Friday, October 31, 2008

Almost Viceless

Since this theme was suggested, I have been wondering what on earth can I list as a vice? It's the unfortunate downside of being so close to perfect. My one cup of morning coffee is a pleasant ritual; my sweet tooth is an reflection of my sweet nature...You can only imagine what my poor husband goes through having to live with someone with no known vices.

But if I had to imagine a vice that would possibly fit into my life, I suppose it would be my hopeless, constant need for the television to be on. No one--least of all my cerebral husband--understands this. Most of the time, I don't even watch or care what is on TV, I just want it on. Of course, I watch plenty of programs, occasionally get hooked on a few and move on--but the need to have distant voices fill my home is an entirely different tale.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time alone. Not just without friends my age--but without anyone. While many children of my generation were latch key kids, being babysat by TV while parents worked; I was home alone afraid to answer the phone lest news of my brother's death greeted me. Most of my brother's first four years were spent in various hospitals. I was there with him and my mom for the greater part of those years. But those times that my mom couldn't have me along, I'd stay home alone with little chores, promising not to answer the door--no matter how hard people knocked--and not answer the phone unless it rang once, hung up and called right back again. I knew then, at the tender age of 6, that I did not like house work. Nor did I like being alone, in silence. It did not take me long to find a world of friends with stories and adventures in the safety of my home. Since my literacy level limited my reading roster, I threw myself into the stories and lives of television characters. I fell in love with storytelling of almost any kind. Once the TV was on, I could forget everything that was going on around me and drown in unlikely stories and adventures. I didn't mind staying home alone anymore.

My peaceful world was shattered soon enough though. Half a world away, where the rest of my family still lived, a revolution was tearing the country apart--disrupting everyone's lives. It would only be a matter of time before the revolution upset my newfound peace as well. Soon enough, I would learn about the stern Ayatollah, the American hostages, the exiled Shah and burning effigies. Initial fears were replaced by a fascination and new addiction. I was hooked on any bit of news. Long after my bedtime, I'd sneak out of bed and try to hear the news. Ted Koppel was my new friend. He would tell me what was going on back home in a grown up voice. Sure, he said some things that didn't make sense--even I knew better than to believe some of the things they said on his show--but I was hooked on anything news related right then.

That is how I got where I am today. Addicted to news and stories. I do not like my news mixed with stories--I'm a purist--which is why watching the news most days is like a slow form of self inflicted torture. I still like stories of any kind as long as they're told well--that is getting a little harder to find these days as well, now that everyone has a reality show. Still, I can't let go of the need to fill the house with sounds of people to fill the void that I fell into so long ago. Which is good, I guess. Being perfect isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Excerpt from an Untitled Story

Authorial aside (haha, that just sounds pretentious): This may not make a whole lot of sense out of context, but at least the first section tells a little story, and the second section is a little bit philosophical, so I think we're good. Additionally, it has to do with vices, so it fits the theme, and I haven't posted in a long time because, well, I've been swamped with work and college. So, here is this for now, and if anyone is at all interested in the rest of the story (which is currently incomplete, as I am working on finishing it), please leave a comment and I can email it to you.

He started smoking cigarettes at a young age; he was thirteen. His father rolled his own, and one day he showed up at my house; papers in one hand, tobacco in the other, and a sly grin on his face. My parents did not smoke, or at least if they did I didn't know about it, so I initially tried to talk him out of it. But his enthusiasm was contagious, and shortly after, we were huddled in my basement, hacking up a storm. I decided I didn't like it; I felt my lungs were too weak. He, on the other hand, fell in love on the spot: he was made for it. He never looked so good as when exhaling a curling tendril of smoke. At the time, it was not terribly difficult for younger teenagers to get away with smoking in public. When we became old enough to frequent diners, he did not like to smoke if children were in the vicinity. 'Children are pure,' he would say. 'We all have a responsibility to keep them that way for as long as possible.' He would grow infuriated if he saw the smoking parents of babes, perhaps because his own parents always had. His preferred places to smoke were those marginal places of public use, areas no longer tended to, society's unpatrolled corridors, lost but then found, by us and other similar-minded people, policed by no one, places where a damn simply wasn't given whether you smoked or not: bathrooms in public parks, stairwells in concrete parking structures, run-down baseball diamonds in long-abandoned elementary schools. He didn't like to litter, either, so he developed the ostensibly disgusting habit of storing extinguished cigarette butts in his pockets until the appearance of trash cans. Later in life, I would watch a film in which an eccentric character had a similar habit, eliciting all sorts of sentimentality and nostalgia in me, to the point where I still have not been able to finish watching the damn movie.

Let's give it up for bad habits, shall we? He had his smoking, among other things. What about me? What are my bad habits? Well, I take pretty good care of myself physically. I don't smoke, I rarely drink, I go for long walks, I eat a lot of salad… my bad habits have more to do with the people I allow(ed) to become ingratiated into my life. I'm an enabler, I'm an over-analyzer, I'm far, far too loyal, and I want to save people. I'm not a humanitarian; I don't want to save everyone. But I wanted to save him, so badly. I wanted to be the light at the end of his tunnel. I wanted to be the silver living under his storm cloud. I wanted to make him believe in truth, loyalty, and trust. I wanted to show him that purity can exist beyond children, and I wanted to be pure for him, to be pure together. You shouldn't believe that you can save people. You shouldn't ever bring that burden onto yourself. People can only save themselves, and certain people have no desire to be saved. This is all very derivative, I understand, and abstract and vague and perhaps even a bit silly. But it's true, goddammit. We were both looking for something inexplicably indefinable, and I thought I found it in him, and now I know he never found it at all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October Theme: Vices

Last night, I was so tired that all I could do was lay on the couch and ponder the heat. Then I thought, summer hasn't been too bad. I have trained almost all summer without serious problems. And the temperature being close to ninety degrees in August wasn't too bad, right? Except I realized it wasn't August, but the first day of October. NINETY DEGREES in OCTOBER? If I didn't know better, I'd think I was living in Arizona again.

But here we are in October and it is time for another theme, suggested by one of our fun writers and her brilliant 'cousin'. The theme is Vices. Share your vices whether as innocent as the cup of coffee you can't give up or something truly indulgent and sordid. Surely there are some special vices you'd like to share with your favorite readers.

You know the rules. Write once or many times, tall tales or short notes; and don't forget to tag!