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Writing 101 Day 10

16 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a favorite childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice.]

 

This will sound odd to a lot of people, but the special occasion was eating out. There was not one particular food, but the rarity of eating at a restaurant.

 

I did not see us as poor or rich. I thought we were just like everybody else, at least until I was in middle school. Dad traveled a lot for work, so he would drive out early Monday morning and return sometimes very late Friday evening. Many early mornings, in the dark small hours, we would be in the car dropping or picking Dad at the airport. On the weekends, we would do all the normal chores around the house and yard. Additionally, we would spend weekends at my maternal grandparents’ farm, where we would plant and weed, then pick, shuck, peel, cook, can, and freeze anything that came out of the garden. Also, we burned wood in the fireplace, at home, so we would spend most winter weekends and some in the late fall on the land around the farm cutting, chopping, stacking and restacking wood to keep us warm through the cold times.

 

Because Dad traveled all week, staying in hotels and eating out all the time, what he really wanted, when he came home, was a home-cooked meal. We, rarely, ate out.
When we did, whether fast food, because we had a coupon, or some sit-down restaurant, it was always a special time.

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Writing 101 Day 9

16 June 2014 1 comment

[Writing 101, Day Nine: Changing Moccasins — Point of View

For today’s assignment, write a scene at the park.

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.]

 

Chapter 1: The Man

 

“If I can just undo this button, and loosen my tie, I’ll be more comfortable,” I say to myself as I stand next to the car.

I glance at my watch, wondering if I’m late or early. The watch shows 12:15, just as I hear the chime tower ring once. I look around and see her, standing at the sidewalk intersection, watching me. I give her a quick wave and almost jog the two dozen steps to her. Bending over a little to kiss her in greeting, she hesitates a second and then lifts her chin to meet my lips. I think, “She has always been a little uncomfortable with public displays of affection.”

 

She begins walking, away from the chime tower, into the park. I fall into step beside her. Normally, my strides are longer than hers, but I match her strides so we can walk easily together. We walk for a minute in silence, just enjoying our time together. As busy as we both are, we get so few opportunities to just spend time.

 

Rounding a curve in the path, I notice an old woman sitting on a bench in the shade of a large oak tree. Though the weather is warm today, the leaves are beginning to fade to gold, red, and burnt orange. A month earlier it would have seemed out-of-place, but the small red sweater the old woman is knitting could be for a grandchild or pet. How thoughtful and loving of her to put her time and energy into such a wonderful gift. The old woman looks up as we approach. She reminds me of Aunt Mabel. The woman looks familiar, but I cannot place her. Maybe I have seen here in the park before.

 

As we walk past the woman, my love sees her but then returns to her thoughts. I reach out and take her hand as we walk together. Intertwining our fingers, I give her hand a little squeeze, and noticing that she seems bothered, ask, “Honey, You seem like something is bothering you. Want to talk about it?”

 

At first she doesn’t answer, only walks ahead. After another dozen steps, she pulls her hand out of mine and walks a little faster. Chalking it up to public displays again, I don’t give it any thought, but hurry to catch up with her. She stops at a chunky fence post. The fence surrounds some historical marker. I catch up to her and she turns to me.

 

Since the hesitant kiss when we met, this is the first time she has looked at me. She looks at me for five seconds before she starts speaking. There is something about the look in her eyes: determination, resignation, compassion, that tells me everything in one big chunk. I know she is speaking, explaining, but I cannot hear the words. I want to remember her face, but everything starts to get blurry and I cannot seem to catch my breath. The ground doesn’t feel real anymore. Maybe, I’m dreaming and I will wake up at any moment. That’s it! This is all just a dream.

 

Everything goes from blurry to dark, and I think, “Good! I’m waking up now.”

 

Chapter 2: The Woman

 

Seeing him drive up and park, I panic.

“Why did I ask him to meet me at the park? I don’t think he has seen me, yet. I could, just, leave and call him to say I was held up and we will talk later. He’s getting out of his car. I have to leave. It has to be now! Go!”

 

I will never know why I didn’t leave. I love seeing him. After all this time, he still thrills me with a glance. I don’t think I have ever told him how much I enjoy being with him. Whether we are watching a movie, driving someplace, shopping, or just sitting in the same room reading books. I, simply, adore this man.

