31 Days of Introspection: Week 1 Summary

Heya,

One of the greatest things I’ve realized that happens when you take a hiatus from social media is having more time for the things that you love. Mainly, Naomi.  I freaking love this little baby but I’m often doing school work when I am home, and my guy’s at work. I didn’t realize just how much time I spend on my phone until I stopped using it as much. When I wasn’t studying, I was crawling around on the floor with her, playing and reading books. I was able to get more bonding time with her while feeding because, instead of being on my phone scrolling through the latest Twitter feed, I’m gazing into her eyes.

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One thing that I have been doing since I started the 31 Days of Introspection is counting the Twitch. I’m not exactly sure who came up with this because I was watching dozens of videos on youtube at the time that I heard it, but the Twitch is that moment when you have an itch to reach for your phone. Most times, I want to whip my phone out and look at it during the slow points of my day. When you’re on the toilet, cooking, watching tv, in between browsing loads when doing homework, etc. I didn’t realize just how much it filled my time until I started counting it.

Th first day it was hard. As soon as the clock stroke midnight, I felt the Twitch. I wanted to post about it. I’ve been keeping track of them in my The Elyzabeth Collection journal and, because I’m using the grid pattern, I filled three lines of boxes. As the days of the week went on, I realized the Twitch became less and less often. By the 6th day, which I spent in a hotel with my guy (thanks to his mom being in town and watching Naomi to giving us a break), I only counted 3 Twitches! How crazy is that? I went from at least 20 by midday to 3. It just reaffirmed that I’m taking this Introspection month seriously.

Another thing that I really wanted to do for this month is meditate. I decided to first focus on my confidence and self-esteem. I’m not down on myself but I definitely feel that I could believe in myself more. Especially when it comes to starting my business, writing books, taking great photos, and my ability to share my creations with the world. After I meditate, using Headspace, I’m calm and relaxed. I’m able to truly think about the future, who and what I want to be. I write in my journal at that point. But at first, I wanted to dive right in, do 30 minute sessions but I’m glad that I decided to go with the free trial for Headspace. The sessions are only 3 minutes long and it’s helped me be consistent and get excited to do it. I’ve also been approved for the Student account- which is only $9 a year versus $99. I’ll definitely take them up on that offer after the trial period is over.

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I’m happy to say my hair looks fucking fantastic! I started dread locs on November 16th because I was already getting a bit lazy with my hair and I wanted to try something new that was low maintenance. My guy has been pushing me to do it for the last 5 years and I’ve finally given in. Yes, he’s excited. I’ll admit that I am as well. I feel…beautiful. Fucking beautiful. I started them with two strand twists but my hair is fine and thick and they quickly slipped out of the twist, as usual. I bought an interlocking tool and it’s made things so easy. What do you guys think?

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Another thing that I’ve decided to do is hand pour my coffee. It’s perfect timing because we literally just ran out of pods. I hadn’t known much about this before I became obsessed with Matt D’Avella‘s videos on Youtube. He has a channel that is inspirational, heavily talks about minimalism and productivity. He’s also the film maker behind the documentary Minimalism. It’s absolutely fantastic. I almost cried watching the movie and I truly believe his videos have changed my life. I am ready to take on minimalism, although it is hard to let go of my sentimental items, and look forward to this journey. I’ve already gotten rid of more than one thousand books. Anyone who knows me knows that is heart-wrenching. But it was needed.

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Speaking of books, I requested some from the library that I hope will help me on this journey to Minimalism. I’m so happy that our library system delivers! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever experienced snce moving to Florida.
These are the ones I’ve chosen:
Everything That Remains by The Minimalist (Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn- from the documentary Minimalism)
The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
The Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

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I set a goal to achieve this week. I wanted to do something regarding my business. Whether that’s to create a logo, a website, take product photos (etc). Every week has something. I started with a bang! I’ve created a website for my small business! The journals I sell are a part of The Elyzabeth Collection, check out the new site and tell me what you think!

