Magic could be defined as a sort of knowledge. It’s a knowledge that is unknown. Or not understood. Unseen. Hidden.

It also has certain connotations, both good and bad, depending on what perspective you are coming from. I’m a writer and a Christian. As a human I find the concept of magic to be morally neutral. It’s just is an aspect of existence in our universe. You can’t see it, or measure it, or prove it, but it’s real. However, I also believe that certain expressions and manifestations of it in this world ought to be treated with caution and even avoided. Maybe when you see it the way I see it you’ll understand why.

A nightmare I had last night is a good illustration of this concept. At the time I woke, I had some nausea and was frightened. I recorded it immediately. This is what I wrote:

General folk wisdom recommends that you don’t draw faces, especially certain faces. If you do, it conjures evil spirits. Everyone knew this in my dream world. I didn’t.

There were rules too. Certain things you could not talk about. Or think.

Mother breaks one of these rules. I try to warn her, but it’s too late. A mysterious stranger appears.

A conflict ensues. She is knocked unconscious.

I must fight off the stranger alone. I manage to elude him. I hide.

The rule is: I must not think about my hiding place, or I will no longer remain hidden.

The trouble with magic is that even when you don’t know the rules, they still affect you. Life is all about these hidden rules. Some are called science. Others are called morality. True magic is not created by humans. It is discovered. Harnessed.

Gravity is a hidden rule. So is falling in love. And even more so unconditional love.

Just as ignorance of the rules cannot save you, knowledge of them is no guarantee of safety either.

Bedside Table

Christmas 2017

One peek at my makeshift, colorful bedside table is all you would need if you wanted to know my preferences and personality. It’s a big deal for me, a little space to call my own. More than special, it’s a necessity.

I’ve been in transition for a while now. When I set up a cot in my mother’s tiny apartment a year ago, I made it a priority to create a makeshift bedside table out of a plastic storage container. Soon after, I acquired a pretty, pink and white basket to put my important Stuff in.

Having a place for my Stuff was much more than practical, it was calming and comforting. It gave me a sense of ownership and control over my environment when I possessed neither. It spoke. It said, “These are the things that matter to me.” I carefully selected them. I chose them according to their practical, personal, and aesthetic value.

Books were central to the arrangement. My goal was to fit as many as I could, while still leaving room for other objects. I stacked them neatly, spine-side out, beside the basket. Then, inside the basket, I arranged as many as I could fit–covers outward. It was an ongoing process, and it largely depended on my current mood and interests. Spiritual, self-help, and psychology went inside. Poetry and fiction were outside. They were a constant visual reminder of what I was striving for– a life of reading, writing, growth, healing, and self-awareness.

I didn’t read the poetry and fiction as often as I wanted to. I got stuck on the self-help. It was a difficult year. But the others were there waiting for me until I was ready for them.

Because I had no space to write, my bedside table also served as a desk. I kept two containers for writing utensils. There was a decorative, etched glass which held my favorite colored gel pens. Love gel pens. The other was a tiny, blue-painted metal pail. It was for my markers, mechanical pencils, and twist-up colored pencils.

Later, I needed a place for jewelry, so I found a small blue and white bowl with a chevron pattern.

At the front and center was a small stack of writing pads. It included sticky notes and a to-do list pad with the words “happy thoughts” written across the top.

The final touch was art. Behind all the books, I placed a watercolor painting of a beach scene. I made it one day at my daughter’s place after a fun day at the beach.

This small piece of furniture turned out to be more meaningful to me than it had ever been at any other time in my life. I’ve since then dismantled it for what hopefully will be a permanent transition to my new (and first) home.

Memoir of a Failed Memoirist

Photo on Visualhunt
Please don’t ask me to remember something. Don’t say, “Remember the time we…” or “Tell me about when…”.
The past, for me, is a wasteland of vague impressions, abstractions, and perceptions. Memories are not movies playing out in my mind. They aren’t clear and vivid photo-quality images.
I’m good at remembering odd, insignificant details. Like how I decided to name my fat, orange goldfish Garfield. Then I named his skinny, gray swimming partner Simon. I thought it was clever to reference the famous Sunday comics cat, while also indirectly suggesting a famous sixties folk-pop duo. And yes, Garfield is close enough to Garfunkel to make this witty in my mind. I remember how they died. Simon went first. It was a nameless, tumor-causing fish disease. I was glad that Garfield outlived him by several years, even though he eventually succumbed to the mysterious belly up-disease.
Looking at photos is helpful. So is listening to stories that friends and relatives tell. But I can’t seem to shake the uncomfortable realization that vast chunks of my life exist somewhere in a black, inaccessible void. This is what scares me. It makes me feel sad and wholly inadequate to describe my own past.
It’s not that I don’t remember any of it. It’s that I remember it differently than others. It’s selective at best. My memories are often random and always subjective. I’ve come to accept this as a by-product of being an INFJ. My dominant cognitive function is introverted intuition. Which means I can’t also have introverted sensing. I’m not able to file sensory images away in my brain and retrieve them at will. I’m much better at thinking abstract thoughts and finding patterns. It’s also why I miss exits on the highway when I’m talking to someone.
For day three of my21 Day Writing Challenge, I have decided to consider the past. I’m drawn to memoir and I’m not sure why.
So far I’ve managed to capture two interesting childhood moments in the form of a memoir. Was this a stroke of luck? An un-reproducible, isolated phenomenon? Am I doomed to fail at memoir writing?
I’m sure I have a few more where those came from, so I’m going to try and suspend all self-deprecation from this point forward.
Maybe there’s a reason I like memoir so much. Maybe I like the idea of struggling with the elusive past, fishing something out of the depths of time, and re-working it into a meaningful story.

Free Books


It’s more difficult than it looks putting word after word on a page. Words that make sense.

Words are free.

Like the books you find now and then on an ugly metal shelf by the exit doors of the library.

You could be sleeping on a couch and cashing out your retirement fund twenty years too soon. You could be surrounded by bags of those free books, writing free words.

And at first, you never stop asking if it makes sense.

But then, one day, when you’re reading your books and writing your words, you start feeling free.

And someday someone will pick your words right off of a drab gray shelf.

Because they’re free.