Saturday, May 29, 2010

Looking in the Mirror

I look in the mirror, pushing a lock of hair behind my ear. My skin is lackluster. As much as I hate that word, that's what it is today. Not pale. Not ashen. Just lackluster. The only bright spot is a reddened nose from the constant use of abrasive Kleenex. At least I have hope. A sun kissed face awaits for me tomorrow.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Clowns II: Four Lines of Prose

He sat at his desk, arm covering half his paper as his hand raced furiously across it, with a smile that made his face look bigger than life. I couldn't help but watch him, wondering what mischievous twitch triggered the joke this time. With Sam, there was always a joke. I smiled at the memories as Sam, the class clown and ruler of late night television, delivered his opening monologue for the last time.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Fame: Short, Short, Short Friday Fiction

"Fame is an elusive monster. It devours the live's of most of it's adversaries, filling the shell of its opponent with regrets. Very few ever conquer the beast. If you are here, it is because you have donned your armor and are ready for the journey. To that end: congratulations. You are more courageous than most. But make no mistake..." He paused, hovering above me, his hand on the wooden surface of my desk and his watery blue eyes trained on mine, "none of you are likely to make it." He dropped a copy of the syllabus on my desk casually, as if he hadn't erased the dreams from the minds of half the students in the class. My hands shook as I lifted the paper from my desk and fell in line with the other students retreating to the safety of their next class.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clowns: 4 Lines of Prose

The doctor was perplexed by the man's symptoms: wide darting eyes, heavy sweats, stuttering, the hospital curtain clenched tightly between his ashen fingers. As Dr. Jones listened to the halting mutters, he noticed the words evil, red, and harlequin made the man's heart race harder. Dr. Jones' head snapped up fiercely, his face as sour as vinegar lemons. "Who the hell brought a clown to visit someone who is clourophobic?!" he shouted as the smiling painted face of a French clown receded from the curtains hanging on the other side of the bed.


Laying in the bed listening to the pips and clicks of the machines, I am drawn to the sound of the shuffling-flapping rhythm of footsteps. I slip out of bed and walk to the door of the room, slowly craning my neck to see who is responsible for the flapping sound, but no one is there: the hall is empty. I turn to go back to my bed, convinced it is a hallucination from the heavy medication, and see a brightly colored clown holding a bunch of balloons looking at my body in the bed. "Oh shit," I mutter, "I'm in clown hell."

*** Daily Writing Practice ***
And yet ANOTHER side note: these writings are a collaboration between Vicki and I, being we each wrote two lines of each paragraph. Thank you Vicki! It was fun.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Empty Words

"Hello my love," he said as he kissed my neck. Mere rhetoric, I thought as he crossed the kitchen. Out of habit I responded in kind. Without taking my eyes off the knife sawing through the bread, I chastised myself for feeling too afraid to speak and tell him that I knew.

Love, he'd said. Love had left when he told me he was going to be late coming home and then promptly picked up his briefcase and escorted the new secretary to her warm bed not two hours ago. I knew because I was sitting in the parking lot ready to surprise him when they walked past and climbed into her car. I clenched the handle of the knife a little tighter.

I didn't hear him walk up behind me before I felt the same tongue that delivered those hollow words follow the curve of my ear lobe. "Make love to me." His breath fell into the scoop of my neck. It use to tickle, but now it enraged. I turned sharply and he fell into my arms, the knife ripping through his heart and the deep red of his love staining the two of us forever.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Run Around

"Hey Joan! Do you have a second?" I asked from her doorway.

"Sure. Come on in, Marcy. What can I do for you?" Joan always had a warm welcome for the tellers. I knew her days were hectic. It was hard to track her down, but she told us we should come to her if we needed anything. Today, I happened to catch her in her office as I was headed home.

I returned her smile. "I wanted to ask you for a reasonable accommodation. The handbook says we need to ask for one, but it doesn't say who to ask so I thought I would start with you."

Joan looked concerned. "Of course," she said and pointed to the chair across from her desk as she rose to shut the door behind me.

I sat down feeling nervous. I hated disclosing my disability to others. People typically over reacted or shied away, but the medication I had been using to minimize my episodes had not been as effective the last few months and I knew it was only a matter of time before it would interfere with work. "I have a condition known as SPS," I started. "There are several symptoms that can effect my ability to function, but as of yet, none of these have been debilitating and I have been able to manage working through them." I looked up to see Joan's expression. She was sitting quietly in her chair, listening intently to what I was saying.

"However, I have been having more frequent attacks involving the symptom that locks up my muscles. My hands and arms seem to be targeted the most, making it impossible to do very basic things including making a phone call." Joan continued to sit quietly. "I'm requesting permission that my husband calls in for me and I be released from making phone calls to fill my shift if I have an attack affecting my hands and or arms."

Joan spoke so quickly, I wasn't sure if I imagined it. "That sounds horrible! I couldn't imagine having to deal with that. It must be so frustrating for you! What does SPS stand for?"

This was the moment I dreaded most when explaining my disability. "Stiff Person Syndrome." I kept my face straight, serious, trying to convey that I was telling the truth.

Joan looked surprised. "I see. I feel for you. It must be very difficult to work through these attacks, but I can't approve your request. It wouldn't be fair to others."

I was both angry and insulted. I know how ridiculous my disability sounded, but it existed and could be debilitating. "Do other employees suffer from this as well?" I asked, hoping she understood that my situation was isolated and couldn't be compared to others.

"No, but it still wouldn't be fair. Is there anything else?" she asked.

Yes! I wanted to yell. "No" was my response as I stood to leave. I'd have to take this to the next level. It would be unfamiliar ground, but so were the new symptoms I had been facing.

I'd sat for the last three days listening to my lawyer explain my case, defending myself from the multitude of questions about my character, and feeling the muscles in my hands, arms, and back tense so that I wanted to cry out in pain. I stifled the sounds, swallowing them down and digesting them when I could. The judge was expected to appear with his decision in a few minutes. I expected to be victorious, but my lawyer had warned me that things are never cut-and-dry in court. Even though there were laws on the books and cases that had set precedent in my favor, the truth was justice was still subjective.

