Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Truth About Blogging

I love to write.  I've kept a journal since I was seven or eight, and I read "Little House on the Prairie" for the first time.  Laura wrote to an imaginary friend and so did I.  "Kitty" was that imaginary friend.  I told her everything.  School drama, family trips, first crushes.  As, I grew older, I told her about teen angst, how much I hated my mom, high school drama.
I kept a journal while I was in college.  Mostly to remember some event or feeling I had at the time.  Journal-writing turned to short story writing, led to poetry writing, led to... a degree in journalism.  Then I went back to school and became a doctor.
I still have the journals and notebooks I kept while in medical school and in training.  One of my poems was published when I was a senior in medical school.  These journals were filled with expectations, hopes, dreams, failures and frustrations.
In 2005, I started blogging on AOL Journals.  It was a whole new format.  Suddenly, I wasn't just writing for Kitty anymore.  I was writing and sharing with a brand new anonymous audience.  I didn't think much about what other people thought about.  I just needed a platform on which to post my feelings and ideas.
Then Facebook arrived.  I could post what I was thinking, when I was thinking it and who I was thinking it with.  I started Facebook at about the time I got married, so I was easily able to share wedding photos with friends and family across the country.  And, Facebook had a "like" button and a "comment" box.  Suddenly, I knew what people liked, what they thought about what I thought.  
It became a bit like a drug.  I felt like I was writing with a slight lean toward getting approval.  Add in my blog posts linked to Facebook, and I had reached a whole new level of positive reinforcement.  I write, you like, I write more.
So, when I started NaBloPoMo this month with the idea of posting some creative writing, there was a part of me that was doing it as a mental exercise in getting the cobwebs out of my brain, but I found that another part of me really wanted to see what other people thought about what I wrote... fictionally.  
Needless to say I crashed and burned.  No one seemed to care.  I asked for comments.  I cross-posted on both BlogHer and Blogspot and even my usual commentators were suddenly silenced.  I linked to Facebook and didn't even get one "like" during the two weeks I posted.  Suddenly, it wasn't fun any more.  I know people were reading because I could follow the stats.  Just, no one said anything.
My exercise in creativity and my belief in my own abilities suddenly hit a very nasty realization.  I wasn't writing for me anymore.  It was mattering more to me what others thought and getting their approval than what the actual exercise has always intended to be for... me... and Kitty... That anonymous unknown to whom I could tell anything without being worried about judgment or reproach.  And, so, I stopped posting my writings.  I stopped blogging.  I rarely posted on Facebook.
But, now I am back.  Because I love to write.  Because I want to record and remember the events of my life and my view on them in that moment.  But, I return with a new perspective.  I'm going to accept my postings just like that line in "To Wong Fu..." by Miss Vida Boheme, "... approval neither desired nor required."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #6B

The game:  You are given a protagonist "Bill the paleoclimatologist," a goal "to be the strongest," an obstacle "the barista at Starbucks," and an action "get married."  Make the story.)

The story so far... Click here

Bill found himself speechless.  For a moment he didn't know where to look next.  Her hair had the sheen of newly-minted pennies.  Her eyes were a shade of green that could only be found in the Caribbean.  Her lips... wow, what could he say about her lips?  Wait, they were moving... Bill needed to focus.

"Are you ok?  Can I start a drink for you?" the moist brightly pink pair were saying to him.

Bill regained his composure enough to say, "What do you recommend?"  He didn't care if she said, "Well, sir, today we're offering bull sweat mixed with camel milk and pig drool..." so long as she continued talking and making those luscious lips move the way they did.

She was asking him what size, and Bill realized that he had been nodding to whatever she had offered.  Better make it a Tall or else he'd be awake all night.  "I'll have a Tall, thanks," he was finally able to get out.  She smiled as she wrote his order on the side of the clear cup.

"And, can I get a name..?"

Bill had already moved toward the register.  Suddenly embarrassed, but in a moment of bravado, he said, "I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."

