Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I dreamt I was an orange seed.

I dreamt I was an orange seed. Every spring, I would burrow myself into the soil to try and take root.  Thrice, the wind came and swept me away.  Once, a bird picked me out of my shallow habitat and carried me off.  Another time, I sunk too deep into the soil and when the rain came, I drowned.  Finally, I took to the right depth, the right quality and conditions, and I began to grow.

my roots spread in all directions. I was planted, and it seemed like the hard work was over.  Without  much difficulty, I sprouted; a delicate green tendril who pled her allegiance to the sun. But my woody stems took their good, sweet time, and delicacy grew to be a test of its own. Wind, rain and drought questioned the integrity of my form. I was brown and limp; nearly dead. It was then that I began to grow again.

From A seedling I crept into a young tree with two branches, Three leaves, one blossom.   Nourishing, that sole flower with all of the xylem and phloem within my structure, I battled against August.  But fall came before fruit.  Leaves fell off, and the blossom withered.   Winter came and I barely made it through the harsh winds and snow.

  For years, i was three leaves and a single blossom; nothing I could do would improve that reality.  Other branches formed, but did not bear flower or leaf. It was only from the confirmation of my increasing near-sighted-ness that I had an inkling that the ground was farther away than it was last year.  But, it could just be my eyes.

Then one day, a fourth leaf.  A flower I had not noticed closed in and started the painful, slow process of becoming an orange.  One flower, one fruit, four leaves.

Fall came, tore the greening fruit from it's branch. A winter of grief followed.

Spring was elated to find countless blossoms on branches, and from these blossoms countless green orange buds formed.

Finally, one, singular orange was made, encapsulating dozens of seeds, fully formed.

 I gave it away, and I grew for next spring's harvest. As a girl, I picked the orange from myself the tree, and I realized that I has just been watching the tree grow, not growing within the tree. I was waiting longingly for that fruit for years.  I was starving to death, but now I was not hungry anymore.

I spit the seeds into small holes in the ground and started over again.  I wished them well.

it is 7 in the morning.
I am grateful for the strength of my inner self when my outer self cannot stand up to the challenge of life.
I am grateful for half-friends who do not have to be kind, but are anyway.
I am grateful for air mattresses that stay afloat.

Friday, October 25, 2013

An Open Letter to Stephen King RE: a pretty solid book pitch and a couple of random fandoms

Dear Stephen King,

 I am writing to you as somewhat of a lapsed fan. I had a spark of intense fandom for your work around ten years ago, when my mom encouraged me to watch the film, "IT", because she knew how much vested interest I had in clowns.  When I fell asleep, she tied a balloon to my toes. I did not find it funny, but I did accredit the ensuing night terrors to your literary brilliance, even though it could be argued that the honor rests squarely on the shoulders of my long-suffering mother.  Once again, someone else gets credit for the work she did. But I digress.

Around late middle school/early high school I took an interest in actually reading IT, along with The Tommyknockers, Desperation, and probably a couple others, I don't really remember, I've read about a book a week since that date, and honestly your books are the kind i can just buzz through. This isn't necessarily bad, but I probably devour them too quickly to remember important plot points because I am so curious to know how you are going to creatively kill your stock characters.

I found the world you created in your novels enthralling and page-turning, but devoid of a lasting kind of fear. No, sir, you never succeeded in giving me more than a passing "eek", and even those were generous reactions to your carefully constructed suspension tactics.

If you would like to know what future readers might be looking for in a long-lasting, life-ruining fear-fest, you need only peek into the syllabus of a pretentious undergraduate English course.
The first time I picked up Proust's in search of lost time or Beckett's  The Unnamable, I stopped sleeping for more than four hours at a time, started drinking whiskey neat and dropped out of my Economics course.  Your books, while suspenseful and unexpected, never succeeded in placing an existential cannonball in my gullet like the aforementioned pieces did.  That is not to say that I don't like your work. After all, at least Bobbi and Gard worked in some phenomenal sex in the course of a town's disintegration in T-knocks.

