by MD Maurice
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Welcome to the place were I chronicle my own falls down dark holes and adventures chasing white rabbits! Come on In, Take a Bite, You Never Know What You May Find...
"Curiouser and curiouser." Alice in Wonderland
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DAY 2861 September 16, 2020
"We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be". – Patrick Rothfuss Your thoughts?
In my part of the world, masks have become more a political statement unfortunately. The decision to wear one or not wear one seems to be closely aligned with one's political leanings rather than an concern for health or well-being. You can go into an establishment and see folks with masks, and then others who are proudly, somewhat defiantly shopping bare-faced. Most places have signs on the door refusing entry to anyone not wearing a mask but it is not uncommon to see patrons testing the limits or simply refusing to comply. The instance that mask wearing somehow violates their personal freedoms is an all too common refrain. This week Connecticut introduced new fines for anyone not in compliance with the state mandate for wearing masks indoors and outside when social distancing can not be maintained. Its a $100 fine for individuals that can and will be enforced. I am curious to see how this takes affect and what impact it will have on the current situation.
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Day 2236 Sept. 16, 2020 Prompt
Prompt: What life lessons have books taught you?
I've largely been drawn to books that help me escape life. It is hard to think of a book that might have taught me any life lessons for this reason. If I had to pick one it would clearly be Alice in Wonderland. I frequently find myself thinking about "madness" and "often give myself very good advice but I seldom ever follow it". I have always related to Alice, how she was always at odds with the world around her - struggled to find reason when the unreasonable seemed to reign. I appreciated her curiosity and could understand how it could lead you down paths into dark woods.I have always been prone to wander and often found myself turned around in strange places, surrounded by an even stranger cast of characters in my life.
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Day 2859: September 14, 2020
Prompt: Write about moving.
We've moved into our new home just going on three years ago now. It took about an full year for us to fully and completely be settled. We moved from an very urban area. Our old home was a 1930's era colonial off the main street about 5 or 6 mins from the downtown area of a small city. The drive to our new place takes us past open fields of farm land before turning into our neighborhood of wide streets and wooded lots. The new property has many mature trees and a yard with a natural flow. The quiet has taken some getting used too. The soundtrack seemed to be missing the hum of traffic and the occasional emergency siren. I have come to love our quiet, residential street with neighbors we wave to on walks, the visits from wild turkey and deer and all of the birds. Moving sucks no matter how you manage it but we definitely made the right decision, a truth that became all the more apparent after two months of quarantine.
I would have lost my mind in our old place. The back deck became a refuge for me during that time. I delighted in watching the birds, discovering that we had an army of yellow finches that swooped down from the trees and ravaged the feeders. It was so calming, in the midst of all the chaos of a world turned upside down over night. I appreciated their bustle and drama as we secluded ourselves from much of the world outside. I don't know how we would have managed at the old place, with our tiny yard and the proximity of the looming apartment houses with their haunting turnover of new faces. I am so grateful we made the move when we did. It had been daunting and scary. It had been exhausting and had taxed us to our limits but today, I can say it had all been for the very best.
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DAY 2234--September 14, 2020
Prompt: Ray Bradbury advises in Zen in the Art of Writing, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
If reality is so bad and destructive, which I agree that it can be at times, why are we seeking it under the guise of believable factor in the books we read and the movies we watch? What is your opinion on the matter?
I used to think I wrote to escape life. I would get caught up in a piece and forget whatever real drama was waiting outside the door for me. My early pieces were departures from my reality. As I began to write more seriously, I found more and more of myself in my stories. I found myself echoing my life. Writing became the way I processed things that happened to me. It was my way of cleaning house, mentally. I believe people seek out authenticity in movies and novels some times because maybe it helps with their own self-reflection in much the same way. Maybe watching something play out in the hands and hearts of other characters is a way of processing our own emotions and reactions. I tend to get the most feedback over the non-fictional pieces I publish more often then any other genre I write in. I can't tell you how many times I've been told a reader could "totally relate" to something I'd written. I think all of us are looking for common connections in life.
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DAY 2238-- September 8, 2020
Prompt: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
As best stories sometimes come out of their authors’ fears, what do you say for writing about one thing that scares you every day? For example, what scares you today?
