The Privileges of Space

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One of the most common forms of privilege is the privilege of not having to think about or see something. The privilege of being able-bodied is often not having to think about how you’ll get somewhere. The privilege of being male is not having to think about whether your gender will affect how people treat you or respect you. I think we all know this, but it was driven home to me in a conversation I was having yesterday. I was talking to a friend about public transit, and he said that he didn’t like to see the crazies on public transit, or the moms trying to juggle a bunch of kids, or all the other sad things that you often see on a bus. I mentioned that those things don’t go away if you don’t see them, and his response was that he still didn’t want to see it.

 

There’s a huge amount of privilege in being able to say that and then hop in your car and drive yourself to work so you don’t have to notice things like poverty, mental illness, or disease around you. It is the amazing privilege of being able to choose your spaces, and put yourself only in situations that you feel comfortable in. I have always thought that space and the ability to own a space is one of the most important forms of power. Space is sacred for many people: even acting in certain ways in particular spaces is considered dirty, wrong, or sacrilegious. Someone who is “in your space” immediately feels threatened. And for those people who feel they can’t take up space, they often feel invisible or useless.

 

Being able to create and choose spaces is a huge privilege. These spaces allow you to choose what to see and what not to see. You can choose where to erect walls, who to let in. And often these spaces are created by how we get from place to place. Now more than ever we have all kinds of people mixed together in cities. But if you don’t have to take public transit, you don’t have to interact with those people one neighborhood over or see anyone from the district that isn’t so healthy. You can keep to those places that bar who can enter based on money or on status or on appearance. This is why I believe that everyone should try taking public transit for a while. No, there’s no way to enforce this and no particular real reason to, but it would be an intensely interesting social experiment to see what happens if you require an entire city to take public transit for a week or a month. See how people’s perspectives of each other and of their city change when they start to come into contact with all sorts of people.

 

As someone who used to take public transit regularly and now doesn’t, I know that I have become much more sensitive to difference. After spending 3 years at a heavily white, upper middle class, private college, I became far more aware of race and of difference, more afraid of it, more worried about it. I had never had that hyper-sensitivity, that innate sense that I would treat someone differently because they are different. I’m still not worried about taking public transit or being around people who are different from myself, but I have to be more conscious of it. I have to say to myself that this isn’t my space, it’s space for everyone and everyone deserves it. I wish others had the experience of simply being in space with people of difference. It changes your perspective. It changes what you view as normal. It changes how you see the world. I wish that there were more obligatory spaces that belonged to everyone. I see how privileged my friends are to NOT see the spaces where everyone mixes together and how afraid they are of those spaces and that makes me so sad. Those spaces are to be celebrated.

On Feeling Past My Prime

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This morning I was reading an article about how age affects women more harshly than it affects men because of societal expectations of a woman’s “prime”. It’s interesting, because I never think about my age in terms of when I’ll be past my prime, or when I’ll stop being able to have babies, or when I’ll not be able to get a man anymore. Those things are not in the least bit important to me. The concept that at some point I will stop being relevant or sexy or loved or wanted because I’m old seems like the stupidest thing ever and I just don’t think about it.

 

But still, as a 22 year old, I often feel past my prime. I feel like I have lost the opportunities that I had and squandered what potential people told me was there. I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels like this, because I’ve been told by others that they feel like they’re behind or they’ve missed out or they haven’t done enough and they’ll never be perfect enough to achieve their dreams.

 

This cuts across genders, although I’ve personally seen it more in females. What has this generation been told that they somehow feel if they haven’t won a Nobel Prize by the time they get out of college then they’re useless? Because that’s the overwhelming sense I get from my friends and peers: no matter what I accomplish it will never be enough and I should have done it sooner anyway because I was supposed to be a prodigy.

