Sandstorm at Sea – Artsy Reflections 104

Sandstorm at Sea – also available in super wide crop – Get it from my shop onto your wall!

When I let my gaze get lost in this image, I saw a sandstorm at sea. Imagine a stormy sea, you’re squinting through stinging, tear-filled eyes as the boat bobs and tips. You can see land, but it’s really just a big, blurry blob that’s not getting bigger fast enough.

The title was born: Sandstorm at Sea. Lost in my imagination, I continued to wander down any path those words took me… and things got a little heavy. Usually, this is the part where I furiously scribble out any pain or vulnerability that’s leaked onto the page. Instead, I kept writing. I told myself I didn’t have to publish it, it would be good to just get it out.

When I was finished I decided that I was too afraid of offending you… I wrote a new story; it was light-hearted and funny.

Then I had a thought: why don’t I let you choose your own adventure? A fond memory of reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books crossed my mind… why not?

So this week I have two stories for you, read the one that calls to you, or read both, the choice is yours.

A Heavy Hearted Sandstorm at Sea

A Light Hearted Sandstorm at Sea

 

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Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

A Wrinkled World – Artsy Reflections 103

“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” ~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Everything about her was tiny, her frame was petite and her voice was softly small. She pulled at each finger of her glove before fully removing it, and repeated the process on her other hand. I estimated that the woman in front of me was in her 40s, but her hands looked 2 decades younger.

“Can I have a chair?” she asked, and I rolled an office chair over to the cart I’d cleared for her things. As she unrolled a bundle of manicure tools, and set out various bottles of skin products, I wondered if she was more accustomed to jobs that offered her private dressing rooms. Did they actually have stars on their doors?

It was the first time I’d ever met a hand model, and since my job was to basically hover until she needed something, or until we started shooting, I probed her with questions about the job. As she spoke she barely looked up from her hands and never stopped massaging them, but she was happy to indulge my curiosities.

She never does dishes, I learned, or anything else that might risk damaging her precious hands. Her worst fear was of getting paper cuts, yet she’d been expertly trained to wield a knife for chopping vegetables. I tried not to imagine what a chopping mishap might look like… without success.

She never leaves the house without gloves on, she told me; in the summer too, and even when she goes to the beach! I imagined her in a bikini with Cinderella gloves on, and the perplexed looks on the faces of any strangers who noticed this odd attire.

“The hands are the first things to age,” she said, with a slight smile, still elegantly moving her hands against one another.

I pitied her in that moment, but only because I couldn’t imagine her life for myself. A life without being able to get my hands dirty. A life spent hiding from the sun. A life full of superficial fear, and a fear most of us will have to face… the fear of aging.

I think of the palm readers who can tell so much about a person from the lines in their hands. I think about how the repeated expressions on someone’s face are what determine where the wrinkles will show. I think of how much more interesting a dilapidated building is compared to a flawless new one. The more cracks you can find the more stories there are to tell… and I’d say the same thing for wrinkles and scars.

To age well is to barely live. That is my humble opinion.

I look at this photo and I see a wrinkled Earth. I think of how we, humans, are worse than the sun to the Earth’s skin… prematurely aging it. Lost in all the hopelessness I have for Earth’s survival, and our own, the only thing I can say is, at least she lived.

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

Letting my Clown Flag Fly – Artsy Reflections 102

Pebble Tiles – Get it from my shop onto your wall! (also available in super wide crop)

“No, I don’t wanna be a clown!” I cried as I ran away from my father to hide, and pout, and resist the red, yellow, and blue garment he was dangling in front of me.

I was 7 and I had just spent the past few minutes being awed by my older cousin in her princess costume. In the brief time I was aware I’d arrived at a costume party, I’d also arrived at false expectations of getting an equally girly costume.

Apparently, though, my dad had known about the party all along. As I made a scene, he’d explained how hard he’d worked on the clown costume. Yup, my dad had sewn together the primary-colored atrocity, and eventually I gave in to wearing it.

I didn’t usually make scenes like that. I swear, my parents will tell you I was a pretty well-behaved kid… that’s probably why everyone felt so bad for me. Everyone complemented my ridiculous attire, but I didn’t believe them. I don’t remember any talk about a contest, but suddenly, there was a tiny golden trophy in my hands. I’d won 1st place for my costume.

I’m not a parent, but I imagine parents do project their own hopes and dreams onto their children-whether intentionally or not, and my dad is definitely the funny guy in the family. However corny his jokes are, they’ve rubbed off on me. Today, I’d much rather make people laugh than put a dress on. You will certainly never mistake me for a princess… but a clown… that’s not outside the realm of possibilities.

