One Year

A year ago today, the view outside my window was a mess of green: loose branches on unkempt trees and tall brown/green shrubs filling the plot of land between my house and one of the main boulevards of Guatemala City.

Today the view outside my window is a mess of a different kind: the cluster of downtown Chicago skyscrapers with the Hancock Tower peering above the others; a curving Lake Shore Drive that is never free of cars; a small harbor; and the vast blue of Lake Michigan.

A year ago today, I was listening to Brandon Flowers’ The Desired Effect, which had just come out in May. Its generally happy, earnest sound was the perfect accompaniment and source of inspiration for my own earnest, daring-to-be-hopeful start.

A year ago today I launched this blog. It was my “I’m-finally-going-to-do-this” moment of finally taking a step, however small, in the direction of achieving the biggest dream I have, of being a full-time, published author.

As you can read in that first post, I was earnest and hopeful and actually happy. I was full of the initial momentum good change brings. For once I was being brave and trying to do what I really wanted to do. It was wonderful.

Now it’s a year later, and writing for my blog has been wonderful in many ways, and certainly in terms of moving me forward in writing. It’s kept me writing steadily (for the most part) as week by week I am forced to sit down and come up with an arrangement of words that is honest on a personal level but also crafted well enough to be put before the public (that is, if less than 80 subscribers can count as “public”). Writing for my blog has brought me a type of soothing, enjoyment, satisfaction, and motivation that nothing else in my life has brought.

Today as I sit down to write I am listening to Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, which just came out in May. Its generally subtle, pensive, sensitive sound is the perfect accompaniment for my own pensive and emotionally-weighted reflections. Even though this last year has been the best year in writing for me since I started writing when I was 15, I’m not as earnestly hopeful as I was last year. I still want to be writer, more than almost anything else, but that initial momentum is gone. The optimism of starting something new and exciting has faded. I went for almost a full year making at least one post a week, until the last two weeks when I simply…just…didn’t. I could have. I had plenty of time to. I thought about it. But I let the thought come and go, just like the days, and now it’s been 20 days since I’ve sat down to write.

Yet, I’m OK with this shift. I’m OK with starting another year of writing less optimistic and less giddy about the whole thing. Because what I started in earnesty and determination a year ago is still real and at the forefront, even if it’s no longer shiny and new. I had momentum and not-like-Liza discipline for a year. Now comes the hard part, the more realistic part, of continuing what I want even when motivation isn’t flowing on its own and the discipline fairy dust has settled. I still want to be a full-time, published writer, and it’s certainly going to take more than a blog post per week to accomplish that. So, momentum or no, here I go.

(P.S. Since it’s been a year since they were published, my “about” pages needed refreshing. You can check out the new versions here and here.)

Alive at the Water’s Edge

The water was crystal blue. Small waves rippled and came in slowly, elegant and carefree. White birds flew overhead, mostly in silence. White sails glided by. The blue of the sky came down to meet the blue of the water at a hazy horizon. Light, water, and air swirled and gleamed and wafted purity to shore.

She stepped out of her way and came to the water. She passed the people running, walking, talking on their phones. She passed the couples and the clusters of teens on the cement stairs. She came reverently to the swaying blue and white. She came ready.

She came to the water and sat before it. She looked out to the blue, and then down to its very edge, down to where the duck crap pooled and the color was slightly green. Just beneath the dirty water she could make out large slabs of rock and concrete whose bottoms faded away into the dark deep. She felt a jab of fear but kept looking down. This was the water she had come for.

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Into the Light

She walked out of the cave confidently. Her dress was torn and dirty, almost as dirty as her hair and her face. Her bones were prominent under her skin. The skin on her feet was calloused. But she walked regally, in the filth and wear and wasted away, out from the darkness and into the light.

She walked out, head held high. It had been days, months, years. All that time hiding, away from light, away from the others, away from the ones who had known her by name. The darkness had been full and deep and everywhere. Everywhere she turned in those days and months and years it had been darkness all around, sinking into the walls, sinking into the sky, sinking into her skin. Darkness that followed, that dwelt, darkness that was the only one who spoke her name. For days and months and years it had been nothing but darkness.

But now the days and months and years were up. They had had their say, and God knows they had had their way. But their time was up. Their say had been heard, and it had been answered. The darkness that permeated would stay and permeate and sink, but not into the space in which she would now live.

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Shroud in Shadows

She came in shadows underneath a bright-lit sky.

She came shroud in darkness and deceit and false hopes
She flung onto anyone who would catch them.

She came waving her wands, spitting her vile, taking
Taking, taking, taking
Taking everything he had tried so hard to keep from her.

He had made promises that he had kept,
But she had come to snatch the promises away
To throw them to the dirt
And trample them until they were naught but ashes.

She came with all the hope and peace and love in the world
Not knowing that hope and peace and love look different through different eyes.

She came trying, with open arms,
To embrace all of the world, and all of him,
And found, when she drew her arms back towards herself,
That she had taken his very life.

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Siren

She was young, but she should have known better. The days had been bright and hot, but tonight was cool. The sky was starless.

She waited until her family was asleep and then carefully went down stairs and out the door, pen and notebook, Bible, and discman in hand. Now it was just her and the night.

She was young, but not too young not to know.

The darkness was coming in. If she had had eyes to see, she would have seen it swirling slowly to her, like a haze drifting forward over the ocean. The darkness – the depth – was coming.

She was happy with her music and words she believed were true. She was happy writing worlds that no one else could see. Her eyes were nearsighted but sparkling. She was safe in all she did not know.

But she should have known.

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Dead Devotion

It was summer and she was hopeful. They had been out by the water all day and had gone in for a rest. Now they were clean and dry, except for her damp hair that blew wildly out the open window.

The city lights were nearing, speeding quickly on as they drove up and under and around the tangled highway. She could feel the energy of the city spill out to meet the energy increasing in her. The air and lights and cement and radio were churning and pulsing, matching the beat of her mind. She smiled and turned to look at his steady, un-churning face. This is what she had come here for.

They entered the city and crossed straight through it to reach the water once again. This was not the well-kept beach where they had spent the bright, carefree day amongst the usual summer crowd. Here the water met rocks and then cement. Here there were no crowds and every dim street light cast shadows. She was still carefree, but his clenched jaw and fists told her that he was not. She had made her choice and was now free to live in it. Here was where it was his turn to make his. She was hopeful.

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Jupiter’s Lament

She lifted her head at the sound of his voice. It had been years since she had heard that sound, but she recognized it instantly. It was the voice she had carried around inside her head when she was a child, before things had changed, back when she was still happy.

His voice was clear and shrill and earnest and as lovely as it had been to her young ears. She looked around for its source, hoping to see the face that had accompanied his voice and had crowded her mind all those years ago. Her small brown eyes searched for his bright blue ones. She couldn’t find them.

But his voice kept coming. She wished she could stretch open her ears and cram them full to the brim until every intonation, every note, every whisper and every yell spilled over to drip down her neck and cover her skin. She used to swim inside his voice as a child and now, 15 years later, she still wanted to sink down deep and lie at its very bottom.

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