She laughed brightly.  Could her teeth possibly be any more white?  And those dimples.  We would have beautiful children.  So engrossed was he in his short fantasy that he completely missed her name, and only realized he had when he heard her say, " you have to tell me yours."

Somewhat crestfallen, he mumbled out, "Bill" as he managed to give his card to the cashier and moved toward the end of the counter to wait for his drink.  He was so frazzled by the events that he avoided eye contact with anyone and rushed out the door as soon as he got his drink.  He inhaled most of it as he angrily walked home recalling the events of the evening.  How could he have been such a dweeb?

So frustrated was he by his actions, he sucked down the last of the strawberry and cream frappucino and was in the process of tossing it into the trash basket by his apartment door when he noticed a lot of writing on the clear surface of the cup.  He held the cup up to the streetlight and could just make out a name... "MACY" with the words "CALL ME" underneath.  But, no phone number.  With a smile crossing his face, Bill knew that he'd be having a harder time than ever staying away from Starbucks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #6 - Redo

The game:  You are given a protagonist "Bill the paleoclimatologist," a goal "to be the strongest," an obstacle "the barista at Starbucks," and an action "get married."  Make the story.)

Geeky scientist by day, world class athlete by night.  That's how Bill saw himself.  He only taught classes twice a week at Northwestern, so he was able to work out most days.  Which was great because he had set a goal to do the Iron Man 70.3 next spring.  Of course, winter in Chicago would not be conducive to a lot of outdoor training.

So, he had to go to the gym.  He didn't mind the gym so much.  It was the Starbuck's next door which really was his weakness.  He loved Caramel Macchiatos.  Since he'd decided to compete in the Iron Man, though, he'd limited himself to just one a week.  And, then, only if he had reached a certain goal:  swim 25 laps in the pool without stopping, run 10 miles on the treadmill on speed 6.5, or cycling for an hour straight.

This week, Bill had somehow managed to get those last 5 laps in without feeling as though his lungs were going to explode, and he quickly showered and dressed.  Grabbing his work-out bag, he could almost taste the smooth sugary frothiness.  Heading out one door and then making an almost U-turn through the second door, Bill entered caffeine Nirvana.

There was a short line, as always.  Tables spotted here and there with students on computers, other gym folk enjoying something warm before heading home, and the random coffee house bohemian who sat in the corner with their book and a large mug of coffee.  Bill looked absentmindedly at the pastry display, wondered how many calories one of the new cherry pie things had, and waited to step up to the register.

"What can we get started for you?" someone asked over the top of the display counter.  Bill was about to answer with his usual "venti soy decaf caramel macchiato" when the bright blue color of the attendant's skirt caught his attention through the glass, and he looked up and made eye contact with the most lovely girl he had ever seen.  He knew then that it was going to be much more difficult staying away from Starbucks.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #6

(Warning in case you don't remember what happened last time, this post may lead to a diarrhea of ideas several posts long.  The game:  You are given a protagonist "Bill the paleoclimatologist," a goal "to be the strongest," an obstacle "the barista at Starbucks," and an action "get married."  Make the story.)

Geeky scientist by day, world class athlete by night.  That's how Bill saw himself.

And, that's all I've got after a harrowing three days of work.  Day off tomorrow, so there will be more to come since I can really get my head clear of all the drama in and out of the Emergency Department.
Oh, and warning:  if you're going to stick your hand in the lawnmower, make sure the blade isn't turning at the time... that's how I spent the last hour of my shift putting someone's hand back together, and let's just say I had a few pieces left over by the time I was done.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #5

What I am doing in case you haven't been following my blog this month...

These are the Sixth Sense cards I pulled tonight... hmmm...

I don't like to be judged when I am just trying to work out, but I knew I was in for trouble when during my "downward dog" I suddenly noticed the toenails of the yoga girl at the top of my vision.  She had them painted in that French Kiss style that is becoming very popular amoungst the Mani-Pedi set.  You know, the slightly curved pink sparkly accent at the tips of her nearly perfect toes covered in a shiny gloss.  

