Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fiction exerpt: On Record


Note: The challenge was to write a pure dialogue. The dialogue itself needs to be clear enough to let the reader know the setting and who is talking. I have written this piece as a series of dialogues, interconnected in some way. Enjoy!

~ * ~ * ~

Where did you get this exchange from?

The first part with the master was through the waves emitted by the seeker’s cell phone. The second part was from Google chat.

Put filters on the web so these kinds of exchanges don’t get seen. Enlightenment is dangerous for our purpose.

Yes Ma’am.

What’s your next transcript?

From the White House, Ma’am.

Let’s see.

It’s the president with her secretary, Ma’am.

Mrs. President, you called me?

Yes. What do you think of the latest exchange between the majority and the minority leaders?

To be expected, no?

I think we need to draw attention elsewhere.

Yes?

I have some ideas … Come over here.

Mrs. President, isn’t this room bugged? Shouldn’t we go outside?

The bushes are bugged, too!

Then, the tape is silent, Ma’am, except we can hear some scratching noises. Our video cameras shows them communicating with each other in writing. The notes were kept by the president. We searched the White House trash cans and the bags sent to the shredding room and found nothing.

The president’s secretary is our plant. We’ll get that information.

Ah! Well, would you like to read the exchange between the majority and minority leaders?

We scripted both sides of it.

They changed the script.

Only the details. Let them think they are in charge. It really does not change the end point.

~ ~ ~

Source, you’ve been over the Akashic records.

Yes.

What do we do?

Human beings are ready for honest relationships.

How do we do that?

Let the planets do their thing: annular eclipse of the Sun, Venus transit, full Moon eclipse… it’s all good, it’s all good.

What do you mean?

Enlightenment can not be covered up anymore. The hearts will open, just like the seeds grow, and the flowers eventually bloom with proper temperature, soil and light. All the circumstances are just right. Some people have to play out their dark side until they die. But their game plan has already failed. They know it. They don’t know how to stop their own machinery. Just like a car on ice and the driver attempting to stop it. It just has to be played out. Wait and see.

Very well.

Now, about that exchange … that’s a classic! Read it again.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Beginner's Luck


Dark sunglasses hide his eyes. He has a mustache and a goatee. Viktor has a suit pocket yellow handkerchief and a white rose bud boutonnière. He goes by nick, with an italic lowercase ‘n’ to make the name look as though it has been nicked. It is also short for nickname. He has people guessing, keeping the double pun to himself. Not only does he look incongruous at a poker tournament, nobody recognizes him. But he gets what he wants: attention and mystery, distracting players from his game.

He looks for Andea. Although her name is not on the participants’ list, his legal name isn’t either. She may be there incognito.

The previous year he was caught off guard after the first round by The River, the famous old timer:

“You’re new here.”

“Yeah!”

“You play well.”

“Thank you!”

“But, like most players, you’re missing a key part of the game.”

“Oh! Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“And what’s that?”

“You’ll have to respect me, first. You’re too self-confident. See you around.”

That was Viktor’s first lesson from a pro gambler. He wasn’t sure it wasn’t bluff on his part, a way to throw him off balance. Viktor knew that little bit of doubt the old man had planted in him could cost him dearly. Poker is a game of probabilities. He knew them all, no matter what the hand, without effort. The old man had noticed. That’s why he had talked to him. It wasn’t because of his tie-dyed bandana with an explosion of yellow and white expertly placed at the level of his third eye. And it’s a game of self projection. Any doubt can weaken one’s act.

Viktor had trouble sleeping that night. He thought about his response to the old man in order to reestablish the confidence balance between them. In the end, he decided to ignore him and let his game speak for itself. Don’t let yourself be intimidated, he told himself, breathing more freely and feeling himself smiling inside.

But The River had gotten the better of him and he could not help but think about what he could be missing from the game.

This year, he wants the upper hand. He perfected his act, as nick, and his effect. He is ready. But Andea’s absence affects him. He can’t shake it off. They were going to keep in touch after the previous year’s tournament. He must have called her five or six times in the beginning and one more time just prior to this tournament, but she never returned his calls. He’d looked her up at other poker venues. A talent like hers would show up again. But she didn’t.

He ordered a burrito for dinner that previous year and, while taking a stroll, had a sudden revelation about the old man’s poke. What if the old man was right? he thought, it would make the game quite exciting if it still held a secret from me. He slept much better that night.

As a player, he observed other players and kept track of their words and body language. He looked for changes: the way they held their cards and played absentmindedly with their chips, their facial expressions, the expression in their eyes, and the words they chose, especially what came through unconsciously. He acted the part he wanted other players to believe. It was all about observing and about delivery. He loved surprising people by handing them some of their own medicine.

In addition, he planned to observe himself observing, from an objective perspective, all seeing and unattached to outcome. It took a mental juggling act to be present to the two levels of observing at the same time. He could imagine it, but he was not able to do both simultaneously. As a result, he made obvious mistakes.

He got to the next round by reverting back to his usual play.

~ ~ ~

Round one, nick is called to the table next that of the old man. The River ignores him completely.

nick knows his act and he plays it to perfection. His suit is flashy, yet he plays conservatively. Even though he has the same probability figures and the same knowledge of combinations as the previous year, he does not play his chips the same way. That’s his genius. He’s not predictable. And no one recognizes him.

