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Acquainted Strangers

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There he was- a remarkable man; a savior who embodied calamity, conviction and intuition. Bewildered. She stared at him closely. She allowed her eyes to absorb the very nature of the man she did not know. Guarded. Her lungs absorbed an energy, a force, which was transparent in the open space between them. Inexplicable. Astounded by his ability to touch her soul, she ran. She ran into the open field, where fog thickly blanketed the air. She didn’t know where she was running to. All she could be certain of was that she was running from a stranger who made her feel like he knew her far too well.

Out of breath and out of time, she fell to her knees and threw her body to the ground. Afraid he may find her lying there, she grabbed onto the thin blades of grass, which demonstrated the only proof that wind existed, and pleaded with the man above to help her. She dug her face in the dirt and smelled the earth, ready to become a part of it and fearful she was fated to die. Silence became her. She could hear his body moving closer to where she lay. She dug her face deeper into the ground, reluctant; for she did not want her eyes to witness herself become a victim. She felt him standing over her. She held her breath and begged her body to rid itself of sensation. She became numb. Unable to sense what was going to happen next, she lay still, ill prepared to become his prey.

He stood there without much to say as he admired her in a submissive state. He was saddened by it. She lay there before him, withered, helpless and frightened. He could sense her loss of innocence, her obsession with self-destruction and her commitment to freedom and everything wild and free. He knelt next to her and asked if she was alive. She didn’t answer.

Somewhere amidst the chaos in the world, in their world, they found each other. It’s as if fate had magically worked itself out, as it usually does, bringing two lonely strangers to a place where being a nobody had lost its relevance. She hadn’t quite realized that her life had passed her by. She hadn’t realized that she wasn’t quite so little anymore. She had discovered that all was not right in the world. This became quite shocking for a frail girl with big eyes, a hungry heart and thirst for imagination. There, in the dirt, she lay disconnected from the outside world, in a tall field of grass listening to the crickets speak in unison with the speed of the wind. There was nothing ordinary about being ordinary to her.  She forgot what it was like to change and be different, or perhaps it was the world she lived in that made it appear as though she hadn’t changed at all. She didn’t seem complacent or worrisome, yet there was a particular sadness that followed her- a certain kind of sadness that became addictive. Was she living to die or dying to live? Perhaps her blank face and routine days echoed a simple, yet profound statement about living such an ordinary life. Was she so different than the rest of her suburban neighbors? Undoubtedly no.  Confined to this world, she became so plain because plain is all she could be if it meant blending in with a very, very unpromising Suburbia.

Although she hadn’t said a word about anything above, he was well aware of who she was and how she got there. He was intrigued. He lit a cigarette and handed it to her, “Now finish your story.”

Violated. He had violated her mind. Although she felt naked, she was compelled to finish where his ability to read her mind, had left off.

-m.T

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Letter to an Unforgettable Love

Dear New Year, Old Love:

We’ve begun another new year. I without you and you without me. I promised myself that I would forget you and if I couldn’t forget you, I promised myself that I would seek a way to. I often break promises with myself. This letter is probably an indication of that. Perhaps if you didn’t still hold such an important place in my heart, I would be able to forget you. Not all things in life are easy to erase. You are one of them.

I took a drive tonight. In a whirl of subconscious freedom I found myself driving down the road, which led me to the place, our secret place, where everything we experienced there was nothing but a great memory. Despite that I was aware of where I was travelling to, I couldn’t fathom the thought of turning around. I had to face it. I had to face the place where we shared greatness in us. You’ve always known me as brave and mostly stubborn and when have I ever been afraid? You’re right, almost never. I put the car in park and climbed out of the driver’s seat. I leaned on the hood of the car and took everything in. It was a little scary, being there, without you. I’m not sure if it was because it was dark, but it seemed as though a lot had changed about that place in so little time. The trees are much bigger, the grass is much taller and everything is grander than it used to be. They’ve even started building houses nearby. Everything has become bigger, grander, except our love. A lot has changed. So have we.

