Not Playing Favorites

friends

365 Writing Prompts January 6 – My Favorite:  What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person?  Tell us about it.

I’ve got as many different favorite people in my life as there are reasons for having them so it’s not possible to come up with some finite time period to describe to you.  Who keeps track of that kind of stuff anyway?  An hour can feel like forever and years can pass by in the twinkling of an eye.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life it’s that everything changes.  A high school teacher once told us, after a train accident (of all things) had taken the life of one of our classmates, that this was the time in our lives when we would start to experience the grief of death and loss, and that it would continue to get worse as we got older.  Imagine that, life being even more depressing after high school.  It starts much sooner for some of us of course, when a beloved grandparent or uncle or simply someone we assumed would always be around is suddenly physically gone.

But here’s the good thing about that.  If we remember them, they never really leave us.  Everyone we’ve ever met becomes a small part of who we are.  I miss the physical presence of my mother but in every other way she is still with me.  I think she will be inside me for eternity, in my head and in my heart.  Maybe my eternity will last eighty years, or maybe it’s already into eons if my soul is as old as I’ve been told. That either matters or it doesn’t.  Does time have to be measured?

Another thing I’ve learned is that the only one who will for certain be with me for the duration is me.  I am the common denominator in this great math problem known as my life.  So that should make me my all time favorite person and either a raging ego maniac or someone simply comfortable in her own skin.  I can’t get away from myself, no matter what role I choose to play. Might as well like who I am with all the labels stripped away.

A casual friend tried to convince me once that the absolute worst and most feared state we face as human beings is to be alone.  She is that person all of us have bumped into at some time or other who asks for our opinion so that she can go on and on at great length explaining to us why it is not only wrong but also stupid.  I think that explains why we’re not really close.  When I was silly enough to mention that I love my alone time, she just said, no, you don’t.  Inconceivable that anyone could be on their own and happy about it.

Being alone was actually preferable to her company right about then, although I think she would have found that idea preposterous.  Just a guess.  But I do like my own company, I like the quiet and the stillness and how relaxed I feel when I’m being perfectly me with no one to impress or entertain or piss off with my dumb opinions.

If you have a favorite person and you hate it when that person goes away, that’s okay, but it’s also not something to get obsessed about.  Things change.  If that person never comes back, you will go on living.  The hole in your life will fill back up and even though it will never be the same, it can still be good.

Well, is that enough blather for today? Enough of me talking to myself and wishing I would shut up already so I can go read a book or something?   I think that’s a yes.  See how agreeable I am?  I love me.

365 writing prompts

Thump Ripe Melons

joan baez

365 Days of Writing Prompts ( WordPress) for January 4:  Quote Me 

Yes, I know I am a day behind, but I’m skipping the one they suggested for today because it involved the phrase ‘favourite book’ and for me there just is no such thing. Or possibly favourite anything, but for the sake of sanity, I’ll just pick a quote I like and everything will be back to normal tomorrow.  Or, you know, as close as it gets.

Do you have a favourite quote that you return to again and again?  What is it, and why does it move you?

Life is a thump-ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess.  (Joan Baez)

Found out yesterday I have been getting this quote wrong forever.  I thought it was “life is like a soft ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess” but the words are from the song Rexroth’s Daughter, and the original version of this quote (which is actually what one is supposed to get right, because, duh, it’s a quote)  is a lot better than the one I appear to have messed up. Because thump-ripe is an incredibly fun thing to say, and stating that life IS something is so much more emphatic than being vague about what life might be like.

The whole song is quotable.  It’s so sixties and folk-song-y. I also found out it was a song originally done by Greg Brown, and Joan Baez did a cover of it, so it’s not even her quote!  See??  Life IS a big mess.  Sometimes I think that’s exactly what makes it sweet.  And thump-worthy.

Anyway, enough making things up for now.  Here is the song, sounding to me at the beginning as if her guitar might have been used a few too many times for melon thumping.

