24 hours

Douglas Coupland’s “Five Rules for Writers” was recently assigned to me as part of my creative writing course required reading. His bonus advice – “Dreams are boring. Don’t write about them.” And because I like to live life on the edge and break rules*, I’m going to do exactly what he suggested I avoid.

*This comment is laced with sarcasm. I just like to pretend I’m a bad ass… I really just wanted to write about my dream, regardless of what Mr. Coupland recommends.

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Photo by TJ Romero <click on his name to be directed to his site 🙂

I can’t remember the exact setting, but I do remember I was told I had 24 hours left to live. I feel like it was some weird zombie-inducing disease… or maybe I just made that up? Either way, my husband was by my side when I received the news. He turned to me and asked, “What do you want to do?” I quickly realized travelling to the Amazon for my dream exploration trip wasn’t an option. I responded, “I want to be with you.” So, dream-me, and dream-him crawled into bed (it wasn’t our bed… which is slightly frightening now that I think about it), and cuddled. As my expiration clock counted down the hours, minutes, seconds, remaining in my life earth-side, I decided that I also wanted to write letters. I pulled out my laptop and started writing to my family, friends, and husband. I told all them not to be sad because I had no regrets. I lived the life I wanted for myself and I’ve experienced the things I’ve wanted to experience. I pursued my dreams and I loved where I was and what I had accomplished.

Weird dream, I know… , but I woke up happy. I was impressed with dream Ali. It was also an interesting experience to reflect on, even if it was only a dream. Or, if Coupland is correct, maybe I’m the only one who finds it interesting. I digress.

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My question for you, what would you do if you were told you only had 24 hours remaining?  Would you tell your friends and family, or keep the information private?  It’s a slightly morbid discussion, I realize this, but I’m really curious what everyone’s response to this would be!

 

 

Free Writing : Vol. 1 – Prompt – What’s in your character’s bag?

I recently enrolled in a creative writing program through the University of Toronto. It’s something I’ve considered doing for quite a few years now and finally decided there was no better time than the present. I plan on sharing some of my writing from my class here with you! Please join in on the conversation!

One challenge I’m facing is the task of writing every day. I’m doing much better now than I was in the past, but I need much more discipline in this area. To help with this, my prof suggested some free writing prompts for daily journaling. This piece is a result of one of my free writing sessions. Her prompt was, “What’s in your character’s bag?”. I took her idea and ran with it 🙂

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Wild curls fell across her face as she twisted her body to dig through her bag. Merlot painted nails pushed aside a well-used deck of tarot cards. Her ornate gold rings caught on a scarf rumpled near the bottom as struggling to find the item she needed. Answering her silent call, a lavender-lined velvet pouch found its way into her searching palm. Slender fingers tugged gently on the ribbon ties, freeing a large eye agate gemstone pendant. She carried it for protection. Bangles she inherited from her grandmother clashed noisily on her wrist as she tossed her long mane aside to fasten the necklace. Her gait was confident; the thigh-high leather boots she wore beneath her skirt helped too. As she made her way down the busy city sidewalks she filled her lungs. Exhaust, wet pavement, and a hint of the frankincense she carefully applied earlier. Her emerald eyes narrowed as a smirk pulled at the corners of her lips. She was near her destination, not a minute late nor early. She looked and felt the part; she knew this role well.

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P.S. I must add a side note… the mala beads in those images were made for me by my father.  His callused carpenter’s fingers strung every single bead.  He and my mother gave them to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  Don’t I have amazing parents!?

Wild Eyes

“It would have been cheaper, to keep her, around.”

A country song plays softly on the radio and my husband laughs at the lyrics.

The moon is masked by winter clouds causing the sky to envelop itself. I can’t see past our headlights, but the landscape blurring outside the windows is familiar, even in the dark.

Our speedometer hovers around the speed limit but we are slowly gaining on the large semi truck in front of us. I look out my window to see wild eyes reflecting back at me, warning me they are ready to run, either into or away from the highway traffic. Sadly this highway is notorious for casualties, usually of the four-legged variety.

The turn-signal clicking breaks my stare and an engine revs loudly beside us, almost in response. We travel alongside semis on this highway often, but they are typically the most courteous of travel companions. We both look questioningly at the passing lane, unsure of why the man driving the semi beside us has sped up. He matches our speed, the hooks and chains on the back of his cab dancing wildly in the cold air. We continued down the black pavement, side by side. We were now cornered with a truck in front of us, beside us, and third quickly closing the space between our bumper and his. He flashes his headlights once, twice.

“I feel like we’re in a horror movie.” my husband quietly comments.

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Image – TJ Romero

Goals – 2014

Most people do their New Year’s Resolutions post on January 1st… so I’m a little bit behind.  Honestly, I was kind of scared to make this post.  By writing these things down and committing them to the unforgiving expanse that is the internet means I’m allowing others to hold me accountable to these goals.  And, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my goals.  But gosh darn it, I’m going to try!

We’ll begin with, what I hope, is my most attainable goal.

I desperately want to get to a point where I’m able to read 100 novels in one year.  In an effort to get to that point I’m bumping last year’s goal of 50 novels up to 65 for 2014.  I’ve been tracking my progress on my Goodreads account.  If you’re on there, please add me as a friend and join in the journey!

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I’m a workaholic.  This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Because November is my birthday month (the big 30 this year, eck!) and it’s also NaNoWriMo, as a gift to myself and a celebration of my birthday, I’m going to save up for the rest of the year so that I can take most or all of November off to participate in 2014’s NaNoWriMo.  This is a scary one for me for a number of reasons.  1. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.  2. I do not have a game plan, with my novel-to-be or how I’m going to make this happen.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about?  3. What if I don’t finish, or what if my novel sucks (realistically, it probably will, but what if it REALLY sucks?).  Wish me luck with this one!

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Get active!  I want, so badly, to start running again, take a yoga class, play floor hockey with my husband.  All of it.  I used to run, every single day and I miss it more than I can tell you.  I always allow my job to take over and never make time for me, to make time to do the things I love.  I know it’s important, so I’m going to start making that time.  I need to.

Shoot more film.  I love my film cameras and love shooting film.  I learned the art of photography using an old 35mm Pentax camera and I miss it.  Again, it always feels like life is moving too quickly to slow down and take the time to shoot a few rolls of film.  I really want to add film as an ‘add on’ to my photography packages and in order to do that, I need to start shooting it more often!

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Strive to learn and grow as an artist.  I never want to stop learning, growing, and challenging myself so I always add this goal to my yearly list.  The first steps I’ve made with this goal this year is to book myself a space in Sam Hurd’s workshop in Chicago this summer.  He is an INCREDIBLE photographer and I can’t believe I’m finally going to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, learning his creative ways.

So, that’s my list for this year!  Feel free to hold me accountable, ask me how I’m making out with these goals, or pester me for slacking off!