The judge entered and the bailiff called for the court to rise and be seated. I held my breath as the judge cleared his throat and began to read aloud from the thick packet of papers in his hands. The handful of people who had come to watch the case hushed in the benches. "I have been asked to determine if discrimination has occurred and if so, to apply a penalty. The difficulty in this case is that Ms. Leyhiem, Marcy, has a disability that sounds like a joke, putting it bluntly, but is very much so real. It is a very rare disability where the set of criteria is extremely difficult to meet because the symptoms are generally mild at first and highly individualistic as they worsen. It has been satisfactorily established that Ms. Leyhiem does in fact suffer from Stiff Person Syndrome or SPS and the symptoms she claims to manifest to be the truth. With that in mind, I find the accommodation she requested to be within reason and demand that it be implemented at once."

I heard light applause come from behind me, but my neck was too stiff to turn my head and look. The judge continued, "In regards to the discrimination in employment practices surrounding her application of a job and eventual denial, I also find in favor of Ms. Leyhiem. I agree that the decision was made solely on her disability at a time it was not interfering with her ability to perform the essential job functions. However, at this point, based on Ms. Leyhiem's testimony, she is no longer able to meet the basic criteria of the position. Having her reinstated, as the law would guide m to do, does not make sense. Therefore, I am ordering her to receive lost wages from the date the position officially started until the present date. In addition, the company is mandated to complete intense training in employing and understanding the rights of people with disabilities. Training will occur at the company's expense and should be completed in the next six months. At the end of my dissension, I will include a list of reputable organizations that can provide such training."

More applause. The run-around was over. I had succeeded in my mission to protect others disabled by rare or hard to recognize diseases from being victimized as I had been. I smiled larger than I had smiled in a long, long time..... and I hoped my face would freeze that way.

*** Daily Writing Practice***
Important: This is a real disease. For more information about the devastating affects, please visit NINDS.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Building

Everyone told me I should be proud of the glass and steel monstrosity with its gnarled fingers of art twisting to the top of the tower, looking down mercilessly on the ant sized pedestrians, blocking out the one single thing that I considered a human right: that glowing orb in the sky that I used to count my miserable days on this blue spinning planet. They were erecting it in my honor to say thank you for my years of generosity. My generosity was a poor attempt at repentance for my luck. I smiled politely and told them it would be quite the day when I cut the yellow ribbon! Internally, I would snort, coughing on my own phlegm. I would spit out the globule so it landed and splattered on my shoes and trousers. Dressed to the nines, I was given a respect I didn't come close to deserving. Still, I played the part, keeping my inner most thoughts buried deeply so that they could only attack me in the quietest of nights and the loneliness of days.

I'd made my fortune on the backs of the unfortunate; the ones that simply lost-- right or wrong.. I was one of the "lucky" few who made it through the depression doing better than I had before the world market plummeted, scorching itself on the core of the earth before it began to rise again. At first, I reveled in my profits, literally rolling in money I had enthusiastically thrown on my bed when the market showed promise of return. I quickly grew tired of all the threads that attached the money to me. The parties, the smiles, the cameras and champaign. It was the life of a rock star when all I wanted to be was a recluse. I began giving it away, trying to detach myself from the luck.

The luck wouldn't rub off. I scoured at it, trying desperately to free myself from its grip, preferring to live under a tarp near the unused overpass near my dilapidated house of childhood than attend another ceremony or be sought for financial advice I wasn't qualified to give. I welcomed the night sweats and tremors that overtook me before any meeting, praying that someone with a well trained eye would see my illness and immediately have me escorted from the boardroom or private jet. Wherever it was that the meeting occurred. But it never happened.

Instead, I was given awards for a sense of social justice that was born out of my desire to clean myself of luck. Honorary degrees were bestowed upon me making the entirety of my digestive tract inflame in anger. Sobbing men, women, and children fell at my feet, thanking me for funding the search that lead to their eventual cure. I wanted to kick them in the jaw and tell them their gratitude was misplaced. It belonged to the scientists and thousands of people who gave their lives looking for the answer, not to the man who merely lifted a pen and signed his name on a thin black line. It was beyond irritating.

I tried to give it all away at once, saving not a single cent for myself. Large portions of the money were denied repeatedly due to the enormous tax burden such a gift would illicit on the receiver. That and I was making unfathomable sums of money faster than I could write a check for. The maid takes great joy in polishing the large gold plaque recognizing me as the world's greatest humanitarian in history and the foreseeable future. I feel strangled by it, as if there is a choke collar around my neck and the lead is wrapped around the plaque as a way to remind me of the additional societal expectations placed on me.

Doing nothing was worse. At least repenting offered me some relief from the constant physical ailments. In one sense, I will be glad the building is done as its completion marks the nearing of my final gift to this world. In its construction, I assured a new research facility would be housed, one that would research further into cryogenics and how it truly affects the body. It is clearly written into the contract that I, and I alone, would provide the body that would be frozen and then sliced so thin every cell would be viewable under the microscope. This contingency is buried deep in the paperwork, but it is very solidly there. It was in exchange for the land and covered cost of all the construction.

Along with that paragraph, my will destines all the money to a trust operable under a committee. The members are named, their addresses included, their stipends determined. There will be nothing left except the peace I will find in my icy grave.

*** Prompt provided by Vicki, a follower (of blog sorts) that I greatly appreciate. ***

Monday, May 24, 2010

I get excited when....

For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I am prefacing my post! 1. This is a response from the prompt above with the guideline that it follow my stream of consciousness. 2. When I am writing, I have a hard time getting off track. My mind moves fast enough to organize the information before I get there.... so some of this is extended bits of what felt like a quick quip in my mind. 3. If this scares you, you should never actually see the number of thoughts and asides that do go through my mind and are never expressed.