~ ~ ~

A year earlier, after he wasn’t able to play both levels of observing at the same time, he went for a stroll and replayed every single game of the day in his mind. He could then distance himself from the playing and be the objective observer he’d imagined.

Those who had not made it to the next round, and some who had, were carousing oblivious to the mysterious secret of the game Viktor was studying. The old man was either right, most players missed a key part of the game, or … there was nothing to be missed.

Dismissing that last thought, he went back to his objective observer. He thought of beginners and their notorious luck. Beginners are known to do well on the whole at any game, at least the very first time they play. Could he access a beginner’s kind of luck as a professional player? He had never tried. It was a part of the game he had missed. Was it a key part? Was it possible to play with a beginner’s mind as well as with all his calculating knowledge? And was it possible to do that in professional games?

“Do you think all the time?”

The question came from a young woman, suddenly at his side.

“I like thinking?” he said, “What are you doing here?”

“Same as you.”

“Are you in the tournament too?”

“Yes! But people talk about you, not about me.”

“It’s my first time. They pay attention to new players who survive a few rounds.”

“It’s my first time too.”

“How have you been able to pass under the radar screen?”

“I play dumb. It’s probably easier for a woman than for a man.”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Between Four Walls


“The door!”

“What about it?”

“I heard it unlatch and then creak.”

“Yes.”

“Is someone home?”

“No. It’s just the wind.’

“Oh!”

“I’m so lonely, you know. I always hope someone will come by.’

“I’m here.’

“I know, and I feel so much less lonely when you are here. I am always thinking of my old friends, hoping they’ll pay me a visit. Skype connections are good, but they make me cry when they come to an end and I know my friend is thousands of miles away.”

Justine lets the old lady bathe in her memories and lets her fall asleep. When her time’s up, she leaves a note to let her know she left and the time at which the next aide will come.

She walks out into the bright sunlight. The sky is clear. There are clouds at the horizon, far away, nonthreatening. She hops into her car to meet Chase for lunch. He is late.

She waits, remembering Katharine, the old lady she cares for, and how much Katharine misses her friends now that she is no longer able to get out, now that she is, for the most part, bedridden. Justine feels young and able. The world is her domain; she can go anywhere she wants, with whom she wants, anytime. Such freedom! What’s the meaning of a life limited to four walls, your books and a window? What’s the meaning of life when the only contacts you have are with aides you barely know who you have to show your wounds to and let them wipe your privates? Aides change all the time. Some may become your friends, but aren’t likely to visit you when they aren’t on duty. What’s the meaning of life when all you have is your computer, and time is measured by the meds you are to take?

Waiting for Chase, Justine counts herself lucky. She isn’t like Katharine. She can meet her friends when she wants. She’s not lonely. She checks her smart phone. No text from Chase. She’s thinking of ordering lunch. She has another client in 45 minutes. She texts Chase: “Can’t wait. Eating.”

On her way to her next client, the thought becomes more pressing: “Why didn’t Chase text back?”

Her next client has Alzheimer’s. She’s there for four hours. Bart barely talks and when he does, it makes little sense to her. When he walks out the door, now, he forgets how to get back home. He can no longer be left alone. He responds to old photos of his children. He recognizes his daughter by the sound of her voice as long as he does not see her at the same time. She talks from behind him, if she wants him to know who she is.

When Justine goes home there’s still no message from Chase. She goes on Facebook and exchanges comments with fb friends. No one seems to know where Chase is. She listens to a few Youtube videos. She gets more and more anxious with time. She hates her agitation and she hates that Chase does not call her. She calls him, not expecting a response. She goes to his apartment. He is not there. She calls Betty, his mom. She has not heard from him.

The next day, Justine listens to Katharine’s youthful adventures. All Katherine has is her memories, and her pain. That’s all she thinks she has. She encourages Justine not to wait for life. “Go and grab what you want before it’s too late, before you’re bedridden like me and you can’t to do anything about it anymore,” she says.

On her way to visit Bart, she wonders how it really matters. If she’s going to end up bedridden, what does it matter to accumulate experiences before it’s too late. To reminisce them later? There must be something else, she thinks, something that you never tire of, something that transcends being bedridden. But what is it? How to get to it? And why doesn’t Chase call her already?

After work Justine calls her mom, Vera. “Oh! Dear,” she says, “What do you think has happened?’

It suddenly dawns on Justine that Chase must have had an accident. She calls the local hospitals one after the other. Finally one of them tells her that Chase was transferred to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “Chicago! Why?” she asks, “What happened?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Nate and Hanae’s Destiny

To Cathy Collar, 
who inspired me
to invite gods and goddesses
to play in the turf of this story.

 
Where was my reason when I needed it. Where was the help. And, now, where am I. Few things grow in the desert. Yet, some things grow and some things crawl in it.

Sunlight can be the companion of blindness.

Eyes closed to preserve their moisture, Nate crawls another inch. Still no map. Still no water. His life shows in his mind as random flashes, a collage in progress. It seems like a fantasy that could have been imagined all along; all his love affairs, his romances, his desires, his lust, meant not a thing now. Nate experiences the thought not a thing tangibly as it merges with and echoes into his breath.