 

Let’s try to put this into perspective through a few choice anecdotes. I have a friend who’s brilliant. She retains facts like nobody’s business and will excitedly tell you EVERYTHING about her subject of choice. She knows what she likes and is passionate about it. She’s on her way to getting a degree in that subject, and ready for grad schools following. And yet. And yet. She hasn’t gotten straight As. She’s in a difficult program and sometimes she struggles. She has a hard time balancing school and friends and family and mental health. Just like any other normal human being on this planet, she isn’t perfect. And whenever these things face her, I can see her melt. It’s the saddest thing in the world. I can see the voices talking to her and telling her that despite her plans and her dreams, and the fact that she is ON TRACK to live out those dreams, she’s useless and she hasn’t accomplished anything.

 

I have another friend who graduated from a small liberal arts college with good grades, played in the orchestra, held a job the whole time, is fit and talented and intelligent, got a well-paying job out of college, and now feels that his life is going nowhere. He didn’t get an engineering job straight out of school and isn’t sure what he wants to do in grad school. And so his degree suddenly becomes useless, his grades suddenly aren’t good enough, and nothing he does is worth anything. Even though he spends his time doing things like building cars and making a bike for his girlfriend, and doing things that he clearly loves, he feels his life is not good enough and HE is not good enough because there is some unspoken expectation of greatness for him.

 

And finally (not to brag, but to illustrate that I know what I’m talking about): I graduated in 3 years from a small liberal arts school after being admitted to every school I applied to. I graduated magna cum laude with honors in both of my departments (I was a double major). I held multiple jobs all three years and participated in a wide variety of extracurriculars. I now have a job, and I’m biding my time trying to decide what to do next. But when I think about where I am in life, I feel as though I have already wasted the best years of my life. In high school, I was told so often that I was smart, that I would do great things, that I would accomplish. I didn’t do that in college. I didn’t get published in major journals, I was never recognized for any sort of brilliance. I didn’t come to any great discoveries. I was just a regular student who got through. I’m not working at an amazing job, thinking Big Thoughts or moving towards a Bright Future. I don’t know what I want to do in grad school, and when I think about it I’m fairly certain that when I go, I won’t be held up as the best of the best. I’ll probably do well, but I won’t be richly rewarded. I’m trying to do what I love through writing and editing, but a piece of me still holds on to the dream that someday a publisher will stumble upon my writing and hand me a contract and I’ll suddenly be the next J.K. Rowling.

 

Now I know that in each of these examples, none of us are brilliant shining stars. None of us are about to cure cancer or write the next great American novel. But each of us are doing pretty well for ourselves. We’re smart, we’re relatively accomplished, we haven’t screwed up majorly in any way, and we’re all kind of following the appropriate path for our age group: going to college and then kind of trying to figure things out for a while. For those of us who are out of college, we’ve got steady jobs that allow us the freedom to figure out what we want to do in the future.

 

So why is it that we’re all convinced we’ve failed? Why is it that we feel we have not lived up to expectations, or that we could have been so much more? Why is it that in my mind when people told me “you have a lot of potential” I heard “if you don’t achieve fame and success by the end of college you suck”? Why is it that for all of my generation I get the feeling that we expected ourselves to be child prodigies who would excel at something from the time of birth and blow past every other person in that field by the time we were 18?

 

I can’t answer these questions entirely on my own. I don’t have sociological research to back any of this up, but I do have suggestions and possibilities. When I was young, I was told over and over of my own potential. I grew up in an era when telling a kid they could do anything was the norm. Dreaming big was expected and encouraged. I was told that if I work hard, I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. Now I have no problem with parents encouraging their kids to dream, but telling me over and over that I can accomplish anything is simply a lie. Things are out of our hands sometimes, and wishing and trying and working doesn’t change that. I was propped up all my life: told by teachers that I was so smart, told by parents that I was special and amazing. I don’t regret for a second the support that I had from these people, but I wish that I had a piece of reality thrown in there: that as talented as I am, as smart as I am, as loved and supported as I am, things will still not always go my way.