I have a good life. That hasn't always been the case, but it is now and I have every intention of keeping it that way. In some ways, just knowing I beat the odds excites me. It's all roses so to speak. In other ways, it seems duller. Little things, like finding a quarter on the sidewalk or receiving a hand-me down doll, were equivalent to striking oil in Texas when I was a child. (Have you heard of the Hillbillies? It was an old black-and-white sitcom-- before they used words like sitcom to describe shows-- where a family of, well hillbillies, have an accident and strike oil. So, of course, they move to Green Acres, which would be like moving to Beverly Hills to us.) Sorry for the long aside, but that's how it felt to me. Although I still get giddy, and sometimes still do a happy dance at finding a quarter on the street, the moment passes quickly and I usually dig out another one and hand them off to my children. Come to think of it, finding a quarter ends up costing me more money.

And hand-me downs? I still get them in troves. It kind of drives me nuts! My husband and I are financially stable. Not wealthy, but we don't stress about paying bills and if I want to buy a T-shirt at Old Navy, I don't have to check my bank account first. At the same time, I can't just board a plane to go visit friends or take a vacation without planning it months in advance to make sure I have the money to pay for th expense. So, why do people keep leaving me bags of children's clothes quite literally on my door step? I suppress the urge to growl when I find a new one and after a few days of it sitting in the corner of my room or on my couch, I go through it. Sometimes I keep a couple of outfits, but most times I just pack it all up and drop them off at the local Good-will. Maybe that is why they do it. I'm a free errand running service for them. Of course, when they ask if I found it, I smile, say yes, and thank them. Looks like I am enabling them.

There are some hand-me downs I like. Heirlooms. Especially small decorative things. I don't actually have any. Not from my family. There was no money to buy things that would last or that anyone would want passed down. Actually, that is not entirely true. I do have Christmas ornaments from my grandmother, some of which she received from her mother. They are beautiful to me. My sisters think they are ugly and wonder why I bother to keep them around. They are old, that's for sure. Dull white ceramic snowflakes. Some are orbs that you can place pictures in. As I am typing this, I think I am going to go through the pictures that I was given after my grandmother's house burned down (yes, the same grandmother that had the ornaments and no, the house fire was not the cause of her death. She was forced to live on oxygen, but her death came nearly 10 years after the fire.) I imagine the ornaments were a really beautiful shiny and stark white when they were new.

I wonder if this is why I want to be able to pass things down to my kids. Tangible things. Because I am never likely to have any from my parents or siblings. My children have some things already. They each have a photo box with baby stuff that they are most likely going to throw away as adults. It's something I expect. I do hope they hold on to the two books I have stored for each of them. They are the books I read to them in the womb and as newborns. I read the books until my children rebelled and asked for something more mature. These are the little boxes I plan to hand them when they have their first child. So, hopefully those books can play some role in the life of their children as well.

I have other things too. I made my son's baptismal gown. It's very simple. White Egyptian cotton at like a 500 thread count. It's a dress. Yes, a dress! Kind of traditional that way. I made a little jacket too since it was Spring and I didn't know what the weather would be like. No one has ever worn the jacket. Every child has baked in it. It's a ceremony and pictures gown only. Oh, "everyone": I want to explain the use of that word. So, I originally made the gown for my son. I had his name embroidered on the bottom of it and the date. In doing that, I decided it would be a family gown. My daughter wore it and her name was added to the hemline. My niece and two of my nephews have worn it. All their names and baptismal dates are also embroidered on it. I hope that my grand children will wear it and so on.... each child having their name added to the gown. I think it is a beautiful idea. Both historical and meaningful in the present. I have no idea who will get the gown when I die. I suspect my son since it was made for him.

I also nagged my husband until he made a basic replica of the cradle I use to sleep in at my grandfather's house. I slept in it. My sister's slept in it. My baby dolls slept in it. For whatever reason, the cradle left an impression and I wanted one for my kids as well. He made it out of oak. He stained it a honey color. There are little spindles instead of a solid side. The ends are inset. It is fabulous! A few other children have also slept in it at this point. My daughter will probably get that because even though my husband started making it for my son, it wasn't completed for use until a few days before my daughter was born.

We also have a solid wood toy box that my children barely used. (Too hard for me to maintain it in a fashion where we could ever find the toys we wanted.) And I have a cedar chest a friend gave me a couple of years ago. We want to refinish that and use it as a hope chest. If we manage to get that done, I can see myself saving those things for the kids too. I also saved each of them an outfit. My daughter's is a vintage dress with small roses and a bonnet to match. She wore it to a wedding when she was maybe 3 years old. For my son, I have a pair of 'laderhosen' that his daddy wore as a kid. I'm just not sure where it disappeared too.

The trick becomes what to do if we have another child. We are considering adopting. If we adopt, I don't have anything to tie to the child as an infant. I'm sure something will come up though. Before I get too far of myself, we have to actually start the process. I am trying, but it seems so much more difficult that I originally expected. I simply am struggling with finding agencies. We want to talk to people about domestic and international adoption as well as what special needs adoptions include. For instance, some sites state that minority children are considered special needs because of their skin color. I think it is a sad statement, but I see how it applies. Many parents are adopting babies or look for children who look like them. Adoption is expensive so fair or not, since the money largely rests in the hands of white European-Americans, the adoption rate of minority children is much lower. We personally don't care about the race or gender of the child. We could even be open to a sibling group (of two). However, we want to adopt a toddler or young preschooler. It seems like all the non-infants are five or older. That's the age of my eldest and I'd prefer to adopt younger for that reason. I also don't know if I will have the desire when my current youngest turns 7, which would be about the time I would look into adoption a five year old.

I also don't want to adopt a child with true special needs. I am not up to the rigors of it. I worked in several roles supporting, advocating, and consulting on behalf of people with disabilities so I have a realistic view of what it takes to make it work. I left the field because I was burned out. I don't think I am up to the challenge of it any longer. And I am selfish in not wanting to upend the life of my children more than needed through adoption. My mother-in-law asked what I would do if I adopted a child at 18 months of age and that child was diagnosed with autism a year later. I don't know how to explain it, but somehow that is different in my mind. Not autism, but just not walking in and adopting a child with a disability up front. For whatever reason, I am okay with walking into it blindly over choosing it on knowledge. I wonder if that makes sense to anyone but me.

