Short Fiction 

She lay completely still for a moment, letting the sun streaming in through the window wash over her, while breathing in the peace she felt encircled in his arms. She was content to never move again. Closing her eyes, Celia replayed the weeks leading up to this moment.

Fall term had been excessively stressful this year. Between her school load, her job and her community theater involvement, there hadn’t been much time to think about much else. It was chaotic juggling so many commitments, but there was plenty of satisfaction within the chaos. And in the middle of it all was him.

She hadn’t gotten involved in community theater because of him, he just happened to have already been there. She’d gotten involved with the local group because she had thrown away her chance to perform during her high school years. The stage had always called to her; Maybe it was her fascination with people and behaviors that drew her to the stage, or maybe it was her love of performance and the awe and admiration she felt watching actors on stage breathing life into a story. Whatever it was, she loved live theater. And yet, for one reason or another it just hadn’t worked out for her in high school.


Growing up working in her mother’s café had honed her people skills, while giving her new people to study every day. Of course there were also the regulars whom she knew by name. Most of them were wealthy and retired and tipped her well. It was almost too easy to play the starving college student card to encourage better tips. In reality, Celia wasn’t starving, not even close, but the good tips helped out all the same.


As opening night loomed on the horizon, rehearsals had begun to drag later and later into the night. Since she didn’t own a car this left walking home in the dark as her only option. That was how it began, him walking her home safely every night of rehearsal.


His enthusiastic personality, his ability to see the best in people, and his goofy charm captivated her from the first time she saw him, but she had never dared to approach him first. Instead she stuck to the wings when she wasn’t needed on stage, illustrating scenes in her sketch book as a way of memorizing her lines.


Their first interaction, technically, had been an awkward one. A chance encounter on a dinner break one night. Normally she was calm, confident, and not easily phased, but something about him shook her calm confidence. She had been turning around from the counter after ordering her meal and smacked right into him. Embarrassed, she had mumbled a quick apology before making a hasty escape.


That should have been the end of it. The show would open soon, run for a few weeks, and that would be that. She wasn’t avoiding him exactly; she just wasn’t seeking him out either. But he found her all the same. She could feel him staring at her when he though she wasn’t looking, and on the rare occasion they spoke she couldn’t help but notice how brightly he beamed when talking to her.


She remembered the first, time they kissed. The soft weight of his hands resting on her waist, sending shocks of anticipation and anxiety through her. She had closed her eyes, in fear and anticipation, leaving her uncertain of the next moments. A cascade of thoughts flooded her head, overlapping so that no single coherent thought existed. And then she felt his lips on hers. It was perfect, and it was over too soon. Just the briefest brushing of lips, no more than a peck. She wanted nothing more than to lean in and kiss him again, but she didn’t.


Instead, she stood rooted to the ground trying to process this new and intense feeling crashing through her. He was saying something to her now, but whatever it was she didn’t hear him. She was still too lost within herself. Still in a daze, she had turned and walked away without a word, back to rehearsal, leaving him to watch her as she went.

It was still a week before opening night and she no longer knew how to interact with him. Did they act like nothing had happened? Did they talk about it, what was there to say? Was there more to it or had it just been a fluke? Unsure where this left them, she buried her face in her sketch pad and focused her efforts on preparing for the show to open.


Opening night, Celia received a single red rose. The card held no signature, only a time and place. Everything after that first night passed in a blur. Secret rendez-vous meetings, notes left on café recites. By the end of the term she still didn’t know how to define what they were, but she decided, it didn’t need a label or a name. She was happier than she could ever remember being, and that was enough for her.

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A Matter of Perspective

Today I came across a couple of TED Talks that I found really interesting and gave me pause to consider how these topics are at work in my own life. The first was on how perception shapes reality, and the power of re-framing information. While the second was a piece that explored the neuroscience of being in love.

In the talk on re-framing perspectives we get into an interesting psychological space that explores how framing the same situation two different ways can elicit two different responses. It should be no surprise that how we view the world colors the world we interact with, that the illusion of control over a situation will create a more positive response than he exact same circumstances where control is completely out of our hands. I know first hand how comforting the illusion of control can be, but the idea that reality does not exist independent of perception is a little difficult to work through.

