Monday, February 28, 2011


"It's not cheap," said the blonde woman as she rubbed her fingers down the young man's arm. She smiled at him warmly. His hands fidgeted in his pockets while nervousness and anticipation tugged at his facial features.

"You're going to be worth every cent," he said and turned her back to the engagement rings lying on the counter.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Hitman

He sat in the waiting area with the other men, a newspaper opened on his lap and the tools of his profession in the briefcase next to him. Each time the door to the inner office opened, he would look up and watch a man leave, disappointment in his eyes and a courteous smile on his lips. He knew he had something they didn't: the truth of what his masterpiece would lead to and the evidence to support his claim. Sharing the future consequences of a decision was often more deadly than a well placed bullet.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Friday, February 25, 2011

Si, Sea, or See

Her head had been throbbing for the last half an hour. Turning the book over in her lap so she wouldn't lose her page, she settled her head back against her pillow and let out a long audible sigh.She guessed it was nearing 5am. Time was elusive though, and it could just as easily have been 6am. She turned her head so she could look out the window. Big white fluffy clouds filled the sky. Only an occasional splotch of deep blue could be seen. "How much longer?" she wondered.

She watched for a few more moments  before returning to her book. It was no good. Her head was throbbing worse than before. She closed it and lay it next to her. Closing her eyes, her mind began to run through the life choices that had brought her this far. She hadn't noticed she'd drifted to sleep until she was gently nudged awake.

"Look," said a man's voice. She followed his slender finger and found herself looking out the window again. Far below her lay the deep blues of the Aegean Sea and for the first time in her life, she knew she had arrived home.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Hustler

He came into the room sleek and ready. A bright sparkle sat in his eyes as he smiled warmly and shook hands firmly. He was the man of the moment. The man everyone wanted to know. The one they wanted to be.

That was last month.

Now he sits in his office and twirls his pen. He wonders where to put the finishing touches. He checks that he has dotted his i's and crossed his t's. Sighing, he looks at the already dried ink with an air of excitement and dread. His moment would come again soon. Like his masterpiece, it would be a thing of great beauty.

He prepares for their reception; his and the masterpiece's. He calls his fellows aside. He talks to them about his idols, all powerful men that had at some point in their lives stood up to the world. He works them over, infusing them with a joy about the future that can only be reached by holding to the letter of the word in his masterpiece. But like every important moment in history, there must be some sacrifice.

This was all two weeks ago.

He stands at his window and watches the people amass. First came 5,000. Then 15,000-  35,000- and then 70,000. They have all come for him. His knuckles are white on the window sill. How could they be so misguided? So distrusting? So ungrateful? He told them what he would do. He told them and showed them for the last 8 years. How could they claim to be surprised? How could they call him a hustler? 

He pulls in a deep breath and his shoulders relax. It is his moment. He will need to make sacrifices. His reputation muddied, his intentions questioned, his blood argued cold and warm. But there will be no compromises on his masterpiece.

This is today.

*** Daily Writing Practice***

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Letter To Myself

I haven't written in five days and I have deeply regretted that. This month has been one of the most overwhelming that I can remember in a very long time. I spent the first week and a half feeling physically miserable, but functional. I made decisions, plodded through homework-- mine and my children's-- and skimmed the top of the rest of my responsibilities. Things started falling apart and I started making mistakes that shocked me. I forgot dates and commitments and promises of helping others. Everyone was so forgiving. After all, those kinds of faux-pas are truly unlike me.

When I was finally able to breathe freely, I took in a deep breath of life and found it to be polluted and contaminated. It didn't taste as sweet. Politics had dirtied it a great deal. Friends, family, neighbors, and my own children were now tainted. I find myself holding my breath, this time in hope. But my lungs are quickly depleting and my joy at watching the surviving middle class stand-up for themselves does not have the buoying effect it needs. I am weighed down by the pollution that is trapped inside my mind and heart. It all makes me want to cry.

But crying is a luxury when you find you've been removed from the river and are now left in the too harsh sun. That's what it felt like when fevers overtook me for the last week. Strong medication struggled to keep my fever below 104. I doubt it's success in the dark nights. I slept, as often as possible, to forget my fever and the political contamination and the sad excuses of the early parts of the month.