I walked to the spot where we sat that night in the cold; where you and I had smoked our last cigarette; where we witnessed the smoke from our mouths get carried out into the distance through the translucent air. I sat there tonight, between frosted blades of grass and buried my head in my arms. I shut my eyes tightly and revisited that moment of moments we shared, once upon a time. I remembered how we sat and stared at the moon and the stars, and breathed out the warm air from our lungs. I rested my head on your shoulder. You wrapped your arm around my left side and held me close. Neither one of us said a word. We just sat there in silence and allowed it to cloak us with comfort. I remembered how beautiful that silence was. There was something about it, which I relished and felt possessed by. The words in this letter wouldn’t be enough to describe the effect it had on me; the effect you had on me. Time stood still and so did we. We didn’t need words. Maybe it was because we couldn’t find the right ones or maybe our love for each other was important enough that it was able to exist without words. I don’t think we ever needed words to explain it, we just knew. Silence was enough. Sitting in the cold beneath the moon and the stars in silence, was enough. We hadn’t even kissed, yet inexplicable electricity between us, was there. Most would have considered it overzealous and silly to contemplate an unstated love as deep as ours. Perhaps it was, but that’s what made it shameless and beautiful.  I remember how anxious I was. I remember how butterflies filled my stomach and danced about with excitement. And that knot in my throat. That knot. How I wish I could feel that again.

Tonight I touched my lips and closed my eyes. I tried to remember how kissing you felt. I tried to remember how seamless each brush stroke of your lips was against mine. I remember how you looked at me, how you looked into my eyes and held your stare. I remembered how you placed your hands on both sides of my face, pulled me in with assurance and confident strength, and kissed me. I remembered how deliberate your intent was.  After I reminisced about that moment, I opened my eyes and I placed my hand on my chest to feel my beating heart. A lump formed in my throat, different than the one I had felt years ago when I sat there with you. All I felt now was sadness. That lump in my throat was the result of tears being held back. Panic electrocuted me. In that moment I realized I was there, alone, without you. In that moment I was afraid that I would probably be alone forever.  I fell back and lay there and although I wanted to cry I felt an overwhelming blissful sensation of joy. I lay there with my arms behind my head and smiled. Although I was sad, I was interrupted by happiness. I suppose what they say is true: you can be sad and happy at the same time. Bittersweet moments seem to strike us in the most magical of ways. It’s finding happiness in sadness which makes a memory, a moment, very significant. When you can miss someone and smile at the same time it demonstrates true victory over a broken heart. It demonstrates that wonderful memories have the strength to last a lifetime.

So, I write this letter to you with tears and a smile. This bittersweet feeling I have is not a force to be reckoned with. If you’re wondering why, I’ll explain. I wrote this letter to come to terms with what I felt tonight. If this letter ever finds you, please read it with an open heart. Every word hangs from emotion. Every word is a glimpse of our past. I have always hated clichés, I have, but I couldn’t help but imagine a senseless, bold me, who had the guts to run outside in the gently falling snow, all the way to you, just to tell you how wrong I was, what a big mistake I had made and how much I wanted to recover what we had and how much I wanted to bring it back to life. Every New Year’s Eve, I pictured our reconciliation like this, but I never followed through. My pride always got in the way. I suppose the abolisher of fairytales, in me, always interfered. I sometimes wish we could go back to that moment where you and I sat on that hill, in the cold, where we didn’t feel cold. We felt like ourselves. Now I don’t feel like myself anymore, because you’re gone.  Perhaps one day we’ll find ourselves on that hill where things would be different just to be the same, in the way they used to. If that day never comes, just know that I’ll be fine. I will forever celebrate a new year, an old love.

