A Necklace and a Story

Before I get too involved, here’s a promised photo of the first (real- because I’m not counting the post office, two blocks away) bike ride:

Proof, my friends!

Proof, my friends!

There! Pictoral evidence of my bicycle ride! I rode up around a trail that circles the schools (they’re all grouped together in one place here, it’s weird…). I’ve experienced some mildly alarming gear/shifting issues, but I need to take it out again to get a more defined idea of what exactly is going on. Other than that, It’s super comfortable to ride, and it doesn’t mess with my shoulders or my wrists. Or my back, knees, hips, or neck. Yay! I was going to ride up to Walgreens today to get my prescription filled, but as nice as the weather was yesterday, it was gross today. Too bad, it was. I’ll be out again soon, though.

Now then, I have a necklace and a story to share with you. The necklace first, I suppose. It’s the main accessory for my fabulous Halloween outfit this year:

Pearls, pearls, pearls!

Pearls, pearls, pearls!

(Shown not with the rest of the outfit, because that bit’s not yet done… Not yet started, in fact!)

I’m going to be a flapper- the twist is that she’ll be completely historically accurate. I chose to be a flapper because of the freedom and push against chauvinist society that they represent, and also because it involves a beautiful dress, and I’ve been beautiful-dress deprived, what with nobody in want of a prom dress anymore. The pearl necklace is pretty standard, and follows historical specifications, as well- freshwater pearls, strung on a double thickness of silk thread with a knot between each pearl. The whole necklace is just a hair under 100 inches long- which might be a little excessive, but the dress is going to be silk, so I’m obviously  a rich flapper; blissfully unaware of the stock market crash on the verge of my country.

I can see why busty flappers bound their chests: The pearls keep rolling outside of the desired center range! Gah!

I can see why busty flappers bound their chests: The pearls keep rolling outside of the desired center range! Gah!

Back to the present, though. Here’s the thing that I find interesting about pearls: I love them, I think they’re great, so I didn’t want to get fake ones because this way I think I’ll find the desire after Halloween to wear the necklace. I looked at ’round pearls’, and they’re about $40 per 16″ strand. I used six strands, so that was a bit out of my price range. I was just about to give in to glass pearls (at $3 per strand), when I saw a link to ‘potato pearls’.

Pearls make everything classy. Like- hey! taking out the trash, like a lady!

Pearls make everything classy. Like- hey! taking out the trash, like a lady!

Potato pearls are basically pearls that aren’t completely round, or have some other kind of flaw that keeps them out of the round pearl category. They’re real pearls, though, and they aren’t incredibly disfigured or anything- they’re like the difference between drawing a circle freehand, or drawing a circle with a compass. And, they’re $5 per strand. They’re perfect, and I love them. It just blows my mind that people are willing to pay $35 more for one small shiny round object versus another small shiny round objects simply because one of them is rounder. The luster, color- heck, everything else about them is the same, except their shape. There are some things I will just never understand. It’s going to be hard for me to wear this necklace before Halloween. I might just do it- it doesn’t have to be as huge of a secret as I seem to be making it.

Check out that clasp! It's beautiful, and it is my plan to wear it in the front, to show it off!

Check out that clasp! It’s beautiful, and it is my plan to wear it in the front, to show it off!

So that’s the necklace. Would you like to read the story?

I was in a creative writing class a few semesters back, and I wrote a story that everyone seemed to like. I’ve been reading a lot of stories online (I say stories. I mean fanfiction. I am not ashamed.) They’ve made me think a lot about the writing quality, and most importantly, the believability of certain people’s interpretations of existing characters. Some of them make me think- ‘wow, have you not paid attention to the show? That character would never behave that way’- That, to me, discredits the story. On the other hand, some of them leave me completely aghast- their interpretation of the character is a complete plausibility. It’s crazy. (Not sure if that’s a kosher use of the word plausibility, but I’m running with it. It’s too late now!)

So anyways, I wanted to share with you all a story that I wrote that highlights this sort of character development. Maybe I’ll write some more in the future, given that a lot of people seem to think I’m pretty okay at it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to tackle fanfiction yet, though.

