Drabble 146 – Ventisonance

A photo of storm clouds.

I’m not a very adventurous person. I don’t operate on whims; I’m a meticulous planner. I have to-do lists of to-do lists.

But that’s one of the many reasons I write. Writing, for me, is in part a means of exploring all of the things I would never do in real life. My characters might be rude or impulsive or cunning in ways that I’m not, precisely because I’m not those things. I enjoy fiction because it gives me freedom that real life doesn’t.

Sometimes that freedom is simple–I can rewrite a conversation that went poorly, for example. Other times it’s reimagining everything from the ground up, changing everything to suit me better.

In this case, it’s not really either. Here’s a drabble.

Drabble 145 – Dwimmer

A photo of a young Black Woman in a white t-shirt.

Like most people, I’m a series of contradictions. I hold mixed-up beliefs that sometimes don’t make any sense. I disagree with myself. I think it’s good for me to do so; there’s a lot happening in my brain at any one time, and much of it is garbage, like noise pollution. I have to tell the insecure noises, the noises that keep me awake because I’m worried about things that I have no control over, the noises that insist I’m not good enough, that they’re wrong.

But I’m also a person with evolving beliefs. I’m a person who, you know, buys a cell phone or a Jurassic Park jacket or a fancy pen despite knowing full well that I don’t need those things, that there are people who need things far more than I do. I have to grapple with that, because to not grapple with it is to pretend that the world is fine when it isn’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, in part because we just can’t get away from capitalism on my podcast, and in part because I fairly recently read Becoming Dangerous, a book about ritual and resistance that left a lingering impression on me. Not every ritual discussed in the book is one I partake in, but some – gardening, makeup – are. When I put on lipstick, I think about them. When I pull weeds, I think about them. I think about what they mean on a large scale, and what they mean to me, Melissa, an individual who is trying to exist and be content.

I’ve talked before about my relationship with femininity, and how embracing it by choice has changed so much about how I engage with the world. Makeup is part of that, even as I acknowledge that beauty standards are bullshit, that makeup is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, that it’s probably bad for my skin. I can contain all that knowledge, all that conflict, and still slather on lipstick when I’m going into a situation that makes me uncomfortable because I, like everybody else, am a contradiction.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 144 – Hypsiphobia

A photo of two young women sitting on a cliff, staring at mountains.

Like many people, I don’t like heights. The moment I reach the top of a building–let’s be honest, the moment I reach the top of a ladder–my knees go weak. Not in the romantic way; in the way that feels like I’ve lost control of my body. I picture myself falling, imagine the sick feeling in my stomach of missing a stair but it goes on and on as I plummet six feet, or ten, or twenty, and so on.

It’s not the worst fear to have, thankfully. I can mostly avoid extreme heights, and roller coasters go fast enough that I barely notice the drop. I honestly wonder what it’s like to not be afraid of falling off of even the smallest distances, but I suppose I’m better off not finding out.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 143 – Pythoness

An image of a Paestan vase, showing a female soothsayer with snakes on her shoulders and in her hair.

One of the strongest ways that anxiety manifests for me is in the ways I think about the future. I’m generally an optimist, but when I’m feeling anxious, I imagine myself with a sort of reverse Midas touch: everything I do, everything I’m involved in, everything I know and love, will crumble by virtue of my involvement.

I’m not a Cassandra; most of these things don’t come true, and if they do, the consequences are never as bad as I imagine them to be. I am, as it turns out, terrible at predicting the future. If anxiety were rational, my acknowledgement of this fact would make it disappear. It doesn’t.

Instead, I have to recognize it for what it is. I don’t know the future. In fact, I don’t want to know the future. I prefer to let things be a mystery, anxiety be damned.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 142 – Eschaton

A photo of ivy growing against a cement wall.

I’m not a good gardener, but I try. I can’t keep mint alive to save my life. I keep letting my precious raspberries get eaten by birds or my dog or simply turn purple and drop off the vine because I’ve forgotten to go out and pick them.

Still, I love it. I love seeing the raspberries there, even if I don’t pick them in time. I love seeing things growing, even if they’re the weeds I’ve neglected to pick out. Something is working, even if it’s not by my hand.

