March 30th was my last night in Vero Beach, Florida. I must admit that I was sad; I had such a wonderful vacation. I lounged in the sand, soaked up the sun, shopped in expensive boutiques, tried a new style with a new haircut and feel completely at peace with myself and those around me. That vacation had been everything I needed it to be and more. However, I must also admit that I missed New Jersey and as I left, I was excited to see my family.
As far as the so-called itinerary I had in mind for the trip, I did not finish “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, but I only have a few pages left. I wrote, but nothing of real value or quality, and nothing as far as truly beginning a second novel. I talk about writing a lot, but I fear that lately, it has become only talk and nothing more. I have to make the time to read and write, and truly devote myself to my passion. I know that statement seems paradoxical and that one could argue that if I was truly passionate, I would not have to force myself to make time for writing. That being said, I will admit that teaching consumes much more of my time than I had originally anticipated. The goal for next year is to strike a healthier balance between striving for my dreams and being responsible at work. Teaching pays the bills and while I love it and am fulfilled by it, writing is what pumps my blood through my veins. Writing is what I see when I close my eyes, and the first thing I look for when I open them.
While on vacation, I attended the sunrise mass for Easter and went with Kim and Carol to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip.
One of my ceramic brackets for my braces popped off while I was eating sushi … imagine that. I’ll called my orthodontist and set up an appointment. Once I got there, they removed the brackets – surprise! there was two – but did not replace them. If it’s not one thing, it’s another; but I say that with a smile on my face.
Below is an assortment of photos from my vacation. Enjoy! Maybe one will inspire YOU to create a poem or a short story. If one does, please feel free to share it!
On Monday of this past week, I found the moon. It was fat, full, gluttonous, and bright. I have a picture to prove it.
I have another resolution for this relatively new year: to be as artistic in possible in all that I do.
I deposited my second royalty check – $23.22. From October 29th to December 31st, I have made $95.40. I am not, and have never been, a “numbers person.” I am not sure if this means I am doing well, average, or poor. All I know is that I want to keep writing, and I suppose that is the most important thing. I did little to no writing this week, which is possibly why this blog post is so scattered and superficial.
I am convinced that in a former life, I was happily married to Ricky Ricardo.
Running in the wind is romantic and freeing. Running in the wind and the rain is stupid.
There is a dry, red, and raw patch of skin on my hand between my thumb and pointer finger. When I stick the cap on the opposite end of the pen, the plastic irritates the area. I have icky winter skin. I am over the cold, bitter weather.
I am sick of being tired.
I am envious of Winona Ryder – or at least her hair, especially when it is short. I remember feeling similarly after seeing, “Girl, Interrupted.” I watched “Reality Bites.” I liked the tone of it and I do sincerely miss the 1990s somewhat. I really am a fan of the earthy, sloppy fashion that was considered chic. I would like to bring that style back, but am unsure if I would be able to do so single-handedly, and am equally unsure if there would even be any other willing participants; I might have no other choice than to embark on a lone wolf fashion revolution. Either way, I am going to dress and style my hair accordingly – I am excited to buy new clothes once I lose the weight. Manufacturers really do not make fashionable habiliments for larger people.
I am mostly excited for Spring Break and vacation in Florida. I called my Aunt Kim tonight and squared away the details. Dad and his friend Andy fitted my car with new struts and fixed a leak that had to do with the transmission. I am constantly making a mental list of what I want to do before leaving. Lately, the trip has been all that I have been thinking about. I do not mind going alone, but Mom is thinking about coming along, and that does not upset me at all.
Sometimes, when I wash my face, I make the water too hot and steam rises up from the sink basin in the bathroom, and the water burns my hands, and opens my pores so wide that they sizzle. Once I was worried because for a brief moment, I could not get the cold tap to turn. Eventually I did, and it made me think of that scene from “My Cousin Vinny” when Marissa Tomei and Joe Pesci are ironically analyzing the dripping faucet that is off-screen as litigators would in court. Then I wonder how a casting director could match Pesci with Tomei (or vice versa). I worry that such wondering makes me shallow. Am I shallow? Am I a bad person?