Well, my children have been happily playing in the bathtub. They were excited to have a bubble bath and new bath toys. The excitement is wearing off. I am going to sign off and thank you for the opportunity to rant and rave..... although I don't really think that is what I have done. Hopefully you were at least mildly entertained with my subtle ramblings. I would have expected to be all over the board... I usually am. No, I use to be more so. Now I have a writing blog for creative writing (fiction and non) and I think my ramblings have largely found a home there. And now, I am rambling! Okay! I have to go now....


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hot Air Balloon

Andrew planned it to be perfect. He thought of everything. Jill, the love of his life would be hard pressed to say no. He'd even gone as far as to buy a second ring, ignoring the one they had picked out together and stored in a memory box loaded with pictures of their life together under the bed. Grandma and Grandpa had agreed to watch their son. There was nothing left to do but invite her to Galena.

She said yes, as he assumed she would. They drove together in the car, bundled against the chilly temperatures and chattering incessantly about the bed and breakfast they had found on-line for a good price. They mapped out their plans for the evening. They would scout the novelty shops, have dinner at Vinnie Vinuchi's, watch the choir sing in the park by the river banks, and call it an early night. There wouldn't be much else to do in the tiny town until the next morning anyway.

They found some trinkets in the shops, ordered Chicken Marsalla off the menu, and sang along to the carols. Slowly, they meandered back to their room, enjoying each other without the always threatening interruption of a child's non-existent knock. Andrew woke her early the next morning. She fought the early morning by turning over and going back to sleep.

He persisted until she grumpily climbed into the car. He drove them the three miles to Eagle's Gates. He pulled her out of the car and approached the guide. He welcomed them and explained the half-day agenda. Jill backed steadily away. She could not be persuaded to enter the basket. Andrew saw the perfection of his proposal slipping away with the likelihood of her relenting.

He fell to his knee, producing the ring. "I wanted to give you the world. You want much less. Instead, I will give you the solid ground on which to build our lives together. We can soar to the skies when you are ready" It wasn't what he intended, but the result was the same.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


Sunday would be the best day of the week if there were more languid hours I could spend reading, writing, and generally lazing around the house listening to my children and husband laughing as they speed down the slip-n-slide in the 90+ degree heat that energetically bounces from cloud to earth and off the backs of my dogs in the backyard. As that is not a choice, I will love the day for what it is: a day of rest and laughter no longer or shorter than the other days of the week.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dance Partners: 4 Lines of Prose

The ceramic mug of coffee balanced precariously on the pile of books. She stepped carefully from side to side, dodging on-coming traffic, while trying to keep the sloshing liquid from falling to the floor. She and it had become partner's in life, always together from morning to night. It was this dance through the cubicles that showed the only tension between them.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Escape Artist

That morning she had left a change of clothes in the trunk of the car, had thrown a bag of diapers in the recycling bin outside, and had quietly made a phone call from the laundry room. She whispered into the phone that she needed to be picked up in the middle of the night. She was certain it would be her only way out. These were the thoughts racing through her mind as she diced the tomatoes for the spaghetti dinner expected on the table in half an hour sharp.

She was afraid He would see her hand shake. Her baby was sleeping in the crib just down the hall. Focusing on the sound of his steady breathing, she finished making the sauce and preparing dinner. She knew he would be up soon and everything needed to be on the table before that moment. He, her husband, would be home and expectant. He deemed it unacceptable not to welcome the man home properly.

A spotless house, the smell of dinner and dessert, and a wife happy to meet his every whim anywhere and in every way was the only way he believed she was being faithful to him. Not doing so or doing so without a smile was disastrous. It was painful and He became reckless, endangering her life..... and last night, the life of her child.

The child's needs would always come last. The child. He never referred to their son as His, even though he undoubtedly was His. She was afraid to make eye contact with the cashier or speak to the police officer who greeted her as she walked home. What opportunity she have to find a lover? So she lay claim and took all responsibility for this child. Her baby; he just had to cry out in the middle of the night.

Her babe would. Her little boy was only two months old. "A good mother would nurse her child," He had instructed her. "But, she should be discreet." Therefore, she was expected to nurse her son only in his room with the curtains shut. Tonight, she would go to her little boy when he cried out, give him some of the Benedryl carefully hidden in the seem of his teddy bear, and then nurse him to sleep. She would gingerly carry him out of the house. If asked where she was going, she would dutifully report the child had a dirty diaper that needed to go out and sheets that needed laundered. "Soiled diapers have no place in the home," He had insisted. She would be dismissed. He would go back to sleep.

They, she and her babe, would walk out the front door, open the lid to retrieve the diapers, pop the trunk for some clothing, and step into the waiting van. He would be left abandoned. She would provide her child a life free of worry. She would keep other women from being victimized by a child raised to be a monster if left in His clutches. They, together, would escape.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


Dear Josiah,

It was a rough day at the office today. Scratch that. It's been a rough two months. I can't wait until Shelley returns. Don't get me wrong! I am thrilled her precious little boy, Deacon, has arrived. He's just a darling of a thing! But, keeping up with both of our caseloads is almost more than I can manage. I now understand what they mean when they say 'bone tired', whoever they are. And I still have another month to go! Good Lord Josiah; how am I going to do this!

So, after having such a long day, I arrived home to find my daughter sitting in her car in the driveway. She's suppose to be at college and I don't understand why she can't remember the garage door code so she can just let herself in. For Pete's sake Josiah, the code is her birthday, but you know that! I wish I could say I was happy to see her, but her tear stained face told me that I would be working through the night.

"Hi baby," I said, trying to sound concerned when all I felt was tired. "What's wrong?"

Oh Josiah, she went into this long tirade about how her one professor was expecting too much from her! "It's just so unfair mom! My life sucks!" she whined at me. She wanted me to commiserate with her and I just couldn't do it. My grown up daughter has no idea how much more difficult things are going to be when she leaves the downy softness of college.

