Posted in Changes, Current Events, Dating, Lessons from the Church, NaNoWriMo, People, Stories, Time

play the game (for “Rochelle”)

How am I supposed to live without you
How am I supposed to carry on
When all that I’ve been livin’ for is gone

Rochelle angrily pounded the space bar, forcing the YouTube clip to stop Michael Bolton’s crooning. Finding the music popular from when she was born was supposed to be a distraction, not something to force her back into melancholy.

She let her head fall back on the lovesac and watched the fan blades spin lazily. One glow in the dark star that had held on defiantly to a wobbly blade for over a year traced a white streak in her vision. She wondered what had brought her to this moment.

You need everyone’s eyes just to feel seen behind your make up. Nobody knows who you even are. Who do you think that you are?

She pursed her lips ironically and bounced her head in time to Mike Posner’s slightly more modern tune. She thought back to her early college years, dancing with her roommate around their apartment with cats darting between their feet and candles glowing all around the kitchen. “It’s probably because you think you’re COOLER THAN ME!” They’d sing at the top of their lungs.

I’m gonna drop some cash, only got twenty dollas in my pocket

Macklemore’s boom resonated through her chest. Was that the time when things started to change? Was that when she started to get angry at everyone she had called friend for the last four years?

Hellooooooo, it’s me…

She couldn’t do it. She slammed her laptop closed on Adele’s sepia gas stovetop.

The boy. So brief, so wild, so beautiful. He was the one that got too close when she was about to shatter. He was the one that found her right as all the years of hiding who she was, what she really believed, came bubbling to the surface. He was the one who stepped into her world right at the wrong moment.

She hated him.

She loved him.

He wasn’t enough for her, she was too much for him. These opposites pulled each other into a circle of gravity, whirling around each other, the attraction becoming too much until they collided with cosmic power.

And now all she had left was a black hole.

She was cold.

The new men who filled her bed were placeholders. She pushed them out her door at three a.m. and collapsed in a drunken stupor. When morning came, she would brew herself a full pot of Folgers and debate pouring Bailey’s in each cup. She would sit at her table, slouching over the steam and inhale the scent of coffee while she waited for it to cool. She would delete the texts from the night before, praying that by deleting the electronic record she could delete the memories.

She’d drag herself to class, hair clipped back, make up on point, a tasteful scarf wrapped to cover the hickey her latest lover had left. She’d make small talk with coworkers, and beg forgiveness for not joining them after shift for a drink. Rochelle would return home, pulling her cat into her lap.

“Love me,” she’d tell it, stroking it’s soft fur. The cat would glower and struggle away from her grasp, finding a ball of paper on the floor to bat around. She’d pull out her phone and find the app, the orange flame tempting her. Left, left, left, right, left, left, left, right, MATCH. Keep swiping. Left, left, right, left, James has sent you a message. James it was.

Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

Taylor, Taylor, Rochelle sighed to herself. I’m dying to see how this one ends, too.

She wondered where it had all gone wrong – or had it always been wrong? She thought of her sister. The one who had always come into her room, stolen her things, touched her… Rochelle shuddered at the memory of her sister. Their mother had never believed Rochelle, and even now couldn’t understand why she refused to be in the same room, why she refused to forgive her sister.

She thought of the church she’d found herself a part of. She thought of how she’d changed for them, dying her hair back to it’s natural color after the black started to grow out instead of keeping it rebellious. She thought of how she moved in with them, reading her bible and striving to learn the lingo, to say all the right things and volunteer with them and be at the church every time the doors were open. She thought about how when she tried to open up, to share what was really going on, how Emily would shift uncomfortably and offer to pray for Rochelle, or how Miranda would go off on some Christianese rant. One day she called her out on that. “What does that even MEAN, Miranda? Do you even know what that MEANS?”

She’d run away, moving into an apartment in another city with Emily’s sister. Rochelle learned very quickly that Amy was even worse, and when they tried to have conversations about current events, it would quickly devolve into nonsense, and Rochelle would storm away trying desperately not to scream about how stupid she found her roommate.

All her friends were getting married. The three-three-nine method, Rochelle thought wryly. Single for 23 years, then “court” for three months, engaged for three months, and nine months later… hello family. Was there no such thing as a healthy friendship one-on-one with boys? Apparently not, she muttered. It’s marriage or running away and doing exactly what I’m doing. That’s it.

She lived alone now. After an entire lease of fighting and anger, and oh that stupid election, how could Amy actually believe that godawful candidate was genuinely a good human being? She’d finally escaped. She was alone. Was it better? Was she going to be free?

They say I’ll never be the poster type, but they don’t make posters of my kind of life.

She picked back up her phone, Elle King demanding freedom in the background, and kept swiping, pushing the thoughts of That Boy further and further into the abyss.


“Write a story for me?” My friend texted me. “I don’t care if it’s real or fictional.”

This is for you, love.

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Posted in Changes, Growing Up, Lessons from the Church, The Barista

on the heart of complaining

Since walking away from Christianity, I haven’t often thought about complaining. Within the church, you hear many sermons about a complaining heart. Outside if it, not so much. So it’s genuinely been a few years since I’ve thought seriously about the effects of intentionally trying not to talk about the negativity in my soul.

I’m realizing I ought to.

I took a nap today after I got home from work, and when I woke up my stomach was twisted into knots, remembering a conversation or two from the last few days.

A complainer does not a good leader make.

I’m supposed to be a leader now.

And I have not had a filter on.

Nor have I tried to even hold back the negative thoughts.

I’m tired. I’m stressed. I have a lot on my plate. I disagree with some things going on. I feel like I don’t have enough information. I feel like I don’t have enough hours in my day or days in my week. So I word vomit.

When I was part of the church, I would occasionally try to go for periods of time being intentionally thankful or actively trying not to complain. Inevitably, at the end of the timeframe, I would slowly slip back into old habits. But it was refreshing. It gave me a different perspective on life.

I kind of really need that right now.

Life ain’t simple right now.

But I can be.

When I graduated from college, a girl a few years older than me who’d mentored me in high school sent me a few links to read over. Some were free online courses. Some were news sources. One was a blog about simplicity and the art of being free. I shrugged the last one off – my life was fine, I thought.

Now I’m not so sure.

I need a reset button.

I need a reset button on my attitude.

I need to take a few hours and sort out my priorities in order to most effectively accomplish tasks.

I need to know when to approach things and when to delegate.

I need to know how to thank people for their work.

I need to be able to take responsibility and criticism.

I need to be able to let go of my anger and frustration.

I need to be able to get on a schedule so I don’t break down in tears because I haven’t eaten in ten hours.

I need to be able to sleep effectively so I’m not distracted by exhaustion.

I need to be able to listen.

Listen.

Listen.

I need to learn.

72 hours. That’s my goal.

The next 72 hours, I want to keep my tongue in check.

I want to keep my mind in check and pause when I start to become negative.

I need to reprioritize my life.

I need to sort it out.

72 hours.

Let me to a life reset.

Let me have a do over.