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Lastly, I’m still working on the actual ‘Minimalism’ part of this month. I didn’t realize that when I started getting things together everything would first fall apart. My apartment looks wrecked! Books, papers, boxes, and random miscellaneous items are everywhere. I’ve been attempting to use the KonMari method (Marie Kondo) and, although I’ve gone through the clothes and papers sections, I’m still not done. I keep going back to look at sections I’ve already done to declutter even more. I think that by the end of the month I will have even LEEEESSSSSS and I’ll still feel like there’s much to get rid of. It’s going to feel so good to have a safe place for Naomi to crawl and play.

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Thank you for reading this summary of the first week of 31 Days of Introspection. I want to be a new person in 2020. A Better me. I definitely feel that I am taking the steps, to do that, in the right direction.

Creating The Elyzabeth Collection

Hey ya’ll!

How’s your week been? I’ve been wanting to share this with you for some time but I couldn’t find the right words. I’m on this deep journey to understanding myself and feeling proud of the things that I create and this is one of mine passions. I know that you guys are aware (whether through my Twitter, Instagram, Youtube Channel or any other social media that I’ve posted them on) that I have an Etsy shop where I sell handmade, custom journals. I started creating these journals last year before I got pregnant with Naomi and I was on the fence about doing it. I was afraid to fail, afraid that no one would want to buy a journal, afraid that I couldn’t make a good product. Then we found out we were having a baby.

I allowed this to be used as my excuse to not make journals or start the business. “I don’t have enough time” (back then I was working, on pregnancy bedrest because I was high risk, and a full time student) and therefore I needed to wait. I said, “How can I start something new when there’s so much going on?” I don’t know how many reasons I gave to not start it but, to be honest, I knew what was really going on.

 

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I’ve always had this issue with appearance. No, not physical appearance (you guys can clearly tell that I’m not the best in the fashion department nor do I try to be). I want to appear to have it together. I want to feel proud of myself and, sadly, I’ve always wanted others to be proud of me (yes, that’s also something I’m dealing with during this month of Introspection). But then something silly happened.

 

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This summer, I had the sudden urge to write in a new journal despite having several unfinished ones at home that I’ve bought over the years. You know writers, this is our thing. Our JAM! I browsed online and couldn’t find one that I wanted. Then I almost slapped myself. I could just make my own. I looked at the many prototypes I’d made in Summer 2018 and I was vastly disappointed. I scraped all of those ideas and went to the store. My guy was with me, along with our little baby, and he helped me pick out materials. What are the best colors? What thread is going to work the best- turns out I’m obsessed with waxed linen thread, so that’s what I use. We stood there, going back and forth. Real leather? Vegan leather? Vinyl? Copy paper? Sketch paper? Black buttons? White buttons? So many questions, so many thoughts, way too complicated. I’m already indecisive. Why can’t it all be simple?

Then my guy said what do you want it to be. So I cut out all the noise, I picked out the materials and I made something new. Something simple, with a button, a flexible cover for bending or sketching across a knee, and several different page pattern types. Grid. Blank. and then later, Lined.  Then, I held the finished product in my hand, (yes I’m always, actively, trying to make them better) and I cried. I had finally finished something, I FINISHED something, without quitting “before I could fail” (ironic and all that), and it actually looked great. The quality was great.

So then, with loads of encouragement from several friends and my guy, I started my Etsy shop. (check it out here). I am not here to make all of these vast claims that it is wildly successful. I’m proud that I started it but I haven’t been able to put my all into it as I thought I would. This semester has been hard on me, as it was my first at the new University and I have Naomi to care for, and I haven’t had much time. That being said, 2020 is a new year. It’s time to look forward, not backward, and so I’m going to be implementing all of the things I learn over the next month.

 

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And that’s why I’ve taken it an extra step. I’m really excited to say that I’ve finally created a website for my journals. It’s very new. Very, very, very new. I do not claim to be an expert on all things small businesses or to know all there is to know about being a founder/owner, or life, in general, but I’m doing the best I can. As an aspect of my 31 Days of Introspection, I’m taking a long hard look at my skills as a business owner, taking steps to growing my business, and will be learning all I can about marketing, product photography, and SEO. I’m also in the process of creating a logo that will perfectly fit into the brand of my small business. One that aesthetically fits with my photos as well. I am very excited about this! This is one journey I’m ready to take. Keep an eye open for more updates. If you’d like to support a small business, please buy a journal!

