Learning on the Journey, For the Birds, Chimichanga–Hold the Drama

Still Learning On My Writing Journey

I learned a lot this week.  For instance, I learned about Tumblr when I accidentally signed up for it! I thought I was signing up for a website marketing tool, and, I guess it does accomplish that function, but it wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated.  My new Tumblr page is https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/mmcwrites. Now, if everything works right, this blog should automatically post there. . .

While on Tumblr, I found a great page “Writing with Color” (https://writingwithcolor.tumblr.com/post/96830966357/words-for-skin-tone-how-to-describe-skin-color) that gives some incredibly helpful information on describing people. 

From the Twitterverse: Prior to this week, I knew there were a lot of people who self-published, but my eyes have been opened to how very many there are!  Many self-published authors say they never intend to do anything other than self-publish because of the control it gives them over their work.  I remain in the traditional publishing camp, but I now know of a lot of valuable resources should I ever decide to go the self-publishing route. 

Another eye opener this week on Twitter was that there’s a term for the inferiority complex I have in some aspects of my life.  It’s called impostor syndrome.  Many fully competent people fall prey  to it.  Learning how common it is I think will help me rise above it. 

Before this week, it had been almost 30 years since I had held a library card. On Monday, I went down to my local library branch, and in about 10 minutes I was a card-carrying library patron.  What I learned almost immediately after getting the card, was that it’s best to know exactly what book you’re looking for at the library.  It’s not like a book store where you can readily browse books by genre.  The library – at least the branch I visited — had non-fiction divided into topics, but fiction was just one big free for all.  Don’t get me wrong, there was, of course, order to the way books: were shelved (by author).  Although I’m sure that’s very efficient, it does not work for someone looking to just go in and find a light read. 

For the Birds

This week, I moved my birdfeeder back up to its winter placement — hanging off my deck.  During the warmer months, I don’t like it on the deck because of the mess the birds make.  But, in the winter I’m not much out there, so. . . It took a few days for the birds to find it.  But now they’re regularly visiting.

Picture from my deck January 2021

I hung a second feeder – a gift from my friend Katie – and filled it with black oiled sunflower seeds specifically for the cardinals.  Cardinals make a sound like someone “tsking” at you in disappointment.  When I hear one, I wonder what they’re chiding me for.   This week, I think they’re chiding me because they don’t like their birdfeeder.  Watching them, it seems like maybe the perch is too narrow.  So, they wait for the smaller birds to knock seed off of it.  Hmmm.   Maybe, it’s just that they’re lazy.

Short Story: Chimichanga, Hold the Drama

I gave the waiter my order – a chicken chimi and queso to accompany my free chips – and was opening the paperback I’d brought with me, when I happened to glance into the restaurant’s cantina.   There was a woman sitting at the bar with her back to me who seemed familiar. . .oh, please God, don’t let it be her. 

“Her” was Rhonda, the woman my ex-boyfriend Keith left me for and then married a few months later. My feelings about the whole situation are complicated, at least now they are.  When he dumped me, not so complicated:   I was devastated – not really surprised because I’d learned long before that most of his relationships of any kind were temporary – but I was devastated, nonetheless.  So, devastated that I’d first begged him to reconsider, and then even more pathetically tried to negotiate staying friends with both of them. 

That’s the kind of irrational shit you do when you’ve been manipulated by an expert narcissist for a year and a half, have come to rely solely upon him for your sense of self-worth and are convinced that everything – absolutely everything – is somehow your fault.

So, yeah, I was devastated when he left me, but time, perspective, and a group of loyal – and blunt — friends had changed my tune to “Thank God I Got Outta That Shitty Mess.”  I like to sing it to the melody of “Thank Ye Very Much” from the musical “Scrooge!”  I make the words fit. 

In retrospect, after our first six months together – the grooming period where he built me up – I’d become completely miserable, worrying that I wasn’t able to keep his attention anymore – that I wasn’t good enough for him or for anyone else.  Oh, yeah, he plucked my insecurities like a banjo. 

