Tag Archives: courage

My Privilege

A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:

  • I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
  • I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
  • I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
  • I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
  • I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
  • I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
  • I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
  • I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
  • I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
  • I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
  • I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
  • I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
  • I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
  • I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
  • I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
  • I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
  • I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
  • I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
  • I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
  • I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
  • I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
  • I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
  • I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
  • I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
  • I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
  • I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
  • I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
  • I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
  • I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
  • I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
  • I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
  • I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
  • I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
  • I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
  • I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
  • I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
  • I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
  • I am privileged after all.
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Life as a fictional character.


I don’t know which is harder to endure, sitting still and watching life fly by in a haphazard whirlwind of confusion or getting on your blistered, war ravaged feet day after day and traversing towards that mysterious goal you set out to accomplish. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking, remaining stagnant where you stand, hoping for something to come your way to lift your spirits or leaving what is familiar, what is safe and what you know will be there when you open your eyes the next morning. I cannot bear to stand these quandaries.

Sometimes I wonder if every human is confronted with perpetual crossroads, if the decisions we have to make are merely a cosmic joke told by the Grand Jokester to keep things interesting, or they actually mean something important and are not to be taken lightly. I always felt that my life is akin to a never-ending maze of sharp corners and wicked speed bumps followed by tumultuous alleyways and finally rounded off by a series of burning rings that I must jump through. I don’t mean to be dramatic. I don’t mean to sound as if my life is harder than anyone here in the audience and to be honest I am not even voicing a trivial complaint. I think it’s alright to question the cosmos once or twice. Hell, the only bad question is the one that’s never asked.

I guess it would be nice to saunter down that smooth, cobble-stoned walkway once every few months or so, just to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be a sharp kick in the ass. The first twenty-nine years of my life I convinced myself that hard times make you tough, make you strong and that it will put hair on your chest. I usually welcome those moments when I go face-to-face with the gods and clash my sword against their shields and listen to the metallic ring of victory. But there are times I don’t wish to do battle because I do not want to put up a fight.

I am thirty now and I am tough. On a good day I am strong, and there is too much hair on my chest, I shave it once and awhile but it grows back thicker and will itch like something else so I let it grow ginzo style because I know women love hairy men.

Please do not misunderstand where I am trying to come from. I don’t want an easy life. I never wanted the path of least resistance because without some of the trials and tribulations I would not be the man I am today. Personally I don’t envy those boys and girls who never know what it’s like to have hardships. It certainly gives you a much better perspective on adulthood and you’re more apt to appreciate the things you do have in this world.

They say it’s about choices. It’s all about choices and nothing else. What about circumstances? What about luck? What about all that bullshit I hear about parents abandoning their children? What about poverty? Disease? Handicaps? Addictions? Are not all these factors somewhat involved with the so-called choices we make? I can’t sit here and write to you people and tell you I have stood my ground and avoided stupidity like one avoiding an avalanche. Because it would be untruthful and it would contradict the mission that has been ingrained in my heart to help those suffering.

I make dumb decisio’s every day.

My point is I want to be at peace with myself. Even for one week. For one week I want to roll out of bed with gusto and smell the flowers and all that malarkey. I want to throw open the bedroom door and inhale deeply and whistle my ass into the shower. I want to have breakfast with a beautiful woman who thinks I am the greatest creature in the universe. I need the life that Lyle Lovett was singing about when he croaked over cream in his coffee and flour tortillas and Sunday mornings and how his chick knew him better than anyone else. That’s the life I secretly wish for.

But I am a fictional character. There is a curse to those of us who sit down and scribe our thoughts and musings and tell tales of grandeur. When you spend most of your time inventing worlds of make-believe and the entire goings on involved with said world, you can accept your talent and bask in the god-like glory of being the mastermind behind every masterpiece your nimble fingers create…or you can become depressed because the lives you invent are not reality. They are figments of another place and another time, and if you dwell on them too long, you may wind up sitting in a padded room while brutish nurses feed you horse tranquilizers and your hair grows old and grey. By that time no self-respecting American women will have you.

Yet there is a certain glory to it all. There is a sense of accomplishment and peacefulness. There is a part of me that loves to create and to fantasize and to make pretend. I guess this is what helps me stay young and sane and in-tune with my Zen-like nature. As someone who fabricates stories I have many characters running around the confines of my skull and they are all pushing and shoving and vying for position. Each one serves a purpose, each one was created at a certain low point in my life, and sometimes they cannot be found when I am in dire straits to help assuage those hard choices I mentioned earlier.

I think this is where most of us writers go awry and become unfulfilled. We spend hours upon hours pretending to live in the stories we write. We daydream about living out the lives we give our protagonists and all the while neglect our own realities. I won’t speak for all of you, but I know that when I come to a proverbial fork in the road, I will shut my eyes and seek advice from someone I created, yes I am fully aware of how it sounds, but I don’t care, because I know some of you will understand where I am coming from. I think most people do this type of meditation but are too afraid to admit it.

