My home town is a suburb of a bustling metropolis located in the hot heat and icy winters of central Texas. When young, my house stood one street away from a field of cattle. My parents would often take my sister and I to the barbed wire fence running the length of the field to feed carrots and apples to the gentle beasts. When the field was sold, and the city moved in to build houses and a middle school, all sorts of small denizens of the earth came creeping into the neighborhood. I witnessed, in the exaggerated vision of my youth, a snake, ten feet long and white as alabaster, creeping its way through the dry, caked dirt and rustling, yellow grass. I saw, to my bewilderment and excitement, a tarantula which easily measured five inches in height, parade down the alleyway as if he were mayor. I passed the afternoons counting scorpions in their rush to relocate, scorned from their homes by bulldozers and cement trucks.
The change was drastic: in a matter of years the quiet neighborhood grew to thrice its original size, and boasted an elementary and middle school. I had no problem finding friends, for it was a popular group of homes for young parents. I ran wild in the dusk, yowling with my friends like a feral thing in the setting sunlight. There was no greater joy for me than watching a great thunderstorm roll across the sky, counting with bated breath the time between flash and boom to see how fast the wind pushed the tempest, and hiding in the open garage when the sky let down its fury. Time passed and I aged, my friends aged, their families aged, and their homes aged. The neighborhood is less polished than it once was. Each street is host to at least one neglectful homeowner who lets their shrubs devour their house and leaves their grass to grow as high as their knees. Some crime has crept in: an assault here, a theft there, but for the most part the neighborhood remains safe.
The suburb outside the neighborhood is made of other neighborhoods, each essentially the same, and is pockmarked with grocers, pharmacies, fast food restaurants and churches. One shining exception to the demographics sprang up, on unsteady ground, in one corner of the suburb. People spent more than their life’s savings would ever amount to on palatial houses. Much to their chagrin, the houses were built cheaply and on unsteady land, and many of those glimmering trophies of false wealth cracked as the earth shifted below them.
Small snippet about my childhood home.
Peering through the rusted door’s window, Grace mouthed the words, “Do as I say,” and pointed to the corner behind Opal where Eli had just pushed his way through another door. Coalescing in the shadowed corner behind him stood a specter, dark and ominous. Opal rushed, her limbs suddenly weighted as though full of sand, to intercept the ghoul, but her vision went dark as she crashed to the floor. She knew her failure by the taste of blood issuing from her split lip.
I’ve finished cleaning up the novella I wrote. Come to find out, the novella wasn’t complete. I still have another chapter or two, maybe even three or four, to go. At the end of the document I found this snippet, which has nothing to do with the story, but might have, had I decided to integrate it. I thought it was a fun glimpse into the type of writing I’ve done for this project. Maybe I’ll find a way to work it into the story, but at the moment I feel that’s unlikely. I’m hoping to have this novella wrapped up in the next week or two; I’ve been working on it before and after work where time allows. I’m eager to get it ready to present to publishers. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get lucky and get published.
I’m off to cross my fingers, hash out a chapter, and down a hot toddy against this chilly February weather. What’s your favorite cold weather drink?
After years of nudging the tie was finally severed, and exaltation ensued. What once had been a tug-of-war, a cajoling to trust where words were not allowed to tip toe through fear or hurt, was now a vast openness. A great, rickety scaffolding built around air, around the lack of substance and words unspoken, or spat too loud, had toppled leaving only whispers of past structures playing in the wind: “Trust. Trust in me even though I react with daggers and thorns. Trust that my reaction is that of an honest and moral man. If you trust, you will have no need to discuss it. If you trust, you will not bat an eye when I enter knowingly into questionable situations.”
I look at my past as a great font of inspiration, a well of stories blurred by emotions, bubbling, waiting to be tapped, watered into the flowers, misted onto the hornet’s nest and settled in words and art.
Tonight I will toast myself for having a light & happy Valentine’s Day.
Through tangled slabs of cracked cement,
Through hot summers’ winds and sun,
Through rattlings loud and sonorous,
This tiny tree did grow.
Prints of my dear tree available here.
November is National Novel Writing Month and I decided to participate this year! The goal is to write. There is a certificate for people who write 50,000 words before the end of November.
