Butterflies

So there I was seven years old, going to be eight in a few months. And there it was, the end of first grade school year. I was to play an important role in a show for the parents. I was to be a butterfly (of knowledge?) along with two other girls. We were all supposed to be a different color. Mine was yellow. I don’t recall what theirs was. Mama cut out my cardboard butterfly, and dad nailed that butterfly cut-out to a wooden stick (as instructed by the school). I was told to wear a yellow dress to match. So yellow butterfly I was, one of three, and I’d decided to be the shiniest, prettiest, flyest butterfly of all.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I carried my gauzy, shiny, pretty dress in a bag and changed into that dress before “the show”. And I was the only one! The mortification. The other girls were supposed to dress color-coordinated with their “wings”, but they hadn’t. So there was, in my yellow extravaganza, and there they were, in their dressy—but normal—end-of-school-year skirts and blouses. Those two girls, the other “butterflies”, they’d touch my dress’ fabric and sneer “so ugly, so kitschy, soo shiny…” You know the type of girl, we all had that type of girl (if you hadn’t, then you were that type of girl). Blonde and blue-eyed, with the richest daddies and the nicest ribbons in their hair… and the meanest words. Maya and Venetta. Why oh why do I still recall their names after all these years?

I stuck to my guns, wore my stupid, kitschy, ugly dress despite their sneers and despite my burning cheeks. The butterfly show over, then came the pictures. Oh, god. You could fry an egg on my cheeks, so red they had gotten.

After the class photo, everybody took a picture alone

I, on the podium before the blackboard. My knees knocking together… and a boy jumped out, stood next to me. He was older—eight yrs. old already for sure—And his name was Ivaylo. He hunched over a bit too much when he wrote, and he wrote with his left hand, which I found fascinating because he was the only one in a class of thirty children who did that. And he spoke with a stutter, which I found endearing, even more so because he wasn’t embarrassed by it. Ivaylo insisted he take a picture with me. Me and my gaudy, ugly… erm, pretty shiny, fancy yellow dress. No other girl, just me.

Poor Ivaylo wasn't happy that they made him hold a giant flower
Poor Ivaylo wasn’t happy that they made him hold a giant flower

And not once, not twice but three times did he jump on stage to join me for a picture. Much to the chagrin of the photographer and much to the chuckling delight of many a parent. No other “butterfly” had a boy rushing to stand by their side. Just little yellow me.

Well, Ivaylo started a trend… “take a picture with the yellow butterfly”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The followers…

Yet all the butterflies, all the colors, fluttering in me were just for one boy, that first boy. A boy who would step up and stand his ground to the butterfly bullies, to the Venettas and Mayas of this world. My first crush, who protected my (figurative) gossamer wings from getting crushed.

Advertisements

Nitpicking. Literally

I’m new to this blogging shindig, hence I’m still figuring stuff out. Thus I’ve decided to have Mondays dedicated to reminiscing the past. This is the first (of many, I hope) post dedicated to Monday Musings.

The steady taka-taka of a train has always put me in a contemplative mood. I look through the window to the whizzing by forests and fields and try to tune out my brother and sister. They are fighting… okay, having a spirited discussion. We do that a lot,  my siblings and I. I’ve heard that as blood relations we are allowed.

“Look, look!” yells my brother (lets, call him Dylan). “Deer!”

I scratch my head because I don’t see them. Well, not just because, but more on that later… Too many trees, too deep in thought. I finally do spot them. They are jumping and running along the tracks, trying to outrun this giant iron monster that huffs and puffs and cuts through their forest.

My sister (let’s call her Sis) watches in awe and scratches her head. A rare and short-lived occurrence occurs with our lot. Total blissful silence in our train compartment—one of those eight-seat cubicles with faux leather couches.

Unable to outrun the speeding behemoth, the deer disappear. My brother plasters his face to the glass, trying to glimpse some more.

“Lost them,” he huffs as he slumps back in his seat. And scratches his head.

Backtrack a little.

My siblings and I are on that train going to my grandparents. Summer break. Ah, the mischief we plan to have. Our two favorite cousins are already there, at the village, a one-horse community of about 300 residents. Mostly senior citizens. And their grandchildren.

It’s quite the tradition in my country to send children to their grandparents for the summer.

My siblings and I are on that train scratching our heads due to lice. Yes, that shameful infestation has reached us too. Actually, it was courtesy of our two favorite cousins. You see, their parents are amid a divorce. Their mother has run off with a gypsy. I kid you not.

Gypsies in Bulgaria aren’t your romantic Irish Travellers from Snatch (Brad Pitt, I’m right?) or sexy Johnny Depp from Chocolate. No. Ours are Romani. Uneducated, shifty, thieving… and lice-ridden.

Therefore, via their mother, the girls—our two favorite cousins—have acquired some “hair pets”. And via them, we—my siblings and I—have acquired them as well.

Imagine the magnitude – four girls from the age of eight to twelve, with hair from blonde to black, from stick-straight to corkscrew curls. And a boy who at the age of ten, albeit with short hair, is too pretty to tell apart from us girls.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
(photo proof insert)

 

It was a summer of games, a summer of mischief, a summer of… nitpicking.

