Thursday, July 24, 2014

Daily Write - Equals

You were everything I had ever wanted to become. There was nothing else I wanted more than to stand on your pedestal. To stand on that same height our peers had placed you on and look into your eyes.

 I find it ironic now. The thing that drove my want to emulate you, become you, what sat you in spotlight and heraldry, was the one thing you despised. Despised so much you tore it out, ripped it up, and destroyed every part of it. 

 Now that you have turned your back on what made you great, are we finally equals?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Write - Touch

We had practiced. We had prepared. We had anticipated all we could. There was nothing left for us to do now but try. So, here we were, standing in front of each other. In spite of all preparation we had put ourselves through, neither of us were completely ready for what we were about to undertake. 

I was scared. No, more than that. Scared does not give my feelings at that moment enough depth. I was terror stricken. He was too. You didn’t have to be like us to feel our anxiety. It was an unseen fog, sucking all the air out of the room, threatening to choke the two of us. 

“It’s going to be okay,” he reassured me, using that gentle tone of his, “-I- am going to be okay.” 

He could hear my fear. Probably clanging as loud as warning bells. I was already pushing my thoughts into his mind. That was my worst fear, the thing concerning me the most; losing control and hurting him. 

“We don’t have to do this,” I whispered. I wanted to give him a way out. Give me a way out, “We can just label this a bad idea and forget about it. We can simply walk away.” 

“No.” 

His rejection was so simple. So final. So quiet. I felt him calmly pushing back. Pushing down my anxiety, like a cooling breeze running over my skin on a muggy summer day. He had become stronger and he showed me to quell my worry. I took several deep breaths and focused, folding the anxiety in my chest smaller and smaller until it was too small to feel. 

“Settled?” 

“Yes.” 

I could not watch him remove his gloves from those long, spindly fingers of his. Instead, I focused on my own. Nothing more than thin, white, pieces of fabric, they fashioned a barrier that shielded my sanity from drowning in the noise. Removing them was cutting loose my anchor and setting myself adrift in that noise. I could hear the echo of his breathing the same way one sees ripples on a lake. He was unsettled and uncertain. More than I was. Of course he was. The risk he was taking eclipsed my own and no one could know that more than him. I had to focus. 

We both took a step closer to each other. I could not look at him. Not yet. I had to breathe. I had to focus. However, I struggled. My heart hammered against my chest with such force. It only got stronger with every step. I thought at any moment it would break through and burst in front of me. 

“This is harder than I thought it would be.” I breathed.  
“Actually, you surprise me. You are quite calm.” 

His heart beat. I felt it like it was my own, thrumming in my head like a quivering drum. The process was already beginning. I had not noticed until he spoke. We were just within reach of each other, however he seemed so much closer than that. The fog tightened around us, dense, heavy and charged. It was seeping into my pores. He reached his hand towards me, slowly. 

“You’re shaking.” 

My own voice sounded foreign to me. I was losing the ability to recognize myself. 

“I know.” 

I held my hand out towards his. I could taste the fear building in the back of my throat, but I promised myself I would not hurt him. I just kept repeating that I had to focus, visualizing the fear as nothing more than liquid draining out of me and into the floor beneath my feet. I could feel the fog around us, clinging to my skin. It was a brewing storm about to swallow the two of us. I saw our fingers, his and mine, nothing separating them but a breath. And yet to me, it might as well have been a canyon. A canyon that I had to jump across.

 “I trust you.” 

His quiet finality. 

“Wait! No!” 

But it was too late to pull away. He clasped my hand in his. The burning jolt that followed seared into my flesh, bore into my stomach, ripped through my chest. I couldn’t breathe. My skull felt like it had been set ablaze inside a crushing vice. My entire body threatened to explode into ash and melt into nothing. I wanted to resist, to scream, to pull away and run. Instead, I forced myself to endure it all and look. Forced myself to pull my head up and stare into his eyes. His body seized like a leaf twisting in the wind. His face was pinched in agonizing pain. But, he too searched for my eyes. We found each other and in that moment I thought I had fell. But soon realized it was not falling. I was melting, disappearing, being absorbed into those eyes. 

