Personal · Ramblings

Stream of Consciousness

There’s something burning in me. Something burning wanting to burst forth and incinerate the whole world. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for so long and I still don’t quite understand it. I don’t really like fire. Mostly because of the damage it does when it touches the skin.  I’ve seen what it can do and how such a small flame can destroy so severely. And yet….

The metaphor of fire is burning in my brain and I want to use it. Our lives come in snapshots and moments and sequences of events that weave together to form the days that turn into years. Maybe it’s because I’m getting married in 25 days and I want that new chapter of my life to begin. Maybe it’s because I hate routine. I like it at first because it gives me structure to who I am and what I’m supposed to do, but then somewhere along the way I only end up feeling trapped by it. It’s the excitement of shopping for school supplies but dreaming for Christmas break only a month later.

I’m supposed to be doing something with my life but I don’t think I know what it is anymore. I’ve had dreams and plans and actions I want to take, and like waves plowing into the sand, new ideas sweep the old ones away. What if I am never satisfied with where I am, constantly shifting like the flickering of flames? What if I will never be satisfied with the me that’s under my skin. That scares me most of all. I never want to look back and hate my life or the decisions I made. Life it too short to live that way. I want adventure but I’m terrified to take it. I want normalacy, but am  too afraid I’ll be trapped by it.

That fire in me leaves me tapping my foot impatiently for something, ANYTHING, to happen. If a bear walked by my window, I’d go outside and hug it. I feel like a hot-headed Disney princess singing about wanting more than this “provincial life”.

What am I doing? What do I want out of the world? Why do I hate walls and ceilings so much?

Being mediocre at most things leaves no lasting impression on the world. The things that make me stand out like a sore thumb only make me angrier. Having pink hair and a nose ring doesn’t change the world. Wanting to write, yet never writing, can achieve nothing in retrospect to the giant globe we’ve been thrust into. Going to school to be a designer means nothing if your talent is next to nothing. Coloring doesn’t make you an artist, and answering the phone with a smile in your voice doesn’t make you a good person. Copy and paste has no meaning in a world where your own ingenuity can make or break your career.

The ticking of a clock can be so slow, and the pounding in my head can be so fast- there isn’t a good medium for the two. My fingers don’t type fast enough and my brain can’t form coherent sentences fast enough.

The thoughts jumble together and i don’t know what they even mean anymore. what if they stop making sense to you and me and the world and everything crumbles into…..

I have to stop. Go back and fix my capitalization and spell check the mess I’ve just written. Because one misspelled word can be the difference between “a beautiful stream of consciousnesses from a brilliantly jumbled mind” or “the rant of a whiny lower-than-normal woman”. I should go back and read what I’ve written before sending it to the void. I debate it even as I write this sentence. If I do, I might just erase it all…

 

 

 

Am I even allowed to want something more?

Everyone everywhere wants more. Does that make it selfish? or human? To yearn is human; to lust is hypocrisy. I thought in writing this, I would be able to work through my own thoughts. In the end, I’m only more frustrated with my own inability to make sense of the jumble in my mind.

I had dreams of different things at different times in my life. Each one has been pushed away be the understanding of how the world works. Reality is a painful mistress. I’m not talented enough to grace the stage. Not driven or disciplined enough to be a writer. Not smart enough to be a veterinarian. Not artistically inclined enough to be an artist. Not adventurous enough to be a world traveler. I used to feel like I had purpose. A goal I was striving towards. Now I feel like a ship with no course, a car with no tires, a flame with no fuel. My dreams are fading away. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Blog Challenge · Life

Meyers-Briggs (Day 9)

If you are unfamiliar with it, the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an “introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” You might have taken the test for a class or even a job (I’ve taken it for a camp I worked at and for two separate college classes). The test consists of four personality traits to compose your own individualistic introspective understanding of why you do the things you do. There are four possible pairs of personality traits: Introversion (I) or Extroversion (E), Intuition (N) or Sensing (S), Thinking (T) or Feeling (F), and Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m an ENFP. An Extroverted iNtuition Feeling Perceiver. To help you understand this even a little bit more, here are a couple pics to explain:

 

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Not going to lie, I’m extremely proud to be an ENFP. I don’t have ducks in rows, but I have squirrels at a rave. I promise not to forget and then I forget. I forget what I was talking about in mid sentence. I get magical crazy beautiful ideas that never go anywhere. ENFP’s are the perfect ambivert: I absolutely love people!!! until I hate them all. I want to make beds out of marshmallows and duct tape myself to the wall for fun. I hate making snap decisions or being told what to do. I talk to myself out loud when my brain is too full to think. If you command me to do something that I was already planning on doing, the chances of me doing that thing automatically drops to zero. There is no limit to what I can accomplish when I’m supposed to be doing something else (AKA my entire college career). I pack two hours before a trip, and unpack three months after getting back. I aggressively care about you but don’t want to be clingy about it. I alternate between procrastination and perfectionism. I’m indecisive because I see eight sides to everything. I contradict myself a lot.

