her father said with a smirk on his face
“No, a coffee shop that also sells tea” her mother said glaring at him
“I haven’t heard of those. Maybe they have them back in Korea but over here a coffee shop sells coffe and a tea shop, tea.” He said with finality
“Did you see it?” she asked Noora with audible strain in her voice.
“No, I missed it” she said staring at her father, disappointed in his insistence on being sour.

“We should go sometime” her mother said as Noora’s grandfather walked back in with a small box that looked like it had been forgotten in a dark corner for at least a decade.
“This is for you” he said giving the box to Noora’s mother and everyone was silent for a moment.
“she hid it well but she did feel guilty about the way she treated you,” he said taking her hand
“but you know how her pride, she made herself a Queen in her mind” her said with a wistful smile
“What is it?” Noora asked staring at her grandfather.
“A wedding gift” he said
“A wedding gift?” her mother asked startled “Why a wedding gift? She didn’t even come to my wedding.” she said in a slightly angry voice.
”Even when she is gone she still wants to belittle me,” her mother whispered, a slight panic in her voice, “like I can ever find another husband.” He shook his head at Noora’s mother. “It was for a wedding that already passed, not one that about to happen” he said quietly pulling her to sit down next to him and her mother had a puzzled look on her face.

“This was for our wedding?” she asked looking at Noora’s father and he shrugged, apparently he didn’t know about it.
“After all, she could only be your mother in law through him” he said nodding briefly to his son
“Her heart was very proud. Sometimes I believe the only reason she actually gave me the time of day in the beginning was because I had a little bit of noble blood, even though it is not that much” he laughed “After all, how noble can I be being almost the 200th person in line to ascend to a throne no one even remembers?” he asked trying to lighten up the room and Noora was the only person that laughed a little at that. She loved imagining what like would have been if there hadn’t been a coup in Iran and her father’s family could have continued to live there in wealth and majesty that made this estate look like a pale paupers hovel. But she’d never know what that kind of life would be life, she had never even been to her father’s homeland…neither had he even.

“At the end she began to regret interfering with the two of you,” he looked at his son
“She smothered you beyond measure and when you rejected her choice for a bride, she felt you rejected her.” he lowered his head.
“She did reject me” his son said “She cut me off and said if I didn’t ‘fix my mistake’ I wouldn’t get a thing” he added, his voice laced with venom.
“I should not have let her coddle you so much” Noora’s grandfather said thoughtfully his head still lowered
“You put your mother’s wealth before your wife’s love” he said sounding as though he was struggling to stop himself from getting frustrated and raised his head to look at his son. Noora did not recognise the look on her grandfather’s face, it was a look of defiance he never would have had for his wife.
“You could have made your own money instead of getting only what your mother left behind.” he looked at his son, “She could never have cut you off, even if you became gay.” He added as an afterthought and turned his attention back to Noora’s mother.

Noora’s father cleared his thought uncomfortably and stared at his mother’s picture on the wall.
“She put that together when Noora was 3. She would have given that to you then but his mind had already been poisoned too far and she thought you would read it the wrong way” he said softly.
“I would have” her mother said looking at the box with an envelope taped to the top.

“When you feel pregnant and she knew it was a girl, her heart began to change. It almost killed her when you gave Noora your surname and not ours but she did not blame you. She blamed herself.” He squeezed her hand and gazed into her eyes and Noora saw a shimmer in his eyes. “She saw you in a new light when you gave her her mother’s name though.” he said smiling at Noora

“She could have said something” Noora’s mother said with a slight whimper.
He laughed “How could our Queen tell you that you were becoming a better mother than she ever was.” there was no bitterness in his voice. “You know, it was her request that Noora holiday here, not mine” he sat back in the chair, still holding Noora’s hand.

“She tried to give you the mother you never had at the end. I know it could not have been easy for you being brought up moving from home to home without any roots. Never feeling like you belong and when you finally have a chance to earth some proper roots to have someone come in and interfere in that” Noora’s mother was sobbing now and Noora’s grandfather put an arm around her shoulders.
“She grew up like that in the beginning too, that’s what made her heart a little heard to you. You were her when she was younger and she wanted a woman for her son that was like the woman she had become, not as she started.” He paused, staring at the portrait again.

“Yes, she had many regrets with you” he said with a sigh “A chance to have a dutiful daughter that she could never have or be but she didn’t know how to fix it.”
“The envelope on top is your family history and why your parents gave you up.” her mother choked and Noora patted her back.
“In her death maybe she can give you both the history and a future she never could when she was alive. Maybe you can set some roots now.”
“She never told me about that” Noora’s father said abruptly
A flare of anger fleeted through Noora’s heart, this wasn’t about her father but he insisted on making it about him.
“She could not, she was ashamed” her grandfather replied without any expression.
“What did she have to be ashamed about?” he said in a huff
“Being wrong.” He said curtly.
“Maryam was not a good match. You threw away the best wife you could have and to appease your mother…no, to inherit from your mother you married a woman ill matched but of ‘good standing’. In her old age she realised good standing doesn’t come from the blood, she could not find peace with the fact that you crumbled so easily. You walked away without a thought when she threatened cutting you off.” His voice was strong and had an authority Noora had never heard before she gazed at her grandfather. Never had she heard him talk so much or in this way before. She could not think of what to say.

