Mama needs a new pair of shoes

…but I would have preferred to keep my old pair, because my new shoes are far too small.

I hate shoe shopping. I end up going through the whole store: this pair isn’t in my size, this pair feels weird, this pair has too high a heel, this pair is the wrong shade of brown…and so on. Maybe this is why I wear my shoes until they wear out.

My favorite pair of boots, ones that fit perfectly and went with everything, recently kicked the bucket like only shoes can. One shoe was fine, but the other fell apart and refused to be put back together. I tried boot glue, krazy glue, even sewing with a needle and thread. Nope. The sole of the shoe hung off like a slacking jaw. Then the zipper broke, and I decided that was it for that.

My second favorite pair of boots died the same week, with one too many holes. No longer waterproof, I decided it was time when sidewalk dirt began to seep in through the holes.

Now, I could handle the boot scenario fine—it’s spring, soon boots will be too hot anyway—if my summer shoes weren’t ready to go as well. I’ve already sewed one pair of canvas shoes back together, and another pair is beginning to get a hole as well. What gives?!

So, new shoes. I have no problem finding cute high heels, but thing is I never get to wear them and, honestly, the pain isn’t worth it. But I did find one pair that looked pretty cute and very versatile. They fit, they didn’t fall off, and they were just a little tight. I’d have to wear them in, but I couldn’t leave the store without buying them. After all, it was so rare that a shoe would fit all my criteria.

And so I sit at the office, alternating between flexing my feet in all crazy ways to break these suckers in to taking them off entirely to let the blood flow back to my toes. It’s okay though. I’ve had much worse.

There was the time I was late to a job interview and had to run in new heels that were already giving me blisters. The interviewer then decided to give me a tour of the (huge) building, during which I tried my darndest not to limp. I would have walked home barefoot, but I had to take the subway, and…ew. So I made the blisters even worse by wearing them all the way home.

Then there were the few years of pointe ballet I took in middle school. The shoes were made of solid wood and nails and who knows what else, and one had to balance on those torture contraptions with weightless arms and a graceful smile.

There were the few weeks when I started working at Chipotle over a year ago, before my work shoes came in. I had to run around the kitchen in Crocs three sizes too big for me because they wouldn’t let me wear non-company mandated sneakers.

Shoes. How could something so simple have so many problems? I suppose it’s a lesson in taking things for granted. I never appreciated my good shoes, or even gave them a second thought, until they broke on me.

As my internship winds to a close and I prepare to train my replacement, I wonder if she will fit the Globe like a new pair of shoes. I wonder how I will fit my new job. There will surely be a need to break in a bit, to get used to routine, but after awhile there won’t be any more blisters and it will all be second nature. Or, alternately, it may just be a bad fit. No matter what though, we won’t find out until we try them out for a few days.

Grown Up (Short Fic Friday)

Welcome to the first Short Fic Friday! Every week I’ll be posting a new short fiction story, due to the great response to my A to Z Challenge. Enjoy it!

 

 

Alex knelt at the tide pool, her damp knees getting coated in sand. She waved at her toddler cousin.

“Look, Sammy,” she shouted to him, sinking the heel of her right hand into the loose mud. “I think there’s a crab, or something, under this rock. See?”

Sammy wobbled up behind her, holding a red, plastic shovel he refused to let go of. “Crab?”

“Yes, a crab. I think he went under there, do you see him?” She leaned over the tepid water at far as she dared. The pool was still but teeming with creatures she had a nervous fascination with. She pressed her other hand on a rock coated with barnacles. The crevice between rocks was dark, but the water was a crystal green. There was a slight shift in the sand.

“Crab? Crab?” Sammy repeated, trying to replicate how Alex was standing. He leaned his shovel against the barnacles.

“I think so. Let me try to catch it. Can I use your shovel?”

Sammy held it out to her, but just as she was going to take it he yanked it out of her grasp. She sighed, laughing.

“You got me. Fine, you want cousin Alex to get pinched, I’ll get pinched.”

Alex swallowed. She knew she wouldn’t likely get pinched, but if she did, what would she do? Her mom was way back by the towels, and Uncle Max, Sammy’s dad, was further down the beach at a different tide pool with his older daughter. Well, whatever. No going back now. She slipped her little hand between the boulders, feeling her way around the rough barnacles. She touched sand and recoiled, then went down again, feeling along toward where the crab had escaped.