Be well,

Your past love

-m.T

Letter to a Man in a Suit

Dear Sir:

I like words. I much prefer them in poetry, in songs, in stories. This is where words live beautifully and safely. They grow happy together and we, we grow fond of them. I don’t know what happened to words. When they became ugly. When we stopped believing in them and in their beauty. The words, which roll off our tongues and are formed by our tender lips strike, impose, and come with malicious intent. Often words tend to lose their beauty, especially in conversations between two people, who discuss hatred and cruelty.

I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation in which words reflected catastrophe. You spoke those words loudly. Why did you? Words, which are beautiful, must be spoken with pride, for everyone to hear. Not words which are brutal and destructive. When did it become apparent to you to use such words so openly? I suppose you have no idea what it’s like to be betrayed by words. To have them used against you. To be pinned up against the wall and forced to hear them; your mouth covered from speaking words in defense.

In ill repute, I write this letter to you. Everything has been shed above. Perhaps reading them will do more justice than hearing them. I fear that defensive words, which are spoken, sometimes do not do justice. They are said and then they flutter away into dismay. Words, which are spoken ferociously and not gracefully, sometimes lose their importance. I have choked on your words and have wanted to throw them up. They made me feel ill; however, what those words mean to me will eventually fade away, as do the effects on a person. I have learned not to allow disgusting words, like the ones you have spoken, to impose on the beauty language can be. I do have one request: in the future, please do not taint them with anger, violence, and humiliation. If you so choose to, please confine them to your mind and not to the open world. Words are meant to be beautiful. Seek beauty in words instead.

Sincerely,

A disgruntled listener

-m.T

Sending Letters in the Mail? You mean Email, right?

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(Photo Credit: benevolentpostcardsociety.blogspot.ca)

I can’t remember the last time I sent a letter in the mail. Can you? I do everything online, well almost everything. I’m all about save a tree and use technology. I suppose the rule can be broken for the holidays. Tis’ the season for holiday card writing, lots of holiday card writing. No more holiday card writing, please. If you’re not into sending traditional holiday cards and you want to make your life a little easier by paying a little more, check out Handiemail. Sending letters in the mail is so out of the ordinary for modern folks, I guess, so Handiemail has tailored what used to be the only means for sending your love and well wishes and made it nifty. I have no idea why this is a neat idea and why it makes sense to spend money on something you are fully capable of doing yourself, but I like it anyway. Sometimes things don’t have to make sense, to like them. I can’t believe I just said that.

-m.T

My Addiction

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(Photo Credit: http://www.123rf.com)

Today, a certain nosey someone at the coffee shop poked his nose around my table to sniff out what I was doing. He decided that his question was important enough to interrupt my writing flow. I lied. It wasn’t important at all but apparently it was to him. He asked: “Why are you always here?” I replied, “Because I’m stalking you.” Well, I didn’t but I wanted to. Sometimes, well most of the time, my smart mouth doesn’t always work in my favor so I’ve learned to lock it up. Anyway, I politely answered, “I’m writing.” A few questions that followed were a little annoying, so I won’t bore you with those but the question, which stood out to me as funny and a little thoughtless, if you will, was this: “Why write?” He almost suffocated me with his arrogance, almost, but I managed to gasp for air and wave that stinky sticky question out of my face. I simply replied: “I write because I must.” I was short and to the point and he didn’t have much to say. Mission accomplished. With that, he filled up with air and deflated like a helium balloon. In my head, in my head he deflated like a helium balloon. Sometimes my imagination does what it must to add humor to some trying times.

After my annoying stranger-friend found something better to do, something dawned on me. I’m addicted to writing. At least I think I am. I write because I must echoed in the foreground of my mind, venomously. I repeated it over and over in my head. From the depth of writer’s land a flounder of words emerged. I exclaimed, “Damn you coffee shop stranger, damn you.” As I drowned out the relentless echo, I settled my fists of fury and collected myself. Alright, maybe this didn’t exactly happen. Perhaps I should save the theatrics for a game of charades, you say? Okay, deal.

