Short Story Contest

Last month I participated in a short story challenge.

 

The July 2016 Aspiring Writers Short Story Challenge

 

This is a LinkedIn group which has casual competitions each month. There is no real reward except the fun of it. If you ask me, that’s good enough. The theme last month was “The Dance”. I wrote a short story and I won 😀 It’s not actually that big a deal, but here’s the story. I would love to hear some feedback and thoughts, thanks.

 

The Dance

The room was alive. Something rare and unexpected. The men were happy, they were young again. Life was good for at least a moment. He saw her across the room, as always is the case with love. She was radiant in her cheap dress. Laughing and singing. Young. Alive. As he approached her, she finally noticed him and smiled. “Care to dance?” he asked. She said nothing and took his hand. They danced for what seemed hours, but it was only a moment. A fading glimpse of a beautiful life that he would never have. Their Sergeant walked in and the music seemed to stop. “Its time, we deploy now” he ordered. The men became stiff. Not alive, not young. They were soldiers again. As he started to leave, he turned to her and said, “I’ll find you when I get back”. They smiled at each other believing in this naive promise. But he never came back. That moment was their first dance. That moment was his last.

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Dear Medium and other Social Media.

Dear Medium and other Social Media.

All forms of social media have made connecting and exchanging ideas easy. Not only easy but possible. At the beginning this was a visionary idea. A way to see the world from your seat. But social media is starting to fail that idea. It has become a popularity contest. This is great for sales, but not so great if you want to see and learn something new.

I have just sent a mini-form to Medium. One which asks me about my overall satisfaction. That is, do I like what I see on my news feed and how I would change it. While I am mostly happy about it, I am not inspired. I have not read or seen something I haven’t already discovered. Is this due to yet another algorithm calculating my previous searches and giving me more of the same? Perhaps it’s more about what everyone else likes? The most probable scenario is that it’s a form of AI that combines and calculates both. However, popular opinion has rarely proven to push new ideas forward. Rather, it is individuals with great minds and great ideas that have done this. These great minds have either had followers or they didn’t.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890)

Image from : http://www.vangoghgallery.com/catalog/Painting/508/Starry-Night.html

Without a doubt, Vincent Van Gogh was one of the best painters of the late 19th century. My personal favorite. While he’s art is amazing, he’s own life was a sad and lonely one. He wanted to be a missionary and serve others. He’s view of the Christian church was, however, different than the doctrine. He, while doing missionary work, gave up all his belongings and shared them with the poor. The Church viewed this as a scandal and he was, for lack of a better word, fired. He was distraught by this. After this heartbreak, he started to paint. He painted over 700 pictures and yet only sold one. We can safely say he was not popular. In fact, he wasn’t even close to famous at the time of his life. This fact is well known. Until the 20th century, his work was not popular. Was this more due to the elite of the time, as he never had the opportunity to share his work with the world as we can today, or perhaps popular opinion did not understand his vision?

You can read more about Van Gogh here :https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vincent-van-Gogh

Ludwig van Beethoven. (1770–1827)

Image from : https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ludwig-van-Beethoven

Another remarkable artist. Unlike Van Gogh, however, he did reach to fame at the time. His path was very different than our previous example. He was discovered, taught, and trained. His talent was unmistakable and propelled him to become an eternal great of classical music. He had a solid reputation and was a visionary in his own right. I suppose if YouTube was around at the time, he would have received many views and even more likes. That being said, he did have many obstacles. There is not success in this world without setbacks. None of them, including his own deafness, held him back. Is this proof that social media does not impact creativity? He was well-known, yet this did not dictate his work. Rather, it was the other way around.

