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She walked into the bicycle shop, trying to assume an air of purpose. As a young man with spiky hair and heavily tattooed arms approached, she realised it was pointless pretending she knew exactly what she was doing when the truth was she had no idea. She only knew she needed a bicycle. She wanted to explore leafy green trails, feel the wind rush through her hair, and speed down a hill without pedalling. She wanted to feel young again. But how does someone in her 79th year explain all that to a young man with spiky hair and tattoos?
"You walked straight past my shop,"she said as she took a bite of a sandwich. "I beg your pardon?" She didn't answer straight away, chewing furiously in order to confront me again. "You didn't go into my shop. Unless you went in before and I didn't see you." "Well...I'm kind of...looking for someone right now. Oh... yes there they are." As I walked away I wondered to myself, Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœwhy was she so insistent that I looked in her shop?' More importantly I thought, Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬Ëœwhy didn't I tell her the truth? I just didn't want to go into her shop'.
I'm starting to get irritated by his innocuous inane questions. How are you doing? How was your day? What are you doing this weekend? I want to scream out to him to ask me something meaningful damnit! Give me something to work with! Tell me something significant, some words of substance. Share something with me that nobody knows, something that will make me want to reveal my inner most secrets to you. But we've never met. So why should he give me anything at all? I reply - Good day so far. Work's busy. Catching up with friends this weekend.
I've always found it ironic that the store is called Freedom when it seems to promote the very antithesis of that concept. Freedom endorses such rules as: every room must have a distinct colour scheme; everything must be colour co-ordinated; everything must match; everything has its place; more is more when it comes to accessories; acknowledge the seasons in your dÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©cor and modify accordingly; there must be cushions and they must be strategically placed; and most importantly, do not allow any signs of individualism to come through in your home. To be Free is to follow these regulations. Freedom rules.
I went to church for the first time today. I'm not really sure why - maybe to remind myself why I'm an atheist. I liked the singing and I liked the fact that they had the words up on a powerpoint presentation so that fraudsters like me could still sing along. I didn't like it when the MC (or pastor&whatever) spent an hour refuting the theory of evolution without providing any concrete evidence of genesis or creation. Instead I prayed for weight loss. If I lose 2 kgs within the next 2 weeks I'll know there really is a god.
Today I read an article on Binge Drinking and Casual Sex on Spring Break. I was bemused until I saw a diagram outlining external factors (personality, family, culture, history, social situation, ecology) and the possible explanation for observed relationships between such variables as cognitive component, personal normative beliefs, social determinants, affective component and prior experience. I noted that the inverse relationships from analyses couldn't be attributed to the instrument's failure to measure the variables due to vague or misleading wording regarding constructs because both Cronbach's alpha and factor analyses were used to detect strange response patterns. Then I was stunned.
Her stomach churned in a tense and uneasy manner — and perhaps fear? She tried to dismiss the notion that she was uncomfortable in this situation and started the search for a strategically placed seat to distract her mind. One near the back, near the end of an aisle so she could slip out undetected if it all became too much. Sitting down, she took a deep breath and looked at the people all around her. There was nothing really to be afraid of. It was only a church after all, and yet she could not shake the feeling of apprehension.
If I were explaining to someone who had never cried what it felt like, I would say this: the very worst kind of crying is when you feel so grief-stricken, so heavy-hearted and in such despair that a crushing pressure builds up inside your body. You gasp for breath trying to fill your lungs with enough oxygen to make everything somehow okay. Your face becomes taut and your eyes overflow with salty tears. The more tears that are expelled, the more your eyes ache. But the pain is never greater than the anguish that you feel deep within your heart.
Mac turned the corner, saw them straight away and sighed. He eased the bus over to the stop and thought for a moment. How he hated the school run! His bus filled with teenagers that were either gangly and morose, or loud and obnoxious. Yelling and shoving. At the end of the run he would inevitably find that at least three of them had taken to the seats with either a pen or a pocket knife. What if he didn't open the doors? What was the worst that could happen? He let out another exasperated sigh and pressed the button.
He dropped the gun instantly, still feeling its warmth on his hand. Shaking violently, he tried to focus on what to do now. He had never shot anyone before and had no frame of reference. His mind, his whole body was fuzzy. He hit the side of his head repeatedly trying to get rid of the buzz that reverberated through him, trying to get some clarity, trying to feel something, anything. With only the sense of his own heartbeat pounding against his skin like hammer, he wrung his hands. He then realised he knew exactly what he needed to do.
