Chapter One: Commute Home

Before reading, see: Prologue//Flashback: Maddy’s 

Disclaimer: This is a revised version of chapter one! I workshopped the hell out of it in one of my classes this semester, so I thought I’d update it here too. Thanks for reading! I hope you guys like these characters just as much as I do and that this is the start of something worthwhile. 

Chapter One: Commute Home (Revised)

Today, I decided to walk home a little lackadaisically. It wasn’t my usual speed, but I knew it would get me to where I was going — especially since I wasn’t in much of a rush. For some reason, this particular Friday just felt different. It was nicer outside than it had been this past week, so I decided to take it all in. The cool spring air was slowly caressing my bare legs with each step. It was chilly and almost unbearable, but I didn’t mind. After all, it’s my fault that I woke up with hope that the Texas weather would stay consistent throughout the day. The mornings were always deceiving compared to the afternoons.

With each step, I noticed the trees were coming back to life, the grass was slowly becoming greener after each watering, and the animals were thriving off it. It’s sort of ironic to see all of the animals coming out of hiding, as if Texas knew what the winter season was. Here we just get a handful of freezes and a bunch of cold wind. We barely get any snow. Most birds even come here from up north to avoid their states’ weather, as if the sunny beaches of Cancun were too far of a flight.

As I walked, I counted the steps between each sidewalk crack. “One-two-three, one-two, one-two-three-four,” it was almost like a dance, albeit an unusual one, but the counting came naturally. I started to imagine a polka band playing at each step. The casual “oom-pah-pah, oom-pah-pah,” that was filling my brain took me down my path. I took this course home every other day, so I was bound to get there eventually.

After quite a few “oom-pah-pah’s”, I turned the corner next to my family’s old diner and knew I was almost home. Or rather… I thought I was, until I bumped into something sturdy. I should’ve looked up, god damn it, I thought to myself as the man I bumped into started to turn red.

“Shit! Watch where you’re going!” he exclaimed, holding his cup away from the damage I just caused. He didn’t notice I was watching him until he started wiping off his laptop bag and flannel with his hands. With just a quick glance, this man really had a lumberjack thing going on. Beard and all.

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry. Please let me help you,” I said to him, while I opened up my backpack to find my pack of wet wipes.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. It’s fine,” he said kind of aggressively, but his expression softened when he finally looked up; his light brown eyes pierced my greens. “Ugh, I’m sorry. I’ve just had a long day,” while he held his hand out, “My name’s Alexander, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

I didn’t expect him to take such a turnaround, but I closed my bag and shook his hand anyway, “Maddy, my name’s Maddy. I’m so sorry.”

“Please, just stop apologizing. It’s okay. I said it’s fine, and I meant it,” he said more calmly while he put his hand on my shoulder.

Almost immediately, I shrugged his hand off, “Okay, are you sure you’re okay? That coffee had to have been really hot. Please, let me buy you another one.”

“Alright, alright, you can buy me a new cup. Is the diner fine?”

“Actually, would it be okay if we went down the street to Starbucks instead? I don’t really want to set foot in there.” Immediately, I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped he wouldn’t ask why. Especially since Gordon and I haven’t had time to fully evaluate it.

“Umm, yeah. That’ll be alright. I’d actually prefer it if that’s what you’re more comfortable with. Just lead the way,” he said.

* * * *

On our way to Starbucks I realized that there was more to this guy than I thought. He wasn’t just a tall, rugged man, but he had quirks of his own. Not only was he avoiding the sidewalk cracks as he stepped, but he kept the same number of steps between them too.

“What on earth are you looking at?” he asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I laughed nervously. “I just noticed that you never step on any cracks. I do the same thing.”

“Were you counting? I try to keep at least two to four between each crack. I’m not superstitious or anything,” he chuckled while he rubbed the back of his neck, “I just kind of kept the habit from when I was a kid.”

“Oh, I suppose I was,” I blushed, “I do the same thing… except I imagine polka music playing.”

“Polka, huh? Care to elaborate?” he asked, and I reluctantly let him in on my little secret, because he let me in on his. And to my surprise, we ended up walking my weird, and quirky way all the way to the coffee shop.

