Shaping My Summer Around “Jane Eyre”


The summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016 were rough for me. And by rough, I mean catastrophic. Each in succession was worse than the last, and at times I am genuinely astounded that I made it out in one piece.

This summer, on the other hand, has been totally palatable. Not amazing, but decent. Survivable. Nothing major has happened, and for that I am deeply grateful. There are a lot of reasons for the change (I have a job, college has empowered me, I’m not working through a breakup, etc.) but I feel like I owe a lot to a session with my therapist in June.

Historically, a lot of problems in my life are a result of the fact that I constantly crave validation from others. I sometimes behave in way that I myself abhor, and I know I annoy others with my incessant cries for attention. After my therapist revealed these facts about myself (which are demonstrably on-point), I gave myself a mantra that has been working really well. Every time I feel myself drifting from my resolve to rectify myself, I say this sentence quietly to myself and it will immediately bring ease to my bones.

Where else would a pretentious English major find a mantra but among the pages of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work?

I admit that Jane Eyre is my favorite book. And while that fact may liken me to a slew of obnoxious YA protagonists, my preferences have a solid foundation (which I’ll explore further in another post). I’ve always wanted to attain the self-actualization that Jane achieves at the end of the novel, and one particular quotation is helping push me in that direction:

“The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.” -Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Alright, so…it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But those are the best twenty-five syllables of my life.

A first read of this quotation sounds rather bleak. But it really isn’t––it’s a woman proclaiming that she can be alone, with neither peas-in-a-pod friendships nor assurances of her worth from other people, and still have value because she sees herself as valuable. Her self-opinion became the only thing that mattered, self-respect more important than optics or popularity.

Whereas in years past I have felt empty and lonely, I’ve spent this summer learning to prioritize myself. I don’t feel the need to be constantly validated by others––a need that had only been growing more dire during my tumultuous spring––and that has been more liberating than just about anything. For the first time in a long time, I feel entirely self-contained. I’m learning to stop relying on other people, and it’s already a rewarding fight.

(Then again, I might find just about anything rewarding if it involved Jane Eyre.)

Ciao for now,
Mikki

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Poem Every Day in July 5: A Poem about Summer Afternoons


my photo

Summer leaves me too sleepy
to complete a poem.
The oxygen is unenriched,
swirling without syllables.
All I want is to feel the sweep
of the fan as I nap.

It dawns on me that bedsheets
will offer little consolation.
The A/C’s gentle electric rattle
sings a lullaby via the vents.
In the afternoon,
inertia quietly maintains
the wordlessness on my page.

My mechanical pencil,
below the mattress, rolling,
is surely dreaming, too.
The curtains cave and expand,
as if they were blowing
on a dandelion.

moving on: A Poem


 

after the party ends,
the piñata, battered blue,
red, and yellow, must not bemoan
the festering emptiness
that has supplanted her sweets;
she must instead (ignoring the shrill
of her dismembered flesh
scratching along the sidewalk’s
blistering bumps) recollect herself
and walk home.

The Ultimate Summer Playlist: A Poem


tumblr_meawskv1GL1r30mgpo1_500 It made her feel like the sun,

baked sand and happy blisters,

hot but worth it.

It made her feel like a can of something sweet,

snapped open on the beach;

like cicadas,

whispering secrets under the moon;

like watermelon

and strawberries

and lemonade

and iced tea

and hot dogs fresh off the grill.

It made her feel like holding hands,

something she had never tried;

like kissing and blushing

and all the confusion that follows.

It made her feel like a blissful rain,

breaking the sky in two to kiss the Earth,

watching all of its inhabitants skip and glide,

laughing, breathless,

for umbrellas and shelter.

It made her feel like crop tops

and short shorts

and everything she was too timid to touch.

It was just a bunch of songs, maybe,

but especially arranged to create the perfect,

fictitious,

vicarious love

that she could never attempt herself.

As the Raindrops Spill from My Lips: A Poem


summer-rain-on-the-flowers-hd-wallpaper-download-summer-rain-images-free

You feel the summer land on your skin
after sailing such a chilly ocean.

Which parts of the air breathe cold?
Is it warmer where the water has planted kisses
or where the droplets have left your skin untouched?
Is the sky most beautiful at its grey peak
or in the shadows beyond the evergreens?
Does it bother you when the rainy breeze
rushes with embrace?

Is this not the spot where, a blink ago,
you stared into the tumbling night,
and wondered which stars drifted in lightyears
and which in inches?
Is this not the same breathless winter moment,
the same unmoving movement,
the same stillness in heavenly butterflies,
the same ponderings of hot and cold?

You know there is no land nor chilly ocean.

You know this is the love I promised you.

All the Leaves in the World: a Short Story


Lucy puts a cigarette up to her lips. She’s never smoked before.

The view from the front porch is dismal: overcast, like a dark watercolor wash, and still as death. The trees have either dropped their leaves in a brown flurry or look like they’re about to. The cement beneath Lucy is cold, and particularly stiff, as she can feel through her feet. She rests most of the weight on her knees, propping up slightly with her elbows, and pushes a long strand of hair behind her ear. Even when she takes a breath, the air around her doesn’t move.

A cough erupts from her chest. All the tar and nicotine leaves a bad flavor on her tongue, but she sucks it in again anyway.