What if I do not find romance after my teeth are straightened and after I’ve lost the weight? Will I have to conclude the defect is not my physical appearance, but in my personality, my very being?
I am going to take up painting this summer.
I need to write.
My last baby tooth, which never fell out, was pulled on the last day of February. So long, Little Mandi. The very last tangible remnant of my childhood was violently yanked from me. It was for the best – it was causing an infection and discoloration – but I was sad to see it go. I am reluctant to grow up and relinquish my sometimes irrational passions, and I am unwilling compromise between responsibility and desire; I don’t wanna. But then again, I am getting braces. Maybe it all works out and I will never have to escape my adolescence.
The way to blast blubber this week was to give up extreme thinking. I set a realistic goal of losing two pounds, and I lost 1.8 pounds; just two ounces shy. I have lost 18 pounds total since beginning dieting and exercising and I am getting closer to my goal. Chipping away little by little is okay; I am seeing results without being perfect or extreme, and that is both a very important and difficult lesson to learn.
Today was long day. I taught, stayed after, and did three hours of home instruction. I am definitely exhausted, and am most certainly looking forward to crashing and burning.
I was a little upset I wasn’t able to go for a walk today, but congratulated myself for not overeating. I treated myself to a tablespoon of chocolate syrup in my coffee – an activity which is highly recommended.
I cannot stop listening to Phillip Phillips. He’s a contestant on American Idol. I think he’s devastatingly handsome and his voice is incredibly alluring and sexy. It makes me long for a romantic relationship moreso than I already do. In working on today’s prompt, I soon realized that absolutely everything I write essentially boils down to that one desire. I do not necessarily think there’s anything wrong in doing so, but I do hope to live a life filled with varied experiences so my writing can vary accordingly. I don’t want to become a broken record, and as much as I enjoy being restless, I do not want to remain unfulfilled in any regard.
PROMPT: Thankful I’m a Writer Finish this sentence: I’m thankful I’m a writer because …
I’m thankful I’m a writer because I relish the fact that it is both a blessing and a curse. I love duality and contradiction because I believe that power and universality lies within the abstract. Being a writer allows me to search for such power in my own life, and thereby allows me to feel things more poignantly because I subscribe specific meaning to every blessed detail of my life. If that makes me pretentious or self-righteous, then so be it. Being a writer simultaneously scorches and soothes – every set back is a catastrophe and every joy is a major triumph. I used to worry that such exhilarating highs and devastating lows were evidence of manic behavior and it’s a definite possibility that I am crazy, but so what? Being a writer has freed me; I am unashamed. We are only here once. If we lose a day, we never ever get it back.
I believe that being a writer has completely informed and shaped my philosophy on life – I have been heavily influenced by practically everything I’ve read and thereby firmly believe that my life has a plot and accompanying themes, that I am the protagonist and that my friends, relations, loved ones, acquaintances, and enemies are characters. It all has an important meaning, so I think and think and think. I am constantly analyzing while that may also mean I am constantly anxious and stressed, it also just goes to show that I care, and that I care deeply about everyone who comes into my life. I highly value connections – how can that possibly be a bad thing? Life has a special inherent value that is meant to be indulged and shared. My belief system, which stems from being a writer, allows me to detect, analyze, and ascertain life in an extremely vivid and engaging way. As a writer, it’s almost as if I’m more involved in life; like I have a greater emotional investment because everything matters. Everything means something, and I communicate that through the written word. I report back and hopefully inspire – I offer up my dreams, my heartaches, and my desires so that others may live theirs, even if it is vicariously. Writing is a community – we all share our wildest dreams, worst fears, and grandest desires and from that we dream bigger and learn that everything has value, that symbolism could be lurking anywhere and that we have something worth sharing.
The internet at home was out yesterday, and prevented me not only from updating the blog, but from doing any work. As a result, I felt out of place and out of sorts at work today. I know it’s silly to try and hold a lack of internet connection responsible for anything, but I want to blame it for making me act like a total dork in front of the remarkably handsome substitute teacher at the school today. I’ve been proud of myself lately when interacting with him because I haven’t gotten flustered or been awkward, but today was different. My hands felt swollen and numb and I could almost feel my top row of teeth pushing against my upper lip like they were somehow elongating. Oh well; it’s not like I could ever enchant him. He’s too good-looking and I have a terrible record of landing the man I actually want.
