Hell-evator

“There was a time when things were different. Ya know?” a woman’s voice boomed through the lobby, followed by the sharp click of her heels. I turned, startled by her presence, and watched her exit to the street through the revolving door, evidently talking on her phone.

After I was alone again, I returned to my previous position, hovered over the elevator call buttons. I pressed the little circle lit with an “up” arrow, again. I knew it wasn’t going to make the elevator arrive any faster, but my black high heels were killing my feet and my purse felt like a anvil hanging off my shoulder. Finally, a ding echoed throughout the lobby, signifying the right elevator cab’s arrival. Despite being a new building, the elevators operated with the rickety movement and questionable reliability of much older elevators.

The doors separated like they were trying to build suspense. I immediately noticed a man standing in the left corner, so I took a step back, avoiding eye contact, because I was not in the mood for pleasantries, and waited for him to exit. He didn’t move, so I finally looked up at his face, anger and impatience radiating off of me. He looked back at me with an expression that mirrored mine and made an exaggerated sweeping motion with his left hand that indicated I should board the elevator. I tilted my head in confusion, my eyes suspicious, but slowly obliged. His obnoxious tie caught my eye as I passed; it had two large parrots in the middle, one a brilliant red and the other a bright blue.

I turned around, so I could face the doors in the awkward manner that people stand in elevators. As I watched the doors close, a feeling of dread came over me, but it was too late; even if I leapt at the call buttons and pressed the “Open Doors” button 100 frantic times, it wouldn’t make any difference. The car began its ascent and I shifted my feet uncomfortably. The light above me flickered and I jumped. Looking up, I silently begged it to not go out, but it didn’t cooperate. The entire car came to a rather violent halt, darkness surrounding me suddenly.

A strange sound of pure terror escaped my lips as worst case scenarios played out in my mind. I opened my eyes as wide as possible, as if it would help me see better in the absolute darkness. My body was frozen as my mind raced. The strange man to my right made an audible movement, reminding me he was still there. And, so, my terror grew.

After what seemed like an hour, but was little more than 30 seconds, a dim light came on above the call buttons. I immediately looked towards the man, fully expecting him to be standing inches from me, holding a kitchen knife above his head. Instead, he was looking back at me with the same fear in his eyes. The tension was so high that it took me a minute to find the ironic humor in the situation, but I eventually did and suddenly broke out laughing. I felt ridiculous, but relief flooded my body.

The man looked at me like I was crazy. “Why are you laughing?” he asked, harshly.

“I thought…” I started, but had to catch my breath. “I though you were going to murder me.” His expression changed in that moment, but not in the way I was expecting. The corners of his mouth turned up slowly, but his eyes narrowed, making him look sinister. My laughter stopped abruptly and I froze under that look.

“Oh, I am,” he said, simply.

——————————————————————

Writing submission to The Speakeasy #147

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Things We Lost in the Fire

I am a little behind on the Zero to Hero challenge, but I am determined to complete it. So, here goes Day 16. I didn’t like the prompt about reputation, because I see reputation as largely substance-less. Someone’s true value isn’t contained in or defined by their reputation. I honestly haven’t thought much about reputation since high school, so I chose another prompt. The one for today: Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

I used to have nightmares about fire as a child, so you better believe I knew what I would grab in case of a fire. Assuming everyone else was safe, it included my favorite teddy and blanket. I have amassed so many possessions in the decades (well, two) since, but I don’t feel the same emotional attachment to things that I used to. I’ve learned that objects may remind you of people or places that are gone, but they don’t contain any part of those people or memories. So, there’s no obligation to keep the things that are just there as reminders, as long as you remember without them. When I finally get to going through all of this stuff, I plan on recording the things that I give away or trash, so I don’t forget, because I don’t have the best memory since the accident.

I’m not sure if I would have the mind to grab anything if a fire broke out, in reality, because I would lose my mind. In fact, I wouldn’t be that surprised if it started in my room. It’s that level of messy. However, if I did grab five items, the first would be (1) my laptop. Aside from being the second most expensive item I own, it has a lot of important information on it, as well as photos. I would ditch my iPad and even my phone in favor of my laptop. I think I would actually feel some relief if my phone were destroyed in a fire. Although it’s attached to my hand half of the day, it’s like a heavy boulder weighing me down. I feel like I miss a lot with my eyes glued to my phone; don’t we all?