I no longer saw him. No longer spoke to him. I felt him. I simply felt him. We were nothing more than two existences, two thoughts, two energies swirling in the presence of each other. We knew nothing and yet we knew everything. We were new and carefree. We were old and satiated with our lives as they had been. We ran, we flowed, we flew, we slipped farther and farther away into that vast expanse. This space of nothing occupied only by the pure essence of us. Never had I felt so close to someone. So together. We were two objects occupying the same space. 

Time passed. How much, I am not sure. I walked and remembered I had legs. Remembered I was made of muscle and bone. I felt that weight pulling me back into reality. I was slowly rising back to the surface, feeling my own skin, hearing myself breathe, feeling the beat of my heart in my chest. My mind was drifting, failing to latch onto anything concrete. I tried moving my body, but my limbs would not respond.. 

I could still feel him in my mind as I lied there, motionless. He was mist clinging to high mountain cliffs. I felt his smile and heard his gentleness echo in my head. 

“You are butterflies.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Let's Talk...

Let's talk about failure. I know, ugly word. A word that has ended many a dream for many a person. It's not the failure that breaks most people. It is everything that comes after; this package of malevolent feelings. The shame of it, the depression, the feeling of being sub-par and inadequate. You drown in those feelings, suffocating. And you just sit and watch as your dream is snatched away and crushed. Or do you?

I'm not going to jump on a soapbox and tell you to learn from your mistakes (though that is a good idea). I'm not going to spout out a bunch of inspiring quotes that have found their way onto posters, bumpers stickers and passed around on Facebook status updates. Instead, I'm going to tell you that I understand.

I understand failure and the package that comes with it. Wanting to hide, wondering why it happened to you, feeling beyond alone. Because, how could anyone possibly fathom what is like to have a hole blown in your world so big that it shatters everything in it? I get it. I get you.


I understand failure. It aches like nothing I have ever felt. I was mired down in this dark mental pit with nothing but my horrible, berating thoughts and bitter tears as company. But, I could not stay there. I could not die there. I could not drown, fade away and let this moment be the one that represented me, my life, myself as a whole.

Shutdown. Cry. Scream. Have the largest tantrum of your life. And when you are all done, don't roll over and die. Don't let this be your definition. Despite the tears, despite the pain, do not let this moment define who you are and who you will become.

Because that is what this is: a moment. A moment in a series of many you are going to have after this. Don't fade, don't give in, don't die. Not here. For now, breathe. Survive until this moment fades into the next.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kitchen Adventures! - Shepherd's Pie

My mom found the recipe for Shepherd's Pie first. My sister was the second to have it and she added a few touches of her own. Then it found it's way to me. I have to say, something so simple should not be this good. I have a few recipes in my back pocket for those days when I need to cook  and have very little time to do it. Shepherd's Pie is one of them. And it is a God send.




The ingredients are pretty simple: ground beef, peas and carrots (or whatever veggies tickle your fancy), cream of celery soup (or cream of mushroom if that is your thing), and some mashed potatoes. Now, my mom is all about the homestyle way of doing things. She makes this dish with fresh vegetables, right down to chopping the carrots and boiling the potatoes. I admit, that is probably the healthiest way to do. But I take as many shortcuts as much as I can. I tend to buy my veggies frozen when they go on sale. (C'mon $1 for a bag of frozen veggies?! How do you pass that up?) And use potato flakes to speed up the mashed potato process. What can I say, I'm addicted to the "dump and go" method of cooking.

You can switch out the ground beef and use ground turkey. I find that ground turkey is a decent substitute in a few of the dishes that I have made. Ground turkey has a lighter flavor and the consistency is slightly different, but that is it. There is even a vegetarian "ground beef" made by Morning Star. I personally have never used it in Shepherd's Pie, but I used it to make chili. Again, different texture, but the taste was fine.

So, after you have cooked all your ingredients on the stove, you put them in a casserole dish and slide it into the oven. Then you are finished. Like I said, quick and easy. And it will taste like you spent forever on it. What do you guys fix when you are pressed for time?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rings, Rings, Rings!


