Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chapter 4: Cindy

The following is a work of fiction, and a continuation from the previous posts, Chapter 1-3:

The next few days looked exactly like the past few months – sleeping in, runs and walks on the beach, gluing my eyes to a book, intricate dinner feasts made and prepped for one person, lots of wine, and vodka sodas. I had turned my life into somewhat of an auto pilot with these activities being my daily rituals. It was almost as if I was living a gray daze. I was in denial about my future, and even more petrified to look at my past.

One evening after I had been on a walk for a couple hours, I stopped at the end of my driveway, and checked the mailbox. There had hardly been any worthwhile mail thus far my stay there. Most of it had been spam, anything from oil changes, grocery coupons, or advertisements intended for the owner of the house I was renting from. I continued to have my mail sent to my current address in Los Angeles, and had my assistant, Mary, who I wildly overpaid collect and organize it. Mary kept my life together – she paid my bills, did my taxes, helped me book my travel, amongst other things. She basically kept me from getting into any trouble and did all of the things I had never learned to do from a young age. She was the one who found this house and paid the rent each month.

When I opened the mailbox, I browsed through the usual spam mail, until I saw a mint green envelope addressed to, "Our Neighbor" in hand written black cursive. There was no stamp on the envelope or return address, so I quickly tour it open and found in my hands an invitation to a dinner party for the following Friday, thrown by none other than the new neighbors I had waved to on their dock the other day. It was themed, "a dinner by the sea." It probably would entail lots of champagne and sea food. Typical for any out-of-towners who ventured here – they all had to embrace the fresh and local caught sea food.

I immediately thought of two things after I opened that letter from who I now knew were The Chambers living next door to me. Immediately, and a large part of me regretted acknowledging them in anyway that day. I no longer felt invincible, even if they had put these invites in every mail box on our street, and I just happen to live right door to them. Or was I the only person invited who they didn't know by name, so they had to write, "Our Neighbor" on just my envelope?

Although, a small part of me was intrigued by this invitation. I hadn't spoken in-depth with anyone in months, outside of the staff at the grocery store and local liquor store in town.

I was walking towards my house when I heard a bike wheels come to a stop and a girl say, "You coming to our party?"

I turned around, still holding the opened mint green envelope, and looked into the eyes of that girl I had seen the other day on the pier. Her long dark hair was pulled back again into a pony tail, while she wore white jean shorts and a navy blue tank top. She had some red skin around her shoulders and cheeks – most likely some sunburn from the scorching hot Florida sun on her pale skin. She had a smile on her face that was almost contagious to look at.

"I'm not sure," was all I could muster as a reply.

"You should come – it should be a great turn out. And lots of food and wine," this girl replied back. She still didn't look over the age of 15, and yet her eyes light up when she mentioned wine.

I sat there in silence unsure of what to say to this girl. Instead I tried to change the subject and quizzed her, "Aren't you quite young for wine?"

"You're never too young to drink wine in small portions," she quickly and slowly retaliated. There was poise and sophistication in her voice. The kind you most likely get from years of a prep school, but it was even more than that. I thought she must be that kind of girl that was born a grown up – ahead of her time in maturity.

"I couldn't agree more," I replied.

I glanced up towards my house, signally to this girl that our time was at an end. I was always a polite woman. I was just less and less chatty these days.

"Promise you'll think about it?" the girl asked as she put one foot on her bike pedal, signaling back to me she would soon leave.

"Sure."

I was about to walk back inside when she said, "I'm Cindy by the way." And with that, she smiled and slowly pedaled away. Now the girl who laughed and smiled a lot next door had a name.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chapter 3: Liquid Gold

The following is a work of fiction, and a continuation from the previous posts, Chapter 1-2:

I thought it would take me much longer to figure out who my new neighbors were, due mostly to the fact that I had turned into an extreme introvert. I wasn't the kind of neighbor who would bring in your trash can for you if you were out of town. Or for that matter, I wasn't the kind of neighbor who was ever asked to do a simple task as that. I had kept to myself on the usually vacant street, and I had preferred it that way.