Coldest night of the winter, working up my farewell
In the middle of everything, under no particular spell
Dreaming of the mountains where the children learn the stars
Clouds roll in from Nebraska, dark chords on a big guitar
My restlessness is long gone standing like an old jack pine
I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter. She’s a friend of a friend of mine
Can’t believe your hands and mouth did all that to me
And they are so daily naked for all the world to see
That thunderstorm in Michigan I never will forget
We shook right with the thunder and in the pounding rain got wet
Where did you turn when you turned from me with your arms across your chest
Yeah I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter, saw her in the great northwest

Would she have said it was the wrong time if I had found her then
I don’t ask very much, a field across the road and a few good friends
She used to come and see me, she was always there & gone
Even the very longest loves don’t last very long

She’d stood there in my doorway smoothing out her dress
saying ‘life is a thump-ripe melon – so sweet and such a mess’

Well the murderer who lived next door seemed such a normal guy–
You try to swallow what they shove at us, you run out of tears to cry
I heard a man speak quietly, I listened for a while
He spoke from his heart to my woe and then he bowed and smiled
What is real but compassion as we move from birth to death
Yeah I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter and I’m running out of breath
Spring will come back I know it will and it will do its best
so useful, so endangered like a lion or a breast
I think about my children when I look at any child’s face
pray that we will find a way to get with all this amazing grace

It’s so cold out there tonight, stormy I can hardly see
I’m looking for Rexroth’s daughter and I guess I always will be.

List of Eleven

eleven

From 365 Days of Writing Prompts, January 3rd.

Kick It:  What is the 11th item on your bucket list?

I do not have a bucket list and probably never will have one.  I get exhausted just thinking about such things.  And W has become so efficient and organized doing the shopping that I don’t even have a grocery list kicking around anywhere from which I could take the eleventh item and use it to write something astounding.  Imagine an entire blog post on lettuce.

No, it’s okay, I can’t imagine that either.

Instead,  I’ve decided to focus on a couple of random words in this prompt and call it being creative.  Or maybe even inspired.  Although that’s probably pushing it.  So here’s a list of eleven memorable quotes from the book Eleven Minutes, by Paulo Coelho. 

eleven minutes

“Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. “Once upon a time” is how all the best children’s stories begin, and “prostitute” is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let’s keep that beginning.”

“When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.”

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life.”

“When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side. And yet if something goes wrong, there is nothing left! How is it possible for the beauty that was there only minutes before to vanish so quickly? Life moves very fast. It rushes from heaven to hell in a matter of seconds.”

“I am two women: one wants to have all the joy, passion and adventure that life can give me. The other wants to be a slave to routine, to family life, to the things that can be planned and achieved. I’m a housewife and a prostitute, both of us living in the same body and doing battle with each other.”

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it”

“Considering the way the world is, one happy day is almost a miracle.”

“Really important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other.”

“No one owns anything. Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them. And if nothing belongs to me, then there’s no point wasting my time looking after things that aren’t mine.”

“Read. Forget everything you’ve been told about books and read.”

“She wasn’t a victim of fate, she was running her own risks, pushing beyond her own limits, experiencing things which, one day, in the silence of her heart, in the tedium of old age, she would remember almost with nostalgia – however absurd that might seem.”

There.  Now wasn’t that a lot more educational than finding out that I’ve always wanted to swim naked in Paris?  Well I certainly hope so.

Resolved

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions-572x433

From the WordPress prompt book:  Have you ever made a New Years Resolution that you kept?

Well, of course I did.  I kept them all.  Just some of them better than others and for different lengths of time.

I’ve done all the popular ones.  Get fit.  Save some money.  Lose weight.  Drink less.  Quit smoking.  Eat healthy.  Put my family first.  Be a better person.  So, you know, been there, done all that, with varying degrees of success.  Perhaps my best one was vowing to no longer drink a whole pot of coffee a day.  Then I got one of those coffee makers that dispenses a cup at a time and has no carafe.  So you can’t drink a pot if you don’t have a pot, right?  I never said I didn’t cheat.

Anyway, after all these years of making sensible resolutions, maybe it’s high time I became more daring.  I should resolve to have more fun, do something crazy, go on an adventure, wear more purple, rock the boat, break all the rules!

Yeah.  Now that I’ve scared myself sufficiently with the possibilities, maybe I’ll just calm down and keep it simple.  Keep breathing, be content with the way things are and thankful for my ordinary life.  Read more books.  Be kind.  Focus on the now, be still and listen, hold no anger, find inner peace.  Easy things like that.

With retirement looming in the very near future (this September I hope) I am also looking at ways to spend all my glorious free time.  I’ve always said I’ll take up painting again, so I resolve to do that.  I will need a studio and lots of supplies. And some ambition would be helpful.

It’s funny how we think we need a brand new year to make a brand new start when every day is a new beginning.  As far as I know, no one is ticking off points on a score sheet, measuring my progress, or waiting around to give me a grand prize for whatever I’ve done.  Most days I like me.  When I don’t, there’s always tomorrow to turn things around and be better.