 

I think of Dr Seuss’ book The Places You’ll Go. For a kids’ book this fucker is remarkably insightful. Because despite being full of support and love and excitement, it acknowledges that even someone as brainsy and footsy as you can get in trouble sometimes. I don’t feel like I had that. Somewhere along the way, my generation go the message that we could control our futures if we just worked hard enough and did things right enough. Which means that if things didn’t go our way, we must have done something wrong. We must have failed.

 

I see this in the way that we talk about college (always about getting into a top school, not getting into a school you like), the way we talk about jobs (how much are you making out of college), the way we talk about degrees (how many things did you major in? what’s your GPA? How many jobs did you have?), the way we talk about grad school (can you get funding for it? How much more will it make you?)…we don’t ask people questions like “are you enjoying yourself? Do you have good friends? Are you doing something you love?” So despite the fact that I spent 3 years studying something that I find absolutely fascinating, I’m a failure because I have not gone on to start a Ph.D at Berkeley, or because I have not published, or because I have not…xyz.

 

I wish we could stop feeling like we’ve failed. I wish we could change the dialogue from “what are you accomplishing” to “what are you enjoying”. I wish we could stop feeling we need to be the best. If I have any hope for the next generation, it’s that they’re empowered to know they have opportunities and abilities unlike anyone else in the world, but that they also learn to accept. Change always comes first from acceptance.

Monday Morose Miscellany

It’s 11:59. There’s a ringing in her ear. Ring in the new year as they say. Or is it a new day? They’re close enough anyway, and when the minute turns over it will be an ending and she needs that ending like she needs the ringing to drown out the endless voices and start again in silence. It’s silent now, late at night, home alone. She vaguely wonders if she remembered to lock the door, but it’s loud inside, hammering painfully against her skull, making her squirm and look at the clock for the numbers to turn. To end.

 

 

 

Drums.

Arouse a building nausea.

They lost themselves in mind’s recesses and won’t stop echoing.

Sleep

It’s a dream that filters behind the eyes

Celebrated with fireworks, red and gold.

Blink

But not too much or your eyes will get stuck

And you’ll be lost inside your eyelids forever

Empty

Is a wish

For an empty mind and empty body

Filled only with drums.

 

 

 

 

Delicate white branch

Laced with the snowfall of night

Vanished in the sun

 

 

 

She begins with herself, always. In the present tense and first person, she is always the crystal to focus the light of her own mind. A turning inwards, a breath. Who am I today? She wondered, echoing the calls of a thousand young children across the globe. Why today? Came the teenage call, yearning for purpose. When can I rest? She asked, as she suddenly felt her body grow old. She begins with herself but herself is a multitude and she cannot end until she has touched them all. Her crystal has grown diffuse. She cannot see in the gloom.

 

 

 

I’m sitting in a cube

Always in cubes

Open air is foreign, and so I pack my

Spaces into boxes

Filled with boxes

To pretend I take up space.

The boxes are sharp, all straight lines and corners

So I went myself into curves

And ooze into empty places

Hoping the edges don’t cut

I don’t fill the boxes

I can’t feel the boxes alone

It’s easier to pretend I’m not here at all.

Social Justice 101: Color Blindness

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Since the civil rights movement, we as a country have been enmeshed in a struggle to understand how to move forward from our history of race motivated hatred, bigotry, and oppression. Today, many people (particularly those people who are privileged enough to be white), adopt a feeling that if we could all just stop thinking about race and stop judging each other on race, then all these problems would disappear and we wouldn’t have to worry about racism anymore.

 

The concept of color blindness has been around for some time now. This is the idea that we should not even see what people look like, what color they are, but simply treat them as human beings. On some level this is a nice idea. It rests on the desire to put the past behind us. Unfortunately for us, the past is not really gone at all and it affects the lives of every person in the United States today.

 

The first reason that color blindness is an unhelpful attitude is that it ignores the fact that historical prejudices have left large sections of the black population of America in poverty, without jobs, incarcerated, and otherwise disenfranchised. These cycles of poverty reinforce themselves. In a recent book written by Mahzarin Banaji, the concept of modern prejudice was revealed to be more about helping those with connections to you. Because people of color have traditionally been denied connections to powerful institutions, they don’t benefit from connections and personal favors in the way that many white Americans do.

