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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 130 – Propinquity


One of the best things about writing is that sometimes you get ideas that won’t leave you alone. This is also one of the worst things about writing.

I’ve had an idea that’s been haunting me for, oh, years at this point. And in the backlog of things I have to do–the short stories I’ve started, the book I’m editing, the other book I’m editing, the other book I should really finish before I start yet another writing project–I haven’t yet gotten to it. Instead, I keep ramping up this anticipation for it in the hopes that someday, when I get there, I’ll be so ready that the words won’t fight to come out and the whole thing will be smoother than any story has ever been.

It won’t, because I’m too in love with the damn thing to see that I have no plan beyond the first chapter. Logically, I know this. But I’m telling myself a different story and letting that hype build up and carry me through the difficult parts, when I’m certain I’m no good at anything. Because if this thing doesn’t work out, there’s always that next one, better than the one that came before.

I probably won’t have a drabble for next week precisely because of the aforementioned backlog. But for now, here’s one, a significantly altered taste of that thing I just can’t wait to start.

Drabble 129 – L’Appel du Vide

L'Appel du Vide

Here’s something exciting – The Compendium of Magical Beasts has a cover, and it’s available for preorder!

I’m unbelievably excited about this book. The ‘unbelievably’ is as true as true can be, because I still don’t believe it. I’m aware I wrote a book, and that it has a cover, and that there’s still work to be done on it before it makes its way into the world. But I also don’t believe it, because I’m me, a person that I have lived with for almost thirty years, and I can’t have written a book that, later this year, can be bought in a store.

But I do believe it enough to worry about it, which I’ve been doing all day. Worry is seductive; if I listen to even one of the many nonsense concerns floating around my brain, I’ll listen to all of them. It’s like someone is talking in the next room, and I know they’re talking about me, and I know I shouldn’t listen because it’s none of my business. But I listen anyway, because I have to know. And once I start listening, I can’t stop.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 125 – Sweven


When I was a kid, I lucid dreamed without trying. I thought it was something everybody did; I’d wish myself out of nightmares and turn every dream I could control into a grand, playful experiment. I worked out problems from my real life by acting them out in dreams. It didn’t help, but at least it gave me some measure of control.

Now that I’m older, I never lucid dream. I still try to work my problems out, but my dreams seem to actively work against me, coming up with increasingly difficult problems to solve, more frustrating situations, more awful rehashing of my worst fears.

I kept a dream journal for a while to see if there was any consistency there, but there wasn’t. Just an inscrutable soup of thoughts bubbling to the surface and sinking back down again, over and over, while I sleep.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 121 – 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


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


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

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.