Skip to content

red writing hood link-up — core

April 27, 2012
Today, I’m linking up with Write on Edge and responding to the following prompt:
For this week, I’m giving you the word “Core.” You have 450 words to explore any meaning of the word in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction. Link up your responses on Friday’s post, and have fun!
Today, operating on the advice of a writer friend, I decided to delve into the annals of work I’ve previously written and dismissed.  “Time is your best editor,” he said.  Thus, I found a brief piece I wrote in a writing workshop in 1998 — a lifetime ago — and edited it a bit to meet the prompt’s word count guidelines.  I chose this piece because it is about love and death; “core” if ever I heard it.  Anyway, I welcome your feedback — it may be destined for the trash pile or it may take on another life… so to speak.  Either way, it’s fine.
*****

When Sheila first learned of Marco’s plans, she calmly picked up near-lying scissors (previously sharpened for some chicken breasts she’d planned to cut up for dinner) and slit her wrists the good way – no horizontal ineffectuality across white flesh, no scars she’d be telling stories about in group therapy at the state hospital, but long and gaping slashes from wrist to elbow.  Smiling at her work, she crawled into the bathtub, ran the water, and died with thoughts wiling through her head.

On the brink of death we have visions, the mystics say.  On the edge of a new reality we can see what’s to come or what has passed.  Life’s film reel is a notion that everyone, including Sheila, has accepted and envisioned.  Still, Sheila wondered why anyone would want to see a life, lived probably half-blind, lived in monochrome and fear, as a movie.  Boring, she’d thought.  Indeed, in the early days of their courtship, lying damp in their afternoon bed, she remembered one of those dreamy, love-drunk conversations she’d shared with Marco.  He’d said, “I’ll see the future, babe,” stroking heavily the small of her back, his graying hair dark at the temples.  Back then, she doubted his words.

Now, looking towards death in the peeling-painted bathroom of this studio never shared with Marco, Sheila saw the future.  It was clear-clawed, scratching her temples in unanticipated pain.  She saw the purpling dusk along Fourth Street, steam rising up from asphalt toward Marco’s new-shined shoes.  Steam bathed the cuffs of his trousers in iridescence and then, like a blow to the head, she saw Laura in his arms wearing a wide-brimmed hat.  They were dancing, Marco and his wife, just as Sheila had been told they would; dancing though she was dead, as if she’d never been there at all.  Sure, Sheila’s friends always told her, lips pursed, “Girl, he’s never going to leave that wife!”  But Marco’s cool face against her knee, his earnest eyes repeating, “I love you.  Laura and me… we’re over” was enough to keep her head on crooked.

She saw the future: their smiles and dancing shoulders, the hat, Fourth Street.  Maybe a band was playing, but Sheila couldn’t hear it.  Though twilight faded, the couple whirled unsteadily.  Sheila could clearly make out a shape – one red-heeled pump, wet-glossed and still, attached to a leg in nude-tan panty hose.  Sliding her eyes admiringly up the leg, a dress she’d once loved – red satin, evening, sleeveless to the pale-fleshed tree limb arms.  Shrouded by the steam, her corpse unmistakable: “I’m never coming back.”

*****

Sometimes the wind blows and, POOF, it’s 1998.  Other times, there’s no looking forward or back, so entrenched are you in the richness of the moment.  I don’t know where you are today, but I hope you are fully alive.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

Advertisements

red writing hood prompt — core

April 25, 2012

Improbably, it is nearly summer.  I’m aware of the days careening by, in part, because the tadpoles we caught in our pond are growing legs.  Spindly and fragile, no bigger than kidney beans, they skid through the pond water we’ve gathered and devour the boiled lettuce we’ve prepared.  My firstborn turned six on Sunday, long-legged and swimming all by himself.  The days slide by.

In the midst of all of this, I do have a few things to share with you.  Remember my friend Katie, the feng shui practitioner and documentary filmmaker whom I profiled hereShe has begun a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to finish her film, CarLess in L.A.  [If you are not familiar with Kickstarter, it is a funding platform for creative projects that works like this: Katie sets a goal for how much money she needs to raise and solicits donations for 30 days.  If she meets her fundraising goal by the deadline, the project is funded.  If she does not meet the goal, she receives none of the donations.]  Anyway, I think both the funding platform and Katie’s film are projects which encourage collectivity and creativity, both values I can get behind.  If you have an extra few bucks and feel inspired, donate to Katie’s project here.