I had woke that next morning, still with no idea what day of week it was, and heard laughter again. It was again like a bullet piercing my chest. Oh how I used to laugh. My twenties and thirties were filled with endless laughter, cocktails, and traveling. My forties had turned a different path. It looked something like a mixture of insecurity, seclusion, sadness, but still endless cocktails.

I had lived here with a constant sense of not knowing what time it was. I lived instead under these four time tables: morning, lunch, afternoon, evening. Since the laughter had woken me from my slumber, I decided to get out of bed and make some morning coffee. The light didn't look as bright as it usually did – I presumed this meant it was earlier than I usually rose, so I turned to the trusty companion of coffee to get me through the morning. That was when I first noticed what time it was, when I opened the coffee maker to pour a cup of water into the black plastic container. Heavens, it was 7:41 in the morning. I probably hadn't been up this early in years. I found some coffee grinds I had purchased when I first arrived in this house, months ago buried in the back of the cupboard, and started the coffee maker after loading it up – not following the instructions on how many scoops were needed.

I saw and heard the coffee maker start dripping, and walked over towards the sink, seeing if I could catch a glimpse of who was outside. Who was outside laughing at the early hours of 7:45? I could make out an image through the trees that divided the two houses. I saw a red shirt dancing around in the trees. Was this person dancing to music? Good heavens, it looked like a rather young person. I caught a glimpse of her outline continuing to move behind the trees, she couldn't have been more than fifteen years old. I sat there seeing this figure dancing through the trees and thought of what I was like at 15. All of the images that danced through my mind could be summed up in one word: adventurous. The woman I saw in the window's reflection looked anything but that. Sure, I had sun marks and some skin damage from my earlier years of adventurous. When I thought back to my 20's and 30's, I feel like all of my fondest memories were outside. Whether I was drinking wine on the beach, eating at a cafe outside with a friend, or touring some exotic country. My fondest memories were outside.

I slowly drifted out of my momentary time lapse of day dreaming, and refocused on the window outside of me as I heard the coffee maker crackling the last of the water. I retreated to the coffee maker and poured what tasted like the heavens into my cup. I hadn't had coffee in ages and it instantly made me feel like I was floating. Half a cup of this liquid gold left me jittery and did just the trick to get me through the morning on my less than usual amount of sleep.

My restlessness moved me to put on my workout gear and head outside. My legs were too antsy for a walk. I couldn't settle for that – I needed to run. So I ran for what must have been five miles and came back walking along the beach, holding my shoe laces attached to my shoes swung of my shoulders, with my damp and smelly socks nestled in their front toes. The cool salty water under my toes felt incredible after a run in this humid weather. My face felt like it was glowing with dark, blotchy crimson circles. A similar reaction happens when I get very nervous too. It had gotten better over the years, but from time to time, my cheeks fill with little red blotchy circles, that no amount of makeup or a scarf can cover.

I was walking towards my house when I saw my mysterious neighbors on their dock. The entrance of the dock must have been only forty feet from the edge of my house's property. In other words, it was close. It was though, a long and beautiful dock that jetted out into the water to hold two boat hangers, two ladders, and for the first time I noticed a diving board nestled there at the end of the dock. A family of just three for that large of a house, with just one daughter. They saw me walking and waved towards me. I heard something along the lines of, "Hi there neighbor", from what I could make out over the motion of the waves in the ocean. I nodded and only slighted lifted my hand in what must have been the most pathetic looking of a wave. 'Good enough' I thought to myself. The parents looked normal. The type of parents that I had seen visit this island before.