I am no longer asleep. I am awake. Still concerned for family and friends. Worried about how the fallout will affect my children's future. But awake and functional again. I am also further behind than I was three weeks ago and very eager to get back on track. There are many things that must be done before I can fully return to writing daily. I hope you understand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Left and Right

Left and Right are terms frequently applied in the politics of the United States. The "left" is typically used to represent politicians with a more liberal view. The "right" tends to refer to those with conservative view points. The battles between them are on-going and can be epic.

Today, for the first time since I started to invest myself in politics in any manner, "left" and "right" have been set aside. I wish I could say this because politicians finally established a bi-partisan relationship, even if only in my state. But I can't. At least, not yet.

If all the havoc, animosity, fear, and anger that the current Governor has caused was resolved through bi-partisanship and that relationship remained in place to solve other large issues, I would say it was all well worth it. Instead, I am sitting in front of my computer reading and worrying about my friends, my neighbors, and my children.

I wish the conversation would just go back to the "left" and the "right".

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, February 14, 2011


Good chocolate is my favorite. Cheap chocolate is my second favorite. The truth is, I love chocolate. No matter how bad the day has been, that sweet substance always give me the breath I've been holding. A good day just becomes better. Today, I've had chocolate chip cookies, a chocolate cupcake, some peanut butter cups and kisses, and even some Lindt chocolates. I seriously don't think I could like the man in any less than I already do. Even if he was dipped in chocolate.

*** One Word ***

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Last Night

We watched, our breaths held in anticipation, as the final scenes played out. Soon, we would be able to greet her, the star of this play. Her scene ended to thunderous applause. Her last night on Earth completed and her soul rising to our warm embraces.

*** Daily Writing Practice **

Friday, February 11, 2011


Dew lay thick on the rough blades of grass under the fresh morning sun that sprayed through the clouds and slanted into the windows of the Volvo. Carefully, I unfolded myself. I didn't wish to wake up my fellow travelers. It was still early and last night had lasted far too long. Looking out the car windows, I could see corn cobs, dented tin cans, and empty plastic bags strewn across the ground. The scent of an easy hunt had attracted a bear... or maybe two.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Photograph

There she stood, arm in arm with her mother and sister. A warm breeze blew at their skirts, causing them to gently brush against their knees. It was Spring, a time of renewal. Buds were on the trees and the grass was turning muddy. She felt filled with the energy of rebirth. Feeling strengthened by her surroundings, she stared into the stern face before her.

He stared back. His scalp felt prickly from the sweat caught between it and the weight of the helmet. His legs were sore from holding his body rigid hour after hour. The only good thing about the assignment was the young girl in front of him. She was beautiful. In any other situation, he would have approached her and asked for a dance. Instead, he stood with the barrel of his gun pointing at the ground and his face impassive.

That was what the photographer saw. Both ease and anxiety, strength and discomfort, lines that blurred together in a fight that made no sense. The photograph told the story in the space of a 5x7 frame in the New York Times.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***


She stood firm, her arms linked with her mother and younger sister. There were others too, standing arm in arm in solidarity. Together they would send a clear message. They were not to be passed by. They were to be recognized. The government would not be allowed to push them any further away. It was time to revolt.

*** One Word ***

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Project

Joanna loved the way her days flowed, but she knew they would come to an end sooner than later. Her children wouldn't always want her hovering near. They would move on; first into school and eventually into adulthood. The thought both saddened and excited her. She made the process of preparing herself for that inevitability her personal project.

For the first year, she considered what her current skills were and how those combined with the new ones learned in the sanctity of her home could carry her into a new career. The second year, she explored what each new direction would entail and whittled her choices down. The third year, she looked into ways to further strengthen her ability to do something that pleased her-- the things future employers would want, like additional education and experience. The fourth year she went back to school to learn Spanish. She also began to volunteer. Both would help in whichever direction she decided to go in the next short two years.