 

In addition to these historical cycles of poverty, color blindness ignores the fact that many prejudices are still deeply held and that race does matter, particularly for people of color. African-Americans are incarcerated at much higher rates than their white peers, and are often given harsher sentences. Things like stereotype bias (the tendency of an individual from a stereotyped demographic to perform more poorly in testing when reminded of a stereotype) can hold back individuals of color by affecting their performance in traditionally white fields like math and science. Subtle types of bias exist that we may deny are even at play. In a sociolinguistic study, researcher Anita Henderson found that hiring managers were more likely to hire individuals who phonetically and syntactically sounded white. John Baugh conducted research which showed that individuals who spoke with an African-American speech pattern were more likely to be denied housing. By promoting color blindness, we ignore the fact that life has been made more difficult for individuals of color explicitly because of their color. We erase those experiences and do nothing to help individuals recover from them.

 

Overall the largest problem with color blindness is that it is passive. The forces that have created the race segregation and discrimination in our country for so long are far from passive. They have been as active as can be in the form of laws, community enforcement, segregation in education, lack of voting rights, and hundreds of other things. Unless we actively step up to fight those things which have served to push a large number of people in our country downwards, we are perpetuating the problem. Sitting idly by while others struggle to get out of the mess that we helped to make for them is the same as continuing to hold them down.

 

As Malcolm X said “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.” We need to actively work to take the knife out.

In Defense of the Suicidal

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Before I begin this post I want to say that I am all in favor of psych treatment, mental health accommodations and more care and attention given to those who appear to be in a bad place. ABSOLUTELY 100% I ADVOCATE THESE THINGS. I want better access to care, better quality of care, and more quantity of care. ALSO: TRIGGER WARNING TRIGGER WARNING: self harm, suicide

All of that being said, this article in defense of psych treatment for attempted suicide pissed me off. I do support having resources for those who are coming out of a suicide attempt, to help them stabilize and get medication and have mental health care (of course I think all of those things should be available before the person gets to the point of suicide), but the idea that it should be mandatory and the whole tone of the piece rubbed me entirely the wrong way. Now most of this piece is going to using personal and anecdotal evidence, but I think that that was WHY the article pissed me off so much: mental illness and suicide are about very personal and internal experiences, and this article reduced it all to statistics, as if that could explain how someone with mental illness is feeling. That’s upsetting.

Most of the evidence that he uses in the post revolves around the idea that those who are suicidal are not thinking clearly and thus are not in any position to make decisions about whether or not they want life or death. Wow. WOW. Let’s try applying this argument to any situation that does not involve mentally ill individuals. Say for example someone had a heart attack. I’m guessing we would all say they’re not exactly thinking clearly at that point in time or directly afterwards. Doctors would likely stabilize the patient, and then recommend certain changes the individual should make to protect themselves from future problems. Now we may look with confusion at people who don’t implement these changes, but we don’t suggest that we should stick them in a mandatory “healthy eating and exercise” facility for a few weeks afterwards to “stabilize” their mental health and get them to a place where they’re “thinking straight”. That’s because we assume that what these individuals do with their life is up to them and if they want to put their life in jeopardy it’s their own damn business.

To look at it from an opposite perspective, say a mentally ill person was being threatened by another individual. They’re being held at gunpoint. We 100% believe that this mentally ill person has the right to choose whether to be alive or dead in this situation and that another person does not. We would NEVER EVER say “well because you’re mentally ill you’re not thinking straight, maybe you do actually want to be dead you never know”. We have a prejudice towards life. We have no idea whether being dead is better or worse than being alive, but we continually assume that if someone has a choice, they SHOULD choose life. That seems just as unfair to me as telling someone else that they should be dead. It’s nobody’s else’s concern what an individual does with their own life or death (with the exception of family members and close friends and other individuals who will be emotionally impacted, but this article was talking about legal and medical procedures to be enacted by perfect strangers).