My recovery was helped along by the fact that, as my perspective cleared, I could see the person he truly was, rather than the person he had told me he was and who I wanted him to be.  To put it succinctly, he’s not a good person.   In fact, he’s a wart on the ass of humanity.  Okay, so maybe I’m bitter about being stupid enough to have fallen under his manipulative spell.  But, truly, he is not a good person.  Anyway, at this point, sitting in Rosita’s waiting on my queso, I didn’t freak out over Rhonda being there because of a broken heart, but because I genuinely don’t like my ex as a person and want nothing to do with him or his wife.  I’d like to forget that whole sorry chapter of my life.

But, maybe it wasn’t Rhonda, I told myself.  After all, her back was to me and there are a lot of short women with light brown hair.  Then I heard the laugh.  Rhonda has the laugh of a middle-aged phone sex worker who has lived her life abusing cheap whiskey and cigarettes.   No doubt:  it’s Rhonda.  That meant Keith would probably show up any minute, and then I’d have to put up with his insincere concern, contradicted by the contempt in his eyes, about me “having” to eat lunch alone.  And, because I’m a civil person, I’d probably just put up with it. 

I didn’t feel like playing the game today, and so I looked around for my waiter to cancel my order   Of course, all the other wait staff are out and about.  Not mine.  I contemplated walking out, but just then, I heard Rhonda say, “Hey, baby!”  Too late, now my leaving would just draw attention to myself.  I froze, and then thought maybe I could slide to the other side of my table, and there’d be less chance they’d notice me.   I stole a furtive glance into the cantina to gauge the timing of my move.  To my extreme surprise, I saw Rhonda passionately kissing a man.  A man who was decidedly NOT Keith.  A tall, carved, beauty of a man, at least 10 years younger than Keith.

“Holy hell,” I swore under my breath.  Well, I thought I said it under my breath, but apparently not because Rhonda pulled her tongue out of the young man’s mouth and looked right at me.   My instant reflex was to pretend I hadn’t been looking at her, but then I thought, screw that.  I looked her right in the eye, and, then, and I swear to God, it didn’t happen intentionally, my left eyebrow staged a revolt and raised itself to the middle of my forehead.

Rhonda swallowed hard confirming that, indeed, she was cheating on Keith.  I mean up to that point, they could’ve been broke up for all I knew, but her guilt had apparently caused her throat to revolt like my eyebrow.  (Yes, I know that analogy means that inside I was gloating, and that gave my eyebrow its independent liberty.) 

She patted her man’s leg and whispered to him, and then dismounted her barstool and stepped over to my table.

“Hello, Anita,” she said.

“Hello, Rhonda,” I replied evenly.  But, then my tongue joined my eyebrow in revolt, and I continued,  “I’m surprised to see you over on this side of town.”

She paused, and plastered the semblance of a sweet smile on her face.  Then, she uttered the line I’ve been waiting for someone to say to me my entire adult life, “It’s not what it seems.”

Okay, yeah, I was totally thrilled to have that line slow-pitched across my plate.  I couldn’t pass it up.  “Well,” I said slowly, for the most dramatic effect, “It seemed like you were cleaning that guy’s tonsils.”

She smiled again, but it was the kind of smile that is meant to be threatening.  “Okay,” she said.  “Let’s cut through the shit.   You know – or at least you should know – that Keith will always believe me over you.”

My devil tongue shot back, in the sweetest most insincere tone ever, “Well, of course he would.  You are, after all, his wife!” Then in a tone meant to sound unsure, I added, “You are, aren’t you?”

At that moment, my missing waiter appeared with the queso.  Rhonda stood unmoving as he placed it on the table and I thanked him.  Then she said, “Keith always says what a bitch you are.”

I laughed.  Then I said, “Okay, you’re really going to have to clue me in, ‘cause I’m not understanding how insulting me is supposed to keep me from outing your dirty little secret.”  Yeah, I actually said “dirty little secret.”  I’m not proud of that lack of inventiveness.

“Well, bitch,” she said in a vicious whisper, “This is how it’s gonna go.  I’m going to call Keith and tell him that I ran into you, and that you were completely bitchy to me and said you were going to ruin my life.”

I looked at her a moment, and then I laughed again.  I laughed the most mirthful laugh ever because I truly didn’t give a flying fuck about what she said, what she did, or anything about Keith or his life. 

“Well, then,” I said to her bluntly. “Do whatcha gotta do.  But, I’m going to get back to my book now.”

With that I picked up my paperback and never looked to see if she and her man stayed or left.

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