Just seven words.

Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

  1. Hello
  2. Help/Danger
  3. Believe
  4. Peace
  5. Friend
  6. Forgive
  7. Always

I think that the most basic of words — yes, no, love, etcetera, can be conveyed without actual words. So when I chose these seven words, I was trying to think of words that need more than expressions to describe them.  The word love is meaningless without the feeling behind it. If you love someone you shouldn’t have to tell them — they will know by your actions and by your devotion the depth of your feelings. The phrase “I love you” is almost a call-and-response phrase — you expect the other person to respond in kind. I tell my boyfriend that I love him all the time, and he tells me the same, but I really know that he loves me by the way he treats me, the way he touches me, and the way he looks at me. None of those actions need words.

Another word that I pondered putting on the list — but decided to exclude — is the word “goodbye”. It’s such a sad word, and I can’t think of a single person that loves to say goodbye.

Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.

So let me explain why I chose the words I did:

The first, Hello, seems to also be one of those words that can be conveyed by body language. However if you delve deeper the word is more than a greeting — it’s an invitation. It’s a call-and-response as well, but with a stranger. By saying hello, you are extending a welcome that they can respond to in kind.

The second, Help/Danger is self explanatory. If you need help, or need to warn someone of pending danger, it’s much easier to have a word for this than using body language to explain the situation. The word is a call to action.

Believe could also be Trust. This is a word that cannot be conveyed by body language. Sometimes life requires you to take a leap of faith.

Peace. The opposite of a call to action, this word can serve to diffuse situations. It can also be used to intone that you mean no harm, or as a plea to dissuade hostility.

Friend is a word used to describe a relationship outside of sexual or family relations. A definition of bonded companions, confidantes, or play-fellows. Friendships are a basis for small communities as well. Humans are social animals, and need those relationships to thrive. Having a word for such a thing is important, because there is a difference between someone you are acquainted with, and someone who is a friend. It’s important to be able to define that difference.

Forgive, because sometimes forgiveness is required, whether you are asking for it or giving it. I thought about including a word for sorry or remorse, but some languages do not even have the word sorry, because one should never have to apologize. You can show remorse with your actions and beg forgiveness from someone you’ve wronged. Whether or not you apologize is irrelevant, because as they say: “Actions speak louder than words.”

And finally, Always. In my personal opinion, always is one of the most powerful words in any language. Always transcends all times and all barriers, on all occasions, come what mayAlways is a promise, a measurement, a consistency, an infallibility, without exception. You can always be a friend, always believe, always forgive. Beautiful in its simplicity and complexity and scope, always is my favorite word on this list.

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The girl and the alien hominoids

The planet was a lush rainforest of continents swaddled by gentle indigo oceans. Enormous pink clouds floated around it like so many puffs of cotton candy.

From a crawling orbit above the atmosphere the strange bipedal hairless hominoids were embroiled in disputes about it, and about the sentients they hoped to find below.

This was the first time the hominoids had ever attempted such a thing. They had been carefully chosen for this mission to properly represent their species as delegates from the third planetary body orbiting the star Sol.

So far from home, only the Navigator recognized that specific star. He checked several times a day (insofar as one could relegate days on the vessel), just to make sure it was still there. He superstitiously believed that if he ever lost track of that star, he might never find it again. A good navigator can always find his way home.

The hominoids bickered about how to land, where to land, what to bring, how to approach the natives (if there were natives), what all that purpley and bluish stuff was, and who would go versus who would stay. The arguments were pointless for the most part, as they had procedures set in place for just this kind of thing. To be fair the landing discussion did have some merit: everyone agreed that it would be difficult to land on top of the thick canopy of trees covering everything. At least what the topography expert believed to be trees. No one knew for sure.  Two things they all agreed on was that all this had seemed much more simple and straightforward on paper, and also that the planet below was more beautiful than they had ever anticipated.