At other points in this article, the individual states that the average person suffering from MDD has only about 4 episodes of depression in their lifetime and that these episodes last only 6 months, so the pain is temporary. They also state that with medication most people get better, and that with CBT statistics are even better. Ok, so the first statistic is an AVERAGE. There are many individuals who have situational depression and are diagnosed with depression for a single episode. This brings the average way, way down. For those people suffering from major clinical depression, it’s often an ongoing struggle. Even when you’re not in the midst of a full on episode, it still makes everyday life harder. As someone who has MDD (and who is only 22) I can vouch that I have already been through 5 episodes (probably more, that’s just a basic estimate from the last 5 years), and that each of these has been on the high end of six months. That’s almost half my life for the last 5 years. So telling me that it’s “temporary” and that I’m overreacting to a temporary problem is extremely condescending. It’s telling me that a statistic knows my life better than I do.

He also doesn’t address the fact that co-morbid diagnoses exist and complicate these issues severely. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, and they are NOT temporary, nor are they easy to solve with medication or therapy. They are often comorbid with depression, and many of those deaths come from suicide. As he mentioned, BPD is also a high cause of suicide, and this also does is not something that is “cured” but is more likely something that is “managed”. He also states that it often goes away by itself in “a few years to a decade”. A DECADE? I have BPD symptoms, and I can promise you that waiting it out for a decade is NOT an option. Making light of how difficult that is for individuals is again, extremely condescending and doesn’t bother to listen to how difficult life can be when you’re in the midst of BPD for years and years on end, in what feels like a state of unrelenting crisis. It makes perfect sense to want to be done with it.

In addition, his comments about medication seem to ignore the fact that many individuals who try to commit suicide are on medication or have been on medication and have been in therapy before or currently are in therapy. Meds don’t work for everyone and therapy doesn’t work for everyone. OBVIOUSLY we should try to give everyone the best options possible by allowing them access to therapy or meds, but if they don’t want it it’s their choice to decide that their life isn’t worth living and that those things aren’t for them. No one should be forced into doing things they don’t want to do simply because we view life as better than death and think that this will change their mind.

As someone who has been pushed into therapy and meds, life doesn’t suddenly magically get better. Your suicidal tendencies don’t suddenly disappear. You don’t suddenly gain a new appreciation for life that makes you clear of mind. And even now when I’ve been on meds for months and in therapy for years, I still don’t want them. Many people feel this way. If someone chooses to be unhappy then that is their business and if that choice leads to them desiring death, then again that is their business. Only in the case of mental illness do we feel it’s ok to tell people that they HAVE to do what we feel would make them happier. It is incredibly condescending that we are treated as children who don’t know what’s best for us because of our mental illness.

I’m not even going to touch the ageism in the first section of the post except to say that teenagers have the right to bodily autonomy too.

The final element that I want to address is the seeming underlying assertion that a 72 hour lockup doesn’t hurt anyone, and we might as well do it in case it can help. Now as someone who has been taken to the ER without my consent for mental health reasons, I can promise you that it IS NOT HARMLESS. I was not admitted, I was simply asked some questions and when I convinced them that I had no intentions of killing myself they let me on my merry way. But I had to sit and explain myself in a cold, sterile room at 2 in the morning for hours to people that I didn’t know who didn’t know my mental health history and who diagnosed me with “adjustment disorder” (which is bullshit since I told them that I have diagnosed depression and an eating disorder which is why I had been self-harming). I was terrified, I was traumatized, and I was angry. I spent a week after that having a difficult time trusting the person who called, and I proceeded to bottle up my emotions even worse than before because I was terrified of having another similar experience. It was absolutely horrible in every way. Let me reiterate: I was not even admitted. It was still humiliating, exhausting, terrifying, and traumatizing.