(C)literally nothing happens in the aforementioned books of terror. Proust is just so fragile that even a fucking cookie sends him over the edge, and Beckett's careful uncertainty is nothing more than a  mimeograph of the nervous inner monologue we all have but like to pretend that we don't hear.  Its not a photocopier because it is not sure enough of its purpose to produce a clear picture, so we are just getting used to the muck as we go along. Get it? You probably don't get it because you read for pleasure and not for self destruction.

Digression after digression. The point it,  I have an idea for a new book that integrates both the alien-body-snatching qualities of Tommyknockers and the existential dread of Beckett's novelistic endeavors.

Stephen, there are girls in yoga class that don't sweat.  They do handstands, they crunch and flip their dogs, they double up on classes where we pretzel our bodies in heated rooms, and they leave looking nothing less than Rick's Ready. (By the way, if you haven't been to Ricks, you should check it out some time. There is definitely a good deal of body snatching going on there.)

These indescribably moisture-less girls are not, as you might think, the lululemon-wearing Tri-Deltas you might initially imagine. i've already taken into account that this particular breed likely has access to some cutting-edge sweat-eliminating Swedish drug that convinces your body to grow an inch of hair in lieu of accumulating sweat. I have accepted that this is probably a very normal, human thing. After all, those sororities are seriously well-connected.

No, these sweat-less goddesses are often wearing some brand of exercise clothing that looks both very sophisticated and very worn.  They do not smell like anything other than lemongrass and lavender. They wear buffs and their hair is either all springy curls or a long, coarse brunette.  They don't wear makeup--not to class, not to yoga, not to Ricks. Likely, they do not go to Ricks, because they are aliens. They have brown eyes, and artfully designed tattoos that were done using traditional tribal practices.  Sometimes, they have a nose ring.

These girls look like they could be my friend, if I weren't so neurotic and sweaty.  When I have tendrils of bang-hair plastered to my forehead, they are gracefully balancing in a four minute crow posture and the sun is rising off of their small, round asses, and there is not a drop of sweat, except maybe one falling from their cheeks, like a tear but happy because these girls are just so happy. But again, in a quiet way. They don't talk. They just mona lisa smile all over the room and look like the opening montage to a high-budget romantic comedy.

Stephen, where do these girls come from? Is having an excellent hand-stand vinyasa a new way of creating a marvelous invention from an ordinary object?

 Are they aliens? Or is there like, a club for girls that don't smell bad when they work out and I just wasn't invited?

This kind of existential fear of missing out (E-fomo), combined with the existence of what are obviously supernatural creatures, would be the ideal start to a new book by you, one that would effectively cannonball the gullets of all non-hopeless literature lovers.  You might be asking, Olivia, why dont you write this novel? Why save all of the glory, money and fame for me? 

Well Stephen, I figure that at this stage in your career, you can stand to take a risk.  This, while it will certainly be your best work-to-date, will seem like such a risk at first.  But then, with the endorsement of your name and loyal fan base, it will flourish, whether its good or not. And  believe me, it will be good. 
However, if I premiere my horror novel empire with this piece, people might immediately niche me into Body Terror or some other undesirable sub-category of a genre, and I want to keep my options open.

 Therefore, I've resolved to never finish anything I write and continue to have boundless potential. Currently, I'm writing a never-to-be-finished play about Icarus and Ariadne, both of whom have been over-written to death, but not, to their dismay, by me.  So once I half-finish my opinion on their lives, maybe I would half-write this story.  But this story should not be half-written. This is a story designed to terrify an entire generation of people who are just kinda good at a couple things, and who are not good at sports, and consider yoga a sport.

 Anyway, I look forward to reading this book about sweat-less yoga monsters; please be advised, they are all brunettes.

With Love,

Olivia Lloyd

I only request that I get a nod in the acknowledgement section, with some obscure thank you that sounds like we have had a good deal of really excellent times together, basking in one another's literary prolificacy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Courting my Spark

Well, hello again.

