Microfiction: On Sagittarians

April 17, 2018 —

Photo by Justin Luebke on Unsplash

“And even as I wander, I’m keeping you in sight. You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night.”  REO Speedwagon, Can’t Fight this Feeling.

Fire doesn’t like to be contained. It travels up and up, uncontrolled. Just let me run wild and free. Don’t call me when I’m roaming and demand that I come home. But it’s okay to call me and tell me that you miss me. It feels wonderful to know that I am wanted. It’s okay to call me and tell me that you can’t wait to see me. Because I can’t wait to see you.

I don’t like to be told what to do. I don’t like to be told what to think. I’ll gladly listen to advice from people I trust, as long as you let me make up my own mind. After all, I’m always more enlightened than you.

I move from one project to the next, constantly inspired by something new. It doesn’t matter that I lose patience with any one project, because the next day I’ll be inspired by something else. Don’t try to change that. After all, if you wanted something different, you would’ve fallen for someone different, right?

In the end, though, contrary to what you may think, and behind the joking demeanor, I need you. After all, fire cannot exist without another element. And it is a pleasure to burn.

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All the Ever Afters: A Powerful Rendition of the Stepmother’s Side of the Cinderella Story

This post was originally published on www.bookclubbabble.com

April 13, 2018 –

There are always at least two sides to every story. Perspective is everything and Danielle Teller’s novel has definitely delivered a different angle. Teller’s novel is a powerfully written rendition of the Cinderella story, from the point of view of the stepmother. It is an enjoyable read, at times sad, at times uplifting, but ultimately, Teller’s message comes with a strong core theme: the bond between parent and child comes from the nurturing, caretaking relationship more so than from the physical act of childbearing.

The author, a medical doctor, was inspired to write All the Ever Afters after becoming a stepparent. Having been a stepchild, and being a parent myself, I was intrigued at the novel’s premise. The setting of the novel harkens to a late medieval period, and the narrative is a sharp reminder of a woman’s role in society during that time, as well as of the extremely limited opportunities that women had.

All the Ever Afters tells the tale of the stepmother, Agnes, from the time she is forced to leave home at a young age, to her working in menial jobs, to becoming a woman, to succumbing to a man’s charms, and to having her two daughters. I won’t give away how she ends up becoming Cinderella’s stepmother (that was one of the parts I was anticipating and wouldn’t want to spoil it for the reader). The novel’s description of Agnes’ past allows the reader to empathize with her difficult life and to understand her parenting methods.

The book details several pieces of evidence that suggest that Cinderella (Ella) is more of an introvert than her stepsisters in that she prefers quieter, less stimulating environments. Agnes notes that Ella is “peculiar, … a solitary woolgatherer who did not engage in play like other children. She was a stickler for quiet.” Agnes “never knew what was going on behind [Ella’s] pretty eyes.” Agnes tells Ella’s father that “It would be good for Ella to get out of her chambers” and “It cannot be healthy for her to spend so much time alone.” One of the stepsisters notes that “good company is wasted on [Ella] and that she “stare[s] off at nothing.” These descriptions of Ella deeply resonated with me, since growing up I was an introvert in a household of extroverts, and often felt (and still feel) misunderstood when I seek solitude to recharge my energy. While reading All the Ever Afters, I wished that Agnes would allow Ella to be herself, instead of suggesting that Ella was somehow abnormal because her character was different from that of Agnes and her own daughters. Agnes does eventually come to this realization when Ella is older.

At the same time, I felt sympathy for Agnes, who had a difficult life and who, in adulthood, is forced for much of the time to live apart from her own children. It is easy to understand why Agnes is frustrated with Ella, who is beautiful and born to a wealthy family, and from whom not much is expected. However, suffering is always relative; a child does not understand how good he/she has it. The fact that Ella wants for nothing does not negate the painful fact that she loses both of her biological parents. In this, I also wished that Agnes would have been more openly sympathetic to Ella upon the death of her father.

Enter a stepparent into a family dynamic, coupled with a child’s need for stability, and it is easy to see how a child may test and resist the stepparent. The stepparent should be patient and build a loving relationship with the child so that the child trusts him/her. All the Ever Aftersdetails the blossoming relationship between stepmother and stepchild in a realistic way, where trust and affection is developed slowly.

