Me, Myself, and the Driver

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Screeech!

A red sports car came flying around the wooded bend in the road straight toward us. My heart froze. I was paralyzed in sheer fright. Is this how animals feel when they know these giant machines are going to crush them to death? Only moments ago my best friend Lucy and I were laughing and talking, as careless as two teenage girls could be. Just out for a walk down my neighborhood’s wooded street, making sure as we approached the fork, to stay on the right side where cars exit, not enter. Or at least they were supposed to. What were we even talking about? I can’t remember. All I know is in that moment, everything was almost gone. As I was looking death in the face, I found my feet had betrayed me and I stood as if rooted in the ground. Silent. In shock. Just waiting for this unknown person to take from me what I didn’t know until that moment was so dear.

It seemed as if the behemoth was inches from us. I could almost feel its gravitational force as it neared. Without even attempting to slam on brakes, the car swerved, barely missing us. Not so much as a slight hesitation to show he cared, the car sped off in the same pace down the road and out of sight. We were both silent. The only sound was the engine of that revolting machine as it died away in the distance.

I sat on my bed, looking casually through a magazine. Not even thinking about my near death experience earlier that day. I felt her sit down behind me. I always felt her. She had this presence that left you with a sense of dread.  I tried my best to act like I didn’t notice. After a moment of silence, where I could feel her eyes watching me, she finally spoke.

“So, what are we going to do about him?”

I stared at the page, fighting the urge to answer. Maybe if I ignored her she would just go away. But who was I kidding, she never went away. I cleared my throat.

“I don’t know what you mean by we.” 

I could feel her annoyance radiating through the bed we shared. I felt her climb to her feet and walk around in front of me. I didn’t take my eyes off the magazine, but I could still see her. She tapped her fingers ever so slightly on the base of the bed.

“I know where he lives.”

There it was. I couldn’t help it. I had to look up. Ah, how she could tempt me! Her eyes, identical to mine except seething with malice, gazed back at me. If I looked into those eyes long enough, I feared she may take control and I would never find myself again. It was vital that we stay separate. I looked away.

“He didn’t hit me or Lucy. I just want to let it go.”

She let out an exasperated sigh and headed toward the door. Against their will my eyes followed. I could feel my whole body quake. She paused only long enough to give me a look I knew all too well and then disappeared. Damn it. I found myself climbing off the bed and running after her, unable to control my own legs. I stepped out into the humid night air, overpowered by the shrill orchestra of crickets. Off in the distance I could just make out her dark silhouette hurrying a long. Maybe, just maybe I could stop her. When I reached our destination, I saw her standing there. I knew what she was looking at before I even allowed myself to see it. Shiny and bright, even in the dead of night, there sat the tool which almost slaughtered me. I stood next to her and we both took it in. Just staring at it brought back the sharp stab of terror that had surged through my body hours ago.

“He didn’t even stop.” I found myself whispering.

I saw her turn her head and look at me. I could just bet her eyes were glistening with satisfaction. She thought she had won. This brought me back from my momentary lapse. Don’t get me wrong, part of me wanted to destroy that being that so carelessly nearly drove me down. But that part of me was her. And I had to keep us apart. If I were to act on whatever sinister plan she had concocted, how would I be any different from the person who nearly killed me? Would I be able to stand by and watch her destroy him? No, that wasn’t me. Gathering up my courage I turned and began to walk away.

“Are you serious?” I heard her hiss.

Stopping, I glanced back. We locked eyes for a moment before I looked back at the car. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. It all came down to a matter of right and wrong.

“You know if he had killed you,” her voice trembled through the stifling air. “I would have died too?”

“I know.”

“Then I have every right to seek revenge as much as you do.”

“You’re right.” I replied calmly. “You can do as you please, but I won’t be here with you.”

With that I turned and walked off triumphantly down the road. I had won. I had survived death. But not only that, I had survived the temptation of my inner demon. It wasn’t long until I heard her footsteps trailing behind. Like me, she knew all too well only one of us could be the victor in this game of choice.

 

*Short story written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie where we take something that happened in real life and add a fictional character, twist it around a bit and see what story comes out. The limit was 500 words, but even after editing out as much as I could, I failed miserably. Once I start writing, I just can’t shut up.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver’s Prompt 1: Reality Meet My Fiction

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My Somber Barter with the Doll

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I came across a voodoo doll high in the attic;

She was lifted in aerial suspension and really quite frantic.

Her eyes were black, her lips gasped an effluvium; 

I stood still in awe by this anomalous situation.

A vow then emerged, something I wish I could recant;

A flicker of light, in those dim eyes showed chance.

I had to rescue her and restore this odd life;

Drawing from my pocket I produced shears, as sharp as a knife.

Slashing and whirling she came spinning down;

Free from the bindings that kept her off ground.