A beauty appears in Nate’s mind, exposing herself out from a water fall, more sensual than his most daring dreams. Who are you, his body says in thought form.

Astarte, she mouths with her lips.

Light emanates from her and water drips from her, both touching Nate to abandon. Perhaps, he thinks, death comes as a blissful vision.

I am not death, she breathes in his naval center.

Who then.

One who embodies passion.

For real?

Yeah.

I was giving it up.

That’s why I am here with you and not death.

How good is that to me, now.

A quiet breath moves Nate’s body, imperceptibly.

You need your passion to survive.

How.

Remember what you were once passionate about.

I have forgotten. I thought water was what I needed now.

Your dreams are the water you seek.

For real?

Yeah.

I had given them up.

That’s why I am here, with you.

Am I meant to live then.

More than ever.

Why this.

How else would you know there is water within you.

A breath moves through Nate.

And there is more. You are addicted to giving up.

So, this is a test.

No. Think of the butterfly needing to break out of its cocoon. If someone puts a tear in it, the butterfly will never fly. The cocoon is not a test to the butterfly. It is a means to give it the strength it needs to transform. You are in your cocoon.

It’s impossible. I’m dying.

Only if you give up.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fiction exerpt: My Dad's Murder


After 9/11, our teacher asked us to write an essay on when it is appropriate to kill someone. I guess the first thing that came into most students’ minds was: “Is it appropriate to kill Osama bin Laden?” “What are the moral and ethical implications to kill a religious or political figure that is presented in the media as an evil person?” “If it isn’t appropriate to kill Osama, would it be appropriate to kill any other political leader such as Adolf Hitler or Idi Amin Dada?” My mind went somewhere else. I wasn’t interested in the politics of it. To me, obviously, if someone rises to the top as a political threat, there are ideas or beliefs that put him there, and killing that person does not eradicate those beliefs, it only fuels them and gives them power and, therefore, reality. Then what? That can’t be conducive to peace and harmony. No, my mind went somewhere else, somewhere personal, very real, and, up to yesterday, very painful.

I was five years old when I saw my dad shoot an intruder. The blast, the face pierced and distorted, the blood, the brain pieces, all real, forever indelibly set in slow motion in the deepest fabric of my being.

It was just past three in the morning. I remember hearing the living room grandfather clock’s chime. I had just woken up from a nightmare in which a hooded man dressed in black strangled my dad.  I could not see his face, only his hands. It took minutes. Breathless, dread-filled minutes. Mom and I were hiding under the couch. She was holding my mouth so I wouldn’t scream. Her hand felt limp suddenly. I knew she had fainted. My dad’s killer had disappeared. I woke up with a strange feeling of trying to scream without being able to, as though my voice had been tampered with. That’s when I realized it wasn’t real. I heard the clock. I heard some unusual noises downstairs. I walked softly to the top of the stairs and I saw my dad shoot a man dressed in black with no hood. I was shaking and sweat was pouring out of my pores drenching my pajamas. I did not know I had so much water that could merely leak out through my skin.

I could not speak for several days after that and I did not want to be around dad. Dad and Mom knew it had to do with the events that night but they could not get a word out of me. They sent me to a counselor lady who asked me to draw pictures, anything I wanted. All that I could draw was lifeless bodies, missing parts, lying in blood, with many, many, angels hovering over them.

The essay homework came eight years later. I was still torn inside. Torn about the need for one man to die to save another’s life, and his family. I felt guilty for preferring us to live over a stranger I did not even know. I did not know how to express any of that to the lady counselor at the time. The essay was giving me a chance to talk about it and not keep it all inside; a mysterious and confusing forbidden land.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fiction exerpt: For Thrill's Sake


Seagulls laugh and screech, and fish and fly. The waves are regular; the wind has dropped. And Misery talks out loud for Joy’s benefit.

“We’re not going anywhere. The wind has died.”

“Yes. There’s not much to do.”

“This is annoying. It all started so well. I was looking forward to it. And now look at us.”

“The sky is blue all the way to the horizon. What a sight!”

“And that makes you happy? You’re not going to call for rescue?”

“No.”

“It does not make you happy?”

“I’d be happy with any weather.”

“O … kay. Whatever. How about the rescue?”

“What for?”

“I don’t know, you know, so we’re not bored for hours on end.”

“You’ve never just done something to enjoy the process?”

“Well I do enjoy the process if I know I am getting to my goal.”

“What is your goal?”

“The thrill of speed … full wind in our sails.”

“Ha!”

“What do you mean ‘Ha!’?”

“Just acknowledging.”

“Well aren’t you going to do anything about it?”

“I am.”

“You’re not doing anything.”

“I am letting you vent.”

“I am just fine! What are you going to do about being stranded on this infinite ocean?”

“Nothing!”

“Why not? Didn’t you invite me on your boat? Aren’t you the master sailor?”

“Yes.”

“So …”

"There’s a master above me.”

“And who’s that?”

“Nature.”

“Well, I’m never doing this again!”

“I guess not.”

Silence.

Deeper silence.

Silence filled with tension.

Sigh.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ficition exerpt: The Never Ending Summer


Until that famous summer when banks collapsed by their own doing, pretending they needed to be rescued, Antonio Carrinian had an easy life. He actually had two lives he never mixed: one as a teacher, and one as an epicurean lover. He taught mathematics, and tutored those who needed extra help making himself available until about eight o’clock in the evening. Then, he went out for dinner and charmed his way to a date or went dancing which often ended with the same result. I am Serena Maltez, a colleague.