* * * *

When we got to Starbucks, I ordered my usual iced green tea latte; the matcha was my favorite part. It made me feel as though I was actually taking a step towards something healthy. I didn’t even know Starbucks had this drink until a few weeks ago, but I fell in love at first sip.

“Your total is $5.75,” the barista said. So, I quickly went to search my backpack, but noticed my wallet was missing. I could’ve sworn I had it earlier, and it wasn’t long until I started shaking in panic.

“Um, Alex? Do you mind getting this?” I asked nervously, “I can pay you back later. I promise.”

“It’s Alexander, and are you asking me to pay for your coffee after you spilled mine all over me?”

I couldn’t read if he was serious. All I could get out of my mouth was, “Oh, yeah… I’m sorry. Um, I might have some kind of cash in this bag somewhere,” and I started to search again.

“Nooo, stop! I’m kidding,” he smiled and put his hand on mine. “It’s really no problem, I swear. You can get the next one.”

We went to a table in the back corner of the cafe to wait for our order, and I still couldn’t stop thanking him. He even pulled my chair out for me, and suddenly I couldn’t remember the last time I was ever out with a guy. Clearly, I wasn’t used to this kind of chivalry.

“Maddy, it’s fine. Stop thanking me,” he said. “But, if you don’t mind me asking, what was that back there?” he asked.

“What was what?”

“Why couldn’t we go into the diner? I mean, I prefer Starbucks, but you seemed a little reluctant to go in there.”

“Oh, it was nothing.” I could tell by the look on his face that he didn’t believe me, so I quickly added, “I just have a few bad memories there, that’s all.”

“Yeah? If you don’t mind me asking, what are they about?”

“That depends,” I said, “Why Alexander? Why not just Alex?”

“I just don’t like shortening my name. My mom gave me my whole name for a reason, ya know?” he said, while he messed with the straps to his bag. He was fidgeting, just like what I do when I’m talking to new people. This is insane. We really were so similar.

“Oh,” I said. “So, I suppose you’ll just call me Madeline then?”

“Madeline, huh?” he winked, “Would it be alright if I called you that? It’s so beautiful.” Suddenly, I could feel my cheeks turning red, this guy really had an effect on me. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for him to make me blush.

“No, I suppose that wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, now I guess I have to tell you my story then,” I started, right before my order was shouted out to the whole café.  “Well, that’s me,” I moved to get up, but Alexander stopped me.

“I’ll get it, they just set mine on the bar as well.”

“Uh, alright. Thanks.” I shot him a smile and he went for our cups, but on his way back, I noticed that he was looking at my drink like it was a foreign object.

“How on Earth do you drink this stuff?” he asked, while holding up my drink and inspecting it. He looked like he was looking at an undiscovered object. Like matcha was the strangest thing ever.

I laughed and asked him, “What do you mean?”

“This dark green stuff… it looks like there’s dirt in your drink.”

“Uh, have you ever tried matcha before? It’s ah-maaaze-iiing,” I informed him.

“No, I haven’t. I don’t tend to drink or eat food that looks like dirt,” he said, and I immediately felt myself start to shut-down. We just met, and he was already criticizing my drink.

“Well, it doesn’t taste like dirt. I’d ask you to try it, but you probably don’t have fantastic taste buds considering you got a grande black coffee at Starbucks of all places,” I snapped.

“Woah, woah, woah… calm down. Madeline,” he grabbed my hand, “I was just kidding.”

I quickly pulled it away from him. “Well, it’s really hard to tell if you’re kidding Alex. I don’t read sarcasm very well with you apparently and I don’t know how to deal with it.” I slowly started to scoot my chair away from the table, “Maybe I’m overreacting, but you’re not great at being facetious.”

He threw his hands up in defeat and said, “Okay, okay, okay. I’m sorry. I’ve been told that my face isn’t very great at expressing itself.” I could see the remorse in his face, and I felt horrible. I really need to stop doing this to everyone. “So, what is it about the diner? I know we just met, but I wish you’d talk to me. There’s just something about your eyes that resonates with me. I want to know everything about the girl who spilled coffee on me,” he said, while rubbing his finger along the outside of his coffee cup lid.