(Note- it’s about 2,000 words. The average adult reading speed is about 250 words per minute, so it should take you about 8 minutes to read. Just so you know)

7:30 am. The crescendo of an alarm draws a cold, angry hand from beneath pile of pillows and blankets. Fumbling for the origin of the obtrusive sound, a pair of thick-rimmed eyeglasses tumble to the ground. A head slowly emerges from the mass, but her eyes are tightly shut- a futile effort to fend off the daylight, and all that it brings. An index finger finds, and deactivates the noise. Finally. Two feet appear, and the  mass of cotton and downy softness, no longer welcomed, is kicked violently to the end of the bed. She climbs out of bed- timidly- toes touching the cold, tile floor only when absolutely necessary. She fumbles for her glasses, fingertips sliding across the divets in the tile, brushing cold, smooth stone, not yet having opened her eyes. She finds them, and returns them to the table, next to the offending noisemaker. Her hands and feet blindly guide her to her large closet, all the while the soles of her feet are painfully aware of the temperature difference between her body and the unforgiving floor. Upon arrival at the closet, her toes sink into thick , warm carpeting with relief. The carpet is not unusually soft, but she welcomes it against the painfully cold tile of her bedroom. She thinks about area rugs as she closes the closet door behind her, and opens her eyes with relief. Darkness. Although the sense of sight has been restored, her behavior does not change.

The thick carpet presses against the bottom of the door, blocking out the light from the other side entirely. It does not matter. She knows, by touch, where everything in the room is located. She does this every morning- everything is exactly how she left it. The fixture she knows is above her head does not contain a light bulb. She thinks about this. She realizes she doesn’t actually know if the light switch works. She’s never needed a reason to test it. She smiles at this, as her hands gently skim the fabrics that make up the clothes before her. She can feel the fibers interact with the tips of her carefully tuned fingers. Cotton has an unmistakable coolness that makes it wonderful for warm days. She does not think today will be warm. Wool can insulate so well, it blocks the feeling of cold entirely. Wool slippers? She is sidetracked from the fabric choices as she contemplates this new potential solution to combat the offending tile. Wool slippers. It’s too warm for wool, she thinks, but she pulls a light cardigan from its place of rest just in case. Her fingertips keep scanning- down a line of soft blackness. There are not many other options available, having eliminated cotton. Maybe it won’t be so cold outside. Maybe her distaste for that temperature is residual resentment towards the tile. She goes back to cotton, pulling something off the rack that matches the cardigan. There is no light at all in this room, but from her clothing, an outsider would never guess. How many people fall into routines like this? How many people try so hard to avoid something that they structure large portions of their lives around it? She thinks about this every morning, but she generally does not dwell on it. She thinks she is clever for avoiding for so long a feeling that she hates. She pulls the sundress from the rack over her head.

There’s no reason to change something about someone unless it’s damaging. Everyone only seems to see the bad things. The things they think they might like to try and change. There’s no need to change. There’s no need for a light bulb. There’s no want for one, either.  She sinks to the floor. The shoes are on the floor, but so is the next part of her routine. She moves backwards to the ground in a slow, graceful fall, which, to the non-existent observer, is actually a flail preceding a thump, and culminating in two thin, long legs thrown into the air. She realizes the point of view of the non-existent observer, and continues to be graceful, which mostly consists of thinking graceful thoughts, in the darkness that surrounds her. It would be considered by some to be too early for true gracefulness. She closes her eyes, and opens them slowly. She smiles when she has reaffirmed that there is no difference. Eyes closed, Eyes open. Closed. Open.  Some people find darkness oppressive; the absence of light, the absence of good. The world needs good. The world needs evil, so that it knows what good is. She thinks, even though she believes there to be nothing particularly evil about darkness. Everything needs a basis for comparison; otherwise people would not be grateful for what they have. Is she grateful? She’s grateful for the routine. She throws an arm towards the place where the shoes are kept, and her fingers deftly take on the task of finding the pair she wants. She stands, and is still for a moment. Standing too fast can sometimes cause the dizzying effect that results in falling over if one tries to walk.