I hated her feet.  She didn't have my ugly short stumpy toes.  She had nice, just-the-right-length toes that didn't  look like monkey toes.  No hairs on those well-groomed toes either.  They looked sleek and tanned as though she had just stepped inside from a walk on the beach.

I tried not to flinch as she guided my shoulders square, pushed my back flatter, and opened up my leg stance, all the while quietly giving the class reassurance and guidance into the next yoga pose.  Just when I thought I wouldn't be able to hold the pose a second long, she then called out "child pose" as she stalked away with cat-like stealth to bend another person to her will.


Lying on my back in my living room, I tried to stretch out the muscles that seemed to be on the verge of spasm after my class.  My cat looked down at me from the sofa as I rolled from one side to the other.  She meowed questioningly, and I rolled to face her.  Lord, did I need some new furniture.  My sofa had definitely seen better days.

The brown checkered fabric was tattering at the edges on the bottom, with multiple small threads hanging just above the floor.  The upholstery was ripped along the side where the sofa had tangled with the banister at the bottom of the stairs when I first tried to bring my newly-found treasure home.  You could see the bright red thread where I had attempted a quick fix.  Even that seemed to be fraying at the edges.  The seat cushions were almost flat where I sat every evening to watch "Jeopardy."  Sigh, I really needed a new sofa.

Just as I was about to get up off the floor and get some dinner, I noticed a piece of paper stuck on the bottom of the sofa.  I pulled at the corner thinking it was a Post-it note that had somehow made it's way under the sofa.  It seemed caught.  I got closer and found that the paper was thicker than I had imagined.  I reached under the sofa and pulled hard.

It was an envelope with barely legible writing and a foreign stamp.  I couldn't make out the writing, so I pulled the letter out.  The script was light and feathery across the page.  At a glance I knew it wasn't English, but I couldn't discern the language.  Maybe something Norwegian?  I caressed the sheer satiny slightly brown paper for a moment;  feeling something from another time.

As I slid the letter back into the envelope, I began to imagine that it was an old letter from Amsterdam.  Maybe a love letter that had to be suddenly hidden in my sofa so that a spouse wouldn't see it as they suddenly entered a room.  Maybe the person had never been able to retrieve the letter, or maybe they had just forgotten about it.  Then the sofa had been sold, left behind, tossed out onto the street, found by me and brought upstairs.

Putting the letter up on the shelf while I concentrated on more mundane things like feeding myself and my cat for another night, I allowed myself to daydream.  For a few minutes I could be in a different world where my toes were perfect and brightly painted, lying on a new plump sofa, reading a letter from my lover.  If only life could be that perfect.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #4

My only defense was to write down every word they said.  I knew that they were on to me.  Only, I had to not let them know that I knew they were on to me.  And, sitting in the back of the diner, trying to listen to a conversation using one of those voice amplifiers which you find only by watching late-night TV and that looks like a Walkman, I had to appear like just another customer.  Not like the "other woman."  Which I was.  Which I was finding out they already knew.

I guess it all started to go downhill when she found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car;  my diamond bracelet.  Which I had lost during one of those slap and tickle episodes which became more and more commonplace as talking at work led to slight flirting, which led to a touch on the arm, which led to my losing a bracelet and her finding it.  Damn.

Even the plausible explanation of losing it while sitting in the back seat while he drove a group of us out to lunch had led to suspicions.  I guess maybe he already had a reason not to be trusted.  Or maybe I didn't.  Or maybe she was just the suspicious type.

He originally told me that he didn't like the way she made tea.  He said that after 10 years of marriage, nothing drove him more crazy than her daily routine of "tea time."  And to top it off, he told me, she wasn't even English.  Yet, somehow she insisted that every day at 4 p.m., they had to dress nicely and sit in the "parlour" otherwise known as their living room and drink tea.

She would spend at least an hour prior making the finger sandwiches (cold sloppy cream cheese with cucumbers and the sides cut off) and arranging vanilla wafer cookies on plates.  She would brew a pot of tea and pour it into tiny china cups.  And, the gloves.  She insisted on wearing gloves.  He somehow managed not to make it home for tea most days, but she didn't seem to mind.  However, he couldn't escape the weekends, and that seemed to make it all the worse.