With laptop beneath my arm, I would grab (2) my purse. This is mainly a practical necessity. It contains my wallet with money and ID’s, and a couple of other things I wouldn’t want to lose. Maybe, if I’m lucky enough, even my phone! With my purse over my shoulder, I would grab (3) my box of old photos. It contains photos I don’t have the negatives for that were taken back in a time when negatives were used to develop them. Pictures of old friends, places, events and even family photos, which are rather rare in my family. We hardly ever take photos. I’m pretty sure the last photo of us is from my brother’s wedding almost 2 years ago. So, I’d make sure I had those. At this point, I’d probably be scanning the room frantically, trying to come up with something else to grab, until my eyes fell on my (4) jewelery box. I don’t have a lot of fancy jewelry, because I’m not really a jewelry person. Almost all of the pieces in my jewelry box were gifts that I honestly never wear, because I have nowhere to wear them, but they are absolutely irreplaceable. There are pieces from my grandmothers, grandfather, uncle, mom, dad, and even a couple of really pretty things from exes that I wouldn’t wear regardless, but they’re pleasing to the eye.

Lacking the room in my arms, but determined, the last item I would grab would be (5) my Winnie the Pooh book collection; mainly my classic Pooh book. The cover has worn and torn places and the spine is coming apart a little bit, but I’d like to be able to share it with my nephew, and maybe someday, my own kid(s). It goes to show you that the value of something is in who is looking at it. I would then hobble as quickly as possibly out of the house, balancing my last possessions in my arms.

Oddly appropriate song… “Things We Lost In The Fire” by Bastille

POLL: What should I write about next? Suggestions encouraged!

Thank You for All the Support

In the spirit of honesty, I’m going to be share my experience over the last few days… After my short-short story, “Heated Argument” (https://themagzee.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/heated-arguement/), was “Freshly Pressed,” I watch the number of followers of my blog climb with growing anxiety. I was proud, encouraged, and felt supported, but the anxiety literally blocked it all out. It’s the reason I’ve almost completely avoided my blog since I heard that “Heated Argument” was going to be Freshly Pressed. It’s kind of ridiculous, because, let’s be honest, writers love the feedback. We love to know that our words are being read. And, all of the likes and the words you’ve shared with me have been nothing but encouraging. I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t appreciate all of the support, because I genuinely do! I feel the love, under the deep layer of anxiety. Haha.

I’ve mentioned the problems I have with anxiety before, and that’s the thing about anxiety, like fear, sometimes it’s just not all that logical. And, the best way for me to deal with it is to just post something, try to use the anxiety to push myself forward (plus, I’m really behind on the Zero to Hero challenge now), and not look back. I guess I feel the pressure to say something of substance, now that it’s more than 10 followers. Of course, maybe I should have felt that pressure all along…

I look forward to checking out all of your blogs and thank you, again, for all of the encouraging words you’ve all shared. You’re all awesome!

Also, I’m at a loss for what to do for my new challenge this week. I went to bed Sunday night, fully intending on not watching TV for a week, but woke up Monday, unable to function without watching a some with breakfast. Try again the next day, you say? I did. Same thing happened. I may try one more time, but since the week is halfway over and my hometown is now covered in snow for the next few days, what else am I supposed to do?

Song I’m listening to as I press “Publish”: Skinny Love by Bon Iver – a song that calms me (give it a listen)

Video

Music: Stubborn Love and Flaws

Once in a while, I find a song that I know must be on the soundtrack to my life (see the page “Soundtrack to My Life” above). The moment the notes hit my ears, I know that it belongs in my story. It’s inspiring and awakens the creative. Sometimes it even touches me in a way that makes me want to be a better person. Other times it echoes what I’m going through back to me in a way that gives me perspective. This is one of those songs…

“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all.”
These words couldn’t be truer to my story at the moment. I awoke this morning after about 5 hours of sleep in a state of anxiety… seemingly my resting state these days. However, today, as I sat up in bed, I closed my eyes and smiled, relishing the feeling. I let it drive me all day, instead of terrifying and paralyzing me. I’m having trouble sleeping, again. But this time, it’s because I don’t want to miss anything. Even though life’s a real struggle right now, I am appreciating the ride. I feel deep inside me that I need to experience what I am right now; I need to feel these things, despite how much I’d prefer not to.

“When we were young, oh, oh, we did enough”
Sometimes, I feel like I’m missing out on all the stupid-fun I used to have. 22-year-old me would not approve of me staying in on a weekend night, but 28-year-old me doesn’t want to deal with 22-year-olds anymore and doesn’t have the patience to deal with general douche-baggery. I find myself thinking back on old times and smiling, though, gathering old memories like precious stones. I guess, when I was young, I did do enough… 🙂

As a bonus:

It’s an interesting concept: “wearing your flaws upon your sleeve.”

Don’t Let Your Illness Define You

As part of the Zero to Hero blogger challenge, I want to share a blog post that really resonated with me: http://noonegetsflowersforchronicpain.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/do-not-let-your-illness-define-you/

The overall message is to not let “your illness define you,” which is exactly one of the main reasons I started blogging: to focus on other things in my life, aside from the pain.

