1. [Chinese]

The weird thing about having a blog about writing is that technically I cannot post work that I want published someday. Short stories that I am working on, to send to different places, can’t be posted because typically they want unpublished works. Writing is also something that needs to be done every day. So let’s kill two birds with one stone. At least once a week, I will flip randomly through this book:book

The book is from Anthropologie and the Gold striped notebook is from SugarPaper. I love both.

and choose a prompt. I will then write for a minimum of twenty minutes and maximum of an hour. I created these rules myself, so I can break them. Also, no revision is allowed. Here is what I picked randomly today:

writeasceneChinese

“You must be the relator,” Chad says, lifting his hand to shake the woman’s before she turns all the way around. When his wife, Tammy, told him that the relator would stop by today, he expected some short little thing, with mousy hair and too white smile–as if she only just took out her teeth whitening trays. But this woman, peering into his windows, is taller than he is, wearing heels the color of her own shapely calves.

Chad always wonders if women do this on purpose. Did this relator pick those shoes knowing they would only elongate her legs, knowing that even in the demure tweed skirt reaching the back of her knees, a man would be thinking of those legs–the calves, the knees, the thighs, the hips…

“Oh!” The woman turns and her teeth are white, though not blindingly so. Chad realizes that she appears much younger from behind and yet the attraction doesn’t exactly diminish. She’s one of the few women he knows his age that keeps her hair long and she is a redhead, with a sprinkling of freckles across her nose that make her appear somehow girlish at the same time. “Oh! No, I’m not–”

“It’s okay. I saw you peeking in the windows. I should have been here earlier. My wife told me–” He smiles, but only with his lips, wanting to hide the chip in his front tooth the dentist is fixing tomorrow. He isn’t fully aware of it, or maybe he is, because he thinks: you silly, old man, all while adjusting his posture slightly and sucking in his stomach. “Anyway, it’s going to be sad to put this old house on the market but the last kid’s in college. Time to downsize, you know?” Does he just imagine her tilting nearer, as if what he says is interesting? He must because he can’t think of one single substantial fact to relay. “We’re actually telling my son, Tyler, this weekend. He’s coming back for Thanksgiving. Are you doing anything for the holiday?”

“Well.” Her voice is breathy. She tucks a piece of auburn hair behind her ear. “I’m actually here with Ty. Or Tyler, I should say. He told me he let both of his parents know he was bringing someone home for Thanksgiving.”

“You’re here with my Tyler?” Chad takes a step back. He vaguely remembers Tammy mentioning that Tyler was not only dating someone, he was bringing her home for the holidays. He could picture Tammy, rubbing her cold cream into her hands as she relayed the information.

“My name is Hannah.” She smiles. There is one dimple on her face, not two. She reaches out to shake Chad’s hand. “Tyler and I met in Mandarin class.”

“Mandarin?” Chad exhales and gives up trying to look slimmer. “Chinese?”

“Mandarin,” she corrects. “Ty, I mean, Tyler couldn’t find the key so he went around back to see if a door was open in the back of the house.”

“Oh.” Chad looks at his feet only for a moment before his eyes land on her shoes whereupon his mind returns to her legs. “Why are you taking a college course?”

“Mandarin,” Hannah corrects. “I’m finally getting my MBA. And my company does a lot of business with China. Did you know there are more people in the world speaking Mandarin than English?”

“Dad!” Tyler calls, coming around from the side of the house. He is gangly, still growing into himself. He is barely eighteen. Tammy and Chad thought he might cry when they told him they were selling the house. How do you think he will take it, they asked each other in bed. They actually stayed up nights practicing what to say and worrying over how their youngest, who still couldn’t manage to keep his shoelaces tied, would take the news. Remember when he slept between us the entire year he was four, Chad remembers telling his wife.

“No, no, I didn’t,” Chad says after a moment.

Fin.

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The Gap.

My grandfather expects you to remove your hat when entering a building. He expects you to keep quiet until spoken to. Every time I see him he is smaller, knotted limbs and thin skinned. He went to work every single day and did the same exact tasks for over forty years. He provided for his family. There was always food on the table but there was little extra.

Did he ever ask himself: am I happy? am I content?

latte artWhat would he make of such a question? What would he make of our instagram world? I don’t know. My guess would be pure bewilderment. I am also bewildered. Because my whole life there was someone who loved me (many someones, in fact) whispering a version of the mantra from The Help in my ear:

You is kind.

You is smart.

You is important.