 

Below in her small forest village, a brilliant girl was fiddling with her latest invention. She fine-tuned some metal filaments and what could reasonably pass as an antenna inside of a crude wooden box. This girl, whose mind was far beyond anything her people had ever seen, was at the moment quartered in a treehouse with all her homemade gadgets and paraphernalia. She was both feared and respected by the village, who gasped in wonder at her impossible inventions. A small orb made of fused sand and metal absorbed the sunlight during the day and emitted an illuminating glow during the dark night hours. It didn’t provide the warmth of a night fire, but it was a much safer lighting system. She’d also created a sort of aqueduct system that brought the village fresh water from a nearby river. Her star map – carefully carved into a large piece of stone was something of a novelty to the villagers who didn’t really understand what it was for, but appreciated its complicated beauty.

As she fiddled with the filaments a gentle hum emanated from the box. Jumping back excitedly,  the girl moved her finger to the antenna to ground the device. She felt a small charge and grinned. She was hoping her theory was correct, and this this device might be useful to warn the village of the frequent great electrical storms. What she heard instead from the device was garbled words in a language she did not understand, although it sounded strangely familiar to her.

“…earth. We come in……Captain Walsh….Transmission….Four – Two – Seven……..delegates from the planet………..peace……can…..hear me?……Walsh……Two – Eight – Six….”

The device lapsed back into a humming static as she pulled her finger away from the antenna. Eyes wide, she stared at the small wooden machine in front of her. Any other villager would have proclaimed that the box was possessed by evil spirits. This girl was not so superstitious.

She was thrilled. Immediately she began working on another box, similar in design but with key alterations. She would send a message back. She would say in every dialect she knew that she had waited so long for a friend equal in her intelligence. She would ask where her new friend was. She would tell him to come to her little village – she would tell him about her inventions, and ask about his.

She would no longer be alone.

 

Miles and miles above the village that held such an extraordinary girl was the ship. The great metal beast of a ship, filled with hairless hominoids. Hominoids that could not stop arguing with one another about so many tiny details. Details about how and where to land, what to do, how to make contact. They were already sending a pre-recorded radio transmission out into the airwaves – but there was not much hope that it would be answered. So when it was, the bickering stopped cold, and the girl’s message filled the silent ether.

“…R..unn….nno..t…wel..co..mm…….no..land…goback….leave….be..for……..warr……yuuuu…are….nno..t..wel..com……..rrrr….unn……nnowww….”

And the hominoids staring fearfully at one another as the strange gravelly voice intoned such hostilities at them suddenly decided as one that they would listen and obey, no arguments about it. It did not occur to them that the words they heard may have only sounded like their language, but meant something else entirely.

The Navigator searched the sky for Sol and programmed the ship to make a beeline. He was gratified that the rest of the crew suddenly all asked him to point out the comforting star to them, and not a single one forgot how to find it again.

 

Ode to this purple glass bead I found on the sidewalk today.

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Today I found a small purple glass bead on the sidewalk. It had no friends, no bead mates, in sight.

Oh little bead, as small as the nail on my pinkie. You caught my eye as the sun created a little purple light-shadow for you. I’m a sucker for shiny things.

I picked you up, rolled you between my fingers, and wondered how you came to be in that spot. You were all alone, a mysterious oddity for one as small as yourself. One would think that you were once part of a large family of glass beads, maybe all purple, maybe of many colors. One would think that the adventure which led you to the sidewalk on which I found you would have included your glass brethren.

I carried you inside, to my workspace.

I have to admit, Beady, that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with you. I felt that throwing you in the garbage would be too crass, too unfeeling of your plight.

But what does one do with a single, purple, glass bead?

I also, admittedly, feel that keeping you would be overly-sentimental of me. After all, you are a mysteriously discarded glass bead with nothing to offer. Please don’t take it personally.

Look, enough of this emotional onslaught, Beady. This sob story won’t endear you to me. Instead, find a way to make yourself useful and you can stay.

I know it’s tough, but you’re not the first to be confronted with overcoming adversity and obstacles. ThinkBeady, think!

Hmmm.

