Category Archives:drabble

Drabble 191 – Debellate

A photo of blue smoke against a dark background.

Before this year, I’d never have described myself as a pessimist. That doesn’t mean I suddenly became one this year—though if any year is going to turn you into a pessimist, 2020 will do the trick—but rather that I became aware of it. I look and look and look for the bright side because I don’t really believe it’s there, and if I do happen to find one, I keep looking until I can no longer really believe it’s a bright side at all.

This is not a good outlook. I don’t advise it. Nor do I advise being a pure optimist either—that comes with its own set of downsides.

Intentionally trying to dig up the truth of myself has exposed me to all kinds of things I didn’t expect to find, most of them uncomfortable; when you spend your whole life thinking you’re an optimist only to find that you’re in fact the opposite of that, it’s a shock! How can I not understand my own worldview? If anybody knows the way I feel about things, shouldn’t it be me?

Turns out, no. I don’t know much about myself at all, and the things I keep finding are weird and unexpected. But finding things out about myself isn’t the end of the work—more important is the idea that I can change those things. It’s hard, slow work. I feel like I’m making very little progress. But I keep coming back to a question my therapist asked me months ago: “What if that wasn’t a bad thing?”

But… it is a bad thing, I thought back then. (I still think this, more often than I don’t.) Well… what if it wasn’t? What if all the things I’ve always thought were true… aren’t? Something like that can turn your entire world on its head.

I’m still a pessimist. Maybe someday I won’t be. I don’t know! That’s the thing about challenging my static worldview—it’s comforting to think you know something, and now I’m not sure. There’s some freedom in that uncertainty.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 190 – Degrassé

A photo of stars.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Well, it was more like the outer limits of nowhere. It was a 20-minute drive to town, anyway. On clear nights, I could hear the train whistle mixed in with crickets and cows lowing. In the sky were more stars than I’ve ever seen elsewhere; that’s what happens when there are no streetlights, no large buildings, just trees and water and farmhouses tucked into meadows.

It sounds idyllic but, truth be told, I hated it there. The stars and the sounds are two of the only things I remember fondly, but maybe that makes up for the rest. Seeing the stars spread across the sky like glitter spilled over black velvet is a memory I hang onto now that what I hear at night is mostly cars. Sometimes coyotes, but we had those back home, too.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 189 – Rhodology

A photo of a pink rosebush.

I grew my first rosebush from bare roots this year. I grew roses at my old house, but they were planted by the time they got there and mostly grew themselves—they were a hardy breed. I was nervous about planting my own roses; a rosebush is an investment, and I didn’t want to feel like I’d thrown money away if it died. But it didn’t. It thrived and produced big white blossoms that smelled amazing. I dried them to use in tea and rosewater and anywhere else I can think of.

There are a lot of risks in gardening; I feel bad every time a plant dies because I didn’t care for it well enough. But coaxing something to grow—whether it’s roses or beans or a giant tomato plant that nonetheless succumbs to blight after you geat only one measly tomato from it—is incredibly rewarding. I hate weeding, I hate fertilizing, I hate pruning, but I get better at it every time I’m reminded of how gratifying it is to know that something grew where it wasn’t before simply because you took the time to nurture it.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 188 – Lemures

A photo of a person from behind surrounded by smoke.

It’s been a while. Every time I sat down to write a drabble my brain turned to static. That’s the nature of burnout, which I’ll write more about in my newsletter. I’m trying to be a little more patient with myself and let go of the things that nobody’s waiting on, so drabbles fell to the wayside for a bit. That’s okay—when I sat down to write this one, it didn’t feel like work. It felt like opening a shaken can of soda, maybe. There was too much of it, but it was a joyous sort of mess.

Anyway, here’s a drabble. Maybe I’ll be more consistent in the future. Maybe I won’t. But I’ll come back eventually.

Drabble 187 – Omnium Gatherum

A photo of a clock, hourglass, and other antique objects.

I understand the appeal of minimalism, in theory. I also understand that our society tells me that the solution to anything that’s wrong is to buy some material good to fix it. I also understand that having lots of objects does not actually equate to happiness.

And yet, my dream home is one that’s full of trinkets. Books, pretty rocks, assorted knickknacks that call to me for one reason or another. Something about that kind of space feels more like home to me than a space that’s clear and open. Maybe it’s growing up without a lot to go around that encouraged me to be this way, or maybe it’s just that part of me that’s drawn to stories about old witches in cottages and treasure hunters. Do I need these things? No, of course not. Is it bad to want them anyway?