It was while tutoring one of her younger students that she stumbled across her first true obstacle. All of her classes had not, could not, prepare her to use the knowledge fluently in real world applications. Playing a math game with a child, she used her hard learned language skills to tell the boy he was silly. "Nino tonto," she said playfully.

The child's eyes grew round. The smile faltered, disappeared, and then grew larger than before. "You said a bad word to me!" He wasn't offended. He was over joyed that a teacher would make such a mistake.

She smiled, sure she had said nothing wrong. She'd used the phrase with her own children and several other students without an issue. "Nino tonto! No dije una palabra mala."

The child laughed again. "Si! Dos vezes ahora. Two times."

Joanna broke down and switched to hre more comfortable native tongue. "I said you were a silly boy... nino tonto."

"No, you said a bad word. It's a bad word." He was more serious, but clearly still bemused.

She could not argue with him. She didn't have enough of a grasp of the language. She knew her school books defined tonto as silly. She knew the translator she occasionally accessed used tonto as silly. She really didn't believe she was wrong. Nor did she dare to directly ask a young child to define a potential "bad" word. "Voy a preguntar tu maestra la significa de la palabra despues terminamos la leccion." Yes. That is exactly what she would do. She would just ask his teacher what the word really meant after the lesson.

And she did. "I know it is sometimes taught as silly, but culturally, it means stupid or dumb." Joanna wanted to  cry. She wondered how many children she had unknowingly called stupid. Worse still, because she was working with children that struggled with school the most, she wondered how many students truly believed she thought they were stupid.

That night, Joanna thought about the project she had started. She wondered if she had made the right choice. If perhaps, she should reconsider the direction she was headed. She wondered, as she fell asleep, if the whole idea of learning another language was tonto.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Explorer

She watched as the sand slid with a hiss through the sieve. Her eyes followed the grains, but her mind moved beyond the small pieces and delved into the bigger things, the ones she thought lay ahead. The sieve emptied, leaving nothing notable behind: a small pebble, a leaf. Carefully, she added the next allotment of sand to the sieve followed the soft hiss to the future once again.

She'd studied the terrain and knew it to be rich in possibilities. There was nothing absolute, only educated guesses, but again and again they lead her to believe that it was the right place to be. It would mean giving up on her dream of exploring the sands of Egypt. It would mean chasing a dream that included long days under a hot sun for alternative purposes; tedious tasks; isolation; and love.

Love was the true find. She wouldn't find it in the sands of Egypt or the tropical forests of Brazil. She may be lucky enough to find relics or bones, but she couldn't find the love of a man. At least, not the same man. She could find a man's love, but would she ever again be offered vacations on the coast, the opportunity to do those daily tasks of mother's, the worry and frustration of dealing with a family larger than she'd ever known? The love and life that this one man could offer her?

The sand stopped hissing. The sieve held a small sliver of an ancient pot. Her heart fluttered at the sight. It was beautiful. Quickly she logged it's find, the first entry in a week's time, and then added more sand. As the hissing began, she looked at the sliver and realized that her love for exploration and archeology were a sliver in comparison for her desire for that bigger find: love.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Mr. Mouse shook the snow from his whiskers. It had been a long tedious day at work and he was glad for the sight of his log home. Scampering to and fro so as not to disturb his neighbor in the branches above, he slipped into the warmth of his kitchen. Putting on tea, he sat down and began sorting through his mail. There were the usuals: the advertisements and coupons; the begging letters and charity invites; the financial statements and credit offers. There was one piece of personal mail.

It arrived in a blue envelope. His name was drawn in a beautiful manuscript and the sender had used berry juice. Receiving something personal was a surprise in itself, but the arrival of something that clearly demanded such careful attention made his whiskers twitch. Carefully, he pulled the flap up. A cream colored paper sat inside. Like all Mice, Mr. Mouse could tell it was heavy-weight and of high quality. He pondered who the sender could be. Surely none of his friends could afford to send such a luxurious letter!

Slowly, he pulled the paper out, letting the envelope fall tot he floor. He opened the paper and began to read:

"Dear Mr. Mouse,

Pardon my intrusion into your life; however, it is a necessity that can no longer wait!