Anywho, I did have a breakthrough with my second manuscript but I am still trying to figure out a way to make the plot thrilling, so I’m calling for a vote: what’s scarier, ghosts or serial killers?
I haven’t made it official by consulting my blog’s statistics, but I do believe that “On being worse than teenage poetry” is my most popular entry thus far! That being said, I am clearly going to revisit that topic and include similar posts in the future. I would like to take this opporunity to thank every single person who read it and enjoyed it, regardless of whether or not you commented. It means the world to me that my writing has the ability to help me connect with people I have never met. That, my friends, is what it is all about, and why I really became a writer – to connect, only connect, just like E.M. Forrester wrote in the beginning of Howard’s End (which is an AWESOME read, by the way).
And speaking of reading, have any of you gotten a chance to read Fifty Shades of Gray? I’ve been hearing mixed reviews, but am truly tempted to see what all the buzz is about. It was highly and adamantly recommended by a colleague, so I feel an obligation to check it out. Currently, I’m reading four books: Jane Eyre, Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Broke and Elixir. Operation Anaconda is the true account of a military operation during the war in Afghanistan and Broke is Glenn Beck’s take on the current economical crisis. Jane Eyre is an old favorite and Elixir is Hilary Duff’s first novel, which was recommended and then lent to me by a student. I’m enjoying all of them, the first two because I feel I am broadening my interests and educating myself. What are you reading?
This weekend was hectic, but also productive. My gradebook is all caught up, and I’ve printed progress reports for my students. The trick now is remembering to hand them out. Also, I spent a lot of time with my family, and it was enjoyable, incredible and remarkable. I highly recommend spending more time with those that matter most.
Okay. So, truth be told, I am NOT crazy about the prompt for tonight, but hey: it gets me writing and thinking, and that’s what matters most.
PROMPT: Most of us set a New Year’s resolution that this was going to be the year we finished our manuscript. But once again, we neglected it. Write an apology letter to your manuscript explaining what happened and how you plan to make it up to the manuscript by December 31.
Dear Second Manuscript,
I am terribly sorry I have yet to get us off to a roaring start, let alone a stellar finish. My first manuscript is settled and in the midst of the publishing process and yet, I feel unable to move on and leave the plot and characters behind. Perhaps it is that reluctance that has prevented me from entering into what I am sure will be a whirlwind romance with you. I imagine the ups and downs, and am enthralled. Honestly, there is nothing I desire more than to start anew with you. Every sinew, every pulse and every heart beat is screaming for something new, for an original passion that will make me feel less ordinary and less stagnant.
But where to begin?
Maybe you could help? Offer an idea, or intriguing phrase that will serve as the launching pad for the next great American novel?
I teach twelfth grade English at the local high school. I interact with teenagers every day, bearing witness to the comedies and tragedies that fill the hallways, cause lockers to slam angrily, demand hall passes and fill their little worlds right up. I enjoy being an audience member to one thousand mini-melodramas five days a week, and to be honest, I find it fascinating. I don’t think teenagers should be ridiculed and lectured on the importance of perspective because as we age, we lose the passion we once had. I think perspective should only be mentioned when comforting the distressed, and I definitely do not believe that one should be admonished or feel ashamed because they reacted passionately to an event, a person or an idea they felt strongly about. We should forever be passionate.
That being said, I’ve decided to share some of my “teenage poetry.” The following poems were written when I was in high school. Feel free to judge them harshly
“Untitled” (Actually, the title of this poem was the name of the boy I liked at the time, but names have been changed to protect the innocent )
Even though the words are awkward
And I don’t know what to write,
I’m sure there’s something I need to say
so that I can set everything right.
Sipping liquids that are too hot,
Willing them to burn your tongue,
Feeling a thousand years older
And now wishing you were young.