I don’t remember why my addiction started or when it started, but I have an inkling that Stephen King may have something to do with it. Upon researching how to be the best you can be at your craft one day, I came across this quote by him, which read: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” This system has worked, for the most part. It’s become the method to my madness. There’s just one tiny problem. I can’t stop writing. Someone please help! I don’t want to be one of those people sitting across from a group leader who says with a confident grin, “Welcome to Writer’s Anonymous” and I don’t want to be one of those people who replies: “Hi, my name is M.T. and I’m here because I’m addicted to writing.” Is there even such a thing? Geez, what if there is? Should I check myself into rehab, into W.W.A? How much is too much? I suppose the first step to getting clean is admitting you have a problem. Here are some of the dreadful things I’m guilty of…

1.Five minutes before 5:00 p.m. I get all jittery and excited. Am I excited to see my drop-dead handsome dream man for our fancy shmancy date? Nope. I’m all jittery and excited to leave work to go write (cue in wah, wah, wah).

2. If I’m inspired, I have to write. There’s no doubt about it.  Thank goodness for memo-pads on cell phones. It’s saved this crazy addict from diving off the deep end for a piece of paper and a pen.

3. When I’m on a roll I’m sure as hell and ready to annihilate anyone that interrupts me or even sneezes in my presence.

4. I won’t rest until I write.

5. Sometimes I write like the end of the world is approaching and the only thing left to do is write. Although, if the end of the world happened, my writing definitely wouldn’t survive it. Well, you know what I mean- it’s a figure of speech people!

6. Is it bad to admit that I’ve cancelled plans once or twice when I’ve felt a good idea brewing? Pathetic, I know.

7. My notebook looks like a crack head went AWOL.

8. I often, well more than often, find time during the day at work to write. Shh, my boss doesn’t know. Well maybe he does, but he won’t say anything because of #3. He knows.

9. My mood swings and irritability are a result of not being productive enough or not completing my writing goal for the day.

10. It gets my heart-a-racin’, especially after I’ve completed a perfectly formed sentence, found the right words to match my ideas, or when I’ve managed to pull it together after an all-nighter. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a coherent chef-d’oeuvre of words. I get a rush that surges through my body. It’s an exhilarating feeling most would compare to sex. Did I just compare writing to sex? Oh. My. God. Maybe this is worse than I thought.

Alright, so maybe I am addicted to writing, just maybe. The list above could be a pretty clear indication, I suppose. Most of this post is far-fetched. I’m sure you could sense that. Maybe that too is a characteristic of an addict. Anyway, some people have used writing as their means for recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, but what happens when writing becomes your addiction? Is there another outlet you can plug into to wean you off of writing? Is it safe to say that writing is a healthy addiction? I suppose I’ll leave the questions to the experts. Excuse me while I end this post. I need to get another fix.

-m.T

Question for you: What is something that you would hate to go without for a day? For a lifetime?

The Ups and Downs of Falling in Love

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Writing has become my best friend, my one true love, and my savior, but it wasn’t always this way. I didn’t always believe in words. I didn’t always believe that writing could cure sadness, defeat or anger. Coming of age in the suburbs was tough for me. Although I belonged, I felt incomplete and I felt like an outcast. I think it’s because I always felt different than the people I hung out with. I came from a home different than most and I grew up quicker than my age had required. I was a teenager enjoying the ride but I always felt like something was missing. Suburbia lacked inspiration and because it lacked inspiration I often wondered about other places different from where I lived. I was trying to find myself in the midst of boredom and doing the same thing on a different day. Boredom gave me the ammunition I needed to strike my dreams with courage. I was starving for an adventure and always felt like I belonged somewhere else.  I still feel that way, for the most part. I suppose that’s always been the motive needed to drive myself out of Suburbia. While I was planning my future getaway I was in search of someone I could trust with my secrets, my thoughts and my vivid imagination. As hard as I searched, I wasn’t able to find this in people so I found it in writing. I had found comfort in words. This is when I fell madly in love with writing. This is when writing saved me.

