Valentine’s Day…

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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.

Glass Slippers and Stilettos – …Or For Worse (Fragment)

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The woman in the mirror wasn’t the one she remembered. No matter how hard she struggled, she would never see that reflection again. Time had a perverted way of leaving scars on her body in spite of all her best efforts. Turning slowly, analysing every particle projected in the horridly honest mirror, she felt her spirits lifted by the image of a still beautiful, mature woman. Her thighs were almost cellulite free… and her stomach, almost flat again… her behind was no longer as firm, but the right pair of jeans made it look just as luscious… her breasts had definitely seen better days, but she would do something about that as soon as possible. It was a game of make-believe these days, she thought to herself.

[…]

“Babe… I don’t know what I would’ve done tonight without you… After the day I’ve had… you wouldn’t believe it if I told you!”

True enough, Lover would find it unbelievable, were he to find out. His image of her just wouldn’t allow it. The thought alone made her feel better. So did his wild passionate kisses. The man in the restaurant may have been her unfulfilled future, but the one in the car with her, whose strong arms were wrapped around her, whose luscious lips were going lower and lower on her neck… he was certainly her sexual present.

[…]

Hours of drinking and dancing with Lover and his friends, followed by hours alone with Lover between the sheets in the five star hotel proved to be just what she needed. The credit card wouldn’t be cancelled so soon, she knew that much and she deserved one more luxurious night courtesy of the one she believed to be the man of her dreams up until the previous evening. In fact, a morning of mindless, senseless shopping seemed appropriate as well. She needed to make herself feel better only because he shattered her dreams the night before, Regina reasoned.

[…]

She was waiting for years to see the old hag gone, years in which all King ever did was put his mother on a pedestal and point out all the ways in which she, his wife, was unlike her, his mother. The now defunct mother became less of a strain on their marriage after his father’s death, when she finally managed to convince King to put her in a nursing home in a different town. Regina no longer had to put up with inopinate visits and unbearable family functions, but the crone still cast a long, heavy shadow, often suffocating those few pleasures left from her shattered illusion of marital bliss. But she could feel the taste of victory. Regina was winning by default, she managed to outlive her nemesis and even if she couldn’t voice out her true feelings, she found that childish enjoyment coursing through her veins absolutely marvelous

[…]

He looked at her and after all those dark days, walking behind the closed coffin, King felt he finally had his wife back. The woman he thought was the love of his life was finally back, replacing the apparently heartless creature from the past few years. He squeezed her hand in his.

She looked at him in a comforting manner, the way only she could. Walking behind the coffin, Regina felt she could be generous. Seeing the remains of the woman she hated, envied and dreaded approaching the burial plot sparked a barely containable sense of power mixed with mischievous joy. She was alive and she was not going to let it go to waste. She looked at her husband again and her heart sank. How the hell did she end up there, next to that sorry excuse for a man?

*

You can find the full version of “Glass Slippers and Stilettos” on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords – and you can download it for free until February 15. I hope you enjoy it!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

February Traditions

In the early days of this blog, I also started an early Valentine’s Day tradition. As my little gift to you (it isn’t much, but that’s the best I can do to show my appreciation during what many consider to be the month of love), you can download my books, Parallel Lives and Glass Slippers and Stilettos, for free. Given that neither one of them is a typical “they lived happily ever after” romance and they portray rather unconventional, uncomfortable twists and turns of relationships, they might also be a good choice for those of you not really in the mood for celebrating this year. Whether you get them for yourself or as a gift for somebody else, I hope you enjoy my small token of appreciation 🙂 . Feel free to download as many copies as you want form iBooks, Smashwords.com, Barnes&Noble, Kobo or Inktera, and share them with your friends.

 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

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/1ac546fe-cc7e-480c-bba7-8c7f34c72830

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/645454

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/glass-slippers-and-stilettos

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/glass-slippers-and-stilettos-ana-linden/1123982690?ean=2940153093093

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/f3a2bcb9-41e8-4ee0-9b12-ad42b3e9771f

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Robert Burns wrote to a friend:

“I myself can affirm, both from bachelor and wedlock experience, that Love is the Alpha and the Omega of human enjoyment. All the pleasures, all the happiness of my humble Compeers, flow immediately from this delicious source. It is the spark of celestial fire which lights up the wintry hut of Poverty, and makes the chearless mansion, warm, comfortable and gay.”

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“What signifies the life o’ man,

An’ ’twere na for the lasses O”

(Robert Burns – Green Grow the Rashes)

Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you choose to celebrate it or not, I hope there is at least one person in your life who loves you – your own beautiful self 🙂 . All I can say is I wish we managed to remember and dedicate more than one day a year to those we love and do something nice for/with them as often as possible. Have a wonderful day!