Sitting at a lonely table
In a coffee shop in the mall
On your hands and knees, I beg you.
I am daring you to crawl
Back to the ones that loved you
Back to me who still does
And maybe now we can share that drink
That never was
Apparently, one of my friends saw this beloved boy of mine at the Starbucks in the local mall, and commented that he was alone, drinking coffee. I loved this image of him – I romanticized his loneliness, enhanced my own desires and wistfulness. That boy was everything to me when I was fifteen and if I am being completely honest, I still think about him a lot. Is it because he’s the one who got away? Is it because things ended so badly? Is it because I feel so stunted emotionally? Who knows?
“Untitled” (This one really didn’t have a title, I promise)
The lines on the page start to blur.
The pain shoots up my spine.
The sweat drops off my forehead.
There’s a pounding in my mind.
One pill, two pills, three pills, four
I took the whole bottle with regret
I downed a whole bottle of vodka
So many things I just had to regret
My body’s shaking and I can’t see
I trip and stumble until I hit the floor
I raise my weary, pounding head
There’s no redeeming light behind that door
There’s no saving grace, no second chance
Someone lied to you, it’s okay to give up
I was close to the edge and I decided to jump
Life was hell, enough was enough
I convulse on the floor, puking in pain
I took my own life without regret
Life was shit so I’m moving on
I openly welcome death
This poem is embarrassingly juvenile; I realize that. Suicide is NEVER a viable option, let alone the answer. The hopelessness that pervades the poem is unnerving- were things really that bad less than a decade ago? They weren’t, but I’m sure they felt like they were. I am not ashamed of this poem, or that I have several suicide-themed poems in my arsenal, because the writing helped me to express all my feelings into something positive, into a creation. The writing saved my life.
“Untitled” (There was a time when I totally titled my poems … this just wasn’t that time, apparently)
fix the seams of all my parts
starting with my broken heart
make me whole, make me complete
get me back out on my feet
but take me by my trembling hand
and help me to fully understand
how your needles and your thread
brought me back from the dead
you breathed new life into me
made me whole, happy and healthy
i owe you every breath i take
thank you every time i wake
because you’ve saved me
you’ve ressurected me
because you love me
i can be
There are notes from a math class besides the poem – clearly, I wasn’t paying attention and I need to send an apology to Mr. Savitsky. Not only did I not understand anything that was happening in math class, but I did not understand real heartbreak or recovering from heartbreak. Writing is all about writing what you know and experience. I had very little experience with anything at fifteen - other than the social microcosm of high school – and now, at twenty-three, I feel the same. I have yet to travel, to have a full-time job with benefits, to live on my own, or to experience a whirlwind romance. I crave these things every day, and they do find their way into my writings, but then the writing comes off as cheap and not genuine.
My friend Brandi and my mentor both told me to start living; to finally begin my journey. I vowed to you that I would.
I was assigned another home instruction student on Monday, so today, I went to the classroom teacher – who also happens to be my mentor – for some background, advice, etc. While we did discuss the student, the most important piece of information I took away from the impromptu conference was this: “To live.” I jokingly commented that I wanted to be my mentor when I finally grow up, and she laughed with me, but told me I could do it now. She told me to stop wishing and making excuses and to simply do what I wanted. A light bulb went off in my brain, an explosion ruptured my soul and things finally made sense.
I need to stop wishing and start doing, and I need to do it as soon as possible.
So tonight, I signed up for a conference in New York City for writers of thrillers.
It started raining on my way to church with the family – around 11:00AM – and it hasn’t stopped since. The wind’s picked up some, and its mournful howl rallies against the windows and rattles the doors. I don’t mind the rain. In fact, I happen to enjoy it very much. Before I die, I want to get caught in the rain somewhere with the man I love. I want the two of us to be careless and young and living for the moment. I assume that’s probably a strange goal, but I’m coming to find all my goals are strange. I’m a strange person, but I embrace it.
I wrote some more of what I hope shapes up to be my second novel. Please, please, please read and let me know your thoughts.