Ultimately, All the Ever Afters tells a complex tale of a love that forms through patient nurturing and by just being present. It is a wonderful reminder that being an affectionate, understanding parent has great rewards.

Doing Miami as an Introvert (spoiler alert: It’s not so bad)

April 16, 2018 —

“You’re going to Miami.”

Most people would be excited to go to Miami for a work conference. I’ll admit, I was a bit, but having been to South Beach, I know it’s not really my scene. The one time I went there, tipsy partygoers, insane lights and endless noise shocked my system, sending me back to the hotel with ringing in my ears, prompting me to hide under the covers with a book.

I brought my personal laptop, thinking that I would get some writing done. Then I thought, I’m going to Miami and I don’t even have to pay for the trip. I should maybe, I don’t know, actually see something of Miami, not like last time.

I did some research online and, low and behold, found out that Miami has a pretty vibrant art scene with plenty of museums, which, unfortunately, I would not be able to get to since I had to attend a conference all day. There is also an independent book store, Books and Books, on South Beach, and it was open late. As luck would have it, the book store was located on a pedestrian mall.

OK, I thought, I’ll take a look.

Day 1

On a Monday evening, my first day there, I took an uber from the hotel to Lincoln Road Mall. It was more serene than I had anticipated. There were a good many people out for a Monday night in March (who knows what it would be like on a weekend in the summertime?), but the crowd level was completely manageable. The extremely wide pedestrian strip afforded a great opportunity to amble around, gazing at store windows and perusing restaurant menus.

Books and Books was easy to find; it’s well-organized and well-stocked and decorated quite aesthetically. There were only a few customers, so I was able to scan the bookshelves in peace, without feeling rushed. They have a cafe right outside the store entrance, if you are eager to read your new book with a cup of coffee.

After I made my purchase (and talked to a store employee about possibly having my books for sale there, shameless!), I walked straight out on Lincoln Road Mall and had a stroll followed by a quiet dinner while contemplating the ocean breeze.

Day 2

After an all-day conference, where conference goers were packed like sardines into giant ballrooms, where there was always a line at the bathroom and at the espresso bar (INTJs loathe waiting; it’s a time waster and I could always be getting something productive done), and where cell phones were constantly beeping (distracting!), I was absolutely done with peopling. I scuttled to my hotel to swim laps in the hotel pool.

The pool was heated (score!) and empty (double score!). I swam my laps in absolute peace. As I did the backstroke and gazed skyward, watching birds glide effortlessly past floating clouds and between skyscrapers, I thought that this city isn’t so bad after all.

For next time, I’ll try the Wynwood Art District, and revisit Delicias de España, a wonderful store and restaurant where I picked up some real Spanish chorizo 🙂

Sparkly Badgers Easter Egg Hunt


March 29, 2018

Join in the Sparkly Badgers Easter Egg Hunt! Sparkly Badgers is an author group (we are awesome!) who, in addition to sharing tips on Facebook, also have a weekly Twitter hour every Monday.

Move from blog to blog by finding all the eggs, and you will be entered into the draw to win the grand prize of chocolate eggs and ebooks from all the indie authors involved! Everyone who enters will win an ebook of their choice from one of the authors involved. This is an absolute win-win!

The link to begin the hunt goes live on March 30 on the Facebook event page here.

My egg is hidden somewhere on this blog. When you find it, click on it to visit the next author blog to find the next egg. Good luck hunting and Happy Easter!

And be sure to follow the authors on Twitter so you can find out about new releases, giveaway, and other stuff!

As always, thank you for your support!

Maria

Microfiction: Gemini: Daily life as an air sign

I’m trying to print and the printer is out of ink. Why does that always happen?! Ugh, I just want things to work!

And the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes! They need to be washed. I don’t have any clean forks.

And my office desk is cluttered with paperwork, unfiled bills, and old greeting cards! I pick up a folded piece of paper, look at it, and open a filing cabinet. I find a folder and stick the paper in it. Then I lose my nerve and become distracted with the plate of half-eaten toast on my desk. I grab it, dump the old toast in the trash, and open the dishwasher but the dishes are all clean. I stick the dirty plate in the sink, on top of the mound of other dirty dishes. I really need to empty the clean dishes.

I don’t have time for this! I need to be doing other things! I look around and see things that need to be put away. And there are clean clothes in the dryer that need to be folded.