I haven’t stopped looking for ways to improve my chronic pain, but I have come to accept that there is no “cure.” There are things that make it better and things that make it worse. The first step is acceptance of the situation. With the recent changes in pain medication legislation in Virginia, I’ve been forced to stop (with no warning) the opioid treatment I was on. So, I’ve been going through a lot of changes in the last few months. It’s something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life, because discs can’t repair themselves, but “there’s got to be a way through it.”

The author of the blog post, Noonegetsflowersforchronicpain, says that they had been looking for a cure for 10 years. I’ve been at it for 6. I can’t imagine losing another 4 years in doctors’ office waiting rooms, getting my hopes up for nothing, getting sick from different medications, and not really seeing any improvement. That doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything. I’m just approaching it a different way. Healthier eating, no sugar (which is REALLY challenging), no salt, warmer climate (not an immediate change), and drinking hot beverages make me feel better (not always, of course).

Please share anything (other than prescription medicine) that helps you. I’d appreciate it.

New Adventure #2: Made Dinner

New Adventure: made an entire meal by myself with all fresh ingredients.

Today, I completed the second of my new experiences for 2014. I know, it’s a little sad… I’m a 28-year-old who’s never made a whole meal for herself. Well, now I have. I’ve recently been making vegetables in different ways, which I found is kind of relaxing (despite the pain it causes my back), as long as I get to play my music.

I made grilled chicken, sauteed zucchini, boiled potatoes, and roasted yellow squash… all by myself!!

Yum

Yum

I cheated a little with the chicken… I used a George Forman Grill. Seeing as our oven has been broken for years and the small upper-over (I don’t know what it’s called) doesn’t work all that well, the GFG was my best option. It turned out pretty well. And, it only takes like 6-8 minutes.

My favorite was the sauteed zucchini. I thought I was pretty much a pro at making zucchini at this point, but I added a few garlic cloves to the mix, which I have never done before, and it really enhanced the flavor. I didn’t think it was possible for zucchini to get any better. I could have eaten an entire meal of this zucchini. It was just zucchini, olive oil, and a few chopped garlic cloves.

photo 1

Sauteed zucchini with chopped garlic cloves.

I also made red-skinned boiled potatoes, but I kind of over-cooked them. Oh, well, they were pretty good. Kind of blah.

Boiled red skin potatoes

Boiled red skin potatoes

The last thing I made did NOT work out all that well. It was cubed roasted yellow squash, margarine (I couldn’t bring myself to use butter), brown sugar and cinnamon and was meant to be a healthy dessert. I put it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil in the over at 350 degrees for 20-40 minutes. All the pieces pretty much burnt on one side, and, yet, weren’t cooked all the way through. I was kind of over it at this point, though.

Mixing yellow squash, margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon

Mixing yellow squash, margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon

The finished product... not so great.

The finished product… not so great.

Lessons learned:
– One simple ingredient can change the flavor drastically.
– It’s difficult to cook more than one thing at a time! You have to juggle so much and remember how long things have to cook for. It’s overwhelming.
– Worst part of cooking: cleaning up afterwards. Well, I already knew this, but tonight reaffirmed it.
– It was kind of nice.

What I’m playing when I press publish: Skinny Love by Bon Iver

Heated Argument

I was relieved to be sitting in the shade. Despite the salty breeze brushing the San Diego coast from the ocean, the heat was heavy. It made movement exhausting, so I sat at the side-street cafe without much conscious thought. I was watching a bead of condensation move slowly down my plastic cup of sweet tea, when an explosion erupted to my right. The sound of a young woman’s grating voice startled me to the present.

“You did wha’?” she boomed in a thick Brooklyn accent, glasses spilling their contents as she stood so quickly she knocked over anything standing tall on the table between her and a thick-necked man.

“Sorry, babe. It just happened,” the mass of muscles half-whispered in a matching Brooklyn accent, shifting his eyes left and right to the other patrons that were now captivated by the scene unraveling in front of them.

“I came all the way ‘ere from New York for you and you cheated? It’s ova -” she started, standing bent at the waist, hands on her hips, so she could tower over the seated, terrified man. I suddenly became aware of the tense muscles holding the horrified expression on my face and closed my mouth, probably just as scared of her as he was.

“It was a mistake,” he interrupted, a little louder. “I love you. I wanna be wit chu. I know that now.” I immediately felt misplaced hatred toward him, for every man who had done something similar to me.

“Don’t give me that bull. You shoulda known before you slept with that whore.” She had a point. She glanced down at the table, taking in the destruction she had caused. She turned and took a couple of steps towards me, not really looking me in the eye. My heart stopped. “Can I borrow this?” she asked, indicating my sweet tea with a pointed and manicured index finger. I gave a small nod, unable to remember how to speak.