I could feel a wave of warmth wash over me, I seriously needed to interact with more people, I thought to myself. It shouldn’t be this easy for him to make me feel this way. Reluctantly though, it was only fair I told him a little bit about myself, so I decided to tell him, “Okay, well since you told me your weird name thing, that diner actually used to be my parents. The place was originally named Maddy’s after my grandmother, who was also my namesake. At first, it was awesome. They bought it when I was around eleven-years-old. I spent all my summers there, my first job was there, and it was great… until they sold it. Now it’s just a run-of-the-mill restaurant. I’m just glad the new owners kept some of the nostalgia intact even though my parents’ menus aren’t there anymore.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that, it must’ve been hard having to adjust. Have you gone in there since?” he asked, and this time I let him grab my hand. First, this man is everything. He was complex, but I could still understand his quirks at the same time. Second, how did this all come out of a spilled coffee?

Before answering his question, I decided that it was time to leave before things got a little too personal. “Actually, I hate to cut this short, but I should probably get going. Swanson needs me. We can always dig into this later, if you want?” I scooted away from the table.

“Wait, who’s Swanson?”

“My cat. He’s very particular about when he gets his food,” I said while I stood and started to put my backpack on.

“Oh, you have a cat? That’s another interesting note on Madeliiiine… what was your last name? Mine’s Woods,” he said.

“Alexander Woods, huh? That sounds fitting,” I told him. I almost had to stifle a laugh to cover up the irony. This man looked like a lumberjack, and his last name was Woods. He was definitely going to hear about this later; if there is a later. “I’m a MacCarthy. Not like Melissa, more like the usual Scottish last name.”

“So, Madeline MacCarthy. That explains your hair and eyes. Are you Scottish?”

“You know what Alexander, seriously. Let’s save this for another time. I really need to get home to Swanson.”

“Alright, alright, alright. Let me give you my number and we can meet again? Maybe next time you won’t get my shirt dirty,” he joked.

I pulled out a scrap of paper from my backpack and a pen, “Sure, actually, here’s mine. Don’t lose this,” I grinned.

“Oh, trust me. I won’t.”

 

November 12, 2014

It was a humid, yet chilly Wednesday night; which oddly isn’t unusual for Texas. The sun had just left to awaken a new part of the world and I was just getting off work. As soon as the clock hit 10:23, I would leave the confinements of C.R. Clements and set off to my destination: home.

Copperas Cove, Texas was a small town that I knew like the back of my hand. It used to only take 20 minutes to get through the entire thing, no matter which direction you went through. Surrounded by five hills, with a school district that worships the Bulldawg football team and faculty scandals, Copperas Cove isn’t a place that is well-known. Yet, it’s very close to the third biggest military post in America: Fort Hood (1). Primarily made up of military brats (me included), the town only holds 32,000 people as of 2016 (2). So, it’s a melting pot.

Now, the school that I worked at was my old intermediate, my fifth-grade alma mater, and where I walked the halls as a part of Ms. D Smith’s Snakes; my homeroom class. As a freshly graduated eighteen-year-old, it was a bit uncomfortable to walk the halls as a custodian, but I did it anyway. I started the full-time custodial position in August of 2014, so by November, I was already three months into my job. At the time, I was living with my mom and I was about to hit my one-year mark with my boyfriend Cody Lee. We started dating my senior year of high school, but we went through a long and winding path until we finally were the complete high school definition of official; it was on Facebook. However, we won’t go too far into those details because they’re pretty personal. Let’s just say, that we were both involved with other people when we first started hanging out, I met his parents, he met mine, and we were basically dismissing the inevitable.

“You know you like him, I don’t know why you’re staying with that guy who hasn’t talked to you in two weeks,” my mom would say while I’m on my way out the door to see Cody.

“I know. I know. I know. I have to break it off because we’re going through the same cycle of nonsense that we go through. Every. Single. Time,” I’d tell her.

This wasn’t the exact conversation, but at the time I still dismissed it. Eventually, I realized I wanted to be with the beautiful brown-eyed boy I met in the aisles of Wal-Mart a few months prior. So, I had to break it off with the guy in Indiana who had been ignoring me for weeks. Since he blocked me on Facebook (wow, I was clueless when I was seventeen), I decided to text him and break off the relationship officially before we finally crashed.

Cody on the other hand, well, his story is for him to tell. All you need to know is that, after months of self-doubt, we officially got together on November 12, 2013.