I put my arm around her as we walked through the garage and into the house. I just listened. Oh, and I grabbed a bottle of wine. The good stuff you sent me. Beautifully sweet, full of flavor, and a deep red that just makes it look luxurious. A true treat! Thank you for that, by the way. Anyway, she went on and on, finally leaving after I made us dinner.

Everything has been cleaned, the plants are watered, and my bed is calling to me. Still, I wanted to take a moment to explain why it has been so long between letters. My life is overly full right now from the rigors of work and raising my now all adult family. You do understand, don't you Josiah? I know you will. This madness should end by July. Do you want to do a trip together to Chicago? We could go on the architecture tour, watch the Cubs hit it out of the park (or at least to the fence), groove to great jazz, and gorge ourselves on Chicago style pizza. Just the thought of it is lowering my blood pressure.

What do you say Josiah? Chicago in July?

Hope all is well with you!


Josephina..... the other J

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sun Didn't Rise

My joints ache and my sheets are wet from sweat. I kick them off me, letting the cool air rest on my moist skin. My room is dark. It is always dark in the morning. The deep chocolate and rich caramel walls soak up the sunshine. My lovers never understand. Not that it matters. I sleep better without the intrusion of early morning light. Today, it is exceptionally dark. There must be a storm brewing outside. The kind with clouds too heavy to lift themselves far off the ground. I smile at the thought of the wicked weather that may be unleashed. I love storms.

I have the urge to pee. Stretching, I look at my alarm clock. I don't have to be up for another 15 minutes. I roll over, draping the covers across my waist, but my bladder isn't willing to play along. After a couple of minutes, I am annoyed enough to extricate myself from the bed and go to the bathroom. On my way back to bed, I glimpse the darkness coming in from under the bamboo shades. The pitch of it reminds me of the days I used to go spelunking. I found great comfort in the dark inner sanctuaries of many caves.

The thought strikes me as odd. Even the worst storm can not produce a darkness like that. I move to the window and pull the shades up. I can see nothing except the faint glowing lights of neighbors houses. The small amount of light makes me feel as if they are several miles away, not practically touching the side of my house. My confusion leads to curiosity. I pull the remote from the top of the dresser and flip on the TV. Every channel fills with the president or a scientist explaining some meteorological concern.

I jump when my alarm starts its shrill beeping. Turning it off, I focus on the TV. One of the scientists is speaking. "We believe this is a warning of worse things to come. Our sun is dying. Today represents a brief flicker in its energy field. Eventually, the flickers will become much longer and the earth will slowly freeze over."

A frightened reporter asks, "What do you mean a brief flicker? I mean, how long is this brief flicker going to last?"

The scientist looks knowledgeable. I can tell he is doing his best to avert filling people with fear and hopelessness, but this same fear have been etched deep into the wrinkles on his face. "I would suspect the sun won't rise today."

"What about tomorrow?" and unidentified reporter yells from what I guess is the back of the room.

"If our telescope readings are correct, I would suspect we will see the sun tomorrow. For now, the important thing is for people to stay warm. Invite friends and family over. Prepare a nice meal. Pull out the board games. Tomorrow is another day."

I turn off the TV. The magnitude of the situation begins to over take me. I pick up the phone and call my mom. She picks up. "Hello?" she says.

"Hi mom. Did you see the news this morning?" I am breathless.

"Yeah. Isn't that something."

A silence sits between us. I can tell she doesn't fully understand what this means. After all, the scientists said tomorrow would be another day. Mom has always lived her life from one day to the next. Its her mantra. "Yeah. It is. Ummm....... mom, I'm coming home to stay for a while, okay?"

"You're doing what?" She doesn't wait for a response. "Well, what about your job?" she asks.

"I telecommute mom. I can work from anywhere. Anyway, I should be there in about 4 hours. I need to shower and pack. Is there anything special I can bring home with me?"

"Harold!" she yells across the house, "Our baby is coming home to stay awhile. Won't that be lovely! Can you ready her room?" She returns to me. "It's so wonderful to have you visit so spontaneously dear. Please. Just bring yourself! We have everything we could possibly need. Okay, well Mrs. Rossel is going to be wondering where I am today. I need to go. She's working on playing chopsticks for the senior recital at the nursing home in three weeks. I'll see you when you get here, okay?'

"Okay mom. I'll talk to you soon." We hang up and I sit still for a while. It is eerily quiet. I break the silence as I begin to gather blankets and non-perishable food. Not that it will much matter, but we will all need a little comfort in these final days.

*** Imagination Prompt Generator***

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Other than the nude colored thongs she wore, she stood naked. A heavily laden rack of clothing provided the only protection from hundreds of criticizing eyes just on the other side. She looked at herself in the mirror. The heavy makeup stained her face unnaturally, defining features that weren't there moments before. Her eyes peered brightly out from under the blues and greens. She gave a posed smile and held it until the deep pink of her lips seemed frozen in that space. She turned her head left and right. Her hair pulled back so tightly, the long wrinkles on her forehead had disappeared. She turned her head from left to right, checking that the small rhinestones affixed to her head caught light with any movement. All this color was in stark contrast to her unblemished sunned skin. It made her feel vulnerable and bare to her soul.

Gently, she worked the deep turquoise dress out from the grasp of the other dresses on the rack. The satin felt smooth against her arm. Little jeweled stones scratched her body wherever they touched as she unzipped the back of it. She gathered the dress into her arms and stepped gingerly into it, pulling it over her long legs, careful not to let it spill onto the floor. It felt cool against her body. An involuntary chill shot through her making the hair on her arms stand up.

She reached back and pulled up the zipper. It ended at the small of her back. She fastened a clip at the top of her neck. It was all that would keep the dress on and it didn't seem enough. A draft ran across her back as a door opened and closed. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, blowing out her insecurities and pushing down her nerves as she smoothed out the bodice. The dress fell to its full length, brushing softly against her ankles.

She raised an arm high above her head, hyper-extending it as she splayed her fingers apart with just enough tension to make them shake ever so slightly. Her chest expanded and filled what had been an empty space. Her back curved with the gesture of her other hand falling into place a finger width's space from her hip bone. She lifted her chin, looking down her nose into the mirror. The effect was both of allure and strength, something she had always considered an odd combination.