I was first taught to say, can I help you with your groceries? as people wheeled their trolleys past me. Then I was taught to say, I've made sure the bread's on top after I'd packed their groceries for them. I was so proud when I was taught to enquire, hello, how's your day going? followed by that comes to 15 dollars and 60 cents thank you. But I knew I'd really made it when I was taught to say, welcome to Foodtown. Today in our delicatessen department we have shaved ham on special at&thank you for shopping at Foodtown.
When I first started high school I had one choice. French or German. Those in the know advised that German was easier to start with and then got harder, while French was hard at first but became less difficult in time. I chose French. I smugly noted that most of the non-academic kids picked German. I knew that by persevering, in the long run I would be able to speak French like Brigette Bardot. Little did I know that in my future I would go to Paris and when I spoke French the natives would laugh at me, damn them.
Sometimes as I walk past those houses that are some of the oldest in the city I think to myself, 'Do you age like people do? Do you feel old? What have you seen, heard and smelled?' I wonder if a house remembers all its inhabitants, all their games and fights, their laughter, tears and secrets. Does a house have its favourites? Does it think to itself, 'those Harrisons were so lovely, so calm, such a normal family compared to these bloody Simpsons!!; ahhh&1938&such a good year.' Or does it just stand there unflinching, unfeeling, nothing but wood and nails.
There are two types of girls in this world:
Those that can multi-task and those that can't;
Those who can juggle and those who cannot;
Those that think deeply and those that don't;
Those that are emotionally intelligent and those that aren't;
Those you consider to be caring and those you don't;
Those who you can trust with secrets and those you can't;
Most importantly you can tell a lot about a person if she is one of:
Those who continue to treasure their friends as soon as they get a boyfriend or those who don't;
Tonight I watched an interview where Russell Crowe was asked to explain why he assaulted a man with a phone when he couldn't be connected through to his wife. He smiled smugly and shook his head in disbelief. Then he said to the interviewer, haven't you ever been so angry that you've done something like that?!, pleading for empathy in a nonchalant kind of way. Er no, I haven't actually, was the reply. And I thought, 'ha! Your attempts at trying to come across as so misunderstood have failed again Russell!' before moving my mind on to something of importance.
I always recoil when I hear people announce that they live with no regrets, there's nothing that they wish they'd tried but didn't, and they are comfortable with all the decisions they've ever made up to this point. At first I feel inferior. Maybe their circumstances were different; perhaps I should have done more. But then I start thinking that they probably didn't consider all the options open to them or weren't aware of the opportunity costs of every decision they made. I smile as I reach for the glass of water in front of me that's only half empty.
We had a terrible fight. We hadn't spoken to each other since. Then out of the blue he calls me today. We talk. It's nice. If I were a sensible girl, I would not be walking on cloud nine now. I would not be thinking that I didn't treat him fairly and never really gave him a chance. I would not be thinking that I should try and lose the weight I've gained since I last saw him. I would not be wondering when I'll hear from him again. But then again, no-one has ever accused me of being sensible.
After spending time with a five year old today, it struck me how easy life could be. Her biggest concern was what colour she would use to colour in the shirt on the picture she had drawn of me. Her strongest need was to hear the same story three times in a row. Her greatest joy was hearing me put on different accents for each character. Her only dilemma was whether to draw the motorway she could see out my window or whether to draw the food she would like at her next birthday party, which is five months away.
I have an urge to travel. I keep my passport on my dresser in plain view so that if I ever have the opportunity to drop everything and get on a plane at a moment's notice, I can just grab my passport and go. I'd be able to get flights to take me straight to my desired destination. I'd be able to take leave from work at that exact time. I'd have all the money I'd need to go where I want. I never do have that opportunity. But I could, and maybe just knowing that is enough for now.
I saw him again today, in the same place I always see him. He walks across the forecourt in the distinct way that caught my eye the first time. He glides. He moonwalks but forward rather than backwards. Apart from his legs nothing else moves. His arms are rigid at his side and his face is like stone as he stares straight ahead. Yet today there was something different about him. There was still the same sense of urgency to arrive at his destination, and everything was stiff and severe. But he was chewing, although only his top lip moved.