 

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Check out the tentative website here!

The Elyzabeth Collection

 

Check out the Instagram account here!
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(All photos on my instagram and other social media sites have been taken by me or my friend Colleen Watson. If you like them, feel free to like or leave me a comment!)

31 Days of Introspection: The Stats

Heya,

So I wanted to go ahead and give the stats for my December schedule for 31 Days of Introspection. I want to take a week to focus on each of these topics. I plan to take one of my own journals and fill it with daily ponderings about the topics. I am really going to try to focus on healing from my past traumas and moving forward into 2020.

Details:
Hiatus from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Yoga or meditation daily (Working out doesn’t count!!) Decluttering and getting rid of EVERYTHING that is unnecessary by the end of the month

Writing more essays for my creative nonfiction book based on my life/childhood

Donating or selling discards: DOES IT SPARK JOY!?
Find time to read

I plan to use one of the notebooks that I make and sell in my etsy shop TheElyzabethCo for my daily thoughts. I haven’t decided which color or page pattern I want to use but I’m really excited. Usually I leave them for my sales so I don’t have one of my journals, in the new design, for myself. It’s weird but this has made me so happy. Gotta use your own product right?

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To help me stay focused on my own journey I plan to post every Saturday, summarizing the week.


Introspection Schedule:

Week 1: (Dec. 1- Dec. 7)

Confidence – Self Doubt and Esteem

Week 2: (Dec. 8- Dec. 14)

Goals – Career and Life

Week 3: (Dec. 15- Dec. 21)

Hard Topics – Loss, Fear and Regrets

Week 4: (Dec. 22- Dec. 28)

Relationships – My Little Family and My Role as Mom

3 Remaining Days: (Dec. 29- Dec. 31)

Reflect over the last month

 

 

Jade

 

Let me know below if you plan to join me on this journey!

31 Days of Introspection + Becoming a Minimalist

Heya,

It’s been a while, I’ve had so much to do with school, writing, and a new baby. A busy life has allowed me to realize how messy my life is. I own thousands of books, boxes upon boxes of papers and old notebooks, purses I never use (especially with a baby, I basically use a fanny pack), books I’ll never read (not to be misconstrued with the books I’ve actually read and loved), and just miscellaneous objects that are just all over the place.

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I’m sick of it. My true turning point came about a week ago. I have decided to get dread locs, that’s a story for another time, and I was up late at night and twisting my hair. My guy was tied up and asked me to grab Naomi because she was fussing. I thought I could grab her really quick and bring her into the master bed/bathroom area and I slipped on a pile of clothes by the bed. I almost cracked my head on the corner of the wall, with my little baby tight in my arms. I almost cried. Because of my messiness, my laziness really, I had almost seriously injured my daughter. Things had to change.

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Before I decided to fully jump in, I cleaned my bedroom. *APPLAUSE* Thank you! Thank you! I folded all of my laundry (which also includes Naomi’s laundry and even a bit of Tony’s) and then I finished my hair. I had some TV show playing, as usual, but I couldn’t focus on it. The entire time I kept looking down at my tiny human, watching her wiggle about on her little mat. I wondered how I would feel if she had really gotten hurt because of my carelessness. What about upstairs? In the loft? She could eat something, pull down a messy bookshelf or find a needle from my crochet bag. Or in the dining room where there are exact-o knives and random piles of books and a paintbrush she could poke herself in the eye with. What about that? What about her own tiny area in our living room? She could have swallowed nonsense we tracked in on our shoes or pull down unsteady books from those shelves.

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So I decided to change things. I have to get my life together.

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It’s not just about the material things in my apartment. My mind is messy. I’m not sure how to be fully confident. I don’t know what to expect from myself. I’ve been through a lot over the last decade and I have packed myself so deep into the ‘strength’ box that now, when my dreams are coming true, I’m not sure how to measure myself.

All I know is that I can finish school, graduate school, and become a professor but can I?
All I know is that I can be a great mom to my little rainbow baby, Naomi, but can I?
All I know is that I’ve been a fantastic woman to my guy, Tony, but have I been?

