Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 99

Victor’s mother sighed, sipping her coffee.

“I think I would’ve been a lot like you, had I been born in different times. I envy the freedom you, young women, have these days. Back then, I was among the lucky few, I was allowed an education, my family was supportive of it, and I was also blessed with a kind, intelligent and hardworking husband. And now it’s too late to change; besides, I like the way it turned out for me. In a way some things were better, more straightforward then – women were women and men were men, they each had their roles and everybody knew where they stood. You have it so great and so rough these days… you basically need to be perfect from so many points of view, you need to cover so many areas in order to be accomplished women. That’s what I really envy about you, not only your freedom, but the fact that you’ve managed to cover so many aspects already, to stand on your own, to do and experience so many things all by yourself. You see, I could never manage without my family, the same way they couldn’t manage without me.”

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

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In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge – Sweet.

Valentine’s Day…

 

“I want someone to laugh with me, someone to be grave with me, someone to please me and help my discrimination with his or her own remark, and at times, no doubt, to admire my acuteness and penetration.”

Robert Burns

Sometimes, it’s “Swan Lake” and dinner at a nice, romantic restaurant… sometimes, it’s beautiful red roses and phone calls, because everyday life doesn’t take a break for special occasions… and other times, it’s nothing but disappointment and frustration. Like many other socially branded times of celebration, the controversial Valentine’s Day will do that to us. Or… really… let’s be honest… we do that to ourselves.

It may not be my favourite holiday, but I’ve made peace with Valentine’s Day many years ago. Call me jaded, call me old, but I couldn’t have a meltdown because of it, even if I tried. And that’s mostly because I am who I am, I like what I like, and I honestly don’t care if those around me approve of it or not. I no longer try to adjust my expectations in order to fit their needs, nor do I feel guilty when I’m labelled as “spoilt” just because I want to be treated in a certain way. I get to choose who is close to me. We all do. We all should. Part of this choice is being aware that there are persons willing to offer me what I want, people who wish to make me feel special… people for whom I want to do the same.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again many times – celebrating a loved one, a relationship, showing them how important they are, can be so fulfilling. Perhaps some people are able to do that each and every day. Personally, I often drown in everyday nonsense and I generally need those pre-set occasions to shake everything up. I like thinking ahead, I look forward to birthdays, anniversaries and holidays and I have great fun getting and preparing all sorts of things for the ones I love, even months before any of these occasions. I once had two years’ worth of gifts for my mother, that should say it all. That’s also part of who I am, together with my expectations.

Yes, I like flowers – no heart shaped knickknacks, no cutsy teddy bears or other plush toys, no, thank you. It’s not that I need someone to buy them for me; I don’t mind getting them myself, if I need some cheering up. But I want somebody who cares enough to offer me flowers, just to make me smile, just because that’s what I like, and that’s important to them, even when it might not be their favourite activity. It’s about being offered what I want, not what somebody thinks I should want. I’ve learnt that such people exist. I’ve learnt that I’m also willing to compromise and make these people happy. These are the persons I want in my life, not the ones I need to change, not the ones who want to change me. They are the ones I think of when it comes to celebrating love.

Undeniably, I like the romantic side of the holiday. There’s something so adorable about watching a man get all dressed up for a date with me (even after being together for years), struggling to pick the right tie, the same way I struggle with choosing the perfect shoes. It’s fun to see him happy and elegant, impatiently waiting for a compliment, inevitably choosing to wear one of the ties and the cologne I gave him on some previous occasion. I know that at some point, he’s going to move his wrist just to make me notice he’s wearing my favourite watch as well. All these are small, irrelevant matters in the grand scheme of things. Yet it’s small, happy, fun moments together that make up the good part of life, the one that keeps one going through all the murky, unbearable times.

But this scenario is not always an option, and it’s nobody’s fault. It’s also not the end of the world when it doesn’t happen. As I’m listening to Bon Jovi, enjoying the red roses I received earlier and the delicious pralines I offered myself (first and foremost, I love myself), I’m thinking that a nice dose of realism is absolutely necessary on Valentine’s Day. A date on Valentine’s Day doesn’t guarantee love, nor does it reflect a person’s worth. Knowing what we need from others and from ourselves, seeing the value of who we are, celebrating it and those we love (be they a partner, a friend, a relative, the self) might be more important.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Find a little something that gives you pleasure and treat yourselves to it… or share it with somebody important to you.

Home

I take a left and there it is, vast, deep, seemingly endless, stretching under my eyes – the sea. I love to travel, but I have a small ritual whenever I return. I have to see the sea, as soon as possible. Trite as it may sound, it’s reassuring. It’s calming. It’s home… and there is a certain kind of safety and security in knowing you are tethered to a place, no matter how much of a wonderer you may be.