Well, I suppose it’s not original, nor is it as brilliant as I was hoping, but it’s keeping you out of the bin…for now…

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Make Coffee, Work In My Pajamas

Another Daily Prompt, to get me writing. Here is what I see in my future (a hopeful prediction):

You wake up slowly as the sun shines through the bedroom curtains, gently warming your face. You stretch in stages, methodically and deliberately, waking each muscle in turn.

You look at him, slumbering deeply next to you and smile. You always wake up before he does. His late-night terrible movie addiction keeps him up most of the night. You’ve tried to stay awake with him, but you always fall asleep on his chest, lulled by his heartbeat and steady breathing.

Pulling on a set of pajamas, you tiptoe out of the bedroom and gently close the door behind you. The stairs are maneuvered carefully, as you’ve slipped onto your rear one too many times to be caught off-guard again.

Once you’ve safely reached the first floor, you move almost instinctively, switching on the coffee machine and grabbing your tablet on your way to the porch, where you enjoy the cool and quiet morning air with a cigarette while doing some light reading. It looks to be a beautiful day.

Back inside, you make your coffee and settle into the couch with your laptop, starting the workday. You love being able to work from home. You love your job. You love going to work in your pajamas.

You check the latest reviews from the movie you’ve written, which has just been made into a big-budget blockbuster film. They are glowing, praising reviews. You smile again.

A passing thought strikes you; you can’t remember the last time you actually frowned. You try to frown, just for posterity. It feels wrong, and you’re not quite sure that you’ve succeeded. The thought makes you smile again.

You check your emails, check your blog, your social media. You putter about a little. You jot down notes and ideas. You do some reading, some editing, some story-arc building. You write a few more pages in your novel, which is coming along nicely, by the way.

You attempt to take a sip of your coffee, and discover that the cup is already empty. Ah, that’s what a frown feels like. Ok, make more coffee.

With that done, you decide to go sit on the porch again. That morning air is just wonderful. The sun hovers, still relatively low in the sky, bathing you in orange and pink light.

He joins you on the porch after he wakes, greeting you by brushing his lips against your lips, your cheek, your jaw line, and telling you good morning beautiful. You roll your eyes at the compliment, but inside you’re beaming. You lean into him and breathe him in.

When the two of you go in, you make him a cup of coffee while he fetches his laptop from his office.

Both of you sit on the couch, and continue co-writing your next masterpiece.

Before the day is out you’ve cranked out some wonderful material together, taken an invigorating bike ride, showered, and spent some “quality time” that’s probably best left unwritten here.

You finish the day by falling asleep with your head nestled on his chest while he watches a terrible movie, and you try to stay awake with him, but you both know you’ll be asleep in five minutes, tops.

Everyday is like this, except the ones that aren’t. You love what you do, you make a living off of it, you spend every day in slow-paced bliss with a partner who adores you. Not every day is as perfect as this one, and sometimes you spend nearly the whole day frowning. But not often.

Most days are like this one, and you smile all the time, and you have someone to share your wonderful life with, and most days, the only time you frown is when you run out of coffee.

On Journals

Ah, the journal. Alternately a savior and the embarrassing bane of my existence.

I’ll admit right here and now that I’ve never been good at journaling. I’ve given it a go, numerous times, and basically what happens goes along the same formula:

The journal is acquired in one of two ways:

1) It is gifted to me by someone who knows my love of writing.

2) I decide (on a whim) that I should start journaling again, and purchase a really pretty, ohmigosh, isn’t it just beautiful?? one.

Very rarely do I ever find myself picking up a years-old journal and opening it back up to the next empty page. I must always have a shiny new one. Why? Neurosis? I don’t know. Let’s go with that.

Sometimes, I even get a shiny new pen. Yeah, I love a good pen.

I will proceed to write in the new, beautiful journal for days, sometimes weeks, and on the rare occasion, multiple months. 