So, here I was listening to her talking to some detective about following her husband.  How did I know about the detective and their meeting?  Because he was my husband.  About to set out on the trail of a buxomy brunette who may or may not work with the husband.  She was pretty sure my name was Eva.   Myra actually, but he would find out soon enough.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe I could continue to control the situation.  It had worked in the past, why wouldn't it work again...?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #3, Finished

What I'm doing...

The Story Part One.
The Story Part Two.

With that statement, Leora knew she was in for a long night.


Standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, Leora wondered why spies always insisted on meeting in high public places.  Seriously, weren't they supposed to commit espionage in darkly lit bars or in dimly lit corners of parks?

Holding up her cell phone as though she was taking a picture of the city view, Leora quickly changed the camera to self-portrait and focused on the pair of males standing just behind her.  She took several pictures and moved on along the railing as though she were just another tourist, blending into the crowd.

Confirming in the album section of her cell phone that she had the pictures she needed, Leora took a glance at the time and headed to the elevator.  She got into the car and headed down, wondering if she would have time to stop and shop for some luggage for her upcoming trip to Tel Aviv.

Since she'd found out six months ago that Misha's husband was really a wanted international fugitive, she'd been hired by Misha's office to do other investigative work for them.  Her degree in performing arts along with a photography minor had blended into the perfect combination of talents for a new professional stalker.

Still, though, her fear of heights had almost been her undoing.  But, nothing a little bohemian brew at Peculiar Pub couldn't fix.  And, since she had started taking classes again at NYU to get her master's degree, Leora could stop at the bar whenever she chose.

Stepping out into the fresh air of the city as she reached ground level again, Leora knew that she wasn't going to get wealthy monetarily any time soon.  But at the moment, her life was very rich indeed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #3 Cont. Again

What I'm doing...

The Story Part One.
The Story Part Two.

The Story Part Three...

Leora looked sadly at her almost empty beer and tried not to think about the feeling of emptiness in her stomach.  When had she eaten last?  Would it be impolite to order food half-hoping that Misha would pick up the tab?  She was only half-listening to Misha and re-calculating what was left from her tips that evening when she caught, "... and now with the baby coming."

With that statement, suddenly Leora knew that she was in for a long night.


... and, I got nothing.  I've been working nights the last three nights, and today was my "turn around day."  I didn't sleep last night, and I got in about a 2 hour nap during the day.  It's a cop-out I know, but I got a post in, and I will continue the story tomorrow...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #3 Cont.

What I'm doing...

The story so far...

Leora was absent-mindedly writing on her tablet when the words suddenly registered.  She finally actually looked at her customer and her eyes widened in amazement.

"Misha!" she cried as the other woman jumped up out of her seat and wrapped her arms around her.

"Leo!  My God, you look like crap," her friend responded hugging her and then pulling her down into the chair next to hers.  Leora unconsciously ran her hand over her hair and tugged at collar of her shirt as she sat down.

"Thanks, Misha, for reminding me," she said at last, looking deep into the eyes of her college friend.  She wasn't quire sure what she found there, but was overcome by the emotion of seeing someone from what seemed like someone else's life and a long long time ago.  In the midst of her thoughts, Leora suddenly remembered she was at work and not back in the halls of NYU.  She stood up and looked around for the manager.  No one else seemed to be around.

"Leo, can we talk?" Misha asked.

Leora looked down at her friend and smiled;  again, instantly taken back to days of gossip and gelati while walking arm in arm through Washington Square.  But, what could her friend possibly want to talk about now when their lives had gone in such vastly different directions?

"Sure, but how about I come to your hotel room after my shift?" she answered.  Thinking that at any moment the manager was going to appear, and soon the dinner crowd would be coming.

Misha seemed pensive for a moment.  "How about we meet at the P Pub?  I'll save your favorite seat for you."