I wasn’t born here, but this is my place, my home. It adopted me from the moment I decided I would move here… or perhaps I adopted it, with all its beauty and flaws. First I would always say, “I live here… for now.” The idea of committing to a place for more than a few years seemed restricting, stifling, boring… Then I finally accepted what was already my reality – this place had become a part of me, and that was not a bad thing. In fact, it was a relief. I could allow myself to wonder and still have a safe place where I could come back. I could say, “I live here. This is my home.” I also knew that didn’t mean it had to be forever. One can’t really tell what the future holds…

Like me, it’s far from perfect. It doesn’t have the most impressive architecture. It could have more parks, more museums, more theatres… But it does have the sea… and when coming home, it’s always comforting to breathe in the salty air, to hear the seagulls and feel that annoying humid breeze mess up my hair.

Then there’s the atmosphere… This is by far my favourite region of the country. I could see myself living in another country; I could also see myself living here for the rest of my life; but I cannot see myself living in another corner of this country. Kind is not one of the first words that come to mind when describing the people here, not as a society. Neither is empathetic. Real? Yes, definitely. Self-centred, fun loving, often materialistic, certainly more open-minded than in other parts of the country, dark and incredibly bright at the same time, that’s them. But what I like most is that on the whole, they don’t pretend to be a much nicer group than they are; on the contrary, they take pride in their identity. This is why I felt I could fit in from the very first moment. One often needs to be rude, loud and pushy first, only to be able to create a context where one can then be polite, decent and respected. Otherwise there’s a good chance one will be devoured or at least stepped all over from the very beginning.

The question is, will I always feel the same way? Slowing down is rarely an option, there’s a constant sensation that you need to catch up, no matter how hard you’re trying. And it’s not only me or those here coming from other parts of the country. I’ve seen it in everybody; some don’t bother to hide it, others go to extreme lengths to do so. Regardless, there’s a constant drive to keep up with someone or something, no matter who or what you are.

So exactly what you love the most can become exhausting. Infuriating. Frustrating. It’s like that with people, it’s like that with places… That’s when I most need the vastness of the sea, the perspective it provides.

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 98

Meaningless, harmless flirting was a long forgotten pleasure for Amalia, she had become so used to being aggressive with the men she wanted; and the men she wanted were normally guys who went straight for what they desired. The game, the chase were greatly appreciated stages in her flirting scheme and even in relationships, but nobody pretended to be innocent, nor was there ever a word uttered without a double meaning. That was exactly what she liked, she desired exactly the type of man who could engage in such a dance with her. Yet Amalia couldn’t deny the appeal of Victor’s way, he was reminiscent of a time in her life when she still had hope and she could still believe in the beauty of simple things, so she decided not to even try to resist him and his ways. The time spent with him would be a holiday from herself.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Similar, But Not The Same

I picked two moderately overpriced used books and I exchanged a few French words with the bouquiniste by the Seine, pleased I could still remember something from a language I once spoke fluently. I shoved the books in my oversized bag, a warm feeling taking over me as I hurried to explore a little bit more. I was only going to be in Paris for a short time, I had to pick and choose what I could do. There simply was no time for shopping, not even for books. But the book stalls by the Seine… one can surely consider that a cultural, or at least touristic, experience. Plus, they would make for good souvenirs, certainly better than fridge magnets. Continue reading “Similar, But Not The Same”

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 96

 

In her own way, Amalia was aware of the role she was playing, of how much she was altering his perceptions and convictions about life and women; such a project was a relaxing distraction not only from the serious routine of her existence, but also from the man she was trying to forget. Looking at Paul lying on her bed, Amalia felt a strange kind of pity – there was a man looking to be taught all there was to know about sex and freedom, there he was, in the same spot where she could still picture the silhouette of the man willing to share with Amalia all that he knew and had experienced regarding sex, lust and infatuation. In the blink of an eye, the images juxtaposed and situations merged: a man so willing to renounce control in her favour and another man struggling to maintain his fair share of domination.

For a second, the woman felt she didn’t really want either one of them.

If you want to read Parallel Lives, click on any of the following links: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/parallel-lives-ana-linden/1118140770?ean=2940045563567

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/parallel-lives-7

…. and iBooks, of course. 🙂

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 95

“What’s wrong?”