In case you’re wondering WTF this has to do with this photo, well, I can’t escape seeing a smile in it… what do you see? 

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

A Mosaic of Shattered Dreams – Artsy Reflections 101

“I want to be an actress!” I said when I was 12 or 13.

“So you want to be a waitress?” My mom replied, laughed, and explained my future as she saw it, should I pursue such a career.

“I want to be a novelist!” I said when I was 22 or 23.

“Hmph! Don’t we all.” My journalism professor stated with a disapproving look, before she lectured me on starting my senior project.

I never had any hope of becoming an actress nor a journalist… and just like that, the novelist dream bubble burst in front of my eyes. Yet the pieces of those shattered dreams somehow merged to form the abstract sculpture that’s now forming in my life.

I didn’t stop writing, and I’ve become the narrative journalist of my life. The word ‘voice’ is often used when discussing a writer’s work, but a couple of years ago I gave myself an actual voice when I launched my podcast… and I fell in love with a new medium.

Now I’m super excited to announce that I’m recording my 1st fictional audiobook! Never at 12, or even 23, would I have guessed that my first completed book project would be as a narrator. I get to help a writer make their characters come alive, and I’m beyond thrilled to get started doing this kind of work.

The perfect blend of acting and book creating… not exactly the dream bubble I thought up… but certainly a beautiful mosaic I was able to piece together with all my broken pieces.

This photo is called Broken Bubbles… we all have shattered dreams, but I insist you always pick up the broken pieces and take them with you. You never know what you might be able to build with them later on!

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

Eye See – Artsy Reflections 100

I stared at this photo, and I wanted this story to be as deep as the center of the earth is, because surely that’s how far someone could have dug in the length of time I spent staring…

Yet the mantra in my mind was stuck on repeat and it repeated a cliché. I hate clichés. I spend hours rewriting clichés, but I couldn’t rewrite this one. So I wrote a poem about it instead. As if describing a cliché is any better than stating it outright.

It’s an acrostic poem, but it’s also a riddle!

 

Endlessly transparent,

Yet solid as clay,

Every time the curtains open

 

Soulful feelings bound to stray.

Every emotion, every word you think…

Every one of ‘em, shot out of each blink.

 

Can you guess the cliché? Answer below…

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Eyes are windows into the soul.

Did you guess right?

 

The Kidnapper Truck – Artsy Reflections 99

The truck was rolling backwards with my sister and me inside, but no one was at the wheel. We were just about to leave, but mom had forgotten something. She hopped out of the old Dodge Ram to dash back to the house, but when she slammed the door closed, the gray beast was shaken out of park and lurched into reverse.

Gravel crunched below the tires as we began to roll. My sister was trying to get into the driver’s seat, she was climbing over the center console from the passenger seat and I was doing the same from the back. We were both screaming.

We rolled out of the driveway and the gravel sounds silenced as we backed across the road. Mom was running towards us then, we rolled into the neighbor’s yard, and we were both still struggling on the massive center console when we finally smacked into the tree that stopped us.

Mom was already at the door and we were both fine, but for years after that I would have dreams about being in a self-driving car. They were always a little unsettling, I never knew where I was going and I had no control, but I wouldn’t exactly call them nightmares. Now, in retrospect, I might call them premonitions. Wink wink.

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

Road Maps in Reverse – Artsy Reflections 98

“Where are you going? You were supposed to make that turn!” Nick said.

“Well I didn’t know, why didn’t you tell me?” I shot back as I slowed down to make a U-turn.

“Really? How many times have we gone this way?” he asked.

“Uh, never. We’re always coming from the opposite direction!”

“Really?”

It was true, we had taken these back roads dozens of times to weave around traffic on the way to work, but this was the 1st time we’d ever driven the route heading home. The turns are on the other side of the road, in reverse order, and the scenery is totally different… very confusing to me. So confusing, I’d missed the very 1st turn.

If a cop ever asks me to recite the alphabet backwards, I’m screwed.

So I suck at navigation, forwards, backwards, all of it. I’m always studying maps before I drive anywhere solo. When I don’t understand the maps, I’ve even used Google street view to give myself a simulated pre-drive… what would I do without Google?

Sometimes I try to plan my life the same way. I Google how to do this or how to do that, trying to find a road that will lead me to my dream life. Unfortunately, there are no maps into the future… but there are maps of the past. In any life map, the paths are only visible after you’ve traveled them. And unlike regular road maps, I can read my life’s map as easily as I can read a Dr. Suess book.