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 186 – Intrepid

A photo of a knights hand holding a sword.

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery in the past few days, in no small part because I am writing a review of Avery Alder’s Variations on Your Body, which includes a game called “Brave Sparrow.” At the risk of spoiling my own review a bit, here’s the quote I’m chewing on:

Bravery is the willingness to act, even and especially when you are terrified. It is action and intent carried out in the name of hope. Bravery is unable to oppress, though it is able to hurt. Bravery always liberates – first oneself, and often others. Bravery will sometimes make you vulnerable to the world, and it will always make you vulnerable to yourself.

Nothing I could say in this introduction is nicer than that, so that’s what I’ll leave you with. Let’s all strive for this kind of bravery. Here’s a drabble.

Drabble 185 – Hypnopompic

A person standing with their hands in their pockets and a beach in the background.

This morning I opened my fridge to see several bowls full of summer fruit, and this brought me an almost unbelievable amount of joy. The past few months have been uniquely difficult and I’ve struggled to maintain anything like a healthy attitude throughout separation from my friends and family. I’m not, I’ve learned, a person particularly good at regulating her moods. I see a piece of bad news and I look for more bad news to confirm that I should actually be feeling bad.

I have to put faith in the capacity of the world to change. If I tell myself it won’t, that gives me an excuse to sit out. If I tell myself that it not only can, but it must, I can’t let it go. But there’s always a dark part of me that insists nothing I do has value, that nothing anyone does has value, because the forces we seek to overcome are vastly more powerful than we can hope to be.

I know that’s not true, but it still drags me down as surely as stones in my pockets. Sometimes I feel like I’m removing a few stones and replacing them several times per day. Today I saw summer fruit and that was enough to take some stones out of my pockets; a small, small victory that I will celebrate.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 184 – Sotto Voce

A photo of a person playing the flute.

I took band for two years in middle school. It seemed like the kind of thing I should do, being someone who loves music, but it turns out I have no patience for breaking through a plateau. I reached a certain threshold of skill on the trumpet and abandoned it for the clarinet, but by the time I did the same thing with the clarinet my family was no longer willing to let me swap instruments, which is fair. As it turns out, I’m much better at appreciating music than I am making it.

But one thing that has lingered with me (aside from sitting on the front few inches of my chair) is how lovely all the different musical words are. Woodwind, reed, crescendo—each one itself a little song.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 183 – Hypermnesia

A black and white photo of a person with their finger to their lips, which are covered in an x made of tape.

I have an extremely good memory for things that annoy me and a significantly worse memory for things that don’t. It’s harder for me to recall the taste of the best meal that I’ve ever had than it is to remember that time someone was rude to me. I don’t think this is unusual, but shouldn’t it be? Shouldn’t it be easier for us to remember all the things that make us happy than all the things that have ever made us miserable?

I’m sure there’s some kind of biological purpose to this, like that negative emotions are a lesson learned. But what lesson did I learn from someone being rude? That sometimes people are rude? I already know that from every other negative memory I have of similar events.

I don’t think I can overcome the ease of remembering negative things, but I can spend more time trying to cultivate the positive. Photos, journaling, taking time to really think about what I’m experiencing as I experience it. I’m not always good at this, but instead of remembering how I fail, maybe I can remember how I keep trying.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 182 – Allotheism

A photo of an altar featuring a book with pressed flowers and a box holding crystals.

I find a lot of value in being wrong. When I was a tutor, the lesson I most wanted to share with my students is that there’s no shame in not knowing something. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn. This sounds like something you’d find stitched on a throw pillow, but it’s also something I’m teaching myself, bit by bit.

Failing at something, being wrong, making mistakes—all of these things feel terrible. I would rather succeed at everything, be right all the time, and execute every task flawlessly. I’m sure we all would, even if we know that it’s unrealistic.

I’m not, generally speaking, the kind of person who likes to ruffle feathers or play devil’s advocate. But I am precisely the kind of person who sometimes picks her own thoughts into shreds, trying to find whether there is truth there. Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t. Even when I come away with the discovery that I was wrong, I come away with something else, too—a new piece of knowledge, some insight I didn’t have before.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.