Friday, September 16, 2011

April 20, 1994

Choose a moment from your personal history and mine it for sensory detail. Describe it to us in rich, evocative details. Let us breath the air, hear the heartbeat, the songs, feel the fabric and the touch of that moment.

The room was quiet. Only his halting breaths and the distant, low voices at the nurse's station. The blinds were closed and the midday light was a soft, creamy glow at the window.

His outline seemed so small, almost insignificant, beneath the white sheet: a mere shadow of the man he once was. That sharp, almost gasping breathing punctuated the air. I sat by his side and held his hand, just in case he knew enough to know someone was with him. His fingertips were still rough from his years at the jeweler's bench. Diaphonous, parchment-thin skin, prickled with black hair covered the back of his hand. It was so unlike the powerful, capable, hard-working hand I had always known.

Those halting breaths were bitter, adding to the smell of disinfectant and dying in the air. I thought of other days. The smells of campfires, jeweler's rouge, family dinners, sawdust, trout streams and Old Spice. I thought of a little boy who would be losing his cherished grandfather that day: a little boy who was, at that very moment, sharing his dinosaur birthday cake with his kindergarten class. How would I explain this?

A sudden, ragged, stuttered intake of air. A sharp exhale. The breathing stopped. And my father was gone.

Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ

Orange Crush

Your assignment this week was to write a piece where you explore the first broken heart for your character – or for you.

Janna was picked for the cheerleading squad. She was only a freshman, but she'd been picked. Her heart pounded with joy and excitement as she put on her blue sweater and orange skirt, ready to cheer at her first football game. She held her pom-poms in front of her and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her red hair was pulled back in a smooth ponytail. Her mascara was perfect. That was all Mom would let her wear: mascara. It had to be perfect. It was all she had to work with.

The bus ride to the game took 90 minutes. The football players and cheerleaders rode together. Janna sat toward the back. Every once in a while, the star quarterback, Jeremy, would turn around in his seat and smile at her. It made her feel like she could take flight, that the hottest boy in school was smiling at her. At her. At HER!

Then he got up from his seat and started walking toward the back. Janna's breath came faster. He looked down at her, she scooted over, and QB Jeremy The Hottest Boy In School, a senior, sat down. The blood pumped through her head so quickly that she could barely hear him. I noticed you before. Now you're on the cheer team, we can see each other more. Do you have a boyfriend? Is that what he said? Was he talking to her? She tried not to show him the colossal crush that she'd been carrying around for him all year.

Janna thought if the bus rolled over in a fiery crash right that second, she'd die happy. She was sitting next to QB Jeremy The Hottest Boy In School and he was talking to her like he liked her. He was looking into her pale blue eyes and .... and.... looking!

He leaned toward her. Told her she smelled good. He slipped his arm around her. And then he kissed her. He stroked her thigh and, accidentally it seemed, brushed her breast when he put his hand up on her shoulder. Janna gasped with surprise and thrilling excitement. When he tried to really get a feel, she pulled his hand away but kissed him harder.

The bus turned the corner into the high school parking lot. QB Jeremy The Hottest Boy In School darted away and everyone filed off the bus. Janna waited, trying to compose herself. She was the last one off the bus.

A group of cheerleaders and football players stood off to one side and didn't look at Janna. The others stood together and were laughing. Janna caught Jeremy's eye and beamed a smile at him. They laughed harder. Some of them imitated her lovesick smile and they laughed some more.

Hot tears welled up in her pale blue eyes and her face flamed red as the realization hit her.

Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back In The Saddle

For this week’s prompt, we want you to recall those early memories of being online.
But there are two catches:
Please do not use the phrase “I remember…”
Also? No laundry lists. Try to focus on one small memory and share that with us. Tell us how it impacted your life and what it meant for you
I had been a stay-at-home Mom for 10 years. The youngest was enrolled in school, the budget was tight and I was going to the insurance agency to sign papers on a new policy, one that would save us some money. I walked out with new insurance and a job.

My sister gave me a bag full of hand-me-downs, because I didn't have any office clothes from the current century, or the money to revamp my wardrobe.

While I was at home teaching colors, manners, shapes, potties and ABCs, somebody invented the fax machine. The desktop computer had become a fixture in every office. Nobody was using mimeographs to make copies anymore. Carbon paper was a dinosaur. And I was someone who had learned how type (remember touch-typing?) on a manual typewriter. Oh. My. Gawd.

