Tocarla

Here’s my poem from Lady Lit Magazine published last month. A little late but that’s the life these days. Click the pic to follow the link.

*Screenshot from Lady Lit Magazine website.

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Busy As a Bee

I was absent all through the month of March as I was caught up in a whirlwind of new experiences. I traveled to Ireland (hopefully a post on that is coming soon), started grad school and started a new job. Needless to say, I’m adjusting to the new overflowing schedule of responsibilities and work. The next two and a half years will be interesting to say the least and I’m sure I’ll have my own little personal meltdowns when no one is watching. Anyway, all this to say to anyone who cares or follows me, bear with me, guys. I’ll be posting less frequently but I will try my best not to abandon this blog, as I’m sure my new life will be filled with stories to tell. Until then, know that I am not gone, just busy as hell.

❤ Meagan Kimberly

Wanderlust: North Carolina

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting North Carolina three times with my a cappella group for a conference called SoJam. The first two times, if I remember correctly, were at Duke University in Durham. I didn’t spend a great amount of time there because it was mostly spent on campus at the conference, but I do remember my awe at seeing orange leaves.

Durham, NC in November 2011
Durham, NC in November 2011

As a Florida girl, I’d mostly seen palm trees and varying degrees of green and brown, but never orange. It was like a candlelit forest, and their delicious crunch under my feet as my boots crackled over fallen piles satisfied me like a precisely executed harmony.

I always forgot to pack a chap stick with my things, so I can’t tell you how many I’ve bought on all my travels, but most of them came from North Carolina. The cold, still atmosphere that captured my breath mid air reminded me within an hour of walking around outside that chap stick was a necessity. My fingers would get stiff and achy without gloves, so I finally caved and bought a pair of those too. My hair loved the freezing temperatures though.

Okay, it wasn’t freezing. It was really only in the mid-40’s. That hardly counts as snow conditions, but it did delve deep into the bones. Good thing there were plenty of coffee shops to grab a hot cup of tea or cocoa, because at that time, I didn’t drink coffee yet. I remember one shop had board games and puzzles for patrons to pass the time indoors before venturing into the cold once more.

My favorite part of all these trips was always the nightly visit to a local Cookout. Late night treks with the crew to the little stand, putting in our orders at the window and sitting around on the dirty ground just really hit the spot. Gourmet milk shakes, hush puppies and delicious, greasy fast food is exactly what a college kid needs after a 10 hour bus ride into North Carolina.

There’s a lot of local flavor in the city, and I wish I could have seen more (and remember, but it’s been a few years now). I have these flashes of memory of a strange bull in the city center, restaurants lined up side by side serving chicken and waffles in one and exotic salads in another, world-famous ice pop joints even though I’d never heard of them, and a flurry of oh my god did we get on the right bus?!

Oh, and of course I can’t forget that North Carolina is where I learned about a certain turtle flavor of chocolate. Yeah, it’s called turtle and I was hella confused when the waitress asked me if I wanted it. (Just chocolate and caramel, guys, relax.)

I wouldn’t mind heading out that way again someday, with more time to devote to the scenery and local sites. I will say this though, as cold as the climate was, it sure felt like a warm welcome everywhere I went.

Meagan Reads YA Sci-Fi: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Read this book for the 26 book reading challenge I started a couple of years ago and am still chugging through for the category “a book set in summer.” The whole novel takes place in Portland, Maine in the summer before a life-changing event takes place in the main character’s life.

Quick summary that includes spoilers, so read at your own risk. The premise is that this takes place in a future in which the disease of amor deliria nervosa has been eradicated through a procedure that U.S. citizens undergo when they come of age. So, a special kind of surgery targets the part of the brain that processes and let’s you express emotions related to love.

Lena is a typical teenage girl who enjoys running with her best friend Hannah and can’t wait to undergo the procedure and escape her past: being the daughter of the woman who committed suicide due to falling ill with the delirium. Lena follows the rules and wants to fit into her society until, wait for it, she meets a boy named Alex.

Overall, the idea of this society is interesting and captivating, but I think I’m definitely well past my young adult years, because the nauseating young love oh my god I can’t live without you after having just met you and I hardly know you trope makes me roll my eyes so hard. The whole story and character’s development hinges on this stereotype, but my biggest problem with it is how heteronormative it is.

The point of the procedure is to eradicate falling in love, but everything rides on the idea that only boys and girls fall in love with each other. The society even has rules that doesn’t allow boys and girls to have too much interaction prior to their procedures, to reduce the possibility of falling ill. At this point, I’m over books and stories that perpetuate the idea that only heterosexuals fall in love and no other kind of people even exist. It’s 2017. Get with the times please.

However, maybe it was my mind trying to read too much into it, but I felt a sort of queer element from Hannah. They were best friends, and the way she acts toward Lena and wanting her to break free from society’s restraints always felt like Hannah trying to push her friend to the realization of how she really felt about Lena. In the end, when Lena rebels for Alex, and Lena asks her best friend to run away with them, Hannah let’s her go and says she’s not actually brave enough. That whole relationship felt to me like Hannah was always in love with Lena, but Lena never realized it, and Hannah didn’t want to ruin things for her.

I appreciated the strong use of religion to establish this totalitarian government’s rhetoric behind the eradication of love. That is something that actually translates into real-life as is often seen in the U.S.’s politics with a blurred line between Church and State. Each chapter opens with a passage from the Book of Shhh, which is sort of like their constitution and bible. If the chapter doesn’t open with a passage from that book, it opens with lines from some kind of banned literature such as Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, or other poetry and novels that elevate the concept of love.