 

Lost in the thought, I delay and he sees me. I cannot leave, now. His face breaks into a huge smile and he waves a little wave as he walks up, almost jogging, as he unbuttons his top button and loosens his tie. I, really, should leave. We should do this in private, but as I’m thinking of how to explain this, he leans over and puckers his lips. After a second more, I tilt my head back and accept the peck.

 

“Well,” I mutter, “We’d better get going,” and I walk down the path. It takes him a second to catch up with me and falls into step with me.

 

“Is he making fun of my short legs? Why is he shortening his steps to match mine? I know I’m short. I’m doing the best I can.”

 

“I don’t want to do this, here, but we are here and it needs to be done. He wouldn’t forgive me if he found out from someone else. Well, he, probably, would forgive me, but I could not forgive myself.”

 

Walking along the path, I sense him look up at something. Looking up I see Mary, Aunt Mabel’s friend, sitting in the shade on a bench, knitting something. I think it is a red sweater for, by the size of it, Mary’s granddaughter, Krystal. I wonder, for a moment, if Mary knits a red sweater for Krystal every year, because their Christmas card, had the baby in a red sweater. Mary looks up and catches my eye. I cannot hold her gaze and look away.

 

He reaches out and takes my hand, “Oh God, I have to get this over with.”

 

After a few steps, he squeezes my hand and I cannot stand it anymore. I pull my hand free and jog away.

After only a few steps I feel my lungs begin to burn and swear at myself for not keeping in better shape. After a few more steps, I stop to lean on the fence surrounding the monument to the fallen, gasping for breath. It only takes a few seconds before I hear his big feet pounding up behind me.

 

He asks me if there is anything wrong and did I want to talk about it.

 

Railing inside my head, “Anything wrong?! Only everything that could have gone wrong has and you don’t know it yet, but you are, really, never going to forgive me. Even if I told you that, you would disagree, but you’d be wrong.”

 

I turn to him and trying to keep calm, I take a second, then summoning all my love, I look into his eyes. Before I can speak, his eyes fill and overflow with tears.

 

I lay it out for him. Part of me thinks while my speech, so well rehearsed, continues without much thought, “Was I that transparent? How could he have known? Oh, God!”

 

His tears run on and a sob squeaks out before he collapses, landing in a heap in the grass.

 

Chapter 3: The Old Woman

 

Thinking to myself, “Finally, I have some time to work on this sweater. Last month it was so hot that I could barely touch the yarn, but next month could be too cold for me to enjoy the sunshine and do this thing for my angel.”

 

“The leaves are changing again. Every year, with only a few exceptions, it is the same thing: A month of nice weather in between the deadly heat and the bitter cold. Maybe, I should think about moving to Arizona. It would be nice to see the kids more than twice a year.”

 

A young couple come into view. The man, loosened at the collar, but otherwise his suit looks clean and pressed, is following after a pretty young woman, her yellow sun dress is cheerful and her sneakers are white and clean. I glance at my knitting, it would not do to get distracted by gawking at other people and make a mistake.

 

After checking that my fingers are doing fine on their own, I look up at the young couple again. Nearer this time, the taller man is taking short steps so that he can stay beside the much shorter woman. After a moment, I realize that these people look familiar. Looking down at my knitting, I think it over for a moment and realize that the woman is Julie, Mabel’s niece. They come close, passing in front of the bench where I sit, but as I catch Julie’s eye to say hello, I pause. The look in her eye and the way she is walking tell me that something very wrong.

 

The man, grasps Julie’s hand. Though I can tell she cares for him, the contact makes her very uncomfortable. Within a few steps, she pulls away and runs up the hill toward the monument.

 

Mabel would not would not forgive me if I didn’t try to help, so I wrap up my knitting and put it in my bag. Standing, I hurry up the path after the couple. After a minute, my old legs bring me within earshot of them, standing by the fence. I slow to a normal pace, willing to walk past if nothing turns out to be, actually, wrong.