Some things don’t change when the lights go out. Despite the frequency of the routine, the darkness still poses some challenges to her balance and coordination. In time, if she is patient, those things will come. For now, she needs to remember not to stand up so fast. She sits down at a small chair on the other side of the room. She knows there to be a mirror before her- she has seen it. It’s probably dusty from disuse, but it is in the same condition as it was when she bought it. It had such nice little drawers, how could she have passed it up? The little desk itself also has claws for feet, and scrolled legs. It is decorated in the darkest of dark colors, accenting the wood from which it is made. She knows this, but she hasn’t seen it with her eyes in a long time. She picks up a hairbrush, this time with no hesitation. The toes on her right foot follow the curve of one of the legs of the little desk- she wonders if she could replace the tile on the other side of the door with wood. Wood is still cold. She thinks back to the slippers as she marvels at how long the average woman (she thinks- she lacks empirical data on the matter) spends looking at herself in a mirror every day. She scoops her hair up into a pile at the back of her head, and secures it loosely with a few hair pins, hastily stabbed in strategic points. There’s no real right or wrong way to do things in life. The wish for complete darkness is not an odd thing to want. She is as much reassuring herself as she is preparing an explanation to anyone in the future who may question her decisions. To her, darkness means safety, while at the same time creating a more primal set of emotions that rely on senses that we usually don’t make primary use of. Sight is probably the most relied upon sense of all, for the average woman. It’s nice to just take a break from being average for a while each day, and retreat into a world you can control. A world you think you can control. Her sense of touch has been heightened by this routine- yet another reason not to change it.

She can tell you the fiber content of any kind of fabric, and she feels everything that happens. She feels the dirt on doorknobs that need to be cleaned, and she feels metal soda cans with a harsh, cold reality. There is thought and care in everything she touches. She realizes the importance of the other senses. She can smell the residual shampoo in her hair as its brushed out- leftover from last night’s shower. What about taste? People so rarely use their sense of taste, except when they eat. She’s never thought about tasting other things before, until just now. No, that would be weird. A definite decision, like all the others. She understands the importance of having all five senses intact- how important they are to daily functioning. She knows, though, that the most important to her is touch. She finishes her hair, digging her fingers with a swirling motion in towards her head, and then holds her hand up to her face. She knows it is there- her body is telling her that it is there, but despite the best efforts of her eyes to decipher the objects in her environment, all that she sees before her is a vast expanse of darkness. The darkness is so important. It expands infinitely in all directions, while at the same time creating a solitary cave-like blanket of security that wraps her closely, big enough for her and her alone. The not knowing how far the darkness reaches is part of its mysterious, calming appeal. What she cannot see cannot cause harm. The inevitable has been delayed for a time not long enough, but there’s not going to be an excuse to stop it for much longer. She can hear a phone ringing on the other side of the door. It’s time, anyways, to let the light in, and see if today has anything good to offer. She rises slowly from the shapeless chair, and stands still for a moment in front of the invisible mirror. She slips into shoes, as a final protection against the secondary enemy. The primary enemy has to be faced in order to go on with her day. The only reassurance is the promise that at the end of the day, there will be more darkness to escape to. It’s not that the light is evil; so much as it is that the darkness is predictable. She does not like surprises.

Why does anybody like surprises? Light brings with it the threat of change, and also of inconsistency. Light shows everything that is right in the world, sure, but also everything that is wrong. The darkness allows for thought only pertaining to what one wishes to think about. The darkness makes sure that no harm comes until the protection of its warm blanket is left for the cold, unforgiving world of light. The darkness seems always to be the same. Eyes closed always leads to the same place, and eyes open leads eventually to the realization that the world is at the same time, so large and so small. The darkness means focus, and focus is good. Predictable. Safe. There is the possibility for adventure in darkness, but the kind of adventure with a controlled ending. There’s plenty of time for the other kind of adventure during the light hours. Not all adventures are good, but all adventures are adventures, regardless of their outcome. Today, she will be adventurous. Every day she thinks this, and every day she tries to be more adventurous than the last. She walks, unhurriedly, to the door of her closet, resting her hand for one last moment on the cold, metallic knob, thinking about what inevitably will happen. She closes her eyes and turns the knob, and with one gingerly placed step in front of the other, wakes up to a new day.

