Tag Archives: holiday

Mrs. Claus

25 Dec

A horror story for the holidays.

She pulled off the fancy bow, throwing the ribbon tidily onto the ground next to her. Opened the lid, slowly. As was proper. Breathed in a little as the top jiggled loose with a quiet puff of old dust. Looked inside.

A moment of silence.

“This is… not what I was expecting.”

The man in the red suit with the slicked-back hair and black goatee, all glint and glimmer and promising shine, smiled his lopsided smile. Deceptive as ever.

“What do you mean?” he asked, sickly sweet as an overly gummed candy cane. He slid closer, gliding like a hellcat in the shadows. “What were you expecting?”

She looked up, her eyes an angry flash at his bloody veneer. Her lips curled up into a snarl. “Immortality.”

The man in the crisp red suit threw his head back and laughed, all mirth and mockery. A tear dripped from one eye and he brushed it away with a black-gloved hand. “Oh, my dear,” he hissed, “That would have been an awfully big present. Too big for one as little as yourself. There’s not enough soul in you, to pay for that.”

Her slight frame shook. She pulled the bauble from its box. A glass knife. No – it was already dripping – an ice knife. Sharp. Pretty. Ephemeral.

She had asked for control over life and death. He had given her a toy.

Sly cat. No matter. She had some claws of her own.

“I will take what is my due,” she whispered, her voice thin as a blade and three times as sharp.

The man in the red suit lounged back on her sofa. “Oh really?” he purred, one eyebrow arching up. “And how is that, pet?”

She smiled. Carefully. Slinked towards him in her dress, red like blood and seduction. A sin for a sin. Of course he’d said they’d need to match.

She climbed onto his lap and put her hands over his chest.

“You’re magic,” she murmured under her breath. The man in the red suit leaned into her words. “Ageless.” She let a little reluctant wonder creep into her voice while one finger crept up the red suit and came to rest just over the heart that beat beneath the red suit. Her nails were long and pointed, sharp like daggers. Red from cuticle to tip.

Red. His color.

And now hers.

She dug her claws into the suit, into the flesh, into the man and his magic and his terrible gift-giving and she stole it. Pulled it up, out of him, away from his years and years of cheated death and trickery treasure and into her own body. She felt herself grow large, taking it all in. Bigger. Powerful.

Beneath her claws, the man in the red suit withered. His skin wrinkled and aged. His goatee frayed and greyed and whitened. Flab arose and clung to his middle like denture paste to an old jawline. His eyes sunk and his nose reddened.

And he began to scream.

She pulled her claws out then, cackling.

The old man in the red suit wailed at the sharp blades of her fingers cutting their way back out of him. There was pain. Oh yes, there was pain.

But there was no death.

He healed. Instantly. There was still enough magic left in him for the job.

She had made sure of that.

His chest rose and fell, clunkily. Ragged.  “Ho. ho. ho.” The old man’s wheezing was short and clipped.

The woman smiled. “Ho ho ho,” she laughed.

The man looked up at her, fearful. “Who are you?” he whispered, eyes growing wide with fear.

Ah yes, a name. The woman looked down at her fingers, covered in red like cherry slowly drying to crimson around the cuticles. Her eyes narrowed.

Yes, that would do.

“Claws,” she said, voice firm as desire. “Mrs. Claws.”

She pulled the man up from the couch, thrusting him back towards her fireplace. “Now, if you don’t mind, dear, I believe you have my bidding to do.”

The old man in the ancient red suit was silent. But he nodded, then disappeared back through the flames.

Mrs. Claws’s eyes glinted in the firelight. She looked around the room, wondering where to start.

A now-empty box caught her eye. Mrs. Claws smiled. Cracked her knuckles. Stepped into the fireplace to follow the old man back to his workshop. Yes, that would be her first order. That is how he ended. That is how she would begin.

Toys,” Mrs. Claws hissed. “Toys for everyone.”

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Thanksgiving with Eating Disorders

27 Nov

‘Round these American parts, it’s Thanksgiving. You know, that holiday where we ignore the actual history and consequences of the original “day” and whittle the whole event down to talking about what we’re thankful for and increasing our dish washing activity by at least an order of magnitude because of all the food we’ve made ourselves cook. Today, some of you are sitting around, munching on whatever it is you’ve got on your table, and basking in the glow of a nice communal meal.

Some of you, on the other hand, are sitting at perhaps this same table, staring at the food on it, terrified.

Because life with an eating disorder is complicated enough without throwing in this weird social expectation-filled eating ritual.

I spent a lot of Thanksgivings this way. I’ve rollercoastered my way from textbook anorexic to anorexic with heavy side serving of orthorexia to who the fuck knows to bulimia to some kind of weird mutant bulimia-anorexia mashup. That’s a lot of years in there, people. A lot of Thanksgivings.