I could go on. There are some FANTASTIC little memes and gifs and lists for every type of personality.

“But Hannah!” You ask. “What is Cheshire’s personality? He doesn’t really seem like much of an ENFP (from reading his blog). How does that work out?”

Whelp, let me tell you.

My dear lovely Chesh is an INTJ (Introvert Intuition Sensing Judger), which if you hadn’t noticed, is almost the EXACT opposite as myself. They do say that opposites attract. This article is actually great at summarizing how our similarities and differences work and don’t work. Because we know how important it is to anticipate probelms we might have before we ever get to them, Chesh and I talked about this extensively in our meeting with our pre-marital counselor. Dr. David Olshine, who loves looking at people’s personality traits and how they relate to each other.

As I read through the article mentioned above, I found myself nodding a lot. Take one look at the differences between my blog and Cheshire’s and it’s pretty obvious. My ENFP personality is very bouncy and feels a lot of feelings out loud. I’m a dreamer who keeps my head in the clouds most days. The articles I write about I try and keep upbeat and funny, and when I do write about serious things, the post focus more on the emotional side rather than the cognitive. Cheshire’s INTJ personality os a bit more grounded. While he is still a dreamer, he can be much more focused on the actions to be taken to get the dream done. He processes internally and therefore his articles tend to be very introspective and get you thinking. (See the difference between the Feeler and the Thinker?)

Below is an excerpt from the article talking about why ENFPs fall for INTJs (and vice versa).

ENFP-INTJ-Cognitive-FunctionsENFPs and INTJs may only share one letter preference in common (N for intuition) however, they share two common cognitive functions; Introverted Feeling and Extraverted Thinking (see above). This means that both ENFPs and INTJs not only perceive the world through intuition, they also have a common feeling and thinking function, although in a separate order. Where the ENFP will have a higher knowledge and awareness of his/her own emotions and values, the INTJ will have a higher awareness of the logical approach and efficient task completion. If you look at the cognitive function image, you can see that INTJs use Fi in the tertiary position, only one step down from the ENFPs position. The same goes for Extraverted Thinking, the ENFP has Te in the tertiary position, only one step down from the INTJs Te.

Ok so I know that sounded kind of complicated, but when I can better understand myself and how I work, while at the same time seeking to better understand Cheshire and how he works, we are recognizing pieces of us that make the relationship stronger, as well as the pieces that make us clash.

If you haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs, I highly recommend you do. Understanding yourself and how you work can be extremely beneficial into understanding certain tenancies and traits that make you, you! Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you with jobs, every day life, how you interact with friends and family, and how you play a role in society. You have certain gifts and talents that might have a bigger impact than you know. You also have weaknesses that could cause you trouble (and even pain).

In my opinion, the 16 Personalities website is one of the best Myers-Briggs tests out there, that not only gives you the option for detailed answers, but also is great at explaining the strengths and weakness you may have. It’s also totally FREE so you aren’t having to fork over cash or create an account just to better understand yourself. It’s also a great tool to better understand your significant other, or even friends and family. Sometimes recognizing the ‘why’ can help mend relationships, or harness each other’s strengths to create a better community.

Boom! There it is. I hope it helped. And let me know what YOU are! I love seeing how beautifully different we are and how together we make the world go ’round.

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Blog Challenge

Old Photos (Day 8)

As we grow, I think there must be something in our brains that works as an evolutionary constrictor, so that we never repeat certain parts in our lives. In a way, our brains are saving us from that embarrassment. Because sometimes fashion choices really don’t need to be repeated.

I shall provide for you a for-instance. In high school I used to do this thing where I dressed up weird on Wednesdays. Maybe it was a weird homeschooler thing, but I called it Wacky Wednesdays and wore toe socks with flip flops and that sort of thing. I’m talking blue eyeshadow, pigtails, suspenders, leggings. Every. Wednesday. It’s really no wonder I didn’t have many friends. To save us all, I won’t post that one. But I will post a couple that take me back down memory lane….