I am not sure when I started liking jewelry that was different from what my peers were wearing. If I had to take guess, I would say it started when I was a teenager. Probably around the time I was painting my nails wild colors and trying to figure out an argument that would convince my parents how awesome a tongue ring was.

 

 I remember wanting something more interesting than your normal, cutesy pieces. My mother and I had quite the back and forth over my high school ring. She wanted me to get something feminine. I wanted a huge hulking guy's ring. In college, I was all about the finger armor (though I never bought any). I believe very little has changed about my tastes since then.
  
I have  a few interesting rings. Above is a picture of some of my favorites. Each one of these have some story behind them. For instance, the black ring with the floral pattern was a gift from my sister. It is one of the first in my "unique" ring collection. The Batman ring was a gift to myself for some feat of academia I accomplished. It is a sterling silver Batarang spinner ring. I eyeballed that ring for weeks before finally purchasing it.



 

I like rings like these because they make you take a second look. When I wear them, I feel like I'm making a statement without having to expend a lot of effort or money. Most of my rings I simply happen upon when I am shopping for something else. Except my Batman ring, that one I searched out on purpose. I was going through a Dark Knight phase.





Do you wear jewelry that is more on the "unique" side? Any specific jewelry pieces that are your favorite? I think the only jewelry that is more expressive than my rings are my earrings. But that is a post for another time.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Nightfall Saga: Moving Pieces (Part 5)

It was the normal exchange that Cixi had become used to seeing and yet didn’t quite understand why it was done. She stood quietly while Matthias went and spoke to Tobias on her behalf in order for Matthias to alert Lord Jaias that she wished to speak with him. Cixi didn’t understand why couldn’t she just walk up to the door and knock on it. However, she simply watched the two elves cloaked in brown whisper to each other. The older slowly shook his head and walked away from the younger, disappearing behind a closed door. Matthias turned and walked back to Cixi, bowing his head when he was within earshot.
 

“Lord Jaias is in a meeting right now. His manservant has gone to see if he will accept your request to meet with him.”
 

“If he is busy, then I can come back later,” Cixi replied, “No reason for Lord Jaias to interrupt anything.”
 

“Unless the interruption happens to be something more important.” 

The closed door was now open and Lord Jaias darkened the frame. A hint of a smile was on his face as he walked through it. He signaled for the door to be closed behind him as he walked over to Cixi, robes swishing about his feet.
 

“You wished to speak to me, Cixithara?”
 

“Yes,” Cixi replied nervously. The more she thought about what she wanted to say, the more the words kept evading her. Suddenly she couldn’t help but feeling that this was a very bad idea.
 

“Well no reason to mince words,” Lord Jaias said, noticing that Cixi was pausing longer than usual and was fiddling with cuffs of her sleeves, ”Tell me what it is that you want.”
 

“I was hoping…”
 

Again, there was a slight pause. Cixi turned her head away slightly. She just couldn't look her uncle in the face for some reason. She knew who he was now. The status that he held. How the entire House viewed him.
 

“I was hoping that you would stop requesting that I accompany you for the rest of my stay here.”
 

Cixi kept her eyes averted when she spoke.Lord Jaias had nothing but protect her since she had walked into his home, wide eyed and naive. He had never looked down on her, never made her feel less. In fact, he had done quiet the opposite. And now she was asking him to leave her be. Cixi half expected a response that was something along the lines of anger or maybe grave disappointment. Part of her expected to be rejected again and things would go back to the way they had been before.  So the soft return caught her off guard.
 

“Have I done something to offend you?”
 

“No,” Cixi answered quickly, her eyes meeting Lord Jaias' concerned face,”You haven’t done anything. It’s just that…”
 

“Your mother,” Lord Jaias interjected.
 

Cixi chewed the inner part of her bottom lip. She didn’t want to lie, but she didn’t want to mention this being her mother's doing either. There was a heavy silence however, it only lasted a few moments. Lord Jaias put both of hands on Cixi’s shoulders and lightly kissed her on top of her head.
 