 

As I approach, the man asks Julie a question. Her shocked reaction fades into a muted expression, like that of a newscaster reporting on the day’s horrors. As I approach, I begin to catch words, “sorry… just happened… didn’t know how to tell you… hope everything is going to be alright….”
The man began crying the moment Julie began speaking, and after only a few seconds, he simply collapsed on the ground. As I rushed the last few yards, I caught the last word Julie said, “baby.”

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Writing 101 Day 8

13 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.]

 

Walking toward the front door, the windows reflect the midday back to me. The cars sit in their slots, silent, baking in the sun. Averting my gaze from my own eyes, knowing why I’m here, I feel a little embarrassed, but press on, opening the door for a woman leaving as I’m arriving.

 

She mutters her thanks as she glances in my direction, not meeting my eyes, but returning to the phone in her left hand as she walks the three steps, before checking her coffee as she steps off the curb returning to her car and her life. Watching her go, her blonde hair, wrapped in a tight braid laying across her left shoulder sports a crimson ribbon at the tip, catching the afternoon breeze. The breeze catches a scent, whether from her shampoo or perfume, I do not know, but the scent reminds me of wildflowers and clean sheets drying in the sun.

 

Turning back to the door, seeing no one else leaving, I pass into the comparative dimness of the cafe. Though I am expecting it, the scents of brewing coffee, steaming milk, and the wake of her recent passing, assault my nose.  I turn to the left and find a seat in the corner, outside the view of the staff behind the counter.

 

Slinging my red backpack off my shoulder, I sit in the brown leather chair, the leather creaking and rustling in that comfortable, familiar way only leather can. The seat is warmer than I would expect. I wonder, to myself, if the blonde sat in this spot. No one is sitting near nor keeping an eye on the chair, as if for a friend, so I settle in, pulling my white Chromebook out, laying it across my lap. Trying to keep my eyes away from anyone else, I pull out my headphones, don them and plug them in. No one has to know that they are for the camouflage. I suspect people will not notice me, if they think I cannot hear them. All situated, I lift my eyes and, meeting no one’s gaze, survey the room.

 

To my right, in the opposite corner along the near wall, a man and woman sit across from each other. The man, his black hair salted with silver, is dressed in tan khaki slacks and a light blue Oxford shirt, white tee peeking out at the collar. His sneakers, white and clean, almost disappear under the edge of his own leather chair. Leaning forward to the edge of his seat, his expression is happy and cheerful, the edges of his salt and pepper mustache turning upwards above his smile. Her strawberry blonde hair, hangs down, loose past her shoulders, hiding her eyes and all of her face except her chin. Her soft yellow spaghetti tank top accentuates her curves, as do her tight blue jeans. In opposition to his leather sneakers, she wears navy converse sneakers with white laces. Their conversation, muted by my headphones, is playful and they seem to be enjoying each others’ company.

 

Looking across the cafe, over the top of my glasses, two people sit apart. Each appears to keep their own thoughts, not aware of much around them. In front of me, across the space, sits a mature man in his 50s or 60s, from the uniform grey shading of his hair and beard. He appears, at first glance, to be a teacher or professor, though he might just affect the model scholar. His sneakers are worn and well used by comparison of the other man, as are his jeans, beginning to fray at the cuffs. His white shirt appears freshly cleaned and starched, with no hint of stain. He sits, absorbed by the book and without any visible drink. Unable to discern the title of the book, it is interesting that he reads ink printed on dead trees, instead of a computer screen, tablet, or phone, reinforcing the traditional scholar impression.

 

To my left, along the opposite wall, sits an apparent student. Her computer lid faces me, so only her eyes and hair are visible from behind the screen. Her chestnut hair is highlighted by auburn streaks. Though she tosses the mass of hair over her right shoulder, an errant dark auburn curl sneaks out and bounces near her left ear as she types. Once, she pauses and looks up, as if to catch someone spying on her, though she looks toward the older scholar, so she does not catch me looking. Her brown eyes seem to sparkle with mischief for a moment, before she returns to her work. As she returns to her typing, I steal a glance, noting her over-sized teal shirt with white block letters hanging off her shoulders and the ubiquitous athletic shorts popular with college girls. The shorts, grey and teal, match the teal in her shirt and her black converse high-top shoestrings. She sits on the plastic chair, one leg crossed and tucked under the other, the remaining foot, swinging to an unheard beat.