She grabbed it and, in one smooth, perfected movement, like she had done this many times before, threw it in the muscle-man’s face. Without waiting for a response, she grabbed her blue leather Coach satchel and walked away from the stunned man. I watched the wind press the fabric of her floral print dress against her right side as she walked down the sidewalk and crossed the busy street with the purpose of putting as much distance as possible between her and this man that sat at the table next to me, mouth still hanging open.

Go Gonzo Weekly Writing Challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gonzo-writing-challenge/

The Pompeii of Relationships…

I can sum up all of my significant relationships in one word, based on the overshadowing element that drove it:
1st: Adventure
2nd: Passion
3rd: Uncertainty
4th: Apathy
5th: Manipulation

They’re seemingly progressively depressing. Is it that the older relationships aren’t as fresh in mind, so I am able to blur out the bad parts? Or, was I just a different person before I had my heart broken so many times? Is it even relevant? I mean, I can’t change any part of it at this point…

I was thinking about the topic of exes yesterday and how unique we are as humans. Animals, don’t have to worry about running into ex-boyfriends at the mall and making that awkward catch up chit chat, because it is so uniquely human. It is in our human nature to spend our lives looking for the right mate. Whether you’re looking for a relationship or just a hookup, you’re really just driven by your biology. When you think about it, it just seems kind of surreal that you can share such an intimate, sometimes long period of your life with someone, sometimes thinking that they will be the one that you will spend your life with, only to have to remove them completely from your life when they fail to posses the qualities you are looking for in a mate (i.e. honesty, fidelity, etc.). It’s weird. One day, they’re your constant, a steady element of your life, the next, they’re gone forever. Sometimes your only option is to kick someone to the curb when they don’t treat you the way you deserve.

When I think of former relationships, I think in general feelings about how it went overall and why it ended, which colors the way I view the relationship in retrospect. As someone with memory issues, emotion is stronger than the actual events (which may just be another element of human nature). Have you ever been a relationship, broken up, gotten back together after some time, only to realize that you are horrible for each other? Maybe you can remember only the good times, because those emotions overshadow the painful ones.

I have been in more than one situation where I felt nothing but relief to be out of a relationship. I remember after packing my bags and driving away from number four, the more distance I put between him and myself, the lighter I felt. I remember crying for a few miles, then, the tears just dried up, and the seemingly permanent scowl on my face softened. All I could remember was the pain he caused.

Number Two has sort of become the standard to which I have compared all subsequent relationships. I am fully aware that we weren’t right for each other, but I can’t help but think things were better back then. I remember the end, which was the most catastrophic end to a relationship I’ve ever had, but there was something in it that I’ve never really had with anyone since: passion. If we were happy, we were exuberant; if we fought, we threw it all out there. We loved hard and there was this unspoken understanding that we were in it together, deep. I can’t help but let the passion we had for each other overshadow how it all fell apart, even though, in the end, the passion just became too overwhelming.

I was young, naive and consumed. Two is the one relationship I remember the best and the worst parts of. Living passionately is experiencing everything in a raw, genuine, and honest way, which can be exhausting and, which explains why I think it’s so difficult to maintain a passion in a relationship. A passionate relationship must be a mirror and I think it’s very difficult to find someone who sees that matching passion in you. I don’t think there was any point during that relationship that I thought it was going to last forever; I was young, so I wasn’t thinking about marriage, and my outlook and expectations of any relationship have always been molded by my belief in the inevitable failure of relationships (a more recent phenomenon).

It’s safe to say that it takes a lot of licks to get to the Tootsie Roll center of my Tootsie Pop, in that I take my time in giving trust and love. I won’t say I love you back, just because you say it to me, which I guess requires some patience. But, at least I’m not being disingenuous. I hate dating. I’d rather be friends with someone first so I know who they really are before I start dating them.

The beginnings terrify me. I would prefer to jump past all the butterflies and excitement of the beginning of a relationship to get to the part where you are comfortable with the person, because you know you can trust them. I think that’s why I hate ending relationships so much. I see it not only as a failure but that you’re just back at square one, wondering where you’re supposed to meet the next man that’s going to disappoint you. It’s exhausting. To answer your question, I guess I turned into such a pessimist regarding relationships after being burned one too many times. Some people say that what’s important is that you learned something. But, what’s really important is that you actually use what you learned in the future.

I’m standing at the beginning currently, though not really interested in being in a relationship right now. But, I feel like what I have learned from previous relationships is finally sinking in. I think for the next one, whenever that may be, I will be smarter.

Song I’m listening to as I press “Publish”: Flaws by Bastille