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This Square Peg.

Happily Not Fitting In Since 1978.

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Blogvember #30: The Final Day.

Well, dears, today ends 30 days of Blogvembering. Went by pretty fast, no? I enjoyed every minute of it, even those moments when I was about to drift off into sleep and recalled with panic that I forgot to blog. And I admit to cheating when those times happened by blogvembercombining days, but a blog post is a blog post. Don’t sue me because I’ll represent myself and win, owing to several years of watching lawyer shows. Anyway. It was a pleasure. And it was awesome to be mostly regular with blogging, which is what I try to shoot for.  What I learned:

  1. I honestly don’t prefer blogging on the WordPress app on my phone. You know? Is that weird? I like the clickety clack of an actual keyboard when I’m chatting with you. Phones are for Pinterest rabbit holes and sending social media screenshots to your enablers friends. Not blogging. Next time, I’ll set aside time to actually get in front of my laptop rather than my phone.
  2. There were days when I had nothing to say. Like life. So a photo blog post was the next best thing. They really are worth 1,000 words.
  3. There were days when I had plenty to say. But peering down at my phone to type…I just wasn’t about that life. So we’ll revisit those discarded topics for general bloggery.
  4. November actually came through. What a concept.

It was fun. And now, because it’s also Wednesday, let’s end with one of our favorite features, shall we?

mpg1
Do you know this guy?

Let me provide a reminder.

mpg2
Yes. That smoldering face from the first photo was your first crush and my forever boo: Zach Morris, the star of Saved by the Bell. Mark-Paul Gosselaar. He’s aged well, no? Like unrecognizable well. Anyway, grown man status. Those memories of sitting in front of the TV, chin in palm, dreamy-eyed and wishing I attended Bayside High will never fade. Happy Wednesday, MPG. We’ll always have The Max.

Bon Wednesday and thanks for your support during Blogvember. Onwards and upwards…

Blogvember #24 and #25: Thursday and Friday.

#24: It was lovely being off work on Thursday. This is what I did, rather than blog. Sorry. Well, not really.


*****************************

#25: Since it’s Black Friday, here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago, entitled, naturally, Black Friday

and so she believed the hype.
she tipped her head toward the heavens and waited for the stars to descend into her eyes, and she waited, so quietly, to hear a skip, a jump, a tiny hop within her heartbeat, and she gazed at him and waited for an infiltration of memory to imprint his every nuance and niche…
they didn’t tell you, did they, honey?
you may leave with a shiny new gadget after that doorbuster sale, my dear, but hype isn’t the heart, and the feeling of his hand in yours will never not feel like a bag of nails tapping at the soft flesh of your confused palm.
behind silly platitudes and empty love songs is nothing but air and the truth and you.
and so you believed the hype.
and you were duped, conned, swindled, sandbagged, hoodwinked, and yes, so sadly bamboozled.
but didn’t you know? 
when did love ever need a sale?

Blogvember #22: Choices.(Mission Possible)

This was the photo I used for the back of my recent work of fiction, The Loftiest Thing. I love this photo. For one thing, the trees in the background absolutely fit the title’s theme, which was also one of the stories in the book. Secondly, I think my photographer (who also happens to be a good, longtime friend) captured the joy I felt at having accomplished this latest creative project. The natural lighting, the setting: parfait. 

My third book is on the horizon. Can we pause to celebrate this?


A part of me wants to keep that photo for the back cover. The other part of me wants to change it up. Just because change is always refreshing, and I think this third book represents some of the changes I’ve made with how I want to present my art. Below are the three photos I’m considering. 


Your mission, if you choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you? You love me, right?): what say you? Pick the photo you like the most and tell me your option in the comments. I’m partial to all three of them, so I’m no help. The most-picked will win and I’ll make it my back photo. 

Happy choosing on my behalf…

Blogvember #18: About your Author. (Friday Taunts)

Been a while since you resurrected this feature, huh?
Well, I wanted to give you a break since you’re always so pleased when we do it.

By now, though: don’t your readers enough about you?
Nah, we haven’t even touched the tip of that iceberg.

Fine, fine. What’s going on with you? Are you eating tons of beef and wearing cowboy hats yet?
Perish the thought. I’ve yet to even see a cowboy hat.