Sammy sneezed, loud and adorable. Alex smiled but kept going, not looking back.

“Nose,” Sammy said, his voice muted.

“Yeah, you sneezed, buddy. Bless you.”

“Nose!” He patted her calf insistently. Alex looked under her arm at him.

His face was covered in huge boogers, gooey green and dangling past his mouth. He looked about to cry, his head hunched over so the snot didn’t touch his chin.

“Oh, Sammy,” Alex said, then a sharp pain shot down her arm from her ring finger. She screamed and fell backward out of the tide pool and onto the sand, grabbing at her hand. Sure enough, the little crab had got her. Luckily it let go quickly, but her finger was still red and throbbing. It hurt more than when she caught it in the car door last winter.

She sucked on her finger, salty and covered in sand. Sammy was crying now, scared by her scream and cranky because of his boogers. Alex fought back her own tears, smacking sticky sand off her back, legs, and bottom. She had to be the grown up now and help Sammy. No parents were around, fine. Alex was nine, now. She could do it.

“Okay, it’s okay,” she said. “Come on, Sammy.”

They walked to the ocean together, she sucking on her finger, he hunched over and whimpering. No matter what, she did not want to touch the boogers, but she didn’t have anything else but her bathing suit. She paused at the water’s edge, looking for a seashell or something to scoop his face clean.

Sammy cried at the sand, the booger long and swinging but still hanging on. He clutched his shovel.

Alex considered holding him above the water so just his face got wet to wash it away, but then thought better of it. She put her hands on her hips, her sore finger pressing hard.

“Sammy, I need your shovel.”

“No!” he howled, gripping it with two hands.

“You can still hold onto it after; I just need it to clean the boogies.”

“No!”

Alex groaned and dropped to her knees. She took a breath, looked away, and snatched the boogers off his face with the tips of her fingers and thumb. She dunked her hand in the water and shook it furiously, then did it again, pinching his nose perhaps a bit too hard and then shaking it off her with vigor, gagging.

“Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew,” she chanted through the whole ordeal. Finally, he was clean.

He sniffled a little. Alex stood up and sucked on her finger again.

“I’m never having kids,” she told the snotty ocean.

Sammy hugged her leg tight. “Thank you!” he said, and offered her his shovel.

Alex smiled. “You’re darn cute, though,” she said, and reached for the shovel. He giggled and yanked it out of her reach.

An extension of your arm

“Let the sword become an extension of your arm.”

I’ve never used a sword before, but that phrase is said so much on television it’s practically common knowledge. The same phrase goes for tennis racquets and cooking knives and dumbbells; they’re all “extensions of your arm.”

I recently began practicing bike riding. I was never very into biking, but since I’m going to the Netherlands in the fall everyone said that I should relearn, as, “they bike everywhere over there.” So I took the bike out for a spin on Sunday. Besides a seriously uncomfortable seat, it was a pretty good time.

I’ve been trying to ride more like a grown up, steering primarily by leaning instead of using the handlebars and stopping with the handbrakes instead of skidding my feet. I’m getting there.

The interesting thing about steering by leaning is that I began to feel the whole “extension” thing, as if I was a part of the bike. It was me making the bike turn, not the bike itself. It felt more responsive, less wild and dangerous.

I’d always treated my first car like a living being, mostly because she acted like one. She was temperamental and sometimes didn’t do what I asked her to. She also only went up big hills if I gave her a pep talk. I didn’t feel like she was an extension of my body, unlike the bike. She was always something I was working with, like I was riding a horse.

When I used to do archery, I shot best when I cleared my mind and let the bow do the work. Instead of the bow becoming a part of me, I became a part of the bow.

We should probably pay attention to how we interact with things, because it says a lot about who we are. Every object represents a relationship. Do you tend to use people the same way you use objects? When your computer is frustrating do you slam the mouse on the table? Or shut it off completely? Or wait for it to come to its senses? When your car won’t start do you punch the steering wheel or beg it to work with you? Do you ever stop to admire the beauty of the way your pen writes?

There are no wrong answers; it’s all practice in being mindful, and applying our internal relationships to the external. Try to relate how to treat objects to how you treat people. You may be surprised to find which of your loved ones you treat as an extension of your arm.