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Jenna in yellow & Me in blue

This was me freshman year of high school. This was the day after meeting my best friend, Jenna. The first day I met her, I was getting picked up from the bus station for a MK co-op event and was meeting all these new people for the first time. It was news to me that there was another girl my age who lived near by, so my brain spazzed and I tried to shake her hand. Like an idiot. She also thought I was an idiot (not ‘sophisticated’, which is what I had been going for).  A day later we were inseparable.

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Mayhem in Mayville

This was my first real show. I played Rona O’Toole who was a postal worker, tangled up as a suspect in a murder. It was an interactive show that involved the audience and broke the fourth wall. At the end of the show, the audience would vote (by clapping) as to who they thought the murderer was. The louder the applause, the guiltier the suspect. Opening night, I was deemed the murderer, and it was my proudest moment on the stage. I loved playing Rona because she had a huge temper and got really mad at people all the time. Her best line was “I’M NOT YELLING!” as she shouted it across the stage.

1933798_1241650843019_2047553_nThen of course there’s always THIS little gem. As you can see, the rainbow hair started young. I showed up at the bus station after being gone all weekend and looked like this. My dad wasn’t impressed. I remember the drive home, and my mom commenting on my snarky attitude. I believe the phrase “That dye’s leaked into your brain, young lady,” was used more than once. 1928805_1089031108923_1872_n

And my baby faced self on day one of seventh grade in public school. Mom and dad had walked me to the bus stop and I was terrified. It was the year of way too many horrifying moments that crippled me for life. It was also a year of firsts. First detention, first crush, first breaking down and crying in the hallway between classes. Oh yeah, it was a fun year.

Ok so if I’ve learned anything from being me, here’s the thing. The embarrassing moments, the hysterical stories, the crazy hair, all of it, is part of a great story. My story. Sometimes I get so caught up in where I am right now that I forget the past moments that have brought me here. I’ve learned from all those times, and the people and experiences have brought me to where I am. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. Sometimes even the bad stuff leads to good.

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Blog Challenge · Life

Piercings, Tattoos, & Rainbow Hair (Day 7)

A lot of people view piercings or tattoos as a rebellious act. Especially if you have parents like mine. I would like to think of myself as a rebellious person, so it should be no surprise that I have a tattoo, a nose ring, and have dyed my hair multiple times. Talk about living dangerously. I even impress myself.

In college I pierced my nose. It was one of those things that I don’t actually remember having a reason for, other than I thought nose rings looked cool. I did it right before Christmas break and surprised my parents at the airport with bangs and a stud in my nose. My dad still makes bull jokes.

Last spring break I got a tattoo. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, and though my mother had vocalized her opinions on the matter, I decided (as a grown up) that it was something I wanted to do. The tattoo is of coordinates (N 43° 53′ 27″ E 18° 23′ 22″), right on the inner side of my right arm. If you look up the coordinates, it’ll send you to a building. My building. If you’re familiar with some of my other posts, you might recognize it as a bombed out building in my old neighborhood in Sarajevo, Bosnia. It might seem like an odd place to pick for coordinates, but that old building was huge in my development as a writer and as a person. It’s also a constant reminder of where I came from, and to never forget that brokenness can be a path towards redemption. In the same way my loneliness as a kid pushed me toward becoming who I am, the brokenness of the people of Bosnia (both economically and spiritually) is a path towards the hope of redemption. As the country and the people grow and as they continue to seek truth and hope. Ok, back to the lighter stuff…

The rebellion continued on to last May. After I graduated, I bleached my hair and then dyed it purple. Yep.

It was one of those things I had always wanted to do, and now that I had graduated, I was looking forward to trying something new. Needless to say, I LOVED it, and kept it purple all summer long. Complete with a green scale and purple top swimsuit, I lifeguarded a lot and got called “Chief Mermaid” which was a dream come true!  I was bummed when summer ended and I had to have a real job. Apparently jobs in the real world don’t look kindly upon mermaids working desk jobs.