What’s my truth? Am I the best I can be? Can I be better? Who am I now that I’m a mother? (They don’t tell you that you feel like a COMPLETELY different person after giving birth. Why don’t we talk about this?) Why can’t I just believe in myself? Why do I question things that I say I Believe with a capital B? I just don’t know the answers to these questions yet.

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I demand to know the answer to these questions. I owe it to myself to find out. I owe it to my future self to find out. I also owe it to my guy and my daughter, who I hope to raise to love herself and trust herself.

31 Days of Introspection is all about changing my life. Not only do I want to embrace the Minimalist lifestyle, I want to find out who I am in this new role as a mom. I want to discover my true goals in life, not just the fanciful dreams I wish I could have. I want to go into 2020 with a clear head and plans for the new decade.

For the month of December 2019 I am going to take a hiatus from all my social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I plan to write my thoughts every day in one of the journals I sell in my shop, TheElyzabethCo, meditate, and focus on getting my apartment together. I’ve created a schedule for my mediation that will help me answer those questions.

So it’s Dec. 1st and I’ve decided to use my Black TheElyzabethCo Journal. I love Black and thought why not use the grid page pattern. I’m also going to keep track of The Twitch (the times I itch to get on social media, etc) and so the grid pattern is perfect because I’m shading in a box for each time. Oh lord.

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Stay tuned for the specific details regarding this month! I plan to upload them November 25th!

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The photos I’ve included in this post are inspirations I pulled from Pinterest. I want my apt to be homey, with plants, comfy and exciting, but clean and decluttered. I want to focus on furniture that matches our style and isn’t just thrown together.

Jade

CNF: Levels of Acceptance

I hear you out there. You’re enjoying your night, clinking glasses, knocking forks against plates, and murmuring pleasantries around the table. I wish I could join you. My belly rumbles as the pungent smell of cayenne pepper, lemon and garlic crusted, oven roasted chicken floats up the stairs, down the hall and through the small key hole of the door. I can just taste the thick heap of coagulated sugar sitting at the bottom of the Kool-aid container. 

From my perch on the opposite side of the door, I kneel before the hollow wood and close my eyes. I imagine the red ring the sweet liquid leaves as you raise your glasses to your lips and slurp. Tongue stained, teeth bared as ice crunches between them. 

I take a deep breath in. Is that apple pie I smell? Or has my imagination, overwrought with the need for belonging, begun to invent things? I inhale deeply.

Definitely apple pie, then.

I sigh as I sit back on my haunches, my damp hands pressing against my thighs. My stomach growls again and I turn my head. “And what do you think we will eat?” I ask. 

My brother sits on the floor not too far from me. We don’t use the furniture because that would mean we existed, should we mess things up. He is unbothered, or at least pretending to be, and twiddles his thumbs on his lap. 

“Something,” he murmurs so low I wonder if I imagined it. I imagine a lot. I’m not sure why. I make up stories in my head. I tell myself untruths so real that life doesn’t seem so bad. I turn back to the door and I tell myself a story: They’ll come to the door any second. They will unlock the door. 

The First Level of Acceptance

They won’t be holding paper plates in their hands to force us to feed on the floor like animals. No, they’ll have open palms and open hearts. Generosity will shine from their eyes and they will beckon us forward. Inviting us into their lives. 

The Second Level of Acceptance.

We will rise, eyes wide with gratitude, bellies growling, also in gratitude. We’ll follow them downstairs where two extra place settings have been polished and two extra plush chairs have been drawn. Everyone at the table will stand to their feet.

Are we equals or royalty? I don’t know, but I feel respected. 

The Third Level of acceptance. 

I will reach back and grab my brother’s hand. He’s older but I’m mentally stronger, I know,  and more determined. When we sit, they sit. They’re watching us, waiting as we pick up our utensils, and we smile apologetically, knowing, in our haste to feed our starving bellies, we’ve forgotten our prayers. They don’t mind and we bow our heads, though we are unable to take our eyes off the glistening food. After prayers, they once again wait for us to begin eating. 

The Fourth Level of Acceptance. 