Not every day, of course. Not necessarily every week either, but for sure some progress is made over time. I will write about my joys and sorrows, I will write about random things that pop into my head, I will remember how much I love putting a real pen to real paper. How satisfying is the sound of the pen, gently scratching against the grain of the paper? How fulfilling is it to watch blank pages fill up with the record of my life?

Sometimes, I think about the person who might find my journal, 100 years from now. I try to mind that imaginary person as I write, I attempt to sound more educated, more pensieve, more interesting than I actually am. If I’m honest, it probably just makes me sound pretentious.

I’ve given up on writing exclusively for me, which is what “they” say you should do, as a writer. I’ve done this because I am my harshest critic. Literally nothing I write is good enough for my own reading pleasure. I know all the stuff that I’m going to do in writing. I’m not going to give myself a shock with a plot twist or anything, lets just face it. 

Which makes it hard for me to keep up interest in a journal. If I’m not writing it for me, who am I writing it for? I certainly don’t want anyone in my personal life reading through my journal, even though its not like I’ve got anything to hide. Its just that my writing in there isn’t polished enough for you to see, Jeeze. It’ll sound better in 100 years, I’m pretty sure of it.

But then of course I lose interest, or forget, or decide that I sound like a whiney/giddy/insert annoying verb here little girl, who is overly-concerned with unimportant things. There’s a bigger picture, self, and you’re just not seeing it. Quit the narcissistic rambling.

So in all honesty, I guess I’m a phase journaler. I chronicle my life in short bursts, with years of nothing between.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not an optimist about it. I still believe I can be a good journaler, even after multiple failed attempts.

I’m a glass half full kinda gal.

Speaking of which, I got a journal last Christmas, and I stopped writing in it back in March, I think.

You know what? I’m going to pick that baby up and write in it, tonight, or maybe this weekend some time. Maybe it’ll break the cycle. Or maybe it won’t.

I think the point, though, is that I try.

Writing spaces

As a writer, I have specific spaces that I like to write in. Spaces that inspire me, and at the same time make me feel comfortable. 

I use my library, most often. I have to say, there is almost nothing better than curling up on the big pouf in my library and writing. Maybe reading is better, but only because there is less “work” involved. The feel of that room is so conducive to creativity and relaxation that it blows me away. Every time I go in there, I know in my heart of hearts that the aura of the room is exactly perfect for me. However, not everyone has a library, and that’s cool, because…

There is also the outdoors. My city has a LOT of parks. We’re a park-loving place. A lot of these parks hook right up to the gigantic lake (technically 2 lakes, but I digress) Madison nestles around. A few of them even have neat (and not so neat…looking at you, Union Terrace….) piers that one can go out on. I have to say, it’s always a great day when the boyfriend and I can pack up a picnic, or our laptops, or both, and head out to one of the many fabulous parks our city has to offer; We find a nice spot, get comfy, and spend our time munching, drinking frappes, shooting ideas back and forth, and writing together. That is honestly my ideal day. 

I know that all of two people read this blog but I seem to have some followers out there, I want to know: What is your favorite spot to write or read? Why? 

What’s your favorite book of all time?

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Of all the books in all the world, of every book I’ve read, heard of, and haven’t read yet, I have one that is simply nearest and dearest to my heart. I have read it dozens and dozens of times, I will read it many, many more times, and sometimes I pick it up and flip to the middle just to absorb the beautiful words. I’ve read it to my daughter, it was the first book I ever read to her. She was still an infant then, and didn’t understand a word of it, but I didn’t care. I wanted her to have heard every word so that somewhere, this book would always be somewhere in her heart, even if she doesn’t know it.

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This book is Peter Pan, or Peter and Wendy, by J.M. Barrie. I have multiple copies of this book, and have even gone so far in my obsession as to owning two of the first U.S. prints of this book, from 1911 and 1912. They are some of my dearest treasures.