After he got off a shift at Wal-Mart at 10pm, he walked up my parents’ driveway with a bouquet of roses and asked, “Will you go out with me?”

To which I promptly replied, “No,” and walked away.

“Okay then,” Cody said as he walked back to his Suzuki Forenza.

“No, no, no stop, wait! I was kidding! Yes,” and I ran up to him, put my hands on his face, and kissed him.

Now, there we were almost an exact year later. November 11th. While I was walking to my car after a long shift, my “David Tennant as the Doctor” text tone went off and I checked it.

Are you still coming over, Cody asked. (We had an agreement that I’d sleep at his parents’ house tonight because we stayed at mine quite a few in a row.)

So, I texted him back: Yes? Let me go get my things and I’ll be right over.

Drive safe. Text me when you get there.

I arrived at my moms’ house at around 10:40pm, sent a quick text to Cody, and went inside to get my stuff and tell my mom about my day. It was my usual routine, so I grabbed my makeup, hair products, pajamas, and a few outfits. I always tended to overpack, so it all went into a suitcase. After a year of dating and sleepovers, Cody’s parents were definitely used to me hauling in my things. So, I updated my mom, said a quick goodbye, and as I headed out the door she said, “If he proposes, you better come back here and tell me.”

“We’ll see,” I yelled back at her as I shut the door.

When I pulled up to Cody’s house, I texted him that I finally arrived at around 11:45pm.  The moon was glaring through my ’77 Chevy C10’s windows and the air was cooling down. As I got out of my truck and went to grab my array of bags, David Tennant went off again.

Just come in the front door… don’t knock.

The text wasn’t usual. The whole thing wasn’t usual. So, I decided to leave my bags. Cody would’ve normally helped me with them, or he would’ve at least came out and opened the front door for me. Walking straight into the house though? That never happens. The door was always locked after 10pm. However, I continued my journey down the driveway and up to the front door where there was a note. Since this was a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact words, but I believe the note said to walk inside and follow the clues.

Inside the house, the lights were dimmed and there were red rose petals scattered on the floor. On the side table, next to their brown pleather couches, were more rose petals and another note. It read:

Danielle, if you’re a piranha. Then I’m a piranha.

The next note is where we baked our first batch of cookies together.

The saying was from Finding Nemo. Originally it was from the little girl in the dentists’ office, named Darla, who tried to shake Nemo awake (3). She was kind of a terror. Sitting in the dentists’ chair, she revealed her braces and said, “I’m a piranha.” Somehow, it evolved from there.

On the way to the next note, I avoided stepping on the rose petals on the destined path while I walked through the house. The next note was found on the kitchen table, also scattered with rose petals. This makes note number three over a span of maybe thirty feet from the front door to the back door. The clues were unneeded, but they were such a nice touch and the moment felt so surreal. My mom’s voice was running through my head, “If he proposes, come back and tell me.” Nevertheless, I continued to read the note:

I love you to the moon and back, now check the back door.

Quickly, I looked behind me. The back door was unlocked, but there was a note covering the peephole. This made note number four. Which simply said to open it and when I did, Cody quickly told me to shut it which caused my anxiety to act up. I started to get a little shaky, but I only waited a few minutes before I cracked the door a little and asked if he was alright.

“I’m fine, I’m ready, come on out babe,” he said.

I walked onto the back porch and there was a fire going with stuff for smores on a chair next to it. The air was only getting colder, so I was glad that I was wearing my letterman that night. Along with the fire, the smores, and the cool winter night, there was Cody. Kneeling on one knee in a suit holding open a silver box.

My hands flew quickly to my mouth. I was in complete shock. After all of the clues, I kind of knew what was coming. I had my mom’s voice in my head yet, I still couldn’t believe what was going on. My boyfriend, of a year almost on-the-dot, was kneeling in front of our favorite pastime; roasting marshmallows.

“Danielle Mahriahna-Skillings Johnson, will you marry me?”

Tears streamed down my face before I could even get the words out; this moment was so surreal. “Yes, oh my gosh, yes!” He stood up, put the ring on my finger, and it fit perfectly. I was seriously in-awe that he remembered my ring size; I couldn’t believe it. He wrapped me in his arms and I just continued to cry. After all the failed past relationships I went through in the past to get to this point; I was engaged, I was happy, and I was utterly in-shock.

