Archive Tag: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.

Drabble 181 – Dépaysement

A photo of the exterior of Versailles.

In my most recent newsletter, I talked about traveling. It’s a privilege to be able to travel, and it’s another privilege to be sad about not being able to travel right now. That doesn’t mean that being sad about it is wrong. We’re all sad about a lot of things right now. That’s more than normal—it’s natural. We’re undergoing a collective trauma, and trauma often rears its head in unexpected ways.

When I feel something complex, I try to understand it. My sadness over not being able to travel is not just that I’m sad I can’t go to New Orleans and eat something delicious I’ve never eaten before, though that may be part of it. It’s part that the opportunity has been taken from me, and part that traveling is an entirely new experience, a place to see things I’ve never seen and do things I’ve never done. At home, I do more or less the same thing every day, with variations. Get up, read, work, watch TV, bed. This weekend we drove to see family from ten feet away, still seated inside our car. That was a variation, but it was still so much of the same.

Seeing a new place is an opportunity to escape that sameness, a reminder that there are places in the world where everything is different, even if it’s only two towns over and the biggest difference is that they have your favorite bubble tea and your town doesn’t. Since we don’t know when travel will be possible again, nor what it will look like when it is, it feels as if that potential has been entirely snuffed out.

I speak only for myself, naturally. Maybe some people travel for other reasons. But right now, I’m missing that heartbeat racing feeling of being a little bit lost, the confusion of a menu in a language I can’t read, the wonder of seeing something in three dimensions that previously only existed in two.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 180 – Affetuoso

A photo of a green sprout against a blurred background.

I think a lot about what it means to be sentimental or, heaven forbid, corny. I suspect that I am often both. No doubt, some people see the things I say and do and cringe; I’m openly emotional, sentimental marketing does, honestly, sometimes make me feel better, and I cry at every single wedding video even though I don’t actually like weddings all that much. I cringe at myself, too, because maybe all those things are signs of my internal weakness. Maybe I should stop, because it’s embarrassing to be so affected by everything.

There are lots of ways to be in the world. Not all of them are good. I don’t think that either side of this internal struggle I have about my own sentimentality is wrong; yes, I am too susceptible to marketing, but no, I will not stop believing wholeheartedly in the possibilities of radical empathy. I am trying as hard as I can to let myself embrace this conflict, to let myself be vulnerable not only to the terror of letting my emotions be known but also to the resulting embarrassment.

For a long time, my writing was dry and distant. Describing things was purple prose. Metaphors were cagey. Be honest, but not too honest, or you’ll risk turning readers off with the stink of your earnestness. I am trying as hard as I can, again, to let those hesitations go. My favorite writer is Angela Carter, maybe in part because she did so many things I would be petrified to do. But that’s because I don’t see the internal struggle. Maybe she wondered if her writing was too sentimental. Maybe she didn’t—maybe she was always confident that she was doing things in the exact way they ought to be done. I’m not there yet and maybe I won’t ever be, but it’s worth being embarrassed sometimes, I think, if that is the consequence of growing.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

Drabble 179 – Aeaeae

A gray rectangle.

Today’s word—aeaeae—is likely a neologism. When I searched for it, most of the results were of the hex code, which results in the gray color above. Hex code, I thought, laughing, because”aeaeae” means magic.

“Hex code” is short for hexadecimal code, a type of numeral system based on sixteen. It has nothing to do with hexes, which trickled down from the Old High German hagazussa, also the root of “hag.” The “hex” in “hex code” comes from the Greek ἕξ, the word for “six” with a similar pronunciation.

That’s not to say that hex codes can’t be magic; they turn letters and numbers into colors. Even a coincidence like this one can be a surprising source of joy in dark times. Maybe that’s magic, too.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.