Sleeping now soundly like a child in a bassinet;

Looking at this creature I suddenly felt a whisper of regret.

Lifting my shirt to find a suture, still raw;

Tugging on it gently, I realized it – no I! – was filled with straw. 

No more could I scream, I could hardly open my mouth;

My body became limp and my arms desperately flailed about.

Here I now hang, all alone, waiting to be discovered;

By some new poor soul who would trade his life for another.  

 

Wordle #1 for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie 

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Aging- the clock you can’t stop

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As I was reading through the blogs I follow, I came across the daily prompt and found myself pausing on its topic. Aging. Ugh, that word. As a child I couldn’t wait to grow up. I was sure I was going to just magically turn into this beautiful movie star. But the days of my childhood that I so desperately want to relive are gone. Aging has taken them from me where I will never see them again. You see, I’m terrified of aging. I wish I could find my way to Neverland. Now I’m not in the dire need to go rushing out the door to pump my face full of botox, but just the fact of getting old frightens me. I’m not ready. Of course there’s the dreaded physical aging, but then there’s also the changes you have to go through in your life that come with getting older. And I guess, also, the inevitable- death.

I’m 27, but I look like a child. Seriously. I’m still asked for my ID at R rated movies. The librarian a few weeks ago looked at my license and said she was sure I was a teenager. And I’m always mistaken for being the youngest out of my four sisters (I’m the second oldest). So while being a teenager for oh, 15 years and counting, can be a little annoying in an adult world where you’re trying to be taken seriously, it can also be a blessing- that is if I continue this way for a good bit. But should aging be scary? Should a large percentage of us (mostly women, thanks a lot media) feel like they will only go downhill the older they get? It seems like men for the most part get to become better looking with age. But women, we just turn into old crones whose days of beauty have been stolen by age. I remember one of my ex boyfriends, who I thought I was going to marry, was talking about this topic with me and said that when I’m old, he won’t find me attractive anymore, but he’ll still love me for being me. I think in his own special way he thought he was saying something beautiful, but I was horrified. I was hurt. Just the idea that he already assumed I was going to be ugly as an old woman and wouldn’t find me attractive stung. I mean, if you think I’m going to turn out ugly, please keep that esteem killer to yourself, sir. Sure, looks aren’t everything. I’ve never considered myself that beautiful woman I believed I would turn into when I was a child. But still, no one wants to hear that age will cause them to be unattractive. We’re already nervous about it enough as it is. I envy those who laugh in the face of aging. They take every wrinkle, every gray hair in stride and just don’t care. I wish I could say I’ll be that strong, and maybe I will be, but right now I’m not. However, I have found the best way to deal with physical aging is to be as good to my body now as I can. Gone are the days when I would tan as a teenager. This girl has been slathered in sunscreen for years. No tanning beds (never was a fan anyway), no laying out, when I’m in the sun- I’m protected. Even daily I make sure to wear a sunscreen moisturizer. This is so important if you want to keep your skin looking as good as it can for a long time. And moisturize too! I’m crazy about moisturizing. Bio oil and moisturizing cream at night, and argan oil and spf moisturizer in the day. And of course eye cream day and night too. I drink water like a camel, exercise daily, try not to stress, and eat as healthy as I can. When we take care of our bodies early on, at least we’ll feel like we’re doing our best to age gracefully. Now, just wait until that ex boyfriend of mine sees this gorgeous old woman in years to come. ;)

Then there’s the lifestyle changes that come about as you age. I’m still trying to find the perfect career, the perfect guy, and just where I stand in this world. On top of that, I have to be pressured by those around me that I should be married to one person for the rest of my life (or until we divorce) by now; I should be popping out kids by now; and I should be all set up with this family and house and being a wife and mom. I’m pressured about this, because I’m old enough to where that should be naturally happening. But, I’m not ready. There’s so much more out there that I want to do. While I may look like a little girl, sometimes I feel like one too. Aging doesn’t wait though. When I was 25, and I had broken up with my long term boyfriend, my mom said to me, “Well, you just may never get married.” Thanks, mom.  I was only 25. Each year, I’ll be pressured more and more to join the rest of those aging around me and become a part of the typical “what you should do now that you’re growing older” ideal. Which don’t get me wrong, I do want to settle down and have children. I think that’s wonderful. And if I was happy and content right now where I am in life, I just might do that. But I’m not. And I don’t believe anyone should feel like they have to because they’re getting older. You should only do so when you’re ready, whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or later. Aging is daunting enough without having the pressure to hurry up and jump on board with what everyone else is doing. I’ve found that the best way to deal with that aspect of aging is to just let it go. Just like Elsa. I shouldn’t worry about what I should be doing now in life. When I’m ready, I’m ready. And just because I get older, doesn’t mean I have to quickly jump into anything to feel like I’m not being left behind. That can only cause misery in the long run.

