My mom was staring into nothingness when I asked her if she was okay. She strained a smile and said she was fine, just fine.
“You can talk to me if something's bothering you,” I told her. Being so young I could do only so much to help my mom. My dad slept all day because he went out all night and so I took it upon myself to compensate for his absences whenever I could.
“It's just the moon,” she said. “Full moons always bother me.” Her cup shook as she brought it to her lips and she closed her eyes as she sipped.
Daniel Tiger was my daughter's first love. Something about that cardigan-wearing feline caught her eye and stole her heart early. My wife approved since Daniel Tiger is an associate of Mr. Rogers and echoes many of the same values.
There's only one Taco Bell in this town, and you think you own the place because we broke up a month ago.
When we sat down to negotiate our post-breakup lives, I did not argue when it came time to divide our friends. In fact, I let you have all of our friends, even the friends I brought into the relationship. My friends sucked and I needed new ones anyway.
The truth is I hoped my sacrifice would get me favor in other aspects of our negotiation. But when silence fell upon us, you blurted out, “Taco Bell is mine.” Your tone and tactic clarified this was not up for compromise. I wanted to protest, but I had lost enough fights with you to know better.
Category:#fictionAuthor's Note: This piece of fiction was an exercise in writing in second person.
The engine turns. The car cranks up. The dash lights turn on and flash a time or two and then go blank. Except the tire pressure light. You stare at the orange light with the obnoxious exclamation point inside that strange curvy figure. The light wasn't on yesterday. You know because you check every single time you start the car. The temperature has dropped almost thirty degrees since your last drive. Maybe that explains the light's appearance. But you're cutting it close as it is. You'll be late for work if you take the time to air up your tires now. You don't have time to resolve this inconvenience.
The tires need to warm up. That'll fix the problem. A few miles on the tires will make the light go away.
You put the gear shift in D and you're off. You creep through the neighborhood and approach a stop sign and you come to a complete stop. You look both ways. No one around. You look at the dashboard lights. The tire pressure light is still on. Of course it is. There's no way the tires have warmed up. You resume driving and turn onto the main road.
The road is bumpy. The car rides low, so you can't help feeling every rumble, every texture vibrating on the back of your legs and your rear so near the ground. You turn the radio off even though your favorite song is playing. You can't afford to sing along today. You need to be tapped in, undistracted, fully aware. Your tire pressure is low. This could get ugly.
There is something to be said for simplifying options, for choosing simplicity.
Lately I’ve been examining the extent to which I have been focusing on simplicity in terms of writing. My writing style has always been simple. Simple language. Simple sentences. Even simple punctuation, at least in regard to my fiction.
Do not use semicolons... All they do is show you've been to college.
My focus on simplicity in terms of putting words to the page is obvious, but I’ve been revisiting how I have sought simplicity in the less obvious aspects of my writing—the aspects outside of the words themselves.
The LaCaze house doesn't get many visitors during the season of the virus. Not that we got many visitors before the pandemic, but the lack is more obvious now. However, for the last week or so, we have had a certain visitor hop on over to our back yard from time to time.
When I was a kid I looked up to functioning people in the realm of middle age and thought of them as well-adjusted adults who had this whole life thing figured out. Who, other than someone of utmost competence, could juggle and master the varied demands of gainful employment, being a good spouse and parent, and maybe even a hobby or volunteer opportunity here and there?
And now, as I close in on middle age, I am constantly asking whether I gave the adults of my youth too much credit or whether I am negligent in fulfilling my own responsibilities. I constantly hear that voice telling me I am lacking in one area, and then upon refocusing efforts and compensating for my shortcomings, I hear the voice directing my attention elsewhere, to my most recent failing. So I keep juggling, dropping the ball and hoping to pick it up again before too many people notice. An illusionist can fool hundreds yet dwell on the few who see beyond his facade—and deep down he himself will know he is only one bad showing away from revealing his terrible truths and so he can never rest easily.
How much of this insecurity is natural and universal to all who have ever reached the legal age of majority and beyond? How much of it is due to Millennial infantilism? How much of it is specific to me and my own neuroses? Can one ever answer such questions? Does it make any difference to do or attempt so?
As I near the hill, I am still waiting for the surety of adulthood. Is that all being an adult really is—a waiting game played while moving on about one's life?
Any company that requires its employees to write out their annual goals likely also requires a mid-year review as well as an end-of-year review. Since June just passed, now is a good time for me to look back at my 2020 goals and see what has stuck and what has gone to the crapper.
For over a week now, I've told myself that I need to write a new blog post. And for over a week now, I've failed to deliver. Few drafts get past the idea phase before they're abandoned. Interesting ideas, upon further inspection, quickly find their way into the recycle bin.
The situation is little better for my fiction writing. Perhaps the difference is that being part of a writing group with regular submission deadlines obligates me to push through and deliver something. Still, it hasn't been easy.
Two weeks into Texas's stay-at-home order, during a company-wide video chat, I told my co-workers that living in the time of coronovarius felt like the grieving process. At that point I was cycling through three of the five states of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. Despite my best efforts, depression eventually came into the mix and I have no doubt my old friend will visit again, and probably much sooner than I would like. The journey hasn't been the smoothest, but after six weeks or so, I finally touched the acceptance stage of grief. It may sound long overdue, but I took three years to accept what I was feeling after losing my parents, so this timeframe is much better in comparison.