I feel like nearly every day since becoming a mother, my life dictates that I automatically do at least one thing every day that scares me. Motherhood is one terrifying-as-fuck journey some days for real. I find myself fairly well-rooted in the fear that I am screwing up , even on the days when I grudgingly award myself an A- for parenting at the close of a particularly productive trip around the sun.
As my daughter rapidly approaches puberty, some days I am completely overwhelmed by those fears. We get sidelined by epic shouting matches as she seems compelled to argue with me over the most mundane things. It seems we are destined to never agree on a wide spectrum of topics from, "what shirt goes best with those leggings", or "why chicken nuggets are still chicken" to "why one particular Hamilton cover is in fact, not Sia but some other artist". Sadly, these are all very real examples drawn from actual arguments. I blame our most irrational debates on burgeoning hormones and on my patience and sanity, both of which have been severely compromised in the wake of COVID.
I try not to to think about the fact that she's not even a preteen yet. The truth is that real emotional fireworks haven't started yet and that thought fills me with a numb horror some days. I wonder how we will make it through these coming years, she and I. The anxiety overwhelms me at times and I have to take step back. I have to slow down. I have to acknowledge that we have amazing moments still too. For as much as we may battle, she will still randomly take my hand in the grocery store, unconsciously slipping her delicate fingers through mine. She still prefers to sleep in between us most nights and we one of us will always wake with her lithe body snuggled up against our back or her small face pressed against our neck. As much as she loves time with her friends, she seems content to settle back into time with us after returning from play dates and sleepovers. The graceful and forgiving truth is that,as often as I have seen the budding adolescent in her these past weeks and months, I have also had glimpses of the loving, dependent child she still is in her heart and it gives me a beautiful respite from the fear.
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Day 2853: September 8, 2020
Prompt: It wasn't until I was older that I understood...
It wasn't until I was older that I understood that having expectations of others would be the greatest deterrent to my own happiness. The truth in life is that most people in your will not care about whatever battles you may be facing, what dreams you wish for or what goals you achieve. That has been a hard learned lesson and one I seem bound and determined to keep forgetting. Lately it seems, I'm dealt one reminder or another as to how little I, or anything I may think or feel, matters to the people who would claim to love and care about it. It sounds like I am whining...I'm honestly not. I'm most angry at myself. You see, I am the person who feels compelled to pick up every call, to respond to every text. I "need" to be there, to invest in everyone else - sometimes at my own expense. I am the one condoning the way others make me their second and third choice. There is something inside me that doesn't believe I deserve more sometimes. I thought we got wiser with age but that doesn't seem to be true in my case. I have to keep relearning the same lessons. I have to keep reminding myself not to expect more from other people. I have to remind myself not to be grateful when someone makes me an afterthought.
|Sometimes I dream about running away with all the fever of sex addict living out their most erotic fantasy.
I think that because I would never actually do it, my escape plan has all the vivid color and cinematic prowess of an epic motion picture. Over the years, I’ve honed the fantasy so by now, it is richly woven tale of reinvention set against the backdrop of the great, wide expanse of the American west.
I dream about trading all the ivy league-soaked promises of the East coast to roam amongst the dusty ranches and shadows of great sequoia like a roving tumbleweed. I dream about trading in the confines of an air-conditioned office for big skies, open fields and distance mountain peaks. I dream about becoming a better, leaner version of myself, freed from all my lofty ambitions to live a life in appreciation of sunbaked earth and weathered cowboy boots. Mostly though, I dream of a life free from wanting, wanting to be more than my experiences, wanting to be more than just what most people expect, wanting to be more than I expect from myself.
Somedays the fantasy of living a life untethered, mentally trumps the one where I’m constantly feeling like the girl waving her arms and screaming into the wind just to be seen and heard.
I’ve been waving and screaming my entire life. It’s exhausting.
DAY 2136 May 22, 2020
Some people love chaos, others crave order. Is it the implicit coldness in order that you need or is it the random warmth that gives you a rush in the unknown ? What pattern works for you?
I have always been a person who craves order over chaos. I like planning for what is coming and having a plan B if I'm unsure of a certain outcome. I don't like surprises as a rule. I feel the most centered when I know things are in order in my house and in my life. If I want drama or chaos, I can live that through my writing, and often, I've used that as a kind of escape or an exploration. I get the appeal of the great, wide open...sometimes the thought of running away, taking a chance on the unknown has been tempting. I believe I am a creature best served by order ultimately. I don't mind pressure, or taking calculated risks but chaos isn't my style.
