Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – The Vacation

I looked out the window of our hotel room. Warm coffee in my hands, I admired the sprawling ocean and the lush green tennis court. This was our first vacation as a married couple. Having spent most of my time admiring ocean views and cotton sheets from a computer screen, it felt like an achievement to get away.

“Shall we play a game of tennis today?” My husband giggled as he came up behind me, hand on the small of my back. We had gotten to the point where we could joke about my accident. I chuckled at him. I wheeled my way to the door where a hotel employee was there to assist us in getting down to the main floor.

“In another life, maybe,” I hummed as we left for the beach.

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This is a response to Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, hosted by Priceless Joy. Photo graciously given by Dawn Miller.

134 words excluding title, and bottom response.

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Tutorial: How to be a Hermit

I LOVE being a hermit. If I could spend the rest of my days being a complete shut-in, I’d be totally okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, a part of me is very much social butterfly, but the older I get, the more often I find myself in need of a lot of alone time. When I leave my house now, I find the outside world mostly just overwhelming and loud. I’ve made a nice home for myself, now I’d like to remain in it. So here it is! Your quick and easy guide to becoming a hermit. I promise, it’s not as difficult as it looks.

Step 1: Acquire hobby or personal interest that doesn’t require leaving the house to accomplish. For me, that’s writing. (And reading) But! Before I decided to devote more of my time to practicing my writing, I didn’t have a hobby at all. Because of this, I devoted way to much time to television. Try not to get stuck marathoning seasons of The Good Wife on Netflix, before you know it you’ll have a human sized imprint in the couch and you’ll be partially blind from staring at a flickering screen.

Step 2: Once you’ve acquired a hobby or interest, it’s important that you develop a disdain for the general public. If you’re still warm and fuzzy about the populous, perhaps you should move to the inner city, where it’s never quiet. Or take the local transit system at peak hours. Even better, wait in line at Starbucks at 8 in the morning. (But don’t, $6 is WAY too much for a cup of coffee) Doing these things will slowly lessen your desire to be around people who often have no consideration for other humans. This will accelerate your desire to stay at home. All. The. Time.

Step 3: Move to a place that has a 8 month long winter. This can include places like: Canada, the Arctic, Iceland… y’know. With constant temperate weather theres a lot of pressure to enjoy yourself. If it’s consistently below zero, pressures off! Why would you go out in that kind of weather? You’re not a penguin.

Step 4: Accumulate necessary hermit supplies. This includes (but is not limited to): a really soft blanket, a subscription to Netflix (Or Shomi…? What’s up with that thing?), an unlimited supply of tea or coffee, comfy sweat pants and most importantly: lots and lots of books. This is an incomplete list. Feel free to add to the list of supplies should your choice of poison varies. Added bourbon to the list? Hey I don’t judge.

Step 5: Now that you’ve got everything you need. Your last step is to sit tight and enjoy the solitude. Hear that? That’s the sound of no one chirping in your ear that it’s your turn for the teller. Smell that? No? Good. That’s no ones insulting body odour in your face on the train at the crack of dawn. Now bury your face in a notebook or a novel and enjoy your private den of solitude!

Steps to Accomplish The Hollow

It’s that ache in pit of your stomach. The insatiable hunger in the deep recesses of your being. What am I looking for? Why is it taking so long to find? Sometimes the weight of not knowing and not finding “it” sits heavy on my chest and I struggle to breathe. Make the sadness go away. It’s torture to cope – and no one wants to listen. It’s the same piddly, existential crisis on a daily basis. I call it the hollow. That emptiness that you experience when you can’t decide, can’t sit still, can’t find contentment.

Flip the page, find something that impassions. Reinvent yourself and your life to surround that thing. Reinventing is fun, then you get to start over. Realize the passion fades and you’re left with mild disinterest. Lose faith that what you’re doing will ever make you happy, reinvent life again. Stop. Struggle. Repeat.

Let tears fall down your face when the weight crushes your lungs. Ask spouse why you can’t find something that you’re good at, or that contributes to society. Ask spouse why they don’t know who you are, when you don’t even know yourself. Look in the mirror, find your struggle silly and feel bad about yourself.

Lack inspiration for the one thing that makes you feel better, writing. Settle for writing about the persistent internal turmoil you experience on a daily basis. Consider changing blog name to ramblings and musing of someone very unimportant. It’s all very mundane and average.