All this talk of perception shaping reality left me to wonder about the world I’ve created for myself. I some times find it hard to pull myself out of my own head, seeing negativity where none exist, and without meaning to, assuming that everyone I come in contact with has some secret agenda or secretly dislikes me and only tolerates my existence. This leaves me to wonder if I drive people away because I expect them to leave. Is my perception shaping my reality to such a tangible extent? But this talk also gives me hope. Hope that as I continue to work through my identity crisis I’ll also be working to re-frame how I see the world and myself within it.

The other talk, exploring the science of a brain that is in love was an eye opener and a comfort. I found myself fascinated listening to the speaker Helen Fisher describe the part of the brain that is active in those who are in love. More than that, the presentation of romantic love as addictive, detailing the parallels between some one in love and someone with an addiction to another substance was a moment of realization. It was a moment in which I found myself saying “I’m not alone in this feeling, and I’m not totally losing my mind!” In the same moment I realized, oh shit, I am in love with him. The realization that maybe I’m not just being 10 kinds of over dramatic. The cycle of craving, withdrawal, relapse, etc. resonated so profoundly within me that I now have a new perspective with which to evaluate where I am today. I am not alone, this is not a new path for me to press on with on my own. And somehow, knowing that what I’m gong through is not a unique set of emotions makes them a little more accessible to try and sort through.

What I’m Thankful for Today: I am thankful for the friends who have, and continue to stand by me and support me. I’m not always an easy person to be around, so I am grateful for those who have seen me at my worst and chosen to offer an hand up. Who believe in my when I can’t find in me to believe in myself.

A Julie & Julia Summer (Sort of)

June has been a month filled with the birthdays of many of my friends. Last week was my roommate’s birthday and for her gift I picked up a cute little cookbook titled “500 Pies and Tarts” as something we could do together as a bonding activity. It’s got a great blend of sweet and savory recipes to explore. When I gave it to her we laughed, imagining ourselves in the movie Julie & Julia, which she loves. Neither of us is a stellar cook/baker, but that’s half the fun, right? Trying something new and being able to take a moment to not take life so seriously. It’s a stressful world out there.

Once a week we’ll pick a new recipe and cook our way through the book this summer. Tonight we took a shot at our very first selection from the book, the English Bakewell Almond Tart. It started off about as well as you’d expect, and by that I mean flour flying everywhere and a handful of moments that didn’t exactly go as planned

Learning experience #1: When chilling the crust, leave it in the fridge

until it’s actually cold, even if it’s been in for the (minimum) 20 minutes recommended. A gooey crust does not spread well!

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Learning experience #2: Learn when to leave it alone. I am notorious for being impatient when I bake and have been know to mess up a perfectly good recipe because I couldn’t wait to cut into whatever I’d just made. Thankfully tonight was not one of those nights.

 

 

For our first attempt I’d say not bad. Semi-pretty, and plenty tasty. More importantly, it was definitely a fun filled night with music and shenanigans. I’d even call it a fitting end to a reasonably good day.

Today I’m Thankful For: The afternoon spent with a good friend and getting her hooked on a show I absolutely adore. I can’t wait to have someone to discuss Person of Interest with, even if it’s been off the air for years now!

Beginning

Here I stand, recently graduated from college and adrift in the world.

What’s next? What’s your plan now? I’ve heard just about every variation of these probing questions that you could imagine. And you know what? I don’t have an answer yet. I don’t have even the slightest clue. There’s a certain power in admitting you don’t know something though. A freedom to explore, and to be wrong without it signaling the end of the world. I don’t know where this life will take me yet. I don’t know what I want to do for a living. And I don’t know who I wanna be. So in the mean time I’ve decided to take it one day at a time and look for the little things that shape me, guide me, and help me grow.

That’s where this blog begins. I have spent so many years not living for myself. I had a good childhood and a fairly loving (if not opinionated) family, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a tale of woe or self pity, or anything like that, but I have spent too much time divorced from myself. I’ve become a stranger who does what is expected of her at the expense of personal identity. Combating that, this blog will be my chalkboard. Here I’ll think through personal experiences, engage with podcasts and videos that interest me, create imperfect art, and anything else that comes to mind. I haven’t seen myself in a while, but I’m hoping to find her again one of these days.

This is the beginning of my personal journey.