You can read more about Beethoven here :

Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)

Image from : https://www.britannica.com/biography/Galileo-Galilei

A mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer he paved the way for astronomy with the improvement of the telescope. His theorems on the center of gravity gave him recognition among other mathematicians. Although his initial attempt to become “the chair of mathematics at the University of Bologna” failed, he soldered on. While he was a respected scientist, some of his ideas were less than popular. One such idea was that the world revolved around the sun, not the other way around. At the time, this idea was heresy. His discoveries about various planets also showed him that the idea of a single Earth and the heavens was misleading. When he discovered sunspots on the sun, he proved its imperfection. Each idea was a sour spot in the eye of the Church. His scientific ideas were so unpopular that in 1633 he was condemned to life imprisonment guilty of heresy. He was not tortured or placed in a dungeon. Rather, he was confined to the house of the Tuscan Ambassador. Although he was never popular, he was well known and worked until his death in 1642.

You can read more about Galileo here :

Conclusion.

Each one of these examples does not offer a simple conclusion. While Van Gogh was not known in his time, Galileo and Beethoven were. The only thing they do have in common is a distinct mind. This is true for many visionaries of our time and the time that has passed. Each had their own ideas about their particular field. While some were famous, as was Beethoven, some were infamous like Galileo. Each form of knowledge, talent, and vision was their own. However, if they were alive today how many likes would they receive? How popular would be their content? The problem that I am trying to address is that in order to be seen, read, or discovered, your talent MUST be popular. The algorithms set by the social media programmers means that you will probably only see what everyone already likes. This, in turn, means it is complex to discover a new talent by accident. If you wish to be inspired, you must rummage through the box of discarded topics and articles. If, on the other hand, social media could encourage ingenuity rather than popularity these platforms would give us more than just another article about writing and marketing and making money.

This article can also be found on my Medium account :

View profile at Medium.com

Sexism

I never thought that sexism needs to be explained. When I was a little girl it was self-explanatory. It was evident. It was real. Sexism is alive and well today, but it’s hidden behind surreal “issues”.

While procrastinating on twitter, as I often do when I have no interesting projects, I came across a word that shocked me: manspreading. This word didn’t shock me because it apparently refers to the way men naturally sit. It shocked because it’s a fake word. This word was used in a NEWS article about two men. These two terrible criminals were arrested for “taking too much space” on a bus. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-01/first-person-arrested-for-manspreading-in-new-york/6511362

Villians! Monstrosities!

Apparently, some feminists (quasi-feminists) coined this ridiculous term. They also invented some other hilarious additions to the sacred dictionary. All of them aimed at belittling men. Now I can see the appeal. They have belittled us for centuries, why not. Unfortunately, this goes beyond a bad sense of humor.

These women have decided that everything is sexism. From looking at a woman “the wrong way” to calling a bitch, well a bitch. Thus, I have decided to use some real examples of sexism to explain the difference. I hope.

Example No.1:

When I was 8 years old, I started playing football. To Americans soccer, but to everyone else a man’s sport. I enjoyed the game, the strategy, and the friends. It was fun and I was good. I was playing at school and left, right, center GOOOOAAALLLLLLL. But alas a foul was called. What was my mistake? It wasn’t offside, I didn’t touch another player. A small, 3 inch, Spanish 8-year-old boy explained it to me. You see it wasn’t a real goal because I am a girl. I should cook, clean and shut up when he’s talking.

That’s sexism.

I kicked his ass and was sent to the principles office.

Example No.2:

My brother has hair like I imagine Samson had. Beautiful dark, curly locks. He loves heavy metal, and girls, and his hair. However, because he’s a boy he had to keep it short. Our school had a strict dress code, so he accepted the rules. Once school was out forever, he let it grow. Alas, a couple of cops stopped him. No man in his right mind would wear his hair long, he must be on drugs. He cut it short to avoid future run-ins (he had 5 or 6 in total).

That’s sexism.

Example No.3

I went on a job interview for a bartending job. The pay was good and the cafe right across from my apartment building. I had experience, charm, and a good work ethic. I was informed that I was cute, even likable, but a girl. A girl simply can’t be a bartender. It’s a hard job, and I can’t possible do all that heavy lifting. Besides, I’m pretty, what if I flirt too much? Would I cause problems? I was tired and angry and jobless. Just because I’m female. I stayed until they gave me the job.