We don’t sit in silence. Oh no, the room grows louder with mirth and converse of past indiscretions and future aspirations. We, my brother and I, tell tall tales and ensnare them with our dreams. Dreams that peg us as more than two black kids whose mother didn’t love them, stuck in the foster care system, locked away in closets, while the ‘real kids’ ate at the dinner table. They’ll look back at us in agreement. “Yes, you’ll make it out,” they’ll say. Their eyes showing they truly believe in us. 

The Fifth Level of Acceptance. 

The story ends there because I’m not sure how the night would go on, not even in my head. I’m never there to see what happens to the family after their meal is over and the forks are crossed. 

Are they crossed? Or are they thrown haphazardly atop the chicken’s carcass or the half eaten bowl of overcooked mashed potatoes? Do they disperse to their respective corners? Do the children help clean up the dishes? Is the mother calling out bedtimes and homework reminders? 

I don’t know this part because they retreat to a section of the house I cannot hear with my little girl ears, no matter how hard I strain. I lean closer to the door. The clink, clink, clink of utensils bounce off the soft walls of my growling belly. I stay there until my toes go numb from the kneeling position.  I want to get up but I’m afraid to miss something, anything. 

A deep timber rings out, the father is saying something in a stern voice. Voices grow closer. The stairs creak under lazy feet. Finally, we have been remembered, I think as footsteps pitter patter across the hall to the door. 

I scramble back, gangly legs too long for my body propel me across the carpet to the place next to my brother. My place they’ve put me in. The key scrapes in the door and I hold my breath, remembering my story, hopeful. The door swings open on old hinges. 

“You better not have been touching nothing,” the woman growls between clenched, red-stained teeth. She sweeps the room with her gaze as if to find something, anything, we’ve stolen, or broken, or to find us as if we’d somehow escaped. We shake our heads. Then the paper plate appears. Just one, for the two of us. 

Level of Acceptance: Zero.

CNF: I’m Not Afraid of Water

Note: I just wanted to preface this and say that I’ve capitalized certain pronouns for a reason. However, I didn’t want to explain to remove the effect until after it’s been read. 

Creative Non-Fiction:

 

I’m Not Afraid of Water

 

“I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper to myself and bend my knees. There aren’t any bugs or leaves in the water, that I can see, and yet I search and search. Procrastinating, as usual. I’m afraid, even though I know that The Sky’s the Limit summer camp is one of the safest places for me to be. I know that no one will hurt me here. They would have no reason to come here. 

They, the caseworkers, always came too late anyway, I felt. They always showed up after I’d already been hit, or kicked, or burned. They always wanted a status update after someone had already pushed me, or pulled a knife, or held me in a grip so tight I couldn’t breathe. You might feel like my anger was misplaced. They could save me. They could use their pen as a weapon and fire it in my defense. I’d be able to leave the wandering hands, and the wandering eyes, and I would be safe. 

Yes, you might come to that conclusion, but I didn’t. It’d been so long since I was able to trust anyone, if I ever could, and I know I would rather they be as far away as possible than to have them near with their false promises. Even I, at twelve years old, knew what weight someone’s word carried. There, standing at the edge of the pool, I wondered why no one ever gave their word to me and kept it.

***

 As the boat pulled us through the water, I stare up at clouds shaped like animals and flowers. The sun winks at me from behind them and I smile in return. Even at six, I know the sun brought happiness, healing, and warmth to the soul. I close my eyes and let the serotonin roll over my skin.

  The wind is heavy, here in the back of the boat, and I think if only a bigger gust would take me away. I think maybe if I step up on the small boat seat, the plastic rocking beneath my tiny feet, the wind might hear my thoughts and whip me up into its arms, taking me away from Them. 

“Hey,” His voice exclaims behind me, as if He read my thoughts. She yanks me away from the edge and my eyes fly open. The hardness in Her eyes, devoid of love, makes me flinch and shrivel into the small life jacket strapped too tightly around my tiny waist.  

“Do you want to go back?” She spat the words out through tight lips. I stare up at her, imagining fangs emerging from behind them. Venom dripping from their tips as She would bare Her teeth at me. She gives me a hard shake, “Do you?” I move my chin slightly and She nods. “Good, now sit down and stay there until I tell you, you can get up.”