Slowly, a leaf tumbles from the sky, having a hard time pushing through the undisturbed layers of sky. It’s red, one of the last ones. Nothing else has been truly red since summer ended, since she and Anthony called it quits. In July, and even into August, red was the only color in her world. It was the shade Anthony would turn every time she smiled widely, the color of their matching concert shirts, the color of the sun beading down on their backs. Now, the world is brown, soggy, and left at the curb for a yard waste company to haul away.

The tip of the cigarette flickers orange and yellow, sending a trail of invisible smoke into the air. Quietly, it create a soft mirage against the trees that line the block. Everything is quiet here.

***

In June, all the trees had broad green leaves that captured the late spring rain. It was underneath her umbrella that she first met Anthony, who was walking somewhere indefinite, as he so often did. He had closely trimmed hair the color of red delicious apples, and flaming lips that he bit all to often. Immediately, Lucy saw him as a summer fling in the waiting. She let him stand under the umbrella with her.

“Where are you headed?” she asked.

He smiled coyly. “You tell me.”

She didn’t yet know that he liked the Beatles, or that his favorite color was scarlet, or that this was a line that he had been tossing around in his head all day waiting for someone to ask him the right question.

He hadn’t yet told her that he loved the way she wore socks that came over her boots and dared to wear her hair down in the rain.

***

The hot part of the cigarette draws dangerously close to Lucy’s fingertips. She imagines dropping it at the base of the tree with the warm-colored leaves, burning it to the ground, and the thought excites her. She stretches her legs and wiggles her toes, which are barefoot and exposed. The strand falls into her face again, and she wonders why it can’t stay back in the ponytail with all the other strands. Thunder rips across the sky. It resonates against the houses and the plants, up and down the empty street.

***

Along with the summer solstice came a sudden switch in climate, from soggy to steamy. This was the time she and Anthony found out that they shared an undying love for a somewhat underground band and, by coincidence, they were coming to the Four Seasons open amphitheater downtown the next week. Anthony bought two tickets. They celebrated over ice cream.

The next day, they prepared for the concert by listening to every album in chronological order. Some of the songs, as they flew around her mind, reminded Lucy of Anthony. They were all her favorite songs, even the ones that didn’t have to do with love, but just had a nice melody.

As she walked to his house, Lucy noticed three more red trees. Somehow, these trees had skipped the earlier, more subtle stages of yellow and had plunged directly into the depths of crimson from the beginning. Not even a week of July had gone by yet.

***

A drop comes down from the sky to squelch Lucy’s flame. The cigarette rests limp between her middle and index fingers, damp now, and useless. She moves her arm to toss it into the grass, make it look like some random passerby had dropped it there and save herself the trouble of explanation.But something stops her short.

***

The concert was filled with strangers. None were willing to let Lucy and Anthony get through to the stage, so there was no clear view of the band.

“As long as we’re not going to be able to see, we might as well listen somewhere more private,” Anthony suggested.

Already the ground was littered with leaves, some partially decayed, most still vibrant and intact. He led her further and further into a sparsely vegetated area of the grounds, where there were trees, a bench, and still some sound from the stage. They sat down on the concrete bench, soothing their burning feet, and Anthony laid his hand gently on top of hers.

He began to lean in slowly. Leaves fell from the trees more and more rapidly the closer he came.

“Do you see that?” she asked. “The leaves are throwing confetti.” These words were meant to distract him, throw him off his game, but they were punctuated, instead, with his lips against her cheek.

“This is beautiful,” he said. “I’m going to make you a crown, no, a palace, out of all the leaves in the world.”

She didn’t respond. His words hung like dusty cobwebs, making her choke.

“I can’t do this, Anthony,” she huffed. “We’ve only known each other for two weeks.”

***

Lucy pictures a house made of leaves. Eventually, it would rot and die, or turn brown and cave in on itself, gagging the occupants. Anything built on such flimsy materials will collapse.

With this thought in mind, she strolls, through the pouring rain, to the curb. The leaves are over saturated with rainwater, but she lifts them regardless. She fiddles with one until it looks, in some way, like a boy, and puts a skirt on the next one so it looks like a girl. She constructs three walls and sits the boy inside of them. He falls to the floor. She adds a roof.

Lucy joyfully throws the cigarette into the curb and regresses, with the leaf girl, to her house. While her back is turned, the leaf roof swells with liquid until it falls down, carrying the leaf house, resident and all, away into the street.

The leaf girl sits on top of her cork board like a paper doll might, and here, at last, she is safe and dry.

Busy


Busy, busy, busy. That’s me all the time now that summer’s over. I don’t have time to do all kinds of things I got used to doing every day, including (but not limited to) posting on mikkiaaron, jamming out, and working on my writing. Being constantly busy is emotionally and psychologically draining, filling me to the brim with complete and utter apathy when I do have time to do those things. Usually, I’ll just go to bed early instead.

Ironically, on the weekends, there is absolutely zero to do. Those are the days when my friends are busy, busy, busy. Either I need some new, less-busy friends or some better plan-making skills, or maybe both. Those are the days that I could be doing something productive, including (but not limited to) adding the next installment to my epic up-and-coming novel that’s turning out marvelously thus far (yeah right, Mikki, how many times have you said that before?).

But, seriously. I’m turning into a lump that occasionally grunts. My general workload has incapacitated me from any real activity, such as physical activity or social activity. Overall, it’s taking every ounce of me to cope with the lack of summer/free time, and it’s not pretty.

Ciao for now,

Mikki