From the people that I know who have been in residential or in-patient treatments, they treat you like a child: they take away your possessions, they watch you nearly constantly. I have never heard about someone having a positive experience in a psych ward. I have heard about individuals being restrained against their will, not being allowed visitors, feeling bored and lonely. These things do not help an individual suffering from depression. They are extremely harmful, and suggesting that just because a psych ward is not equivalent to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest means it’s a great place is ridiculous. There IS discrimination against mentally ill individuals and it DOES take place in psych wards and mental hospitals across the country. So when we consider mandatory psych treatment for suicidal individuals we sure as hell better weigh the negatives against the positives. We have to weigh that these treatments often are traumatizing or scary or discriminatory.

To close, I am in no way advocating for suicide. I do agree that it’s a fairly permanent solution and that exploring the problem from all angles before taking any action is the most prudent route to go, and that this should involve therapy and meds. However the idea that suicidal individuals don’t do this or that they enact a huge decision based on a spur of the moment feeling is ridiculous and infantilizing. From personal experience I have been struggling with the problem of why to stay alive for four years now. If I were to commit suicide in the future (this is not a suicide note. Nobody call the cops. Please dear God I do not want to have to go to the ER and explain that I’m not suicidal. Again.) I would not want my death to be held up as a moment of weakness or a single bad decision. If I were to commit suicide it would be after years of struggling and writing and considering and deliberating. If you look at the lives of individuals who do commit suicide, I think you’ll find more often than not that they have thought about it long and hard. At least give them that much credit. Do their memories that favor. If we’re going to do anything, we should provide everyone with the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions, and then we should give people the freedom of life or death, without the prejudice of saying that life is always and inherently better than death and if you believe otherwise you’re deranged.

Dr Who and the New Companion

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We are halfway through a new season of Dr Who and a new companion has recently been introduced and I have some Opinions about the dear Clara. Going into this season of Dr Who I was…skeptical to say the least. I did not like what Moffat did with Rory and Amy and honestly by the end of their run I couldn’t tell what was going on half the time and didn’t care enough to pay attention and figure it out. It all just felt like a big mush of “how much can Moffat show off how brilliant his plot twists are. Over and over and over”.  I also have agreed with the many many criticisms of how poorly Moffat has handled gender and race and…well pretty much every demographic that’s not white cismale on his run as head writer.

 

So I was uncertain going in to a new companion, but also hopeful because it would be a clean slate, and every episode wouldn’t be another mindfuck of “oh no who’s related to who and what time period are we in and how are their histories looping back on each other oh no!” I was definitely looking forward to just some one-shot episodes, which is what Moffat does best. So what do I think of Clara so far?

 

Well in many ways I am unimpressed. The first two episodes with her I thought were intensely promising. I really like the idea of a human as a Dalek, I really liked that she was the brilliant one controlling everything in that episode (although I didn’t like that she was stuck and waiting for him). In the Christmas episode, I again thought that she was interesting and forceful and refused to listen to the Doctor when she felt she needed to get things done. Unfortunately since we’ve met Clara of the modern world, things have kind of tanked.

 

The first time we meet Clara of the modern world she’s too incompetent to get on the internet. Really? REALLY? I mean she goes on to become brilliant enough to figure out where the company is when the Doctor couldn’t, but still. Not a good introduction. Since then, I’ve spent almost every episode wondering why she’s even there. In the most recent episode she appeared to do nothing except for stand around and be slightly empathetic (and fly the TARDIS into the pocket dimension, which is good and should not be forgotten). However in the past, companions have actually contributed to the Doctor’s understanding of situations, they’ve pushed the Doctor to let them do more, they’ve explored, they’ve met people, they’ve figured things out on their own. Clara only appears to be capable of that when the Doctor is out of commission. And honestly in Cold War she was so unmemorable that I almost forgot that episode existed.