The fact that I had to beg, that’s sexism.

Example No.4

When my son was 6 months old, I had to go to training for a new job. One I’m not that good at, but I had to try. For my family. My husband was delighted that he got the opportunity to spend all that time with his son. To feed him, teach him, love him. Staying at home was also a welcomed change as he usually works anywhere between 10 and 14 hour days. It was a nice change for the both of us. He was happy. But alas his WHOLE male family, minus a few, were so angry with ME. You see raising kids and cooking (both enjoyable, both difficult) is a woman’s job. How dare I impose this on my poor, dear husband. He was angry. Very.

That’s sexism.

There are so many examples from my own life that I could share. Too many. I think these few explain my point. Sexism is forcing any human being to be something or someone based on their gender. It doesn’t really matter who is at the delivering or receiving end. By allowing sexism to exist we are all losing our freedom. Our basic human right to work, live and be happy.

This is why I call myself a feminist. I hope to piss enough people off so something will change. All I want is freedom. Common sense is a given ladies. Inventing words doesn’t make you sound smart. It makes the rest of us with a point lose our voice.

Love

Love

First I would like to clearly state that I am not a romantic. I enjoy romantic comedies, but in real life, I am not big on dramatic gestures. I am not big on drama of any kind. In other words, this is not a romantic gesture. This is not some sappy love story to make him happy. This is an honest post about why I love him.

When I met my now husband, he was many things to me but the love of my life was not one of them. I thought he was obnoxious. Sometimes even rude. I thought he was too cool. Too closed off and reserved. Plainly put, I did not like him much. Rather, he made me nervous. By the time we met, my heart was already broken and twisted in so many ways, in so many places, that I knew every negative form of love. I knew exactly what it meant to be with the mysterious type. Either the guy was simply boring underneath it all, or something far more sinister. The darkness that was well hidden always proved to be a lack of emotion or empathy. At this time, I didn’t believe in “just a shy guy” or introverts in general. Which is funny, because I tend to lose myself in my own thoughts all the time.

As I got to know him, I found out that in fact he was obnoxious. He was fully aware of his own intellect, and wouldn’t be humbled. I didn’t mind, it made me giggle. I found out that he is not shy but rather has no wish to meet new people. To have his heart broken in new ways. We got to know each other and fell in love. Mushy I know, but it happened.

What followed was not a world wind romance. We had fun, of course, we always do, but there was no drama. We started living together and there were no crazy arguments about who did what, who went where. I loved it. LOVED IT.

My life is full of drama. Some days it’s the greek variety with irony, and tragedy and laughter all intertwined. Some days it’s more like a politically correct play. The purple elephant in plain sight, but described so as to not hurt its feelings. Those are good days. Those are slow days. The days that make me want to run away anywhere are the full blown, foreign language, Spanish soap opera variety. These are the days when I’m not sure who went where with whom, and whose fault it was that they were late because he forgot to call them. They, in turn, are angry with her, because she promised but she slept in and somehow it always comes back to me. ALWAYS. These days I switch my phone off.

So back to my husband. He offered me something no boyfriend ever has before. Peace. There are a few people outside of my family with whom I am happy to be silent with. My mind always racing when I’m in a crowd. It’s probably a form of anxiety. A handful of people makes me comfortable enough to just breath. He is one of them. And once I had that I didn’t need anything else. I was happy. But he had other plans. He gave me more.

When our son was born it is needless to say that we learned to love each other more and on a new level. When you look into the eyes of your child, you can’t help but feel that your hubby got you the best present ever. Obviously, this is after the pregnancy. Definitely after the delivery. At those times, your hubby is the villain that ruined your body with this football that is about to come out. After that, after you sleep more than 3 seconds each night. That’s when it hits you. The love of your love gave you eternal love. Whatever happens next, I will forever love my son. Whatever tomorrow brings, I will have love, forever.