This week, I’m linking up with Write on Edge again.  I’ll be responding to this prompt:

For this week, I’m giving you the word “Core.” You have 450 words to explore any meaning of the word in a work of creative non-fiction/memoir or fiction. Link up your responses on Friday’s post, and have fun!

core
noun

1 the earth’s core: center, interior, middle, nucleus; recesses, bowels, depths; informal innards; literary midst.
2 the core of the argument: heart, heart of the matter, nucleus, nub, kernel, marrow, meat, essence, quintessence, crux, gist, pith, substance, basis, fundamentals; informal nitty-gritty, brass tacks, nuts and bolts.

adjective

the core issue: central, key, basic, fundamental, principal, primary, main, chief, crucial, vital, essential; informal number-one. ANTONYMS peripheral.

I’ll be back on Friday with my 450 words.  I’ll try to stay present in whatever maelstrom whirls my way.

I hope whatever you are working on is growing legs or sprouting wings.  I hope your creativity lives in endless daylight; an early, unexpected summer.  Thanks for showing up.

red writing hood link-up — makeover

April 20, 2012

Oh, how I love a good makeover story.  I won’t bore you with my thoughts on the subject, as I already wrote about my love of makeovers here.  Let’s just say that I’m a sucker for stories of rebirth.

Today, in response to the Red Writing Hood prompt below, I’m bringing in the perspective of a character about whom I’ve been writing a lot lately.  She’s seventeen and desperate for the kind of makeover no curling iron can render.

It’s time for a change in outward appearance, be it a character, yourself, or someone in your life. In 500 words or less, write about a makeover of your choice (hair, clothes, makeup, facial hair for the menfolk), fictional or memoir/creative non-fiction. Let’s think about how physical appearance changes can affect the inner landscape.

Your feedback is welcome, as this character is central to a project on which I’m currently working.

*****

“Hey, make me over.  Turn me inside out.” 

Make whatever blooms beneath my skin, what melts my bones to beams, make that the first thing a stranger sees.  Illuminate my heart, because I have known its goodness but no one else has.  Shine a light on the strength in the pit of my stomach.  Burn me, if you have to.  Please, just turn me inside out.

What’s layered on the outside wins me nothing.  I’m occluded.  My skin is too brown and my hair is too long.  No one has ever looked into my eyes and willed me beautiful.  My arms are too long and rope-skinny, with elbows sharp and bramble scars.  My face is all angles – a nose straight like a man’s (“The Crying Indian!” Martin used to screech after we watched that old anti-pollution advertisement in eighth grade Social Studies), and eyebrows like exclamation points.  The girls at school cast glances at my legs; I see them.  Talia said she’d give anything for long legs like mine, but she spat it like an insult.  That was the only time she’s ever talked to me.

“You could cut your hair,” my aunt Laura says gently when she thinks I’m upset, smoothing it away from my face.  “I’ll take you,” she touches her own perfect caramel waves, smiling weakly; “it’ll be fun.  What do you say?” 

I shake my heavy head, unwilling to tell her what I know is ridiculous:  I can’t cut my hair until somebody looks beneath it.  I can’t go about the business of repairing what looks wrong until someone – anyone – comes looking for what might already be right.

“Hey, make me over.  Turn me inside out.”

This is my prayer to the God I believe in, molder of the dirt.  My mother used to urge me to speak respectfully to God, but in her next breath she told me God knows everything.  Surely, I said, God appreciates my honesty.  God knows what I’m asking for, ever more impatiently.  God doesn’t want me sucking up, after all.

What would it look like, I wonder, if my prayer was answered?  If I were shown noble, excellent, or praiseworthy, my insides scrubbed shiny for the world to see, my skin’s brown barrier hidden, my true heart on display… what would that look like?

Today, I’ll knock my chest with my fist.  I’ll run faster than I know I can, buoyed by legs that stretch for miles.  I’ll search a cloudless sky for God’s morning star, begging, “God, make me over.  Turn me inside out.”

*****

I hope today finds you filled with a bold new light.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

red writing hood prompt — MAKEOVER… WHEE (oh, and some other stuff)!

April 19, 2012

In keeping with recent tradition, this week I will be linking up with Write on Edge, an online writers’ community, by responding to this prompt:

It’s time for a change in outward appearance, be it a character, yourself, or someone in your life. In 500 words or less, write about a makeover of your choice (hair, clothes, makeup, facial hair for the menfolk), fictional or memoir/creative non-fiction. Let’s think about how physical appearance changes can affect the inner landscape.

I will be back tomorrow with my piece.  Anyone who knows me even a little knows I cannot resist a makeover, so  this should be fun.