Leora mentally counted the loose change in the bottom of her purse plus adding what she usually took home in tips at the end of the night, and calculated what a trip to Bleecker Street with her friend was going to cost her.  How many more days until payday?  Even as she slowly nodded, she silently said a prayer for lots of customers leaving generous tips that evening.


The waitress had just left their order on the table when Misha suddenly said, "I think he's having an affair, and I need your help."

Leora took a swallow of her Taiwanese beer relishing in the fact that her friend had insisted on paying for it (and, which truthfully she couldn't refuse to accept) and also relishing in the cool slightly-bitter smoothness which she hadn't indulged in for what seemed eons.  She enjoyed the taste and spreading warmth inside of her for a few seconds longer before asking, "What?  Who's having an affair?"

Misha answered almost exasperatedly, "Why my husband... Sam.  Who else?"

Leora suddenly felt the divide between herself and her friend increase almost ten-fold.  Had it really been that long?  Had they really grown so far apart?  "I didn't know you had gotten married."

Misha raised her glass and drank down nearly half of her gin and tonic in two swallows.  "I'm sorry, Leo, I meant to invite you but things got so crazy, and you were living the "life boheme."  I don't even know if I could have gotten in touch with you at the time."

Leora took several swallows of her own drink before answering, "So, I guess now is the time to catch me up.  Tell me why you've come here out of the blue, asking me to help you."

"I'm sorry, you're right," Misha looked down and played with her napkin, tearing it into small pieces.  "I have been bad about keeping in touch, and I should have made more of an effort."  She took a sip of her drink and a deep breath and continued speaking without meeting Leora's gaze.  "I met Samuel soon after I started working at the consulate.  He was a student at NYU Law at the time, and when he graduated we got married.  Nothing big, just a small ceremony at the courthouse with a reception at a local restaurant."

She stopped and glanced at Leora.  "I know what you're thinking. Of course my parents would have insisted on a huge wedding for 300 at Tavern, but Samuel isn't from here, and he doesn't have a large family, so we kept it simple.  Only a friend or two from his side were able to come at all."

Leora looked sadly at her almost empty beer and tried not to think about the feeling of emptiness in her stomach.  When had she eaten last?  Would it be impolite to order food half-hoping that Misha would pick up the tab?  She was only half-listening to Misha and re-calculating what was left from her tips that evening when she caught, "... and now with the baby coming."

to be continued...

(I'm writing in a stream of consciousness, and realized that almost an hour had passed.  Will have to continue this tomorrow. Any thoughts on what should happen next?  Enjoying it so far?  Anyone, anyone... hello, hello... is this thing on...??)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #3

What I'm doing...

Today's Exercise:  You are given a protagonist (Leora), a goal (get rich), an obstacle (fear of heights) and an action (take up stalking).  Make the story.

As she tossed away yet another unlucky Scratcher, Leora thought to herself, "there's got to be a better way to get rich."

Leora walked through the neighborhood carrying her small bag of groceries; headed home after her shift at the restaurant.  Her feet ached, and the muscles in the small of her back seemed on the verge of twisting themselves into a knot that would take several ibuprofen, half a bottle of wine, and a long hot bath to unwind.  None of which she currently had in her apartment since the last $20 in her bank account had gone for cat food, a box of tampons, her weekly scratcher and a few other sundries which she now carried in the small cloth sack.  Maybe, at least, the water would be turned back on by the time she got home.  She didn't have a bathtub, but a hot shower would definitely help.

Entering the building and starting up the three flights of stairs, Leora thought that in some ways she was lucky to be working the next three days at the restaurant.  Eating at work meant not needing to buy any groceries.  If only Chester could be trained to eat salads, then she wouldn't have to buy cat food either.

As she got to the second landing, Leora remembered that she hadn't checked the mail.  Not that it really mattered.  It would most likely be full of bills that she couldn't pay.  She really needed to make more money, but how?