I scramble across the boat on unsteady legs and climb into my plastic place, it’s one of those seats that holds a storage area beneath it for valuables or things that need to stay dry, wallets and the like. It’s supposed to lock in place, but He’d messed it up somehow and it never closes quite right.  

I peek a glance at my brother and his face is turned from me, I could see from the set of his shoulders that he was angry at me. That I almost ruined our day. Either that or he was desperately trying not to look at me in case he gets roped into my disobedience and They make him ‘sit down and shut up’, too.

 I stay there, in the seat, using my peripherals to look at the lake around us. I know I can turn my head and look but I’m afraid. I’m a heathen, They say. An animal unable to resist my instincts, and I know it’s true. Sometimes I get so angry I slam my hands down on my thighs until they sting. Sometimes, I’m so mad, I scratch at them until they bleed.

So, I know if I turn my head to look, I won’t be able to help myself. I’ll get up, wishing the water of the lake would take me up and drown me – not really but my imagination is vast, and I could see it. The water filling my mouth and pulling me down, down, down into its dark arms. I know She’ll just stop me again, grabbing me tight until her nails dig deep, breaking the skin. Little beads of blood would appear at the puncture site. It wouldn’t be because She loves me. She would stop me because my death would be hard to explain away as “You know foster kids, they’re just so reckless.” 

***

I’m standing in front of the pool again, having moved closer to the shallow end, taking a deep breath in and expelling it out through my open mouth. ‘I’m not afraid of water,” I whisper again. Duh, I’ve gone camping. “But that doesn’t mean I can swim, stupid.” I know it’s dumb, pretending I can talk to myself, but it comforts me. I am, after all, the only one that cares what I have to say. 

 “Just get…in,” the last word is yelled as I’m picked up and I feel tight arms wrap around my waist, I see it drawing near- the deep end. Ten feet of deep blue water. I shake my head and thrash, elbows and knees bending and jerking spastically. I’m small, although I’m twelve, and my brother is so much bigger than I. Long lanky arms and long lanky legs to match. He’s pretty enough to be a model, everyone says so. I don’t care about that, I just want him to put me down, and he does. 

 My head whips so fast as he catapults me into the air. My legs pull in tight, not into a cannonball, into fear. I hit the surface of the water, but I don’t see the pool. I see the lake. 

***

We’ve released the anchor and the boat is rocking in place. I want to get up from my seat, to lean over the edge and feel the water on my fingertips, but She hasn’t said so yet.  

Him, Her, and my brother are getting the fishing poles ready. A small white bucket of squirming worms sits at my feet. Hooking the bait is my job, my punishment, but what they don’t know is that I love fishing. I like to see that worm fly in the air and bring me back a nice little fishy. I like to see the pulse of the gills as it sucks in air instead of water. I just don’t realize how morbid it all is. 

One after another I’m handed the poles until I receive mine. I don’t put a worm on the hook, just tap, tap, tap at the sharp edge with a fingertip. 

“You can get up. Just stand there for a bit, let us get going first,” He says, His voice quiet, as to not disturb the fish. 

I hide my excitement and turn to the water. Lifting my pole, I pretend to fish, whipping it back and forth with my hands. It was made specifically for a small child. It’s tiny pink reel and lever fit perfectly in my hand. The pole’s long rod is pink with extended silver eyelets that hold the line in place. I swing it back and forth with gusto and this time it snags. I yank it forward a split second later without thinking. 

 A howl fills the air and I turn around so fast the pole almost smacks against the lip of the boat. My brother is doubled over, grasping at the fleshy space between his neck and shoulder. My eyes fill with tears when I see the blood between his fingers. I look quickly to the line hanging from the end of my pole. There, just at the tip of the large hook is a small piece of bloody flesh. 

Everything seemed to move at once. She went to my brother, snatching up at towel on Her way. The man came to me, hatred in His eyes. He speaks but I do not hear what He says. I can only feel the fear building in my chest, freezing me in place. With one hand, He snatches the pole, with its fleshy prize, from my hands. With the other He grabs me under one shoulder. His meaty fingers dig into my underarm, His thumb pressing against my clavicle and I’m off my feet. He tosses me, like a rag doll, into the air and my jaw snaps shut. 