I try not to live in the past anymore than I have to, but sometimes it’s really useful to have a little retrospect. Looking back at my road map in reverse I can clearly see the roads that had dead ends and those that led to bigger, wider streets. I can see the short roads, the long roads, and the roads that led me to places I wanted to be.

There is no final destination, just more roads.

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

The Zombie Robot Apocalypse – Artsy Reflections 97

You know that ditz you see in your home town? The one who’s using “walk mode” on her GPS to get 50 feet from where she parked her car. Well that’s me… only I mute the volume and try to pretend I’m texting.

But sometimes, even my GPS can’t save me.

I was headed to Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, which wasn’t far from me. I’d reviewed the route on my computer before I left AND I was using phone navigation to get there.

Stopped at the red light, which was my last familiar landmark before heading into unknown territory, I recalled that once I’d turned onto the road in front of me, I’d be looking for the 1st quick left. When I turned, though, Miss Google Maps told me my turn was over a mile ahead and on the right. She sounded so sure, I just listened to her; Miss Google Maps knew what she was talking about.

In my defense I did, vaguely, sense that something was off… but I also questioned my own memory about the left-hand turn. About 6 minutes later I found myself at the very same traffic light I mentioned earlier.

Apparently, Miss Google Maps had lost her connection and rerouted me in a pointless circle.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already a robot when I’m driving. When smart cars take over I’ll be a zombie, totally unaware of what my car is doing and where it’s taking me. I’ll be writing, or reading, or watching Netflix as my car drives me off a cliff.

At the same time, I’m oddly eager for this kind of zombie robot apocalypse to happen in my lifetime.

What about you? One report I heard said Ford plans on releasing fully automated smart cars within 4 years. What do you think about a world full of robot drivers?

 

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

No Sense of Direction – Artsy Reflections 96

Nick is my navigator, but sometimes he puts too much faith in me as the driver. Like when we’re going anywhere other than work, I’m rambling away, driving on auto-pilot, making turns leading to Yonkers… I haven’t gotten any better, but he has.

“You know you’re turning here,” he’ll say whenever the blinker’s not on. Most often, no, I didn’t know. Or I did know, subconsciously, but that doesn’t mean I’d have made the turn.

I still slam on my brakes to turn onto our road at the last possible second. Sometimes I still make turns onto other roads by mistake. We’ve been living here for over a year and, yes, I still have problems finding my way home.

After one of these ridiculous instances, Nick said, “If I ever wanted to get rid of you, I could just drop you off somewhere 5 miles away, and you’d never find your way home.”

It’s silly but true, I guess I’m lucky he doesn’t want to get rid of me.

P.S. Doesn’t this photo look like a map? I have a few of these mappy abstracts coming up, and a bunch of silly stories to go with ‘em. Let’s call it a series within a series. 

Did you know?

Patrons got to see this 2 days before anyone else, and that’s only the start of Patron perks!

Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.

 

Find Your Gold – Artsy Reflections 95

Melted Gold – Buy it

Finish the sentence: I suck at ______. What’s the 1st thing that comes to your mind?

Do you wish you didn’t suck at that thing? Have you ever tried to not suck at it? Can you attribute your suckiness to something someone told you?

For me, the things I’m so quick to dismiss as things I can’t do are often the things I wish I could do most of all.

I suck at singing.

I was 5 years old, sitting on the toilet, swinging my legs, and singing like no one was listening.

“You’re not on Broadway, you’re in the bathroom, Becky!

To be honest, I don’t remember exactly what my mother said. All I know is that I was made painfully aware that my singing was heard and not appreciated.

Maybe it wasn’t even an attack on my voice. Maybe someone just had to use the bathroom and I was taking too long… but I thought I sucked at singing for years afterwards.

That’s why I limited my urges to those times when I knew no one could hear me, but I never stopped. I sang in the car, when I was home alone, and every once in awhile, when the music was loud enough, I’d sing among close friends.

A few years ago, I was singing in the car with my friend Dominique. She told me I had a pretty good voice and suddenly 20+ years of doubt melted away. I can’t explain why I needed validation to do something that brought me joy, whether I sucked or not, but I’m grateful my friend helped me see a little bit of my gold.

The gold found in this photo was reflected into a silver lined bottle and wrapped in wire very similar to a chain link fence. (See that vague outline of the wire in the foreground?) Sometimes you can’t cut down the barrier that blocks you from getting to your gold, but you can look through the gaps… and as you focus on the gold, you’ll find that your barriers start to fade away.