As usual, I feel overwhelmed and shudder at the thought of having to do such menial, non-intellectual tasks. I like having a clean house, but not enough to actually do the cleaning.

Such tasks take away from what I really want to be doing. Reading and writing. I have several great ideas for books and short stories, but I need time to sit down.

Right now, I want to crawl into a corner with a book and hide. From everything. From phone calls. From text messages. From bills and tax collectors. From my day job. From life.

 

Flash fiction: Any Way you Want It

Any Way You Want It

by Maria Riegger

I opened the front door to my apartment and immediately began opening my mail.

Oh no, I thought when I saw the red Hallmark envelope. Another greeting card from my mother.

She insists on marking every occasion, from Halloween to St. Patrick’s Day, even though we’re not Irish.

“Did you get my card?” She would ask me in about a week.

For her, it’s less about the message and mostly about keeping up appearances.

“Why does everyone insist on keeping up with the Joneses?” I mused out loud. “Everyone expects you to have a huge house, change your car every two years, have the right job, the right partner, take the right vacations — “

I sighed. ‘Right’ according to them, of course. What’s better? To be miserable but have ‘status’ or to be happy and not have ‘status?’

Nobody should have to think about the answer to that.

I opened the greeting card and glanced at it. I hesitated, then placed it on my kitchen table. My apartment didn’t have a formal dining room. I always thought that those were a waste of space. How often would it get used, anyway?

My mother called me occasionally, just to see how I was doing, but we rarely talked about anything substantive. That was how I preferred it.

I leaned against my kitchen counter and shook my head.

Sorry I only live in an apartment, I thought, that I prefer to travel rather than be house poor, that I don’t have a gaggle of children, that I stay in most nights and read to feed my brain instead of go out and engage in vapid activities with superficial people, who live cookie-cutter existences.

I pretend to straighten an imaginary tie and have an imaginary conversation out loud.

“I’m John, and this is my wife Jill, and our son Jack. He just got into Harvard. Well, hello, I’m Tom, and this is my wife Tracy and our son Tim, and he just got into Georgetown. Cue the debate over whether Georgetown is an Ivy League school. Who cares?

I turned around and reached into the cabinet for a glass, then filled it with water.

The other day my mother asked me why I didn’t get a bigger house with a bigger yard. I asked her why I needed a bigger house and yard. She couldn’t answer.

But the answer for her was clear. She wants me to have a bigger house because she wants me to have a bigger house,so that she can tell people, my daughter lives in a big house.

I pursed my lips, frustrated. To her, a big house is a sign of status.

I’m an embarrassment to her. That’s why she doesn’t talk about me at parties.

Oh well, I don’t care. Why should I? I don’t go to parties. I smiled, even though there was no one to see.

I don’t have a fear of missing out. I don’t have a fear of rejection. I have a fear of living a monotonous life, without experiencing anything, without creating anything.

I live life any way I want it.

Microfiction: Intuition

February 12, 2018

Intuition

by Maria Riegger

“I don’t believe in psychics. You’re crazy.”

“Then how come I always call you when you’re thinking of me?”

My sister waved a hand dismissively. “It’s because we grew up together. It’s just — intuition.”

“Aha!” I said, with the success of a mystic who has just begun to convert a newbie. “Yes, intuition.”

She looked at me, uncertain.

I continued carefully. “Did it occur to you that psychic ability is merely highly developed intuition?”

“What do you mean?”

“People who know of events before they occur, they’re just highly sensitive. They’re able to focus their energy. Sometimes they isolate —”

“Like you?” She smirked.

She was dissing my introverted nature, but I didn’t care. I was enjoying this conversation too much.

“Yes, I isolate. Wanna know why?”

“Why?”

“I get overstimulated by modern life. All the devices, smartphones, tablets. I go to the damn gas station, there’s a screen showing TMZ. At the doctor’s office, a TV’s blaring inane crap about how to be healthy. Of course, I want to be healthy. That’s why I go to the damn doctor’s office!”

My sister laughed and I smiled.

“My point is,” I continued, “there’s so much chatter. It interferes with my energy and my thoughts, and I can’t focus. I isolate because I can’t stand the noise. If more people rid themselves of the chatter, they could get in tune with their intuition.”

“You mean their psychic intuition.”

“Yes.”