The car came to a stop at a red light. Brian had his window down and the sound of the tires slowly rolling to a standstill on the dampened pavement reminded him of pouring milk over a bowl of Rice Krispies. The sound was louder than the radio, which Penelope had only turned on to discourage Brian from talking. He stole a glance at Penelope, his wife, beside him. Her head was turned away from him – most likely to further discourage him from talking – and all he saw was her red hair. It had been the first thing he had noticed about her some thirty years ago. It was just as vibrant as it had been then, and he wondered if Penelope was proud of that fact. He wondered if he should tell her he noticed, if it would make her smile. He stayed quiet and his dark eyes moved to take in her entire form, but they soon became focused on her hands carelessly resting on her lap. They were small and delicate, though not exactly fragile. A ring denoted each and every finger, aside from her thumbs. The only other adornment was that wooden beaded bracelet. “Where’d you get that bracelet?” he asked.
The light turned green. Brian accelerated accordingly.
Penelope shot him a sharp look, annoyed that he had broken her reverie by talking. She regarded the bracelet in question. “My brother gave it to me the day I met you.” She paused before adding, “I thought it was lucky, so I haven’t taken it off since.” She laughed but the sound was forced and lacking in any genuine amusement. Penelope used her left hand to cover her right wrist and the bracelet. She turned away from Brian again, and he assumed the conversation was over. Then Penelope asked, “Why?”
“I don’t know,” Brian confessed with a shrug.
“We’ve been together for over three decades and you’ve never asked me about this bracelet, so why the sudden interest?”
“Why have you never told me about it?” Brian asked, trying to be clever.
“You’re impossible,” Penelope growled and that signaled the real end of any and all conversation between the two. Her face was pinched and ugly because she was so angry. She was tired of looking out the window and couldn’t stand to look at Brian, so her eyes – much like her hands – fell to her lap. Penelope moved her hands so they rested flat upon her thighs with palms facing downwards. The bracelet that incited the clipped conversation that had so upset her became the focus of her gaze. Her pinched features softened as she allowed her thoughts to drift and recalled a memory.
She had been young – just twenty-years-old – and she had been so excited to go to the boardwalk in Ashton Park. Penelope and her friends had made plans earlier in the week to fill a cooler with beer, to fill a stereo with batteries and lay in the sun on the sand. Penelope remembered being up in her small, neat bedroom. The windows were open and the ceiling fan was rapidly rotating but still, it had been hot; great beach weather. She had her bathing suit on with some shorts she had made herself by cutting up an old pair of jeans. She had been maneuvering and modeling in front of the full-length mirror in the near right corner, piling her hair atop her head and then letting it fall. Penelope had been so self-absorbed that she hadn’t heard her older brother knock on the door frame and it wasn’t until she saw him in the mirror’s reflection that she even knew he was there. Penelope had spun to face him, and she asked him what he wanted.
“Relax, Penny,” he said with the goofy grin he always wore when he was pleased with himself. “I just wanted to give you a surprise.” He had pulled the bracelet from behind his back and slid it onto her right wrist. He had planned on giving it to Sandy – his current girlfriend – but rumor had it Sandy had already received a bracelet from some other guy on the block – Tommy Cook, maybe. Penelope smiled ruefully, chiding her brother about just wanting to dump the bracelet. Her brother feigned taking offense and explained that Penelope was a beautiful girl who deserved beautiful things … like the bracelet. Penelope didn’t think the bracelet was beautiful at all, and had rolled her eyes and had playfully kicked her brother out of the room. A horn blasted outside and before she could take the stupid bracelet off, she was on her way to the beach, to the boardwalk, and to Brian. It had been the perfect day and she missed the feeling of being infinite, of being invincible. Maybe she still wore the bracelet in hopes it would be a magic talisman of sorts that could keep her young and happy. Maybe she still wore it to remind herself of better times and to remind herself of why she had fallen in love with Brian so fiercely that day.
So much had changed, been ruined and shattered. Why didn’t she just take the bracelet off? She suddenly felt weak and sad, so Penelope tore her eyes from the bracelet and resumed staring out of the passenger side window at the generic scenery passing by. She sniffed loudly and then leaned forward to raise the volume of the radio.
