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.)

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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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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Of Love and Music: A Relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins

I originally wrote this as a guest post on Plane back in October, 2015, but I wanted to share it with you all here as well. 

I developed my first musical crush when I was 12 years old. It was on Candlebox, an alternative rock band from Seattle. (It was the early ‘90s; pretty much every band was an alternative rock band from Seattle). I was venturing from the world of dance pop and Top 40 into the world of rock, and Candlebox was the band that made me realize this was the new territory I wanted to settle in. What the point of connection was between me – an introverted girl who still owned Barbies and read every “Babysitters Club” book she could find – and songs such as “Cover Me,” “You,” and “Understanding” I’m not sure. But there was something in the loud rawness of this music that captivated me. I stopped listening to TLC and Ace of Base and entered the world of grunge. I got labeled a “rocker” by the other kids in my junior high school. I decorated my school notebooks and binders with “Candlebox rules” and “I love Candlebox,” as though Candlebox was the name of a boy I liked. I suppose in a way it was, since my crush on Candlebox was at least equal in intensity to the crushes I had on actual boys.

So I “liked” Candlebox. And then one day, as I was faithfully listening the local alt-rock radio station, I heard Billy Corgan’s voice. Everything changed. It was as though a door had appeared in the alternative-rock house I lived in and opened into a vast musical world of greater depth and quality than I had ever known. Yes, Candlebox and The Smashing Pumpkins (of which Billy Corgan was the lead singer and writer) fell into the same genre of “alternative rock.” But Billy and The Pumpkins were different. Theirs was an emotional and musical complexity, exploration, and daring that made me jump gladly across that door’s threshold.

While I had been infatuated with Candlebox, I fell head over heels with The Smashing Pumpkins. Discovering them unleashed a level of emotion from and personal attachment to music that I hadn’t experienced before. I was swept by the contrast and range in the band’s sound, everything from the simple, melodic beauty of the piano in the song “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness,” to the earnest, congested guitars and drums in “Silverf***.” I was roused by Billy’s poetic lyrics that covered multitudes of feeling, from exultant love in songs like “Stand Inside Your Love” (my favorite love song of all time) to the despairing of life in songs like “Jellybelly.” And then there was Billy’s voice. From his yells to his whispers to his talking, no other voice conveyed to me or provoked in me as much heightened emotion as his did.

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As Clouds Drift By

“I like the sun,” she said, “but sometimes it hurts my eyes.” She put a hand up to shield the top of her face as she kept looking at the sky.

I looked over at her small form. Her long, black hair spread out around her head forming a dark halo that contrasted with the grass. She was wearing a neon-green top with large, hot pink stars on it that matched the hot pink of her shorts. Her fingers and toes glittered with sparkly nail polish that mirrored the sparkly studs in her ears. I smiled. At this age, she still liked everything bright.

I followed her example and put my hand up to my face and looked up. Around the sun, the clouds were wispy streaks of white against a deep-blue sky.

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