Philosophy

Prompt: Song

college campus

Dear Virginia,

Sorry I took so long to respond to your email, but the campus ISP was down for almost four days. We were also without running water for two days, which was a disaster. The administration tells us these occurrences are extremely unusual, and to happen concurrently is even more of a rarity. Anyway I’ve sat constipated and lonely with dirty hair in my room trying to fathom David Hume’s billiard balls and now think I will just make something up for the paper due tomorrow.

I don’t know why I’m taking Philosophy, though it’s probably why I’m now wondering about everything including the meaning of life and why I am wasting away my youth at this fucking college. Virge, I can hear you say, “It’s only the first semester of your first year, Envy, give it time”.

How do I give it time? My roommate is a raging germaphobe who counts Q-tips in fear I might have stolen one, and she sings “Where is Love” from the musical Oliver in her sleep. Or at least I think she is sleeping. So I can barely stay awake during the day and already struggling with most of my classes, include the ones I should breeze through like Lit and Art History, because my Lit prof is trying to bully me into participating more in class (can you image me participating to begin with? me?) and my Art History class is nothing but a series of slide shows. I get most of my sleep time there. My Spanish tutor thinks his housemate is trying to murder him, so every class is like a scene from a horror movie, where we expect a man in a moustache to jump out from behind a door wielding a kitchen knife.

Let me tell you about my new friends. Oh wait, I don’t have any. Only one guy in my Spanish class has even spoken to me, and I have no idea why he would. He’s gorgeous, you see, and well, you know what I look like.

My roommate just burst in and told me she has food poisoning from the toxins served at the cafeteria. She may be right.

It’s ironic: I picked a college as far away from my parents as would have me, and yet I’m so looking forward to Christmas and getting home and seeing you and even my worthless brother, Cash. I want to sleep in my own bed and eat real food and read a trashy novel and maybe even decide if I want to come back here in January.

Have to run. Roomie is vomiting in the trash can.

Tons of love,
Envy

——–

Dear Virginia,

I can’t even tell you how much I missed you over Christmas break. Words fail me. I’m speechless. And so on. I understand you had to take the job, and lucky you for going to the Bahamas in this weather, but oh lord I could have used a friend.

My brother picked me up at the airport, because he got his driver’s licence back. He really shouldn’t be on the road; plus I think he was a little drunk.

Anyway we get home and Millie takes my bags and leads me upstairs to my room (mother was at a meeting) except it was not my room, it was the small guest room. This room has a double bed, a wardrobe but no closet, and has blue geraniumed wallpaper that matches the bedspread. There are carpet and wallpaper samples rolled and stacked in the corner by the window, and on top of the wardrobe is a stack of old telephone books. It is the overflow guest room, in other words.

“Darling,” my mother says when she gets home, flushed from her success in choosing the theme for the cancer gala, Greece, Ancient and Modern, “we are converting your bedroom into a clay room, you could say, since I am learning to sculpt and throw pots.”

“You are? Why my room? What did you do with my stuff?” Honestly Virge, I was well and truly devastated.

“Your room faces north— the light is right, and it’s bigger than the the um, overflow guest room. I didn’t think you’d mind really, your little room was so fussy and dated, you know, with those posters and pink things and that koala bear.”

What did you do with Cocoa?

“Darling.” My mother smiled indulgently. “All your precious belongings are in boxes in the garage. Millie was very careful to pack everything.”

“Even the jewelry I made?”

“Oh,” said mother. “Did you mean to keep that?”

“Why couldn’t you set up your clay room in the basement? There’s tons of room.”

“Sweetheart, I’m not a basement kind of person…”

God, my family. Nana Appleby and my father’s cousin Uncle Gary had been assigned the actual guest rooms, even though Nana was only staying overnight Christmas Eve. I can’t begrudge her. She turns 101 in February. Uncle Gary though, what an asshole. I can only imagine he is paying to stay with us, since no one likes him.

So the decision whether or not to return to college became no decision at all. I see now how that can happen. When you have two shitty alternatives, you choose the one you are not in the middle of.

And semester two couldn’t be worse than the first. I found out the name of the guy in my Spanish class. Marcus. He’s adorable.

Tons of love,
Envy

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Cherish is the Word

Prompt: Cherish

merry christmas rabbit

My Christmas presents this year:

  • “Happy” perfume
  • Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange
  • Computer headset
  • Poncho
  • Red gloves
  • Tablet stylus
  • Beatles’ Eight Days a Week documentary DVD
  • Sketch-a-Day Journal
  • The Interpreter of Maladies (novel)

What I cherish:

  • My family, friends, and dog
  • Chocolate

Literally

Prompt: Saintly


Hello Wednesday!

