WRITING WHILE FORTY--Trapped Inside the Cinderella Effect

"Because time won't give me time..." ("Time" by Culture Club)

Cinderella only had to worry about the stroke of midnight.

The stroke of midnight no longer hems me in its prison. Oh yes, as a teenager and as a twenty-six year old returning home for a year, it did.

Now the stroke of each hour binds me in a chokehold. And the minute hand has just landed on twelve.

It is 8:00a.m.
He swivels around on the bar stool and whistles while he eats. Crumbs litter the carpet in a half arc. Perhaps it is a parachute of a memory escaping from the folds of dementia.

With his hiked-up boxers belted above his pants, he wrings his hands to a beat that only he hears. I set his weekly medicine organizer on the counter next to him. I clean up the kitchen and vacuum every room in the house.

I take out the trash. The stray cat curls its tail into a flipped-over question mark and perches by the green chair. An invitation to sit for awhile.

The wind chills me through my sweatshirt. A pair of birds glides through the sky, feathers flapping in sync. Three moving trucks barrel down the road, each one on a mission.

A story idea pops into my mind.Imagine that. Someone is moving on Christmas Eve. I sprint toward my room with the hopes of capturing details in chickenscratch.

Then it happens.
She elongates the first syllable of my name with the last one followed by her next demand.

The minute hand pivots past eleven toward twelve.

Damn, it is already 11a.m.

I had planned for my writing schedule to start at 12 noon each day. It doesn't look like it will happen.

With each movement of the clock's hands for the past 240 days, someone or something has been demanding my time. It no longer belongs to me.

I have made the decision to write again and no one respects that decision. I need the escape that writing provides.

But my family has always viewed writing as a hobby.

Oh yeah, it is a good talent to have when I needed to write something for them, but as a career...please. In their minds, writing does not enable a person to make money. It is a waste of time.

But I can't be everyone's everything. For forty years I have been a role, someone other than myself.

A representation of someone's expectation, not the embodiment of my own.

When the daily routine of life stagnates a dreamer's creativity, it leaves her with the task of excavating ideas buried in a bombarded mind.

I am determined to find balance.

At the stroke of midnight tonight, I become the master of my time.

I am too old to be Cinderella.

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Comment by Joanne C. Hillhouse on January 4, 2013 at 6:12pm

Just realized that my response said it is when I meant to say it isn't a hobby...anyway, glad you caught my drift and glad you and your first love have now found each other.

Comment by Alexandra Caselle on January 2, 2013 at 8:00am

Thanks for responding, Joanne.  I am glad that you could relate to my blog. You are so right about writing being about space.  It's kind of like that old song, "The thrill is gone..."  When you are taken out of that space, you sometimes lose the moment you were in, and like old loves, you are trying to reignite the flame.

Well, writing has always been my first love.  My family steered me away from it as a major in college.  I went from pre-law, engineering, and accounting to education as majors.  Teaching English was my second love and I enjoyed my years in the field.  I wrote with my students and converted some of them to the love of reading and writing. But it wasn't my dream.


So I guess my princess parasol will become an umbrella as I lean into and occupy my writing space. I just won't look as smooth as Rihanna did on her video...lol

Comment by Joanne C. Hillhouse on January 1, 2013 at 9:04pm

"But I can't be everyone's everything."


I relate to so much in this entire piece. I've been writing professionally long enough that I think my friends and family get that it's just a hobby...but few understand how the process works, that 10 minutes away from the page is not 'just 10 minutes' because writing isn't just about time but also space. Plus Culture Club reference, 40 being in touching distance, Cinderella-ella-ella...like I said, can relate.

Comment by Alexandra Caselle on December 31, 2012 at 7:59pm
Thank you for your kind comments. My best friend used to call me Cinderella because she always had to bring me home by twelve when we went out. So the name always stayed in my mind.
Comment by Juanita Mantz on December 31, 2012 at 7:13pm
Fabulous post, I love it. I adore the Cinderella motif but what really struck me was the heart breaking way you describe the demands on your time. Bravo! Write!


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