For a moment I wonder if the wind has finally granted my wish, if I’d float away on pillows of clouds. Then I’m falling down, down, down until the water breaks my descent. 

I go under, as you initially do, the life jacket unable to win the battle against gravity. My arms and legs flap, I’m helplessly trying to right myself. The emptiness beneath me threatens to pull me deeper into the darkness. I feel something, a fallen branch maybe, scratch against my leg and I panic, kicking at it, at anything. The life jacket finally does its job and my head is propelled above water. I sputter, expelling murky lake water, my eyes burning from the strain to stay open and alert underneath it.

***

I open my eyes under the pool water, the chlorine stinging at the corners. I try to stay calm. I’ve been here before, but I thrash a bit, unable to control my limbs. Remembering what I’d seen the other campers do, I make like a frog. Kicking my legs out and bending at the knee. With my arms, I push the water down, down, down, hoping the momentum will keep my head above water. It does.  

I take a deep breath and dive my head under. I move like I’d seen swimmers do in the movies, pushing my arms in front of me and then back to my hips, kicking my feet up and down. I felt the air on my heels as I kicked, though I was sure all of me was supposed to be under water. My chest burns as I tried to hold the air in. Finally, there it is, the side of the pool. I grasp it like a life line and pull myself up. 

My brother’s there, whooping and hollering, excited he taught me to swim, I’m sure. “You did it,” he yelled. I’m angry. How had he forgotten? How could he forget? I never forgot, I think. I will never, ever, ever forget the lake 

***

I sat, bent at the waist, with my chest touching my knees. Taking in small breaths so as not to bend further, I pray to the sun,‘Bring back the warmth’. My teeth chatter so hard I think I might grind them to dust. 

After reaching in and effortlessly yanking me from the water, the man had thrown open the plastic seat. He’d revealed the small storage space beneath it and gestured to me. “Sit. Now,” He growled, barely contained wrath seething just beneath the surface.

Small for my age, at six, I was able to fold myself down. My heels brushed the bottom of the boat, the seat of the plastic chair drug into the back of my head. The metal top of the storage box dug grooves into my lower back, causing bruises that will one day save me, us. He’d thrown something on top of the seat. I can’t see what it is but it’s heavy. With every rock of the boat, as we speed to the dock, the seat digs deeper and deeper into my back. 

Later, no one fetches me from the boat. The ride back to Their home is spent alone, in the wild of the wind, at the mercy of the highway. Even once we reached Their house, a small off-white building with red borders, They get out of the truck and escape without me.  

My brother comes to get me sometime later. I hear him clambering into the boat with his bony limbs. He lifts the seat from the clutches of my back, and I look up at him.  

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” I say, or whisper, and he nods. I can’t tell if there is pity there, or anger, or frustration. I take in a full breath, for the first time in what felt like days, and flinch. It hurts to breathe, hurts to move, hurts to think. The marks on my legs hurt, I can’t see them, but I feel them burn as I unfold myself.  

“I’m sorry,” I say as my eyes tear up due to the pain. We carefully climb down from the boat. He nods again but doesn’t turn back to look at me. He leads the way to the house, and I trail behind him on fawn’s legs. 

I wonder if I’ve received my full punishment or if the other side of the door holds more pain. I wonder if the bruises will ever heal or if I will have a permanent mark. I wonder if Rosa, our caseworker, will come to save us this time. 

I look at the back of my brother’s head. I wonder if this is when he starts hating me, because I know he will, just like everyone else. 

 

 

 

 

Good Readdance,
Jade

Book Review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

For as the sleepwalking phenomenon awakens terror and violence in America, the real danger may not be the epidemic but the fear of it. With society collapsing all around them—and an ultraviolent militia threatening to exterminate them—the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart—or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.

wanderersbychuckwendig
One of the greatest things about reading is that when you’re truly drawn in you slack off on everything else. This book is roughly 800 pages. I read it in under two days. At one point, I didn’t eat, take a break or go to the restroom. That’s how awesome I found this book. I can think of many adjectives that could show how I felt but I won’t add them here, for ramblings sake.