So what do I think of aging? I think it’s scary. But I’m trying to just live in the moment, be happy, take care of myself, and experience as much of life as I can before the process of aging is over. One day I won’t be 27 anymore. One day I’ll remember 40 as being young. So we should all enjoy these young years, whatever age you may be, that we are living now before they too are gone.

 

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A picnic in Echo Park – formerly the lake of the dead

It was close to 90 degrees here in LA today. I’m a winter kind of person, but with the sun out shining brightly, and me being in such an incredibly good mood, I decided it was best to get out in the fresh air before I holed myself up working on my novel like I usually do on Sunday. The beach was my first thought, Disney Land my second, but when I realized how hungry I was, I came across this option…a picnic in the lovely Echo Park.

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This beautiful little spot in hipster town is surrounded by people reading, running, and taking to the water in paddle boats. According to my boyfriend, a former Silver Lake resident (another So Cal hipster city) who turns up his nose at the mention of Echo Park, this place (before it became cleaned up and beautiful) used to be the dumping ground for bodies. Lovely. Back in the 90’s they apparently cleaned out the lake and found 10 or so corpses underneath. So we got to sit back and enjoy the fresh air and our delicious lunch as we gazed out across this former lake of death. 

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Just check out the size of that strawberry! (I get excited over food.)

Like a typical white girl, I had to go to Trader Joe’s and stock up on some goods for the outing. And me being the sushi fiend that I am, chose that as the main course. Annoying, right? Yep, I get that all the time. The white bird you see sneaking a long up there was our main attraction. This guy was as stealthy as they come. He was in total creep mode as he crouched down as low as he could and carefully took each step until he swiped whatever it was he was after for his meal. I want to say he’s an egret, but I’ve never been good when it comes to bird names. 

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To end the day, this smiley face appeared up in the sky. There was also some kind of message attached underneath, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I’m sure the recipient understood. Maybe. (And no, it was not another apology from Shia Labeouf – at least I don’t think so.)

A breakthrough in therapy

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I feel like I really hit a break through in therapy this week. As I’ve mentioned in my last few posts on this subject, I’ve always been iffy when it comes to therapy. It took me years to finally just admit that I needed it. My therapist is lovely and I feel like I can really talk to her which is great. Still, I’ve been going for a little over a month now, I believe, and haven’t quite felt like I’m getting anything out of it. She was giving me some interesting advice on how to cope with my depression and emotional issues and I’ve been starting to look and see if there’s a pattern in my good and bad days. I understand it can take a while to really feel like you’re getting somewhere, so of course I stuck with it. I hate to be a quitter.

This week though, we really got into something emotional in my past that likely causes so much of the pain that I have now as an adult. For the first time, I had someone tell me that I’m not to blame, I shouldn’t have had to deal with this, and it’s very unhealthy. This whole time I’ve in someway thought everything was my fault. I felt the things that happened to me never needed to be addressed. I was this disturbed person, because that was just me, and I had to deal with it. I never like to go into things that have hurt me because I have this fear of coming off as a whiner, like I’m just holding a little pity party. To hear that what I dealt with, what I thought was normal, were indeed wrongdoings – and not on my part, felt like a weight being lifted. I’m not just this weirdo who is angry, sad, who has no self esteem and is lacking the ability to show emotion and love. There is a reason that I have turned out this way, and more importantly, what I longed to hear, and did hear, was that I can overcome this. I can grow stronger and find ways to separate myself from the pain that has happened to me and find who I really am. This whole time I’ve felt like I’ve been walking through life, sick, in this dark misty haze. After my session, after hearing that I’m not the bad person that I’ve always felt I was, that I had no control over what happened to me, this wasn’t my fault, — just hearing that I can learn to love myself and turn things around, made me feel so…happy. I left with a new sense of freedom and way of looking at things. And these past few days I have found myself feeling calm, which is something I haven’t felt in a long time. 

 

Malulu, the greatest woman I have ever known.

I believe Saturday was National Women’s Day. I’ve never even heard of this before, I’m such a sorry excuse for a woman! It did, however, get me thinking about all the strong, wonderful women in my life and one of the most important ones, without a doubt, would be my grandmother, Malulu.

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Now she wasn’t Hawaiian, despite the sound of this name. I believe it was my cousin or older sister who gave her with this unique moniker. Her real name was Leona, and her nickname was Lulu. Therefore, Grandma Lulu became Malulu. She was always there in my life since she only lived 10 minutes away. Everyone loved her. She had this incredible wit and humor that she was always throwing out and making you laugh. Sometimes the things that would come out of this sweet little old lady’s mouth was shockingly hilarious. Her heart was huge. Enormous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone make so many friends and take care of people the way she did. Even into her old age she always had people of all ages, who had known her throughout her life, constantly coming back just to see her again. Everyone she met, fell for her.