 

For several minutes, no one joins our troop. We sit and keep our own thoughts. I type and wonder, as I finish this, if anyone observes me as I do them.

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Writing 101 Day 7

10 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take
Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.]

 

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’ve known you longer than anyone. I thought we’d have shared everything, but after what you just said, I don’t think I know you, at all.”

 

“Come on! I’m the same person I’ve always been. I don’t see what the big deal is.”

 

“The big deal?! How can you say that? There is no proof, none, nada. How can you believe in such a crazy notion? I thought you were sensible.”

 

“I am being sensible and logical. You are not listening to me. Can you calm down and listen or just shout at me with indignation?”

 

“Alright, I’m sorry. I’ll listen. Go ahead.”

 

“We both know the law; matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed. They can only change form. Can you accept that?”

 

“Of course! It is law, irrefutable.”

 

“Okay, so once we are conceived, we, as beings of matter and energy, grow by converting matter into energy and back.”

 

“In a way, yes I agree.”

 

“So, when we die, the body stops growing, mostly, except for some hair and nails, but the electrical energy that makes the body move and carries thought into action disappears. It *must* go somewhere; it simply cannot disappear. It is not converted into matter. In fact, some studies claim that the body actually loses a little weight when bodily functions end.”

 

“I have heard of those studies, doubtful though some of them were. I agree that the matter and energy is not destroyed, but …”

 

“Wait, wait. You agree that the energy must go somewhere, so why is it so hard to accept that the energy could change form and continue to exist?”

 

“I have no problem with the energy persisting after death, but to postulate that the released energy could or would exhibit some form of cohesion and stay together instead of expanding into the space at large, is unproven and not logical from what we know of energy released into an environment.”

 

“Because there is no massive, or even detectable, release of electrical energy, or any other form, at the point of death to account for the conservation of energy, what I’m proposing is that when the body cannot contain the energy, it is transformed, by some unknown process, and the energy slips out of our physical realm, into another dimension, a dimension of thought.”

 

“You are proposing that these ghosts and spirits are the remnant energies left over after someone dies. What you have not explained is how, once the energy has slipped out of our dimension, even if I accept, for the sake of argument, that this strange dimension enables these puddles of energy to maintain some cohesion, some people claim to be able to detect this energy in the form of a spirit.”

 

“I don’t have all the answers, but can you concede that my argument has enough logical basis, even though we may not understand all the processes, that I *could* be correct?”

 

“Damn! Yes, I have to concede that because I cannot positively refute your notion, it *could* be correct. Well, at least you are not one of those crazies that believe that the Zombie Apocalypse is possible.”

 

“Well….”

 

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Writing 101 Day 5

8 June 2014 Leave a comment

[You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects ywriting-101-june-2014-class-badge-1ou deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.]
Impressed on the letter, my sole, adding to the wear and tear. Impressed on my soul, words of regret, opportunity lost, desire and love eternal. Tears falling, staining the paper already creased and refolded, ink fading. The envelope, a step away, but unreadable, faded beyond hope, yet stamped, never to be mailed. Looking around, only one person. Turning at my touch on their shoulder, they see the letter first, then meet my eyes. Recognition, through the years, four eyes bright as matching tears fall. They say, “At last, now you know.”

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Writing 101 Day 4

6 June 2014 Leave a comment

[Today, write about a loss.]writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-1

I heard it said that any technology that exists when a child is born will be natural to them as they grow, requiring no more thought to use then does a light switch. Similarly, parts and layout of houses appear normal to a child until either someone mentions them, or the child grows up and realizes that no one else has that bathroom in the detached garage.

 

My paternal grandparents’ house was perfectly natural to me growing up. It was not until I was in college did I, suddenly, realize that other people’s houses didn’t have exposed red brick walls in the den with a very small window high up on the wall, overlooking the kitchen sink. Obvious to me after that point was that the den had been added to the original house, but instead of covering the preexisting exterior brick wall in sheet rock, they had left it. Now seen as “retro” and attractive, then it was just odd.

