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Drabble 121 – Pauciloquent

Pauciloquent

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a truly atrocious conversation going on at the coffee shop behind me. I’ve been trying to start this blog post for roughly twenty minutes, but I’m so wrapped up in discovering what awful opinion is going to come spilling out of this man’s mouth next (especially because he drops the volume every time he goes to say something awful) that I couldn’t get started.

I keep thinking the conversation has reached a low point, but they find new depths to plumb. I suppose sharing their horrible opinions is how they’re getting to know one another; I’m getting to know them, too, and I’m thinking more and more about unhinging my jaw and swallowing the world. Such is the life of writing in coffeeshops.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 120 – Meraki

Meraki

The baking challenge I set for myself has, so far, gone exceptionally well. I’ve had pumpkins leftover from my garden since roughly August (no, I don’t know how they managed to stay fresh that long), which have been turned into a pie and four batches of madeleines. The first batch of madeleines and the pie involved a great deal of cursing (thanks to a surprise lack of eggs and crust troubles, respectively), but the second batch was easy and tasted spectacular.

There are few skills that have such noticeable results as you improve at them. I’m sure I’m going to hit a plateau with this eventually, and suddenly everything I bake will taste bland, won’t rise, or fail to impress. But for right now, I’m enjoying the feeling that comes from making something I couldn’t make before, even if it’s simple.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 95 – Harpaxophobia

Harpaxophobia

I spend a lot of time worrying about things that aren’t going to happen and significantly less about things that don’t. I grew up in a small town with a good reputation, but my house was robbed when I was pretty young. They mostly took a bunch of junk and didn’t do any damage–we’d left the door unlocked and they made off with a TV, some jewelry, and some cash.

But I don’t worry about that. I probably should, but instead I worry about everything else. My ceiling caving in, my cats getting into something they shouldn’t, leaving the stove on. It doesn’t matter that none of that is likely to happen (at least not to a serious degree), I still somehow fear it more than something that has actually happened to me.

I think that’s exactly it. I lived through a robbery, so what else do I have to fear? But these other things are (mostly) unexplored, mostly unknown. I know that a robbery isn’t the end of the world, but I have no idea about the rest of these things and I hopefully never well. I’ll just keep dreading them.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 83 – Coruscant

Coruscant
Gems by fdecomite

When I was younger, I used to hide myself away. Not literally; hide and seek was usually, among my group of friends, a reason to scare one another. Somewhere in childhood I learned that I should be embarrassed of things, and I started speaking more softly, hiding my intelligence and curiosity, and dressing more like a tomboy because being a girl, to my understanding, was to be a lot of things that I definitively was not.

While the old instincts to be embarrassed still linger, I no longer try to hide myself. I wear my gender and all its hyper-feminine trappings proudly; I’m no longer afraid of lipstick or dresses or high heels, even as I recognize their patriarchal roots. I wear them because I like them, and because I enjoy the feeling of seeing somebody’s face change when they assume one thing about me from the way I look and discover another.

I had these things shoved on me because that’s what I was supposed to do or be like or enjoy, and I hated them. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve found that I like cooking and gardening and wearing pastels. There’s no harm in any which way you choose to present yourself or spend your time, provided, of course, that it’s you doing the choosing.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 82 – Quaintrelle

Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola. Columbia Pictures. 2006.

While I prefer things a little on the simple side, there’s something intensely interesting to me about opulence to the point of turning lurid. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that looks baroque or rococo, but I’m fascinated by the ways that layering beauty on beauty on beauty feels grotesque.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been rich that I find the ways that wealthy people spend their money so intriguing. I think of what I’d do if I had an extra thousand dollars per month and some of it is certainly self-serving, but gilded banisters and mother-of-pearl dishes are low on my to-do list, especially not together.

There is an assumption that, if somebody who is not wealthy has something nice, that they do not deserve it, that they should spend their money on something else, something practical. Luxury is reserved for the wealthy. That’s BS. The poor, the disadvantaged, the middle class, are just as, if not more, deserving than the rich. I think about this when I splurge and get dessert with dinner, when that small voice in the back of my mind says that I haven’t earned it, because I’m not worthy.

