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Category Archives: Random Musings

Word Prompt: Library

Will the library ever disappear, fade quietly into extinction like the dodo bird or the woolly mammoth? Will children fifty years from now know what a library is? Why it was here for communities to gather and share a common love? Will they know the musty aroma of an old, weighted tome? The feel of brittle paper flaking at the corner edge?

I admit it’s more than a dozen moons since I visited a library, but on some days I’m compelled to go, driven by the fear that those doors will soon close because of negligent people like me. People who get too busy to borrow a book, much less read it. It’s possible I might get more reading done if I was willing to use a Kindle, but I have no interest in staring at another screen. I stare into a computer’s glare for nine hours a day, five days a week. I don’t equate “screens” with leisure. I view them as work. I want the firm binding in my palm and the tactile experience of touching cool, crisp paper as I turn it with my forefinger when I read a book. I want to anticipate what I’ll find in the next page when I flip it over. In a tangible book, I can lose myself within the characters’ world. I can’t lose myself in an electronic device. There is something cold and impersonal about it. I don’t want to reside among ones and zeros and metal drives. I want to rest my hand in a book’s open arms. I want to stroll through open aisles to browse titles, running my fingers over cracked leather and glossy paperback bindings. Feeling texture, smelling hundreds of ideas collected under one roof. Being among like-minded people who come to the library to find their next adventure.

I hope these simple pleasures never disappear, but as technologies hypnotize the youngest generation at infancy, I wonder if they’ll eventually view libraries as wasted space. Why should books dwell on shelves when they can be stored in clouds. Because clouds can’t be touched by human hands, because they dissipate and separate from themselves. Clouds separate us  from our communities on the ground, wedging us farther from each other. But a physical book can be touched by many lives, connecting us as one.

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Word Prompt: Mt. Everest

My Mt. Everest is writing a book. I’ve been working on it for eleven years. Penned multiple versions, and I’m never satisfied with where the story goes, though it stays the same because there are some characters and scenes that will never change They’re implanted deep in the psyche, wedged in folds of my brain like little worms. Parasites. Did you know Mt. Everest hosts parasites? My Mt. Everest does.

It’s cold and frigid on the climb. Sometimes, I want to give up. I camp on an icy ledge for six months to a year. I need a break from the arduous trek through jumbled words, turbulent emotions, black anger oozing from my heart. I mislead myself. I think the mountain might move away and disappear; every morning, I emerge from my tent and there it looms. Still there. Still a long way from the top no matter how close I think I’m getting. I’m never close enough. The peak keeps calling. Like Sirens at sea, it lures me to pack up my things, to take more steps toward its frozen crest. I’m tempted. Determined one day to reach the top, if not to raise my arms in victory, at least to see the view.

And should I fall before I reach my destination, the plunge will be my greatest descent, through which I’ll spread my arms to feel the rush of subzero winds flying across my sides as I crash into my final resting place, the very spot where it all began.

Word Prompt: a Bridge

A bridge is a chance to connect, to bring two places together and write them as one continuous path. It links places and people. Brings all to common ground. Or air. There might be cloud bridges. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never walked in the sky. I’ve flown in planes – maybe they’re mobile bridges, transporting us from one journey to the next.

We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. That’s what adults used to say when I was little. I always wondered where those bridges were. The bridge that linked me with the science project that was due in four weeks. Or to the solutions for how to be in two places at once. Like swim team and horse camp in the summer. How could I do both? When we crossed the bridge, I used to assume.

I don’t say we’ll cross a bridge. At least I don’t think I do. I’m more apt to build the bridge and carve the paths where I have to go to accomplish something. Waiting for someone else to build the bridge could mean I’m waiting forever. It takes some cities ten and twenty years to build one measly bridge. Seems like a long time to wait before you can cross something and get to the other side.

Word Prompt: Australia

“Aww, bloody hell, the takeaway is outta whiting. Looks like we’ll be having prawns, unless you fancy calamari or a roasted chook.”

“I could go for a bug, if you’ve got those.”

“Nah, you don’t want ’em here. Morton Bay’s where you go for bugs.”

“Ah, okay, prawns are fine. I don’t eat chook.”

“You don’t eat chook?”

“No, I don’t eat meat.”

“Don’t eat meat? Are you mental? Who doesn’t eat meat?”

“A vegetarian.”

“A what? How do you survive?”

“Eating fruits, veggies, grains, yoghurt, cheese.”

“How do you eat those without meat? And isn’t fish a meat?”

“Some schools of thought don’t classify it as a ‘meat’ because it isn’t raised on land. It’s not my first choice for protein, but it’s the lesser of evils on the menu board over there.”