It immediately hit me that I had to tell my mom. It couldn’t wait, and she wouldn’t have liked it if I waited until tomorrow. I had to tell her. So, I told Cody and he said that he already knew we would have to go over there. In fact, he planned to take me back home afterwards to tell her regardless.

So, we walked back in to the house and both of his parents were standing there in their pajamas with their chihuahua. They were in on the whole proposal the entire time.

“Welcome to the family! Even though you’re already like a daughter-in-law to us,” they said while hugging the both of us. I still couldn’t believe it. I was going to be an AllBee.

Creative Non-Fiction Inspiration

In this blog,  I’m going to discuss a Creative Non-Fiction piece and answer a few questions. This piece, in particular, caught my eye because of the name and the hook the author wrote in the beginning. The following is a link to the piece itself by Jane Bernstein:

CNF Inspiration Piece: The Marrying Kind 

Summary: The Marrying Kind is a short essay about the narrator getting ready to officiate the wedding of someone they’re very close with (the bride). She then proceeds to discuss more in-depth on the lengths her officiating goes through, bringing up her past marriage, the several weddings she’s officiated, and her relationship to the first bride she writes about.

wedding-officiants-services

At first, she doesn’t think she would or should do it. She thought that an online officiating site was just a scam until she joined her first couple in matrimony. After that, she continued to keep on going. Marrying people left and right. Same-sex couples, different religions, different families, she just kept going further on her quest to be an officiator but she still only married couples who she felt were in love.

Now, for the questions:

1. How does the form contribute to the meaning of the piece?

The form of this essay is traditional and it carries several descriptive characteristics. It’s estimated at around five pages of text and it kept me hooked throughout the entire thing. While this essay could’ve fit into the “shell” of a hermit crab essay, I feel as though the traditional route was better in this instance. Throughout the piece, the author incorporates several different factual statements, along with analogies, irony, and a few flashbacks.

2. What literary devices make this piece aesthetic?

The author uses quite an analogy when writing about the process of officiating a wedding ceremony. They compared a wedding ceremony to a simile; the form is precise.

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There’s also underlying irony in the text as well. The narrator often points out that it’s great being single, while also on her way to officiate a wedding that’s very dear to her. I found it ironic that she was relieved that she was divorced from her husband, yet she still found the sanctity of marriage to have an emotional aspect. However, this irony also gave her a reason to keep officiating. She knew all the trouble it took to be in a relationship. All the fights and the turmoil were inevitable, but if these couples were truly happy she wanted to be there for them because she went through them herself.

The author also uses flashbacks to make the story more in-depth. The narrator points out in the beginning that she knew the bride because she knew the bride’s mother. She brings up moments from the past in order to build onto the relationship she has to the bride and I feel as though it was very successful. A few would be:

  • the time when she felt the bride’s mother’s stomach before the bride was born
  • when she planned her wedding to her ex-husband
  • when she left her husband
  • her past relationships where she didn’t marry, but “played house”

In one of my personal writings that I’m working on, I’m including flashbacks as well.  I feel as though this tactic is very effective in increasing relatability, depth, and potential tension.

3. What sort of ethics does the writer seem to be following?

Along with the irony that the piece has, she often points out the different characteristics of marriage. Due to her recent marriages, she predicts which couples are going to be happy and which ones aren’t by the way they interact with one another. She went through a lot of what everyday couples go through; arguments/disagreements/etc.  So, she followed through with the ones she felt would last. The ethics she follows might not be solid in logic, but they’re her own beliefs and she wouldn’t go through with something she felt was wrong.

15-20 Seconds of Creative Non-Fiction

As I laid my head down on the already fluffed pillow, I heard a small sound. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was or where it was coming from. It sounded almost in agony, yet it was so soft, so quiet; I didn’t realize it was coming from my own bedroom. Quickly, I threw my maroon comforter off of my recently cocooned body and I got up. My first instinct was to turn on the flashlight on my phone and check under the bed.

Around the light, it was pitch black,  and the chilling feeling of someone watching me crept over me. The darkness under my bed always creeped me out; I’ve seen too many horror movies. After too much overthinking, the hairs on my neck stood up; the noise was back. Except, this time, it was closer. I quickly scanned the room with my flashlight in hand and I saw it.