This book has some of the most well-written passages I’ve ever read:

“I don’t know if you have ever seem a map of a person’s mind. Doctors sometimes draw maps of other parts of you, and your own map can become intensely interesting, but catch them trying to draw a map of a child’s mind, which is not only confused, but keeps going round all the time. There are zigzag lines on it, just like your temperature on a card, and these are probably roads in the island; for the Neverland is always more or less and island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there, and coral reefs and rakish-looking craft in the offing, and savages and lonely lairs, and gnomes who are mostly tailors, and caves through which a river runs, and princes with six elder brothers, and a hut fast going to decay, and one very small old lady with a hooked nose.”
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

“Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children’s minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this and you would find it very interesting to watch. It’s quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on Earth you picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek, as if it were a nice kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out the prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

“She was a lovely lady, with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more; and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner.”
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

There is something brilliant and simple and honest about Barrie’s writing that I can just never get over. There is something very admirable about Wendy’s decision to grow up, and something very romantic about the notion that there was ever a choice. Also, Neverland is just so perfectly described. That is exactly the place I lived and played and had adventures in as a child. “When you play at it by day with the chairs and table-cloth, it is not in the least alarming, but in the two minutes before you go to sleep it becomes very nearly real. That is why there are night-lights. ”

The Neverland is now the place in my mind from which I draw inspiration to write. It’s the place where all my characters live, where the rivers and waterfalls are made up of  words, flowing freely through a lush and busy landscape.

I think we often forget that place when we grow up. We are so busy with work, school, family, life in general that the doorway becomes neglected and overgrown, ivy or kudzu taking it over completely.

Don’t let that happen. Prune the door to your imagination, and walk through. The door may stick at first, and the hinges may squeak, but keep pushing until you’ve rediscovered your Neverland. You’ll realize it’s been waiting for you a long, long time.

The First

I would just like to say right away, I do not read books. I devour them, as a starving child ravenously inhales food. I’ve been known to read fairly thick books in matters of days, hours – books with a length that would take most people weeks or months or even years to read. A fantastic example of this would be my Grandfather: When Deathly Hallows came out I read it cover-to-cover in about 3 days, snarling at anyone who wanted to take me away from my precious book world. I then graciously loaned my copy to him, and he is still working on getting through it today. 

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I do not have concrete genre preferences, and am perfectly willing to read anything that sounds interesting or is recommended to me. That said, I admittedly tend to gravitate toward philosophical (the very heavy kind), fantasy, sic-fi, and true classics (think A.C.Doyle, Austen, Lovecraft, Tolstoy, etc.), though what fascinates me more than any story is a truly compelling character. I do not care how realistic or fictional the world around this character is, if I can relate, or if I deeply care, or if I’m even morbidly fascinated by this character I will read and let the real world fade around me. 

Admittedly, I’m a purist when it comes to books. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad. I’ve read numerous books on it, and love being able to find new indie authors who are under the radar. However, there are some books that are just so powerful, or that touch me so deeply that I feel an overriding need to hold them physically in my hands, to touch the cover, to smell the pages, it just somehow seems more right. I’ve felt this compulsion with so many books, in fact, that the spare bedroom in my house has been converted to a comfortable library. I’m not going to lie, it’s my absolute favorite room in the house. 

 

For some, and definitely for me, my love of reading has led me to writing. 

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Again, in this I am a purist. There is just something so satisfying about putting a pen (not just any pen, mind you, but a nice, heavy fountain pen) to paper and letting my thoughts travel the natural pathway from the head, down the arm, to the hand, and watching the ink blossom on the paper into something I’ve created. This is probably why, lamentably, most of what I’ve written as far as stories, poetry, and just random thoughts has disappeared throughout the years. I’m getting better at the whole “digital writing” thing (see:blogging) though, and have even managed to co-create a movie script and am currently working on co-creating another (also without physically putting pen to paper). 

So after forcing you to read all of the above rambling, I’ll get to the point. This blog will be my digi-writing therapy and a collective of my thoughts and opinions about books, reviews of books, writing in general, and some other things that I’ll make excuses up to fit into that subject matter. 

Love, 

me.