BUT!!! There is redemption! I plan on piercing, tattooing, and dying all over again after my wedding next month! First, I plan on getting the new tattoo. This is something I’ve wanted ever since I got my first ink. If you’ve gotten a tattoo before, you know: Getting ink under your skin is ADDICTING! This is the new plan:

tattoo number two

You might be familiar with the phrase, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” which means “I came, I saw, I conquered”. This one says “Veni, Vidi, Scripsi” which means “I came, I saw, I wrote”. I feel like it sums me up well. I want to write about my experiences in the world and leave an impact. I just love it ❤ Placement will be on the inner part of my left forearm and will be aprox 5 1/2 inches long.

I also plan on getting a daith piercing, which is piercing the cartilage fold on the inside of your ear. The piercing actually acts as a sort of acupuncture, and helps relieve migraines. This is something I’m very excited about since I get migraines pretty often and hate having to deal with them. I’ve heard great things, and think it’ll be a great addition to my bling.

And lastly but not leastly, I shall be bleaching my hair once again and going….. PINK. Somewhat of a mix of dusty rose, salmon, It’ll be a good summer. I’ll also be working at camp Sandy Cove again this summer as photographer, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend my first summer as a wife!

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Blog Challenge

Memorable Dreams (Day 6)

With my wedding to Cheshire quickly approaching (43 days from today), I’ve been having a lot of dreams about weddings lately. Most of them involve things going horribly wrong, or huge miscommunications (like the photographer not showing up, or performing the wedding on the wrong day, or losing the rings and replacing them with DIY seashell rings hot glued to tin foil rings). Usually I remember bits and pieces but not enough to piece together a whole sensable plot. BUT. About a year ago, before Chesh and I started dating, I had this little masterpiece. And so, without further ado, I present my wedding day from hell.

You know how when you dream, there isn’t a starting point that you remember. It’s all kind of fuzzy and you find yourself suddenly in a situation not remembering how you got there. It gives us the illusion that we’re awake because there wasn’t a pinpointed beginning. But this time, it was like getting blasted with cold water. One second I’m drifting off and then next second, BAM! I’m standing in a wedding dress in some bridal room at a church. There are bridesmaids from hell in bright pink dresses that make me want to retch, and everyone is smiling too big. My mother dearest is crying into a wad of tissues, fussing over my veil, and my dad is holding back tears as he gazes across the room at me like I’m about to go off to war. I take in the whole situation quickly and handle it with grace and precision.

“What the hell is going on?” I say, eyeing down the nearest bridesmaid who is attempting to straighten the bottom of my dress. I inch away from her.

It’s as if the room didn’t hear my question, and my mom begins blubbery about her “little baby who is so grown up and finally getting married”. I feel like I’m going to be sick again.

“And who am I marrying?” I direct this at my dad who seems the most sane one in the room. I’m mistaken. He eyes me curiously, a quizzical puppy dog look on his face.

“Hannah that’s not funny.”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?” I brush away another bridesmaid who’s trying to fit something in my hair, a flower I think. My annoyance boils over. “Everyone! Get out!”

The room freezes and my mother looks horrified. Good. At least they’re listening to me now. I stare back at them all, eyes wide, and stare pointedly at the door. “Out.”

My parents assume they aren’t included in everyone, and they remain. My headache lessens as the pepto-bismol pink puffs of a bridal party leave.

“Will someone please explain to me what’s going on?”

“You’re getting married, honey.” My mom looks like she’s about to lose it altogether. “This is supposed to be a happy day. What’s going on with you?”

I ignore her.

“Who am I marrying?”

There is a silence and I think they think I’ve lost my mind. Alzheimer’s maybe… Finally dad breaks the silence.

“You really don’t know?”

“Humor me.”
“Kevin.”

Typical dream-based reality, no one has last names and my apparent fiance only goes by the one. Kevin.

“Well could you get…Kevin, was it? In here?”

My mom protests. “But it’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding!!”

Dad, thankfully, sees I’m in no mood to be messed with and drags my mother out, promising to bring my betrothed.

I take the time to pace the room, and end up tripping over my stupid dress twice. God, did I choose this style? With the strapless straight neckline, and skirt that’s way too long for my legs. I can feel the makeup caked into my skin, and my hair is pilled up in unattractive ringlets on my head, making me look more like a poodle than a person. Dream me had also chosen to spend the day in heels. If I knew one thing about myself it was that me and heels was never a good idea. Especially in a long dress that didn’t fit right.

The door opens, and a quirky but not unfortunate looking guy walks, his left hand covering his eyes. His brow is furrowed.