I glanced towards the end of the dock and saw a girl turn around and look towards me. It must have been the same girl I saw dancing through the trees earlier this morning. She had been starring off towards the ocean and glanced towards me, where I noticed she was holding a fishing rod, with the biggest grin plastered on her face. She lifted her free hand and waved to me as I started towards the house. From afar I made out that she had long dark hair, pulled into a lose braid, and a bright yellow sundress. I don't know why, but that yellow dress stood out to me. As if it was something important for me that I should remember.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chapter 2: Vodka Water

The following is a work of fiction, and a continuation from the previous post titled, Chapter 1: 

The next few days looked almost exactly the same as the previous weeks. I woke up late in the morning, went for almost an hour walk on the beach, ate a late brunch, read in the late afternoon, and if it needed it, I did some house work. Dinners were the most intricate affair of my day, involving homemade creamy pastas, or angel hair lemon pasta with a garnish of capers. My love for Italian food stems from the time I lived there in my twenties, but more on that later. Cooking made me forget about everything else in my life. For that hour or two I spent in the kitchen inventing new recipes, chopping anything from peppers to fillets of fresh fish caught just that day, to eating the final dish, I escaped from the world. I was creating something – something every human craves to do in this world, whether it's painting, writing, cooking – we all crave and need to create. Cooking was what I yearned to create at this time in my life. Years ago it was painting, and for majority of my life it was dancing. Oh how I loved to dance.

My evenings would usually end with back porch cigarettes and red wine. Sometimes, I would get creative and make myself a more interesting cocktail, which involved two ingredients: water and vodka. That my friends, is the key to every woman's trim figure.  Wine is the dessert in my life, while vodka is the drink to get me through cocktail parties or bar outings. And the best part of a vodka and water, which of course always needs a lime, is you get to drink quite a few in one evening without needing to go for a 7 mile run the next day just to burn off the calories.

That was my usual routine for weeks. I frequently lost track of what day of week it was, and one time forgot what month it was. It was as if I had paused my life there in that tiny Florida house. I had paused my life refusing to move forward or look back on my past. No one here bothered me about my past, judged me for my mistakes, or the worst of them all, judgement of disappointment. I could see it in other people's eyes when I told them Henry and I were no longer together. Or people asked what I was doing with my time, and I said, "Oh, not much." It was the damn truth – I wasn't doing much with my time. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to do with my time. And people judged me for that. I could see it when they would nod their head after I would say, "not much," and they would instantly change the subject or drift away from me at a dinner party to make conversation with someone else. That happened for months, so I eventually stopped venturing to any type of parties. 

The house next to me had been vacant since I had landed here in Florida, until that evening I saw a red mini van parked in the driveway and lights on in the house. It felt like it happened in an instant after I came back from my bike ride to the grocery store to start preparing dinner. A part of me was angry there were neighbors next to me – I had had my own little oasis here on this part of the island, and I liked having it myself. Since it was the thick of summer, most of the owners only retreated down here when it was much cooler temperatures. It would get up to one hundred degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The ocean breeze was the only thing that made this tolerable. Still, most people didn't stay here in the summer in their 5,000 square foot mansions, they would only venture down here during the winter months. I retreated to my home and went about making my dinner as usual.

I was washing fresh shrimp over the sink, when I glanced out the window towards the house with now all of the lights on. A part of me was curious who was inside that home. I presumed a family since there was a mini van in the driveway. I finished prepping my shrimp scampi dish, and took to my usual ritual of sitting on my back porch, with a glass of Malbec wine this evening. The palm trees were dancing in the wind as I smoked what I told myself would be my last cigarette, when I heard it. I heard laughter in the distance, coming surely from the new neighbors house. I realized at that moment I hadn't heard laughter in months, maybe years, and the sound surprised me. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chapter 1: Back Porch Cigarettes

The following is a work of fiction:

Ever since I left Henry, I have felt like some part of me has been missing. When I'm laughing at a funny movie, I find myself questioning if what I'm watching is even funny. Or if I'm out to lunch with a friend, it's as if a part of me was only half heartedly hearing what they were saying, even though my undivided attention is on them. It was more than feeling like something was missing - something was missing.

I wish I could tell you that my life is pieced together into a perfect web of circumstances and tales. I wish I could tell you that I'm a loving woman who didn't deserve to fall out of love with a man who so deeply cared about me. I wish I could tell you that I appreciated my beauty, that I cared about others more than myself, or that I am making a difference in the world. Better yet, I wish I knew the woman I was destined to be in this world.