She crossed her legs just above the ankles and rose onto the ball of her feet, lifting her eyes to the ceiling . The spin was quick and precise. Her skirt whipped into the air and wrapped itself around her thighs only to fall gently back to her ankles in little waves. Her posture and expression changed. Temptation, challenge, and an aloofness oozed from her. The picture was complete. She receded from her refuge and headed to the dance floor.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, May 17, 2010


It was as if the world had fallen away. The two of them were so wrapped into each other. They held hands, stared into each other's eyes, whispered sweet nothings. Then, to signify how much he loved and trusted her, he pooped on her. She stood and changed her precious newborn son, still lost in the wonder of him.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Freezer Items

Her muscles ached from the easy work-out. She wasn't fooled. She knew she was being beaten down one day at a time. One day, she would be a small pile of pulp. It's what she yearned for. Small. It was something she had never been. She reasoned she didn't have to get there all in one day, so she opened her freezer to fulfill her late night craving.

She looked through the few items she hadn't thrown out from the self-purging she did after her doctor's appointment. Eggos. Yummy with butter and syrup, but not sweet enough to satisfy her. Frozen vegetables. An impulse by that was meant to help her change her lifestyle and gain control of her body. Nope. Not even close. She hesitated and wondered if she should wait until they were freezer-burned or just throw them out now. The idea of having even less food scared her so she moved on to the next shelf, leaving the vegetables where they were.

Ice Packs. Inedible although they were a Godsend that afternoon. Numbing her sore muscles provided a short trip to heaven. Ice Cream. She smiled not realizing she had involuntarily licked her lips and moaned a little. She lifted the lid. Barely a scoop remained. She considered it a teaser, not even an appetizer and slid it back in the freezer with disgust. There had to be something else! She had to be missing something.

She began moving the eggos around and then the vegetables. It was behind the vegetables that she found the green box of Girl Scout cookies. An entire sleeve of chocolate mint cookies was laying helplessly inside. She snatched the box out greedily. She ripped the sleeve open mercilessly, set on devouring the entire contents. On her fourth cookie, she flipped the side of the box up. Ingredients and Nutritional Information read the headings. She glanced down the ingredient list. Chocolate, mint, and more forms of sugar. Licking her fingers and reaching for the next cookie, she saw the number of calories.

She choked on what was left in her mouth. Eating the sleeve of cookies would be equivalent to eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Three meals for maybe 15 cookies? She couldn't believe it! She always thought because they were small, they couldn't be that bad for you. But there is was. 15 cookies was equivalent to a days worth of food. It made her ill realizing what her little craving would mean.

It didn't mean soothing her soul, giving herself a treat for making it through the work-out. it meant the work-out never happened. It meant working twice as hard in the morning and skipping all meals just to be even to where she would have been. Her stomach seized around this knowledge. It felt tight and suddenly too full. She put the rest of the cookies back in the box and dropped the box in the garbage. If she was going to be beaten on a daily basis for the foreseeable future, she wanted to know there would be an end. It was a freeing motion, throwing away the junk in her life. For the first time in years, she didn't regret looking in her freezer.

*** Imagination Prompt Generator ***

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Referee

He stood in the middle of the field, his black striped shirt sticking out like a sore thumb against the green canvas of the field. Breathe, he told himself. Breathe. He looked at the spectator stands, the millions of lights illuminating the night, the huge electron television far above the field, but ignored the purple and gold clad players in small piles around him. Breathe. He placed his right foot ahead of his left and his left foot ahead of his right until he reached the small viewing station. He pushed his head between the blinders, big heavy rubber curtains to keep the chaos out. The tape started to roll. Breathe, he reminded himself.

He saw the ball arch through the air. Players were running frantically into and away from one another. The ball reached the top of it's path and began to descend. He saw himself running toward, his eyes always on the ball. It continued to fall, having over taken him in the blink of an eye. It was being encased in two large hands, brought down to earth at a slower pace than if it had been left alone. Then the shot was blocked by a newbie camera man. Breathe.

A new reel clicked in. Again, the ball arched over head, he saw himself chasing it, it fell into two strong and capable hands. The top of a helmet came into view. The first player received a hard knock in his right side. But where were his feet? That's all he needed to know. The hum of the stadium was growing steadily louder. Breathe. He needed to see another angle. He watched again and again. Each time, the ball arched into the sky. Each time it passed him by only to end up in the same pair of hands. Again the player was knocked in the side, causing his body to bend and crumple only the way an experienced player knows to do.

Breathe. Finally, he saw them. The feet and the line: their relationship to one another. He watched it three more ties to be absolutely certain. He pulled his head out of the black curtains. The hum had become thunderous. Legions of fans were expecting him to side with him. He placed one foot in front of the other until he reached the center of the field again. Breathe.

His mic clicked on. He stood tall, showing his confidence. "The ruling on the field stands. Touchdown Midwest." Cheers erupted. The noises pushed their way into every one of his pores until he could hold no more. He loved these little moments. He lived for them. The game began again and he felt his presence take up more space on the field. Finally, he took a breath and awaited the next big moment.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

My Biggest Fans

Having a fan base is difficult. It forces you to think about how you will handle things, to consider each word you say, to remember your place in their tiny world so as not to shake it to the core needlessly. (Some shaking is bound to occur.) And because of the pressure, I am a better person and a better mother to my children, my endearing fans.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Musician: Four Lines of Prose

Long hair, too thin frame, uneven smile and more than a few years older. Long stretches of time at the abandoned house in the untamed country. A small pond, peeling paint, weeds and wild flowers taller than I, the broken down car, smell of old wood, a dampness in the air and the sound of him strumming the guitar and singing. My first boyfriend. My first kiss. My first love.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

A Stone

My first child had been born four days ago with Down's Syndrome. It was our second day home and the house was quiet. He'd been sleeping for half-an-hour. My wife had laid down after what had been a very emotional and long night. She'd been asleep for the last fifteen minutes. I sat at the kitchen table looking at the little shoe box my mom had brought when she visited.