On Waiting

The worst part about having something to look forward to is how long you have to wait for it.

Count the days a thousand times, divide it into multiples of five and ten, calculate the weeks, number the Mondays…it doesn’t matter. No matter how you dice it, you have to live every day in between, and nothing can make a day shorter.

We wait so much we have entire rooms for it in hospitals and airports. We despise it but we do it all the time. How many hours have I spent in a line?

The months ahead seem unbearable, but I can always manage ten more minutes, and then ten more. Things are only boring, or painful, or long, or terrible when I admit that they are. Complaining, swearing, crying. They’re all cathartic, but only temporarily. It would be better if the day to day wasn’t so bad…then again, it probably isn’t.

Ah. Always waiting. I’ve recently gotten into Fullmetal Alchemist, and one of the main characters’ friends asked if there was anything she could do to help, besides wait for them to need her. Well…no. Sometimes the best thing to do is wait. Sometimes, it’s the only thing to do.

Maybe this is just me, being an introvert and not wanting to bother other people with my troubles. My introversion is certainly why I avoid confrontation, perhaps it’s making me avoid comfort, as well. Waiting isn’t so bad when there’s someone to talk to.

Whatever the cause may be, I’ve realized that I’ve got to stop living for the future, for some pre-determined event, and focus on the present. To live mindfully, even if being mindful hurts sometimes.

It’s a little change, but I’ve taken to crossing off the date on the calendar at the end of the day instead of the beginning, as if to tell myself: the day has just begun. The next step is turning that phrase into a positive thing.

Projects

First of all, thank you so much for sticking with me through the A to Z Challenge! I hope you all liked it. It was a great deal of fun, and during it we reached 500 followers, so yay! Thank you!

Now I go back to normal blogging for awhile. I was thinking of doing a sort of schedule since my fiction went over so well. Maybe a short fiction piece every Monday or so? Let me know what you guys think:)

Since the challenge is now over, and I’m out of school and moved back home for the summer, I’ve begun several projects to keep me busy. I’ve been bike riding, beginning German, and I even learned how to knit! I’m slow and clumsy but it’s a lot of fun. I spent most of today unpacking, then went to Barns and Noble for awhile, got a new coloring book. I know, I know, such a fad…but coloring’s fun, screw it.

Doing the A to Z helped spark up my confidence in fiction prose writing, the true love of my life, and I’m grateful for that. I might try to flesh out my little scenes and make a novella of it! I’ll keep you posted on that…though to be honest I’m going to be taking a brief break from Bonnie and the gang, as is my tendencies with writing. Get fresh eyes on the thing.

What else have I been up to? I know I’ve blogged through April but it feels like so long. my boyfriend is home! And it’s been wonderful. He’s in Vermont temporarily but soon he’ll be home, looking for internships and such. We may be working on a podcast together!

I’ve also realized that it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my anxiety, probably because it’s been going pretty well. After a few bumps in the road I’ve gotten good at deep breathing and participating in my own life more. Being home is lonely and depressing at times, especially with most of my friends still at college (I got out super early this year) but that will change soon.

I liked the challenge, but I’m glad to be back to blogging! I’ll think about a weekly fiction thing…that might be nice. Maybe I’ll set certain days for the different topics on the blog. Though, I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

Finally, if you’re just joining the Playground since the challenge began, thanks for following and welcome!

 

Changing backward

I realized that I accidentally published U yesterday instead of today! Oh well. Today will just be a personal blog then, since I’m a day ahead of the alphabet.

I can’t believe we’re in the final stretch of April. I guess my timeline was so set on Colin returning and my internship not ending until June that I kind of forgot about class. It was easy to forget class, this year. It was such a minimal part of my life. I’m so glad I went through with the American Sign Language class, it was one of the most fun classes I’ve ever taken, and it makes me want to keep learning it someday. Maybe be an interpreter.

Once I finish an essay on McTeague (wonderful book, highly recommended), I’ll be done with this school year! It’s crazy how both long and short the school year was.

Now I will spend my time pretty casually, working the last nine weeks at the Globe, doing some freelance work on the side, and then spending the nights either riding my bike or learning German. Probably a mix of both.