Instead, I sit here on a cool night, smoking what I promise to myself will be my last cigarette on the wooden steps of a back porch overlooking a beach in Florida. The house that belongs to this back porch is tiny, but perfect. It's the type of house that belongs in no other location than Florida. The one bedroom house is probably no more than 500 square feet with a tiny bathroom, mismatching white and cream furniture, and bright yellow walls. The house was surrounded by much larger homes – this house was probably the smallest and oldest house on the block. Whoever purchased it next would surely tear it down and turn it into a 5,000 square foot home with a dock, pool and 3 car garage. I could have rented one of those mansions from my early success in life, well, my combined success with Henry. You see, no one ever talks about the hardships of when both you both make money in a relationship, but that's just what Henry and I had. We both started and managed a small oil company in the conservative state of Texas in our 20's and haven't had to work a day since I turned 26. I own 25% of that company and haven't ever known what it's like to stare debt in the face or struggle to pay bills on time. Most look at me as a spoiled girl and I never argue with them when I hear the infamous, "you lucky girl." But luck is an interesting word my friends and defines my situation completely. I fell in love with a man when I was 18 who begged me to invest money I had inherited from my grandparents, into a new company. Luck found its way into my life by making that money quadruple within just the second year. Luck has found it's way into a majority of my life and I wish I could figure out why.

I'm renting this house for the rest of the summer and have frequently taken to sitting on the back steps here at night after enjoying a couple glasses of wine with a late dinner. Somehow the days weren't enough for me to sit there and reflect on life with literally no obligations for the day. No, I had to find those few moments of solitude at the evening where I whispered to myself, "what the fuck are you doing here?" And that's just it, I wasn't 100% sure. I have traveled the world and somehow was drawn to sitting on this beach in Florida, in this tiny beach house for the summer, with no idea what my plans were for the future. I did know that my plans for the future no longer involved Henry.

I sat there on those steps after putting my cigarette into the overflowing ashtray and thought to myself that this summer was either the beginning of something brilliant or the ending of a chapter in my life. Or maybe, if I was lucky, it could be both.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Beginning

“You see those lights in the distance?”
“Where?” the excitement was building in her voice. They had climbed halfway up a mountain after they realized the train didn’t make it to the top.
“Wait for it – there!”
She let out a small gasp, “I see it! What are those?”
“Those are the fountain lights outside of the palace - they light up every single night.”
“Beautiful” was all she could mutter from her mouth.
“Indeed. They are even more beautiful from this view.”
She let the silence stand between them as she looked at the fountain lights mesmerized by the ever-changing, glowing colors. It felt like a dream, something completely surreal.
“Most people don’t know that you can see the lights from up here.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, they think you have to be right next to the foundations. Like every other tourist,” he spoke impressed with himself that he had led her and their few other friends up here to the top of this mountain and shared with her this secret view.
She laughed at him, and gauging from his expression, he was taken aback.
“What?” he asked surprised.
“…like every other tourist. Damnit, you are a tourist” she responded with the biggest smile on her face lovingly teasing him. His naturally tan skin and dark eyes easily mistaken him for a local in this beautiful Espana country.
“So, naturally I stole the idea from some native, eh?”
“Exactly” she responded cooly.
“Well, I’m a good thief.” He said with a smile on his face as he looked over at her and continued to see the green, blue, and red lights light up the pupils of her eyes. She was transfixed in the foundation and had the biggest grin on her face. He didn’t want to leave.
He looked over at his other friends who were out of ear shot and realized this was his moment. “Shit” he kept whispering in his head to himself. Maybe it was a mixture of the cheap red wine juice boxes they had drank, or maybe it was the beautiful view before him with this girl. Or maybe it was a little combination of both. 
He muttered to himself again.. shit… and took a deep breath, reached out and cautiously grabbed her hand, squeezed it as he drew her in as he whispered in her ear a line that he would never have been able say if it weren’t for the wine, “glad I get to share this view with you.”
He lingered his hand there for a while when he saw the one look. The one look every guy lives to see in any girl: hope. The look guys want to see after they gather up the balls to do something bold and drastic for a girl. Hope lived in her eyes as she took her eyes off of the fountain and looked into his eyes, and didn’t let go of his hand. 
He slowly exhaled as he realized that she hadn’t let go of his hand or been repulsed by the gesture, and that he had seen hope in her eyes. Or maybe that truly was the wine talking now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude

I joined an email list for a 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I'm absolutely in love with this quote. Ironic for this to follow after I post to write drunk, edit sober.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Write Drunk; Edit Sober.

Ernest Hemingway spoke very wise words, "Write drunk; edit sober."

I read this quote on a picture frame in my friends apartment this week and I immediately fell in love with this quote. Beyond just the reason that I love to drink, but because there is actually some immense truth behind this. When we are drunk, our standards are lowered. We say things we never would say if we were sober, and absolutely ridiculous things seem to make sense. How many times have you woken up the next day after a drunken evening and thought to yourself, "why did I think that was a good idea?"

But look beyond just a drunken evening. Look at the idea here that with absolutely no inhibition, the thoughts would just continue to pour out of my mind and translate into words. Even more so than the words, great ideas might be born. Ridiculous thoughts that never would have crossed your mind if it weren't for the four glasses of wine. Revisit the story 24 hours later and make edits, which will most likely be many edits, since you most likely did not have any care in the world with grammar or spelling, and you have yourself some amazing writing. It seems like a great recipe to me. The idea is so painfully obvious and simple. One of my absolute favorite places in the world is sitting on an airplane, with a glass of wine in hand, staring out the window as I type or write whatever is on my mind. It's in those moments that it seems as if anything is possible.

I sound like an alcoholic as I write this, but I truly believe that Ernest Hemingway knew exactly what he was talking about and his writing shows that. Indeed, many of his stories were ones with moments of great sadness, but nonetheless, the stories were beautiful; my favorite being The Sun Also Rises.

So I'm going to test this theory over the next month or so. I want to sit down on a Sunday evening, have those few glasses of wine, and see how my writing changes. It might be complete chaos when I read it the next day and not any of it makes sense. But a small part of me knows that there will be some snippets of true brilliance. I'm sitting here on a Friday evening on my balcony in the cool fall air, sipping my bourbon and coke one and the idea sounds exciting.

Write drunk; edit sober... Words I want to live by in hopes that one day, my writing will catch on and always be as brilliant as when I am drunk.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Where is Home?


I ventured home this weekend and visited my friends and family, which sparked a questions I have grappled with my whole life: where is home? When is the exact moment in time when you call one location your home? What if you know that your whole life you might float around between a variety of cities? What do you call home? I started struggling with this question when I was in college. I was driving back from visiting my family in Chicago and in those past two weeks I had been in almost half a dozen other states and locations. As I sat there in the car, I realized that I was fulfilled seeing my family at home, yet I was anxiously wanting to get back to the friends I called my family at school. It was during that car ride that I realized home can no longer be an exact location for me or else I might go crazy with sadness. This realization became ever more true as I graduated from undergraduate, and more and more of my friends began venturing around the entire country and even world to all different locations. I feel at home when I pick up the phone and talk with them over the phone. So how do we define what we call home?
I felt even more confused this weekend over what really is home. I had thought for sure Dallas was my home, and right now I do call it home. I had assured myself that I did not want to live in Chicago anytime soon. And yet after a weekend in the city, seeing some of my best friends I have known since childhood, I realized that Chicago could work too. Is it more important to be in a location that makes you happy? For me that’s the warm weather. Or does it mean to be home when you are in the company of many of those that you love and cherish in life?
Home has to continue not being a location for me for some time. Its my siblings, parents, nieces, friends in Milwaukee, Chicago, Ohio, Michigan, Arizonia, Colorado, Nebraska, and Dallas. Home is when I pick up the phone and call them when I need to hear a friendly voice. Home is when I visit them and we talk about our goals and dreams. Home is in the people I cherish most in this life and will continue to be for quite some time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Queso