“I don’t get why you’d want to torture yourself like that. Most blokes over here would reckon you’re a wanker if you can’t enjoy a nice rack of lamb or crusted steak pie.”

“Blokes can reckon all they want, I suppose. Doesn’t bother me.”

“I suppose firing up the ol’ barbie tonight won’t do you much good.”

“I can grill veggies.”

“Vegetables? Are you taking the piss?”

“Not at all. I grill vegetables all the time at home. Squash, Portabello mushrooms, asparagus, kale.”

“Gee, mate, I reckon you have some strange ways of living in America. If you can call that living.”

“Aww, well, that’s the beauty of visiting different places. Gives me a chance to see how the rest of the world lives.”

“And where do you reckon Australia lands in where you’ve been?”

“I can’t really compare it against those places. Australia’s always been dear to me. It’s my second home.”

“A home away from home. Well said, mate.”

Word Prompt: Change

Change takes me from the hills of Spanish tiles and stucco, nine miles of gridlock traffic, and ten hours of computer screen comas to a handcrafted table on an open deck, overlooking an endless landscape of the vast Aussie bush. Flat farmlands to the left graced with white cockatoos flying overhead. A magpie perched on the balcony ledge, warbling a high-pitch whistle to earn its morning food. The clearest blue skies, unmarred by smog, and low, silver-lined clouds coasting toward the open sea, which lingers beyond my view.

Ghost trees, their ashy bark pale and smooth, waving to the cockatoos, their tall and spindly limbs bending to a breeze’s whim. Rustling dainty leaves like a fanned paintbrush pointed toward the sky. Crisp crystal air, slightly damp from morning dew, kissing my cheek as I take the first sip of milky espresso and think, this is a life.

Is it a life I could have every day? Away from the movie screens and TV shows, Gucci people, and fellow creatives, who breathe and sleep our industry – the industry that courses through my blood and gives me new life when a new project or the updated draft pings my inbox, sealed with hopeful greetings from a writer in search of his next job. Could I give that up to sit here on this deck every day? Give everything I’ve worked for an opportunity to blow away, far across the ocean in a much different world with unparalleled priorities? I have clawed against, begrudgingly succumbed to, and drifted aimlessly with change for a seamless number of days. I have learned it’s useless to swim against the currents. I fall in line with the tides and wait for the waves to pass or calm, using the breaks to wade toward unexplored channels and climb on drier lands.

Though this deck calls me home, I’m not ready to swim from the nocturnal glow of streetlights, blocks of ethnic clusters, and hustling city avenues. The tides bring me to the serenity of now to merely escape awhile, appreciate what exists, and reinvigorate a weary, burnt-out soul before it takes another plunge into the choppy waves and explores deeper sands in the next phase of life.

 

Word Prompt: Slime

Slime oozes, fuses, and flows from buckets, sewers, and pipes. Blazing lime green and electric blue rivers of coagulated goo pour into streets and invade sparkling kitchen floors. People scream and jump on chairs, whose feet erode in the chemical flood.

Slime sparks pandemonium not unlike the stinky black sludge that spews from toilets and sinks when the sewer pipeline is clogged. But slime reigns the fear factor, the unknown and uncontrollable glue-like surge feeding off the sobs and tears of shrieking women and shouting men, who bark, “what the hells is that?!”

Slime takes no time to explain itself. It has homes to eat and streets to bury. A mad scientist to please. Few are aware that slime is a yes man. Or thing. A yes thing. A doer. Sometimes even a do-it-yourselfer.

Slime bubbles and gurgles, meanders and slides down hills, climbs walls when it can. Slime overtakes everything. It’s a mess to clean up. A sight to behold when the HAZMAT team arrives to survey their job. Men in shiny body suits and gas masks uncertain where to begin. Sucking up the ooze into giant trucks. Where it will go, no one really knows.

Word Prompt: a Basement

Where the creepy-crawly slither. Leaving slimy trails on dusty concrete floors. Spiders climbing up the walls to spin their sticky traps. Bump. Creak. What was that? The sound of ghosts and monsters living in the room where no one of the human kind would ever call his home. Wooden shelves with rusty tools. Torture weapons for the sickest souls. A gurney in the corner – the one that put old grandmothers to sleep. A box of wooden dolls with doped eyes and blood-red lips. Waiting to come alive when the moon is full and the clock strikes twelve. They’ll dance and jeer and call down the little ones to play their demented games. While the cackling witch stirs her soupy cauldron, plotting her double date with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And a werewolf howls. Scratches at the door. Begging to be let inside. Where ghouls and goblins take inventory of the madness and weave together a horrific tale within the darkest closets of our hostage minds.