Or rather…  I saw her.

Underneath the dark wall of clothes that lined my closet, I shined my flashlight in her direction and her shiny blue-eyes looked up at me with exhaustion washed over her face. I walked over to her and saw that the blanket on the floor was spattered with blood. I quickly inspected the area around her and at a closer glance, I saw quite a few jellybean toes, along with ten unopened eyes, and five pink and black noses. My beautiful blue-eyed baby girl just gave birth to five squeaky little kittens.

Disclaimer: This is a creative non-fiction story about a 15-20 second moment in my life. I decided to write about this particular moment because it was the day my grandkitties were born (April 24, 2015). I kept two of the five and they’re pictured above.

Theodore Toe-fur Meowsevelt is the kitty on top. He almost died at six-months by eating a shoestring (you can read about it here: A Matter Of Four Days ). I’m so happy he made it through and he’s still my baby munchkin.

Patrick Meowsevelt, on the other hand, is still a chubby little man. He’s definitely grandpa’s cat, but he’s very particular and judgmental when it comes to who is in his house. They’re both such characters, and they’re little punks, but I love them unconditionally.

To read more on my boys and their mama, see the following:

Baby Blue Eyes

They Pounced

Theodore “Toefur” Meowsevelt: A Memoir From a Cat’s Perspective

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby blue eyes,

sitting on my lap,

how do you stay,

when I move my legs?

I’ll set you on the floor,

because my limbs fall asleep,

but you still come back.

Is it love?

Do you just,

want my chair?

Mama cat,

Oh,

Mama cat,

I don’t understand.

I’ll always appreciate,

your little claws.

Especially since this is,

a rare occurrence.

Or rather,

it used to be.

Do you miss my brother?

Is this just you,

being a sad little cat?

I know you hate,

your bratty kids.

I know you love,

to be squished and held.

But mama cat,

Oh,

Mama cat.

with your,

baby blue eyes,

what’s going on,

in that little head?

It’s Been a While

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QwerkywriterS

Click-clack-click.

Click-clack-click.

Recently I’ve acquired a QwerkywriterS and it has given me such nostalgia. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a typewriter-inspired mechanical Bluetooth keyboard. Sounds complicated, right? Well, it isn’t. Also, I realize the irony of me not using typewriters in my youth (considering I’m only 21-years-old and typewriters were around in the 1800s to the mid-1900s), but this isn’t about that.

I drew yesterday. Pen and brush to paper. Marker on multimedia canvas. It happened

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Artist: Me

for the first time in a little over a year, and let me tell y’all… I feel a little more like “me” again. It was a simple circular cat drawing, but it still counts!

Another thing to update the ol’ blog about is that *cue Eddard Stark,* stress is coming — as usual. We’re about to embark on an intrusion like no other and I’m here to write about it. Eleven people are going to be staying in my (well, my parents), house in a little less than two weeks. Now, I’d do the usual: “Day 1: They arrived. Day 2: They touched my things. Day 3: etc…,” but I will prevail! I will survive. But more importantly, I will not be rude. I feel as though I need to write that phrase a hundred times on a chalkboard before I’m calm.

Unless… any of my fellow readers have the Black Quill that horrible witch gave Harry Potter for the phrase “I must not tell lies” (you know the one). Anyway. Life’s great. I’m smiling through all of the stress. My biology grade keeps dropping, the intrusion is coming, I’ve been writing on my other blogs (see: Chucklehead101 and Writing101), and I’ve been rewatching Cougartown. Also, I’ve become obsessed with this game called Dancing Line. It’s slowly taking over my life.

Enough about me though, how has everyone been? Did you see this? Are you still keeping up with me?

Make sure to subscribe/follow/like and surf through my new blogs! Especially since Spring Break 2k18 is coming up fast, and that means more blogs and more content is coming soon: March 19th to March 26th.

I See You

I see you,

 With your green slitted eyes,

And your long pointy nails.


The way you move,

through the mulch,

and the way you eat,

I see you.


Scales,

Tails,

Nails and all,

I see you.


And even though,

Others are intimidated by you,

I want to hold you,

And the anticipation,

 is killing me.


I watch you through,

The glass cage,

 that confines you.


I watch as you scurry,

When people take photos of you.


I’m one of those people.


It’s been almost six

years.