One time when I was little, I took horseback riding lessons.  Aside from the fact that this time in my life coincides with my "Young Abigail Breslin Lookalike" phase, it was probably the most excited I've ever been to do anything. Ever.  my personal timeline is punctuated by cynicism about nearly everything other than horses.

Well, I only did one show. Yes, I did a horse show, and Yes, I did Western style. I wore a pink, pearl-snapped shirt. I was beaten by a girl in a ten gallon hat. And also by everyone else competing.

Ladies and gents, Olivia failed at the only thing she ever found important in life; doing mundane tasks while riding on the back of an enormous animal.

It's not entirely my fault. "ICE", the horse I was assigned to ride, was 18 hands tall, and 18 years old. That translates to about a trillion in horse years.  He got pissy, he wouldn't obey, and I couldn't get him close enough to the mailbox so that I could get the imaginary mail. In horse people speak, that is an automatic fail. No mail, you fail.

I remember thinking, after realizing that I would never ride Mitt Romney's horse at the Olympics, that I had hit rock bottom. This was it. This was as good as it was going to get, and it didn't even get good.

my mother told me to stop acting so gloomy. She didn't understand. This was it for me!
I would have to find another chosen profession in life, as Annie Oakley was already taken by the brunette in long braids with a ten gallon hat.

On a side note, there is always a brunette getting in the way of my happiness. Always. 

 Of course, I bounced back. I stopped riding horses so much, but that had more to do with the fact that I don't own a horse than anything else.  Also, my mom got really nervous watching me during lessons. She doesn't like horses. She doesn't get the whole Annie Oakley thing. I don't see why.

And even though it is pretty silly, when I look back, I can still feel the shadow of that spike in my belly that said "you weren't good enough". Even though it is all so trivial now, I guess it was really, truly a heartbreak at the time.

I've been spending the last couple of weeks falling off of a couple of horses.. I'm broke, worried, and pretty heartbroken. It's been hard to write a snarky blog about being a free-spirited non-flight attended because i do not feel free or spirited in the least bit. Luckily, I am working on it.

Soon, I will be back in full-swing me-ness, in whatever place I end up finding myself in. And believe me, there are a couple of options, several split second decisions and a couple what-ifs lying between me and my "final decision".

For now, ICE is still a jackass, but my spark is coming back. I don't get so weepy. I'm a little more confident. Life isn't all my fault. It's just like, you know, a little bit of eveyone's fault.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

an open letter

Dear Emily,

 I've spent the past four days at home sitting in your sweatpants, eating bread and alternating between writing cover letters and listening to the Shins while crying.

your sweatpants say WVU DANCE and are way too long for me. I imagine they hit the top of your ankles.

sometimes, I get really angry at myself when I think about how much life I have, and how much of it I waste being unsure of myself and what I want. Also, I get mad at myself when I think that you never felt afraid or unsure. Of course you did. You were flawed as hell, thank god.  People call you an angel now, but you were my rebellious, impulsive best friend.  You were a total mess sometimes, which is good, because you also had this uncanny ability to actually not pass judgement on people for the stupid stuff they did. most of the time, anyway.

I wish I had some of your perspective on this whole thing. Probably because I know it would start with "dude" and end with "just do what you want".  You never really gave advice so much as repeated back to me what I said like I'd already given myself the answer.

Whenever I come home, I half expect to see you. Remember when we were little girls and made up a talk show? You were the host, all polished and professional, and I was the unfortunate cast of characters you had to interview. A wealthy heiress, a bipolar actress, a pop singer with an (obviously) live performance of some Hilary Duff song.

I think ten year old us probably wants me to go to New York, but they also thought that 22 was an impossibly old age.

In times like these, there should be some kind of reprieve from death, so that I can call you on the phone, and from your celestial perch you can tell me to chill out and stop making such a big deal out of everything.

Caroline and Carly are going to be around this weekend. Its so lonely without you stretched out impossibly across the only doorway, so that we all have to leap over you or suffer the weird horse-chomp noise you make when you're half waked.

If anyone can figure out how to text from the ethereal plane of existence, its you.  If you figure it out soon, I'd appreciate your two cents.  Better yet, any materialization opportunities that might lead to a momentary hug would be great, too.