Personally, what I am grateful for on this day is having a second year under my belt where at Thanksgiving I can come to the table considering myself “in recovery.” I’ve had a shit ton of therapy and a shit ton of support and a shit ton of relapsing to finally get me to this point. But that’s not what I want to write about, here. No, I want to write about the harder years. Because of some of you, my dear, dear readers, may be in those years, right now.

Eating disorders are often all about rules. For a long time, I had a mental list of “safe foods” and “bad foods.” I’d pick at the Thanksgiving spread searching desperately for something to fit my safe rules, all the while trying not to be too obvious about it, because who wants your mother, or god forbid Great Aunt Marge suddenly calling you out on your habits and making you feel embarrassed and anxious and trapped. As an anorexic, my goal was to make myself small, in every aspect. That meant small in terms of vocalizing. I did not have the capacity to stand up for myself. At those times, I wish I would’ve had someone to call out Great Aunt Marge. To have stepped up for me. Not in a way that would defend my eating disorder – just in a way that would take the focus off of me. So – hey, if you’ve got an ally in whatever group of people you’re spending tonight with, ask them for help. And if you can’t do that – know that somewhere out there, there is someone who would give you sympathy. Not support for your rules, but understanding that, well, you are following them right now. And regardless, you deserve to feel like a human being, not a specimen for gawking at.

And then there’s the other end of the behavioral spectrum… I can remember multiple holidays of eating “normally,” just like everybody else, perhaps even more than everybody else, because I could avoid notice that way, and then I could just go purge it all later. A removable cloaking device, in a way. But… there was no less shame, no less guilt. And it was all still about power. Except I wasn’t the one with power. Like, here I am, causing my body to do something through unnatural means because some fucking brain parasite is telling me I have to in order for it to let me feel okay? Never mind that the more I do that, the closer my esophagus gets to rupturing, and the more fucked up my electrolytes get, tilting me further and further towards the eventuality of a heart attack. Not that I didn’t know all that while I was purging. I knew it, and did it anyway. And every time, I thought that if only I just hadn’t gone the binge/purge route. If only I’d given myself this chance, today. If only I hadn’t gotten upset because of Relative A, or felt overwhelmed because of Comment B, or decided that if I felt slightly over-full, might as well say fuck it and go the whole nine yards, to make the punishment I would inflict on myself later that much worse.

Eating disorder decisions were not good decisions.

They were only one more signature on one more contract moving my eventual self-execution, whether that was through starvation or heart attack or something else, just a bit closer.

Guys, that’s not being powerful. That’s being puppeteered.

But you’re going to do what you’re going to do. It is not my place or my job to convince you otherwise. I write this merely to say that I understand. I understand how much it sucks. And that I hope today, to stave off just a bit of that suckiness, you can take control of those puppet strings and say brain monster be damned, relatives be damned, I will just fucking do what I need to do to keep myself truly safe, truly healthy today. You don’t have to go forward or anything. You don’t have to put down your foot and say “today I will recover.” That’s not what I’m suggesting. I am suggesting that today, even if you do not do recovery, just… do no harm. Survive. Please.

Yeah, I’m a random stranger on the internet. But you are fighting the thing that I fought. And because of that, I care about reducing the lashes you take from the whip I too faced. Camaraderie, of sorts.

Be cool to see you on the other side of this sickness/recovery battle, too.

A La Frozen: Let It Burn

26 Nov

My apartment is hosting a bunch of people for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and while a lot of the cooking will happen then, there’s some initial preparation that’s already happening. And, well, we’ve already managed to fill our apartment with smoke once. My bet’s on at least three times total between now and Friday.

Joking around our first time of smoke-filling inspired this lovely Thanksgiving parody of Let It Go. Please forgive the bumps in rhythm that happen every few measures; it’s a joke, not a music masterpiece. But I do hope it eases the pain of all of you who are also elbow-deep in giblets or knee-deep in powder sugar mess.

Let It Burn

The cake glows white on the counter tonight

not a helper to be seen.

A kitchen of isolation,

and it looks I’ve got to clean.

The oven starts a-beeping like the swirling alarm inside

Couldn’t turn it off;

Heaven knows I’ve tried.

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see.

Be the arsonist you’ve got to be!

Grab mitts don’t feel,

don’t let them know –

but the smoke shows!

Let it burn! Let it burn;

can’t salvage it anymore.

Let it burn, let it burn.

Turn and slam that oven door.

I don’t care

what relatives say.

Let the fire rage on,

the burn never bothered me anyway.

It’s funny how apoxia

makes everything breathe small,

and the fears that once controlled me

don’t register at all.

