WheRe is mY MInd?

If I had a mindful, thinking mind
I’d know the feeling, analyzing,
Thought-processing, wakeful mem’ry-find.

I’d not wonder, in drooling hazing,
What that tragedy, Algernon, had
And if rodentia enjoy mazing.

Instead, here stands a gray-matter man.
His name is Mental Impasse, of course.
There’s his face-glare; there his stoic stand.

I kneel in abject, absent pleading;
Begging him, my boot-toed gatekeeper
For a whiff, glance; or head-bump reading.

But Mental Impasse will not be swayed,
Will not glance down, nor favor bribings.
How then, will mindflow artworks be made?

Expressionless, he stiffly guards me:
Shadowed thought-lights dance beyond his frame.
My feeble entreats shan’t make him see.

Motivation’s garbage. It’s never there when you need it.

“Every human being has a five second window -might even be shorter, for you. You have about a five second window in which you can move from idea to action before your brain kicks into full gear and sabotages any change in behavior.

“‘Cause, remember, your brain is wired to stop you from doing things that are uncomfortable or uncertain or scary. It’s your job to learn how to move from those ideas that could change everything into acting on them.”

-Mel Robbins, The Secret to Self-Motivation

Wilhelmina Winters: Thirty-Two

“Hold formation,” Wil’s flight commander radioed again. Despite the static such an old headset communicated, she could still hear his New England upbringing in the vowels. Somehow, it had a grounding influence on them all.

They held position.

The Mitsubishi bombers and their escorts hummed nearer.

“Ready guns,” crackled quietly to twelve anxious American pilots. Her hands felt sweaty inside their gloves as Wil adjusted her grip on her control stick. She inhaled deeply and focused on the cluster at eight o’clock.

She saw the slight aberration in the Zeros’ pattern the instant before Flight Commander suddenly yelled, “ALL UNITS ENGAGE! ENEMY AWARE OF OUR POSITION! GO, GO, GO!!”

The roar of twelve Wildcat engines grew even louder in intensity as twelve pilots immediately dropped altitude and accelerated toward their targets. The Zeros, holding to their groups of three, drew near in deadly tandem.

Wil leaned forward over the controls, carefully maneuvering the floor pedals.

“Winters!” Wil heard the warning from a distance. There was no turning back now.

“Ms. Winters!”

Wil sat up, and quickly wiped the drool at her mouth. She blinked in surprise at the glaring, bespectacled toad so near her face, confused at why it was there.

“Huh?” She managed, groggily. The class laughed, and she felt her cheeks get warm. Mr. G. allowed a more pleasant version of his grimace before returning his face to its usual self-approved smirk.

“Ms. Winters, nap time was in preschool,” he joked. A few of her peers snickered a bit, though most disliked encouraging his ideas of wit. “Kindly return to page niner niner, and this time use your eyes to read and not your face.”

Wil nodded a bit, and felt relief as he turned and squat-strutted his stumpy walk back to his desk.

She turned her attention back to the text on the page. Meanwhile, a twirling model Wildcat swooped erratically in the current from the heat register.

 

Continued from Thirty-One.

The Real Illusion

Dragon

(From draconika.com)

Her nightdress billows in moving mists of rainbows; toes curl precariously over cloudforms.

She cannot see, so closes her eyes.

And now, appears the wooden bridge. It skips across to the sandy seashore
-the shore outside a castle’s wall
-whereat lies a fearsome dragon, curling smoky out-breaths in the sun.

A shining knight advances, drawing schlinking steel to fight the fiery, glinting, scalesome beast.

“Oh, dear,” cries Princess, from above. Her swooping scarf-hat trails the crumbling window ledge.

The nightdressed girl smiles, treading where adults fear. She perches, perfectly happy, at the cliffside edge of fantasy.

And jumps.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

The Adventures of TinTin

Tin Tin
(From Beyond the Marquee)

About exactly a month ago, I listed seventeen children’s picture books I was fond of.

Today, I wish to journey across Egypt, the ocean, America, and even the moon -with TinTin.

First, I must have you young ‘uns travel back to a time before graphic novels were so prevalent; back when Americans just didn’t get it, though other countries did. Picture a world without so much variety, but still with motorized transportation and microwave ovens.

The world of my childhood.

Occasionally, my mother would bravely venture into The City with all three of us rambunctious children. After finding parking, we’d pile out of our station wagon and walk up the steps to the Salt Lake Public Library.