Ten brutal and silent minutes later, Brian parked the car alongside the curb in front of a trendy restaurant downtown. It had been a favorite and frequent stop of Brian and Penelope when things had been good – great, even – and they still had dinner there every other week to keep up appearances. They smiled wide and laughed louder than what felt comfortable. Brian even held Penelope’s hand and during dinner, they talked without raising voices. It was a nice break from the usual tension and dramatics and Brian supposed that was the real reason he and Penelope had kept up the charade – they had become so good at pretending that for a couple of hours, they could actually believe that nothing was wrong.
Brian climbed out of the car and headed to cross in front of the car to open Penelope’s door. He looked at her through the windshield and found she was still not looking at him and was still staring out of the window. Halfway to the other side of the car, Brian stopped because he heard Melissa’s unmistakable and unapologetic laughter radiating from somewhere behind him. He turned and saw her beneath a streetlight with friends. One of the friends, a young man, had slipped his arm around Melissa’s waist. Brian noted that Melissa did not cringe or subtly slip out of the embrace. He wouldn’t say she welcomed it, but she definitely had not refused it. Heat had started to collect in his chest and rise up his neck. Soon, it would flood his face and his anger would be apparent to everyone, especially Penelope. Brian had a strong desire to call out to Melissa, to have her come to him and explain herself with her head hanging low and her eyes full of shame. He also debated marching over there, pulling Melissa free of the guy’s grasp and proclaiming loudly that she was his, and not to be touched. Both of the options Brian entertained were unrealistic; he and Penelope had decided to keep the affair a secret so their two girls wouldn’t find out. As a result, divorce was not a viable option and Penelope and Brian had continued as if she hadn’t found out, and as if everything was as it should be. Sighing heavily, Brian continued to Penelope’s door and opened it.
Dinner was delicious, and the conversation wasn’t entirely terrible. It slowed and halted, but was not hostile. Fans stopped by the table to quickly say hello, as did the owner to ask about the family, the new novel and upcoming book tour. Penelope and Brian smiled and were completely engaged; no one suspected a thing. When the visiting had ceased and an awkward silence had descended, Penelope excused herself and went to the bathroom. Brian took the opportunity to dial Melissa’s number on his cell phone. The phone rang and rang and rang; there was no answer. He left a voicemail through gritted teeth, indicating he was angry but he nearly pleaded for her to call him back. He shoved the phone in his pocket before Penelope came back, and the evening continued the same way it had started.
At home that night, Penelope went to her bedroom on the far side of the luxurious house. Brian knew he wouldn’t see her again until breakfast the next morning, so he wasn’t too discreet about leaving the house. He walked out the front door and down the long, twisting drive until he reached the sidewalk. Melissa only lived about two miles away, in an attractive apartment building made of red bricks with wrought-iron railings. Bruce wanted to walk to clear his mind and to formulate what it was he would say to his lover, his mistress. Melissa hadn’t reacted as well as Brian had hoped to the idea of keeping things as they were, even though Penelope knew. He didn’t know what Melissa had expected or what she had wanted to change, but he did know that was part of the problem.
About half-an-hour later, he was standing in front of the front door of her building. Brian had been about to ring the buzzer, but he stopped and retracted his outstretched hand. He retreated down two of the three long, wide concrete steps leading up to the door and had half a mind to walk back on home. He had called Melissa and left a message; wasn’t that enough? Was he being silly and juvenile? He couldn’t afford to be so, not at his age and in his line of work. Brian turned away and was about to descend the last step when the doors opened. He turned and was surprised to find Melissa, clad in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, walking out. She wasn’t wearing any shoes and her hair was sloppily pulled back. A cigarette dangled between her thick, pink lips and he presumed she was reaching into the long pocket of her sweatshirt for her lighter. When her dark eyes lighted upon Brian, she became impressively still. It was silent before she called, “Brian?”
He took a few steps closer. “Hey Melissa,” he breathed.
Seemingly incredulous, her eyes shifted left and right. Melissa asked, “What the hell are you doing here?”