You begin to understand why people have a favorite day of the week when she enters your life. You are sedate, a bearish den mother collecting your people and your things around you. You like your teapot to rest just so on the corner of the counter beside the fruit bowl. You prefer things to be in order and clean. Your nights of debaucherous drinking produce a heavy trip down to the recycling bins the next morning, not an acquaintance with strangers’ toilet bowls. 
        She is a migrant, a traveler, a pick-up-and-leave kind of girl. But she doesn’t, not quite, not too far. She is like a tiger on a nature reserve, loping up to the fence and turning her back coolly on it, pretending she doesn’t see the bridges and boats and planes that lead out of New York City. She’s the small-town girl of the Big Apple, bred to be a house-cat in confined spaces, the feral rippling beneath her skin. 
        She doesn’t understand you and you don’t want her to. She thinks you’re a mystery. She finds you charming, endearing. These adjectives aren’t generally applied to you and you welcome them, and her, with arms thrown wide, embracing the neon pink baggage she brings with her.
        When she rings your doorbell, her hair floating softly in your view through the peephole, you discover what butterflies must feel like when they burst out of their cocoons. She gives you wings when she walks over your threshold and places her hands firmly down the back of your pants, lifting you up enough to touch the low-hung ceiling of your apartment. She stays for tea after tasting you. If it is a Tuesday, that is your favorite day that week.
        If she comes on the weekends, you know she will arrive with others, sometimes kissing them in front of you, and you become acquainted with all the spots on your walls and the stains on your kitchen floor.  You bring around drinks and snacks and turn into a plastic model of your mother who does these things with grace and affection. Your bitterness, you’re sure, can be tasted in the cocktails, in the crackers, in the guacamole you tarry over for far too long.
        The weeks she doesn’t come at all are worse than the weeks she ignores you in your own house.
        This is how far you’ve fallen.
        This is how far you have to climb out.
        You wonder if you have any interest in finding a ladder, in making a rope of your hair and using it to climb out. If you do manage to scrape yourself out of the whole, what will you find out there? Won’t it be bleak? You’ve gotten used to this.
        You like having a favorite day of the week. 

Oh, Neil, I’m getting lazy

My writing habits have become abysmal lately. I still write every day, because by this point it just feels weird not to. For a week and a half or so, when I was on holiday and barely touching my computer, I didn’t write except the odd quick email or instant message on my phone. But other than those few days, I don’t think I’ve not written for an extended period of time in about a year now – be it parts of an essay, notes, comments on other people’s posts on the web (more thought-out than they should be, maybe, but still), long emails, or fiction. There’s not a day, anymore, where I don’t think about my writing, the work-in-progress I have going on, or allow ideas and sentences to germinate in my brain for further use. I lose the latter more often than not. Another of my bad habits is my inability to commit to keeping a notebook on my ACTUAL PERSON at all times. I have more than one, as well as pens, in my backpack at all times, and that backpack is with me wherever I go. But it’s not the same. Needing to rummage in a backpack isn’t the same thing as being able to whip a notebook out of my pocket and jot something down. I need to either find jeans with bigger pockets (damn you, girl jeans!), find some way to stuff a notebook into my bra (there’s definitely a business idea waiting to happen there – easily bendable, stuffable notebooks, for any crevice of your body you may want to keep one in) or else just start walking around with a permanent marker and jot things down on my hand. But then, if they’re no good, I won’t be able to wash them off. And I’ll run out of space pretty quickly.

The real answer, of course, is to get back into a more routine writing habit. At least, that’s the answer as far as I’m concerned. Every writer has her or his own ways and means and needs. For me, writing every day for an extended period of time that is for my own purposes – not for schoolwork, in other words, and not out of a feeling of obligation to anyone but me – is the best way to make sure I use the things that float around my head all day.

Dora’s Birthday [Part III]