 I think about the love I haven't found, the dream job I don't have, the kids I haven't even thought of--and how I'm going to tell you about them when I finally do get those things.

Sometimes, I think we've just lost touch. That makes me sad, too, but its easier to imagine you still dancing with koala bears and kangaroos than to recognize the reality of the situation.

 Em, I am so lost as usual. Everyone says my decisions are "not life-or-death", but isn't everything only life-or death? Isn't that what we learned? You either live, or you don't. I just want to get it right, so I can tell you about it later.



Sunday, October 6, 2013


Adages that will get any "gypsy" "pixie" "lunatic" through times of strife:

No plans ever go as planned.
A job application a day keeps the weeping at bay.
It's better to have loved and lost than to be one of those people who don't drink coffee.

 while I am closer to mining out some kind of passable existence, it is not the one I expected. I guess that's what I bargained for when I went off half-cocked and decided to vagabond around until I found something like happiness.

"You're hard on yourself and hard on the world"--mom
Dear world,
thanks for all of the high-fives on quitting my job and being homeless. Y'all are strange.
Also, you all seem to have such beautiful plans for my future. That's nice. They're all really nice to hear, and I'd really like to know how they work out.

This is the first time in my life where I'm not entirely sure where I am going or what I am doing in the next 24 hours.  This is the first time in years that I haven not had a job for more than a couple of weeks. This is the first time in my life where I have had moments of sincere "every way looks like a bad way"  thoughts.

Everyone gets lost sometimes, and spins his or her wheels in the mud until the tires catch some traction and we are on our merry way again.

It is fabled that there are people who don't take risks. And I think that day-to-day, they enjoy a higher level of security, comfort and run-of-the-mill happiness, especially if their risk-free life involves some kind of rewarding-ish work.

  But I believe (have to believe) that sometimes you have to spill all of the paint on the floor and break all of the windows and severely wound your hand because you're trying to convince a beercap that your index finger is a bottle opener. If only to have something to talk about, or to feel grateful for people who will bandage your hand. And-- take note of those who are quick to file you as a failure when you've only just driven your car up over the curb.
So I'm not the best at driving. I still get there, even if I go through Boonsboro to get to Krumpees. Sorry Clayton.

I thought I might stay in Ann Arbor, with all of its safety and warmth. I'd play my vagabond music, and meet people I might have overlooked before.  I'd learn to be a person, and I'd write and be safe and be held at night. maybe i'd go camping on the weekends. I'd let normality wash over me for as long as I possibly could.

Ann Arbor seems to have other plans, though, and as of yesterday I am drawn to New York, where I will work myself sick and pay too much for a closet bedroom.  Where everything is both overrated and better than can accurately be described.  Where I will be surrounded by people who are too convinced that they are in the pinnacle profession, in the best city in the world, with the best life imaginable. In other words, theatre people who I love and hate and wholly belong to.

 more often than not, I am finding that selfsame self-asbsorbed attitude in receptionists, in scientists, in baristas.  We all want you to think we are the best and doing the best and chose the best.  So why not involve myself in the study of self-love. In New York, you can either love yourself and what you do, or go home. That's a straightforward deal, and I do enjoy how New York is as upfront with me as I am with any given person.

This week, I've seen a tall blonde girl with a gratuitous hip-swaying gait prance through some crowd just out of the corner of my eye.  I've caught sight of a puff of half-dreadlocked hair, frayed from years of black dye and bleach, pop into a black Nissan and driving away.
I know these shadows, who come out to say hello when my ends are at their most loose.

Like every time before, I've followed these figures, knowing full well that they are not what I think they are,  that I will be disappointed.  Knowing that if the day comes when I do actually see who I am looking for, I have bigger fish to fry than feeling lost in the world.

 But it is not so bad, having these guardian memories flashing through streets they never walked, reminding me that, if only for the opportunity of continuing to remember, there is a reason to keep improvising until I find a life where remembering isn't hard, and the living is easy.