The Light Festival: A Poem


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas was a blade that year
but, unimpeded, you took me to the Light Festival
in the park. From every tree
tiny moons were lynched in rows,black cords
like the shadowy arms
of spider monkeys at night, bright white lights
and multicolored bulbs swinging from the highest branches
to the ground beside our feet.

As I walked along the weather-cracked sidewalk
with you, who would someday cease to love me,
the promise of neatly-wrapped gifts swung overhead
like a corpse. You rapped me repeatedly
with what-would-you-like, your jaw
dropping with the dead weight of your voice
in the frozen air. Your limp tongue lolled
on the other side of eggnog teeth, and pink overran
my cheeks, though only because of the cold.

While, with a hungry merriment, the first hints of winter
bit through my peppermint-colored sneakers, the trees
infuriated themselves with orange. They faded
to pallid yellow. A child in a red hat poured hot cocoa
on their roots, and everything turned brown.

I wore my earmuffs as a shield against
what-would-you-like. I swore to you my ears
were cold. Then I tripped.
My sneakered toe was inhibited by a skinny rip
in the pavement; my chin collided
with cement, my white wool gloves completely useless
when I needed to make a pillow of the blow.
You kept plodding along, not noticing my absence at first
because you didn’t like holding hands.
I suppose for you, I was a dead weight.

When we saw Star Wars in the theatre,
I was stunned by the ships that soared
into the streaking stars, full hyperdrive
into the fathomlessness, the bottomless expanse, blasting away.
You looked just like a starship then,
walking away from me at the Light Festival.
My chin throbbed while a tiny LED moon
glared beside my dying tremble
in the frozen air. From the ever-furthering distance trolled
the angels’ chorus: what-would-you-like, what-
do-you-want.

A promise that you’d stay,
I decided,
in crisp silver paper and green ribbon
under the tree.

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Where Did the Time Go?!


Holy crud. Since when is it December twentieth? No one asked me if this was okay!

That means there are four more not-Christmas days until Christmas, today not included. You know how many presents I’ve bought? ZERO! I have bought zero presents! Zero is THIS many:

closed-fist-md

This is unbelievable! Unacceptable! Completely and utterly not okay! I haven’t gotten around to writing any super cool Christmas-themed stories. Heck, I haven’t even put up a tree yet. I’ve been doing some serious slacking. We need some Christmas up in here!

After finals today, a friend of mine (who happens to be agnostic Jewish) wished me a Merry Christmas. And I was like, “SHOOT! CHRISTMAS! I ALMOST FORGOT!”

I have been so caught up stressing out and going on the internet to avoid studying that Christmas has barely crossed my mind. Everyone’s asking me, “So what do you want for Christmas?”

And I just want to say, “How am I supposed to know?”

Maybe I’ll just ask for some Christmas for Christmas. Seriously. Just a deep breath, a cup of hot chocolate, and a nap. That would be great, thanks. And how about some mistletoe, when you’re at it?

Just when I thought my stress was going to be over for the next two-ish weeks, the holiday season has to start blinking its warning signs at me. Not cool. SO not cool. I just hope there’s enough time left to deal with it.

Feliz Navidad,

Mikki

December


It’s hard to believe that today is the first day of December. Only yesterday, it would seem, was October; now Thanksgiving and Black Friday are a thing of the past. There have been some little whispers of snow in the sky, but nothing that survived on the ground for 24 hours. And yet, winter feels close.

Winter is a great season for a few reasons. For starters, there’s the joy of the holidays and all they entail. Go a little deeper, and you’ll remember the good times of childhood building snowmen and snow forts, and then coming inside with a pink nose to hot chocolate and the weird prickly feeling of warming up. For me, winter goes beyond that, to be an inspiration and maybe even an emotion.

Christmas is a big thing at my house, as it is with most who celebrate it, but it has bigger implications for me personally. Each snowflake, each blistery gust of wind, has a story inside it. Something I like to do is find those stories and write them.

Maybe this sounds crazy. Maybe it is crazy. However, the entire season of winter for me is an inspiration. I can find anything in it: survival in the cold, holiday romance, or frozen, broken hearts; maybe even someone coming in contact with innocent joy like one would an old friend. You name it. I’ll find it.

Last year, the coming of spring scared me. It brought the idea that the ink flowing from my pen might come to a halt. Nearly everything I wrote between December 21 to March 19 had to do with winter, even indirectly, and I predict that this year will be the same. It’s a fantastic thought.

Considering the amount of writing that has come from me recently (not a lot), the coming solstice will be a welcome change. And for that and everything else that comes with it, I can’t wait for winter.

Ciao for now,

Mikki

Day 12 of 12


merry-christmas

I was going to write something fun and/or meaningful, but it all basically boils down to this:

Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope your season is merry and bright, and that it’s whiter where you are than where I am!