“Hannah? Where are you? The wedding’s about to start…”

I pull his hand down so he’ll look at me, but he keeps his eyes closed anyways.

“It’s bad luck to-”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Open your eyes. You look like an idiot…”

When he does, he gets this wow look on his face that I would assume every bride hopes for from her to-be husband. I would have cherished the moment had I actually known the guy standing opposite me.

“Look…Kevin. I don’t think we should get married.”

I say it, thinking that this is totally normal at weddings when the bride suddenly realizes she’s about to get married to a complete stranger. But as for typical dream states, I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of my dearly beloved fiance, and so I was trying to break the news carefully. So far I felt like I was doing pretty good.

Kevin lets out a sigh mixed somewhere between relief and a sob. Not what I was expecting.

“Really?” His eyes are hopeful, and for a second I’m actually annoyed at how relieved he is at this statement the supposed love of his life just told him. I attempt to reason.

“I just don’t…know you.” I don’t entirely know how to tell him I’ve never seen him before in my life, and honestly wouldn’t know the difference between him and the preacher.

“I feel the same way!” Kevin’s statement makes me double take and I stare up at him with eyebrows raised.

“You do?” I’m confused.

“Yeah. Like you said, I feel like we don’t even know the real Kevin and Hannah. Everything just happened so fast and we made this decision so fast. I feel like you don’t even know the real me…”

Good gravy, he thinks we need to find our own paths, doesn’t he?

“Yeah…. Sure. Ok. We’ll go with that.” Literally anything is better than him crying in the corner. “So what do we do now?”

I can see his wheels are turning, and there’s something sad about how long it takes him to come up with the simple solution of breaking the news to the congregation that has gathered for our nuptials.

“We’re going to have to tell them, aren’t we?”

I nod at Kevin the Genius.

“I can’t do that! My mother will be so disappointed after all the hard work she’s put into this wedding!”

Aha! So she’s the culprit for the wardrobe choice of my bridesmaids. No wonder.

Since I have no emotional connection to these people, I take the high road and volunteer to tell everyone of the impending lack of ceremony.

Now, at this point, things get a little fuzzy, and I somehow agreed to let him take our limo and honeymoon tickets to Hawaii while I drew the short straw and told everyone. Looking back, I think maybe I just wanted to be done with the whole thing, and as I waved at the disappearing limo, I wondered to myself exactly how I was going to explain this whole fiasco. I couldn’t really walk up to the front and tell everyone there wouldn’t be a wedding today because we didn’t actually know a single thing about each other. Or could I?

And so as the organ attempted to keep up with my fast paced strut up the aisle, I held my skirt a foot off the ground, my bare feet having kicked off the heels at the door. People awkwardly stood, wondering if they were supposed to since the groom was no longer standing at the altar like he was supposed to. A red faced lady on the front row didn’t look happy. I waggled my fingers at her as I passed, guessing she was our dear Kevin’s mother. As I neared the steps and oncoming stage, and faltered, wondering where to stop and make my announcement. Then I spotted the pastor. Poor thing, the man looked confused as all get out, and was awkwardly holding his Bible open, eyes wide like a fish, his lapel mic clipped way to close to his throat.

I came up to stand next to him, leaning over and unclipping his mic.

“Could I just… borrow… thanks.”

Pulling the mic closer to my mouth, the feedback echoed through the building and I saw dear mother-in-law wince from the front row. When the screeching had subsided, I smiled out at them all, wishing I was on a plane to Hawaii instead.

“So. As you have probably guessed, Kevin’s not here.” I pause but there really isn’t a reaction yet. “Yeah, and there isn’t going to be a wedding today.”

A gasp reverberates through the crowd starting from mommy-dearest. That was better.

“We realized we didn’t know a thing about each other, and found this all to be a waste of time… So. Enjoy the cake and whatnot, and I’m just gonna go now.”

I hand the mic back to the pastor, who’s standing there like I’ve just grown a third nostril, and decide it’s time to make my grand exit. People have started to mumble amongst themselves, so I’m thinking it’s time to go. I pick up my skirts and head right back up the aisle and out the door into the foyer. A bridesmaid stands holding her bouquet in one hand, cigarette in the other. She takes a nice long draw and smirks, smoke blowing out of her nose.

“Is that it?”

And it was.