Chester didn't have an answer for her as she walked in the door. All he seemed interested in was the contents of the bag making their way into the empty ceramic bowl on the floor.  She carefully walked into the kitchen with Chester trying his best to trip her the entire way.  Laying the sack on the small formica-topped table, Leora dug into through the bag and pulled out a can of cat food.  Finally getting Chester fed, she was able to sit at the table and ponder her fate while staring out into the dimming night sky.


"Come visit us in Israel.  We miss you and hope to see you soon!"

Leora excitedly read the letter again as she rushed down the street to her shift at the restaurant.  Her cousin Rebecca had moved to Tel Aviv several months ago to marry her long-time love who was studying there.  Leora loved traveling to Israel.  She hadn't been able to go since she'd moved out of her parent's house five years ago.  

Striking out on her own had meant giving up a lot of the luxuries she had enjoyed, like hot water and occasionally electricity it seemed.  But, the freedom she had enjoyed initially overshadowed her need for stability.  Looking back now, she wondered if her life would ever feel that secure again.

She tucked the letter into the pocket of her jacket which she hung up in the locker area at the back of the restaurant.  She grabbed a clean starched apron, and put her name tag on the front of it.  Checking herself in the mirror and smoothing a loose hair back into place, she briefly smiled and headed out into the dining room.

The first several hours passed slowly as the late lunch crowd fizzled out and the early dinner crowd was still several hours from making their appearance.  Leora was just starting to light candles at the tables for dinner service when the hostess led a new customer to her section.

Leora lit the final candle in her section and then walked over to the customer pulling out her order pad.

"Welcome to La Terraza.  My name is Leora, and it will be my pleasure to serve you this evening. May I start you off with a beverage?"

The customer, hidden behind the menu, softly answered, "Yes.  I think I'll have a Long Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against a Wall."

Leora was absent-mindedly writing on her tablet when the words suddenly registered.  She finally actually looked at her customer and her eyes widened in amazement.

to be continued... (Wow, I can't believe I wrote this much in one sitting.  I'm going to break this in half and continue tomorrow. Hope the good writing vibe continues.  What do you think should happen next?  Who is the mysterious stranger?  Is Leora going to get rich?  I still have to work in heights and stalking;  where am I going to go from here...?!?)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #2

What I'm doing...

Today's exercise:

As I tiptoed away from the nursery, I knew I had maybe a couple of hours free.  Two precious hours in which to indulge myself without having to worry about sticky hands getting into the paints and brushes.  I quickly rushed upstairs to the loft room, the hazy sunlight filtering in through the skylights, beckoning me to the warmth and glow.

I got to the top of the stairs and quickly traded the baby monitor for my painting smock;  placing it carefully on the hook so that I could hear it.  I turned on the small radio to a classic rock station and set it on low.  Then I turned to my canvases covered in cloth, on their individual easels standing at attention, waiting for my review.  Which one would it be today?

The first canvas I uncovered showed a window scene.  Gentle blues and grays defined the snowy slopes and gave shadows to the suggestion of trees in the background.  Along the window sill, a single green bird tried to gather warmth from a suggestion of sunlight filtering down and across it.  I still needed to instill some more detail to the feathers.  I had tried to capture the downy underside as the bird tried to stay warm on the ledge.

The second canvas showed a bowl of fruit.  In the center a ripe apple immediately drew the eye.  Subtle hues of crimson and gold slowly worked their way up from the base, across the contour of the top and dipped down into the well of the stem.  Just a hint of green ran along the stem giving a suggestion of the angle of light.  I still had to work on the rest of the fruit, give them and the bowl definition.

I was just unwrapping the third canvas when I heard a sudden yell.  I knew instantly it wasn't David Lee Roth.  Sure enough, a few seconds later I heard the sound of Henry crying.  He had that perfect howl;  just an octave below a screech and a scream.  Somehow, 120 minutes had passed without my realizing as I was caught up in the daydreams of my canvases.  The cry broke my thoughts, and I rushed down the stairs, hanging up my smock once more in exchange for the baby monitor.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Writer's Toolbox Exercise #1

I liked the way she said "balloon."  She said it as if she were blowing bubbles.  That's how I'd like to remember my grandmother;  sitting at her vanity, putting on her make-up and fixing her hair in the classical chignon she'd always worn.  Classical, just like her lipstick;  the crimson color seeming almost other-worldly.  I remember her lips puckering with the word, "balloon" as she applied first one layer, dab with a tissue, then a second.