Really?
A lot of people are transplants like me. And the natives I’ve met seem quite content to go hatless.

Interesting. What else is new? You still eating like it’s going out of style?
That was way harsh, Tai.

Sorry. But remember that you’ve accessed the meaner part of your personality when we have these silly conversations. You basically asked for it.
True.

Anyway, how is your eating and exercising and all that?
Much better. I’ve resumed my regular fitness schedule, left all the donut shops behind—we’re doing well.

Good. What else is new, pussycat?
You’re effective at pretending like you actually care.

I learned from the best.
Nothing else is new. My fro is handling the new environment better than I expected.

Oh, yeah?
Indeed. You know how temperamental she is. But I’ve been really moisturizing and babying her, so we’ll see. Next year will be a full-fledged summer here so she may implode.

Perhaps a protective style, then?
Look at you, giving advice!

I read enough about this stuff on here; might as well join in. Speaking of cowboys—
We were not discussing cowboys.

We talked about their hats, so yes, we were discussing them. Have you met anyone yet? You know…wink, wink…
Oh, Lord.

What? We’re all thinking it.
No, I haven’t.

No one?
No one. Unless Idris has decided to start dressing like John Wayne.

Oh, Lord.
Now you know what it feels like.

Switching reels: are you writing?
I am! Finishing up stories and starting new ones. All at the same time, of course, because this is how I do.

When is the third book coming?
I’m really shooting for early 2017.

Yeah?
Yeah.

Care to wager on that?
That’s my cue.

Come back! I want to taunt you!

Blogvember #17: Throwback Poemday.

I wrote this a few years ago. Happy TBP.

******************************

From Damascus to Emmaus 

I’m waiting you out.
I’ll be here in Damascus,
waiting for the scales to fall from your eyes.
You’re making it hard on yourself, honey,
determined to wear
these blinders, determined to
ignore what we and the world know:
I am the one for you, and you are the one for me.
So, go on, kick against this oxgoad,
persecute your poor heart with denial,
hold their coats and stand aside,
pretend like you don’t feel it or get it.
The light will come. 
Oh, yes.
And it will be luminous.
When it does, I’ll be waiting, ready to use my heart as your salve to open your poor eyes, 
ready to journey with you to Emmaus,
where our chests will burn with love and understanding.

Blogvember #1: Sorry, Blogtober.

Oh, did you think you’d only receive one post from me today? Not so, dear reader. I’m officially announcing that today begins Blogvember: I’ll be blogging every single day this month. Woo hooooo…

If you remember, I participated in Blogtober both in 2014 and in 2015. But since October kinda got away from me as far daily blogging, we’ll try for this month.

Blogging daily during my favorite month would have been a treat. But life happens. And honestly, the absence of a traditional autumn happened. By now, you know that I left the East Coast for Texas. And though several locals here have assured me that it gets chilly around this time of year (as 84 balmy degrees currently makes itself home in the atmosphere), there still won’t be the crispness and beauty and orange that encompasses the electricity I feel when autumn comes. Without that personal, seasonal, visual excitement to accompany this year’s Blogtober, it fell by the wayside for me.

But we always say onwards and upwards, around here, don’t we? Burnished leaves and orange moons or no, here comes Project Blogvember: 30 days of posts from yours truly. Will you join me?

the writer.

Simply put: the works that I produce need to thrive and be shared. We write for ourselves first, yes, but an audience is intrinsic. My family and friends have long supported my writing. And that was enough for me for a long time. It’s a big world. If 10 people I know and love like my work, hey, let’s throw a party. But there’s a comfort level in that. (See the above quote about shyness. That’s part of it, too.) Those you love are those you love. They aren’t the random reader that may stumble on your book and love it or hate it or scratch their heads or wonder who you think you are or applaud who you know you are. 

I’m looking for readers outside of my world, my comfort zone, my people. It isn’t about money. (Although, I mean, come on…) I want my audience to grow. I want to share my passion with more people. 

I have a new Instagram page: @sodavis_thewriter 

Kindly follow it, won’t you? Other than TSP as a platform to occasionally share my work, I’ll share here, as well: one clever hashtag at a time. 