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Writings

The Last Book I Read (Day 5)

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Wanna guess the last book I read? WICKED! As a theater nerd, Wicked is at the top of my list of Broadway must-see’s (closely followed by Hamilton and Next To Normal). I’ve been singing the music since high school, and after finding the books at Goodwill, I realized it was finally time to read the series that inspired the musical. I had already read Gregory Maguire’s “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” and enjoyed the twist on the classic Cinderella story. When I found out that “Wicked” was only the first in a four part series, I was excited! And THEN I found the final three at Goodwill! It took me a bit longer to find “Wicked” and when I did, I couldn’t wait to start.

Now. Let me just say this. If you enjoy the musical, and love the connection of characters  and relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, I should warn you now: The book is not like the musical. Not even close. If you loved the ending of the musical, you’ll hate the book. In fact, I was halfway through, and had to stop for a couple months just because I was so heartbroken by the “real” story in the book. When I finally picked it back up last month, I had to resolve myself to the fact that I would not be happy with what I would find.

I’ve said before that one of the keys to being a good writer, is the ability to create characters that leave an impact on the reader. That power to impact the reader and (in a way) manipulate them, is a super powerful thing.

Writing gives me peace. It gives me power. It’s violent and urgent and grotesque and REAL. I am both creator and destroyer. I am both life and death. If a character is too weak, kill them off. Make the reader suffer like I have suffered; like the character has suffered. I can offer hope on a silver tray, and then snatch it away just as quickly. That power that comes with writing is probably one of the reasons I do it. When I have no control over the pain I feel, or the emotions that have gone numb in my chest, I can write. I have control over that. Much like someone who slashes lines into their skin just to feel something, I can control everything, when I am the one writing the script. If I didn’t have my writing, I honestly don’t know if I would even be here. That’s the God-sworn truth. (Excerpt from Why I Write)

I love to write. I always have, and I hope I always will. There’s something to me about being able to create a world that doesn’t exist. I can put whoever I want into that world (including myself), and anything can happen. Not only can I create worlds, I can also invite people into them. The biggest compliment you could give to my writing is that I made you laugh out loud, hurt with my protagonist, or maybe even cry in the end. I love that by piecing words together, I create a whole new universe that has the power to seriously mess you up. In a good way. (Excerpt from Self Doubt & Other Things That Go Bump In The Night)

We’ve all seen it. The main or side character is dying. Maybe in the rain with blood streaked across their face. They’re being cradled and told “Don’t speak. You’re going to be fine!” as they choke out their final words. In movies and books, when we see a character die, there is a long moment where the tears are slipping down their cheeks as they say goodbye and then slowly drift away. But death, much like sex and exploding cars, doesn’t happen like it does in the movies. Death is quick and leaves you reeling. You think, “It all just happened so fast.” You can hardly believe you didn’t get to say goodbye. You need time to process their death and you feel numb. Gregory Maguire doesn’t write fluff. If a character dies, they die. So quickly that you wonder if you missed something. I re-read the final page of a chapter seven times and then googled it to make sure before I realized my favorite character was dead. It’s awful and the pain leaves you sitting in shock. There is no three page description of their passing into the void. They maybe get a sentence. If that.

But then again, does life offer a three page goodbye? The answer is no. No, it doesn’t. At best, death hits at the worst possible time. Gregory Maguire captures this so well in his writing. The way he treats and presents death and loss, he gives the reader no “page therapy” to work through what they just went through. There is no room to process in his pages. To do that, you have to put down the book and handle your grief in the real world.

Grief hits us all in different ways, and they even have stages worked out, so that you can better understand what you’re feeling. No one knows this better than a writer. To write good characters, to create good emotional connections, you have to understand your character and what they are feeling. The power that a writer exhibits over the creation of their character also exhibits that same power over the emotions of the reader. The more attached the reader becomes to the plot or character, the more they can be impacted by the overall story.

Whether you’re a fan of “Wicked” the musical or not, reading the book is something I would recommend. Just prepare yourself for a totally different side of The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

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Blog Challenge · Personal

Childhood Memories (Day 4)

My childhood is a combination of pictures scrunched together to fill in the holes of what I remember. Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing between pictures I’ve seen and memories I remember. But there are memories that I have never forgotten. Things from my childhood that I think about all the time. I remember them so clearly, it’s like I’ve been thrown into a time machine and hurtled back to watch it all again as a bystander. Silently watching it happen again and again. 