Since I’ve found

my love and

fascination towards you.


I have a list of names

in my phone

already ready for you.


So,

blue iguana,

sitting on top of your house,

made of logs,

in the middle of Petco.

I see you.


And I’m almost ready,

to bring you home.

The Year(s) of Growth

While I write this with medical tape around my cuticles, Cinnabon coffee in my Leo mug from Target, and Kenny Loggins on the Crosley turntable, it dawned on me. I have all of these goals. These ambitions. These whatyoucall, “resolutions” for this year alone. Yet, when are you supposed to start them? The resolutions you’ve set for 2018, when do those begin to form? How do you start to grow and get the motivation just on the first of January? Download all of the habit-breaking/building apps on your phone that you want — but here’s the thing — they don’t help, or at least not for me anyway. So you might as well should save the space.

It’s January 2nd, 2018, and this year is about growth.

Growth could mean anything to the human body or mind. Growth could mean leaving all of your negative friends behind or cutting carbs. Growth could mean learning to love yourself with all of your mental health issues. Growth could also mean setting personal goals that were achievable like: finish a book this week, go to bed early, listen to some new music. Take it day by day.

For me, the hardest habit to build is self-love. In my anthology on breaking The Cycle of Self-Hatred, I interviewed several people on how their cycles would start and how they’ve overcome it, or why they haven’t. Originally, the anthology was written for my ideology class as a final grade. So here’s what my professor wrote in the notes:

Brilliant. You have a real gift for psychology and for writing. Thanks for a genuinely moving, insightful, original paper to read!

Happy Holidays, 

Barbara Goodrich

I received a 100 on this paper in a class I didn’t care for. I took a risk, I made the prompt my own, and I just dove into my writing. School starts in fourteen days and it has just dawned on me that maybe I am good at this. Maybe all of the people who have told me I have a real “knack for writing” were right. It’s amazing how a few comments from my peers and teachers couldn’t push me until now. Until now, I’ve only just appreciated all of the support, but I haven’t put any of it to use. I’ve been filled with self-doubt ever since I started comparing myself to others.

This year, one of my “resolutions” is to stop comparing. Which is going to be really difficult but it’s still attainable.


Along with self-doubt, I also experience body dysmorphia and emotional detachment. For those of you who just got here, I wrote a blog about a symptom of my body dysmorphia and social anxiety called I Don’t Like To Talk About It. If you don’t have time to read it, it’s basically an excerpt of my life. It’s about this thing called dermatillomania, where you’re constantly scanning your body for flaws and picking at them. In my case, my flaws are my acne and the skin around my fingernails. What first starts out as popping the annoying zit on my cheek, eventually turns into a full-fledged scanning spree in the bathroom or wherever there’s good lighting. Fully aware of the consequences, I still continue to scan.

In public, however, it’s a different story. My hands and nails go to the back of my neck and they travel to my lower back, or my fingers continue to push down the skin around my nails whenever I’m nervous. It’s gross, I know. I don’t even like talking about it but it’s already put out there.

(Emotional detachment is a different story and I’m not really going to elaborate more on this topic until I know more about it. So until then, continue to keep up with me to find out more. In the process of continuing my blog,  I’m making myself more vulnerable in order to solve my personal problems like many of you do on social media. This is my output.)

It takes 21 days to break a habit. 

21 measly days doesn’t seem too hard if you think about it, but can you guess how many it takes to build a habit? 66. Yepp, it took approximately 66 days for those of you who have achieved your goals of getting back to the gym, eating better, making it a point to drink a bunch of water every day, or any other personal goals you’ve set. Just the idea that it only takes approximately 21 days to break them is so absurd.

Starting today. January 2nd, 2018. I am going to start keeping track of each day I participate in my bad habits and I am going to break them because I’m tired of the scars. (Hence the taped fingertips.)


Along with all of the above. I’m also a homebody. When I go out, I go out with someone. Almost never alone. The last time I went out alone was a few weeks ago when I was frustrated and needed to leave my house. Every time before that was to smaller stores and every time I spent more money than I planned to but I didn’t care. I made it out of the house. The extra items were personal rewards. This is yet another thing I need to work on.


Stevie Nicks is on now, and speaking of resolutions… with this last purchase from the antique mall, I now have a collection of 301 records (See: Collections) that are cataloged and organized. First by genre, then by artist.