Antonio failed mercilessly any student who attempted to pass exams using memorization only. He warned them. He told them he did not believe people could not do math; he believed there were those who were scared of math and those who were not. He told them that if they thought they could not do math, they needed to ask for his help. He always made time for his students. Until eight o’clock that is. They would meet in his office or at a café. He never let anyone down. Those who took his challenge passed. No exceptions. And not because he was easier on them: they actually learned the material, to their own surprise.

At night, after his last student left, he went to a bistro. He was an affable and handsome man and shared his table freely with people. That is also how he met women. They noticed right away he did not wear a wedding ring. Inevitably they asked if he had ever been married. He cleared any doubts by letting them know he had no interest in a relationship. His love was for mathematics and for teaching it. Some women excused themselves then, if they were looking for a long term relationship, but first waited for a response, hoping he would change his mind. He never strayed from his principles. He never fell under the spell of seduction, which turned him off. If women were intrigued and did not ask for a long term relationship, he was more then happy to prolong the night. He did not get attached and, yet, never left a woman without a gallant goodbye kiss. If a woman asked if they could meet again, he always said: “God willing!” He smiled, and walked away without leaving his phone number or his address, and without asking for hers.

That summer, when banks collapsed, everything changed. His students were agitated and withdrawn; he could not hold their interest. It affected him. He skipped meals. He stopped listening to music. He did not seek dates. He became a recluse. He spent all his time with his students or thinking about how to get their attention so he could teach them. He had always been able to help those who wanted it. But no longer. That summer the proportion of students seeking his help was higher than normal but few showed any progress. After 20 years of successfully teaching students other math teachers had given up on, Antonio was facing failure for the first time.

He was walking aimlessly, distracted, after school one night, when he heard a familiar voice that drew him back to the outside world. It was Jenna, one of his current students.

“Mr. Carrinian?” she said.

“Yes,” Antonio answered. He stopped to look at her. She was dressed in blue jeans that were falling apart, showing holes and threads. She had a light blouse on, not ironed. She was one of the students he’d been unable to help so far. He was embarrassed. He feared he’d lost his magic. He had little confidence left. It felt like death.

“Hi!” she said, shyly.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Nowhere,” she said. “There’s nowhere to go.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you know?”

“No, I’m sorry ...”

“It’s just that thing that’s on everybody’s mind, sir.”

“What thing?”

“There’s no money, no food to eat, my parents are either angry or depressed. We’re going to lose our house to foreclosure. We have nowhere to go. I don’t know if you know what students are saying about you?”

“Please, Jenna, tell me …”

“You’ve been the best teacher anyone has ever had. But now they say you only care about math, it never was us you cared about.”

“Oh!” Antonio said. “May I invite you to dinner?”

“It’s not just me, sir. It’s about half the students in our class.”

“Yes, you’re right, I could not feed everybody. But, can I offer you dinner this time so you can help me see how things really are for you?”

Jenna accepted her teacher’s invitation.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fiction exerpt: A Long Way From Home


What Abby needed, she wouldn’t say. She found Josh’s brochure somewhere, liked what it said and the way it looked. She giggled as she admitted she was drawn to his photo on the brochure. She knew what she did not want. She did not want Josh to use hypnosis on her. She did not want to lose control. Someone had done that to her before and she felt manipulated. She thinks he seduced her under hypnosis. Josh assured her he would only support her on her path, he would not offer anything she did not want to do.

~ ~ ~

Josh attended a workshop on learning to use his intuition. On several occasions, they had to pair up with a partner from the group. They were to get information intuitively about a relative of the partner so that information could be confirmed or refuted by the partner.  For one exercise, they tuned in to a relative who was alive. For another, they were to tune in to a dead relative.

Janet sought to connect with Josh’s grandfather on his father’s side, Andreas. She said that Andreas told her he understood Josh now, he understood what he was doing with his life and he supported him. It certainly was a message Josh loved to hear, because he had felt so misunderstood by his family since childhood, but it was not a message that proved Janet had truly connected with his grandfather.

Josh sought information about Janet’s mother. As he closed his eyes, and took deep breaths to relax and be open to her mother, he saw a middle aged man, trying to pull a woman his age out of a fire. Her hair was dark and disheveled, long enough to reach her shoulder blades. Her dress was simple, uniformly navy blue or black. She resisted him, her face in pain, looking away from him. He had short brown hair and wore a white shirt with sleeves rolled up above his elbows. Neither one of them was on fire. The man came out alone. He could not save the woman. Janet did not know what to make of Josh’s vision. There had been no fires involving her parents. The teacher encouraged them to think metaphorically. What could the fire represent? Janet said that her mother was deeply depressed and her father had to leave her because he was getting burned out.

That experience convinced Josh he was able to tap into information one could not rationally know, information that involved people he had never met, whether dead or not. He was left with a feeling that the message from his grandfather could be real, that Grandpa Andreas really cared about him and his family more than he had known. He felt joy from this thought.

