It’s a good day.

I’m usually not one to talk about something as silly and frivolous as Starbucks frappuccinos, but it’s about 88 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston and nothing pairs better than a hot sun and a cold drink.

It’s gonna be a good day, my friends. Grab an overpriced coffee and enjoy it.

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Lucky and busy

I’m lucky. I am. In the dying field of journalism I’m getting work left and right…in fact, too much. I always feel bad when I have to cancel something or decline an offer, but it’s sometimes necessary in order to assure the work is the highest caliber it can be.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember I’m lucky.

I covered a fashion show this morning, to be written by the end of the week. I just accepted an offer to cover a meeting on Thursday due on Friday, on top of a graduation ceremony I’m covering Friday night. Not to mention the two other stories I have to get done by next Tuesday.

I also have to get back on track with German, and figure out a plot for the D&D campaign I’m supposed to run Monday. Not to mention the fact that I had planned on doing Camp Nano in July, and I haven’t even begun to think of a novel idea!

Busy is good, but also overwhelming. Being lucky is good, but also brings guilt. I wish I had more time to read Life of Pi and ride my bike and play ukulele and finish my TV shows, but at the same time I’m glad I am using those things for fun when I can, rather than to halt boredom. It’s better to want to do something than to do something so much it’s boring.

I am glad I’m taking these assignments, because they only take a few hours out of a week and give me money I can use for the things I like, not to mention experience.

Like I said, it’s hard to complain when I know I’m so lucky. Lucky to be doing well in a weakening, overcrowded field, lucky to be able to live with my parents this summer without worrying about rent, lucky that we live so close to Boston, lucky that all this has worked out.

I think back to this time last year—I was a line cook at Chipotle. I worked eight hour shifts rolling burritos and wishing I were somewhere, anywhere, else. However busy I get, I have to remember that I like my job, and that’s rare. I don’t groan when I have to go on assignments; I love it. I don’t even whine when I have to wake up early in the morning. I like my job, however busy it makes me. It took awhile to settle on that fact, but it’s true: I like it. One day I will find the ideal balance of work and life. One day I will know myself better and know exactly how much I can handle. Maybe today is not that day, but as of now being busy is okay.

I mean, hey. It’s better than rolling burritos at Chipotle.

//

Full flavored faces are gone.

Wrong.//Shark attacks lasting a week

Long//Children are growing up tall,

Strong//Lullabies turned to a work

Song//Grass stains on knees ice cream in

Hand//Careers fighting fire are half

Planned// Strapped to a chair once you can

Stand//Plucked from clouds sewn to the

Land//

Going on autopilot: Conversation Starters

I get so lost in thought I sometimes go on autopilot. It’s amazing what I’m capable of doing without noticing, but also pretty funny when my mind messes up.

I’m sure we all have had brief mess ups like throwing away a plate and putting the pizza crust in the sink, or squirting out body wash and using it as shampoo. Those happen all the time, a strange short-circuit in the brain where it confuses your hands and pieces things together wrong.

Sometimes I’m five minutes into driving to work when I realize I had meant to drive to the supermarket. Sometimes I just mix objects up all together. I was reading a book and didn’t know the definition of a word, so I pressed it with my finger, waiting for the Kindle definition to pop up. I actually tapped it a few times before I remembered that books don’t do that.

Other times, I just get so in the zone that I don’t stop. I once cut the leaves off a whole carton of strawberries when I had only wanted a few for a snack, for example. Similarly, haven’t we all been so engrossed in a movie we ate the whole extra-large popcorn?

It’s not a bad thing, I don’t think. I usually end up laughing at myself—like when my phone buzzes because I got an email and I assume it’s my alarm. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been halfway through doing my makeup before realizing that it was 2 a.m.

I think the best is the time I was so engaged in a conversation with my friend and offered him something to drink. I was concentrating hard on what they were saying as I took out the glass from the cupboard. My body then automatically washed the glass with soap and water, and placed it on the drying rack. My friend gave me a strange look then laughed, asking me what the heck I was doing, taking clean cups out of the cupboard and washing them, and could he have his drink already?