It’s time to see what glass can do,

to test the limits and heat through.

No right, no left, no escape for me.

I blaze!

Let it burn, let it burn.

I am one with the ash and smoke.

Let is burn, let it burn –

you’ll never see leftovers.

Turkey brands,

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The ashes flurry through the air onto the ground.

The turkey’s spiraling in burning white meat all around.

And one thought then condenses like a smoky blast –

Next year no relatives come back, the past is in the past!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

Till it breaks the fire alarm!

Let it burn! Let it burn!

The whole damn meal is gone!

Turkey brands

and turkey flames.

Let the fire rage on!

The burn never bothered me anyway.

Peppermint

12 Nov

Dear Krystina,

it’s that time of year again, when walking into Starbucks always leaves me feeling a little bit sucker-punched. The walls are draped in that peppermint color, red and white striping everything from the pastry wrappers to the boxes for sale of instant coffee.

It’s those twelve-packs of instant Christmas blend that get me most. Those were your favorite, the only instant coffee acceptable enough for consumption by your standards – though whole-bean roasts were always preferred. I remember those weeks where we bought bag after bag, made affordable only because you worked at Starbucks, had been before it all happened and then were transitioning back again, all those early morning shifts that would turn out to last you all day. I’d miss you when you were gone. I don’t know if I ever told you that.

Oh, and thanks for letting me use your employee number to get discounts on my own personal stash of Christmas blend instant, hidden in the dresser middle drawer between my nicer clothes, out of sight of potential surprise inspections at the house. No, we kept our dutifully decaf coffee on display in the cabinets for those.

You know you were the one who taught me how to make proper drip coffee, right?

Requiem for a Dream was your favorite movie.

You always managed to pull off that leather jacket more than you knew.

You had mad eye-liner skills.

The only thing I have left of you is a single goddamn piece of paper. I was leaving treatment that day, going back out into the world of real people and real triggers and real chance of relapse. But you told me you believed in me. Scrawled a single-line note on that piece of paper. Signed it with “<3 K.”

That’s the only thing I have left of you.

A single goddamn piece of wrinkled paper. That’s not enough for your memory.

I believed in you too.

“<3 K”

I hope the syringe didn’t hurt too much. I hope you didn’t hurt at all, in the end. God and all his damned angels know you spent too much time paying debts that weren’t yours with pain that was, while you were here.

The Starbucks are looking like peppermint, Krystina. Guess it’s time to buy a bag of Christmas blend again.

New Things

26 Dec

Well, it’s time for some updating. Getting personal. Chatting with y’all. All that jazz.

Get ready for some not-so-serious kinda-brain-dead rambling, though. No, this isn’t going to be one of those posts where I really talk about the dark and deep and dangerous. This is just some jibbering I’ve got to get done.

Because, first update, I’ve spent the Christmas holiday fairly mentally washed out. A few days ago, the world of microbiota apparently decided that it wanted to give me a Christmas gift as well, in the form of a sinus infection con headache con sore throat con cough con stuffy nose. I know. The world of microbiota really outdid itself this year.

And yeah, being sick over the holidays has sucked. Especially since this was supposed to be the least stressful part of my winter break. I’m in Miami with my boyfriend and his family, away from the cold and the snow and family tension. But you know what? Being sick has inspired a few niceties of its own. My boyfriend has further proved himself amazing, giving me hugs and tissues and water bottles as necessary. Today, he even made me hot chocolate. Because I’d seen a commercial that happened to have hot chocolate in it and suddenly wanted some. And we’re not talking the Swiss Miss, microwave a cup of water and dump in a packet of cocoa powder. We’re talking William Sonoma, heat milk slowly over a stove, whisk in chocolate shavings while standing there for ten minutes kind of hot chocolate. And damn, was it good.

My literary world, on the other hand, is exploding in a much better, entirely mucus-free kind of way. I’m loving my Facebook feed – over the past months, it’s become increasingly more concentrated with updates from authors and poets, many of whom I’m now privileged to call friends, who are writing new manuscripts and publishing old ones and submitting articles and going on writerly retreats – and it’s awesome. Sure, sometimes I get intensely jealous of what I see everyone else is up to, but the impetus is inspiration, too. “Look at all these things that other people are doing; Mike Rosen is submitting poems, Tim Manley turned his Tumblr into a novel, Kim’s posted another stupendously colorful blog entry – I want to do all these things.”