Her memory faded from time to time, but she always had the same bright smile.  I'd meet her for tea several times a week, then several times a month as I grew older.  We'd sit in the same fading chairs by the front bay window as we'd sat time and time again.  She could still hold the teapot steady to pour, although it was taking her longer and longer to get things just so, and the ritual was slowly becoming more my chore than hers.

As the years passed, I got used to her lapsing back 30 or 40 years.  Hearing about this person or that person and events that happened back then.  She'd be in the middle of telling a story and then stop suddenly, look at me sipping tea across from her then come back to today;  asking me about how my work was coming or if my sister had divorced that "good for nothing" mechanic yet.

I didn't make much of it, but then she seemed to get better for a time until on Tuesday she asked me the most peculiar question.  We had just settled down in our chairs, and I was foregoing my diet to eat a couple of the Lorna Doone's she had set out earlier.  Just as that buttery goodness was about to have its "moment on the lips" my grandmother asked me why I had broken up with Fred.

The cookie hung in mid-air while my brain searched my mental Rolodex.  Fred?  Fred who?

I put the cookie down on the plate and looked at my grandmother.  Her eyes were bright as she casually  took a sip of her tea and almost reflexively wiped the ruby stain from the lip of the cup with her thumb.  "Well," she asked, "I'm waiting for your answer."

I put my teacup down and tried to come up with a response.  I never dated a Fred.  I thought back to all the Freds I had ever met, and was in the process of performing almost a roll-call of my college dorm mates which I might or might not have ever mentioned to her, when she came out with, "How could you forget the time Fred went to the car wash and never came back?"

Now I was dumbfounded.  Ok, what year were we in?  Car wash?  Ok, that put it in a smaller frame of reference covering only several decades.  But, still... What?

"He was the nicest boy.  Driving that big Mercedes of his grandfather's that you loved so much, and you had to go and just chase him away.  Sending him off on foolish errands.  Who sends someone to the car wash when it's much sexier to put on a bathing suit and wash the car in the yard?"

I could not speak.  I could only stare at my grandmother wordlessly while she continued to sip her tea and look at me accusingly.  She just smiled in that charming way that told me she was holding all the cards and don't dare lie to her because she'd know.

I was in the process of coming up with something resembling a response when she suddenly frowned.  She then shook her head and asked if my sister was divorced yet.  I was sure I'd lost the opportunity to learn more about Fred, the car wash, and why my grandmother said, "balloon" as she applied her lipstick.  Now, they would always be just another mystery about my grandmother I would never know.  But, still I wonder.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Month of Stories

I am on vacation.  And, what usually happens when I go on vacation is that I have time to think... Not that I am not thinking all the time when I am at work, but I mean really think... about important things... like, gee, if I finally got around to writing and selling that novel I wouldn't have to work.  Then I could just write, and write, and write.  And, collect animals... but more on that later.

Anyway, we're staying at the very nice, vegetarian and dog-friendly Stanford Inn in Mendocino.  Combine the natural beauty of the area and the grounds, and you have more than enough inspiration to want a life of sitting in front of your keyboard inventing other worlds for all to explore.  Not to mention I wouldn't have to deal with dental pain drug seekers.  Seriously, fix your teeth already and stop smoking.

So, I'm hanging around the lobby area looking at all the goodies they have on display, and I find this neat little box.  It's called "The Writer's Toolbox."  Basically, it's a jumpstart for creative thinking.  It gives you several different ways to get those brain story juices flowing.

Ok, so now I have the tools - brain and box, and I plan to write a story or poem a day for the next month to get my right brain functioning again.  Starting tomorrow.  Cause, seriously, sitting around writing scripts for poison oak dermatitis and bronchitis Z-packs is starting to take it's toll... again, stop smoking...!

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