I travel often. I am what they call a drifter, a hopeless wanderer, a man who searches when his heart cries out for something new. I drove across America last year and spent three months on the road. I loved it dearly and managed to come up with several wonderful ideas for novels. Adventure makes me feel whole. When I feel my feet sinking into the sands of monotony I pack my meager belongings into boxes and move on. I will be leaving my residence shortly to regain something I had lost over the past several months. I will take those characters with me and they shall comfort me when darkness creeps over the vastness of earth and eclipses the sun.

Forks and crossroads.

They can be friend and they could be foe. But it’s just a matter of perspective. Isn’t it?    


Trifecta Challenge: Jonathan’s cane

Trifecta week eighty-six: Write a 33-333 word response using the third definition of the word “crack” as your prompt. *This story was nominated as the Second Place winner for the week! 🙂

Haunting echoes of plastic striking wooden floor beams reverberated throughout Jonathon’s humble abode. Each step was taken in doubt, every inch he progressed was a shot in the dark, it was the blind leading the proverbial blind.

Sofa on the left, chest on the right, move forward three yards and it should be there. He had to remind himself where everything was placed. His aide, a young woman with a soft angelic voice, explained the layout. The sight was gone, but the memory, that wickedly deceiving memory was sharp as the Nautilus. Three, two, one…bingo. The starched cuff on Jonathon’s flannel retreated from his wrist as he leaned forward to grab the window frame. Using his sense of touch he carefully searched for locks. When his arthritic fingers located the small mechanisms he unlatched them and opened the window. Fresh air hovered around his face and he inhaled the scent of wildflowers and pine needles. He inhaled deeply. Invigoration took control and memories swirled about his brain.

With a great sigh he bowed his head and imagined walking out of rehab and into the world below his room. Smells like urine around here. But out there, deep in the wilderness, smells like freedom. Go ahead, who’s going to stop you?

He couldn’t. He had made a promise to her.

Keeping his hands on the chilled glass he felt the crack in one of the panes. Have to stop losing your temper champ because it doesn’t do you any good to get upset. It was dull to the touch yet threatened to slice skin if one prodded too much. Jonathon ran a thumb over it hoping to feel something familiar. He was desperate for anything to remind him he was alive. He pressed down harder and waited for blood to flow.

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Trifecta Challenge: Beautiful disaster

Trifecta: Week sixty-three: Write a 33-333 word response using the word path as your prompt word. Music to read by: “Below my feet” performed by Mumford and Sons. This story is 333 words. 

The man with something to prove cursed under his breath as the six o’clock train pulled away from Grand Central without him.  A boy with bright red hair watched with impartiality from inside one of the cars and gave the unlucky ticket holder a sarcastic wave goodbye. With a weary smile, he returned the wave and flipped the goofy looking teenager the dirty bird. Upon seeing this treacherous act of war the child turned to the person sitting next to him and began to tattle, but the mechanical beast made of metal and all things nightmarish, roared down the track and the tiny spat between the two strangers ended forever.

The next train heading south into Savannah wasn’t scheduled to leave for another eight hours. Mickey closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose and waited for the small, yet debilitating pain, to form in the back of his skull. He took a seat near a family of pay phones and wished he had chosen another path. His way of life, conduct and thought process were affected by whatever drink was placed before him.

“Breathe buddy. Just breathe. You’re going to be OK. ” He chanted to himself in a sing-song way. Jenna had taught him mantras and breathing exercises to help relieve some of his tension. On instinct, he reached into his breast pocket for the flask of vodka. It was not there.

“You’re a beautiful disaster Mickey. I love you, but I can’t tolerate this behavior anymore. The children are growing up without their father, you need to get help.”

Tears formed around the corners of his swollen eyes as he remembered the way she looked when she told him to leave. Dark hair covered her soft cheeks, eyes full of empathy, her heart full of undying love.

The world knew him as a successful author, his children knew him as a successful drunk, and his wife knew him as a beautiful disaster. A spark ignited his desperate heart.

                 


Trifecta Challenge: On a quiet farm in Paraguay

The Village Boy.

Trifecta Week: Fifty-one: Write a 33 word response to one of the three pictures provided. If you click on the linked picture, it will bring you to the Trifecta Writing Challenge homepage so you can see the other two!  I chose this one.

Pablo watched his father argue with the stranger from his position on the dilapidated tractor. He pretended to drive the mammoth entity with childlike amazement, despite the obvious bad news his family received.