Ghosts of Valentine’s Dates Past

Ana Linden

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It’s not every day that a flower delivery guy almost throws a bouquet of roses at you, I thought to myself the day before yesterday. He had harassed me all day, calling like a maniac in order to find out when exactly I’d be home, so he could bring me the flowers – a Valentine’s Day bouquet which for some inexplicable reason they had decided to deliver a couple of days early. As soon as I closed the door in the face of the man who was still expecting a tip in spite of his rudeness and almost offensive words, I got to enjoy the beautiful roses – in spite of the commercial fuck up, they were still the symbol of a loving gesture, from a person so dear to me. I have long ago made my peace with the holiday dreaded by many, but I can’t deny that the…

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Early Valentine’s

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I am making this a new Valentine’s Day tradition, since the gesture was appreciated on previous occasions. And who doesn’t like appreciation?… 🙂 As my little gift to you (it isn’t much, but that’s the best I can do to show my own appreciation during what many consider to be the month of love), you can download my book, Parallel Lives, for free using the links below. Given that it’s not a typical “they lived happily ever after” romance and it also portrays the more unconventional, uncomfortable twists and turns of relationships, it might also be a good choice for those of you not really in the mood for celebrating this year. Whether you get it for yourself or as a gift for somebody else, I hope you enjoy my small token of appreciation 🙂 .

Download for free until the 15th of February:

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

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

https://www.overdrive.com/media/1613540/parallel-lives

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/1ac546fe-cc7e-480c-bba7-8c7f34c72830

https://www.scribd.com/book/202758410/Parallel-Lives

(And of course, on it’s on iBooks as well.)

Ghosts of Valentine’s Dates Past

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It’s not every day that a flower delivery guy almost throws a bouquet of roses at you, I thought to myself the day before yesterday. He had harassed me all day, calling like a maniac in order to find out when exactly I’d be home, so he could bring me the flowers – a Valentine’s Day bouquet which for some inexplicable reason they had decided to deliver a couple of days early. As soon as I closed the door in the face of the man who was still expecting a tip in spite of his rudeness and almost offensive words, I got to enjoy the beautiful roses – in spite of the commercial fuck up, they were still the symbol of a loving gesture, from a person so dear to me. I have long ago made my peace with the holiday dreaded by many, but I can’t deny that the incident brought back bittersweet memories of Valentine’s Days past.

I was thirteen or so when I survived the first “celebration” of the sort. The rumour had spread among my classmates, the boys were up to something and all of us, girls, spent the week before V Day waiting to find out what they were going to do. Nothing outrageous, as it turned out, but still terribly exciting for the time being – some of us got flowers and cards from the boys who liked us and we got asked out on dates. So when my best friend suggested we go out with our classmates without actually saying yes to any of the boys, I breathed a sigh of relief. That meant she wasn’t going to say yes to the boy I liked, who was going to ask her out. Or so I thought, because as we arrived at the meeting place, he headed towards her, holding a rose that had clearly seen better days, looking slightly puzzled by my presence. Sorry I lied, but you wouldn’t have come with me if I had told you; and you know I couldn’t go on a real date with him, but I couldn’t just say no either, she whispered in my ear as he was uttering a shy hello. Well, it made more sense back then – you see, the boy in question was part of our close group of friends and even if my bestie didn’t like him, she figured refusing to go on a date with him would translate into them not wanting to be friends with us anymore; besides, she had no idea that I had a crush on him. I had naïvely hoped he would come to his senses and ask me out, even if I knew who he actually liked. So I brutally refused the other two boys who had asked me to be their date on Valentine’s Day for no other reason than that they weren’t the one I had my mind/heart/hormones set on.

Don’t ever let them know what you feel, don’t ever let them see that you’re suffering, that they hurt you, my mother’s words come to my mind. So with a deep breath and a large smile I started acting my little ass off, pretending I actually wanted to be there and didn’t care about anything or anyone. Our group was smaller than we initially intended it to be, but, luckily, I wasn’t the only dateless wonder. So it couldn’t get much worse, I thought to myself, as soon as the happy couple was done exchanging a few private words. Wrong again, I would immediately find out during a quick gossip session in the lady’s room; he had asked her to be his girlfriend, her need to be liked had kicked in again and she couldn’t refuse him. Yet she wasn’t going to act on it and since I wouldn’t provide her with a good excuse to leave early, she spent the entire evening – and then the following week – trying to avoid him. As we were all walking her to the bus stop, he finally got closer to her and found the right moment to attempt a good night kiss… in the middle of which she broke free from his hug and jumped into the bus that had just arrived, although it wasn’t the one she was waiting for. Yes, we all noticed that minor detail, and it did feel good to see him sad both because of her rejection and of the other boys’ jokes.