I could do anything; I could be anything. My life had no limits. The expectations for me were high. The possibilities were endless. You are too smart, too talented to be less than the best. Somehow I warped all the love and care and hope my people had for me into a mantra more like that.

But what is the best? I’ve chased it my whole life. And though I am only a quarter of a way through the typical lifespan, chasing “the best” has only ever resulted in unhappiness, even when I’ve been the best. Because there is always better.

This article supposedly explains why my generation, the millennials, are so unhappy. It makes a lot of valid points; some of which I agree with. But it also misses the mark in several areas. I don’t live in the same world as my grandfather and I prefer hard data to cartoon images; this article claims that there are valid reasons for my generation to be “unhappy.”

But at the end of the day, neither points of view really make a difference. This is the world I live in. Thankfully, I am just here for a time before I move on to my real home. But this is it. This is what I’ve been given for my 80 years here. What, oh what, am I going to do with them?

Bring in the fab, DVF…

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.”

Diane Von Furstenberg

Being the best has nothing to do with happiness. And happiness is subjective. For my grandfather, the one thing that meant the world to him was putting food on the table because he grew up during the Depression when that was impossible.

For me, I’ve slowly come to realize that I could have all the material goods in the world (and enjoy living quite comfortably) but if I was unable to write, if someone took that from me, or I chose not pursue it, I would never be happy. Better yet, if I choose not pursue writing, I can kiss happiness goodbye. That doesn’t make me weird or freakish; that makes me a writer (which is a very scary word for another post). Although it does befuddle plenty of people who love me and desire the best for me.

Which again begs the question: what is the best for me? For me. For me. For me. Not the best, period. Not the best for you. What is the best for me? It’s really a question only I can answer. But the whole point of getting/being the best for me is so that I will be happy. That’s the equation, right?Mermaid Anais Nin Chakboard

Instead of: are you happy? I ask myself: who do you want to be? What kind of woman do you want to be? You are no longer a little girl. It’s time to start figuring out the bare minimum. You have today. What will you do with it?East of Eden Chalkboard

It’s hard, this daily grind, the moment by moment choices to be that woman in the midst of paying rent and choosing health insurance plans (and let’s be honest, having the luxury of being able to do both) and other big girl choices that have to do with integrity and character. But one moment builds on another and somehow I’ve been in San Francisco a year.

Truth be told, I’ve spent too much energy on the wrong things. I can admit that now. Haven’t we all at one time or another taken our eye off the prize? Or forgotten what the prize was altogether and believed in another?

 

leopard flats mumford and sonsI no longer want to be part of the headline millennials identity crisis. I no longer want to ask myself: are you happy? I want to ask: what kind of woman do you want to be? What are you doing to try to become her? And Who are you trusting to fill in the gap?

C.S. Lewis Chalkboard

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One.

In Chicago, you can smell spring before it arrives–the air softens and sweetens, making you want to frolic around in the grass like a puppy, roll down the windows, and sing oldies (“I bought my first real six sting/bought it at the five and dime/played it ’till my fingers bled/was the summer of ’69”). But summer, ah, summer in Chicago, with its tongue of humidity sneaks up on you, so you only realize its arrival when sweat is dripping down your back and the heat is so thick you are sure it would be easier to walk through pudding than this type of air. (Recently, I flew back with a chest cold and as soon as I stepped off the plane, it cleared as if I was in a steam room).Chicago Skyline Lake Michigan

It was around this time I agreed to fly to San Francisco for an interview for an entry level tech sales job. If you’re confused at this point in the story, that’s okay, so am I.

It didn’t make much sense to anyone except that I waited and waited for something NEW, something INSPIRING. I thought it meant Manhattan. I thought that was where I was suppose to go. The West Coast was for hipsters and hippies, right? Instead of east, I flew west–on a hunch, on a prayer, with well wishes and lots of shock, too. Especially when I got the job and decided to build a life for myself in San Francisco.

Chalkboard Be Brave

A girl who only ever wanted to write fell in love with Sales (weird) and fell in even bigger love with the city after moving to San Francisco. It’s like a fairy tale or some cute chick flick (Working Girl, anyone?) except the writer in me never went away. She needs the words, the syntax, the diction. She carries around a notebook and a novel everywhere she goes. She dreams up stories that keep her awake at night. Characters pull and tug at her. Sometimes her own life is more like a story than she would prefer–hence the blog. (Also, I would like to point out that life here is not like a movie. Nobody ever asks: um, so how will I pay my rent in Sex and the City.)

Chalkboard the best is yet to come

Adventurers and explorers always record their exploits, both real and imaginary.

Read at your own risk.

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