Flash Fiction Friday: Neither Flash, Nor Fiction, Talk Amongst Yourselves

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

Today’s is a rambley update.

Surgery went well. I am healing nicely if slowly. I never thought I would crave going to the gym, or being able to make a Costco run on my own. The restlessness is the hardest part. Forcing myself into a kind of stillness to which I have not been accustomed in many years is taxing.

I found myself dancing to Christmas music the other day, realized about halfway through the song, “I should not be doing this,” and then spent the next day dealing with a resurgence of pain. I had no idea I was such an instant gratification junky. There are just some systems that can’t be hacked. Even in the age of same day, laparoscopic surgery recovery takes time.

Which is why you will see no fiction here today.

My mental state has been on a rollercoaster this week and a half. I could push myself to pull a few prompts, but I’m not sure what would come out would be intelligible let alone worth anyone’s time.

And though Thanksgiving has passed, my mind has been ruminating on gratitude. What does it mean to be grateful? What am i really grateful for?

Gratitude is one of those deceptive feeling words that doesn’t really have meaning until is coupled with action. How grateful can we be for people we don’t cherish? How grateful are we for a well prepared meal when we only engage in that kind of attentive planning and execution once or twice a year? Gratitude must be enacted.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of watercolor during my repose. Sorry, the image wouldn’t rotate.

I’ve learned this in a very visceral and difficult way this week.

I am grateful, not only for my health, but for the ability to recover my health. In the “Age of COVID” we’ve watched as many people succumb to a virus that passes over others. In less data driven, superstitious times we would have attributed such things to the hand of God or Fate or Death in its personified form. But numbers being what they are, we know that certain aspects of lifestyle seriously damage our ability to fight infection, to repair cells, to rebound in the face of physical assault.

If I had not made the choices I did after my last son was born, if I had not been determined to understand my health in a deep and personal way, my healing wouldn’t be sailing along like it is now.

So this year, what I am profoundly grateful for is the resilience I have built in my body, and the capacity to heal I have acquired through the difficult choices of diet alteration, movement, exercise, and cultivated mental buoyancy. I look forward to the time when I can get back to building the physical strength that is keeping me afloat on this river of healing. I feel like I have so much farther to go. But I am doing my best to make the most of this moment.

I hope you are all well. That health and healing are among the things that cross your mind often in the most positive ways.

I’ll see you next week.

~Anika

Flash Fiction Friday: Paying It Vengefully Forward

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

Today’s post is rather lean as I have cookies to bake and cheesecake to make so that all is well in hand for Thanksgiving. So have at it as you always do. Comment below with links to where we can see your take on today’s prompts and of course, please share this with all the readers, writers, and friends you know.

Today’s prompts are: letters are returned, former child star

This photo has literally nothing to do with today’s post. They are just some very pretty koi fish my husband took me to see for my birthday.

Sometimes I wish life were still like the regency.

When your affections were rebuffed or a friend didn’t want to speak to you anymore they returned your letters.

I know because I played a ten year old in a classic remake of some Jane Austen novel or something. Maybe it was Dickens. i don’t remember.

I just know my line was, “But why did he return your letters?”

Now it’s all digital. Now it’s just blocked accounts and ghosted text messages. It’s so cowardly. And so unfair.

He promised.

He promised he would be there for me, make sure my career stayed on track. And he promised he would keep an eye on me. Yeah, right, a wandering eye maybe. Most people don’t realize that there is a reverse ugly swan affect. You start out adorable, and that’s all people can say about you for years, even when your sixteen and you’re ready for people to start calling you hot, they don’t.

You’re just so cute!

And then, in like six months, you go from being adorable to, “oh that’s Cassie Shays? That adorable little girl? Wow, that’s too bad.”

You’re awkward phase hits so hard that no casting director will give you the time of day and your agent starts suggesting to “pivot” careers.

And your producer from your biggest hit, the one that kissed you with tongue for the first time, closes out the email they gave you completely.

:Message not sent:

It’s not even the proper slap in the face that a packet of letters and a lock of hair sent back with a message about how they’d been misunderstood and they wish you all the best. At least then there would be closure. There would some moment when you could be totally are that this guy was a lying dickhead. Instead there’s just the internet crickets chirping into the void.

So you decide to go to law school.

You graduate top of your class, you sail right through the bar, you find a high powered L.A. firm that is willing to go after the companies that exploit the lives fo the young for the sake of their entertainment machine.

And that is why, ladies and gentleman of the jury, I am here today representing my client who at 14 has been booted from her smash hit television show for, and I quote, “Getting too ugly for the screen.”

~Anika

Anika Goes to the Movies: Coco

Quick Review: 4/5 stars  My pickiest bambinos loved it. The three year old clapped repeatedly. I cried. It’s visually amazing, and though goofy (what kids flick isn’t) it’s never crude. Take the family, after the pie.

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Here’s the deal, ever since I was about 5 my family has spent Thanksgiving doing some kind of activity because we lived far from the extended branches. So while the turkey cooked we would go hiking, to the zoo, and once a theater opened in proximity and Disney realized that the holidays are the time make bank on folks tired of their relatives- we’d go see a movie.

That’s right, my family is a bunch of Thanksgiving movie hipsters. We would be the only ones in the theater, maybe an older couple with nobody in town, and it was glorious. Now the box office grosses over 200million dollars each Thanksgiving weekend. And you have theater managers doing really dumb things like putting the first showing of the latest kids release in the smallest house- I’m looking at you Harkins.

But any non-movie gripes aside, Coco was our pick this year and it did not disappoint! I grew up in the desert southwest, so the trappings of Dia de los Muertos were ubiquitous to my childhood. I speak some pretty great Spanglish if I do say so myself. So when I saw the teasers for Coco I cringed inwardly. It is so easy to get the trappings of a cultural celebration right while getting the heart of it all wrong. And having rubbed up against Mexican traditions as a matter of course most of my life, I didn’t want to watch Disney ruin something so precious to so many.

But Pixar did the thing! Just Look at this cast! The voices, the story, the characters felt so familiar to me. Not in a boring, been-there-done-that sort of way, but in the resonant I-know-this-story kind of way that makes you fall immediately in love. I knew every one of those characters, but they weren’t caricatures. The strong Hispanic momma who ain’t got no time to be sad, the abuelita who is both absurdly demanding and adoring in the same sentence, the mariachi-both flashy and sincere, and Dante the dog. I’m pretty sure my husband and I met that dog on our honeymoon in Mexico 12 years ago.

The music was perfect. Totally perfect. It is a return to the solid musical production one expects from Disney and Pixar from whatever nonsensical departure they took for Moana.

Memory loss and what that does to our families is topic near to my heart just now, and I know it is for many others too. The message of the film in the end, that passing on the knowledge of who we are and where we come from is what family is for. That we show love and respect to ourselves and our living family when we bind each other together by listening to the memories of those that have gone before.

So this Thanksgiving as the pie digests, the visiting family starts fighting about the cost of road construction (or whatever gets your folks up in arms), and those Christmas boxes start creeping in from the garage take everyone to see Coco. Take tissues. And enjoy it with the millions of others who have taken up my family tradition.

Until next time, enjoy the show.