These are fun conversation starters that allow everyone to relax and laugh a little bit at themselves. Were you ever a kid and accidentally called your teacher mom? Did you ever work as a receptionist and answer your home phone with your scripted greeting? Ever get angry when your dog won’t respond when you accidentally call it your daughter’s name? The stories are easy to tell and entertaining to hear. Share yours!

The Artist and the Understudy: Short Fic Friday

The table was splotched with eye shadow and cracked cakes of blush, used q-tips and dashes of glitter. From the speaker rang out the yeasty bellow of Amir Kalali, tangling with the high soprano of his leading lady. She was the understudy, her voice icy and crackling.

Her voice stopped with a smacking sound effect and a yelp, and suddenly said understudy appeared in the makeup room and leapt into one of the chairs. She locked eyes with the makeup artist, who was re-curling the hair of a wig and mouthing the resentful words Kalali was singing. The artist pulled the iron out of the wig and blinked his black-lined eyes. Ah, her skin was such a different shade.

“You have quite some time,” the artist told the understudy, nonetheless collecting his brushes and filling a tin the size of a Petri dish with warm sink water.

The understudy fumbled with a wrinkle in her tights, then scratched her back. “I just wanted to be sure to get it done.” Her spoken voice had a taste of Western Europe to it, a hint that disappeared when she sang. The artist approached her; he was dressed in shining black, she in an ill-fitting gown of glittering pink, the contrast making the beige walls surrounding them seem even dimmer.

The table was scattered with different shades of tan and brown, but none of them seemed to match the understudy’s olive tones. He held tube after compact after glass jar to the understudy’s chin as her knee bounced under the table. Her petite, shining shoe creaked with the movement.

Finally he decided on a color and swirled a brush, skimming off the excess against the lip of the vial. He began reaching for her right eye.

“Oh, right,” the understudy said, holding up a gloved hand. Her hair, curled and shiny as plastic, swung to drape over her shoulder. For the first time the artist looked in her eyes. “He swung twice for some reason tonight. I know it was only supposed to be one, but it was two. And I fell on the second one.”

“He hit you twice?” The artist repeated, vaguely aware of how troubling their conversation would sound to a passer-by. “That’s weird…Kalali doesn’t like to improvise much. During a song, too?”

The understudy shrugged, shook her head. Her leg paused for just a moment. “Maybe me being there threw him off. But he hit me once in the eye, like normal, then again in the chin.”

The artist brought the back end of his brush to his lips. “What, did they play the sound effect twice too?” He paused, lowered an open palm. “Whatever. Two hits, no problem. Good thing you came early.”

The artist painted two bruises on the understudy’s face, a light one on her brow, purple and brown, and a much larger one on her chin to show the one that sent the character to the ground. It was harder to paint the bruise at such an angle—the artist had drawn the eyebrow bruise every night for weeks—but it did look rather good by the end. It was a masterpiece of pain, an afterimage of abuse. Purple, yellow, brown, red, green, white, black, blue. He etched an enlarged vein into her cheek, he contoured her chin to appear swollen on one side.

As with the normal lead, he eased off the fake eyelash where the first punch hit and then, after a little consideration, redid her lipstick to make it seem faded on one end. She looked terrible, a woman trying to cover her pain and ask for help all at once.

“You look beat up,” the artist said, smiling. “And that’s a compliment.”

The understudy glanced in the mirror, giggled, twisted side to side in her squeaking shoes. “Amazing, thank you so much.”

“Sure. Knock ‘em dead.”

The artist went back to fooling with the wig. He had another few songs before end of show, but he had to stick around in case of emergency.

The final number wrapped up, and the bows began. The artist began packing up his things, washing skin tones out of his brushes.

Someone burst in the door. Who on Earth…all the actors are onstage! The artist whirled around to catch the gleaming glasses of the director. Her hair was up, for once, in an elaborated braided bun but across her shoulders was the same green shawl as she normally wore during rehearsals.

“I got to admit,” she said, her face firm and impossible to read. “I was worried at first. Pretty mad. But I really like what you did with the bruises tonight.”

The artist reached behind him to turn off the sink. “Oh. Thank you. I just did it because he hit her twice so…”

“What?”

“Continuity,” the artist finished.

“Kalali?”