Rose of Sharon

Authors note: Music to read by “There’s no place like home” Michael Giacchino

Wicked dreams invaded her sleep. The nightmares had been going on for some time, and there was nothing she could do to stop them.  Every night, when the moon would creep over the horizon and extinguish the comfort of the sun, great waves of fear would wash over her soul. Sweat would soak the nape of her beautiful neck as she ascended the staircase one step at a time. Shadows would play tricks on her mind, causing her to see things that weren’t there, hear things that could never exist. Her house was very quiet after dusk and making noise would only summon ghosts, she tread lightly in pink, cotton slippers.

Rose of Sharon was an exceptionally gorgeous young woman filled with brains, courage and up until recently, a sound mind. When the clocks in her home struck the coming of bedtime, she prayed silently for one night’s sleep without waking up screaming. The vodka had helped but was wreaking havoc on her body, the hypnotist was a waste of money and the dream catchers she had purchased from the Indian reservation were malfunctioning.

Her mother had loved John Steinbeck’s novel Grapes of Wrath, so she named her daughter Rosasharn and spelled it exactly the way he had. She figured a child with three first names was more likely to be bullied than anything else.

The troubled girl put a kettle of hot water on the stove and waited for it to boil. She was drinking herbal teas to help relax her body before attempting to fall sleep. She took a seat at the kitchen table and looked at the black and white photo of her mother sitting on the counter. She loved her mom desperately, and could almost hear her whispering quietly in her ear like she had when she was a child. “Rosasharn, my sweet Rosasharn, sleep well precious one…you are special don’t ever forget that.”  

She slipped her cheek into her hand and tried not to cry as memories of her mother flooded her vision. Her dark hair was hanging loosely so she took a strand and twirled it in her fingers. When steam erupted from the teapot, she poured herself a cup and dipped and dangled the small teabag until brown liquid floated around in delicate circles. The hour was approaching and a tiny knot began to form in her rock solid stomach. If her mother had been alive, she would have asked her to sleep beside her to stay away the demons. She wasn’t embarrassed by this terrible fear of hers. She had confided in her boyfriend once, but he had laughed and told her to take some sleeping pills. She never broached the subject again. She was alone in this battle for sanity and dread overtook Rose of Sharon’s heart.

After finishing her tea and making it safely to her bedroom, she flipped off the light and climbed underneath the Egyptian cotton sheets. Once her eyes adjusted to the hellish darkness, she gazed around to make sure the boogeyman was not lurking in a corner, or worse, underneath her bed. She checked her cell phone to see if he had wished her goodnight. He had not.

Pulling the blankets up to her chin for warmth, she looked out into the night’s sky and noticed the full moon staring down at her, burning into her retinas. Her mother used to tell her that the moon was Gods bellybutton. She giggled at the stupid, but sweet memory. She felt good tonight and maybe sleep would come without any repercussions. The tea was working its’ magic and numbness spread up her toes and towards her neckline. It was only an hour before she began to dream.

Lightning bolted across the clear desert sky and was not followed by thunder. There were no clouds, no rain, all was still. Streams of electricity dominated the atmosphere, not even a god could survive the onslaught of sheer power. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was being played on a piano somewhere and the music reverberated into the thunder-less world.

 Rose of Sharon walked down the valley of death in a white dress and matching white sneakers, oblivious to the raging war above her head, she hummed along to the depressing music. The trail she followed was endless in length, but she marched on in order to find the pianist and demand to know the reason for playing such a sad song, a terribly haunting song. One she had heard in all of her dreams.

 Rattle snakes watched her carefully from coiled positions along the side of the path. Their tongues never left their deceitful little mouths, and their eyes were fiery red with hatred. Hundreds of them sat frozen as the woman in white trudged onward. Their eyes never left her. She was terrified of snakes and took note on how they remained human like.

 As she progressed up the dusty trail, she encountered a house that reminded her of her own home back on planet earth. There was a small lawn, white picket fence, and the ominous piano sat on the front yard. Only it was not her home, it was his home. He was sitting with his back towards her playing the song over and over again on his Baby Grand. She had walked hundreds of miles in mere seconds and hadn’t seen any buildings or people. But now she had found him.

As she drew closer to the compound, the man stopped for a moment and straightened his back. This caused her to halt for a moment.

“So young lady, you’ve managed to find me. You have been searching for a long time, haven’t you Rosasharn?” He said in a very deep voice.

“How do you know my name?” She said while walking slowly towards him.

“Oh, you’ll find that I know a lot of things. I know where you were born, where you went to school, how your mother died. Little things like that. But don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone her dirty little secret.” The mysterious being told her. He had yet to face her.

“She had no secrets, she was a saint. What are you talking about? Is that why I have so many nightmares?”     

The creature said nothing but went back to his melody. She began cautiously towards the large instrument.