 

The one episode in which she appears to show some true autonomy is The Rings of Akhatan, in which she goes off on her own and meets Merry. She comforts Merry and tells her stories, and is the one who starts the theme of the whole episode of strength through words. I want to see more moments like this, because I think Clara has potential. She has a sharp tongue, she’s not afraid to show up the Doctor or say no to him (one of the few companions to tell him she didn’t want to travel with him at first), she appears incredibly smart, and I just WANT to like her. So if the writers could get around to giving her something to do, if they could just let her wander off more (which is the classic companion action through all of Dr Who), I think she could live up to the potential that she had in the first few episodes.

I’m just not even going to touch the romantic bits between Clara and the Dr. Honestly I’m slightly disturbed that the Doctor seems far more interested in her than she is in him even though it’s KIND OF EXCITING but the Dr is like a bit 5 year old…5 year olds don’t have crushes.

In addition, there is obviously supposed to be something special or different about her. I am extremely worried about what this might turn out to be, but I’m hoping that it’s something brilliant which gives her more power and allows her more autonomy. In the episodes where her “strangeness” was played up, she was able to do more. I’m not totally sure how I feel about this idea that she can only be equal to the Dr when there is something magical about her, but I’d rather have that version of her than the useless pretty girl who stands around and does nothing. For the moment I think it’s hard to tell how she’s going to turn out. We’ve only seen her in a few episodes, but so far Moffat has done very little to impress me. At the same time, Clara still has potential. Guess we’ll just have to keep watching, right?

Growth: A series of Drabbles

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Growth

It was a good idea to never look down and never look back. At this moment, clinging by his fingertips to an unhelpfully flat cliff, he was acutely aware of the fact that looking back at his progress was a horrible idea, and so he stared upwards, his eyes seeking out any slivers of crevice, crack or ledge that his fingers could hold to through the strength of friction and hope. Somewhere above there was a shadow, barely indicating a ledge. He tensed, let himself hang downwards before launching himself up to grab at the wall. Growing by the second.

 

 

Yesterday there had been a beard on his face. Today there was none. He looked younger without it, as though his hair were suddenly less gray and his eyes more blue. His friends remarked on hos spry he seemed, but he simply smiled enigmatically. The following month they were sure something was different.

“Are you working out?” they asked.

“Just standing straighter” he replied.

By the end of the year Art knew he had to say something. His friend’s old staff rested uselessly in the corner while the man himself nearly danced across the floor.

“Merlin, are you growing younger?”

 

 

Bright eyed and bushy tailed. Dashing over crisp leaves. Preparing.

The twitchy little squirrel carries his acorn across the ground, looking for the perfect hiding place. He can feel the fall air in his bones and is ready. The ground is right here. The nut is buried. Squirrel departs.

 

Melting snow has left the ground soggy but the searching nose of squirrel is certain it remembers where it left that nut. Aha! Here it is! Little squirrel looks up at little sapling. A pause. A deep search through memory. How many summers ago had he buried it? Grown up nut?

 

 

“Mommy, where do babies come from?”

I froze, taken aback by the sudden and unexpected question. Why was my baby asking me about babies? I was certain I had not been this little when I started asking…she couldn’t be ready yet. I wasn’t ready yet.

I pointedly looked away, turning my attention to the brief I was writing, trying to buy time. I had not prepared for this.

“Why are you asking?” I hedged.

“Sarah’s got a baby brother. How?” I sighed and turned to look at my baby girl. She hadn’t been so tall this morning. Growing so fast.

 

 

 

 

This sucker here is my first attempt at a haibun. I’m not totally happy with it, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

 

The room is always dark, the shades always closed. Not even the fresh sun or the smell of melting snow can sneak under the window sill. But despite the darkness a harsh lamp spreads tendrils of light across the floor, leaving patterns here and there. She walks in, looking for ink and parchment. Her boots drag. Clothes are shed and the pattern is from door to bed. She can see the crosshatches on the floor of shadow, light, shoe, and pen. The room is covered with lines, straight and sharp, almost as harsh as the light. Her skin turns pale in the light, blueish with veins and red with cold.

 

This will be my pen

The ink that I use is red

Drawing patterns here