I would definitely suggest this book. It actually gave me some Stephen King vibes. I wouldn’t say it touches horror or suspense, but in the actual structuring of the novel. The way it bounces back and forth between important characters, the chapter length, the character development. I must say, Benji, (Dr. to you, thank you) is my favorite character! The plot was also right up my alley, bit of intrigue, bit of romance, loads of death. Yum. I must admit, I’m a big sucker for disaster movies and books. I like to see the first movies of civilization after it all begins to fall apart. I loved the ending of this book and there’s no doubt that you’ll like it as well. If not, I don’t know what’s wrong with ya! Or you can just write in the comments and let me know your thoughts.

Also, I don’t want to say that I’m biased, because the book was fantastic but I love several of his other books as well. Zeroes was one of the first books that I read by him and I thought it phenom! I also really liked Blackbirds, which is the first book in his Miriam Black series. I have two others in the series and one in ebook (I believe) but haven’t read them yet. He also writes a series of Star Wars books! If you’re into that sort of thing, check those out as well!

If you have any book suggestions or any reviews you’d like to see here, let me know!

Good Readdance,

Jade

Link

Caribbean Festival Shooting

Caribbean Festival Shooting

There they were

scattering like roaches

Filling spaces between tents

 

Pop

Pop

Pop

 

One way in and one way out

Roaches with long arms and legs

Running for their lives

 

The sides fold down like paper

Green spikes of night rise up

Barbed wire bending

 

Crumpling beneath fingers

A hole made from nothing

Pop

 

One way in and one way out

Back the way they came 

A lost one unable to hear the maternal cries

 

“Please make way for the ambulance, someone is hurt”

It repeats though ignored

Steps slow

 

Sweaty clown faces 

Red tinted legs

Huddle tightly on a long trek back

 

Slowly moving 

Silence stretching

Reappear in tomorrow’s light? 

Led Me Here

After graduating from high school, it took me four years to move from Missouri to Florida. Four years to get away.

Being left behind scares me, still. 

Catapulted from the present to the past, I’m often held prisoner by my mind. 

Don’t let me go. 

Ever felt like you’re so happy you can’t do anything but cry? Tears of true joy fall, deep breaths get deeper, teeth like piano keys. It’s a wild look of jubilance. 

Fall in love. 

Girls should close their legs. Don’t let the man in, don’t let the Devil in, she said. 

How do you move an immovable object?

Isn’t it funny how leaving doesn’t always mean you’ve left? 

Just in case you didn’t know, contrary to your words, I know I can. 

Kites wave wildly through the wind in Missouri. Like Dreams, they snap free, and in their free fall they die. 

Let me go, please. Please?

My mind is a mystery to me. Often times I wonder if I’m too stupid to understand or if I’m just brilliant. 

Not everything the light touches is good. 

Obviously, things go well. They aren’t always bad. It ebbs and flows. Well, it ebbs more than it flows. At least it used to. Lately, the flow has pulled me along on a litter made from my hopes and dreams. There they are again…dreams. 

Possibly a good time to stop here as the further I fall into this deep hole the further I’d have to climb myself back out, later, when I’m lucid. Lucid? Lucidity? Ludicrous? Lame? Liar? Layered? Lucid.

Q …

R…

S…

T…

U…

V…

W…

X…

Y…

Z…

The words fill me up but I can’t make them come out. 

They strangle me, dark tendrils of ink wrap around my neck and fill my throat. Fill me up starting at my mouth, working down to my toes and out from underneath my nails. 

However, I can’t continue. The letters sit in their jar, waiting for me to put them in order, to assign them a meaning. 

Later, when I’m lucid.

Hometown

Home Town
Thick, glazed, grilled

Dark meat with burnt tips

Sweet mustard

Honey dippings

Sticky fingers

 

Wide sweeping pavement

Tall gargoyle like structures

Fountains made of hopes and dreams

Thick forests of green

Expansive fertile lands

 

Blue, green, yellow city streets

Music of the blues

Storefronts oen to canvased walls

Brick red schools

Metal bridges, glistening heat

 

Thick smog

Painful ice rain

Wispy winds that kill

Mounds of cold marshmallows fill streets

Booze hoppers in clogged feet