I’ve never thought myself to be a particularly unusual child. The same things every normal child loved, I loved. The same things every normal child feared, I feared. The toys at my house were just as good as anyone else’s, and the ghost’s under my bed just as imaginary. Though there is one place, to this day, I have loved with not a quite full understanding. It’s as if my brain shut down the moment we sold her house, and remained that of a child’s; lost to the reality, and ever alive to the stories that were woven between those walls.

Many a time in my adult years I have found myself passing the exit and wondering if I went back there, would the new family let me in? I’d heard they had changed a great many things in that house, and perhaps it is the possibility of change that keeps me from going back. If it remains cemented in my mind’s eye a certain way, then perhaps I shall keep it alive in an alternate universe of my imagination.

It stands, quite nestled in fact, at 305 Lamplighter Lane in a beautiful little neighborhood called Fox Hills. I have never in my life seen a better example of a simple southern American picturesque view of “home.” It was the home of my grandmother, mother’s side, and they were much alike. I do not remember her much, and I wish I had had a better appreciation for her then as I do now. Marion Crick babysat all the children in the neighborhood, and while she was strict with her kids, she was loved by many.

The driveway was always the first thing you noticed about the house. It sloped down from the street, creating the perfect hill for bikes and roller skates, wagons and big wheels. If you don’t remember big wheels, you’re either too young or too old. Big wheelers were plastic tricycles, with a massive wheel on the front with pedals sticking out the side. The seat was low to the ground, and you pedaled like mad getting up that hill, and then stuck your legs out the side to coast back down. No brakes really, and so we used the pedal our way to oblivion and line up at the top. Us kids would eye each other until someone would decide to screech “GO” at the top of their lungs, and we’d all lunge down the hill, screeching like banshees until we plowed into dry pine needles at the end of our “highway of death.”

They, (don’t ask me who), say that smells stick in your brain somewhere, and it only takes one trigger to send you spiraling back to where you began. I am not a great scientist and can’t tell you exactly how it works, but I’ve seen, or rather smelled, it first-hand. One second I’m walking out of my apartment and the smell of fresh fallen rain hits me square in the jaw and the next second I’m zapped back to sitting on that back deck at 305 Lamplighter Lane, listening to the pine trees setting into the soft earth.

And cookies too. Something about molasses. They take me back to her kitchen. Marion had four walls in her kitchen, like most kitchens do, but one of hers was a massive window overlooking the backyard and multiple bird feeders she had. I distinctly remember sitting at the kitchen table as she passed me a cold glass of milk and a fresh sugar and spice cookie straight out of the oven, watching the little birds flit from feeder to feeder. Simpler times, I suppose. Her kitchen always smelled of something heavenly, and it was usually bread. And boy could that woman bake! What my mother lacks in technology, she makes up for in cooking. And she learned every single thing from Marion.

There were exactly two things every child who visited her house faced, and each as terrifying as any child could imagine. The first, I understand now as an adult to be a perfectly simple and uncomplicated request, which was to stay out of the music room. The music room was kept to perfection. Antique Tiffany lamps, and a piano whose lid was always closed, combined with the perfectly lush avocado green carpet and a couch I believed no one had ever sat on in the history of all mankind. This made the room an off limits area to kids, and the most perfect temptation. We were not allowed to step even a toe into that room, and certainly not to run through it playing hide and seek. The wrath of Grandma Crick reigned most supreme on this matter. It was to no avail though, and when we knew she was otherwise occupied, we would slowly walk through the room, in one doorway and out the other, as if treading within a den of lions. The wrath one faced if one were caught was horrendous indeed, and the punishment most severe. I very distinctly remember being whipped within an inch of my life for my act of treachery, though in reality, I believe it was only a swat on the behind, as I ran out the backdoor to safety.

The second thing every child faced, and I suppose in a way, feared, was the closet under the stairs. The closet held all manner of childhood fancy: all the puzzles you could possibly dream of, every type of tinker toy known to man, woman, or child, Lincoln logs, ball and mallet games, and books. Yet, even through the euphoric haze of childlike perfection, there was a witch’s hat in the far corner that scared us all silly. That hat, without question, was the scariest thing I’d ever seen in my life, and I was solidly convinced that that hat belonged to the wicked witch of the west, who had taken up residence under the stairs. In actuality, the hat had belonged to my Aunt Amy and had been a piece of a Halloween costume. But, I suppose, to a child who had never been allowed to participate in Halloween, and to whom witches seemed a great and horrible thing, that hat was a symbol of the unknown and an emblem of sorcery under the stairs. This was only enhanced by the magic that seemed to encompass the closet itself. Whenever the door was opened, a light would come on. No switch or string was ever to be found, yet surely enough, the closet would explode with light when the door was opened, and then extinguish itself when the door was closed. The first time I noticed this, I stood outside of the closet for a very long time, wrenching the door open suddenly over and over as if to catch the darkness in the act before the light came on. In my small little head, the conundrum of a darkened closet was something I had never faced, and so I resolved myself to catch the darkness in the act, and close myself in. This act was of course the obvious solution, and it never once occurred to me that maybe the darkness just wanted to be left alone in the quiet peace of the closet. 