These are things I never thought I could do. At some points in my life, I’ve been convinced that everything I touch will crumble, if not literally than figuratively. As it turns out, that’s not necessarily true; sometimes things grow in unexpected ways, and that, too, can be a gift.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 141 – Mooncalf

A photo of a yellow moon against a black background.

I find myself coming back to the same figurative language over and over again. I’m not going to outline themI have some pride, and if I say what they are someone might notice. One metaphor is about wanting, one simile is about movement, and another simile is about the moon.

Despite being weirdly afraid of stars when I was a kid (they looked like eyes, and I didn’t like eyes that belonged to things I couldn’t see), I was never afraid of the moon. It was big and friendly, and on clear enough nights it cast the whole world in a pale white light that made everything look strange. Familiar, but different somehow; like a spotlight shining through my bedroom window.

It felt like a magical occasion when the moon showed up like that, like something special was happening. I live in the Pacific Northwest; we’re not known for our clear weather, so a cloudless night with a bright moon wasn’t the norm.

My feelings haven’t changed much now that I’m older. Somehow, there’s something comforting about a big rock in the sky that reflects light and makes our oceans move, something that reflects sunlight back at us and makes the darkness bright again.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 140 – Mephitic

Mephitic

I don’t like heat. I’ve made that abundantly clear on this very blog. But there is one thing that I do love about the summer–the sounds.

I live next to a big, marshy nature preserve. Every year, we get birds of all kinds returning to this area. Some of them sing nicely, some of them shriek. The shrieking ones are the pretty ones.

At night, a chorus of frogs and crickets sings. You’d think every frog in the world was gathered right outside the window, belting their croaky song out just for you.

No matter what time of year it is, to venture into the preserve is to chance getting your boots caked in mud. It’s never really dry out there, just different degrees of moist. In the winter, the whole thing floods and you can’t walk through half of it. It feels like a big sponge soaking up all the Washington rain and clinging to it, refusing to let it go.

And sure, the marsh means that my house is perpetually mosquito-ridden. I have seen bugs crawling on my windowsills that I’ve never seen anywhere else. While writing this, a dragonfly repeatedly bumped its tiny body against my sliding glass door. Mosquitos or no, I love it here.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 139 – Conatus

Conatus

I’m not really a risk taker. I am in the sense that I’m a freelancer, so every day is a fun game of ‘can I make enough money to pay my bills?’ but aside from my precarious work situation, I prefer to play things safe.

I’m fiercely protective of the things that I have. I don’t like to gamble, I worry about switching jobs in case what I end up with is worse than what I have. I just worry, a lot, about losing things.

I can sit here, grumpy as I am, and try to puzzle out a reason for it. I can try to find some kind of meaning hidden in here, and to be honest, there probably is something. But instead I’m going to end this and go off to do something fun, because time, too, is precious and should be guarded.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 138 – Hemeralopia

Hemeralopia

I started a newsletter! You can sign up for it using the box on the sidebar.

In my first newsletter, I talked about voice, and how I never feel like I’ve really found mine. Or if I have found it, how it doesn’t satisfy me. I envy writer of lyrical prose, the kind of writers whose words get stuck in your head like music. The ones who play with sounds and meaning to craft sentences that are works of art individually, but also parts of a larger tapestry.

Since the only way to get better at something is to practice at it, that’s what I’m doing. It might not be to my incredibly high standards for myself (nothing ever is), but it certainly won’t be if I don’t attempt it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 137 – Ataraxia

Ataraxia

Anger is what gets me through the day.

Sadness, for me, is an all-consuming emotion. I feel it everywhere. It weighs on me like wet clothes, dragging me down, making it hard to move.

Anger I feel in my chest. It hurts, sometimes, because anger burns while sadness feels heavy. But I can do something with anger; pain makes me want to move, to act. Whenever possible, I try to get angry.

This isn’t something that comes naturally to me, unfortunately. It has taken me years to cultivate a healthy sense of anger–that is, anger that inspires, not anger that turns inward, dissolving into sadness yet again. I’m still working on it. I think of how difficult it is for me to get angry, sometimes, and, like magic, I become angry.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.