~ ~ ~

Abby had abandoned the Catholic Church as a teenager. She felt ostracized from her family. After a few sessions with Josh, she reconnected with her Christian roots. Josh was Catholic from his upbringing. He felt a kinship with any path that has love as its core. He had come to a place where he heard a common message conveyed by all religions: to love one’s neighbor, to be humble, and to be of service. He met many who preferred to commit to one religion and, within it, to a specific denomination. He respected that.

His goal was to help people love themselves and be the best human being they wanted to be. With this kind of support, the rest seemed to fall into place with time. Abby came to believe that her God and her Jesus Christ were different from Josh’s.

To Josh, she had become color blind to some of the colors that make a true Christian. To her, she was concerned about false Gods; she was not color blind, but she became convinced certain colors were less divine than others. Josh thought the best way to help her was to allow her to explore that path and he asked her if she had gotten what she wanted from their work together. She wanted to keep meeting with him.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Marla's Beauty


She sighs, as she wakes, thinking that she is still alive.

Last evening, Harry changed his approach. He did not like to ask his clients about their past. To him, everything is will and following small simple steps. But since she kept giving in to the temptation of eating, and nothing was changing, he also gave in and asked her about the history of her weight and about her family.

When she was 13, Marla’s parents divorced. Mark, her older brother by five years, took care of her. They kept in touch with their dad, Gregory, while their mother, Jasmine, disappeared with a South American younger man.

Marla was a model at 16. Slim, sexy, with intense big brown eyes, and slightly asymmetrical eyebrows, few men could resist her, or women. She had been on the front cover of several magazines and already made quite a fortune by the time she was 18. People were attracted to her and she enjoyed the attention. She had been on dates with more people than she could remember.

At 20, she mentored the newest girl, Cath, who was starting at 16 as she had. Marla saw in Cath her competition and her ruin, but also what she used to dream. She knew the lifestyle would soon swallow her alive and there was nothing to be done, except help her get the best possible memories and pretend that all would be wonderful, a Cinderella type experience.

At 22, she and Cath had a fling. She shared Cath and did drugs with Mark when things got tough with his wife, Sam, who was seeing Gregory secretly.

At 25, Marla was bored. Alcohol, drugs, food, sex had taken a toll on her spirit. Her eyes were dull; she looked absent. She had started to gain weight.

At 30, she weighed 250 pounds, give or take.

Mark calls her every day. Sam left him. June, his newest sweetheart, is clean. He wants to try and be clean with her. June could no longer keep Hank’s stories straight and left him. The way she puts it: “He is a successful gambler as long as he isn’t drinking, whether he lies about it or not, which he is.”

Marla felt numb as she was throwing up these memories to Harry. It was as though all of this happened to someone else.

Now, not wanting to wake up, the memories hit her by their stark darkness. She feels nauseous. Suicide is on her mind but a part of her has not completely given up. She did not want to remember the past. She liked Harry until last night. Now she feels lonelier than ever. Even in her stardom days as a model, she was lonely. She escaped it by partying, by thinking she belonged to that world. Reality had finally caught up with how she’d been feeling all along.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fiction: Smoke and Mirrors


About my invitation to the funhouse … the word ‘invitation’ is rhetorical. You cannot escape. This is experiential. A journey into the spirit of Edwin Markham’s words: Alegerile sunt balamalele destinului (choices are the hinges of destiny). And my own, in due time. 

video


You have entered my antechamber. Please remain quiet. Talking distracts from what’s essential. The music? It’s Funhouse Entrance from The Caravan of Thieves:

It's a beautiful world if you look
At a glance it's a dream if you stare it's a scream
If you wait in the line every time
By the day that you die you'll have waited your whole life…

I present you with mirrors. Many. You do not need to count them. Just observe with all of your senses. Observe with your skin. I am one of the mirrors. Of course. Please, don’t look away, yet. It would cost you. Allow the experience to sink in. Slowly. Thoroughly. Taking a hold of your whole being. Beyond orgasm. Do you recognize me? Do you know who I am?

There is a gun on the table. I am not asking you to use it, merely to experience it. There are two lovers about you. You only see them through the mirrors. You feel them. They are a part of you. If they had a hue, one would be red and the other blue. That is only an experience, not a visual. They are real; your heart is anguished over them, and your mind is under their spell.

Look again. What do you see? Look through the fogged up looking glass. Feel through your own daemons’ heartbeat. Stop projecting. Be. Without masks or screens, without protection or defenses. Authentically.

This antechamber is an introduction to what’s real. What no one can know but you. Get acquainted with your inner universe. Your inner stars. I have my inner stars, my inner Astrology. My sign is the phoenix. Yes, I have risen from the ashes. Many, many times. It attuned me to wisdom, to pure reflection. As I said, I am a mirror.

As a mirror, I am neither round nor square.
I don’t have fancy, oriental designs or gold trimming.
I am jagged, like the rays of the sun.
I have scuffs, scratches and dents like a chrome bumper.
I am fogged, warped and faded like the mirrors of a funhouse.
I am aged, but with a beauty that only those with a true gift could see.
I am unique, standing out amongst all other mirrors.
I have seen time pass, reflecting shadows across my glass.
I have been loved, forgotten, given away, sold and even tossed.
When people look, I don’t seem very special.
And it is always their loss to walk away without peering in once.