“She was ashamed of raising a son too weak to be the kind of man she wanted him to be.” he added before turning to Noora’s mother again.
“I gave up everything to move down here with her. She knew I had nothing when we found this beautiful patch of land to work on. She had nothing.” he said with a longing nature to his voice.
“She said she could live as a pauper if she had children with royal blood.” he laughed.

“It was hard for us, foreigners in a new land.” he was staring at the portrait of his wife again.
“She forgot that those hard times made us stronger than anything else could have” he looked at his son.
Noora stared at the portrait again; from the looks of things, her grandmother had gone through her life constantly with an ‘inappropriate’ thought running through her head.

This would be a long day for sure.

*******************************************************************************

So…

This is the raw version of one of the stories I am editing for my collection of short stories.

Yesterday I read this article, “Story First, Writing Second” and I finally GOT IT. Often my process is get vivid imagery of something I want to write about and figure out what that image is as I go along, which is great but eventually means I hit a brick wall and cant move my story forward so I stare, go backwards, chop a lot, add in more and hit another brick wall. Now I need to structure myself more and figure out what I want my image to say before just running along with imagery which works great if I could actually draw, not so much when I have to use words.

Over and Out!

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I

Natti’s Waking

Natti had a secret she never could share
When the moon winked though her curtains
A snake would crawl into her bed

A snake with rough hands and skin wrapped in sweat
A long thick tongue danced with blunt teeth in a pit of spit
Into her skin the medley would go

They’d always mark their trail
But his lips would always insist
‘This is nothing but a game’

Above his snake hands, sat broad shoulders
For this snake was built as solidly as a wall
When the moon shone and liquor warmed his heart
He’d come in to play

His tongue wove tales of love and devotion
His eyes refused to see the abundance of her emotion
Her tears mingled with his for they often cried together

He must have shed his old skin
For he has come to share
And tonight, it’s a taste for something new

Into her sheets with pink frills and purple dolls
Taking space she has already made warm
He has come to take what she is not yet ready to give

His hand covers her belly
Makes her face that tongue flickering from his face
He has come to play
Tonight? It’ll be with toys

His skin against hers
He whispers words of his darkest desires
Confessions can be shared between slaves and their masters

She’s not ready, he’s tried to be patient
To quell his spirits from stirring in those dark, dank places
He’s lost the battle and fanned his unnatural obsession
The moon has refused to see tonight’s sin

Her screams to the heavens bring no angel’s mercy
He squeals from above her, as a troll before his gate
Heat never burned with a stronger flame
He’s lost control and bitten too hard

The snake crawled into Natti’s bed tonight
It did more than play like yesterday
Tonight it left its seed in a garden.
A garden much too young to grow.

II

Natti’s Mirror

She gazes at her reflection
Many nights from yesterday
She looks without seeing
At the woman she has come to be

Her eyes tell no stories
She closed those doors long before
But if the mirror could speak
This is what you’d hear

‘I’ve known her long and I know her true
Before snakes crawled and the moon spoke
Easing what should never be into what is
A snake’s egg had begun to hatch

Through me
Natti came to understand
When dealing with snakes
All you need, is to learn how to crawl

When angels refuse to save you
Sometimes, to save your soul
You have to kiss the devils hand

She had a choice and she made it with no guilt
She could have given in and died an inward death
Instead she learned to play and ease into her scales
For when one tastes venom, one must accept the bitterness

The snake had an empire and  Natti had the key
No longer did he creep to take what should not to be given
When the son kissed the earth, he taught her to be rich
But when the stars danced, she taught him how to love

She took her shackles
Made them worth their weight in gold
Shackles they remain
But gold is easier to live with than steel

Before me stands a woman
Strong, bold and true
Today she lays to rest her father

He taught her to be rich
She taught him how to love’

III

Natti’s Flight

One day, Natti met Van Whitt
He awoke her slumbering heart
When he blessed her with a kiss,
She felt he saved her from the truth

She would have given him all her riches
But he had plenty of his own
All he ever needed
Was for her to want no more

He gave her two bands
She gave him one in return
He gave her his name
She gave him a son to call his own

Natti Van Whitt dreamed of sinless tomorrows
While today’s passed, the sun danced even at dusk
Van Whitt’s world was complete and whole
But Natti had a secret, one she never could share

Natti began to feel a foreign yet familiar crawl
Within the walls of Utopia, Hades’ spawn had begun to grow
When you’re raised in a snake’s pit
Soon, your own skin will begin to shed

Natti had a hunger not even Van Whitt could fill
When Natti decided to play by snake rules
She ignored the darkest of the snake’s desires
Van Whitt unlocked her heart my dears

He had no way of knowing that within it, slumbering in yesterday
Were the seeds planted on a yesterday far away
He gave birth to her love
The love of what is born from what has always been

To live in her yesterdays, Natti traded in her soul
What she forgot, my dears
Is when you trade in your soul
Eventually, the Devil will collect.

*************************************************

So…

I am currently editing my work but I am at the phase of simply staring at what needs to be done, thinking of how terrible it all is, which is horrendous for the self esteem and leads to nothing being done.

To get me out of my funk, I am going through my gallery and I found this old gem from a writing exercise. It also needs an edit but I like it in its raw state so I am sharing it here today. Its a little miserable but… hopefully it isn’t terrible.

Over and Out!

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