You do not know me, or rather, you can not possibly remember me. We met when we were living in the walls of Jax Place. We were but mouslings at the time and couldn't have had the slightest scent that we would be destined for a journey of such magnitude together. Oh, but I am getting ahead of myself! You've been away from the city for such a long time now that you no doubt have little inkling to what I am referring.

We must remedy this situation immediately! I will provide you with a sketch of the history of our predicament in this letter. Shall it be found, there will be nothing of consequence contained in it. The more important details, I shall share with you only when we meet for their discovery could lead to a premature end of our journey and therefore a catastrophic end to..... well, life as we mice know it!

Many generations before we were born, a mouse named Peromyscus was working on finding a solution to keep us safe from our predators. He had ideas, hypothesis, and theories, but could never prove them. One day, he stumbled across an answer. He shared this answer with a mouse named Leucopus. On the day they were going to present their findings to the committee, they both went missing. No one ever heard from them again.

Two years ago, another scientist opened up a time capsule that had been buried about the same time Peromyscus and Leucopus had disappeared. It was suppose to contain specially altered seeds, but instead there was a single piece of paper inside. The paper had notes. The notes are believed to be part of what Peromyscus had learned. In addition to the notes, there were three names attached to dates. My name is one of them and so is yours. Your date arrives in a month's time. Which is why I am writing to you now!

You have a special role to play in our future and our children's history. We will meet on the prescribed date. I promise you will know when the time comes. Until then,  be reassured that I have every faith we are destined to succeed.



*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Teddy Bear

The room sat as a mausoleum, undisturbed and used only for remembering and talking to her son when it was too hard not to. Glancing around the room, Jane took a deep breath. It was time to let go. She would only keep the teddy bear he'd chewed the ear off of.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

The Police Station

The cuff's cut into Ana's wrists. Fifty years ago, she would have demanded they be loosened, demanded a phone call, demanded to be treated with respect! But now, she sat silently on the low wooden bench and leaned her shoulder into the green wall behind it. She listened to the unfamiliar sounds and thought about the family that had been left behind.

"You're Ana?" The voice was filled of incredulity, the eyes disbelieving as they scanned over Ana's aged body. Ana looked up and met his eyes. She didn't deny or confirm the accusation. "Ana Spader?" the man asked again.

Ana continued to stare at the him. He was tall, at least from her seated perspective. His hair was slicked back against his scalp. Little lines of scalp  showed between the stiff rows of almost black hair. He was dressed in the usual royal blue of the department and carried a clip-board in front of him. She wondered if he was purposefully blocking his ID tag or if it as an unconscious action.

He reached out and placed a hand under her arm. Applying more pressure than necessary, he pressed his thumb into her armpit. Involuntarily, she stood as quickly as she could. The pain caused her to inhale sharply. Ana felt a slight resurgence of her post-women'- rights-anger return. She stumbled beside the man, careful to stay on her toes to keep from feeling his thumb sharply implanted into the tenderness of her armpit.

They walked through a blue hallway and into a small space. She knew fifty years ago, she would have been brought into an interrogation room. She would have been offered a chair, had a table, and possibly coffee. Now she found herself ushered into a cage. Her eyes grew wide at her surroundings. Her mouth pulled tight, the placid face now displaying a hard scowl. Bars criss-crossed to form walls. Even the floor and ceiling were made from bars. In the corner, a mat lay on the floor. It was no different than the kennel she had used for training her puppies when she was in her early 20's. 

The man let go of her arm. Grabbing one shoulder, he turned her to face him. He looked at her deep wrinkles and her thin white hair, still trying to convince himself that she was the bag of flesh, bones, and inspiration that had roused two generations of women to rebel against a system that was built for their own good. He couldn't find the evidence in her face. He exhaled deeply, shaking his head slightly before moving on to reading Ana the charges she had accumulated.