To that voice, I offer two manicured middle fingers and a smile.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

A Good Narrator is Hard to Find

I maintain that the only thing more important to improving your writing ability than actually writing is reading. There’s something to learn from every novel or non-fiction work you pick up, even if it’s that infodumping is not a great way to handle exposition, or that starting too big makes it impossible to increase drama as you go. More importantly, good fiction, the kind that makes you envious that you didn’t write it, can teach you valuable lessons even when you’re not looking for them.

I recently read through Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief for the first time. It came out ages ago, but Z is last in the alphabet and I’ve been working my way through my bookshelf from start to finish for a couple of years. It’s the kind of book you want to savor, in part because it’s beautifully written and emotional, in part because it’s intense. I had nightmares reading it, and finished the book off with ill-contained, physically painful sobs.

There’s a lot to learn from it, too, not just from a human perspective, but from a writing one. I don’t want to diminish the importance of the emotional narrative, especially given our current climate, but I don’t think that to focus on The Book Thief‘s technical success is to detract from its emotional impact. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re inextricable.

Drabble 81 – Cualacino

Cualacino

All language is arbitrary. You’ll often run into people who want to shut down conversations by saying that something isn’t a “real word” or that a lack of “proper” grammar somehow obfuscates a point. If it’s not clear, I find those arguments absurd; language is all an invention, and, if you can understand a person’s meaning even when it isn’t expressed exactly how you’d like it to be, there’s no breakdown in communication.

It seems like people really believe in real words, as if those, too, weren’t invented by somebody somewhere. But that raises an interesting question; at what point does an invented word become a real one?

“Cualacino,” my word for today, is apparently an Italian word for the ring left behind from a cold glass. Except it’s not; as far as I can tell, it’s a word somebody made up as part of one of those ‘untranslateable words’ lists that then got circulated as truth. At what point does its meaning become concrete?

Research is important.  I found this word on a list of words that don’t translate into English (despite the fact that ‘the ring left behind from a cold glass’ is, in fact, a translation) and I could have continued pushing the idea that this word really exists in Italian because it’s convenient or interesting or because I trusted a site with a cute illustration more than a lack of etymology or the Italian people I saw blogging about having never heard the word. It isn’t real, no matter how many cute drawings you attach to it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Well, 2016 Happened.

At the risk of being navel-gazey, the end of the year has made me think a lot about my growth and, conversely, the lack thereof.

I didn’t accomplish every goal I set out for this year. I’m not surprised by that; in the past couple months, I’ve left one of my stable sources of income behind for the wild unknown. I worked a lot for too little money, spending precious time that I could have used to pursue my real goals.

Drabble 80 – Turpitude

Turpitude
Olympia by Edouard Manet

I like offering help. I don’t like accepting help.

I am fiercely independent, sometimes to my detriment. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a situation that made me feel impossibly dependent on somebody else. Maybe it’s because I was raised by a similarly independent mother. Maybe it’s because I want to be beholden to no one.

Understanding the reason won’t change it. This is who I am; a woman who values independence above convenience, who is happy to extend her hand but shies away from anybody else’s, who would rather work long hours for low pay than hear, “It’s okay, I’ll take care of you.”

This isn’t an indictment or a confession. Anybody who has known me for more than two seconds knows that I always bite off more than I can chew and then chew it anyway until my jaw aches. It may not be the best way to be, but it’s how I am.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 79 – Flora

Flora

79 isn’t a particularly interesting number, but when I realized that today would mark my 79th drabble for this blog, I was a little taken aback.

I feel like I’m in a constant state of questioning whether I am cut out for this. By ‘this’ I mean a bit of everything–writing, mostly, but I’m always wondering whether I’m any good at anything at all. It’s not a matter of asking for compliments or reassurance, either, because if I wasn’t actually confident in my writing to some degree, I wouldn’t put it online for other people to read.

Still, doubt creeps in. The other day I scrubbed mold out of a windowsill and wondered how it got there, how it got so bad. Why didn’t I notice? Why didn’t I catch it sooner? It’s that slow, incremental growth that gets you, and, even when it’s cleaned up, you punish yourself for letting it get that way in the first place.

I should quit, I think. And then I follow that thought back to its source, a dark, brittle little thing that sends shoot and tendrils outward until they choke out everything else. I can’t kill it. I can’t stop it. But I can deal with it, whether it’s with bleach and a paper towel or my own dogged determination to outgrow it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.