Sure, I’ve got a couple of freelance jobs underway, and I’m in the middle of the mire that is my five year old manuscript that I told myself I’d finish editing this year, and I’ve started sketching out some ideas for future novels… but somehow, none of it seems “serious” enough to me. I’m building up relationships with other “legit” authors and artists and publicists, I’ve gotten a few short stories out there in various publications, a few of my blog posts have flown off the hit charts this year… but still, I feel stagnant. I don’t have an official editor or agent. I’ve yet to make it from the realms of Barnes & Noble’s online store to their actual shelves. There’s still a lot of work I could do. Should do. Want to do.

Just… gotta get rid of these clarity-consuming germs first 😉

And then there’s a change I’ve been thinking about for a while…

My blog name.

“The Quill Writings” – formal, professional, and if you ask me, flat-out boring. It’s not catchy. It doesn’t have any personality. It’s not distinctive or descriptive. It’s just… Eh. Blah. All those sorts of onomatopoeic monosyllables.

So. I’m thinking about changing it.

I chose it about a year ago, when I was looking for something to headline the industrial effort that was my foray into more public writing. It was simple, discrete. The quill as a writing instrument is something I’ve always had a fascination with. It’s deep in the history of writing, giving writers a physical tie to one’s work. It recalls a time when one could distinguish writers by the ink left on their fingers. Even these days, a quill is a writerly gift. And then, of course, there’s the presence of quills in the classrooms of wizardry students like Harry Potter. Harry Potter? Done and done.

But… as colorful a background as the quill might have, as a word, it’s still pretty meh. I mean, I think about the names my favorite bloggers have entitled their sites: Katherine Fritz’s “I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog,” Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half,” and my friend Kim’s “Terror and Frosting.”

Yeah. I could do better.

I don’t have many ideas right now… Germs and brain and cytokines and all that. So, while I’m still here, recovering from this lovely holiday visit from the world of microbiota, I’m inviting you all, if you’re looking for some procrastination material, to throw some of your own ideas at me. Brainstorm some high pressure systems. Mind spew! I’ll be here in the meantime, cuddling with my tissue box.

Season’s Supporting!

24 Dec

Whatever you’re going through this time of year, hope you’re surrounded by support, just like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

charlie brown Christmas

bloggedy blog blogs

17 Dec

In which I say to hell with grammar and tell you about some other awesome blogs. NO, you don’t need to buy anything, repost anything, sell your soul to corporate America for anything, or any such nonsense.

I’m just writing this post to say, “Oh hey, it’s the winter holidays when we’re supposed to be sharing and giving and spreading joy throughout livingkind and stuff, so how ’bout I do some of that with my readers?” ‘Cause, you know, there are other bloggers besides me (oh god please don’t leave me I love you all I need you please please stay and keep giving me someone to write for *continue desperate begging of an underly-caffeinated Miceala*) – and of those other bloggers, there are some who make me laugh and smile and nod approvingly at their writerly wit that I think they’re worth telling y’all about too.

So. Really what I’m doing is just giving you a bigger reading list. That’s a good thing, right?

Anyhoo. On to my fangirling.

 

I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog, Katherine Fritz

Okay, maybe it’s just that this woman has the same sarcastic snark that I do, but I consistently love her posts. Every. single. one. And that’s no easy feat for a blogger. And when I say her posts are real, I don’t just mean in the “Hallmark touchy-feely” sense. I mean that her posts are filled with all the fucks and damns and laughter and pissyness and appreciation and grunge and lust and luster of a typical day in the life of a twenty-something. She’s got mega-good insights without being preachy or trite, and she’s blunt without being crass. She’s a freelance costume designer in Philly, so a lot of her posts are about artsy stuff, but she also posts about everything and anything. Including mistaking sweater fluff for a spider. Best. Halloween post. ever.

 

Mommy Man, Jerry Mahoney

So a lot of you have probably already heard me go on and on about this dad-superman-comedian-gay guy writer in a previous post about the book he’s got coming out in March. He’s hilarious, he loves his kids and will tell you about them in all their awkward, selfish, innocent, just-barely-not-a-toddler glory, and he’s got some pretty interesting thoughts to share on what it’s like being a gay stay-at-home-dad in today’s times.

 

The Blog, Patrick Rothfuss

Apparently Patrick Rothfuss is *just too busy* finishing up that third book of his to come up with a wittier name for his blog. To be fair, the man’s throwing his energy into being a family man, a fantasy writer, an expert geek, and a cultural critique, and he’s got so much excellence outputting there, it’s understandable that he didn’t feel the need to agonize over his blog title. But seriously, if you want to keep up with the goings-on of someone I think is one of the world’s most interesting people, check out his blog. Also follow him on Facebook – not for publicity’s sake, but because a lot of the best snippets he writes show up as status posts rather than blog entries.

 

Let’s share the blogginess! I’m always happy to find other excellent internet writers out there I can use to procrastinate on work by reading their posts. So comment with your favorites! 😀