She'd left in on the counter as she walked out the door, throwing a quick, when you have some time to breathe and reflect. I had no idea what the box contained, but my mother had always been my champion and I had no doubt that this box would somehow contain the answer I was frantically looking for.

I removed the lid. There were a couple of books on top. Dr. Suess. I opened the top one and saw the inscription: 'Because all children have a future' was written in her tight script. The title of the book was 'Oh The Places You'll Go'.

I kept digging. There were two other books that had been mine as a child, a book list of my favorite books and things she would recommend we buy. There were pictures with short notes written on the back explaining why she chose to keep them and what they meant to her. My first pair of shoes. A few pictures. Her ultrasounds of me.

It was a memory box of sorts. My mother loved the idea of passing things down from one generation to the next. This was her way of saying this child was every bit as wonderful as any of her other grandchildren. It was sweet, but felt too little. I was disappointed and felt cheated out of the answer I expected her to provide.

I placed my hands in my head. I didn't hear my wife come in the room. Even during her pregnancy, she could walk through the house and I would be unaware. I noticed her presence when she lifted one of my drawings. "These are beautiful," she whispered. She smiled and continued to sort through the small papers and books.

Then she reached into the box. She seemed puzzled with what was sitting in her hand. "What's this about?" she asked. I looked in her hand and found her holding three small, flat, and round stones. My confusion showed on my face.

"My baby stuff and three stones?" I said. It didn't make sense. I took the stones from her and ran my hands over their smooth texture.

In the back of my mind a memory tumbled through the fog and I remembered a story I had made my mother read a million time. Three monks showed a village how to share the little they had to make something bigger. In the end, the villagers had opened their hearts and found immense joy after experiencing great devastation. "Stone Soup," I whispered. Tears fell from my eyes as quickly as the realization of the truth of the love for my son wrapped itself around my heart.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Sweet Sixteen or Tremendous Twenty

Tomorrow is my twentieth birthday. My mom says, "It's the new sweet sixteen!" I don't really get what she means and when I tell her this, she just laughs and says, "It all started when 40 became the new 30." Then she drolls on about how history both repeats itself and changes the future. "Twenty is now the Legal Age of Responsibility. You can drive, drink, have sexual partners, be prescribed medicinal marijuana...." She always just lets her thoughts trail off into reminiscence. It's all true and I am excited, but the history books don't say anything about 16 being he old age of responsibility. So, what is so sweet about 16?????

*** One Minute Writer***

Monday, May 10, 2010

Song Prompt

I've thrown away my toys. Every last one of the filthy, distorted, torturous reminders of what I lost. The now bulging black garbage bag is the only real shape amongst the devastation. Mostly ashes and some jagged pieces of what use to be the white picket fence that kept small dogs out and the tulips in are sticking out of the ground. It's all that is left of the home I grew up in. The rest of the debris was hauled away by relief workers yesterday.

As I scan the ground one last time, the enormity of the event starts to sink in. There are no walls to keep it out. No trees to block the cold wind that has started to blow. Even the Johnson's privacy fence is gone. I smile at the memory of the browning Cedar fence and the boys I made out with behind it as a teenager. I wonder if anyone has contacted the Johnson's. Surely they would still be in Wisconsin at this time of year. Of everyone in the neighborhood, they would handle the news best. They were in a safe place and their most valuable items are with them. Their loss would be minimal.

A gust of wind blows off the ocean, lifting the side of my hair and tossing it roughly in my face. I push it behind my ear, shivering a little bit from the bitterness of the wind and the situation. I hear the soft revving of an engine in the distance. I sigh, knowing that they will be here soon. No one is allowed in or out without the escort of a relief worker. Still, I don't move toward the assigned pick up location. I just stare at the nothingness around me, lowering my head when it becomes too much.

I see something near my left shoe. It's dirty, but I can make out a delicate line in the ashes. I bend down to examine it and am surprised that it is still intact as I lift it out of the soot. My mother's locket; the one she put on every morning after her shower and lotion. I cradle the small silver heart in my gloved hand. Tears spring to my eyes. Carefully I open it, assuming the hinges are weak and are likely to break. On one side is a picture of my mother from my last visit and the other is a picture of my father.

My tears flow freely as the wind tugs on the chain. I fold it all into the palm of my hand. I don't care about the rules anymore. I am taking this with me. I glance around to make sure no one is around. The sound of the truck has been steadily getting closer, but I believe I still have time. I unzip the top of my suit down three inches to expose the collar of my shirt and drop the locket inside. It catches in my bra. I say a silent prayer of thanks and quickly turn away from the nothingness, keeping my eyes trained on the orange flag.

I march quickly to it, sniffling. I see the five others of our group are on their way or already waiting. As I approach, I can see tear stained faces through the heavy glass of the helmets. What speaks the loudest is the sadness in their eyes. I look away from the others afraid they would see something different in my eyes. The truck pulls up and slowly we climb in. Someone says, "I was against this war," as we pull away. There is heavy silence and for me, cold metal pressing against my chest.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Little Things

I find it is the little bits of kindness that strangers show to one another that helps me get out of bed, excited to start the day. Random Acts of Kindness and Playing it Forward are both well known catch phrases that encourage people for being, well, human and at our best. Thank you to the woman who holds the door open when I am carrying my toddler, to the gentleman who hands over a dime at the gas station so my preschooler can have Bug juice, to the cashier who remembers that I prefer reusable bags, and to the hundreds of others who have done little things.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Saturday, May 8, 2010

4 Lines: Dinosaur

The dinosaur crashed through the trees, pulverized the brick wall, flattened the jeep until it looked like one of the smooshed pennies from the zoo or carnival machines, and then roared his triumph! The roar was equal to only that of an F16. He was king of his domain; the ultimate supreme ruler. At least that is how it looked to me as my 2 year old son stormed through the house.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

P.S. It is five lines here due to the formatted size of the page

Friday, May 7, 2010


"Tin roof, rusted!" The lyrics raced through my head as I drove a screaming 95 miles per hour down the highway, ignoring the posted speed limit. I needed to keep up with my thoughts and this seemed to be the only way to move fast enough. I veered sharply around a little yellow Honda. His horn blared, but the sound was too slow to keep up with me for long. I pressed the pedal harder. I had to outrace my thoughts. Tears streamed down my cheeks. "It just can't be true," I said with more conviction than I had dedicated to any other occasion in my life.