I sat down and looked at this thing on my new desk. Oh, sure, I knew what a computer was. I didn't own one. I pushed the power button. I waited. I clicked on that big lower-case e with Saturn's belt around it. I knew that my job required me to tackle this unknown territory. The home page was the insurance company's site. I clicked on "agent log-in".

Everything I had learned in school about research was obsolete. Everything I thought I knew about what it takes to have other people read your words was a moot point. No need for a thesaurus, a dictionary, a translation dictionary OR a style guide. Everything I thought about privacy was proven wrong.

I was online.

Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Denim Doubts

Jeans. They can evoke so much emotion in us: the hot jeans we wear on a date, the skinny jeans we can finally fit into, mom jeans we vow never to wear, the comfy jeans we’ll never throw out.
The assignment this week is to write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – in which jeans play a prominent role. You can even write an ode if you’re so inclined.
Word limit is 600

Wrangler came out with some new style of jeans that was supposed to give Janelle a J-Lo butt. She threw them across the footboard of her bed and tried not to think about it.

What's wrong with me? She thought. Shopping for clothes always gave her that feeling of frustration and despair.

Diets. Exercise. Shopping. Advertisements. Music videos. It seemed like every force on earth was lining up together to make her feel like a failure. The tears spilled out, and a little profanity along with them. Why was this so hard?

The phone rang. It was Suzanne, Janelle's best friend. How did she always know when to call?

"What's up, chickie pooh?" Suzanne was always cheerful.

"Not much. I just got back from the mall." Janelle's voice was flat.

"Oh. Well. I know how you feel about that. I bought a bottle of really nice Malbec. Can I come over? I have an idea." Suzane said.

"Sure. I'll make popcorn and we can talk."

An hour later, Suzanne revealed her idea. Janelle loved the idea, they spent the rest of the evening sketching out a plan for how to make the idea happen.

In only 18 months, Annie-Elle Jeans rolled into the stores. Real women's jeans. For women with real bodies. With pockets that could actually hold something, and zippers long enough that no one had to do the crawl to get into their jeans. Stylish, not blingy, nobody's name emblazoned across the ass. They didn't show your butt crack to the world, didn't ride up into your lady bits, the waist band was a little stretchy without looking like elastic pull-up jeans. And they came in a wide variety of size and length combinations, so that no one had to wear high-waters.

Jeans that felt so right on her body encouraged her to buy new lingerie and some hot new shoes. It wasn't nearly as painful anymore. She found out she had been wearing the wrong size bra. Looking in the dressing room mirror, wearing a sexy red bra that lifted the girls up high and round, she realized for the first time in her adult life that she was built. Why hadn't she seen this before? Janelle had the hourglass shape and womanly curves that turned heads everywhere she went. Great legs, gorgeous hair, an amazing rack... all things she had been ambivalent about because she was worried about a few pounds.

The realization that there wasn't anything wrong with her, that clothing makers were making clothes for mannequins and not women, opened up the windows to her life and let the fresh air in. Gone were the "I give up" ponytails, cheap flip-flops, yoga pants and over sized men's t-shirts. She bought clothes that pleased her, and found another hair stylist (one who did not say "very thick and wavy" like it was a bad thing). She got rid of every speck of heavy makeup in her bag, threw out every can of meal-replacement-shake crap in her fridge. She got to know the people at the farmer's market by their first names. Granny panties? In the trash! Self-help books? Goodwill! Exercise dvds? Gone! She bought a great vintage-look bicycle and started shopping locally, piling her groceries in the cute little basket on the handle bars. She stopped using the elevator all the time. She traded in her old sedan on a sports car and drove that to the city instead. She burned her punch card for Tastee-Freez. No one else was in control anymore.

Next  year, watch for Annie-Elle's new swimsuit line.

Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Those Days

This week we asked you to write a memoir piece beginning with the words, “I miss my childhood”.
We also asked you to keep it to 500 words. Just a reminder word count limits are there for a reason: to help you self-edit, and also to help our community members read more than a post or two.

I miss my childhood innocence.
Before I knew that people died,
That people lied.
Before I knew there was poverty, pain, illness.

I miss my childhood naivete.
School was the biggest worry in my life.
My only strife
Was chores to do before I played.

I miss my carefree childhood.
No responsibilites except to be a child.
Never wild.
And only striving to be good.

Always, feel free to comment! Trish in AZ