19 July, 2022

Tuesday Tales: Only in Vietnam

                                                                    Break My Stride

 Ain't nothin' gonna break-a MY stride!

Well, maybe something will.

Today, as I cycled home from my writing group, I took a corner too wide - avoiding two motorbikes riding side by side - and then saw a bicycle coming at me and over-corrected... right down the edge into a rice paddy.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Narrow lanes, unpredictable traffic, and I was jacked up on delicious Vietnamese coffee to the point that I had the jitters. It was a Perfect Storm of circumstances!

At least I landed in the soft, muddy rice paddy, and not in one of the concrete irrigation ditches! 

That's it, really. That's the story. 

Several people came to help me out of the mud. Two men from the coffee shop I'd just passed helped lift out my bike, and one of the girls I'd avoided as I turned the corner rode next to me as I walked my bike home. People really are lovely and helpful here.

My bike seems fine, but my hip is out of whack for now. And I did something to my right big toe - a cut? a bruise? All in all, it could've been worse. I know one woman who lost a finger in an accident. Although, she was on a motorbike. (One reason I stick to the bicycle.)

Anyway, I'm limping around the house today. That little accident has, in fact, broken my stride!

15 July, 2022

Fiction Friday - Ideal Age

Presley looked around her bedroom. It was immaculate. The cleaners had been in yesterday to ensure that.

Every corporately sanctioned picture hung perfectly straight. Her own artistic choices gone. The brushed green walls would be wiped down of fingerprints tonight. Everything looked "perfect". She sighed. After her morning shower she'd dropped the used towels down the chute instead of hanging them. She straightened the bed out of habit. Corporate would be in tonight to change linens.  Now, she swiped a hand over the perfectly polished plum-wood dresser top. Bare. Devoid of all the knick-knacks of Presley's life. The corporately sanctioned mirror frowned back at her above the naked surface.

Not naked. One corporately sanctioned lamp. One corporately sanctioned silver tray that an individual could use to store their jewelry, brushes, make-up, what-have-you.

Presley stared at her face in the mirror. No make-up today. All that was gone. Over.

She had reached the Ideal Age. Make-up was for corporate risers. Make-up was for corporate cogs, rising or not.

The door sealed shut behind her with a shhhooop, and she was in the hall, looking at the door. Out of curiosity, she tugged at the handle. It didn't budge. Sealed.

It was fine. It was inevitable.

She looked into the guest room, equally sanitary. After she backed out, that door "shhoop"ed at her, too.

At the landing before turning down the stairs, the guest bathroom door hung open. It was probably the same, but Presley went through motions. She stepped in. She looked into the empty medicine cabinet. She pulled open the shower curtain. Corporate would be in later. She would have opened the window, if there was one. Let them sue her for that! But there was no window, so her spiteful thought died inert.

She was down two steps before the "shhoop" caught up with her. She descended in a cloud of irony. Presley only had this 2-floor condo because she was one of the corporate risers. In her position, she was granted her choice of a spacious single condo or a 2-storey one. She liked the separation afforded by the second floor. Social activities downstairs. Visitors: downstairs. Overnight guests could be upstairs, but that was limited. Corporately sanctioned, only. Family. Approved paramours.

By the time she reached the lower level, Presley had regained her sense of pride. There would be many important people at the ceremony. There would be cheers. All for her. Because she had reached the Ideal Age. The Corporation was magnanimous in their gratitude.

Living room. Perfect. Pristine. Not a hint of Presley remained. Yesterday's cleaners were efficient, she had to give them that. She crossed into the dining area, grateful for the open-plan layout so she was spared the patronizing "shhoop" of a door locking itself for its final time. Corporate coached you on many things, but that was one thing they never prepared you for: the sounds of your life being erased.

The kitchen hadn't been done yet. She had free reign to make whatever she wanted for her breakfast. Whatever mess she wanted! Steak. And eggs. Toast - so much toast! Bacon. Orange juice. No! A mimosa! Presley laughed at herself for her indulgence and poured the orange juice and a bottle of champagne into a pitcher. No one would complain. She could show up to her ceremony in any frame of mind she wanted. The driver wouldn't care.

Presley was full. Too full. She'd been maintaining her appropriate corporate size for so long she'd never indulged in that much food at once. Toast lay un-eaten. Only half the steak was gone. A large belch escaped and she giggled. 

Ideal age. What did that even mean? It meant the corporation deemed her past productivity. She had served her purpose. They'd celebrate her today and put her to rest. It was over. She poured some more mimosa from the pitcher, spilling as she did so. Never mind. It would be cleaned.

In her youth, Presley had thought it a great plan. In her youth, she didn't want to grow old! Who wanted that? Failing health, failing independence, failing mind... "By all means," young Presley thought, "Take people out of action before that happens." The corporation had determined the Ideal Age, and everyone knew what it was. 

The corporation ran everything. There were no surprises.

An alarm beeped and Presley raised her blurry eyes to the clock. Yep. On time. No surprises. She slammed back the mimosa and refilled her glass before carrying it out into the hall, and down the elevator. The first floor was crowded with people, applauding as she exited the elevator. A corporate limousine was waiting outside. At least they allowed everyone applause, comfort and luxury in their last moments of riding to the ceremony that would end her time. In the old days, no one was applauded on their last day, because no one knew when the last day would come. 

The Ideal Age was a good plan.

Presley sipped on her mimosa the whole ride, and exited with unexplained tears in her eyes.

"She's so proud of her accomplishments!" someone shouted.

"Tears of joy for a great life!" another voice rose above the applause and cheers.

It was over. She was the Ideal Age.


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.

05 July, 2022

Tuesday Titles: Stranger Things

Have you watched Stranger Things on Netflix? Wildly popular.


I watched season 1, and really enjoyed it. My horror-movie-buff husband has gotten me into these kind of "strange" shows.

Season 2 was clearly written on the hype from season 1. Slightly less shock-and-awe, IMHO.

Season 3 lost me somewhere along the line. 

When season 4 came out, I told Brett, "You can watch that without me." We have a few shows that we watch together - wait for each other to be available and in the mood, etc. - and we each have shows that we can watch when the other is otherwise occupied. It works for us.

What you must understand is that my desk is in our open plan kitchen/dining/living area. So when he's watching TV during the day, 9 times out of 10 my headphones are on to ignore it. But I've also gotten into  the Pomodoro technique, which means getting up and taking a break every 25-30 minutes. So during my breaks and pacing the living area, I've caught bits of Season 4. Looks intriguing.

The other day Brett informed me that Season 4 is a million times* better than Season 3, the season which put me off the series. 

*hyperbole. I don't remember if he used any number, but he liked it better so far.

So today, when he watched season 4, episode 5, I sat with him from beginning to end. And now, while he works in the evenings I play catch up.

But each episode is over an hour long! Good grief. How do people watch so much TV these days?