“The fact that you cannot get everything from one person alone. If and when you think you might, it’s no more than an ephemeral mirage that leaves you empty, disappointed and disoriented as soon as it disappears. And how exactly does one manage to constantly find something more intense than the previous experience? The next thrill always needs to be somewhat more intense, somehow different and better than the one before it, otherwise the frustration is what increases and not the relief, the forgetfulness… But you don’t need any of that, do you? You find solace in simple things and even if I normally despise that, I guess I’m a bit jealous too – everything is so much simpler, your sort of happiness is so much easier to reach, isn’t it?” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 95”

Growth

I entered my home, dragging my luggage, exhausted and relieved, as one usually feels after a good trip. I dropped everything in the hall and took a quick tour. I have my little “come back home” routine – a quick tour to see if everything is ok, followed by opening all windows to let the fresh air in. Yes, everything was the way I left it – you never know what you’re going to find when you come back home. So I went to open the windows and that’s when I noticed them. Not everything was exactly the same, was it? One of my orchids was blooming; another one had developed beautiful buds. Then, there was another small spectacle going on outside my window – all the spring bulbs were sprouting in their large flower pots, clearly encouraged or perhaps disoriented by the unseasonally warm weather. Life goes on, with or without you… growth happens in an instant, you never know for sure when and what will trigger it, and sometimes you’re not as relevant to the process as you might want to believe. Well, I just hope the weather stays warm enough for my spring flowers to bloom in winter.

Yet Another Year…

I’m not one for resolutions. They may work for some people, but that’s simply not the way I function. I like to plan ahead, but I don’t need a particular date to get me started; nor am I deluded enough in order to believe that I’m more likely to get something done just because I set my mind on it at midnight, just before another year begins…

What I like to do, however, is to look back at the year slipping away and take stock of what’s been… Was I true to myself? Did I make the best of it? Have I done my best, or at least the best I could at a particular moment? Have there been squandered opportunities? Did I learn something about myself, about the world around me? And so on… the list continues, as I’m sure it does for most of us. Continue reading “Yet Another Year…”

Merry Christmas!

merry-christmas

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

(Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol)

Merry Christmas, everyone! 🙂

December Madness

 

I could see her grimace in the mirror. For a second, her hands stopped moving, brush in mid-air above my head.

“No, not in the afternoon… I can fit her in, no later than 12.”

Yes, they were closed on the 25th, she mentioned just before that.

“On the 24th around 5 or 6 would be more acceptable… mom needs to finish all the preparations before getting her hair done. It’s the day before Christmas, after all.” Continue reading “December Madness”

Happy Birthday and We’ll Always Have Paris!

Some things are rare – so rare in fact, that we can hardly believe them when they happen to us.

We met with no hopes and expectations, knowing it can’t last and it can’t mean anything… and soon after we both understood how wrong we had been. But for two people so used to being right all the time, being wrong turned out to mean unexpected happiness. Continue reading “Happy Birthday and We’ll Always Have Paris!”

My Own, Personal Grinch

Come December, I see her photo pop up on my phone and I know we’re going to have the same conversation over and over again. Sometimes I don’t even answer, because I’m already too irritable to put up with the depressing rant. I’d rather be the one calling her, when I know I can take it and perhaps even help.

The hypocrisy! Those two hate and trash each-other all the time, and today they were hugging in the middle of the town! They were talking about the holidays and inquiring about each other’s families. As though anybody believes that act!

They only give presents to receive more expensive ones. They’re not fooling anyone.

Please… they only decorate their homes to show off and make everybody else feel miserable. Like we don’t know… Continue reading “My Own, Personal Grinch”

Cheeky Gift-Giving

I remember I wanted to crumple the piece of paper and throw it back into the hat. Instead I shoved it into my pocket and whispered something to the girl next to me. Her displeased face matched mine.

Anyone who’s done Secret Santa as a child knows how it can go from great to depressing in a second. Besides, we were too old for that, many of us protested. That might have been acceptable in middle school, but certainly not in high school…But there was no getting out of it, our form master decided it was a great activity that would bring us closer.

For me, all it represented was more salt on the wound, another reminder that my closest friends weren’t going to the same high school, another reminder that my current classmates were boring cowards, whereas my middle school ones were still mentioned in a whispered reverent tone. Thick as thieves we were, clever, with much above average results, and also unstoppable when it came to naughty, crazy pranks. The greatness we could have achieved, had we managed to stay together in high school… Continue reading “Cheeky Gift-Giving”

December Again…

I happen to like December and all its seasonal frenzy – well, most of it, anyway… December is also the month I started this blog. Pure coincidence 🙂 . Four years ago, I was trying to self-publish Parallel Lives around Christmas time and in my mind, getting the blog set up for it was a must.

You know how it goes, the best-laid plans… Truth be told, Parallel Lives wasn’t exactly one of my better laid plans, it was something that took shape along the way, and I simply needed to go through with it. The book ended up being published a few weeks later, and my blog quickly veered off its promotional path, becoming a hodgepodge of moments, photos, thoughts and fiction. That’s just life, we write our story as we go, from one second to the next.

Meanwhile, my blog has developed a few traditions of its own. One of them is my December token of appreciation, and this year I’m starting earlier than usual. You can download Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos for free until December 25th. Feel free to share the links below with anybody you think might enjoy the books or offer them a copy as a gift. Enjoy!