This was also before they’d built the big, fancy building there now. Ours was a more modest setup -a large, square structure with odd exterior walls of cement.

Never you mind how long ago that actually was. (If you ask my six-year-old, my childhood was around the time electricity was invented.)

The point of all this rambling nostalgia is that Hergés’ TinTin was a very special treat.

We didn’t live in Salt Lake County, so the library card for my mother was an extra cost. We didn’t own that many books. I’m certain we had no comic books or graphic novels around the house.

So, we each felt a mounting excitement as we literally mounted the stairs up to the children’s section, ran quietly through the main area, and turned left into the section of special, out-of-country books.

There, on the wall, the librarian would have set out all the TinTin books they had. It was like a candy store of literature.

My mother would finally catch up to us, note us sprawling on furniture with a book each, and sneak off to the adult section. We were good for a solid ten minutes.

What was The Adventures of TinTin to us?

As I said, those books were a special treat. They were also adventure, expression, art, and European humour. We were enamored with these silent cartoons we controlled.

Later, I would discover Astérix. That’s a story for another time. These days, graphic novels are everywhere. I pick up a few for my children from our own public library whenever we go.

Heck, they even have some with action-packed tales like The Laws of Motion: the story of Isaac Newton.

This old hipster says that’s all well and good, but classics like TinTin need to be read. If you haven’t ever, look into getting a copy. They’re still around, and they’re worth the time.

Hand Me Down

Find me; fold me;
Box me away.
I’ve shrunk; he’s grown
-Who’s to say?

Write that; tape that;
Label that box.
I’ll tell; you’ll read
Of suits and socks.

Fill this; close this;
Set this there.
I’m stored; I’m saved
For another wear?

Hand me down; Land me down;
Gift me once more.
Open me; unfold these
Wear till I’m wore.

Skinwalkers, II

The trouble with Suspension Drops, Nathan prematurely recalled, was that one’s eyesight became somewhat blurred for several hours.

He’d remembered this the instant he left the tiny bathroom and entered his bedroom to dress. For, once there, the flush fixture overhead illuminated within a circle of its own influence, and hesitated to stretch its wattage beyond. Nathan’s floor, bed, and cave-dark closet were imperceptible to his altered vision.

He cursed, quietly, and decided to find his comm. Pillowed barefoot shuffling drew him and his outstretched, groping arms slowly toward the nightstand where he’d last seen it. He hit the bed; grunted, turned, and walked along it to the head.

There! Nathan pawed at the shiny device; grasped it clumsily. Drawing his comm to his face, he said, “Light.”

Nearly instantly, he yelled in a different sort of ocular agony as the light activated. He’d not known, of course, that he’d picked up his comm upside-down. The beam had blared out obediently, directly into his strained and straining eyes.

Nathan closed them. A square of blinding white flashed repeatedly against the dark undersides of his eyelids. He wished for tears; for the ability to squint away the blinking spots.

After taking a few calming breaths, and dropping his hand to point the light downward, he squinted his right eye open a slit. He could make out somewhat more of the bedroom now. Thus directed, he walked gingerly to his closet.

He panned the tiny spotlight ’round the door-less alcove that passed for clothing storage in his cheap apartment, noting a muted glint from drywall patches and exposed wall-pipes. The light reflected shabbily from a plastic-bagged suit hanging between a few wool warmers and two basic liners.

“Some boss,” Nathan mumbled. He re-thought, remembered his reflection from the bathroom mantra. He straightened, and determinedly whispered, “I’ll have a full wardrobe, this time next week!”

Nodding to himself, he reached his left hand forward and withdrew the suit. It shushed in a slithering sigh across the uneven floor as he carried it to the bed. Carefully clumping his bedthings to a disorderly pile, Nathan lay the rented costume on the mattress.

Ironic, he thought, that this suit was his ticket to actually paying for it upon its return to the shop.

He set the light in the blankets, pointing harmlessly at the wall. Holding his breath, he slit open the plastic suit-covering, and began the hurried carefulness of awkwardly dressing himself.

 

Continued from Skinwalkers, I.
Read Skinwalkers, III.

Pumping Poseurs

Super Man

I have nicknames for people at the gym.

There’s The Nymph, Gangnam Style, Bookie, The Amazon, and My Doppelgänger (she’s the in-shape version).