At this point, I was very happy. But life, mine anyways, is a soap opera. That beautiful moment was a commercial break. Life continued with my best friend and godmother (long explanation of my culture and traditions…later) marrying my brother in law, while my mother was breaking up with her boyfriend passionately, and my father was getting married privately, and my brother got two dogs, but one dog was too much, so one dog went to live with my mother, and the other almost bit my kid, which is why I am no longer talking to my brother’s girlfriend, though they recently broke up and BREATH. Can you imagine asking me “So, how was your day?” and getting an honest answer. I should probably start with “Grab something to eat and sit down. This will take a while.”

Either way, I am satisfied. I have the calm wind that is my husband, the electric impulse that is my son, the honest anchor that is my mom and drama, drama, drama. I have it all. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I was content. But then the love of my life decided to give me more. He gave me something I lack, always. Self-confidence and pride. I don’t know why, but it’s not a thread in my cloth. And he is slowing weaving it. Between the crazy and loving he is slowing adding this new, bright thread. It can be seen from anywhere, and it looks good. It’s the little things he does. Telling me to work harder, because he knows I’m a good writer, just lazy. Discussing the way our money is handled, because he knows I’m smart, just not the most responsible. Telling people that I know what I’m doing and to back off. He’s not humoring me, he really does believe in me. So now I believe in me. This form of honest respect is building me up. Slowly, step by step, I am able to do things I would otherwise never dare. Show my talent, allow the world to criticize me.

I can only imagine what he has planned for me in the future. Even though life can be tough, I have to remember this. Because this is why I love him. Because of everything he is and will be. Not the interests that come and go, not the things he does on a daily basis. But, the things he has given me and continues to give. Love. Respect. Joy. These are the thing every little girl should want from her prince. And when you do ladies, don’t complain about the big romantic gestures that he doesn’t have a knack for. Remember that night he tucked you in, or when he defended you in front of his friends. Remember when he argued with you because he values your opinion. Life is not a movie, it is so much more.

Treća Smena – The 3rd Shift

Treća Smena – The 3rd Shift

I don’t actually know if this exists everywhere in the world, I guess it does. I guess hard work and minimum wage are like the flu, it’s everywhere and it’s not that big a deal. I just never thought I’d be doing what I love in the crazy owl hours. But then here I am. Finalizing my research, placing the ever important commas, looking at the clock.

I don’t even mind. That’s the truth. I don’t mind that sometimes I stay up all night writing. That’s good. When I have work to do that’s good. I don’t even mind the nights that I can’t seem to put a single word out there. I love every bit of it, the writing. That’s the truth.

But I do lie. Not to the one’s I love the most. The ones I trust. The other people in my life. I learned to lie to them. The thing is if I was to tell them “I actually think faster at night, so it suits me,” suddenly everyone would be saying the one sentence I detest: “You got it easy.”

I know it’s a correct statement. I am blessed, and I am grateful. I have a beautiful, slightly tyrant-like, baby boy. I have a funny, loving, and interesting husband. I have a great mom that’s still always there for me in spite of myself. To top it off, I’m earning money doing what I love. Added bonus-pyjama uniform. So yes, I have it “easy”, but I earned it. I worked for it.

So here I am, getting ready to send another article out. I’m hoping I’ll be able to concentrate enough to send many more tonight. Tomorrow maybe I won’t be able to put pen to paper. Who knows. Maybe I’ll put my heart and soul into something and the client will decline the essay. Not to their standards, not their taste. You never really know. Then I’ll be all angry and heartbroken how my sweet little article was rejected. With that mindset, I’ll “go” to work. Switch on my thinking cap and pull another all-nighter. I will do that for as long as I can.

They will still say that my life is “easy”. I can’t drown them out or shut them up, but I can lie. Tell them I’m tired and earning pennies. They won’t feel sorry for me, don’t worry. They’ll shrug as if to say “Well now you know what it’s like to work,” and I’ll let them have that. That emotion that some form of justice was done and I am not that awesome. But I am. Every single person out there who does something new and scary is awesome. The single mom who refuses to settle, awesome. The cool kid who turned his back on his friends in order to grow up, awesome. The adults who went back to college, awesome. So many great people out there. I bet they are surrounded with their own “easy” crowd. I hope they don’t let it affect them.