“…wings of her own.”

I wrote this poem seven years ago. Bon Throwback Thursday.

 

Mrs. Birdman

 

When he finally lands,

the odds are that she’ll be waiting for him by the riverside.

He’ll tell marvelous tales

of the sweet air up there, of racing with skylarks and ravens,

that near-miss with the eagle…

She’ll tell him that Billy lost his tooth, and that Sally started walking.

He’ll smile and ask if they remember him and she’ll lie and say that

they do.

She’ll cry when he says that he has to go again,

(“I thought you’d stay longer this time”)

and he’ll placate her with promises that they both know

will fly away faster than he can, never to be seen or heard of

again.

Up, up, up, he’ll go, the Man who makes the sky that much

more unique, as they all like to say.

She’ll continue by the riverside,

waiting,

too morose and too teary-eyed

to realize what he hopes she never will,

that she’s always had

wings of her own.

The Choice.

I haven’t shared fiction with you in a while, have I? Here’s one you’ll likely find in my third collection of short fiction. Yes, another book is coming. Call it a spoiler. Share your thoughts about it in the comments, won’t you?

Enjoy your Friday and have a bon weekend.

***********************************************************************

The Choice

The envelope sat on the picnic table next to her half-eaten blueberry muffin from that morning. Upon glancing at the sender’s name, his stomach dropped. He wasn’t in the habit of reading her mail, but privacy paled in comparison to the name in front of him. He pulled the letter from the envelope.

Cancer.

Dying.

I need to see you.

Gripping the iron chair for balance and the need to feel something firm and concrete—unlike the jelly that seemed to now permeate his body—Desmond continued reading. A plea to see her just once, to make amends. He swallowed thickly and placed the letter back into the envelope. Glancing at the muffin, he wasn’t surprised at her loss of her appetite.

 

The next morning, he watched as she quietly moved around the house, her demeanor unreadable. She occupied herself with her usual weekend routine of household chores: cleaning, dusting, vacuuming. He entered the kitchen from the patio just as she was approaching the sink. “I’ll take care of the dishes,” Desmond said. There were a few plates from their breakfast.

“You just mowed the lawn. I can do them,” she replied.

He smiled at her. “Let’s do them together.” With that, he pulled over a chair and sat next to her, as the sink had been modified to allow her to reach it from her wheelchair. “I wash, you dry.”

Liza gazed at him. “Deal,” she said, ruffling his hair.

While they washed, both silent, the contents of the letter ran around in his mind. He wondered how to reveal that he knew about it. But he wouldn’t have to wonder long.

“My father found me. He sent me a letter,” she said as she slowly dried a plate.

He didn’t reply, waiting for her to continue.

“He’s sick. Lung cancer. He wants to see me.” She looked up at him. “Tell me what to do.”

His heart thumped painfully. Every inch of his being wanted to do just that, to tell her to refuse to see him. But nothing about that desire was right or fair. “I can’t,” he said, gazing at her. “The decision is all yours.”

“What would you do?” she pressed.

“I really don’t know.”

“I don’t believe that,” she replied, suddenly reaching over and decorating his chin with a handful of soap suds. “You always know what to do.”

“Hey,” he mildly protested, returning the favor by piling suds on both sides of her face. It was a playful respite from the conversation at hand. He welcomed it, however brief it would be. And sure enough, as her laughter dissipated, he knew that they were quickly back to reality.

“I don’t know how to feel, Des,” Liza said quietly. “It’s like opening a door I’ve closed for a long time.”

Desmond nodded. “I know.”

 

“There’s no way I’d let my wife…” Rich Mooney shook his head, unable to finish his statement, and took a long swig of beer.

Desmond turned his empty glass around and around on the table, his mind a jumble of emotions and thoughts. While Liza napped at home, he had slipped out for a drink with Rich, his good friend and neighbor. Naturally, Rich quickly became a sounding board for Desmond’s present quagmire.

“The fact of the matter is, the guy doesn’t deserve anything from Liza,” Rich finally continued.

“Don’t you think I know that? But he’s her father.”

“I get that, Des. But father or no—he ruined his daughter’s life. Period.”