Mostly I name the regulars, the ones who are there any time I go -even though I don’t go the same time, day, or often month.

I could ask their real names, of course. All I’d have to do is get right up in their face, break their exercise focus, wait for them to pull out an earbud, then smile and say, “Oh, hi! What’s your name?”

…Assuming, of course, that I get over my habitual shyness to get as far as eye contact.

Besides fond titles of my own devising, I can’t help but participate in everyone’s favorite gym tradition: measuring myself up to others, physically. Like, to the few people who look less fit than I do.

For example, I like running when older people are walking the track. I see them and think, “Oh, good. Someone I can actually pass.” …Except when a buff old man wearing an X City Marathon shirt walks in. Then, I’m more like, “Oh, crap.”

What is especially funny to me are the attendees who are clearly, boldfacedly, attemptingly-ignorancely showing off.

One time, I plopped down on the mat in a sweaty fit to start my abdominal routine. A man and his girlfriend/wife/significant other walked in. He was dressed like most of us: t-shirt, basketball shorts, running shoes, and socks. She, on the other hand, was wearing strappy sandal HEELS with tight jeans and some sort of loosely-fitting top. Flipping her styled, sprayed hair behind her, she sat at a stationary bicycle and actually tried to pedal for a few minutes while he pumped iron.

They have couches downstairs. She could have waited there. I mean, what if she got sweat stains on those jeans? What if she popped a seam?

I was reminded of her when I finally revisited the gym yesterday. Whilst running -okay, okay- shuffling my two miles, a tattooed, stringy-muscled guy walked in wearing loose gym clothes and flip-flops. Flip. Flops. His long hair was tied back in a curly ponytail and his expression was just like that of JP Sears when he imitates yoga fanatics.

You know: serious, thinks-he’s-all-that STARE. In flip-flops.

I don’t know if there are groups of people who look at the gym as a great hookup place, because I don’t. I intentionally go looking grungy, so my makeup doesn’t sweat into my pores and give me teenage acne. My hair’s a mess because I’m going to exercise and get sweaty and don’t want hair spray sweat pouring into my pores and giving me even-worse acne.

I see people showing off, and think something more like, “I’ll run that mile, too, Pretty Boy. And, I’ll do it with my shirt on.” Er, with my gym shoes on.

Yao

I go to the gym to exercise. Period. And show off. And, probably, to people watch. Hey -it’s boring to run for two miles with only your music for distraction. I gotta pass the time somehow.

Wilhelmina Winters: Thirty-One

“Your assignment,” Mr. Gil spoke gruffly, from the corner of his mouth, “Is on page niner niner, section bravo.” His large, rounded rectangle glasses reflected the overhead portable classroom’s lighting. The rest of his face squinted around his glasses in the traditional leer he adopted for class instruction.

Wil had always felt nervous around Mr. G. and his extremely strong personality. He had a habit of forming his froglike features into odd expressions while barking most verbal commands. Plus, he seemed to find everything he did highly amusing.

She studied the F4F Wildcat that twisted slowly on its string over her neighbor’s desk. That meant the heat was on. Modern heating and air conditioning were perks of class in the portables. Knowledge of aircraft was a perk of being in Mr. G.’s portable. She couldn’t tell the exact date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; but, by golly!, they would all know the names of his flying toys and the NATO phonetic alphabet.

Her hands automatically synced to the rhythm of her classmates, opening the history textbook in front of her and turning to “niner niner.”

Flight Officer Winters, however, was paying attention to the small speck in the vast grey blue at five o’clock. Her body vibrated comfortably in the overpowering roar of the Twin Wasp engine and the dashboard dials agitated reassuringly at regular readings.

“Hold formation,” crackled in her headphones. She felt the anxiety building in her body as she fought the urge to act.

They inched nearer.

The original speck had visible wings, and now hovered above a line of more dark spots plus one to her left. “Second Zero at eight o’clock,” she reported.

“Third at eleven/ten,” two others reported simultaneously. Wil glanced at the positions and acknowledged the additions.

She frowned. The Zeros always flew in formation, as they were, and had more than three pilots flying cover.

“Reading one more Zero at two. Let’s assume these ******s are leading two more behind them like usual,” the flight leader instructed.

That meant twelve Japanese fighters total. Wil grinned in anticipation and readied her guns. This would not be a fair fight.

 

Continued from Thirty.