Ciao for now,

Mikki

Christmas Eve (Day 11 of 12)


I just got home from a Christmas Eve get-together at a family friend’s house. I’d gotten all ready for bed and had started to rest when, with a gasp, I realized that I haven’t done my Christmas post for the day. I shot straight up from my bed and ran to the computer to write what I’m writing now.

Christmas is tomorrow? Since when? I’m so not ready. There are still a few people I need presents for. I haven’t really been anticipating Christmas the way I should because we just put up our tree yesterday and Christmas just hasn’t been the first thing on my mind. Still need to work on cleaning house before the people come over. Still need to feel like I’m really waiting for and desperately wanting Christmas to happen.

At this get-together, there was a brief yet satisfying gift exchange. I got this bracelet, which is bluish-turquoise and says FEARLESS on it. Ifearless bracelet image wouldn’t say that I’m FEARLESS because I’m afraid of a lot of things, like making mistakes and dying young. Unless I’m FEARLESS in some way I don’t know about (which might apply because I like putting myself out there (hence the blog)). I suspect that I got the bracelet because turquoise is my favorite color, but someone else there agreed that FEARLESS seemed “like” me…

Well, no need to over think things. It’s late, I’m tired, the Big Man is coming to my house tonight to give me a bunch of cool stuff, life is good.

When I was younger, I would have had a hard time sleeping. But tonight, I’m just pooped, and I’ll drop. Maybe it’s from social exhaustion or maybe it’s from a lack of anticipation, which would keep my eyes round and open all night if it were stronger, or there at all.

As I write this, all the Australian kids (who’ve been good this year) are enjoying their new presents. So to those of you across the globe, merry Christmas. And to those of you nearby, merry (future) Christmas. And a happy new year (which applies to both parties).

Hope the guy in the red suit brings you what you want/what you deserve!

Santa

Ciao for now,

Mikki

My Stupid, Beautiful Artificial Tree (Day 10 of 12)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFeaturing photographs by me!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, the tree is finally up, everyone. It just wasn’t the Christmas season without it. I can actually feel Santa Claus in the air. It might be a little late, considering it’s Christmas Eve Eve (2 days until Christmas) but better late than never.

I love my tree. It’s taller than me (most things are, but still), and it is more fun than almost anything else in the world. It’s made of plastic and metal, and that’s totally fine with me. I have never missed the sentimental pine smell or the needles littering the floor. Nothing really says Christmas like lugging the plus-size cardboard box up from the basement, slicing through the tape and pulling out the cold red base. The holidays don’t really start for me until then. The angst that comes with OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAuntangling the stupid lights is just part of the season, and is immediately rewarded when they start blinking. Pulling out the branches from the box and matching the colored tapes is enjoyable, but hazardous (I have pinkish cuts lacing up and down my right arm which I suspect came from the poky wires). But nonetheless, after all that physical labor it’s almost real-looking and totally worth it. This year, all the red lights went out but at that point we didn’t OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcare at all. We just hung up a bunch of round red ornaments to make things even out. Then, the tree was decked out with the same little oddities we’ve been using since forever: snowmen with names, plush mittens, sparkly orbs, and all the better things in life. The fake branches scratched me all the time, but I didn’t mind, because I wanted this teddy bear or that keepsake to be right there.

This is how it’s always been in my life, every Christmas. Not the belated-ness, but the big green thing in our living room, always a good amount of presents left by the old man in the red suit. It’s been there every year since who-knows-when, watching to make sure I’ve been good. It’s my stupid, beautiful artificial tree.

My favorite picture I took of the tree.

This picture turned out best.

Ciao for now,

Mikki

Maybe Not: A Short Story (Day 9 of 12)


Where I live, December doesn’t mean snow.. Cold? Usually. Short Days? Of course. But snow? Never on December first, sometimes not even on Christmas.

It was still green on the ground that day as I sat in the fire station. Beyond the grass was a sandy gray stretch of cement. And beyond that was a thick, black strip of tar dotted with yellow and white. Above it all was a quilt of clouds, which weren’t dropping a single flake.

I hadn’t wanter to come here. Originally, I gad intended today to be lazy kind of Sunday, because all of my homework was done. But then came mom, with a green flyer in her hand, promising, “It’ll be fun!” before even telling me what would be fun, and then dragging me off to the car before I could ask.

“Don’t look so dismal,” she’d said, “Cole’s dad runs the Benefit. you two are friends, right?”

That much, at least, was true. Cole and I, along with our other friend Ryan, went out a lot together. But that was primarily on social days like Monday and Saturday, and not strictly antisocial days like Sunday.

“I’m tired,” I’d said.