Not noticing the orange light glowing on my dashboard, I flew by the exit. And the next one. And the next one. I couldn't stop or I would be flooded by the truth. As long as I could keep moving, it wouldn't be true. Twenty minutes and 45 miles from Atlanta my car slowed down involuntarily. I punched the pedal to the floor to no avail. I coasted to an agonizing stop, my gut twisted so tightly I was forced to wretch stomach acid onto the side of the road.

I sat doubled over on the side of the road, choking on the truth of her betrayal. She was pregnant and the child wasn't mine. We'd been married for seven years and had been trying to have a child for five of them. Three of those years were filled with doctor's, needles, and surgeries. Nothing had come out of it. Not even a glimmer of possibility. Everything came back negative. And apparently the problem was me.

"A one night stand," she swore. One night stands don't last 6 months and end with you leaving me for him, I wanted to scream. But it wouldn't matter. She had left me long before, had an opportunity to deal with any trifle of guilt she may have felt and I was the one left to suffer alone. I had been brutally thrown out of the Love Shack. My bruises weren't visible yet, but they would be.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***


I stared at the picture in it's wooden fame. The colors were faded, but I could still make out the sunshine and blue crests of waves. A single bird flew toward a thick white cloud. It was stained in one corner, made wet by the tears that flowed the day I found it in my daughter's journal. A small piece of art that represented a dream of going to the ocean to visit her aunt. A dream taken away when the other driver crossed the center line. I felt my heart tighten and my throat squeeze. My fingers ran shakily over the glass, showing the picture a tenderness that I wished I could show my daughter. I wondered when my misery would lift and I could recognize sunshine outside of this picture. I both wished for and dreaded that day.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ten O'clock

At 10 o'clock I was reading books to my daughter, using the sun as a light. My son was throwing a ball for the dogs and shrieking with joy as they raced around the room. They were safe and sound.

At 10 o'clock, as the sun went behind a cloud casting a shadow over the page I was reading, I looked out the window. A young boy was following the steep sidewalk up the hill wearing a pair of Superhero underwear and not a stitch more. I put my daughter on the floor (to her loud dismay) and looked down the street. The little boy was alone. I looked back to see if he had capped the hill and found that he had picked up a stick. It was dragging on the ground next to him as he continued to place one foot in front of the other.

My children were very sternly instructed to stay in the house. I went outside and started to follow him. Luckily, my neighbor, Lisa, pulled into her driveway about this time. She followed the boy while I ran to get my phone. I called the police and explained the situation.

Lisa and the boy appeared at the top of the hill, walking side-by-side. He told us he was five years old and refused the offer of warm clothing. He told us he was looking for his brother. I relayed this information to the police and then reminded my own children they should be in the house.

The boy grew tired of questions and began to wander away. Lisa and I began to follow him, encouraging him to stay at the house to no avail. My other neighbor, Sandy, came out to help. I asked her to stay with my children which she gladly did as I continued to tell the police where he was headed. Two blocks later, the boy saw his sister and called to her.

She ran to greet him, clearly surprised he had left the house and relieved that he was okay. "It's 10 o'clock, Lisa intoned, "Do you know where your brother was?" Lisa and I released him into her custody. I wondered why she wasn't in school. Lisa made a comment about it as well. As we rounded the corner to my house, a policeman pulled up. "He's home with his sister in the Prescott Place Apartments," we said.

Lisa added, "His sister's name is Tani Brown. She's in my son's class."

The police officer left to follow up. I went home and thanked Sandy for watching my kids. I hugged them, glad to know that I always know where my children are at 10 o'clock or any other time of the day.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers.... and it really did happen today ***

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unlikely Friendship

I had been to dozens of playgroups, children's activities and classes, parks, and moms nights out before I resigned myself to the understanding that bonding with another mother was not in the cards. Then a mom I had seen in the preschool halls for the last year heard me tell the kids we were going to the park.

"Which park?" she ventured.

"We haven't really decided yet. Do you have one you can recommend?" I asked. I hadn't avoided her, but she always looked so tired and run down I had done little more than offer a smile when I saw her.

"There is a great one just past the health club. My kids would love to have someone they know to play with." She seemed hopeful, excited. I recognized the emotion well. The park is not a treat for adults unless the kids know someone there.

"Okay." She gave me directions. We spent the next two and a half hours having one of the best conversations I had had in a long time. Our kids were begging us to take them home.

I'm loving this friendship right now. Sadly, she is moving across the country in three weeks. We've only known each other two weeks at this point.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sorry for the Slew

The Ugliest Clothing Trend

If I want to see if you wear boxers or briefs, I'd date you for a while. Since we aren't dating, put some pants on that fit. Please.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Dear Diary of a Rising Star

Dear Self,

I'm hot. It's 103 degrees at 4 pm in Texas. I play in three hours. They tell me it will be cooler... maybe only in the mid-nineties. I'm sweating profusely. Is it heat or nervousness? I am worried I won't be able to hold on to the guitar when I walk on stage. It will be worse then with the hot stage lights blaring down and the body heat rising.

I love the effect of it all though. The noise of the crowd that rises and falls like crashing ocean waves. The brilliant light that makes me feel as if I am singing to God, his dancing shadow falling on the clouds. I'm not high,(I never am) it's just a very different view from the stage.

I'm smiling now. I've made it. I'm ready to enjoy the moment.

*** One Minute Writer ***


I wanted to be the Song Mistress for my pledge class. I couldn't sing, but winning it would have felt like receiving a Golden Globe or Grammy. Then she decided to pledge. She was the head of the choir, sang with a band, and was the lead in the college musical. I didn't win and felt a disappointment that held too much weight considering the situation.

*** One Minute Writer ***