"Ana Spader, you are charged with inciting violence against the state, one count for each 20 years of activity; you are charged with conspiring against the government in proposing your own agenda for equal treatment of women, one count for each speech and document you sent to officials of the state; you are charged with voicing your opinion in a public format, one count for each radio, television, and personal interview you gave; you are charged with the organization of women's groups that did not meet the requirements as determined by the state, one count for each organization; you are charged for operating as a therapist, a counselor, and an advocate after the state repealed the right of women to work, once for each year of activity under the law; Ana Spader, you are also charged with treason against the state, against the women you told you were helping, and against the men who then had to retrain those women. There are likely to be other charges filed. Until then, this will be the space that you will occupy. Your meals will be brought here on a schedule and you will also be allowed to use the bathroom to de-pollute yourself on a similar schedule. Otherwise, you will remain here in solitary confinement as you are considered a danger to the other incarcerated women. If you have any questions or would like to make a statement to be considered at the trial, I am prepared to take that for you."

After the long speech, he looked back to the old woman. She was standing taller than before and a large smile now rested on her face. She spoke softly, so softly that the officer found himself leaning in close to hear what she had said. "Child, was your mother a happy woman?"

He stared at her, unsure of what to say. Memories flooded him. His mother was capable and she had smiled a lot. But he never believed she was truly happy. His wife, he felt, acted the same way. Her soft voice worked into his thoughts. "I see," she said. "I see. As I am guilty until proven innocent, then I lose nothing in telling you that I still have not accomplished my goal. But that day is coming soon young man. When that day comes, you will see what a truly happy woman looks like. It will melt your heart and make you question the things your great-grandfathers have done."

Ana turned from the officer and walked to her mat. She sat down and leaned her shoulder into the bars.

***Daily Writing Practice ***

Thursday, February 3, 2011


The colors flickered before me, changing shapes, eliciting different emotions and reactions. I knew I was sining. That damn box  had always been able to lure me. Now it had thrown a major monkey-wrench into my vows for Lent. I'd only managed to stay away from the TV for three days.

*** One Word ***


"How are you doing ladybug?" I asked the little girl securely strapped in her car seat. She didn't respond. I had come to expect her silence in the car. I knew if I really wanted a response, I would have to divert my attention from the road. She always cued into my eyes, even in the rear view mirror. I glanced into the mirror. She was twisting her deep brown hair, apparently oblivious to everything else around her. Smiling, I looked back to the road.

Traffic was a touch lighter than moderate. "It looks like the promised blizzard seems to be sending people to the stores to stock up on eggs, milk, and bread. I always think that is kind of funny," I offered my thoughts to the silence, preferring the sound of my voice to the on-going weather information playing over the radio. "I wonder if people crave crazy amounts of french toast when they were snowed in."

I pictured the Brown family sitting around their kitchen table, a mound of french toast in the center, little Deshaun politely requesting the maple syrup. The response of his mother was a sharp inhale of breath. Alarmed, I realized that it was me inhaling sharply. The rear tires had slid out from under the car. "Ice!" We were driving directly toward the center barrier. I began spinning the wheel, trying to direct us away from the collision. We continued driving toward the barrier. I spun the wheel harder.

The car finally responded. We veered sharply away from the wall, only the back bumper making contact, and swung wildly back into our lane and then partially into the one next to us. I turned the wheel the other direction, not as sharply, this time, but enough to bring the car back into the lane we started in. The vehicle rocked roughly before skidding across another patch of ice.

We sailed across two lanes. A salt truck sat between us and the shoulder of the road . I tried slowing down. He sped up. My daughter and I slipped in the hole between him and the next car. Another concrete barrier sat just before us. Spinning the wheel, the car turned away from the barrier and scraped against the packed snow instead. We stopped. I took two deep breaths and reached for my phone. I didn't know who to call. We weren't hurt and the car was functioning well. I put my phone back into my purse and continued to settle my breathing.

"Weeeeee!" my daughter called out, a large smile on her face, "Can we do that again?" I wished for her silence.

*** Daily Writing Practice ***

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Pictures of little girls hung from clips connected to what looked like clothesline. In some pictures, the children were playing with each other. Solitary children filled most of the glossy white frames. Some were laughing, some crying or sleeping. Some were dressed up as princesses. All of them had her eyes; they were her children. "So this is what grandpa's secret was?" she whispered to her sister. "He loved black and white photography."

*** One Word ***