Keep those resolutions non specific and vague, and you just might be astounded at your success.

I think in terms of the days resolutions, not the years.  (Henry Moore)

No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.  (Madonna)

So How Is 2014 Going For You So Far?

therapy room with joanna cross

photo from Facebook page therapy room with Joanna Cross

This year (well, last year, actually) I downloaded this e-book to Kindle on my I-Pad.

365 Days of Writing Prompts

by The Editors, WordPress.com.

365 writing prompts

Then I promptly forgot about it, until today when I began wondering if I should try once again to do a post a day for a whole year.  I fell short by about twenty posts last year but  I like to set lofty goals for myself and then break the rules.  They’re self-imposed, so no one cares, least of all me.  And if I don’t like the prompt I can just use it as a springboard to talk about something completely unrelated, which is often how my brain works.

I also have a word-a-day calendar to improve my vocabulary, but already, skipping ahead and tempting bad luck,  I’m noticing the words are ones I’ve heard and used before, and that has made me all pouty.  Then I read somewhere that awesome things will happen if I choose not to be a miserable cow.

So here goes.

The first prompt is named “Stroke of Midnight”. 

Where were you last night when 2013 turned into 2014?  Is it where you’d wanted to be?

I was tucked up in my bedroom fast asleep, and yes, it’s exactly how I expected to (not) see in the new year.  If you really need to know, I missed midnight by a good three hours. That’s either very pathetic, or extremely smart on my part.  No hangovers in this house. Is there a bah-humbug phrase for thumbing ones nose at the celebration of another year biting the dust?

But even without a mad drinking party the night before, there are days (and a lot of them happen to come along in January) when I suffer from a severe case of clinomania (an excessive desire to stay in bed.)

There’s our first new word that did not come from my calendar, but from somewhere completely different,  snuck in to the middle of nowhere, and here’s the next one.

 – orenda (n.) a mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world, or to effect change in their own lives.

I don’t know, I think the New Year Gods are trying to tell me something.  So, look at that!  Post number one done, three hundred and sixty-four to go.  We are on a roll and slowly working our way up to world-changing mode. Hang on to your pointy party hats.

A House Full of Doors

grandmas flowers 001

Weekly Writing Challenge: Collecting Detail

The year is somewhere in the early 1950’s because I am not yet six.  Six is the magical age I will be when we move my grandparents off their farm to live in a brand new place with us. So the details of grandmas house should be nothing but foggy distant childhood memories by now, but they’re not.  They’re as vivid to me today as the view from my own kitchen window is from yesterday.  I close my eyes and the pictures come alive.

Grandmas kitchen is a fascinating place with doors to somewhere else all around the room.  There’s the door I just popped through from the white pillared porch, too big and heavy to pull shut all by myself.  Off to the right is the door to the woodshed.  I never open that door and I make sure I hurry to somewhere else when grandpa goes to fetch wood for the black wood stove so grandma can cook things and bang her pots and pans around while she waits for the fire to be just right. Beyond that door is a dark and scary place full of damp wood smells and cold still air.  And maybe dogs and wild scratching cats. I don’t want to find out what’s in there.

old radioThe door to the cellar is also closed against the darkness.  I am not allowed to open that one.  Grandma is sure if I do I will tumble down the stairs.  I am also not permitted to go through the door beside the giant radio that’s as big as me.  The radio is playing and grandpa is sitting beside it halfway across this doorway like a guard, bent over with his ear up against the soft cloth part where the voices come through.  He has to do this to hear it, because grandma doesn’t like it to be too loud, although she never stops talking and banging things around to drown it out, no matter how far grandpa turns up the knob.  The  door behind grandpa leads to the hallway and then there’s another door to the front room.  Only special company can go in to the front room.  Not children.  Children are to be seen and not heard, as grandma is very fond of saying over and over again so you’re not likely to ever forget it.

But I know another way to get in there.  I know how to be a child who is not heard and not seen either.  There is an open doorway next to the woodshed door which goes into the utility/store-room, and from there another closed door that leads to the indoor plumbing.  This is what grandma calls the new bathroom.  Kids are definitely encouraged to use the bathroom whenever they want and they don’t even have to ask.  I quietly slip in there and click the door closed behind me.  There is an enormous white tub beside a tiny white sink, and off in the corner like an afterthought, the shiny new toilet, snug up between the wall and three stair steps leading up to yet another door.  This is the one I sneak through and close silently so that I am standing on the landing, where a left turn leads to the upstairs.