Make coffee, empty ashtray, get the notebook, write. Work. Bye now 😉

Really?

Really?

 

Have you recently read something online that made your eyes roll so far back, they might just get stuck there? Today I read an amazing number of things that did this to me.

From absurdly pathetic comments, to the dumbest articles ever. Am I becoming cynical? More importantly, why is there no filter on Facebook to protect me from such stupidity?

I just read a post that was cool : “True or false, Never discredit your gut instinct. You’re not being paranoid. Your body can pick up on bad vibrations. If something deep inside of you says something is not right about a person or situation, trust it.” I personally believe this to be true. You have a right to stick your head in the sand and think that the everything is peachy. That didn’t baffle me. One comment however did. One girl stated that this is false because, and I quote, “Your gut feeling could sometimes be something you conjured up on your own. You can make yourself believe someone is cheating when in reality you’re just thinking too deep and dealing with insecurities of your own”.

Now maybe I misread the post, to me it’s talking about many different situations, bad situations, bad people. It’s probably just me, but cheating is not actually dangerous. It can be upsetting, or hurtful, but that’s it. It’s not the worse thing ever.  A paper cut is bad, being attacked by a number of extremely sharp books would be worse.

Back to my point, this girl read this particular post and, as we all do, made a connection to her own life. Probably to the time she accused her bf of cheating. He, naturally, assured her that it’s all in her head. Whether her gut instinct told her somethings up, or that weird 3am text is irrelevant. The post is NOT talking about messed up relationships. It’s talking about sitting in a bar, and a crowd of bad looking guys walk in, and your gut tells you pay your bill and go. I follow my gut and go. My gut is usually right.

Hell, even if your gut tells you somethings up in your relationship this is true. Your significant other probably isn’t cheating on you, that doesn’t mean nothings wrong. That doesn’t mean everyone is happy and everything is fine. There is a reason you are doubting this person, a good reason.

So what upset me about this kid? The fact that she is so naive, or the fact that she would like the world to know? Neither, my personal pet peeve is people trying to be so smart, so wise, and yet give proof that they are full of it.

In conclusion, I have obviously become cynical and old.

The Girl behind the Bar

The Girl behind the Bar

It was Thursday. She sat on the bar stool waiting. They didn’t arrive yet and this was worrying. Not that something had happened to them, but the later they came the later they went. The later they left, the more they drank. The more they drank, the longer her shift lasted.

Mr. Thursday, the self proclaimed leader, and his gang weren’t dangerous. They weren’t that bad really. They were more like toddlers with a licence to drink.

They were loud, they were demanding, they were uncontrollable. A tantrum here and there, emotions all over the place and constantly admiring women’s tits. Toddlers. She, on the other hand, was a cranky twenty something year old with a poorly placed chip on her shoulder.

For a few months, she hated them, but time passed and she placed her chip down long enough to listen. Those were some of the greatest stories she ever heard. At first they sounded fake. I mean Thursday was a stunt guy? He’s a tech and IT guy now. And little-big man a romantic? If he smiled ever after the first beer.

There was also the nice 30 year old, who was once, in that very pub, arrested by the cops after another guy took a beating. Long story. The thug? He was actually really shy. Who knew?

Time passed and she listened and laughed. Like that one story when they ran over thug with a car and took him to a pediatrician. Well it wasn’t a vet at least. Time passed and she somehow became part of their story. She became the girl behind the bar.

There was a time when they were great friends. It didn’t matter what bar she worked at, they came. When she needed cheering up, they we there. When they needed a beer and a shoulder to cry on, she was there.

But then time passed, and lives changed. She no longer works by the bar. They no longer go to pubs every Thursday. Life moved on beyond that moment. The moment when everything was funny or sad. Life happened, and every day they are getting further and further away from that moment.

It was a moment, just a moment, when she was the girl behind the bar.