Last step: feel so entitled that you struggle to settle for anything less than pure fucking ecstasy on a day to day basis. Feel bad that you’re perpetuating an entitled generation.

Resign to hibernating and not interacting with the world.

Untranslatable Word – Toska

A Russian word found to have no English equivalent described by Vladimir Nabokov. I don’t think there is anything quite close to describing the anguish of restlessness and struggling with our own innate human-ness. This word brings me warmth knowing there is someone out there, who understands.

“No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

The Great Unravelling

Religion to me has always been far to eerie for me to be a part of. I’ve never been able to amass the courage to blindly accept or follow the principles set forth by organized religion. Dare I say spirituality has been more so my thing, but even saying that word aloud bring me shivers. It seems almost cult like. Anyway, I understand the need to attribute our existence to something so that we don’t have to swallow meaninglessness in a big world. I understand the need to be a part of something bigger than yourself, to see the whole picture and to feel accounted for in an otherwise lonely world. I understand the basic pillars of religion like: don’t kill your neighbour or covet them. Don’t be mean etc. etc.

But still, among all of this, I still see it as the club that I could never belong to. Moreover, I’ve finally gotten to a point in my life where I don’t look down upon people who ARE a part of the club. I see it as a useful tool in some ways, but I mostly see it as a dangerous power, that ought to be treated carefully. Dare the notion of a omnipotent being land in the hands of someone power hungry, it’s disconcerting.

I just watched the documentary God Loves Uganda, and it left me feeling very hopeless for the current state of affairs happening in Uganda right now. A church based out of Kansas with dangerous dogma and a cult like following has taken to Uganda with their extreme evangelicalism to rid Uganda of homosexuality for good. It is their creed that homosexuality is to blame for the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS in this particular African nation. They’ve convinced local leaders to back their notion that homosexuality should be punishable – and since having aired the documentary, homosexuality is now a lifetime in prison should you get caught engaging any form of homosexuality. How terribly, terribly sad.

Now I know what you’re thinking. This kind of extremism can exist in all cultures and people with certain ideologies. There exist extreme Atheists alongside extreme Muslims. I know. I certainly don’t spend my days lumping them all together in this awful religion cesspool of hatred and anger. But this worries me. This business in Uganda. It is for this reason and so many more that I could never identify with any kind of church, extreme or not. Regardless, I will respect those that choose to be a part of a religion that choose to not confront me with my non beliefs at inappropriate times. I’m trying to eat dinner here okay? Don’t bother me.

Here’s what I do believe in, and let me tell you, it’s terribly warm and fuzzy. I believe that we are an advanced form of a virus, running freely on this beautiful earth. (Okay I was kidding about being warm and fuzzy) I believe in the Gaia Hypothesis. That the earth and all of the creatures that live on it, interact to form a self regulating system. This self regulating system rids itself of pests – like us, in the form of extreme weather and inhospitable habitat. Whew – sounds a little doomsday-ish. I promise I’m not accumulating canned goods and keeping them in my basement…for now.

I just believe that we as people are a part of a much larger system. This system being the ecosystem. I believe there is an availability of goods and resources here to be used AS NEEDED, and with enough regeneration time in-between for the resource to be naturally replenished. I believe that western culture has, mostly gotten it wrong. I believe we’ve been given a beautiful place to sow our roots, create a home and have families. However – the great unravelling (as my grandmother would say), is occurring. We’re headed in a bad direction and we need a fundamental paradigm shift to turn it around.

So believe in a God, or don’t. Whatever you fancy is no matter to me. Just be smart, take only what you need and give back what you can. Find peace wherever available and try not to let yourself become jaded. (Ha! That’s rich coming from me)

Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers – Day 1

I looked up at the building in front of me. Main Street Books was the name on the front, and I pondered whether or not I should go in. It had been over two years since I stepped foot in a bookstore. We had been forced to close ours down after my co-owner and father had taken ill. We knew he was sick – and in a way we had been prepared for his passing, but it still irreversibly changed my life in every way. I closed my eyes, felt the breeze pass over my face. My eyelids were illuminated under the glow of the sun. I tried to imagine what my father would say if he was there with me. “Go in you silly girl! You can’t avoid bookstores forever!”

So I did, I stepped in and somehow, I found myself home.

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This post is a response to the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. Photo provided by Dawn Miller.