I never go all the way up these stairs (there is no one up there to save me from whatever frightening things the second story harbors), but I like to go halfway.  I am small enough to fit my head and one arm and shoulder through the spindle railing under the shiny brown banister at just the right spot.  There on a flat-topped bureau below me sits a beautiful yellow-green cut glass pedestal bowl filled with luscious wax fruit. There is a golden apple with a rosy red blush on one fat round side, looking good enough to eat, although it’s not.  I tried to bite into it once and was unpleasantly surprised and sorely disappointed.  The marks from my teeth are still there to remind me of the experience.  There is also a cluster of blue-violet grapes, a bumpy tangerine orange and a creamy golden banana.  I like to look at them and touch them, pulling my fingertips across their sticky waxy skins.

Now, instead of retracing my steps and returning to the bathroom, I tiptoe down the three stairs that lead in the opposite direction from the landing and into the hallway.  Slowly, silently I creep towards the front room door and at the last minute, scoot across behind grandpa, inside and around the corner where I stop and hold my breath until I’m sure no one has seen me.

Grandmas front room has the most incredibly beautiful windows I have ever seen in my short little life.  They are tall and clear in the middle and they let the sunshine come streaming through to light up big bright patches on the hardwood floor.  On either side of each window are small rectangular panes of pebbled coloured glass.  Skycolored glass blue, sunshine yellow, and best of all, brilliant red.  I press my nose up to my favourite red one (it’s my favourite because it’s the only one I can reach by balancing on the arm of the big stuffed chair) and gaze out at a crazy red world.  The leaves on the trees are red; the sky, the grass, the fence and every one of grandmas flowers – everything.  Magically, unbelievably  red, red, red. I want the glass to swallow me up into this delicious red bubble where I can be as red as a riding hood, as red as a real apple, crunchy and sweet, as red as my red flyer wagon, spinning down a slippery red slope into a land where red never stops.

Oh oh.  I hear grandma wondering in a very loud voice where I’ve gotten myself off to. I hear her go clumping away and barging through the bathroom door.  In a flash I hop down off the chair, run back out into the hallway and through the forbidden door where I put my flushed cheek up against grandpa’s arm and clutch hold of his overall pant leg.  He doesn’t even look up.  There you are, grandma exclaims as she marches back into the kitchen.  I didn’t see you.  Were you right there all along?  She was, grandpa chuckles.  Right here beside me.  Quiet as a mouse, just like always.

The big radio is a wonder, the wax fruit, the many doors and the beautiful stained glass windows – I love them all.  But perhaps the best thing in this house full of doors is having a grandpa who’s as good as I am at keeping sneaky secrets.

 

All My Fears From A to Z

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 29th week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fear Factor Daily Prompt:  People are afraid of all kinds of things: spiders, the dark, or being enclosed in small spaces. Tell us about your greatest fear — rational or irrational.

I am a day behind with this, so I guess we can rule out the fear of being late.  There is no one major area of crippling paranoia for me.  Just a lot of minor annoying (but, of course, completely rational) phobias which I have decided to organize into an alphabetical list.

1.  Aliens (especially the ones that are cleverly disguised and walking among us.) (Hey, I’ve seen the documentaries, I know about these things)

2.  Bats (the kind that fly around at night wanting to get tangled up in your hair)

3.  Cancer

4.  Drowning

5.  Explosions

6.  Falling (hard and awkwardly enough to break bones) (or down an abandoned mine shaft)

7.  Germs (and people who don’t wash their germy hands)

8.  Heights (rooftops and beyond)

9.  Illnesses of the fatal variety

10.  Job interviews (avoiding them is the reason I’ve been doing the same job for so long)

11. Karaoke (Really, that shit is scary)

12. Lightning bolts

13.  Memory loss and Madness (although if I do go mad, who knows, it might just be a different kind of happy)

14.  Natural disasters

15.  Oceans

16.  Pain

17.  Quicksand

18.  Roller Coasters

19.  Swimming (without a life jacket) (in the ocean) (…which would lead to drowning….)

20.  Typhoons

21.  Unidentified Flying Objects

22.  Violence (physical, verbal, abuse of any kind)

23.  Wasps

24.  Xenophobia (Yes, I know, fear of a fear.  But until we get over our fear of strangers and foreign things,  peace on earth will never happen)

25.  Yeti

26.  Zombies

I probably won’t write a children’s alphabet book based on this list, complete with frightening illustrations, although stranger things have been done with the alphabet.  And many of the things I’ve listed (like the last two, for instance), I have no actual personal experience with whatsoever.  They just seem to me to be absolutely fear-worthy.