“Yes, the understudy—”

“Well, that’s what’s brilliant about it,” the director said, and the artist held his tongue. “What’s brilliant about you. He didn’t hit her twice, and you made it clear—subtle, but clear—that he hit her again offstage. At home. Again. It’s brilliant, it’s subtle, I want it every night, from now on, you hear me?”

The artist scratched behind his ear with the end of his brush. “Uh. Okay.”

She snapped and pointed at him as she slipped out the door. “I love it. Keep up the good work. You should have told me that idea earlier.”

The artist cleaned his space quickly, shoving half-cleaned brushes into their places and pulling on his jacket as he left. He had to catch the understudy before she disappeared.

He caught her as she headed to the costume area, her face still covered in his masterful bruises.

“Hey,” the artist called to her, still unsure as to how he felt. “Kalali only hit you once.”

The understudy smiled. She was in her street clothes now, an oversized sweatshirt and jeans paired poorly with an overly-made up face and perfect hair.

“No one ever hits you once,” she said, and left the artist struggling for words in her wake.

A sisterhood of night and day

I have a sister…but I wish I had sisterhood.

My grandmother sometimes called my sister and me “night and day.” When I was young, I asked if I could be night.

I realize now—and then, too—that she just meant that we were total opposites. It’s still true. I went into the arts, she went into athletics. She’s a loud social butterfly, I’m…well, come now, I run a blog called Introvert Playground. In so few words, she prefers the beach and I prefer the mountains (so meta).

Some of the ways that we are different amazes me. She refuses to try most new food, hates going to the movies, and will only play a board game if its Pictionary, and even then only if her friends don’t see her. My friends and I have Catan tournaments, have heated discussions about Fight Club and cook for fun. Then again, I don’t particularly like photography or any of her bands or any of her television shows. One is not better than the other. We’re just so different.

How did this happen? Born nearly exactly three years apart, raised by the same parents in the same house in the same school system until high school (she went to a technical high school to study nursing). I will always believe that nature has the advantage over nurture.

It does sadden me that I don’t think we’ll ever be close, especially when I see how close some siblings are, like my parents and their siblings. I really think that we could be good friends, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m open minded and she refuses to be anything but my opposite.

Closed mindedness keeps us apart. She seemed to decide one morning years ago that she disliked me. I don’t understand why she is so stuck on hating me, but nothing I do can ever seem to change it. Just when she seems about to sway, the winds change and she becomes shockingly nasty to me. Nearly everything we argue about is rooted in her refusal to see things from my point of view.

Night and day was an interesting comparison, but I think we are closer to ice and fire. She burns merrily, crackling and bright. I enjoy her light, but when I get near her I suffer. She wears me out, and occasionally lashes and scorches me.

So I keep my distance from my little sister. I don’t want to, but I do. It breaks my heart, but distance hurts less than her pointed attacks.

Night and day were never meant to coexist anyway…but I hope one day we can compromise and meet at dawn.

Friends and heels

Last night I saw a friend I haven’t seen in nearly two years. It’s always strange when that happens…do you act like nothing has changed, or like you’re meeting them again for the first time?

I wouldn’t have been so nervous, I suppose, if he and I weren’t so close before. I know I’ve changed in the past two years…has he? Will we be too different to be friends?

When he came over, all my worries went away. God, he was so him. So normal. I caught myself watching his mannerisms throughout the night, the way he laughed. He had the same glasses. So normal, but so strange to see him again.

Nonetheless, distance was persistent in being the forefront of the evening. While he was talking about the college he goes to, he said, “And my girlfriend–I have a girlfriend named Sarah….”

How do you count friends? I would still count him as my friend, though we hadn’t spoken in so long and were so separate I didn’t know he had a girlfriend, never mind her name. He, who I used to know everything about.

How do you count friends, in a world that’s always changing, in a world that allows you to be virtually inseparable but physically worlds away?

I can only imagine what it will be like when we’re older and even further from our roots. When I see someone I used to be close with decades ago, will it be just as easy and strange? I’m terrible at recognizing faces and remembering names…then again, I can always look people up on Facebook if I forget them.

Social media is weird. Growing up is weird. Friendships are weird.

I wore heels to work today and I feel old.