It was easy for Rich to carve the situation in simple black and white terms. He was the outsider looking in; the visitor to a situation that was older and far more complex than he knew. In the end, he knew that no opinion or thoughts on the matter, not even his own, could usurp whatever Liza decided she would do.

 

Later that night, as they both lay sleepless in bed, Liza released a long sigh. Desmond knew then that she would see her father. He wasn’t sure how he knew, how he understood, but the certainty of her decision was as plain as the ceiling above his head. “You’re not going by yourself,” he whispered, tightening his hold around her. “I’m going with you.”

Liza peered up at him, her eyes moist with tears. “You’re not angry?” she asked.

Desmond shook his head, nearly out of breath from the idea that he could ever be angry with her. It was impossible, even when they argued, to be angry with the woman he loved more than he could truly comprehend. “Never,” he firmly assured her.

 

Liza’s mother, however, had a far different reaction to learning that her daughter planned on seeing her father. That Monday morning, as Desmond sat in the usual LA morning traffic on his way to the office, Kate Harbor’s raised voice, on speakerphone, filled the confines of his car.

“How can you allow this, Desmond?” she cried. “That man is a monster. You’re pushing her into a room with a monster.”

For the past several moments following her phone call, he had remained silent as Kate expressed her outrage. If anything, he had surmised, her outrage was warranted. He shared it. Accordingly, there was no need to speak or to verbally agree to the feelings they shared. But the idea that he was forcing his wife to do this—Desmond needed to speak. “Kate, you need to understand that this is entirely Liza’s choice,” he interjected.

“It doesn’t matter. You should stop her.”

“I’ll do no such thing.”

“Desmond—“

“Your daughter is a grown woman, Kate. You don’t have to agree with what she’s doing, but you need to find a way to understand.”

After some silence on the other end, Kate cleared her throat. “I don’t think I can,” she whispered, her voice coated with emotion.

“But you have to try,” he replied softly.

 

Walter Harbor resided in a group home in a suburban neighborhood about 3 miles outside of New Haven, Connecticut. It was a stately three-story house that easily blended in with the other properties on the quiet street. A week later, as they sat in the car, Desmond watched his wife gaze at the house, her demeanor expressionless. Nevertheless, as she clutched his hand tighter and tighter, the fact that she experienced a range of emotions was indisputable. He leaned closer to her. “How are you?” he asked.

Liza shook her head. “I wish I knew how to answer that,” she replied, drawing in a prolonged breath. She then turned toward him. “But it’s now or never. I’m ready.”

Nodding, Desmond opened his door and made his way toward the backseat on the passenger side. He pulled out the wheelchair and positioned it firmly on the sidewalk. Opening her door, he carefully lifted Liza from the car and into the chair. As they headed toward the front door, he stopped himself from urging her into the opposite direction.

 

Perhaps more surreal than inhabiting a room with his wife’s father, a man he had never met or cared to, was watching him weep without feeling much sympathy for him.

Walter Harbor cried until the coughing fits that were a symptom of his cancer took over, turning his sobs into spasms that shook his frail body. Desmond watched from the corner of the room, mostly unmoved. He was solely interested in Liza’s side of the experience. For her part, Liza sat by the side of the bed and quietly waited for the coughing to subside until her father grew somewhat calm.

“I’m sorry,” Walter muttered, wiping his face with his hands.

“It’s ok.”

But almost immediately, fresh tears streamed down his weather-worn, hollow cheeks. “Seeing you—you’re so beautiful. I just—” He paused and held up his hand. “I’ll end up crying again. I’m glad you came, Liza. You’ve done really nicely for yourself. Your life, everything.” Walter nodded toward Desmond but didn’t look at him, which had been the case since the two had been shown to his room.

“Thank you. How did you find me?” Liza asked.

He grinned. “One of the guys from the force knew a private investigator, so I called in some favors. I was surprised that you left the East Coast. Thought you’d be a New York girl for the rest of your life.” He paused. “Is your mother—is she close by, in case you need her?”

“She’s close by.”

Walter nodded. “Good. I bet she wasn’t very happy when you decided to come see me, huh?”

“Can you blame her?” Desmond interjected, unable to stop himself from speaking.

Liza glanced at him. He mouthed “I’m sorry.” She smiled wanly and mouthed “it’s ok” in response.

