Writing prompt: Think about a time you were recently in public. Describe what you were doing from the point of view of a stranger observing you.

“He’s just sitting there, with two books, a phone, and a tablet in his lap. What the hell is doing? Why does he need all that stuff? He looks like he should be in school right now. Like. High school. I wonder if he’s skipping. This is kinda public to be hanging out during school hours.

One of the books looks like a planner.

Oh. He’s wearing a uniform. He must work at that fast food place. Maybe he’s older than he looks. Maybe he goes to college, and is doing school work right now. I guess that would explain the planner. It sort of looks like he’s taking notes on his tablet. But it looks like the book is written in, too.

Jeeze. He is really chewing on his nails hard. He looks stressed. He keeps shoving his hair back. I do that when I’m stressed, too. Honestly, he does look pretty tired. Definitely a college student.

I wonder if he’s okay. He keeps cracking his neck and he’s going to town on that cup of coffee.

Oh good. He’s taking a break. He keeps smiling at his phone. That’s nice. Good smile. I hope he stays happy.”

❤ Eli

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“Streets can be eerie, Streets can be dreary.”

“Do you wonder, darling,
who sees you on the street?
Do you wonder, if you looked up,
whose eyes you would meet?
Do you wonder at their lives?
Where they’re from,
or where they go?
Do you want to ask?
Would you like to know?
You know most people move
in ways like you.
How many of them
do the things you do?
Do they bite their nails,
or pop their gum?
Do they stand too close
to where the trains run?
Would they recognize
something in you?
Do you see yourself,
somehow, in them, too?
If you looked up
from you tired feet,
looked around at the people
on the eerie, dreary street,
would you know them at all?”

*”Streets can be eerie, Streets can be dreary” is a Lady Lamb lyric. I didn’t come up with it and don’t have any rights to it.

Writing Prompt: You are the interpreter for the wind. What is it saying?

“Child, I know you’re cold and feeling small. I know my gentle touch sends a chill into your bones. I know you want me to leave you alone. But remember a cool breeze on a hot night. Remember your lover’s hair tossed just so. Remember power outages where you played Uno with your family, and how that was the happiest you all were together. It is in our nature to be happy.

Though you love me when I’m like this, I can’t keep myself small. I must blow and howl and gust, just like you must cry and wail and knock your fists into things that will hurt you. It is in our nature to storm.

I am a part of you. I have been with you your whole life, and I alone will continue after you’ve died. I will not leave you, but you will leave me. One day, I will try to tousle your hair after a hard day and you will not be there. I will sigh and moan and regret your loss, but I will also move on. It is in our nature to keep moving.

You do not always like me. But sometimes you do. That is enough.”

This Is Not A Happy Post

This isn’t going to be a happy post. There isn’t a nice ending to this story. There isn’t any neat resolution or a cheerful reminder to stay positive. This is me, trying so hard to make my life better, and the universe flipping me off and sauntering away without looking back.

We (my wife and I) recently had an amazing opportunity. One of her dad’s long-time friend wanted someone in her house. She doesn’t live there, but it’s a historical landmark, so she was having a hard time selling it. We originally told her we could just live there for a few months so that someone was there, but then she started talking about how she has been wanting to run an antique shop out of the house. So we told her that we would love to do that. My wife has always wanted to run her own business, a cafe, and we figured it would be easy to add espresso to an antique shop. We’ve been planning for a while now. We came up with figures for how much we’d need to spend to start it, how much we’d need to make to break even. We told her that we would love to buy the house from her, since that was her end goal anyway. She seemed on board for everything we’ve said.

Today we were supposed to meet with her to look at the house and then sit down to talk about what our plan was and how we would go about buying the house through her instead of a bank, because I don’t have that kind of credit yet. We left it up to her when we would meet, since she’s the one that has to drive over. Out of the blue she texted us and said that she didn’t want to meet with us. She didn’t want to rent the house out, and she couldn’t afford to front us until we got the business up and running. Without any context, the dream that we’d been building up for so long got yanked out from under us.

I am trying to be positive about this. We’re not starting over. We have everything that we had before we were planning to start this. What we have sucks, though. We have a car that we were forced into buying at an unreasonable interest rate because we were desperate. We have a shitty, shitty apartment, without a working shower, with bugs and drafts and a stove that only works half the time. We have two maxed out credit cards. We have jobs that we deeply hate going to every day. We have school debt. We have no idea what to do now.

After the idea of a three story house and a business that we could call our own, going back to what we have seems almost impossible. But we’re going to have to do it. And that sucks.

I told you this wouldn’t be a pleasant post.

❤ Eli

Adulting: What It Is and What It Should Never Be

I think about the awkward transitional phase between being a “young adult” and being a “real adult” a lot, mostly because I’m in it. Every time I pay a bill or cook my own dinner I feel like a real adult. Those are the types of things that real adults do, right? But even though I have a job and credit cards and a car payment, I’m still only considered a young adult because I’m in my early 20s.

It’s sort of akin to the feeling of being a pre-teen. You get the weird emotions of a teenager, and often times you get the responsibilities of one, too. But when you want to do something that a teenager would be able to do, you’re thrown back into your pre-teen status. I remember that phase, and it’s just as awkward as the one I’m in now.