What are you afraid of?

Haiku Enlightenment

Sei Shonagon (清少納言)

Sei Shonagon (清少納言) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku Catchoo!

Your mission is to write five haikus — one for each of the five days leading up to this Friday when we will choose some entries and feature them on Freshly Pressed. 

Wise words always sound ridiculously more sage and profound when they’re written in the form of Haiku.  So here’s my five deeply philosophical attempts to attain WordPress fame.  And if Freshly Pressed is not in my future, what the hell.

Not a broken mess –

Beautifully imperfect.

You are not alone.

~~~~~

There’s no good reason

To act your age my darling.

Stay forever young.

~~~~~

Can life be perfect

One fine day, some tomorrow?

Nope, so just relax.

~~~~~

You must learn the rules

Before you can break them all.

Hey, good luck with that.

~~~~~

Afraid of the dark?

What you can’t see worries you?

Kid – turn on the lights.

~~~~~

CalGeisha

CalGeisha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Love Letter to My Life

From Therapy Room on Facebook

From Therapy Room on Facebook

Dear Life of Mine,

I don’t know what I’d do without you.  Well, I guess deep down I do know that without you there would simply be no me.  That would suck.  I know sometimes I say that YOU suck, but of course I don’t mean it.  Not really.

Mostly I love you to pieces.

I love you when you’re busy and crazy and tell me to hurry up, but I love you more when you’re laid back and mellow and lazy. I love how you make me breathe the air, see and touch and hear and know the incredible beauty of all the other lives around me.

I love that you are funny and strange and complicated.  I love your ups and downs and detours.  I love your crazy joy.  I even love your sadness.  Your bad bits teach me to embrace and appreciate your happy side and all the good things that fill you up and make you so worth living.

I love that you are beautiful and good.  Sometimes I think you’re hard, but then I look around and see others who are not so lucky and not so blessed.

I am so very grateful to have you. I know how fragile you are, and I try every day to do the right things so that you’ll be around for a long, long time.

I know one day we’ll have to part.  But let’s not let fear and worry kill the fun we’re having in each small moment, okay?  I know you will always give me a kick in the ass when I need it and that’s okay. I will still love you with all my heart.  And all my might. For however long we have together.

I love you, my wonderful life, no matter how you may change in the blink of an eye; right here, right now, just the way you are.

********************************************

Prompts For The Promptless:  Sometimes called a billet-doux, or a love letter, a love note is a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection.  The loved one does not necessarily have to be animate, human, alive, or known.

Weekly Writing Challenge:  Blogging Events

A Fork Tale

Daily Prompt: 

Write a post about anything you’d like, but be sure to include this sentence somewhere in the final paragraph:

“He tried to hit me with a forklift!”

***********

Clifton Carmichael is a dutiful son.  He goes to visit his 89-year-old mother in the seniors residence every day and patiently listens to all her complaints.angry

The food is terrible here.  Everything is mush.  The coffee is like dishwater.  And those caregivers!  Why do they always mumble and never speak up.? And they don’t listen either.  I tried to tell them that some of my best articles of clothing have been lost by the facility laundry.  Anybody could be wearing my things!  I wanted to keep a look out for them but someone has gone off with my good glasses too.  I don’t think I’m wrong to strongly suspect that old coot, Ernie.  You remember Ernie?  They’ve forced me to share a table with him in the dining room and he is downright cantankerous and extremely unpleasant.  I have no idea why.  I try to be nice, I surely do, but I do not like him, not one little bit.  Why, just the other day he rudely disrupted dinner by waving his cutlery around at me in a very menacing manner.  Clifton, are you listening to me? 

Hmmm…?  Of course mother.  Ernie.  Are you getting along any better with Ernie now?

He tried to hit me with a fork, Clift!

A forklift?  Mama, don’t be ridiculous.  And don’t fret, nobody could get a forklift past the security doors.

A fork, Clift.  FORK!  FORK!  FORK!

Mother,  please!  Shush – such language!  You’ve imagined the forklift.  I’ll get the nurse to give you something to calm your nerves.

Get her to give something to that Fork King, Ernie, why don’t you? He’s the villainous silverware fiend!  Oh, never mind.  Nobody listens to me.  Go home Clifton.  I can look after myself.

Yes. Yes, alright.  I do believe you can.

Clifton Carmichael sighs as he gets up and kisses the top of his mother’s silver head.  Forklifts in the dining room.  Good God, he thinks as he bids her goodbye, what next?