(Adapted from AP: http://airickaphoenix.com/Author/?p=444)

Do you recognize me yet? Do you know who I am? I love any writing. I write like a chain smoker. And I read voraciously. Do not use lipstick, if you wish to write on me. Use chocolate. Only. Good quality chocolate. Or blood. Your own. Otherwise, you may experience the world of ashes. No excuses and no exceptions.

Let me distract you from your obsession. I want your unfrazzled attention. I will keep you until you finally see through the smoke and mirrors. Perhaps you will come to your senses. Perhaps you will surrender and let the spell dissolve. Remember this is a funhouse. I offer darkness merely so you have to make a choice. Your own. I only offer you options. Illusions are part of the experience. How else would you discover your desire to shake yourself off of your complacency and discover your inner jewels?

Ah! You are starting to bleed. Love is cruel. The two lovers are tearing you apart. Don’t you see that one leads you to your life and the other to your death? Death is a choice, it’s true, but I do not recommend it. Life is a video game. You die over and over until you find a way out. To the next level. But you don’t have to die this time. You can still find a way out. You still have time. I believe in you.

You are in my antechamber. I can see your mind is still in the gutter, but your heart is rising to the light. This is just the beginning. I am Airicka Phoenix. Your host. Your conscience. Your true mirror. When you succeed, more rooms will open to you, and, with each room, new experiences await you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Anaïs and Ray


It’s early March. Still in bed, he opens his eyes to the wonder of winter: the familiar yet always surprising beauty of the sharp contrast between the fresh snow covered branches and the darker shade of the bark of the trees. Rays of sunlight knock at his window inviting him outside. He is filled with a sense of calm, a sense that something was rest to peace.

Anaïs got up early. She had a meeting with the organic farm coop group.

Checking on the maple trees, he collects several gallons of sap.

He feels a pinch in his heart; a desire to go on a long hike.

Anaïs’s ring comes from his cell phone.

“It’s Dad,” she says.

“Do you want me to meet you somewhere?” he says.

“It’s not pretty.” She is crying. “Even though he was mad at me for loving you, even though he was grumpy and miserable, I loved him just the same. I’ll miss him. I’ll miss him. I guess what I miss is what could have been, the love we could have shared.”

“He did not make our life easy.”

“You know what I want?”

“Wait. I’ll take you to some place you’ve never been before for a few days.”

“Would you do that?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Strangers


Fields and trees go by rhythmically, infinitely, hypnotically. Richard is staring out the window, mesmerized by the view out from the morning train that left Atlanta, Georgia, for New Orleans, Louisiana. The trance he’s in reminds him of the cawing crows swirling incessantly above his head years before.

“Do you take the train much?”

“Huh?” Richard says, coming back to his senses. “No, you?”

He notices he’s been traveling over three hours already.

“No,” the lady says. “I’m Evelyn. I just got in at the Birmingham station.”

Her light brown hair has red reflections and her green eyes are bright. She wears a long dress with a peach-colored flower pattern.

“I’m Richard,” he says.

“Are you going to New Orleans?” she asks putting her luggage down.

“Mardi Gras …” 

“Me, too. It’s my first time.”

“Yeah! Me, too! Do you like jazz?” he asks.

“Zydeco. It gets under my skin like nothing else does. And I like the French culture. How about you?”

“I just had a conference in Atlanta, and I thought I’d take a break before going back to work.”

“What kind of conference?”

“Biostatistics for the pharmaceutical industry. I have a reservation for lunch. Do you care to join me?”

Walking together to the dining car, she continues the conversation. “You mean, about getting FDA approval for drugs?”

“Yeah and vaccines. But there’s a whole lot of statistical stuff that comes before FDA negotiations. We work on scientific models and animal studies, before we start tests on human beings. Then we set up standards and make sure different labs perform up to those standards. It’s a huge machine and there’s lots of competition.”

“You like it?”

“You’d think … I always thought I’d follow my heart.”

“What happened?”

“It’s strange. I loved psychology. My dad encouraged me to do psychiatry, but I was not interested in medicine and meds.”

“And now you’re working for a pharmaceutical company?”

“Ironic, isn’t it?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fiction exerpt: The Last Laugh


Stitch earned his nickname as a boy because he had a knack for making people laugh. Later, after a divorce, he went bankrupt, and those who knew him expected that he would lose his zest for life. But he hasn’t, and still jokes about everything.

His current favorite theme is marriage and money. At a party thrown by his friends in honor of his father, Stitch says: “There are two kinds of people, those who marry for money and those who divorce for money! … Oh! That still makes only one kind of people!”

“I’ll marry you for money,” Kate says, “who’s got a buck?”

Kate is just back from Australia. When she introduces herself, everyone thinks her name is ‘Kite.’

Andy is Stitch’s neighbor. He asks him: “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“How do you do it? Laugh everything away.”

“Oh! That!”

Stitch remains silent a moment. It’s not that he is prone to introspection, or that he wants to find a profoundly funny response. It’s just that the expression Andy used ‘laugh everything away’ is the exact expression his father used sarcastically when he was a kid and his father wanted him to be serious. Stitch never really laughed that out. He pretended, when he was a kid. He poked his dad about it. He would say: “Dad, why do you have to take everything so seriously?” But there’s no more pretending. Not anymore, because his Dad just passed away. He called Stitch to his deathbed last week. The first thing he told him was: “Son, I knew you would never amount to anything. Divorced and bankrupt, you’re a disgrace to the family. I fault myself for it. I should have never let you get away with laughing everything away like you did.”