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DAY 2744 May 22, 2020
"The full range of human experience from joy, love, and lust to greed, betrayal, and despair can be expressed in any activity." Do you agree or disagree? What activity best expresses all of them?
I think art, in all its forms, is the most powerful medium available to us for expressing the full range of human emotion. I consider writers as artists as well, I believe they craft with words over paint or clay.
|It seems I've quarantine my own muse these last two months and writing has seemed like a luxury I could ill afford between playing teacher in addition to working from home. I have been taken by surprise by the demands on my time in a time of self-isolating. This week, my state slowly began reopening and with it came a drive to get back to what makes me, well me. That means writing...fitting it in anywhere I can. This forum, and these blogs feel like the best way to come back from what has felt like an extended slumber.
Day 2136 May 21, 2020
Prompt: When do you feel the most creative?
The hour of my highest productivity has changed over the years. In the early days, it was always in the evenings. I would write well into the wee hours, uninterrupted by the hustle of an active house. There was something about the silence that would fuel me. Post motherhood I have found that early mornings are when I am inclined to write more. The dogs get me up before the sun most of the time. The world is quiet and something that grounds me and makes it easier for me to let the words come. I tend to write in my head, securing one or two cornerstone phrases to memory, until I can sit down in front of my computer and put it all together.
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Day 2743 May 21, 2020
I feel pity for....
I have never really like the word "pity", it has negative connotations for me. The people I have pity for make me feel sad, they make me feel empty for them and for my connection to them. I feel pity for my adopted brother who has burned every bridge to anyone that ever loved him in a blind, substance-dependent rage. I feel pity for my mother who has cut herself off from real, meaningful relationships with her children and by proxy, her grandchildren. I feel pity for an ex who turned my admiration and affection to dust with his fists. He lives in a state of regret now that even though I have given him my forgiveness, I could never again give him my friendship. I feel like I have far more compassion for people than pity these days, I believe that to be a good thing.
|Blue skies and sunshine have dominated these last few weeks as my corner of the world slowly and awkwardly embraces a new normal in the wake of COVID-19. While we may not be out of the woods yet, it is hard to ignore the burgeoning hope borne of anticipating shopping trips and movie nights out again. For my daughter, she is most anxious for play dates and time with her friends. This whole thing has been hardest on the kids I believe, especially the ones who do not share their home with siblings. Without brothers or sisters as de facto playmates, our daughter has felt the isolation more keenly than her Dad or I ever could.
As I returned to working in the office full time, she has dutifully packed up her school work and snacks each morning to go in with me. To her credit, she has complained little about trading our spacious home for my narrow office for more hours a day than I wished were necessary. She has adapted to working independently as I shoulder some of the responsibility of helping the company best position itself for the challenges of a post-covid world.
On our commute in this morning, Sara Evan’s “Supernatural” came on the radio. I was instantly transported, through a haze of glossy memory, to a time when I was a newly minted mother. I used to love the rolling, Celtic melody of that song. I played it often back then, it made me feel happy and hopeful. As the tune spilled from the speakers, I was suddenly once again that young woman, slowly dancing across the sun-warmed wood floors in my bare feet, my infant daughter cradled against my chest. I could feel her full head of dark silk tucked under my chin, her tiny, clutching hands at my chest and the side of her perfect face pressed in close to where my heart beat fiercer than it had ever before. It had felt like magical moment suspended in time.
It was that kind of tactile memory that floods your every sense. The kind you experience as a flash of time when you can feel it all again, with every cell of your being. I believe those type of memories are gifts, bestowed on us by the benevolent beings when we need them the most.
With my throat thick with emotion, I flicked my eyes to the rear view, trying to reconcile that tiny baby with the growing girl in the back seat. I can still see her in those soot dark lashes and sloping brow. The soft curls are gone and so it the round, cherub face. My daughter, closing in on age 11, is morphing into a strong and graceful beauty. She has an athleticism that inspires me, a quick wit that delights me and a kind heart that melts my own. Those tiny clutching fingers have grown into lovely slender digits that flit effortlessly over piano keys and nimbly type out text messages to her friends. She is reaching that age where she begins to move farther from me as she meets more and more of the world head-on.