Here’s the thing though, since I’ve cataloged them into my MusicBuddy app on my iPad last summer, I’ve only listened to about 30 of them. So far, just today, I’ve listened to about 8 or 10 more. In these next few months, I hope to make it a habit to listen to at least one every day or a couple each week. (Especially since a good chunk of change is going towards buying more soon.)

Along with listening to more music, I also need to cut more TV out of my life. I’m always watching TV. It’s on while I do my homework, read, write, draw, anything. It’s always on. This is yet another thing that needs to be worked on. Cut the TV, replace it with music. I’ve been listening to the same music since 2010 and I rarely falter. I need new things to listen to. New artists. New genres. New songs. I just need to expand. TV isn’t bad in small helpings, so I’m not going to say that I’m going to cut off TV altogether… especially since I have shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Gotham to watch at the edge of my seat.


Another personal accomplishment I’ve noticed that I want to continue developing is my GPA. When I first started Central Texas College during the fall season of 2014, I started from scratch and ended with a 2.3 GPA. I started with four classes and ended with three because I dropped one. (I’d elaborate more on why I dropped it, but frankly, it doesn’t matter.)

At the time I was three months out of high school. I had just turned 18 and a week before school started, I took on a full-time job while I was registered for a full course load. It was rough. Two of my classes were on campus, two of them were online. Thankfully, my boss understood that I had school and it came first before anything else so finding me on break with a book and my laptop was the norm for my coworkers. However, even though I had a great job (See: An Introduction to my Job) and a set work schedule with a set salary, I still couldn’t focus. It was a lot to put on someone with no work experience and not a lot of motivation for school.

While I was pushing myself to the limit, I noticed that a lot of my hobbies were put on the back burner in order to achieve better grades and work harder. I wasn’t myself and I stayed on a fixed schedule and ended up losing most of who I was. I didn’t draw anymore or read as much, and I rarely got to see my fiance. Because of all of that, I now make it a point to cut schoolwork off at certain points throughout the day to allow myself to focus on something else. Whether it’s to read a chapter out of a “personal” book (a book not for school), or if it’s to play a video game or actually pay attention to the show I have on for background noise. Even now as an online student,  I make sure to keep a “personal” book with me at all times.

Now I might’ve sailed through high school with A’s and B’s but that’s only because I didn’t apply myself where it should’ve counted. I only took the easy classes. My extracurriculars were art and band. I took four years of both and marching band was my physical education credit (which I ended up being damn good at, I just never had the right attitude). Considering all of my classes were easy, except a few AP classes (art and math), I finished high school with a 3.75 GPA. So, coming out of my first semester of college with a 2.3 GPA was rough. I might’ve sailed through due to easy classes, but I was still an overachiever.

After almost three years of CTC, I brought that 2.3 up to a 3.2 and got my degree in General Studies. It wasn’t until last Spring that I decided I wanted to major in English because English has been my favorite subject ever since I could remember (next to math). Well, the first Fall semester at the University of Colorado — Denver consisted of two English classes, Biological Anthropology, and an ideology class. Let’s just say I aced all four. I finished it out with a 3.7 GPA and I can only push it to go up from there. From here on out, that 3.7 is only going to improve.


As someone who doesn’t believe in setting resolutions, here’s a list of 10 personal goals I want to achieve in the long run.

  1.  Stop comparing
  2.  Break my bad habits
  3.  Leave the house more
  4.  Eat healthier
  5.  Listen to more music
  6.  Read more
  7.  Produce more art, whether it’s paint on a canvas or a new blog post — writing is an art too
  8.  Make it on to the deans’ list
  9.  Stop letting people take advantage
  10.  Ignore the insults

I’m not going to give myself a time limit because most of these are considered “life goals” rather than “try to achieve them in a year” goals. Also, I realize I didn’t discuss all of them. Right now, I don’t feel like going more in-depth on about my physical attributes and insecurities in this post. Maybe that will come later, who knows. Like I said, 2018 is going to be a year of growth but so is every year after that. So make sure to keep up with me throughout it all. Starting a new year means bringing on more blog posts and hopefully bringing in new followers.

Thank you all for your support, I only hope to grow my blog more with help from all of my you.

Danielle