“Go no further. I have been sick and I don’t want to infect you.”

 Noiseless lightning flashed and flickered. The snakes had begun to slither closer.

 “I want you to tell me why I have these dreams, what does this have to do with my mother? And why do you keep playing that song?” She said and was immediately overtaken with unquenchable fear.

 “…Many people think this song was written because he was extremely sad. I think Beethoven experienced some sort of inexplicable joy and this was the masterpiece that was created in his heart. As to your other questions, your mother is the one haunting you. She knows you have a special gift and is trying to deter you from utilizing it.” He said matter-of-factly.

The young woman stood dumbfounded and quite alone. Things began to move and come alive in the distance. She wanted to wake up but could not find the strength.

“Why are you fearful child?”

“Why won’t you face me?” She said to the back of his head. Her voice began to quiver and her right arm began to feel tight as if some unseen force was squeezing it.

 “I’m very sick, dying actually. Won’t you come in for some tea?”

 She looked up at the house and began to back away. Something was not right, her chest heaved and her knees shook. Rattling grew louder and things began to move in the windowsills.

 “No, I want to go home.” She cried. Her arm began to hurt more and more.

  The creature turned around and she screamed.

 “But darling… you are home.”

 

He let himself into her house, she had given him a key for their anniversary. When he opened the door to her bedroom, she was kicking underneath the covers and moaning softly. He tiptoed into the room and sat on the bed and gently touched her arm in order to wake her up. He knew she was having another nightmare. The doctor told him to do it in a non-aggressive way so she wouldn’t react badly. When she told him about the dreams it broke his heart.  All he could do was sit and wait for her to awake from it. He touched her forehead with a cold rag and rubbed her shivering body. He wished he could take them away so she would be at peace.

“Rosasharn, it’s me love. Wake up baby.” The man bowed his head and prayed for her.


Of broken things.

Photography by Gabriel circa 2011

               Authors note: Hello my fellow bloggers and word-nerds, this short romantic fiction piece was something of a whim. I loved writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it. It may be the start of a new book and so please leave some feedback. This is my 50th posting on the Papparaci, thank you for reading my work and making me feel like a writer.          

He wondered about the broken things. Feeling like something shattered in her heart, he contemplated on how to fix it, and, if she wanted them repaired by the person who caused the damage in the first place.  The man realized the situation for what it was, he ‘d wished nothing but happiness for her, yet felt he had done something to cause her to back away. To slowly retreat back into obscurity, leaving questions unanswered. He hoped it wasn’t something he said in passing. He prayed it wasn’t because the emotions he left dangling on his sleeves.

Remembering how it was on the beach, with seagulls soaring and tumultuous waves crashing along the warm Long Island Sound, he thought back to those days and the ones that followed. How happy this short, caring man was in the months which followed. With every sunrise, hope arose too. With every closing of the day, peace lifted him out of the haze of solitude. Yes, it’s safe to say that in those days, he had reached a great summit and had found happiness in her company. He was reluctant to release these feelings of euphoria to any other but himself. Not that he was a selfish man, but finding comfort in someone so wonderful, so near to his own heart, well, it was a hard cross to bear.

They had spoken less and less in the coming weeks. Much to his discontent, he understood the reasons. At least he thought he did. Certain facts could not go unnoticed, how would a beaked nose, old soul compete with such a person? With nothing to offer but love and companionship, he stood gallantly with his hands in his pockets and tried not to weep.

He had done plenty of that in front of her and this caused him no small amount of shame and embarrassment. He couldn’t seem to help it though. Whenever she was in his presence, his whole body reacted in odd ways. He was normally an introverted, quiet man who said little about himself and usually found it hard to fit in with crowds. No one really knew the things this man had endured; his sensitivity was not a sign of weakness, but rather a testament to the inner strength that kept him going day by day. He wasn’t afraid to show her raw emotions. He felt the world lacked true love and to be able to show it to someone was life’s greatest gift. Besides, they were mostly happy tears, mixed and mingled with a touch of melancholy.

But it was different with her. Friendship had blossomed and seeds of something much grander were planted in his heart. Joy, peace and wholeness seemed to wash over his abandoned soul making him a king in some obscure way. He knew deep down that these feelings may not be reciprocated, but took a chance. For a time they were, there was laughter and jokes, stories and romance. They shared dinner and coffee and in some way, mended one another. He wanted to tell her these things, but was afraid she would misunderstand.

How agonizingly happy he was for her, how thankful and appreciative he was because of the kindness she had showed him. She had been his best friend for a time, but like many other good things, it couldn’t last. He wanted to express himself but didn’t know how. Thinking of the way her hair danced in the wind and the way her eyes told many stories, he put something down on paper. Maybe, just maybe, she might read it and feel comforted knowing there was somebody who thought the world of her.