The ideas in my head became a collective group of friends and my notebook became the place where I carried them safely. This eventually led to writing a book (which I hope to have published one day). Writing became my outlet and a great pass time. Although I enjoyed writing, I didn’t think I was any good. I also didn’t think being a writer was possible, mainly because some teachers downplayed it as an occupation. They often equated success with status and high paying jobs. It was odd to me that the books we studied were held with such high regard, yet being a writer was not an occupation put on a pedestal. It wasn’t until the last day of my last year of high school when I learned to believe in my writing and that being a writer is possible. On that day, I passed by my Writer’s Craft teacher’s office to pick up my assignment and to say goodbye. This moment where we exchanged words changed my mind forever. He handed me the book I had written for the class assignment and said: “You should be very proud of this.” I jokingly asked him if he was talking about the same book I was holding in my hands. He nodded and confirmed that he was indeed speaking about the book I was holding. I explained that I loved writing and wanted to be a writer but I didn’t think I could be one because it didn’t seem realistic. I remember he looked me dead in the eye and scolded me for not believing in myself. “You should be very proud of what you’ve produced here,” he said pointing to the book, “keep at it and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be picking up a book of yours from a shelf.” He seemed to have more confidence in my writing than what it was worth. Nonetheless, I did what he told me to do. I kept at it. His words inspired me to write and write and write. This is when I fell in love with the idea of becoming a writer.

Although the relationship between my pen and I was a beautiful thing, it was a love affair that ended early. University changed me into a callous writer, afraid to be creative. I had become a writer who found it difficult to write essays about beautiful books because I couldn’t demonstrate their beauty in structured papers, which consisted of a thesis, argument, and quotations. These beautiful books were being picked and prodded instead of being appreciated for what they were. I was a victim of subjectivity and I couldn’t find happiness in writing anymore. I despised writing. I was no longer inspired to write and it felt funny. This is when I decided that being an English Literature major wasn’t for me anymore. I hated it. When I discussed this with a professor, he told me that I should give up, maybe take some time off school. When I look back I can’t help but smile. I realized that it was probably the best advice he could have given me, not because it was the right advice but because it was the wrong advice. It gave me the fuel I needed to believe in myself.  I chose not to give up and decided that I was going to switch my major to something I liked. So that’s what I did.

After I switched my major, I fell in love with learning and with writing again.  A professor of mine gave me the confidence I needed to re-visit the writer I used to be. She commended my writing style and analytical skills in an essay I had written on Baudelaire’s poems and encouraged me to enter the essay in an essay competition. I was reluctant at first but decided to enter it anyway. Although I didn’t win, I proved something to myself. I proved that if I want to be a writer, I’ve got to dig deep and put the writer within me to good use. I learned that you have to face your fears by putting your writing on display. If you don’t succeed, it’s okay. Failure is the greatest thing because it makes you better. I learned that giving up is easy and persevering is hard but if you want to succeed you have to keep at it.  I also realized that writing was still something I wanted to do. When I look back, I’m happy that I struggled. It’s made me more confident in the decision I’ve made to do what I want to do. It’s a labor of love.