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door in its shining brilliance of light, walked in, and closed the door firmly behind me. I instantly regretted my decision. Pitch black, and trapped in the closet with the witch’s hat, I now understood in full why the darkness was better left alone, and the closet merely accepted with its faults. It was then that I understood the mortal terror of every mouse caught in a trap, or a cat locked in the bathroom, for I was, indeed, locked in. The door, much to my sickening dread, did not open from the inside. No matter how much I turned the knob, it simply continued to turn, keeping me trapped in the dark, within the bowels of the stairs, left to the impending doom within the clutches of the closet witch. I wish I could say that I had kept my head, evaluated the situation, and then calmly and quietly dealt with the imprisonment at hand. I wish I could say that I faced the witch herself, fighting her off with a weapon made of tinker toys, and came away with a battle wound to carry my legend into history. The girl who fought the witch under the stairs, and won. Unfortunately I am neither heroic nor brave, and my Irish heritage failed me. There would be no fight today. I instead screamed with all my might until I was rescued minutes later that felt like hours. I had a very decent respect for the closet’s darkness after that.

Pumping my legs back and forth, knuckles gripped white on that chain, it was easy to pretend you were flying. Whether it was the happiest day of your life, or the storm clouds of life had rolled in, that swing my grandpa made was the perfect escape. He’d strung it up between two giant trees in the backyard, facing the house, and the chain went so far up the tree, it gave the illusion you could swing yourself right over the house. I used to climb up onto that wooden seat, gripping the chain, and would beg dad to push me. Braids flying and all smiles, knees scraped up and cookie crumbs still on my face, that swing was the best thing in the world. I could close my eyes and lean back, wishing my hair to drag on the ground. I’d come in looking like a savage and mom would grin like it was usual for her own little girl to look as wild as in Indian. I was always too far off the ground to succeed, but the idea of coming inside with a beaming face and leaves tangled into my brown hair seemed perfect. I was a wild Indian in my own mind, too, a noble explorer who stared death in the face and shouted “NO!” as I fought off evil villains with a stick that doubled as the great sword, Excalibur. Behind that perfect swing was a patch of woods that became all sorts of glorious lands. One day it was Sherwood forest, and I was the brave Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. The next day I was a hardworking lumberjack, fighting bears and mountain lions. I could be a princess running from the evil Jafar, or a spy stealing blueprints. It didn’t matter. I was the hero, and I always won. But my victories were never without a price, like chopping off my own hand to remove it from a trap, or pulling an arrow from my side.

Imagination could run wild there. I think back on those times with a smile on my face. If I could go back, I would. I didn’t worry about life back then. I cared only for the next thrill that childhood could offer. The next cookie, the next game, the next big wheel ride. Did it matter that the world slowly shrunk as I grew? Did it matter that as I outgrew my childhood, I saw the world a little clearer? I would like to think that 305 Lamplighter Lane remains the same, despite who I’ve become. I grew and changed, and after grandma had her stroke and moved up north, we sold that house in Fox Hills, and I’m sure the house probably changed too. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to bring myself to go back. I wouldn’t be able to stand seeing the differences. A new deck, or the missing birdhouses. Perhaps the witch under the stairs has moved, or maybe, and this is the saddest thought of all, that grandpa’s swing was unstrung, and the trees cut down to make room for something else.

I realize, it’s just a house, and that the memories are the important part. I realize that people have to change, and move on, and new people have to take their place. I have to “grow up” and put childish things away. But maybe I don’t want to. Maybe to me, that house is a symbol of a piece of my ever fading childhood. And maybe, just maybe, it was more than just a building on a beautiful street in Georgia. Maybe the house at 305 Lamplighter Lane was, really and truly, home.

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