I started without any plan, just an idea of where I wanted the story to begin. I’ve hit just over 20,000 words today and am still in love with the story I’m writing.
I opted for fiction verging on fantasy, laden with symbolism. Befriend or follow me on Facebook to see snippets of my writing as I progress!
I hope the story is strong enough when finished to be considered for publishing. I’ve already had a couple of friends express interest in reading it, so I think I’ll be set for test readers, and will cross the publishing bridge when I get to it.
I’ll attempt to write. I think I’ll write about my experience at the Dhamma Siri Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center.
In summary: I feel this course has enraptured, benefitted and connected thousands of people while furthering their pursuit of meditation but I feel it was designed to inspire awe and donations, which is intrinsically antithetic to meditating. If the movie Kumaré bothered you I suggest you browse another site. If you want a gratuitously honest account of my experience at Dhamma Siri Southwest Vipassana Meditation Center continue reading.
Continue reading “Sleep Eludes Me & About Goenka”
The second installment inspired by Tuesday’s outing.
Lurching gently up and down the block we danced around our options: too much grease or too little booze guiding our eyes from door to door. A mystery lurked behind the tinted windows of a restaurant which beckoned us in.
Of the three already seated we were fractions smaller than microns and treated so as the well-oiled waiters reluctantly greeted us. Freshly built steps and our love of heat carried us to the roof coated in splintering chairs and wafting curtains of white linen for fruity drinks. Here, in the high and abandoned warmth of the rooftop, we dallied with the bartender over our newly acquired potions and treats. Upon his departure the disappointment rallied in my companion’s eyes and rested heavy at the corners of her mouth turning down her words in gentle discernment: this was not magic. Inspiration fluted through the alleyways and chased the sun from the pavement as we descended to the street. Inspiration whispered in door hinges, oven exhaust and the weak pleas of homeless men.
My friend and I are endeavoring to write more. In an attempt to inspire ourselves and each other we are undertaking “inspiration challenges” to local sites and attractions. This is the first installment of the first writing after our first challenge outing. Enjoy.
A mundane Tuesday greeted our cheeks with oppressive heat goaded forward by the low-hanging sun. Slowly we crawled forth from the hollow porch and dragged our heels across uneven slabs of cement, the drops of sweat matching our pace as they descended from our knees. With words belabored by summer air we busied our minds as the distance clicked beneath our heels: a wrong word, a giggling flow of carnal words, an awed word for trees. As we lost ourselves we found the entry to our destination. Favored by cats, the door rested slightly below the earth and complained of a faulty foundation as it scraped open against the ground.
We entered with a cat underfoot and basked in the pleasant greeting of the attending clerk. She was a friendly soul who floated throughout the shop tidying and assisting all while herding cats. Our senses delighted in the onslaught: walls covered floor to ceiling with goods, trinkets and magical accoutrement waited for our novice sight and touch. We searched, as though through a seed catalog, for things which called to us as strongly as we to them. Through candles, gemstones, oils, pendants, books, herbs, teas, incense and altars we delved hoping for a connection guided by something greater than our curiosity.
With a bag plump with periwinkle, honeysuckle, oils and sage I happily waited while my companion packed her bag with blessed candles. The promise of an impending ritual occupied our minds while our tongues wagged about skeletons and fake black cats.
A snippet inspired by my drive home the other evening.
Sometimes life feels too easy: driving home with a belly just slightly too full with indulgences well after dark and your legs tingle while your feet float away from the pedals. You’re a sliver of waste in a river and in its entirety you become nothing; your doing and undoing go unnoticed and unclaimed. Here, in this vast flow, your end does not make you a martyr, it simply marks that you once were and now are not.
A brief weightlessness, a frightening reprieve from life’s cement yoke which seems always to ride heavy on your shoulders, seems unreal. You don’t feel this way. Life for you is a pulpy affair that clogs and stymies its own flow leaving you little energy to do even the simplest things.
Of a friend’s passing, I wrote:
The evening lulled into me hulking chills and a blanket of deep, grey lead for my heart. An odd sense of disconnection and guilt dusted my synapses as my thoughts stretch through the clouds to pierce the sky as though a flame, gently flicked by turbulent wind, grew from my ear.
I forget to speak to the dead sometimes.