To me, writing is not about failing or succeeding. It’s about sharing a part of yourself that you didn’t know you had. For the most part, this is the role that writing has played in my life. If someone tells you that you can’t have dreams of being a writer, a musician, a painter, tell them to put a sock in it. You should also share this quote by Dominic Owen Mallary: “Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. In 12 years of education the most important lesson I have learned is that what we see as “normal” living is truly a travesty of our potential. In a society so governed by superficiality, appearances, and petty economics, dreams are more real than anything, anything in the “real world.” Refuse normalcy. Beauty is everywhere, love is endless, and joy bleeds from our everyday existence. Embrace it.” After you’ve shared this with them, reveal the largest grin you could ever display on your face and tell them to return to their boring life of expectations. These people will make you believe that your dreams are only dreams and that’s as far as they go.  They claim that you can’t be an artist in the real world. In the real world you need to have a real job. For the longest time I believed them. Why couldn’t I have dreams of being a writer? Why had I for so long avoided it as a something I really wanted to be? I’m glad I don’t anymore.  After completing a university degree and holding a 9-5 job I’ve realized that there is so much more out there in the world that is more fulfilling than working to make money. Working a job you hate to make money is the least fulfilling thing, to me anyway. I’ve learned that if we pound at our dreams and work hard at achieving them we can become that somebody those people made us believe was just a fictional person. There is so much more to life than living it according to another person’s blueprint. Where is the pleasure in life if we can’t accomplish the things we want to, for the sake of our dreams becoming a reality? What do we know if we don’t try? Fall in love. Life is too short to not be able to do what we love.

-m.T

Question for you: What have you fallen in love with? When did you discover your passion? …Let’s have a chit-chat.

 

My Soundtrack to Writing

(Photo Credit: http://www.guardian.co.uk)

What’s the soundtrack to your writing? Writing isn’t the only thing that completes me. Music does as well. Writing and listening to music is the perfect combination for getting inspired and for staying focused. Here is a list of my favorites:

Zoo Kid (song: Out Getting Ribs): It’s a strange song, but it works. I suppose it’s the mystifying qualities of this song that inspire me.

Local Natives (song: Who Knows, Who Cares): Local Natives is a band who takes me on a journey to find the right words when I can’t seem to find them.

Classical Music: This collection of classical compositions allows me to focus no matter what mood I’m in. It provokes me to think and it helps me form sentences quite easily. Before I know it thoughts are flowing and the writing I’ve produced is lucid and coherent. Classical music puts harmony into my words and carries me out into a world of thought. It’s a world I enjoy being in when I’m writing. Classical music is usually the solution to writer’s block. It works for me all the time.

Bon Iver: This entire album takes me away to my solemn place. Bon Iver is a true poet and the poetic qualities in his songs inspire me to write with grace.

Dallas Green (song: Northern Wind): Love, love this Canadian boy. His songs inspire me to write with the same honesty and authenticity in his music.

Radiohead (songs: Reckoner/ House of Cards): Thom Yorke is a musical genius. Their music inspires me to write with movement and heart.

Led Zeppelin (songs: Fool in the Rain/Thank You): These two songs, among many of their songs, inspire me to write with feeling and rhythm. It has the power to take me back to a time where rock n’ roll soothed the soul, despite me being an 80’s baby.

Johnny Cash (song: Hurt): I prefer this version over Nine Inch Nails’. The way Johnny Cash sings the words in this song sends shivers up my spine. It empowers me to contribute the same feeling and angst the words in this song have, in my writing.

Daughter (song: Youth): The solemnness and sensitivity in this song inspires me to write the same kind of feeling. The pick-me-up empowers me to write with strength and power. It triggers emotion and this emotion finds a place in my writing.  In addition to this, who hasn’t experienced heart-ache? Am I right? This song allows you to re-visit those moments with grace and inspires me to write with nostalgic qualities.

Brand New: This band takes me to a place of secrecy and wonder. When my thoughts are a little crazy, Brand New slows me down. Their lyrics cause me to think provocatively and poetically.

The Zolas (song: You’re Too Cool): I saw this band live and instantly fell in love with them. My writing has fallen in love with them too.

Kendrick Lamar: I recently added this album to my must-listen-to list after my brother introduced it to me. Kendrick Lamar’s album is an amalgamation of tiny short stories which inspire me to write with poise and creativity.

Do you have a list of songs you listen to? Share them with me in the comment section below. I’d love to hear what you’re listening to.

-m.T