“No you’re not,” mom had replied.

“I have a test tomorrow,” I’d said. “A big one. I think it’s a final.”

“No you don’t and no it’s not.”

It wasn’t really bad, once I got used to it. Cole’s dad had me hang some garland on the tree, which was stuffed in the corner at the far end of the refreshments table. The way it was positioned made a Christmas tree seem more like a formality than a necessity at a Fire Department Christmas Benefit. That was alright, because it meant Cole was at the opposite side of the opposite end of the room, helping little kids stick foam shapes onto other foam shapes.

Eventually I ran out of garland and ornaments, and was forced to hang out awkwardly on the outskirts of the station. I picked at my nail polish, played with the hem of my shirt, bit my lips. Nothing kept me from insane boredom. I tiptoed my way along the edge, until I realized that I was slowly but surely inching my way over to Cole, at which point I stopped moving.

My eyes focused on scattered bits of the station. Little kids trying on boots that were obviously large for them, and their companions wearing equally oversized shielded helmets. Sparkling things on the floor. An entire table filled with gourmet cookies with a sign that said, “Two per person please.” And between each of these, I saw Cole. I couldn’t keep him out of my vision.

I was now along the same wall as Cole’s foam-sticker station, although we were at opposite ends of it. A sprig of mistletoe, which I hadn’t noticed before, hung between us. For some reason my eyes darted continuously between him and the mistletoe. A thought went through my head. He looks really nice in green. And it was true. The color brought out both his hair and his eyes. But then a scarier thought followed: he would probably look cute in any color. Never, not once in my life, had I thought that Cole was cute. He had a long forehead, a skinny, straight nose, and a peculiarly small mouth, but somehow, I thought, everything came together to give him a boyish charm.

I set my eyes at the floor. He called my name.

“Carol! Hey, come on over! When did you get here? I didn’t see you earlier!”

I smiled up to him and pretended I didn’t hate myself for what was going through my head when I did. He waved me towards him.

The mistletoe dropped behind me as I walked, but for some reason I felt disappointment instead of relief.

And then I realized, I haven’t felt this disappointed since he asked Nicole to Homecoming.

“Sure is dismal out, isn’t it?” he asked.

“Yeah. I wish the weatherman would stop lying.”

He gave this a halfhearted smile, then commented, “We’re almost out of snowmen. What will they put faces on then?”

I picked up one of the white foam things. “You don’t need this to put a face on something. Can’t you just print out coloring pages?”

“We don’t have a printer, Carol,” he said jokingly.

“Oh well, shows what I know.” I laughed but I was flustered with myself.

“I guess we could do this.”

He picked up a sheet and poked out a bunch of little black circles. Carefully, he peeled back the white paper and stuck one on my face.

I suddenly felt uncomfortable with every atom at the bottom of my stomach.

He put on three or four more, and I felt that it was a smile.

“What are you doing, Cole?”

“What does it seem like I’m doing?”

“Stop it Cole.”

“I’m almost done, Carol,” he huffed, and not wiping the playful smirk off his face, continued, “I broke up with Nicole.”

“Really? When?” I asked, my eyes wide with shock.

“Last week,” he answered dryly.

“Oh my gosh, Cole, why didn’t you tell me?” I wasn’t being demanding, I was just asking like a friend should.

He glanced at his feet, and his whole being seemed hesitant. “Because.”

“I won’t ask,” I promised.

“Almost done,” he promised in reply. “Just the orange triangle.”

“You mean the carrot?”

“Yeah, that.”

I watched with all my soul as he removed the backing and exposed the adhesive side to the world. He pressed it onto my cheek with enough tenderness to be more than a friend. My stomach churned inaudibly. My heart pumped enough blood into my face to turn it a perfect shade of red. My feet twitched a little.

“Kind of weird that they would put up mistletoe when no one’s used it,” he said, trying to be cool as a cucumber when he was clearly as tense as I was.

“That is weird.”

Silence. And then, “There aren’t any more snowmen.”

“Here,” Cole offered, “Just draw one on this paper and put the face on that.”

“Okay,” said the little girl who had brought it up. She hobbled off, presumably to find some paper.

“It’s not fair that it can be so cold out and not snow,” I said.

It was still as gray as it had been last time I looked. That much, at least, wasn’t improving.

“That is a shame,” he agreed. His hand was still on my face, I realized with a pain in my gut. He slowly brushed it down, pulling away after my chin, which I was much more than grateful for. But his hand bumped into my hand, a few inches beyond my knee.

“It’s snowing!” It was some little girl’s voice.

Cole and I both looked out the window. There wasn’t much yet, but it was definitely snowing.

“Maybe not such a shame?” he asked, a rue little smirk pushing up his left cheek.

“Maybe not,” I replied.