“It’s understandable, yeah, her being mad about that,” Walter murmured, still not looking at Desmond. “I deserve her anger. I deserve your anger, Liza Marie.”

She shook her head. “Dad, I’m not angry with you. I stopped being angry at you a long time ago.”

He peered at her with wide, watery eyes, willing her to go on.

“I knew you drank too much. I knew you were sick. Deep down, I don’t believe you truly wanted to hurt Mom and me.”

Walter shook his head. “I went crazy that day, Liza. I never, ever meant to hurt my family,” he said fervently.

 

Her father was racing upstairs with a knife. After already hitting her mother, she knew he was going to kill her. Eyeing his left hand, which held the knife, 10 year-old Liza Marie Harbor ran up behind him and jumped on his back. She willed herself to be strong and to hold on tight. She was going to knock the knife from his hand.

Get off me, Liza, he threatened.

No! You won’t hurt Mom!

Without another word, he forcefully pushed her back, causing her to plummet backwards. When she finally reached the bottom of the staircase, sharp pains ran up her legs and her backside. She screamed for her mother until, strangely, the need to close her eyes came over her.

 

“You did hurt us,” Liza said simply. She leaned over and took her father’s skeletal hands in hers. “It was so hard for Mom and me, for so long. But 25 years later, Dad, I can only forgive you. I forgive you for everything.”

Desmond felt his chest tightening. A hard ball began to form in his chest; it was a paradox, this hard, tight ball, made up of rage for a man who he felt didn’t deserve forgiveness and heightened respect for the woman who had just given it to him.

Walter began to weep once again. “You can’t walk because of me,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry, my darling. I’m so, so sorry.”

Desmond nearly rose to his feet. He ached to condemn Walter’s tears. He wanted to refute his apology.

Liza tenderly rubbed her father’s hands. “I accept your apology,” she said softly. With that, she leaned over and kissed her father’s forehead. “Be at peace with yourself, Dad. You’ve made your amends with me.”

Desmond shook his head, unable to stop trembling. Yell at him, he silently begged Liza. Be angry with him.

“You’ve made your amends me with me,” she repeated to her father, as if in response to Desmond’s silent plea. “Thank you for giving me life.”

Walter Harbor nodded slowly, gazing at her, his eyes brimming with tears.

Liza then turned toward Desmond. “We’re ready to go,” she announced. Her wide eyes, so much like her father’s, seemed to implore him to do what he struggled to do—to stand up and leave without another word to the man who painfully and irrevocably changed her life. Coming here was one thing. But Liza had to recognize that to leave without a word was too much to ask of him.

She held out her hand. Please, her eyes seemed to entreat.

Desmond stood up, his attention directed on his father-in-law, a man who couldn’t even look at him. But eventually, his attention was pulled toward the woman he loved, who waited for him with her outstretched hand. With a deep breath, he approached her and claimed that hand. Without looking back, Desmond pushed her toward the door.

“Desmond.”

He froze at the sound of his name. Slowly, Desmond turned around. Walter Harbor’s eyes were intently fixed on his. “You keep taking care of her,” he said.

She takes care of me, he wanted to reply. However, he merely nodded and departed the room with his wife.

 

They sat in the car, still parked by the group home.

“How could you forgive him, Liza?” he whispered. “Help me understand.”

“If I could, there are so many things in life I would have chosen to do. Have children. Dance at our wedding. So many things. But I had the power to choose this time, Desmond. And I chose to give my father something he’s never experienced in his life: peace of mind. That could only come from forgiving him.” She paused. “It was what I wanted to do.”

“But he took your choices away when he…” His voice caught in his throat. “When he caused your accident.”

“Yes, that is true. But without that wheelchair, I wouldn’t have accidentally rolled over your feet in Lecture Hall the first day we met.”

Desmond looked up at her, both taken aback and moved. Her words elicited the vivid memory of that day in college. He was still convinced that he had fallen in love with her on sight.

Liza beamed, smiling at him. “I choose to focus on that,” she said, “the effect rather than the cause. The cause was you. In the end, that’s all I choose to care about.”

From the beginning, he realized, this entire matter had been about choices. And he wasn’t about to take that away from her.

 

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