Currently, my nightstand is exploding with books I can’t wait to read.  I am in nerd heaven.  I’ve just begun Model Home by Eric Puchner, recommended by a friend, and I am really enjoying it.  My book club is reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, which I haven’t started yet but will soon.  Then, yesterday I was overjoyed to find this little beauty in my mailbox:

I do have a hot pink wireless mouse. In a houseful of boys, I take my pink where I can get it.

Steve had pre-ordered Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, the memoir by Jenny Lawson (a.k.a. The Bloggess) for me as a Valentine’s Day gift (he gets me!) and it arrived yesterday.   If you aren’t familiar with Jenny Lawson’s oddball wit, please hurry up and visit her blog (although, if profanity offends you, you might want to skip this one).  One of her most famous posts (and my favorite) features Beyoncé, the giant metal chicken.  Seriously.

Anyway, if you need me, I’ll be reading.  A lot.

What are you reading these days?

Here’s to the hilarious, the profane, and the made-over.  I wish you an interesting day, and thanks (as always) for showing up.

feathers, spy goggles, and relics from childhood

April 17, 2012

feather by n0rthw1nd

If, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “hope is the thing with feathers,” then Gratitude must be the thing with night vision goggles.  And voice recorder pens.  And teeny hidden cameras.

Gratitude is stealthy and limber, a cat burglar on a glass skylight dropping, unbidden, into my living room.

Like hope, Gratitude sings “in the chillest land/and on the strangest sea.”  After executing a flawless stake out, it announces itself among the broken pieces.  It is there, it has always been there, and it demands recognition.  It knows when to drop its cover.

Gratitude wants little, but it demands acknowledgement.  Once it has been spotted, it refuses to be ignored.

It can get testy, that Gratitude.

So when it finds me, I welcome it.  If I remember, I apologize for shunning it, and I remind Gratitude that its black spandex costume is built for concealment.  I beg it to dress for the occasion, next time.  Whether it hears me or not, I am not sure.  Gratitude’s job is already done.

When I was a little girl, I loved reading the poems of Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I still do.  I hope today finds you grateful, hopeful, and enjoying some relic from childhood.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

red writing hood link-up — trading up

April 13, 2012

Today, I am linking up with the fine folks at Write on Edge.

My brief piece was inspired by this prompt:

This week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time one of your main characters finds himself or herself paying back a debt–financial or otherwise.
You have 500 words, so use them wisely, and we’ll see you this Friday to link up.

I’ve got so much more to write on this character, but tonight I am thoroughly exhausted.  Below is my piece.

*****

Mary grew up alone in the nest of mom, of dad; her soft-sinking belly a target of classmates.  They’d circle up, round up, “Retard!” shrill ten year-old voices, Louis always the loudest, Louis who didn’t know any of his capitals or how to spell “genuine,” Louis with dirty hair longish that smelled like urine, like saltwater, his Toughskins jeans too small because his mother was six years dead and his father fused to a bottle.

But they’d kick her in the soft belly, Mary; toes in sneakers, in boots, in galoshes would rise to meet her gentle skin and she never wondered why – never – she just figured such it was, it was as it was, and so she would eventually, quietly, shuffle her way past the small park with its peeling sad not-fun playground equipment, past Josie’s Dry Cleaners where mama said they put too much starch in the shirts but she kept going back, past old Mr. Lester’s house on the corner with the chain-link fence and Bart, his underfed Rottweiler, snapping nastily over the edge, about to spill over.  The walk home from school was long and not as dangerous as the playground afterward.

Mary figured if she had two friends her life would be a little bit sweeter, though she never complained.  Two seemed the fattest, nicest number, because they could play jacks with each other and toss a ball (roundly, kindly) to each other while Mary watched.  Mary knew her dough hands were no good for jacks; she was slow as peanut butter and her sugar-smudged eyeglasses kept her from focusing. But if she had two friends, she could watch them play and imagine she was a sewn-in part of it, a seam.  She’d pay everything she had, she imagined, for two friends.

*****

I hope you have friends who make your life just a little bit sweeter, and I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved rest this weekend.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.

red writing hood prompt — paying what you owe

April 12, 2012

Friday, I’ll be linking up with Write on Edge.  I’ll be responding to the following prompt:

This week, write a fiction or creative non-fiction piece about a time one of your main characters finds himself or herself paying back a debt–financial or otherwise.
You have 500 words, so use them wisely, and we’ll see you this Friday to link up.

Yesterday, I gave my kindergartener a bad Dorothy Hamill haircut and visited an allergist who’s a dead ringer for Ben Stiller in “Reality Bites.”

What’s new with you?

I hope your day is memorable for all of the right reasons.  Thanks, as always, for showing up.