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.)

Countless

There were countless reasons for her not to step over the threshold. She had been born into this home, and her love for it was one of her oldest, and greatest, memories.

She had been brought to life in this home. She had been close to her family and had created friends in it. She had found love in this house and had seen love go away.

She was familiar with all of its rooms, its hidden corners, the scariest part of its dark, cold basement. She had been to its highest turret, and had crawled up to the highest point of its roof to see the vast sky unobstructed.

During all her days and all her nights, she had dwelt inside this home. She living in this house had been her truest definition of herself. This house was all she had known.

Yet she stood at its threshold now, looking away from it. The house had not changed and the people in it remained. Her room in the house was still reserved for her, and it still brought her comfort. She still liked the ways of the house, the way the floors creaked and the way the windows let in the midnight moon.

There were countless reasons for her to close the door and stay. There were countless reasons and her entire life so far.

But here she was at the doorway looking out. This behind her had been her world, but this before her was the world.

She could stay inside and be safe and keep living her life in the way she loved. She could stay with her family and her friends, stay in familiarity and in warmth. She could stay and be well.

There were countless reasons to stay, but now here was one reason to leave:

What if all the world out there would love her more than she loved this home?

 

In response to The Daily Post’s prompt Countless.

The Warrior

Tomorrow comes in a gallop set to beating drums and snapping whips.
Tomorrow sits high and aims straight.
Tomorrow comes to take what is his.

When you first came here, Tomorrow was your way out,
Your escape, your doorway, the exit from a deep, air-less cave.
Tomorrow was welcome salvation from agonizing Today.

When you first came here, Tomorrow was your friend.
It brought you newness and treasure chests filled with time.
When you first came here, Tomorrow rode out to meet you with glittering banners and songs. Tomorrow welcomed you with a smile and a sure hand.
When you first came here, Tomorrow was life.

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The Walk

If only I were brave, she thought, forgetting that she’d come all this way on her own.

She had been walking for miles, along the ragged shore. The wind had blown and the waves had risen. The cold water had splashed her shoulders. The sun had been bright and yet without warmth. The sun had liked to keep its distance.

The shore had wound almost endlessly behind her. She couldn’t remember now just when she had started on its path. Periodically she raised her eyes from the gray-black stones to see more endless raggedness before her. One day she had started walking and had kept on. She kept on now.

The sun started to move further away, falling back away from her, and she felt it shrink it rays away from her.

“That’s fine,” she said to it without looking back. “I know you like to go. I know you’ll be forced to return tomorrow.”

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The Fog (Part 1)

The fog was going away.

It had started to come in almost from the beginning;
She could not remember now a time when it was not coming in.
It had come in under clouds, under the sun, under star-less and star-filled skies.

Over the water that matched the sky in its vastness,
Creeping, rolling, floating, streaming forward
The fog had come in

To the shore filled with rocks and sand,
To the sparse grass,
To the tall trees that were now the only ones that had lived in clear air.

The fog had come in from no one knew where
Blowing into the roads,
Swirling around lamp posts,
Making dogs howl
And children cry.

The fog had come in,
Had crawled up the walls,
Had entered through open windows and through cracks under locked doors.

The fog had come
And it had found her.

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Man-Made

I don’t know
How this is where I came to be.
They said, “Stay away,” and now this is where I’ll linger.

I came, searching, because you would not show me plainly.
I came, hardly aware, of how bright the sky could be,
Of how solid death could be,
Of how dim and weak my life has been.

They said, “Don’t! Because…what if?” And now the what-if’s are all I see;
They’re shroud in gold, and freedom, and peace.
All the what-ifs I was made to fear
Now walk besides me hand-in-hand
Afraid of me.

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Portrait

Francis Bacon - Self-portrait_ 1972 i
“Self-Portrait,” Francis Bacon, 1972

There was nothing else she could do, here among the ashes. The fire had come suddenly, out of nowhere in the middle of a quiet night, and now everything had been charred through, disintegrated down into gray dust.

The gray dust lay everywhere, in heaps here and there among the property, in a thick layer over the car parked on the street, blanketing her skin as though it were makeup powder she had applied carefully in the morning to cover her blemishes.

She sat on the curb, her back facing the remains of what had been her home for almost all her life. She had come to this house as a young child — before she could even remember — and had grown and stayed in it throughout the years, even when the rest of her family had chosen to go elsewhere, to more comfortable and modern places.

But she had always stayed. This was where she had come to know herself as herself. This was where she had lived her happiest memories and had mourned her greatest sorrows. This was where she had met her God, and had left him, and had found him again. Now with the fire, it seemed he had been the one to leave.

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