Last weekend I ate an entire block of cheese myself. Combined, Brandon and I ate two entire blocks of cheese. And those weren't for meals, those were after dinner snacks. It was Sunday night and I had a glass of red wine in my hand and when I said that statement out loud, I realized my passion for cheese has gotten out of control. I'm obsessed. I could eat cheese and red wine for days. It's the ideal combination of food I dream of more so than anything else. Oh, and my favorite food in the entire world is Mac 'N Cheese. It's my comfort food and deserves to be capitalized when spoken of.

I've recently learned how sensitive I am to dairy - doesn't sit well with me and not to mention it's not helping my naturally high cholesterol. They say that to get rid of a habit it takes 30 days. So I'm up to the challenge and have decided to cut cheese out of my diet for 30 days. It's been one week so far and let me tell you that there were some days that drove me crazy. Like last Tuesday, right next to where I sit at work sat free pizza for an entire afternoon. The combination of my hunger, the fact that it was free, and that I could actually look at the boxes of exotic pizza from my work chair, were enough to make me want to run over to the pizza and start devouring it.

You would think that it would be easy to cut out cheese, but let me tell you that cheese sneaks into so many meals at a restaurants: sandwiches, soups, salads, side dishes. Restaurants even love to add it to the top of dishes. Cheese is everywhere. I ordered breakfast tacos on Friday for an early meeting and every single one of them came with cheese. I asked for one without and that taco received its very own "Special" sticker.

Will I forever give up wine and cheese after these four weeks? No. But I'm hoping that after another 3 weeks of this, I start to ask for some things without cheese, which will ultimately help my little arteries and heart and keep my obsession under control. Until then, I will dream of cheese and it's ultimate bliss. The prize for myself and Brandon enduring this for 3 weeks? A progressive Mac 'N Cheese date. 4 different places in Dallas that have made our list of top Mac 'N Cheese contendors and ending with a bottle of wine. Whoever gives in first, pays. Can't wait until October 15.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God's Gift to Breakfast: Honey Buttered Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

I was walking down a side stair case on a Friday afternoon at work with a huge grin on my face as I clutched my lap top on one side of me as I held nothing other than a Chick-fil-A sandwich in the other hand. As I walked down that stair case, I realized that the fact that this sandwich had literally made my day, showed how much of a foodie I am.

But let me tell you that Chick-fil-A is not like any other fast food chain out there. For those of you that have not had the priviledge to eat at this fine establishment, which may be due to the fact of your location, Northerners – you are just getting your first glimpse of Chick-fil-A, so for now, I will cut you some slack. But the next chance you see one, immediately turn your car into that parking lot, walk into the store (don't mess around with the drive thru, you won't get the full experience), and order this: #1 Original Chicken Sandwich and add honey to it. Trust me. And don't skip on the waffle fries – they cook their food in peanut oil, so you can feel at ease knowing that this food is marginally better for you than any other fried food. And don't resort to a Diet Coke, go for the lemonade and your taste buds will adore you and your choice. If you are there at the lucky hours before 10:30am, get nothing other than the honey butter chicken sandwich. This is the exact sandwich I was clutching at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon and I was the happiest girl in the world. Which is saying something that this sandwich was from that morning's breakfast, so at least about 6 hours old, and I was happy to take that sandwich back to my desk, heat it up in our kitchen's microwave and happily eat this amazing treat.

I hugged my friend who handed me the sandwich who said, "We had an extra and I thought immediately of you." She knows me too well and my obsession with this wonderful place. My taste buds are salivating just writing this and I'm cursing the fact that they are closed today on a Sunday, ironic that I'm cursing since they observe the Sabbath. It was while I was in that staircase that I realized that it is the little things in life, like a honey buttered chicken sandwich, that make up the good things in life.