There are times though when the child reveals itself, more so during the time of this quarantine. It seems that the swift and uncertain turn of her world has regressed her in some small ways. For example, she has insisted on falling asleep between us again, as if it gives her a measure of extra comfort at the end of these strange days. She seems to want the physical contact with us more, bestowing random kisses and full armed hugs, when she had taken to shying away from them before. In other ways, she’s dropped her guard. At times her growing maturity has suddenly slipped to reveal the child again. Just the other day on a hike with her Dad, she was startled by a snake crossing the trail in front of her and it was as if the shock of it turned her into a panicked child again. She ran screaming and crying up the trail. She would only be calmed by a piggyback ride from her father, well past the part of the trail where the offending creature had disappeared into the brush.
If there are positives to take away from a pandemic like this, it is the time we have been given to spend with our daughter, to focus on and enjoy the moments of quiet and chaos that come with her growing up. It has made me pay more attention to the precious balance of life and the amazing gift of lucid memories. There might even be something almost something supernatural about it all….
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|Our little girl woke up this morning with a wide grin, ready to embrace her double-digit birthday with open arms. She proudly flashed the crisp $20.00 bill left under her pillow by the tooth fairy, informing me with unrestrained glee, that “she usually gets $5.00” and “she must have left me extra because she knew it was my birthday!” She then proceeded to get dressed in her school uniform, humming loudly all the while and taking frequent breaks to gush over Lola who watched her with an equally unrestrained adoration.
Her mood might have been elated but mine felt far more subdued. This birthday feels different. I do not feel ready to embrace the double digits, the doorway to all thing’s “tween”. I am not ready for her to begin a new journey that will end in her leaving behind the childish trappings of her youth. I ache with the bittersweet notions of those coming losses, those casualties of her growing up…not far off now it seems as she marks this milestone. After depositing her, and her birthday donuts, at the classroom door, I found myself fighting back tears on the way back to my car. As much as I want to share in her enthusiasm, I feel so much like a mother on the brink of something I am not prepared for and it has left me feeling uncharacteristically unmoored.
These days I am struck by all the small things that mark her changing. While she still prefers to clamber into our bed at night, she has begun going to sleep in her own room. She has taken to wearing a sleep mask she got for Christmas. It has a wild, purple zebra pattern that looks at odds with the little girl sleep smile she wears. I check on her to find that, even in sleep she has begun to straddle some invisible line between the child and the young girl. One of her arms is wrapped tightly around her stuffed horse Roo and the other is draped loosely around her dog Lola, that flashy eye mask firmly in place.
This week she asked me to paint her nails. She has managed to grow them at last, despite barn chores and piano lessons. The nail polish I had at hand was a perhaps a shade to dark for her, but she still brandished them proudly. As far as I can tell, they are her only real vanity in the otherwise athletic and unadorned style that she’s adopted as her own.
Last night at the barn she went about her chores as usual, taking a break when a song came on she liked to “dance with Roo”. I had to laugh at her antics, her silly made-up moves that garnered only the most casual glances from her munching horse. He is growing used to his child, the one who covers his soft nose with kisses and prattles about his stall, talking about her day even though he is far more interested in his hay. Still, I seem him turn to watch her with his large brown eyes, his curiosity as clearly evident as his affection for her. At times he seems to have this expression that says, “yup, that’s my kid…that weird, wonderful, chatty little being right there”, and I find myself in a complete and kindred agreement with our gentle gelding.
Watching her this morning, I found myself thinking, “Yup, that’s my child…that’s my silly, kind, smart, crazy, loveable, “on the verge of something wonderful” …little being right there.”
I don’t know how much longer she will believe in the tooth fairy. I don’t know when she will retire her stuffed animals or when I will stop finding her wrapped around me like a koala in the night. I do not know how much longer she will break into those random fits of wild dancing. For now, I celebrate those things and I feverishly document them…leave my testimonies in electronic ink so I will have them always. While I might not be 100% ready for double digits, I know I am more than grateful, more than blessed for the opportunity to be part of it all.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 30th
Congratulations on making it to the last day of the competition! What was your favorite prompt from the last month? Did you learn anything new about your fellow competitors? What was the most rewarding aspect of participating in the competition?
Welp, I almost made it through blogging every day...with the exception of every day from last Thursday until today. I'm just going to catch up with this last entry though because it is the most important one of the last several I have missed.
I think my favorite prompt was one that challenged me the most - about the toughest decision that I had to make. It took me a while to get through it and ultimately it gave me something to look back on I think I needed.