And oh, faithful readers are probably wondering how my time with Colin went. Well, after three months apart I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t click back in place, but it really was as if he had never left.  Seeing him appear from the terminal, all smiles, made every sucky, lonely moment of the last three months worth it.

Before my next personal blog post I’ll have moved back home for the summer. Strange. It’s always weird moving back home. Much like the end of a period of separation in a long distance relationship, moving back home after months away is both disorienting and startlingly normal. I’m going to miss my friends here, but I’m sure I’ll fall right back into my old routines. After all, I miss my family too, and it will be great to have a break from classes.

I suppose changing backwards is easier than changing forwards. Well, like all things, it’s only temporary.

A to U: Universe

The universe didn’t care. It went on moving at fantastic speeds. Gravity kept pulling at it, or not. Comets shot through it, or not. Stars burned, planets spun, atoms burst, or not. It didn’t care. Matter changed forms. Things were created, then destroyed. Deep blackness was perforated with specks of something, bits of carbon and hydrogen and light. The universe went on.

One tiny corner of a tiny galaxy of the enormous universe was this planet, mainly blue, mostly rock, but full of life.

This life took different forms. One form of life was called human. They were large and strong, but not the largest nor the strongest. They were rather bright, when they tried to be. Their manner is hard to describe. Sophisticated. Destructive. Intelligent. Short sighted. Violent. Loving. Enduring. Yes, that is perhaps the best word. Enduring.

The humans, today, live in a strange time. They were killing their planet, and they knew it but weren’t stopping it. They were trying to spread love and hope through bullets and exclusion. They spent hours upon days upon weeks discussing the shades of brown they came in and which god, if any, was real.

However, they endured.

They found ways to live without a limb, without a heart. They found ways to capture live images to remember later. They found ways to capture live animals, wild and sharp-toothed, and make them their friends. They found ways to survive hunger, they found ways to survive war, they found ways to help each other, and themselves.

They never stopped trying, not even when it seemed hopeless. Not even when it was hopeless. They were an incredible force of nature.

The universe didn’t care. It never does. It let itself be pulled by gravity. It let things be created, then destroyed. It let the busy, loud, violent, loving, enduring, breathing, fighting humans live on Earth and do as they pleased with it. It didn’t care.

Every human, at some point in their short lives, realizes this. They may be driving their giant machines, or lying in their beds, or playing with their children, or sitting in the rain. They realize in this moment that nothing matters, that the universe doesn’t care about them. Most of them wake up the next morning and are okay with that fact. Some don’t.

Michelle had this thought after the worst few months of her life, after a crying, hissing human ripped its way out of her body and tormented her endlessly. After its birth shortly came its death–they called it “Sudden Infant Death,” they said it had no cause. After its death her husband came home and hugged her stiffly. She didn’t know how to react. He had barely met their son. Three out of the four weeks it was breathing he was gone.

Michelle was driving away from her husband when she realized the universe didn’t care about her. Part of her argued that it did, but she knew it wasn’t true. She was a meaningless speck, with a streak of bad luck, that the universe didn’t care about.

That settled things, for Michelle.

She drove until she could make herself cry. She didn’t want to die with dry eyes. It only took a moment, then she pressed the pedal to the floor of the car like they do in the movies. 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 miles per hour.

Her life flashed by in a series of hims. She only recognized them by number, until Craig, and then Riley. Riley….

The universe went on moving. Gravity kept pulling at it, or not. Comets shot through it, or not. Stars burned, planets spun, atoms burst, or not. It didn’t care.

In a small corner of the universe, on a small road on a small planet, Michelle Wu’s car collided with the forest. The steering wheel hit her, and she made some gasping noise. A disappointing last word, she thought, and then she was gone. And the universe went on.

Hi!

Hey guys–this should’ve been up yesterday but I honestly didn’t have any time, so here it is now, the weekly check in:)

I hope you are all enjoying the A to Z challenge. I’m certainly enjoying writing it! I have pages full of notes on how to connect the characters and letters, what themes go where, and how the bagpipes fit into all of this. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m glad you seem to be liking them too:)

The most interesting thing that has happened since we spoke last was a self defense course I took Friday and Saturday. It’s called RAD (more info here) and focused on basic ways to get out of a dangerous situation. It was actually really empowering.

