Writing Prompt: Papa

“So, ‘potato’ is ‘papa’ in Spanish,” murmured the boy to himself, as he copied the vocabulary list from his textbook into his homework sheet, punctiliously memorizing the accent of every word that he wrote. He turned to his back, to his grandfather, who was busy reading a broadsheet on the armchair. “Isn’t it funny, Pops? ‘Potato’ is ‘papa’ in Spanish. Did you know that?”

“Huh? Uh, yeah,” replied the old man. “Sure, I’ll have a hamburger. That’ll be great.”

The boy frowned. “You weren’t listening again, were you, Pops?” He walked to his grandfather and gave the back of the broadsheet a quick sweep with his eyes. “Same old news. Same old news. Boring. Why do you like reading newspapers, anyway, Pops? They’re so boring.”

The grandfather raised an eyebrow at the boy’s inquisitive-looking face and smiled. He gently folded the newspaper, put it on his lap, bent forward towards the boy, who was now seated on the floor before him, and said, “Alright. What were you asking me?”

“Why do you like reading newspapers?”

“No, before that.”

“Uhm…” The boy had almost forgotten. “Oh yeah. Did you know that ‘potato’ is ‘papa’ in Spanish?”

“Uh-huh. I remember that. You know, your grandmother, God bless her soul, and I had our honeymoon in Mexico. And ‘papa’ was one of the first Spanish words that we learned.”

“Really, Pops? That’s nice. Did you have a potato down there?”

Continue reading Writing Prompt: Papa

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An open letter to myself, for my 31st birthday

Dear me,

I am writing to you because one of the goals in your Day Zero Project is to write a letter to your — or, rather, my — future self. And as our 31st birthday falls close to the end of that 1001-day mission, the first thing that I will be asking you about is your progress. Are you still on this mission, or have you abandoned it? If the latter, why did you abandon it? I hope it was for a worthier endeavor. If the former, I hope you are at least 90% done, because you have less than a month to go ’til the deadline.

I have also chosen to write to you today, because, right now, I am very happy. You know how our mood shifts sometimes, and during the times when we become lonely and depressed (usually thanks to hormones, but sometimes due to external forces), we almost totally forget about the happy times, we feel hopeless, we lose our sense of logic and become prone to making awful plans. I am writing to you while I’m in a happy mood, to remind you that whatever it is behind the loneliness and the depression, that, too, shall pass.

Continue reading An open letter to myself, for my 31st birthday

Once again, I gave in to my cravings. Now I’m going to take control.

This morning, it was a half-consumed bag of cheesy potato chips. This afternoon, it was a trio of dark fudge chocolate chip cookies. Now my body is feeling all the guilt of the fat and the salt and the sugar, I feel heavy and dizzy, and I feel like puking. It feels as though my body is not as young and as healthy as it appears on the outside. On the bright side, I’m thankful that my body is straining to reject the crap that I have just put into it, instead of just gleefully digesting the stuff as it used to back when I was younger. Now I’m just drinking as much water as I can in an effort to flush it all out.

(Update: Looks like the water therapy worked. I’m feeling so much better now.)

The lesson from today is: I can no longer eat all of this junk food indiscriminately. I just remembered that I have a genetic predisposition to diabetes — a fact that I often kept out of my mind as I munched through the next slice of creamy blueberry cheesecake. I’m no longer young, and I have to take care of my body if I want to preserve the youthful feeling for as long as possible.

So, I’m making a food plan. I’m planning for everything I eat, down to the smallest snack, for every weekday of the next four weeks. The rule is: If it’s not in the plan, don’t eat it. It’s that simple.

Continue reading Once again, I gave in to my cravings. Now I’m going to take control.

Writing Prompt: The Rain

“María, hija! How many times do I have to remind you that it is bad luck to open an umbrella indoors?”

María clutched tightly onto her umbrella. “But Mamá,” she pouted, “I can’t stand the rain anymore! Look at my clothes; they are all soaked through!” Her mother looked at the girl’s clothes; they were indeed soaking wet. Thankfully, her teenage daughter was wearing black, as the rest of them were, and the situation revealed nothing that should not be revealed.

“Just bear with it, hija,” she said, in her most consoling motherly voice. “The service will be over soon. And hide that thing, please; it is scandalous to the Lord.”

María took a deep breath and swallowed whatever protest she wanted to say. There was no sense in arguing with her mother. She slid her umbrella, a pink frilly classic parasol-type with a Tweety Bird design, into the space beneath the chair, hiding it behind her long black skirt, which was, like the rest of her clothes, heavily soaked.

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I have mostly selfish reasons for being childfree. Let me tell you about my unselfish one.