“As I recall, Dad, you pounded on me almost daily with your comments about needing to be more serious. What else could you have done?”

“I could have sent you to a boarding school. I could have sent you to the army. Living is a serious business … if you want to succeed at anything. But, obviously, you don’t.”

There was a fierce look on his face.

“You know why I made jokes of everything, Dad?” Stitch asked him rhetorically. “It’s because I never saw you laugh. When I was a kid, my greatest wish was to see you laugh. Why don’t you ever laugh, Dad?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Cheering Up Tom


Frank asked Tom to pick up Rita at the St Paul Street bus stop for him. He said that he would know who she was; she never let herself be unnoticed.

“Well … Is she blond? Tall? Older?” Tom asked.

“You’ll know!”

“Why am I picking her up?”

“I promised her a ride home and I can’t make it. You don’t want to break a promise ever, and especially not with Rita.”

As Tom sat in his car he feared he would regret this. The hazy fog hanging over town did not make it any easier to discern people. He turned the key in the ignition, going through the motion, and the engine remained silent. His shoulders relaxed and he smiled. His relief was brief though; he remembered to step on the clutch the next time he turned the key in the ignition.

There were several people at the bus stop. None were particularly noticeable. It wasn’t going to be as easy as Frank predicted.

There was someone who did not look like she was waiting for the bus. She was leaning toward an opened passenger side window, speaking with the driver. As Tom opened his door, he overheard the woman express slowly but distinctly that she did not realize that her walking on the street could possibly disturb anyone and that if her presence was distracting to him she was completely sorry, but that again she had not meant to cause any problems.

“Just use the sidewalk,” the man insisted, “it’s dangerous in this fog!”

He started to close the car window, but she continued talking about not meaning any harm and that she really thought the street was for everyone.

“Lady, I need to run, so would you please step away from my car?”

She looked at him very directly and said, spacing each word patiently: “Sir, I was apologizing to you, you could be a gentleman and accept my apology.”

“I accept your apology,” he said with some irritation.

“Now, what was your name again, I don’t recall hearing it?”

“Goodbye lady!”

He drove away, and sped up quite briskly once at a safe distance from her. She stood up, watched him leave. Her long dark hair still covered her chest from bending forward at the car window. She had dark features as if Mediterranean, which in Tom’s mind was in contrast to her slow and distinct southern belle speech pattern.

“There are so few gentlemen anymore,” she said out loud.

“Rita?” Tom hailed out.

“Yes!”

“Frank couldn’t make it; he asked me to pick you up!”

“I will be darned if that isn’t Frank! Would you come and open the door for me?”

Except for a large size purse, Rita had her hands free. It puzzled Tom that she asked this. He went ahead anyway and opened the door for her.

“You’ll have to give me directions,” he said, once in the driver seat.

“Frank did not tell you where I live?”

“No.”

“Did he leave you with an envelope for me?”

“No.”

“Isn’t that’s a surprise?” She said sarcastically.

“Is there a problem?”

“Not at all. He planned it all very well. Thank you!”

Tom remained quiet.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fiction exerpt: Margaret Emond’s Letters


People call me to fix leaks. I’m a plumber. I have to cut into walls sometimes to replace old pipes. What I find there, you may call family secrets. Yesterday, in an old stone house, behind some crumbling plaster, I found a stack of old letters in their original envelopes tied together with hemp twine. There was a note on top: “To whoever finds these letters,” and it was signed: “Margaret Emond”.
Letter no. 1 – May 21st, 1854

Dear Mystery Friend,

Ever since I was a little child, I stood still watching people. People appear warm and clever but are preoccupied with ambitions. They pretend to converse with motives unspoken. I find myself not caring for their presence. I distance myself as my suffering from people’s absence from their heart is too heavy to bear. I have come to be a quiet person.

I walked to the park to watch the swans earlier today. My spirit filled rejuvenated and blessed with hope.

I cannot suppose men and women of all races and religions will treat each other with contempt forever. I long for a friendship with someone open to a true sharing of the soul. I hope you will take my confidence to heart kindly.

Sincerely,
M. E.
I am making plans to visit my aging parents for the end of the year holidays. On the phone, my father asked me for a favor. He told me he needed nettle roots. He makes it into an herbal tea; it helps lower his PSA levels and relieves pressure from his swelling prostate. He can no longer find it at the health stores near him and wondered if the stores near me would have some. 

My friend Mel called Chris, a farmer friend of hers, and we were soon driving to his farm. He told us there were different species of nettles. He’d never heard of their roots being used for medicinal purposes and thought he should look into it for his own father. He directed us to a meadow where he pointed at two patches of tall brown growths.

We did not have to dig too deep and large amounts of roots came with each shovelful of dirt without too much effort. In half an hour we had two tall buckets filled with roots. There was plenty more. We gave them a quick rinse and went home.
Letter no. 2 – May 28th, 1854

I wonder about your era, Mystery Friend. Are people still bickering over racial and gender divides? Are people celebrating life? Are people living with passion? Oh! I am elated at the idea of seeing something of your world!