Last but not least, thank you for bearing with me for yet another year and for sharing your stories and thoughts on your own blogs, allowing the reader to glance into your souls. Have a nice December, everyone!

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/analinden

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ana+linden?_requestid=538455

https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/search?query=Ana%20Linden&fcsearchfield=Author

and on iBooks, of course.

Young, beautiful and independent Amalia refuses to apply traditional concepts to any of her relationships with men; therefore commitment, marriage and couple routine are not part of her vision on life. Cynical and highly aware of the realities of an unromanticized modern world devoid of long lasting feelings, Amalia appears to only seek the promise of a few moments of fleeting happiness next to the men in her life. The opposite sex is often no more than a refuge from all mundane problems and deceptions, so the young woman stubbornly refuses to settle down with any of the men who try to win her affection – that would only mean the death of her soul, independence and character

Regina is the woman everybody loves to hate and hates to love. Behind the gorgeous, demurred façade lurk selfish ambition, ignorance and a desperate need to find her happily ever after. The search for a man to rescue her and make her dreams come true follows a sinuous, often obscure, but entertaining path. Regina may try to deny it, but she is no innocent princess, Prince Charming can be a beast in disguise and modern-day happy endings are nothing like their fairy tale version.

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 3

The final day of the challenge is here and the quote I selected is from Neihtn’s Village Teacher. Neihtn is the pen name of a Vietnamese-American writer, Nguyễn Trọng Hiền.

3

“The footprints never overlapped or touched one another, but there was no doubt that they were walking close together and going forward in the same general direction. They turned around once more and resumed their walk.”

Neihtn, Village Teacher

Today’s special nominee is Sue from WordsVisual – if and whenever you feel like sharing a few quotes with us, Sue. Anyone else who wants to participate is also welcome.

In the end, I would like to share a bonus quote – a well-known one, this time.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 2

Don’t blush, Yvette. Today is your day!

2

“There’s a different kind of beauty that can be extracted from brokenness. It’s a delicate, vulnerable life phase, but moving through brokenness can wake us up and clear away the dross. Often, it allows us to later appreciate and soak up beauty in a way we might otherwise miss.”

Yvette Prior, Lady by the River

Today’s special nominee is India Blue from A Place for Creative Expression – if and whenever you feel like sharing a few quotes with us, I know you’re going through a difficult time. Anyone else who wants to participate is also welcome.

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 1

A while back, Yvette from priorhouse blog invited me to take part in the three day quote challenge. The time has come for me to honour her generous invitation. As it turns out, the rules are simple and not at all restrictive. There is no time limit, all one needs to do is post three quotes on three (preferably) consecutive days and nominate other fellow bloggers who might enjoy this challenge.

I would like to invite all of you to take part in this challenge, if you feel so inclined. I will also nominate somebody every day, but please don’t feel pressured to participate – I am aware these things can be time consuming.

My mind instantly went to some of my favourite quotes, from authors and books that have influenced me over the years. As I pondered which three should make the cut, I realized I actually wanted to go another way. Since I started blogging, I had the chance to come across so many interesting, inspiring, talented, yet relatively unknown authors, so I would like to share some fragments from their work.

1

“I watched the sun sink between two bamboo poles and knew that I didn’t want to die before writing what I needed to write . Suddenly I felt that through my writing, I would fulfil my life’s purpose. Whatever it was, I would discover it in the creation of my books , and it is this delight at wanting to discover my purpose that keeps me writing. A perfect catch – 22.”

Today’s quote is from Carol Balawyder’s Mourning Has Broken. I have enjoyed all of her books, yet so far this is my favourite. But I still have her most recent book on my “to read” list, so who knows…

Today’s special nominee is Theresa Baker from Lab Notes – if and whenever you feel like sharing a few quotes with us, Theresa. Anyone else who wants to participate is also welcome.

Moving On…

1

“Oh… sweetie… I’m so sorry! Are you all right?”

She’s sorry?!

We skipped straight to a dish session – our patented way of diffusing dark, heavy conversations about to explode into a fight. The usual, who’s married, who’s dating, who’s getting divorced…. who’s married, and dating, and about to get divorced… But I didn’t really have any juicy gossip, and apparently neither did she, so our conversation was risking to dangerously slip back to the previous pattern.

Then I remembered – guess who got married? Continue reading “Moving On…”

Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 94

“Sad? How is it sad when that’s the only promise of improvement? It’s not sad to stand as proud and unflinching when you’re raw and exposed as you do when you’re on the peak of glamour, gathering shallow praises from those around, from all of those who can only perceive obvious or staged beauty. There, look at that tree, the little one between the two dark ones, it’s already on the right track, with its daring pink flower buds starting to bloom before the leaves have any chance to show up.” Continue reading “Parallel Lives – Sample Fragment 94”