Part I

Part II

Dora was curled up in an uncomfortable hospital chair, pretending to sleep. She felt like they’d been in that stupid waiting room for hours and hours. Either her father or her mother were always with her, but her Grandpa had gone to sit with Grandma in her room. Dora’s mother explained that Grandma was still unconscious [“sort of like asleep,” she’d said when Dora asked what that meant] and that Grandpa wanted to be with her when she woke up. Dora wasn’t allowed in yet.
This was her worst birthday ever. She was hungry and uncomfortable and tired and bored. She was also scared about Grandma – everyone was acting like Grandma might not wake up at all, and that thought made Dora so sad. She loved her Grandma very much. It was she who had let Dora help bake chocolate chip cookies, and it was she who gave Dora lovely books to read and helped her read them. Her parents did some of the same things too, of course, but Dora always spent Friday afternoons and evenings at her grandparents’ house, and she loved their routines there together. Grandpa would make something yummy for dinner and Dora and her grandmother always had the dessert all ready for afterwards. Then they’d maybe watch a funny video or play games or read books together, all three of them. Dora was scared that things would  change now.
Just as Dora felt like she would start crying again, she felt a soft touch on her shoulder. Her father shook her gently, thinking she was asleep. She opened her eyes and saw him peering down at her with a smile.
“Dora-Dear, Grandma’s awake now. She says she’s feeling well enough for you to come in and see her.”
Dora sat up immediately. Her father took her by the hand and led her down a long corridor. Dora glimpsed people in the rooms they passed. Some of them frightened her, because they looked so very ill or they had tubes coming out of their noses and mouths. Some were moaning and some were snoring loudly. Dora averted her eyes and clung hard to her father’s big hand. She didn’t want Grandma to look like that.
Her father stopped at one of the rooms and gently pushed Dora through the door, encouraging her. She walked shyly up to the big hospital bed and stopped beside her mother who was sitting on one side of it. Her mother lifted her up into her lap, and Dora could see that her Grandma was sitting up in bed, smiling at her.
“Grandma!” she yelped and almost threw herself on her. Her mother held her back with a smile.
“Grandma’s feeling better but she’s still a little weak, pumpkin. No jumping on her quite yet, alright?” her mother chastised gently.
Dora was smiling fit to burst, and leaned over and gently pecked her grandmother who was proffering her cheek. “Grandma, are you okay now?” she asked.
“I will be, beautiful Dora, I will be,” Grandma answered in her smooth, melodic voice.
“And I’ll be able to come over to yours’ and Grandpa’s house and we’ll bake cookies and you’ll continue reading me The Little Princess?” she asked hopefully.
“Yes, honey-pie. When I get out of here, we’ll be able to do everything we used to.”
Dora felt as if her heart would burst. She broke into a fit of giggles. She was so happy that everything was alright with Grandma that she even forgot about the fact that she hadn’t eaten any cake.


One of the most magnificent and incredible things to me are how days can change from being unbearable to face to being calm, peaceful, enjoyable and rewarding. There are those mornings where you may wake up and just feel so tired, so sad, so completely unprepared to face a day of work and socializing and exercise and travel. And yet, when the day goes by, step by step, you realize that you’re going through the motions without a negative thought in your head.

What is it about human nature that makes us so utterly easy and open to change of moods? Not always, of course not – sometimes we’ll retain a bad mood for hours and refuse to let ourselves budge from it. And yet, sometimes the simple act of human kindness, of a smile or a voice, can help raise our spirits. Sometimes even nice weather and a light breeze can be enough to raise a smile on our lips.

It also always seems to happen most that when we don’t expect it, we suddenly experience the change. In the midst of a raging temper, one might be startled into a laugh. In between sobs, someone might be kind enough to make us smile. We are fickle creatures indeed, but one cannot help but be thankful for it if it helps us get rid of bad vibes.

Time Flies When… What?

Some days seem to rush past in a whirl. Mostly, days like that are full of action, of activities, of something fun and exciting that slips through your fingers, hardly giving you a chance to appreciate it. Days that pass quickly usually fit neatly into the pattern of “time flies when you’re having fun.” Usually, the days that are like this are days that you wish you could lengthen, days that you don’t want to finish, days where you go to bed at night with a bitter-sweet sadness of parting.

Some days, though, pass quickly for no reason at all. Those are the weird ones. They’re days of routine, of everything being normal, or mostly normal. Days where you wake up, tired, and go to work as always, days where there’s nothing new, nothing to anticipate, nothing to look forward to particularly. Just normal, everyday sort of days. When a day like that passes quickly, you just feel a bit bewildered by it, not really sure what was different about today that made it so quick.

I had a day like that today. It was odd, but there is something rather nice to knowing that you passed the day only half-aware of the passing of time and that you find yourself ready, at the end of the odd day, to curl up into bed and sleep as deeply as you can.

To Be Held

Sometimes you need to be held. Really need to, a deep need that runs through your body all through to the very core of your emotions, somewhere deep inside that odd squiggly chemical thing that is our brain. Sometimes things, no matter how small and insignificant, feel like too much. Sometimes just knowing you’re going to have to wake up the next morning is too much.

Those are the times when you need to be held most of all. When you’re lonely, you want someone there, sure. When you’re angry or depressed, you need someone to anchor you as well. But sometimes there are just these moments of pure and utter hopelessness. You know it’ll pass. It’s just a mood. Just another chemical being processed through your brain. It doesn’t mean anything. Tomorrow you’ll wake up and work and do everything you need to do, just like any other day.

But it’s just that, well, sometimes someone holding you makes everything better, at least for one, priceless, endless moment. And that moment can keep you going.

Routine Dullness


Every soundtrack of every action film ever made is the exact same thing. Same rhythm. Same tones. Same beat. It’s amazing that we still enjoy action movies at all. And yet we do – we all still shiver in our seats when that music blares out of the movie-theater speakers. Some of us just develop this mechanism not to recognize the dull fact that we’re seeing the same things over and over, doing the same things again and again.

Another example of this are those people who forget jokes. You can tell them the same ole’ knock-knock jokes five times in a month and they’ll still burst out laughing every time and say that “That was a good one! I’ve never heard it before!” It’s rather incredible if you think about it.

I suppose it’s lucky though, because if we didn’t have that as human beings then we’d realize how amazingly boring our routines can be. We’d need to go out and complete more and more insane stunts to keep ourselves interested. Actually, come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea – there are too many people on the planet anyway.