I usually hate that word, empowering, because it’s usually used in a pretentious context. Like feeling “empowered” after walking a 5K, or while wearing heels. It’s almost always used in a feminine context. Empowered, as if you were powerless beforehand. However, when it came to the self defense course, it feels fitting. I am newly empowered with tools I can use in dangerous situations—tools I didn’t have before. I feel more confident.

The best thing about it was that it reversed my thoughts that I wasn’t strong. I don’t work out as much as I should, sometimes I can’t open water bottles or open heavy doors, I must not be strong. But being taught how to use my body to my advantage rather than seeing it as a hindrance, or as a vessel for my mind to live in, allowed me to feel truly strong and powerful. Connecting to one’s body and allowing it to be used like it’s made to be is a wonderful thing.

Plus it’s really fun to punch foam pads.

I recommend it to everyone! Not just to feel safe, but to feel confident and happy with yourself.

What else? Colin comes back Sunday, which is exciting, and I move back home in two weeks, which is also exciting. I have finals soon, which is less exciting.

I saw my old high school’s musical, The Sound of Music, on Saturday. All the kids who were sophomores and freshmen when I graduated are now juniors and seniors, running the show. They were wonderful, and made me miss high school and theatre as well as their friendships. I miss the excitement of being part of a team, the rollercoaster of emotion, the bright lights and smudged make up, snacking on pretzels and Twizzlers since they didn’t mess up lipstick. Mostly, I miss my old friends, and I’m glad to get to see them again in only a few weeks.

I’m also determined to start learning German again—I’ve been so busy that it’s been pushed to the back burner, but I have my mind set on it.

So, yes. Self defense, German, and The Sound of Music. And, of course, huge bouts of creativity brought on by the A to Z Challenge. I’m really glad I followed through with the challenge. It too is giving me confidence, in my creative writing rather than my body. I haven’t completed writing a novel in a long time, and these little bursts of fiction are helping me feel like a valid creator again.

I’ll also soon be separately posting my book review of Maus and Maus II, so look forward to that today, as well as the letter “I” in about 2 hours. That’s about all I have–enjoy your Monday!

 

A to C: Crown

The people changed, the land changed, the language changed—but the same golden crown ruled these hills for centuries. Vibrant as the summer sun with the power of the stars, it had perched atop hundreds of heads of hair, had spent years on a throne. The rim stretched into seven peaks, arching around seven jewels, signifying the corner of the kingdom from whence they came. The blue corner was lost in a war a hundred years after the crown was made, and now, of course, all the corners are in different countries, but the jewels stayed. People forget. Crowns do not.

The crown passed through families like a genetic disease that skipped generations but always led to death. It went best with the two hundred years of black hair and worst with the seventy some-odd years it had to clash with blondes. It carried its people through floods and droughts, through famine and feasts. One king didn’t like to wear it, and so it spent thirty years in a box. One queen found it too manly, so she added a string of crystals along the rim. Her son hated the crystals and pried them off, leaving small dents in their place. Each ruler perished, but the crown lived on.

The crown spent most of its life right-side-up and off the floor, much like the kingdom it ruled. A young prince liked to wear it upside down and call it a knight’s helmet. Leave it to that family to father a prince who would rather be a knight. The crown transferred from pillow to head for years and years, but it was once worn into battle and splashed with blood, then rinsed by the king in a river. The crown resided in the castle, the stone walls and fresh fruit, the children using it as a plaything when their parents and caretakers weren’t paying attention. No matter what the children did, it always ended in its rightful place, and the children were lectured about the importance of the crown. Nearly the same speech each time, though eventually in different languages.

The crown ruled those hills for centuries, but then the hills began resenting its rule. They rose like tidal waves, powered by rebellion, and knocked the crown to the dirt. The crown hasn’t seen the hills for ages.

The crown will spend the rest of its life in prison, here, in this glass box. It rules over the museum, the kingdom of the past. Its jewels, kept in place with glue, gleam and sing of glory. Its gold, dulled with age, yearns for its lost power. Its rim, buffed with polish, speaks of tyrants, queens, and kings, hums with history, rings with death. The crown ruled these hills for centuries, but the hills will never be ruled by a crown again.

I am on the Seeds 4 Life!

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going.

Check out my guest post on the Seeds 4 Life:

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going – Brian Tracy