She died two years ago at the age of 99 (even though she told everyone she was already 100) in her bed at her home, still sound of mind. Once I did a report on her for school (you know, one of those “pick an old person and write about them, kids” kind of reports) and I learned so many things that just astounded me. Being born in 1912 and living through all the wars that she did, the Great Depression, just seeing how the world has changed in that time is incredible. The amount of hardships she had to endure, touches me. She lost her husband, the love of her life, (who she had known since she was a baby) to brain cancer, and was left with four sons and a daughter. Her brother, was killed in WWII, and she took in his son who she loved as her own. She battled breast cancer and survived. So many things I could go on and on that this woman went through and yet you would never know it. She was strong, loving, and so full of life. I have never met someone with such a powerful faith and contentment in life like she had. Whenever I was in trouble and would be sent down to her house so my mom wouldn’t have to deal with me, she always took me in her arms and made me feel better. We would then spend time taking walks into town and watching films like “The Godfather” until late into the night. She would write me the most heart warming letters of how proud she was of me and how we were so much alike. I had her wit and personality out of all of the family, she believed, and she adored that in me. Just listening to her secretly tell me how I was considered such a beauty out of our family by everyone meant more to me than any physical compliment I could receive. Especially for me, a girl with such low self esteem that considered herself quite ugly growing up, to hear her tell me, “remember that secret I told you?” every once in a while was uplifting. She was one of the only family members I could be around where I didn’t feel like I was being viewed as a bad person. Before she died, I talked to her on the phone since I was here in California. She could barely speak, but I could still hear the love and happiness in her voice when she said my name. She was thrilled to talk to me and that made my heart ache to be near her. 

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Grandpa ‘Bud’ and Malulu- the original photo bomb.

From memories of her tubing down the Chattahoochee River; waking me from my sleep on one of our family cabin retreats to see the raccoons that had come to the window; to hiking through the forest and letting us decorate her with Spanish moss and leaves; this woman gave me so many wonderful memories. If there was ever anyone for me to look up to and be like, it would be her. I have never met someone so pure in every way, someone so giving and down to earth as Malulu. I may have her wit and personality, but I am no where near the rest of her amazing qualities. If I could one day come even close to being the kind of woman she was, then that would be quite an accomplishment. To me, she is the epitome of what it is to be a good woman.  

 

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An afternoon hike to an abandoned Nazi camp

So over the weekend I took a lovely hike into the Santa Monica mountains because I heard there was something quite odd hidden among them. At first, a little tricky to find, my boyfriend and I stumbled a long different trails not sure exactly where we were going. It was such a beautiful day. A bit cloudy, but cool and breezy that it felt so refreshing. I probably wouldn’t have minded wandering around those trails all afternoon. 

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As you can see in the bottom middle picture, we ran across a patch of the mountain that was recovering from one of those California fires. There’s something so eerie and interesting to me about black ashy trees against a gray sky. What I enjoyed most about being in the mountains was the pure silence. I’ve done plenty of hiking and outdoor trips in my life, but after living in Los Angeles for the past three years, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not hear a single noise. There’s always the background ambiance of city life that I have now grown so accustomed to. To suddenly just stand still in the mountains and realize I couldn’t hear a thing was beautiful and surreal. 

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Jason found an old wooden stairwell that led down the side of the mountain. The sun was going to set soon and we wanted to reach our goal so we didn’t get a chance to explore that route. As we ventured on, we came across this broken down gate and decided this might lead to our destination. Sure enough, it did. As we made a few more turns deeper into the forest, we found an old abandoned Nazi camp. 

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Hiking to a Nazi camp over the weekend is a bit odd, I know. And what’s even more odd is the fact that this is Southern California, not Germany. If you’re interested in the history of why this camp is here, or if you live in the area and would like an interesting hike, check out this article. They explain it better than I would. I was a little sad to see the graffiti covering the building. I’m not opposed to graffiti, but sometimes it makes me a bit down when it’s covering something historical. Even something as, er,  evil as this. It is history. As you can see, the little hooligans were at it on top of the roof. To end this interesting day, we hit up nearby UCLA downtown area and had one of these yummy treats:Image

Strawberry cheesecake ice cream and M&M cookies. I know these cookie sandwiches have been around forever, but this was the first time I actually had one. I’m not a big sweet person. Sure, I like them, but there’s only so much I can have before sugar overload hits and as delicious as this was, I could barely handle it. Man, I could eat a whole cookie jar as a kid. What happened? 

Just getting outdoors and exploring gives me such a high. Sometimes I think I should just leave my daytime desk job and become a world traveler. Now if only I could find a career that fits that description.