I work with someone who talks baby talk down the phone to her husband. They are newly weds so you can forgive them to a point, but I suspect this will continue long after their first anniversary. As long as I sit near her, I will always have to listen to the cooing down the phone first thing in the morning, the no what do
want for lunch? and the wuv yous mid afternoon. The baby talk will not end. In fact there is a chance it may get worse. I have my i-pod. But will it be enough?
From here, I can see a cruise ship pulling out from the harbour. It circles until it has completely turned its back on the city, as if to signal that it has had its fill of all it offers and requires no more. I wonder when you leave a place if you ever truly take a piece of it with you or if you ever leave a part of yourself behind. I'd like to ask this question to the passengers on the ship although I expect that they would prefer to play shuttleboard on the Lido Deck than answer it.
The Secret History is my favourite book but I find it difficult to explain why. My copy is well worn. I bought it second-hand in 1995 from a bookshop/coffee shop called Globe in Prague. I love the characters. They are so well described that I have a strong image of each of them in my imagination. I'm intrigued by the implosion and self-destruction that each character endures and how that impacts on the story. I have lent this book to my friends, hyping it up as my most loved book. Very few of them have enjoyed it, which bemuses me.
I struggle to find a topic to muse on in only a hundred words so I google the term writing prompts'. Once I have sifted through the sites directed towards encouraging elementary school aged children to write, I find this: Write a story that begins with a man throwing handfuls of $100 bills from a speeding car, and ends with a young girl urinating into a tin bucket. 'At last', I sigh with relief, something I can really sink my teeth and mind into. Then I realise I only have eight words left. Shit. Maybe I'll write about this tomorrow.
I had been preparing for this event for weeks, possibly months. I'd been skateboarding down the hill outside my house, gradually inching my way further towards the top. It was a thin flimsy plastic skateboard, nothing like the sturdy wide ones I see today. Finally one day, I felt ready to roll down the hill from the top. So I did, powered by exhilaration and trepidation. I quickly picked up the pace until I was speeding. And I would have made it without incident if I hadn't jumped off it at the bottom before I rolled into the manhole cover.
No, he cried out as she turned to go. He grabbed her arm to pull her back but she shrugged him off and stepped away. Leave me alone! What the hell do you want from me? she shouted. I&I'm afraid I'll never see you again and I don't want that. I want you in my life&I need you. She stared at him in disbelief and shook her head, trying to make some sense of this moment. She could see his eyes pleading for her to stay but she knew things would never change no matter how many promises he made.
A few years ago I had the chance to swim with dolphins. I'd heard it was a spiritual experience and that being surrounded by these joyful creatures would heal any aches in your soul. So you can imagine my surprise when I slipped into the ocean, laden with flippers and mask, and was absolutely terrified. It was nothing to do with the dolphins. It was the recognition that I was alone in the middle of a world greater and more infinite that I had ever been before. I swam back to the boat as fast I could, back to safety.
My body is not my own. It is not the shape I want it to be. It does not move as quickly, or as adeptly or with the flexibility that I want it to. It constantly changes and evolves but never feels wiser with age or experience. My body is sturdy but clumsy, it is large but fragile. It is not the instrument I require to live this life comfortably. If I make peace with my body, call a truce, wave the white flag, will things be different? Would respecting my body and treating it with kindness help at all?
Damn you for reminding me that you are on the fringes of my daily life. All I'd need to do is change things slightly and we'd be smack bang right back where we left off. That's assuming that you feel the same as me. But since you never have, the likelihood is that you won't this time. I'm assuming too much yet again. I hate that I'm thinking about you. I tell myself it's only because it's convenient and there's nothing to lose. Then I remember that I'd often lose my temper and sometimes thought I was losing my mind.
This task has challenged me. I never realised it would be so difficult to find things to write about. As a result, I'm slightly dismayed to see that my writing is dark and introspective. I dreamed of writing fairy tales with happy endings or jaunty slices of life with a comedic edge. I aspired to create a strong female protagonist. Instead I find my protagonist is me and I write in a style that is Sylvia Plath-esque in its self-absorbed misery. Maybe I am constrained by the 100 word limit. Or maybe I should just stay away from my oven.
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