As my first experience… or perhaps I should say experiment in celebrating love came to an end, I could finally hide in my room and draw all the sordid conclusions. ”Never again” was the first one, and by that I certainly didn’t mean never celebrate the holiday. More than anything, it was a promise to myself, that I wouldn’t sit and wait quietly for a guy to notice me when and if he felt like it; nor would I waste my time pining over boys who didn’t care about me. Moreover, once the anger subsided, I had to admit that my being there to witness the entire drama unfold was actually a good thing; that way I was left with a realistic view on the events of the evening, instead a romanticized, much more painful, image I would have otherwise built in my mind.

Well, that was their only date, their only kiss and all her avoidance manoeuvres made for some ridiculous, yet very funny situations. Between her frequent disappearance acts and my suddenly strange behaviour generated by my bruised ego, the poor guy was baffled by what was going on with his friends. Determined not to become the messenger between the two halves of the “happy” couple, I was acting out, engaging in harmless fun of my own, trying to choose between two guys, in spite of not being interested in either of them. As one of them (the charismatic bad boy all the girls wanted) was getting a bit too flirty with me, I could see said poor guy observing me in a strange, disappointed fashion. He later told me I deserved better than that jerk; I replied he wasn’t the one to talk and left him thinking no good deed ever goes unpunished. Everything went back to normal within a week or so, as he finally got the hint and gave up on following her around and I stopped feigning interest in irrelevant people. We got over our crushes and we were all friends again, just like before the shit romance had hit the fan on Valentine’s Day… Ironically enough, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, considering that he is now my oldest and closest friend.

From early on I suspected that not having a date is by far not the worst thing that could happen to a girl on Valentine’s Day. As the years went by, I became convinced of it. Yes, ladies, when a man you barely started dating shows up wearing not much else than a red thong, revealing thus his idea of romance, you wish you had no date. And when a man brings his mommy along for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner because she was feeling lonely that evening, you know you must draw the line and boundaries must be set for this particular day of the year. Since I never had an issue with being single or dateless in the middle of February, I made a decision several years ago: no more dates with people I don’t know well or care about on Valentine’s Day. After all, shouldn’t this day be a reminder to celebrate people we love?… As far as I am concerned, that’s not a feeling limited to the person I’m in a relationship with, and some of my best Valentine’s Days were spent with close friends, regardless of whether I was or wasn’t in a relationship at the time. And let’s not forget one undeniable fact – dating somebody doesn’t necessarily mean loving them, nor does it guarantee the death of loneliness…

So this year it was just me, myself and my roses for Valentine’s Day… and maybe a glass of wine at the end of a relaxing, quiet day of pampering 🙂 . Distance and timing may have gotten in the way of spending the day with a certain someone, but that’s not really as big a tragedy as some make it out to be… because I know that I’m loved and appreciated for more than just one day a year!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. ”

W. Shakespeare – Sonnet 116

There’s more to this day than cards, flowers, chocolates, heart-shaped knickknacks and all sorts of gifts that make us feel wanted and appreciated. Not that they are completely irrelevant – much like the day itself, they are a reminder that a certain feeling, a certain human emotion should be cherished and celebrated once in a while! (And hopefully there’s a little bit more to that feeling than 50 Shades of Grey 😉 ) So I hope that today you get to enjoy a few special moments with someone you love, either face to face or at least hearing their voice on the phone.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you and to the people you love!

A Little Something Before Valentine’s Day…

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I have a little something for all of you, just to say ‘thank you’ for reading and considering my thoughts. All I can give you right now is a book – I wish it could be more… Last year, just before Valentine’s Day, I created a coupon for everybody who wanted to read Parallel Lives and find out how Amalia’s (love) life would evolve. With the risk of seeming repetitive, I’m doing the same this year, I’m making it a tradition 🙂 So feel free to download the book as many times as you want or send the coupon as a cute gift to any of your friends!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Promotional price: $0.00

Coupon Code: XW47A (enter the code at checkout)

Expires: February 15, 2015

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Early Valentine’s Day Gift

I have an early Valentine’s Day gift for you, a small token to show my appreciation for the time you spend reading my blog. If you like the Parallel Lives sample fragments, you can download the entire book for free using the coupon on https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it and maybe it can even make a nice gift for your own friends. I’m looking forward to finding out what you think about the book, I welcome all opinions and comments – positive and/or negative – both on the book site and the blog.

Enjoy!

Coupon No.: QR23H valid until February 15th.

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