Happy days, sunny days. Pour gasoline on your hair days…

If you weren’t aware, gasoline is a home remedy for getting rid of lice. Just don’t do it while smoking. Or near a fire-juggler.

We use old toothbrushes to apply the “remedy” and I see the little critters try to crawl their way out of the hairline of whomever I assist with that task. I imagine them squeaking, “Run, Buster, RUN! There is the end of the forest. We almost outrun the giant bristly monster!”

Alas, they haven’t. I brush them back inside the “gas chamber”.

My hair always felt a pound lighter after. Or at least less crawly.

But the nits, the stubborn nits. They stay attached. You need to disengage them manually. One-by-one. Or try to convince four tween divas to lose their hair to the shears.

Not happening.

My siblings and I, and our two favorite cousins sit on the stone steps in front of Granma’s house—those are in the walled inner yard, not in view of the village—and fine-comb out hairs, search for those pesky pests and pop, pop pop them between our nails.

There are five stone steps. And five children. A chimpanzee chain of grooming.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The aforementioned steps. Plus my Mom

Sometimes we divide our tresses into manageable sectors and divide those sectors into small pigtails (?). IDK. The final result is a cross-breed between a punk singer and a jester’s hat.

Unfortunately, that’s before the age of sefies and digital cameras, so there is limited footage. And none from those particular days. Happy days, nitpicking days.

It was a very bonding experience. Not unlike the time we got the scabies two years prior…

Superpowers of the Mundane

I write. I get obsessed with a word, love it, hate it… want to change it for a deeper impacting synonym. I use my Word Thesaurus. Not enough. Go online, to the vast fields of knowledge. Find the myriad of substitutes with subtle undertones… but wait, there is a test: “How good is your knowledge of (insert subject matter here)”. And of course, I take it. But there is another, and another…

Where I’m going with this?

Oh yeah, procrastination. I have elevated it to a form of art, a superpower… a bad one, but still. The most important aspect is to be self-aware. No more than ten minutes lost on fact-checking, absolutely no Facebook until I see a page of (sensical) writing. Leisure browsing of social media is a reward, not a necessity. Despite what my jonesing for it mind says.

Yet, there is the flip side. One does need a palate cleanser every hour or so, else one’s brain begins to whirr with that god-awful sound my (10yr old) computer makes when overheating. It’s truly terrible. I always fear it will never start anew…

I digress. I’m good at that. Then there are my characters, so alive and vibrant.

So chatty…

I’m deep into a scene, trying to convey some pertinent information via dialogue, and then—whoa!—I’ve written two pages of witty banter. Yes, very funny… very not on the subject. Sigh. My heart won’t let me erase it all, so I justify the twenty percent I allow to continue existing as personality reveal. Little glimpses into the soul of Freddy, Johnny, Astrid[*].

The dark side? The super power’s polar opposite? Fingers flying over keyboard, ideas flowing onto the page, hunger pangs ignored, crick in the neck ignored, bathroom breaks ignored to the last possible moment. The darkest comes with the live creatures around me ignored – family, friends, pets…potted plants. Like a curmudgeon troll I growl and snipe at every interruption, grunt my yes or no’s, eyes glued to the glowing screen. Finally, I surface, and it’s daybreak, I have been at it for over sixteen hours without pause, and in that time I have become the villain of my own real life.

With great power… and so on. And just like a super hero, I curb my ability so I can function, try not to let it consume me.

I shut down my computer and crank up my super power, the procrastination. Do some laundry, take a two-hour walk with my dog, make a jam with my Mom. Fruit jam; it’s that time of the year.

To all my superheroes and superheroines of the pen and paper, do use your powers wisely and do not view them as bad habits. Or good habits. They are like salt.

Vital. With moderation.

Share your Superpower of the Mundane in the comments below.

[*] Names have been changed to protect fictional characters’ fictional sensibilities.

 

The Beginning

Once upon a time there was this impressionable girl… She watched Peter Pan and became convinced it was a true story. Thus packed her belongings and awaited for him to fly to her window, take her to Neverland.

That is what I told half my elementary school when I was at the tender age of eight. And fib master that I was, quite a lot believed me, too. So I set up a select group of children to whom I promised to take them with the moment Peter Pan came for me.

Well… he never came. Duh.

I was dubbed “Liar, liar, pants on fire…”

Despite it, I never stopped dreaming of fantastical scenarios in faraway lands. When they became overwhelmingly abundant, I simply had to start putting them on paper. Brain purge. You know how they say Put it on paper and it takes a life of its own?

They don’t say it? Huh. Never mind…

Once out into the world of written word, my little creations began to grow, and as every growing child, not listen to their Mommy. No matter how much I try to push them into becoming doctors and lawyers, they insist on being something totally impractical… like witch-slayers. What’s the 401(k) plan for that?!

Benevolent creator that I am, I value their free will and let them be what they will.

That’s it for today.

Cheers.