M. E.
“It has to be roots from the stinging nettle,” Dad said on the phone.

“That’s what I have. Do you know what part of the root I need to dry up?”

“What do you mean?”

“I did not buy them at the health store. I dug them up at a local farm.”

“Are they organic?”

“Sure, Dad!”

“How do you know?”

“The farmer said they are. I trust him.”

“And you are going to dry them up?”

“Yes, Mel has a food dehydrator. But I need to know what part of the root has the healing properties you are looking for.”

He did not know. A day later we had the same answer; we can use the entire root.

Washing the roots and chopping them up to get them ready for the dehydration process, I thought of my relationship with Dad. Neither he nor I are herbalists. He is a historian. He seeks for and reads old documents from archives. He pieces facts together like puzzles. He does not try to say more than the documents say. If something is missing, he keeps searching until he finds answers that make sense.

I don’t live in the same world as Dad. I work hard and don’t mind getting my hands dirty. Dad and I, we do not have much in common except for fitting pieces of puzzles together; different kinds of pieces.

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Affirmations or Reminding Myself of a Truth?

I got to think about affirmations recently. I never use them. I use something else but without giving it a name. I now think it is what affirmations are meant to be. An example will clarify what I mean.

When I worked for Wyeth as a biostatistician -- biostatisticians do statistics for medical and pharmaceutical research -- I often heard coworkers complaining about never finishing their workload by the end of the day. When I heard them, I promised myself I would always have enough time to finish my work on time at the quality level that I felt happy with so I would not have to stay at work after hours. Whenever I was scared I would not be able to complete something by the deadline given to me, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I would have enough time. And ... I always did. When I was not done by the deadline, I would often get a call from my supervisor requesting that we postpone our meeting due something urgent coming up, or some other reason. I always had enough time.

 Do you think the climber has any doubt right now?

When I drive somewhere and I realize that there is a chance I may arrive late at my destination, I remember my mantra from work: "I will have enough time!" There is no reason to worry. Either my being late is not a big deal, others will get there even later than I will, or something has come up and the meeting has been canceled without my knowing.

How is this different from an affirmation? Well it may not be. When I first heard of affirmations, I heard of them in the context of finding the right date, or raising one's self esteem. I heard people using them and complaining they don't work. If people just repeat something they don't believe and are trying desperately to create in their lives, it will not work.

What I do is something a little different. I am not trying to convince myself of something I want to believe. I put myself in the space where what I am saying is true. So my "mantra" is just a reminder of this truth. Another way to look at it is, if something belongs to my higher self, it is truth. It may not be a truth I am able to believe from my lower self's perspective, but that only means I am in a space of illusion, believing I am unworthy of something.

Whatever you truly want: A happy relationship, the perfect job, the perfect car... Just put yourself in the space where that is true. I guess that's what the law of attraction is about. But be careful what you wish for ...

There are also hierarchies of desires. Some desires are much more important to you than others. For instance, for me, being peaceful, happy and in harmony with myself and the world are my first priority. Secondly comes my vision of helping create a world where everyone lives from a place of passion and purpose. I thought that being a counselor working for an agency might help me get there... but it has not worked out that way. I was confused at first, until I remembered my priorities. Then my life started to reorganize itself differently from my expectations.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Loving my Neighbor


In the message of Jesus, loving others is inseparable from loving God. The ideal of loving others is not unique to Christianity. Buddhists are taught to have unselfish interest in others’ welfare. Bahá'ís are taught to love all even one’s enemies. Jews are taught about loving-kindness for all. Muslims are taught compassion for all. Jaina are taught to have benevolence for all. Non-religious humanists believe in being of service to all of humanity.

The notion of loving one’s neighbor came back to me recently and made me see that I had not seen its importance. I had accepted it as truth but had not seen what it truly means. Why is it such an important notion?

It takes an effort to love a neighbor who seems uncaring, selfish, judgmental, competitive, etc., etc. But let’s go to some extreme. What if my neighbor commits crimes? What if my neighbor is a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile? What if my neighbor flirts with my life partner? What if my neighbor introduces my kid to drugs? Then what does it mean to love my neighbor?

We are used to judging behaviors as good or bad. This is what our culture has taught us from infancy. But that isn’t helpful in understanding why circumstances happen as they do in our lives. And it does not help to heal our self, let alone the planet.

If a neighbor commits crimes, a more useful question is: What in me needs this experience in my life? This is the approach of Ho’oponopono. It is not an approach of self-judgment, or self-blame; it is an approach of taking responsibility, of not separating oneself from one’s experience. As a parent I know that if I feel stressed and ignore it, my children start acting out. Most parents then ask the children to calm down, but in truth, they would if only the parent who is anxious would start taking deep breaths!

So our neighbors teach us about our own state of mind. By loving our neighbors, as they are, and taking responsibility for our own state of mind and releasing its negative aspects in relation to these neighbors, with self-love and self-forgiveness, our neighbors either change or move away.

Dr. Hew Len, who was trained in the tradition of Ho’oponopono, says that he was originally trained to go out and help people, but then he realized that that doesn’t work: “What works ultimately, is when I realized that the world is within me, and that to change the world, I have to change it within myself.”

In the end, loving one’s neighbor helps heal our self, and our personal relationship with the universe. Loving one’s neighbor is an essential component toward enlightenment.