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the really good people have gone underground, and so we have to put up with the terribles in the news all the time?

News fit for television and Internet tends to be sensational, allegedly sexy, and catering, so they say, to the lowest common denominator. Who sets that bar except the people feeding us the news?

The news media is currently under fire from the current American administration, which, if you adhere to to the belief that “the enemies of my enemies are my friends” means that the media are our great allies. And some of them are.

The media shapes our outlook and our attitudes in profound ways. We are under the impression that daily life is more perilous than ever, when the opposite is true. We are well informed on the lives of celebrities, but wallow in ignorance about relevant issues at home and abroad.

I don’t think the media reservoir that spews out trivia and hysteria and the pricks of life masquerading as trends, will change until we demand more and better. It’s hard to demand more and better when you don’t even know what the options are, however.

May I present a couple of my favourite cartoons, tenuously related to today’s prompt, saintly, and one that is completely unrelated, yet seasonal and delicious?

cartoon bibilcal writings


cartoon son cooperating


cartoon don't need a tree


Until we meet again…

~~FP

Caramba! Que pasa?

Prompt: Bounty

santa-tejanos

I couldn’t find a credit for this gem of a take on the classic “Night Before Christmas” poem, but I love the life and spirit of it.

Tejano Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring — Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in camisas and some in pijamas,

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think quien era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Chucho, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,

Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos–
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!

The Layover

Prompt: Plop

pati_aguilera_cena_navidad

Envy spent her first Christmas after the divorce in Santiago, Chile.

She didn’t want to spend it with her parents, or Cash, or even Virginia. She actually wanted to spend it with Marcos, but she supressed that thought. It wasn’t healthy to long for the companionship of someone who tried to kill you as you slept.

It was a gruelling flight via AeroMexico, with a four-hour layover in Mexico City, which was ok because her friend Molly was living in Mexico City, and all the family came out to have breakfast with her at the airport. She had been a bridesmaid at Molly’s marriage to Rafael, and they now had three young sons. Envy was surprised how much fun it was to be met at an airport, especially this one, which was boisterous, loud, and celebratory, as masses of people greeted travellers with joyful abandon.

Santiago was a busy, bustling, impressive, but smelly city— possibly more aromatic because of the unseasonably warm temperatures, pushing 40C. It was quiet and cool in her hotel room, and the intercom played soothing jazz renditions of Christmas carols. She wondered how to turn that off.

She visited the Plop! Galeria, which was nicely situated in a gallery and museum district, and finally met Pati Aguilera, with whom she had corresponded for months, and who happily shared her knowledge of the illustrations on display. Envy chose several prints in addition to a set of Patricia’s own works, to take back to the little gallery she was planning to open on St Xavier St. She envisioned a kind of Plop! North. Some day she would seek out more local illustrators, but for now she wanted to show the work that had so inspired her to open a gallery in the first place.

She then took her book of Nerudo poetry and spent the afternoon at La Chascona Casa Museo, where the dappled shade was cooling, the book inspiring and transporting, despite the number of tourists.

On Christmas Day, after talking to mama, dad, Cash and Virginia, who seemed to be having a very delicious, very tense Christmas dinner, Envy called Molly, and spoke to Rafael for almost an hour (as Molly was busy with children and food).

Rafe. He was “in real estate” and wondered if Envy would show him around the city next week when he was there on business. She said she would be delighted to, of course. They also talked about horses, Pablo Neruda, enamel vs latex paint, crabgrass, his eldest son’s obsession with moths, the War on Drugs, and San Diego. He was handsome. Molly was still quite beautiful. Envy was as plain as wax paper, and on the rebound. She tried to suppress a few more thoughts. It was hard.

She would not layover in Mexico on the return trip. Nor would she show Rafael the neighbourhoods of the city without a chaperone. She would ask Stuart to accompany them. Molly had not been a bridesmaid at Envy’s wedding— she asked, but Molly was seven months into a vomitous pregnancy. They had grown apart, naturally, but it was Molly who stayed up all night with her when she burned her eyes, and Molly who taught her how to hitchhike and how to kick someone in the neck. Sure, time and distance had caused them to grow apart, but she still considered Molly a great friend. Didn’t she?

 


Thanks for Rubbing

Prompt: Generous Genies
Remember those lovely genies who grant wishes? Well, you’re one and you’ve just been emancipated from your restrictive lamp. You can give your three wishes to whomever you want. Who do you give your three wishes to, and why?

russels christmas magic

I like it in the lamp. It’s cosy, and I have Netflix. But I got a FitBit for Christmas so it was nice to add a few steps. Thanks for rubbing!

To Ken: Freedom from illness.
To Jim and Joanne: Peace in your hearts.
To my family: Prosperity and more moments spent together.

Merry Christmas to all!