Another relevant element in this story is how police brutality is seen through Lena’s eyes. With her conditioning, she at first believes the law enforcement is there to protect the country’s citizens from themselves. When she falls to the deliria though and goes through each act of rebellion and becomes a victim of the patrollers, she finds they actually enjoy using extreme force and violence to bring criminals to justice. Lena’s description of her encounter with the police shows her thinking that the cure doesn’t eradicate all emotions, because hate and violence are still prevalent. This leads to the revelation that maybe love isn’t the problem. Love isn’t what makes people go mad and do terrible, chaotic and destructive things. That’s just people.

I’ll end this summary and review with a technical and structural choice the writer made and I think did well. The whole book is written in present tense, which is actually harder than it sounds. There’s a reason most books are written in past tense (in English at least). It’s just one of those things that feels and comes more naturally to our language. Oliver’s choice to write third person limited in present tense makes for an engaging story that brings the audience into the moment and feel like we know what Lena knows. It’s a structure that helps you feel the urgency of every situation, and it’s probably what kept me reading the whole book and look past the love story that I found cliche.

All in all, the book entertains and keeps you intrigued, but I didn’t feel a particular investment in any of the characters, and I don’t feel compelled to pick up the next installment.

Forever Golden

Wrote this a few years ago for an assignment in my first creative writing class at UCF.

It was their fiftieth anniversary, the golden one. Fifty years ago on this day Theodore and Ethel were married in her father’s blooming garden. It had been filled with red and pink roses, white and purple carnations, purest white gardenias, and orange and yellow chrysanthemums, their sweet aroma dancing in the air around the young and hopeful newly weds.

She had worn her mother’s wedding gown and he had used his mother’s wedding ring. The sun floated in the sky, a brilliant, golden orb. There were only three witnesses to this matrimony, and they were Theodore, Ethel, and Father James. Both Ethel’s and Theodore’s parents were dead. They did not need to invite friends or distant family. They had each other.

After the brief ceremony, Ethel and Theodore remained together in the garden, reminiscing on times past and looking forward to the future. They danced to far away whispered music, hearing the strings of the acoustic guitar being plucked delicately from somewhere within them. Fifty years later, Ethel and Theodore still danced in the garden, appreciating the flowers’ sweet scents and feeling the golden setting sun warm them from the inside out.

“Theodore darling, can you believe it’s already been fifty years?” Ethel asked in a hushed voice and with a smile on her face.

“The best fifty years of my life,” Theodore responded tenderly, stroking her hair with a gentle hand.

“Do you remember the wedding?”

“Like it was yesterday,” he answered softly, a distant look in his eyes.

“You looked so handsome in your uniform.”

“And you were stunning in that dress,” Theodore replied lovingly.

“It was just the two of us.”

“That’s all we needed,” he said.

“We danced all night.”

“I held you just like this,” he whispered.

“We planned our future completely.”

“And all those dreams came true.”

A serene sigh escaped Ethel’s lips. The sun had almost completely set by now, leaving a perfect line of gold on the horizon. She and her husband swayed to the long forgotten melody of fifty years ago. The garden’s blooms were beginning to wilt away, but their fresh fragrance still lingered in the cool, evening air.

“Happy anniversary, honey,” Theodore said dreamily to his beloved wife of fifty years.

“Happy anniversary, Theodore darling,” Ethel replied, exhaling happily.

Hand in hand, they walked out of the garden as they had fifty years ago, and thought upon that golden sun and what it would bring them next.

Waiting On the River

This is an updated version of a piece of flash fiction I wrote for a prompt. The original is published on my old writer’s blog here.

A drop of sweat rolled down Riley’s forehead. Her eyes darted back and forth. She stared at the hand in her grasp.  She swallowed hard and licked her lips as she called the last bet, throwing more of her precious few chips into the pot.

With shoulders tensed and fingers clasping her cards tight, she felt a ripple of relaxation spread around the room, ending with the Cowboy tisking and whispering, “Brave little toaster.”  She said nothing.

True, it was only a two pair of sixes and sevens, and the Cowboy might’ve had her beat with a full house or four of a kind…if he was waiting on the river like her.

The river was everyone’s friend and enemy at the same time.  Schrödinger’s play.  All she needed was the kicker though, and she’d leave with the biggest pot she’d ever seen, on one of the crappier hands she’d ever played.

Small coughs and cleared throats echoed as the players waited for the dealer to flip the last card.  In slow motion, he took it from the top of the deck. With a communal intake of breath, he revealed the glossy print against the fuzzy green table top: ace of spades.

Riley peeked over her cards at her peers and watched fingers tap and brows furrow.  The last round started and two dropped out, leaving her against the Cowboy.

He raised the bet. Riley called, “All in.”

Guardian Angels

This is another one from the Supernatural chapbook I’d made for my friend’s birthday. Originally shared here.

“Angel of God, my guardian dear.
To whom his love commits me here…”
—Old children’s prayer

Mom always said angels were watching over me
but with what life dealt me, I found that hard to believe.

Then I found out angels dealt me this life
and I could almost laugh at that irony.

Angels are not guardians; they’re dicks with wings.
Well, except for Cas.

Castiel: fallen from God, and it was for me that he fell
and rebelled. So I guess I got one angel watching over me, Mom.