Protection. That’s what she thinks about as she picks up her glasses from the nightstand. That’s what her shoes offer— protection for her feet against the floor. That’s what her clothes offer—but in two different ways. Protection from the elements to keep her warm, and protection from the prying eyes of others. The sundress and cardigan give passers by in the outside world a good impression of the person she might be, and give her friends, family, and coworkers the reassurance they need that she is actually not crazy. Her clothes, in a way, offer a layer of darkness to shield parts of her body from the light. This figurative darkness of her clothes offers a similar protection for her body as the literal darkness of her closet offers her mind. All of this, she thinks, as she makes her way down a carpeted hallway to a set of wide, winding stairs. The stairs are metal, but the sun from the vast windows in her house has warmed them enough that her hands find the railing tolerable, and she can feel the warmth they have absorbed radiating up into her body. Light has some good qualities. Darkness can be cold or warm, depending on the circumstance, but light is more often warm than not. Her desire to retreat back to the safety of the closet in her bedroom dwindles with each downward step, and by the time she reaches the bottom, she has to stop herself from going to a nearby window seat to curl up in the warm ray of light, shining through panes of glass.

Her affinity for darkness does not interfere with her life. The morning routine does not qualify as interference. She sees herself as a productive member of society. She is a productive member of society. There are people in the world with worse habits than these. People drink, gamble, and submit their bodies to fairly toxic substances on a regular basis. The only side effect of her addiction, and it is only very loosely defined as an addiction, is a heightened sense of tactile awareness. She hopes that her balance and coordination will soon feel similar positive effects. She wonders, can you be addicted to something good? Long term, chronic pain sufferers routinely become addicted to painkillers, but there are negative side effects, even in that. Could you be addicted to fitness? She realizes what she’s setting herself up for. You can be addicted to anything. What she does is not an addiction. It is nothing more than a routine. The end of the world would not come if she didn’t retreat into the closet. The calming experience of darkness is simply a peaceful, serene way to start one’s morning. The word addiction cannot be accurate. She needs to stop thinking about this. Over Thinking. She’s heard that word before a number of times. She’s Over Thinking the situation. There’s nothing wrong with whatever way it is that we choose to find comfort and solace in this world. She pours herself a cup of coffee from a pot that began to brew an hour ago on a timer. It was still dark when the coffee began to brew. The coffee seems to have absorbed that darkness, as she finds comfort in that daily habit as well. Maybe routine is the important thing to take away from this. Maybe it’s the routine of stumbling into the closet every morning as a tangled, cold, confused cocoon, and then emerging as some kind of butterfly that is truly at the heart of all this.

Maybe not. No, she thinks. It definitely needs to be dark. What if the whole world felt the same way about darkness that she did? What if people had been comforted by darkness instead of made uneasy by it, that most daily tasks could be completed in the dark? She doesn’t understand why people are not all the way that she is, but her intolerance to change keeps her from wishing that they were. Besides, light is a necessary part of so many things. She knows that. Her line of work is just as visual as it is tactile. This is the case in many fields. You see things, and you feel them. Every new sense adds to the experience of the last. Each additional way of experiencing something is like understanding it in a new language. The tactile signature, then the color and pattern, how it smells, and occasionally how it tastes and sounds.

Obviously, she cannot apply all of the senses to everything. It truly would be strange to go about licking things—one would have to be crazy—but everything should be experienced in some way. It should be up to the individual to decide how they chose to experience it. She looks down at her sundress. The colors are brighter than she remembered.

Eyes, she maintains, cannot always be trusted.

(content of this blog, as always, is protected under copyright laws- so, you know: copyright to me, Katherine Klebenow)

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