I do not deny that I am a selfish person, and that most of my reasons for being childfree are selfish: I want to spend my money on myself. I don’t want to waste my life raising a child. I love my alone time. I can’t stand the screams and smells of children. I treasure my possessions, and I don’t want to risk them getting ruined. In the event of a disaster or an emergency, I want to look after only myself. I don’t want to share my partner’s love and attention with a child. I like having sex whenever and wherever. I like my body way too much. I love my boobs. I love me. Me. Me. Me.

ME.

Of course, that’s not very politically correct to share, especially in some circles, so I have prepared an unselfish reason in case the topic is, for the nth time, broached upon:

I try to imagine how life would be like some twenty, thirty years from now, when my hypothetical child is already an adult, and I worry about so many things that he/she would have to deal with.

What would the job market be like? Would he/she be able to find good jobs in the future, or would most jobs be replaced by automation? What about competition? It would be so intense. There would probably be nine billion people by then, and all would be competing for food and space and work. Would my child be able to compete with all of those people?

What about the government and politics and society? Would people still have freedoms? Freedom of religion? Freedom of speech? Freedom of assembly? Freedom to wear whatever they want? Freedom to go out at night?

Would they still have privacy? Would they be able to think and say and write what they want, without fear of being policed? Would they be able to date freely, have sex freely, without fear of finding a video of the act on some internet site? Or worse, fear of being incarcerated for it, for one reason or another?

Would it be a time of peace, or a time of war? Or a time of war disguised as a time of peace?

Continue reading I have mostly selfish reasons for being childfree. Let me tell you about my unselfish one.

Writing Prompt: Big Whoop

“Hey guys, watch this one!” The tallest of the boys pointed from where he and the rest of his buddies were, and looked on as their next unsuspecting victim sat on their trap.

“Prrrrtttt!” Out came the vibrating gassy noise from under the chair. Their latest victim, a tiny boy in long knee socks, became red with embarrassment as the rest of the class turned towards him. The mastermind and his gang tittered from their seats. He had been their sixth victim for the day, yet the trap didn’t fail to amuse them.

“Oh look, it’s Sir Mike!” said one of the boys. “Let’s see what happens.”

Sure enough, it was their history teacher, a large round man with blond whiskers and a shiny bald head. He plopped down on the chair, and, as expected, a fart came out from beneath it. But this was no ordinary fart. This was a thunderous one, and much louder than what they had expected.

“Whoa!” gushed the mastermind. “That was one big whoop! I wonder if he ruined the cushion with that.”

“Uh, no, he didn’t,” said his right-hand boy. “That chair didn’t have a cushion.”

The boys and the rest of the class discreetly covered their mouths with their hands and pretended that they hadn’t noticed anything.

(Inspired by First 50 Words)

Writing Prompt: Hot Air Balloons

“Escaping on a hot air balloon? Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Well, it’s not like we have any other choice, do we?”

“Fine. But if we get caught, you’re the one who’s gonna pay.”

Roger dipped his hand into his pocket. After fumbling around, and a bit of thinking, he said, “Deal.”

Dennis slumped into the corner of the basket. He was feeling very airsick, and his knees were weak with acrophobia. He could feel the balloon continuously rising, and he had no idea how far above ground they already were, but he wasn’t willing to find out.

Roger looked out of the basket. “I could see the tops of the hills from where we are. They won’t be able to catch us now.”

“Oh God, help us,” Dennis muttered. He felt like crying into his hands, and puking into wherever. The beer that he had drunk with Roger, some forty bottles shared between them, was starting to bubble back through his esophagus.

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We miss out on so much of what the real world can teach us.

Whenever I go out, I limit my use of my devices. After all, I can use my phone or my tablet to my heart’s content while at the privacy of my home, so I don’t see much point in devoting too much time on my devices while I’m out in public.

Instead, I choose to use the time to look around, to appreciate the designs of the world around me, both of nature and of man, and to observe people. I especially enjoy observing people. I would sometimes sit alone in a coffee shop or a restaurant, pick a good vantage point, and just watch people. People are fascinating creatures. What are the complex lives hidden behind the visible superficial? I wonder. Why does that woman slouch with her hands in her pockets, why does that man smack his lips loudly as he smokes his cigarette? Why does the child drum his fingers on his cheek, why does the old lady cover her mouth after drinking her water? Do these people have children? pets? privileges? debts? What are they thinking about right now? celebrating? planning? worrying? grieving?

And I observe, in this middle and upper class society in which I live, that so many people, youth and otherwise alike, spend most of their time on their gadgets. Phone in hand, eyes on screen, flicking the idle minutes away, sometimes with a pair of headphones blaring music into their ears, while sauntering on the sidewalk, seemingly without any mind for a spike or an open manhole that could put them in grave peril faster than they could swipe for the next Instagram update.

Continue reading We miss out on so much of what the real world can teach us.