The area of my life that it pops up the most in is money. People think, often, that because I’m a young adult that I’m not good at being financially responsible. When I’m dead broke and can’t afford to do things that other people want me to do, they frequently assume it’s because I’m not being smart with my money. Honestly, I’m better at paying bills than several real adults that I know. When I don’t have money, it’s usually because I spent it all on bills. Mostly the problem is that I have a very low paying job. I mean, I make more than minimum wage, but only about a dollar more. When you take into account phone bills, internet, rent, electric, car payments, food, gas, credit card bills and the other miscellaneous things you need to run a household (dish soap, cat food, tin foil, garbage bags) it’s sort of amazing that I can afford living at all. My wife works a part time job at minimum wage because of her health, so she contributes absolutely as much as she can, but we still struggle sometimes.

Our most recent big splurge was seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We decided to make a date night of it on New Years day, because we’d both worked the night before and hadn’t been able to celebrate. That’s it. The big splurge was $40 for a movie. I feel like that’s not something that most people would see as reckless as far as money goes.

The job part of my life is where I feel like I’m stuck in the young adult world. I’m still working towards what I want to be when I grow up. It’s not a fast-food worker, that’s for sure. But I don’t know what it is. After a physically demanding, emotionally draining, eight hour day at work, I often think I just want a quiet desk job somewhere, answering phones and taking messages. But even that sounds like something I would eventually loathe going to five days a week. I want to do something that doesn’t leave me feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything at the end of my day. To be more succinct, I want to do something that leaves me feeling fulfilled. I think that’s something that every young adult wants, maybe even most real adults.

Long story short here, being a young adult skews people’s view of you. I think that’s weird. Work is rough and most people hate what they do 5 out of 7 days. I think that’s weird, too. We should all just quit our day jobs, do what fulfills us, and stop being weird about young adults.

❤ Eli

“How to Be A Writer”

All my life, the most prevalent advice on this topic has been deceptively simple. Q: How do you become a writer? A: Write.

This seems so ridiculously easy that anyone should be able to be a writer. If you love writing, just write, right?

Well, I have a complicated relationship with writing. I’ve been writing stories since I leaned to write. I was telling stories before I learned to write. I’ve been questioning the world around me since I could speak. If you’ve ever know a precocious child, you know that their favorite question will always be “Why?” even after you’ve given the best explanation you can give. I was like that. Luckily, I grew up in an environment where it was not only accepted, but encouraged. If my mom didn’t know the answer to my question, she would send me to my papa. If he didn’t know the answer, he would make something up. He told me that the sky was blue because it was reflecting off of my grandmother’s eyes. He told me that light bulbs worked because flipping the on switch made little blue monkeys inside the filament run, which made them hot, which made them glow. He was, and still continues to be, my biggest fan and greatest collaborator. He played “imagination games” with me. We would look at a spot and try to name all the colors we could see. We would try to think of three new uses for everyday objects, bonus points if you could think of a really good scenario in which to use them. I would tell him ideas and he would turn them into entire worlds. His memory has never been great, but he could retell stories from memory like nobody I’ve met since.

What I’m trying to tell you, is that I’ve basically been conditioned from a young age to be a writer. When other kids were playing guns or dolls or tag, I was in the garage putting on book signings, with my stuffed animals in line, ready to love me and my work. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said “A best-selling author”. No lie. Until, somewhere in middle school, I realized how many people want to do that and fail. That’s when my relationship with writing became complicated.

I still wanted to write. I still had a need to express the way I saw the world and the people in it, but my confidence in myself started flagging. I tried to be like other writers I knew of. Even fictional ones. I remember trying to be like Jo March, from Little Women, and put my hair up like she did, had special “writing clothes”, even tried writing with fountain pens on unlined paper. In high school, I decided that I’d take after the beatniks. I would only write if I were high. Some of it was really good. Some of it wasn’t. I even had a brief stint at my dad’s when I tried to Hemingway my way through writing. Which meant locking myself in my room with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes, willing myself to just put something, anything down on paper.

All of this because nobody told me the most important thing about writing: It is so hard. You can have endless worlds built, characters fully formed and fleshed out, a complete religion set up,  but pulling it from your mind is still hard. Putting it down, whether it’s electronically or on paper, is so damn difficult that sometimes it doesn’t even seem worth the effort.

But when I told my papa about those feelings, he told me the truth about writing. He taught me the real secret. He said, “Anyone can learn to write. But the people who must write are the ones who call themselves writers.”

I can quote that for you because I wrote it down.

That’s why I call myself a writer, even though I’ve never been payed to write, even though I don’t write every day, even though I haven’t finished any novels, and even though I have never actually participated in NaNoWrMo (National Novel Writing Month). I write meta about fandoms. I write thoughtful Facebook posts. I write articulate emails to my best friend when I have feelings about things. I write blog posts like this one. I must write. Sometimes I do it better on paper, sometimes I do it better online, sometimes I have to get drunk to get my thoughts out, often I have to have a cigarette in my hand, but I must do it.

To anyone struggling with the realities of writing, please remember this. If you feel the pull to write, you are a writer. Any writing that takes effort counts. And you don’t have to have writing credits to be a “real” writer. You just have to love doing it enough that you continue, even when it’s difficult.

❤ Eli