 

I never really knew my paternal grandfather, PawPaw. I hear stories that he was the playful one when I was very small, getting in the floor and playing with me and my brother while MawMaw looked on. I was ten, or maybe nine, when PawPaw had his surgery and in the 1970s, “open heart” or bypass surgery was not as common as it is today. When PawPaw had his surgery, he never returned to the playful man he was before because I have no memory of him being like that. Most of my memories of him are of him in a nursing home. We lived a couple of hours away from MawMaw and PawPaw, so visits were spread throughout the year, but the memories were of hospital-like settings, antiseptic, institutional green and white walls, and of a loved man confined to a bed.

 

Though I don’t have many memories of the man in life, I remember the funeral. The family held reunions in the family cemetery, so the place was known to me. I remember not feeling sad for the loss of a person I didn’t know very well, but sad for the friends and family that were already missing him like he had gone or gone for a while, especially Dad and MawMaw. Their grief was familiar, like a comfortable suit.

 

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Writing 101 Day 3

5 June 2014 Leave a comment

Share three songs that are significant to you.
As a twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

The twist of today was to write for 15 minutes uninterrupted and commit to a writing/blogging habit. Fifteen minutes really is not that much time, most of waste more than that just trying to figure out what to watch on TV or listen to on our music players. So I will go on record right here and now ans commit to writing 15 minutes a day and we’ll just see what dribbles out of my head before we are all done. 🙂

Tasked with picking three songs – just 3? out of the thousands I have in my player and my terrabyte library drive – that mean something to me and why they do. This was very hard and I know that as soon as I hit PUBLISH, more will pop into my head that … wait, I just thought of one I forgot about until just now. NOW, I have to think about do I add it or replace one in my list….
OK, I have replaced one in my list with the newly remembered one. If I can only get through the rest of the 15 minutes without thinking of another, I’ll be doing great! Now I have to get to which songs I picked and why they are important… Oops. Another replacement. Just a moment….

THIS time, I just had to add the song, so now I have four in my list. I have to get to the topic at hand before I think of something else.
In the order that I thought of them, which happens to be reverse, chronologically, about when they made an impression in my life, the list is:
Just a Dream” by Nelly, covered by Christina Grimmie, Sam Tsui, and Kurt Schneider
Leadfoot Getaway” by Blue Stahli
Singing in the Rain” by Gene Kelly
Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra

Before they were hits and garnered fans via TV, Radio, CDs, and concerts, I fell in love with Sam, Christina, and Kurt for their retakes on existing songs and their creativity, but mostly for having the courage to practice their art to the unblinking, unforgiving eye of the internet. Giving us all the opportunity to share in their gift is, in my opinion, one of the bravest things a person can do. Their bravery inspires me to share my writing to the internet. This song, “Just a Dream,” is, IMHO, better as a duet than the original. There is a point about three minutes into the song that gives me chills every time I hear it. There is something about the combined music and voices that makes me think of regret, hope, love, and desire, all at once.

The next song on my list, “Leadfoot Getaway,” is an instrumental by Blue Stahli. Listening to the song reminds me of the feeling I get with the windows down on a summer day, driving on country back roads as a young man in my early 20s, not a care in the world beyond the next curve and hill. The song makes me feel, in music, the way the driver of Rush’s “Red Barchetta” must have felt.

Moving backwards down the number-line, “Singing in the Rain” speaks to my love of old movies, especially of the grace and sheer joy Gene Kelly always seemed to have on the screen. It was like he felt the joy and his body just moved on its own, very much unlike the awkward teenager watching him.

I didn’t realize it until I was a parent myself, after getting some of my old baby things from my mother for our baby boy, that my favorite music box played “Fly me to the Moon.” I had always remembered the tune as the box played it, and did not associate it to the original song until hearing it as an adult. In my head I can still hear the music box tinkling out its uneven tune, knowing that the real song is much smoother, but the rhythm of the music box takes me back to before I had any visual memories beyond vague impressions. Still, the music has always been with me.

I have many more songs that speak to me, usually they remind me of people who have passed through my life or special, to me, happenings, but these four give you a glimpse into me.

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