This has been a difficult undertaking this month but I am glad I put myself out there. I continue to be impressed by my fellow writers, their honestly and their warmth, their battles and their achievements. I've looked forward to reading their responses and been overwhelmed with their comments on my entries as well.
I would like to thank Charlie... 🌈 for his candid and insightful blogs about not only his struggles with his approaching graduation but with being an introvert in a world that is often unforgivingly obtrusive. I wish him all the best and will always be a fan.
Carol St. Ann Loved her take on so many of the prompts and appreciated the kind feedback she often left on mine. I am envious of her close-knit group of friends and the wonderful ways in which they keep in contact.
So many of Eric Wharton blogs made me laugh, always enjoyable insights and clever humor.
Apondia Commented on many of my entries with encouraging words and it was much appreciated.
I thank all my fellow bloggers for putting themselves out there, for inspiring me to complete a blog when I wasn;t feeling it by making the effort themselves. And for reading...always reading and taking the time to comment. That is always a gift from one writer to another, to let them know they've affected you in some way.
Wishing all a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 27th
Write about a time when you surprised yourself with your abilities. Is there a specific time you can remember when you were convinced that you could not do something, and then you did it? Tell us!
I've been struggling with this prompt this morning, not because I have done so many things but because I was never raised to believe I could not do something. My parents subscribed to the adage that "you can be or do anything you want in life if you work hard enough" philosophy. The concept of there being something I was "convinced I couldn't do", is the part I am wrangling with. It is a bit idealist and unrealistic to believe I could have done anything of course. I don't think I could have ever been an astronaut or professional athlete for example but I also never would have pursued such things in the first place, so how would I have ever known? It seems more apt that I've been surprised by my ability to do something, or that I've done something and gotten far better results that I had expected too.
One thing that comes to mind is my semester project during my time at the University of Hilo, Hawaii. We had to work as a team to complete a density of life and diversity study on the reef at Richard's Bay. We had to lay out quadrants along a section of the reef. Then, we had to take turns identifying and counting all the organisms that appeared in every square meter of it. We did this by snorkeling just below the surface and laying down a metered square of PVC piping and recording every single element of biolife we saw, over and over again, over the entire area.
It was difficult work. The metered square was awkward and it floated up and moved with the current if you didn't grasp it tightly. The surf was often rough and it took a lot of effort to stay in place and not slip off location. The sun on our backs was unforgiving and the sunscreen had to be reapplied more often than we could afford to stop. We eventually opted for wearing t-shirts instead, which restricted movement more on the most tricky sections of reef. You had to watch out for sea urchins which were plentiful and fire coral, which was everywhere and could leave you with very nasty skin abrasions. There was always the chance encounter with sharks or moral eels to be wary off too. The weather often did not cooperate and rain and rougher seas could make focusing very difficult. The days were very long and we were all exhausted by the time our afternoons on the reef were done. We also still had to write the paper and publish our findings and the project was to be our entire grade for the course.
By the end, our team of three was nearly wrung out with the efforts. The was only one day left to complete the last section and we had only 5 hours to do it in. We were also down a team member, Ray, was out with a stomach flu. It fell to me and my teammate Heather, to get the field work completed on time. We worked in shifts on the worst weather day we had seen. A particularly strong surf had slammed us both into the coral heads and bounced us off the bottom in the more shallow sections. We were exhausted and bloodied. I remember thinking that we would never finish. After my last break I sat, nursing my blazing elbow with my back and shoulders on fire, thinking how much I hated the thought of going back in. Everything hurt and I felt water logged and nauseous. I honestly entertained fudging the remainder of my line, just duplicating data from random sections and moving from the field to the paper writing early. Then Heather came back up, her face whipped raw but her eyes bright behind her mask. She handed me the counting square, smiled and said, "last fucking run baby!". I pulled on my mask and fins, gave her a high five and slipped over the side.
I'm not sure how I made it through that last 40 minutes, I just did. We took that final data and together our team plotted the results and produced our findings. And we kicked ass. The professor called out our team for all the effort and hard work. The three of us stood beaming in front of the class while he lavished praise on our work. I remember thinking at the start of the semester, if there was ever an instructor I had wanted to impress more than anyone, it was this guy. I had made my impression and I was thrilled. Looking back over all the data, I was really surprised at what we had accomplished and at how I had been able to rally and push myself that last day on the reef.