“Your mother has not changed a bit since she was young. If she is having that much of a problem with us spending time together, I will no longer ask that you join me for anything else. The last thing I want is for you to be fighting about me with your mother. However, if you change your mind, there will always be room for you at my table.”
 

“Thank you, Uncle!” Cixi exclaimed. She gave him a quick curtsy and left. Now her mother would be pleased and things would go along smoothly from here until the end of the Gathering.
 

Tobias spoke up as Lord Jaias walked back to the door, “I am very sorry that happened, sir. I know that you wanted to make a good impression on the young lady. It would seem that Lady Alara is very much against you having any type of relationship with her daughter.”
 

Lord Jaias only gave a slight grin as a response, “Did you hear her, Tobias? Cixithara referred to me as her uncle. My sister has failed. She simply has not realized it yet.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Nighfall Saga: Moving Pieces (Part 4)

“I have been trying to see you, Mother, but it has been really hard to get away. It is  like Lord Jaias is trying to make up for all the lost time between us in a matter of a day or two.”
 

Most had gone to bed quite a while ago. Now was only time that Cixi wasn’t being primped and preened by a team of hand maidens. Or tethered to Lord Jaias’ hip. Ever since the spectacle at dinner, Cixi had been asked to accompany Lord Jaias everywhere he went. She knew that everyone was still talking about her. Even more now that she had become the "favored niece". But, at least no one would dare to do it to her face. 

In her mother’s bedroom, they both sat  quietly in the darkness. Darkness which was only lifted by the moonlight spilling in through the windows and the outdoor lamps on the city streets. They spoke in whispers to each other, so as not to wake anyone. But mostly to not be overheard.
 

“I can’t really tell him no. I am staying in his house,” Cixi explained,” I am eating his food. All these clothes I wear every day are things that belong to him. I can’t just be openly defiant. You and Father taught us better than that.”
 

“Cixi, sweetie,” Alara said, gently grabbing onto her daughter’s forearms, “I do not like you being around my brother. I know him better than anyone. I don’t want you getting close to him.”
 

“Why?” Cixi asked.
 

“Just listen to you mother, sweetheart. I know best about these things.”
 

“i have done a lot of growing up while I have been away, Mother,” Cixi answered, “I can handle whatever it is that you think is bad about Lord Jaias."

Alara did not answer, so Cixi kept pushing.

"We are already keeping our being here a secret from Father, Taulithran and Zendier. And I have not asked why we are doing that. But the least you can do is tell me why I have to stay away from someone whom I share blood with.”
 

Alara sighed, seeing that her daughter was not going to let this go. She straightened a bit in her chair and let her hands slide down to Cixi's elbows. Alara looked at Cixi earnestly.

“My brother always has a reason for doing things,” Alara replied, “And most of his reasons are self serving. I don’t know why he is doing what he is doing, but I am sure that it can only hurt you once it is all over. It is what this family does.”
 

 “He doesn’t really seem all that bad to me,” Cixi whispered back, "He has done nothing but try and make me feel welcome."
 

“He isn’t bad, not entirely” Alara replied, “He was a kind man once. And he will continue to be kind until you decide not to fall in line with his plan. Then you will see him for what he truly is. I want to get you away from him before it ever reaches that point.”
 

Cixi made to promises to her mother that night. In fact, despite her mother’s warnings and pleading, Cixi found herself at Jaias’ side more times than not. At meals, she was requested to sit at his table. Evening activities, she stood at his side. There were even times where she was called to his study, where no one was allowed in but him and her. The two of them shared small conversations about things that seemed inconsequential. What was life at the village like? How did she get along with her brothers? How were things growing up? And the more she shared about the Daybreaker Clan, the more Lord Jaias would share about House Ebonlynx
 

Despite Cixi feeling very awkward around her uncle, she could not see what her mother was so worried about. He was genuinely nice, even if it was wrapped in a chilled and stilted distance. However, every night, Cixi’s mother implored her to stop saying yes to Lord Jaias when he requested to see her. And even though Cixi could not see the justification in it, she could not ignore her mother’s fear forever.