Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone for this lovely sig.
I've been blogging all through my days without knowing that it was blogging; although, this isn't necessarily the only thing I do without knowing what I'm doing.
Since I write on anything that's available around me, my life has been full of pieces of scribbled paper flying about like confetti. I'm so happy to finally have a permanent place to chew the fat.
So far my chewing the fat is on and off. Maybe, I lack teeth.
Feel free to comment, if you wish.
This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas "
|I don’t know what the world would be like exactly, if humor were to evaporate from it, but I think I wouldn’t be alive. Everyday life is mechanical and full of stress, and as a miracle, would I somehow manage to live, I wouldn’t be any different than a machine. Yet a machine has no feelings; human beings do. The kinds of feelings to fill the void left from humor would not be gentle; they would even be nasty and dangerous. Frankly, I would be afraid of me.
Then if humor took a hike, general health of the people would go down considerably. As it is scientifically proven, humor helps good health and healing. Smiles enlarge the nerves; laughter, boosts the immune system, protects the heart, relaxes the whole body, leaving the muscles relaxed up to 45 minutes, and triggers the release of endorphins, which temporarily relieve or ease pain and let the sense of well-being rule.
In addition, humor is contagious. When laughter is shared, it binds people to one another and increases happiness and intimacy. When little girls giggle together, their friendships are fortified. I know this from experience. When my cousins and I were young kids, we invented situations to laugh at, which bound us together. After several decades, no matter where life takes us, whenever we talk on the phone or manage to get together, we still laugh in unison and enjoy each other’s company.
During my child-raising days, when the going got tough, I used to read Erma Bombeck’s books. I used her sense of humor to boost my daily mood and positive emotional state. Nowadays my little book titled, 1000 unforgettable Senior Moments and Sh*t My Dad Says take their place among my reference books on a shelf next to my computer because I refer to them even more often than any other book.
Plus, I tape stand-up comedians' shows and other comedies for my hubby and me to stay in good emotional condition. Some of the British situation comedies on PBS have been our aids for good health, also, through the years.
If all these positives had been absent from my life, I think my life would have fallen into a bottomless abyss and would have either made me a terrible person or turned me into a corpse before I could live out my first decade.
Prompt: What kind of world would this be if there was no humor?
|There are many ways of running away, and I have done probably most of them quite successfully. If I could point to all the places, people, and incidents that I ran away from, I would have lots of dots on the map of my life. When I think about this, I can’t even connect those dots to make a comprehensible image.
Although fleeing has to do with finding a ground of security, some of the things I ran away from had to do with the fear of finding out what it was I was escaping from, but in my mind, I always had a good reason. The problem with my running away has been that I have left behind a tiny bit of who I am without finding out what it was exactly that I was escaping from. In some instances, however, I ran away because staying around became much harder.
In my early days, I used to run away from my mother who used to be the punishing kind. The places I ran to were under the tables and beds and behind the furniture. Several times I hid in the attic until what I deemed to be the threat had passed. In all this running away, however, I couldn’t shake the shadow of the feelings of guilt. Now I wonder if anyone ever does when they run away from facing a parent or any other source of law.
As a teenager I dreamt of running away from home, but I never did. Still, dreaming about it was a form of running away, and shame never came into it. Accordingly, running away inside my mind became my modus operandi. To this day, my mind wanders away from unholy situations and people who engage in what I think is empty talk.
Later in life, in my adult years, I ran away from a stalker, from difficult situations, from overloads of work, from demanding people, and from the opinions of others. Yet, in hindsight, most of these had more to do with not wanting trouble to grind me down than having a false pride. The strange thing is, I never regretted any of my runaway escapades in my adult years. Stranger yet, no one ever thought of me as a person who ran away from things. Someone who knew me well once said about me, “She takes the bull by the horns.”
I guess if I want to run away and disappear, I can do it almost anywhere and in most any situation, even if my body stays put. After all, even when someone is not physically chasing me, I can still run.
Prompt: Tell us about a time you ran away from something or someone.
|Monsters are not the same as normal humans on the outside, but on the inside, what they carry is strange and scary, same as humans. Although a typical monster is usually feared and shunned, its unknown potential hides behind the fascination of its scariness, because consciously or subconsciously we feel we have something in common with the monsters, for most of us experience, at one time or another, a duality of opposing forces--in other words, good versus evil--within ourselves.
Monsters take different forms, shapes, and sizes, but they are the same with the impact of terror they leave in the people and readers of fiction.
The giant in Jack and the Beanstalk story is feared first for his size and loud voice, reflecting what a frightened child feels like when dealing with an intimidating adult. Godzilla was another monster feared for his size, for the way he destroyed buildings and stepped on everything much smaller than him.
The Hydra, too, was a gigantic monster but with nine heads, the central one being immortal, meaning the negative force or the dark side will always be there, no matter how much it is cut or conquered. The same idea takes form with monsters such as Star Trek's Borg who cannot be battled against successfully.
The wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, on the other hand, is a monster not for its size but for its cunning and craftiness.
All this makes me accept the idea that, in our imagination or in our writing, we turn our fears into monsters. Then, we try to destroy and suppress them, and in not succeeding, we feel the conflict inside ourselves, which finds its way to the computer screen or the printed page. Case in point, the Victorian era was when fascination with monsters was rampant due to rigid moral codes, suppression of desires, melodrama, and emotionality.
Accordingly, a monster in a story represents forbidden insights, a modern pact with the devil, and the result of science without ethics. It frightens because man can turn to monster as the scientist and sorcerer who can forge a holy or unholy alliance with some scary, dark knowledge. Take the Story of Frankenstein, for example. Wasn't it written at a time when the Industrial Revolution threatened every comfortable idea and accommodation people had known earlier? Didn't this monster speak through inarticulate sounds and mutterings impossible to understand? Most of the time, don't we, as human beings, fear science, the aliens, or anything alien or unknown, and act cautiously or with prejudice?
Sure enough, we have spaces in our beings where monsters rule from seemingly inaccessible corners. While we steer clear of those spaces during our everyday lives, when external situations strike fear or panic in us, we find our monsters taking the reins and making our reason and even morals lose control. This losing control may happen, in extreme circumstances, by perceiving attacks from inanimate or imagined objects. In its simplest form this occurs in nightmares during sleep, when the consciousness is overtaken by the subconscious.
The most successful strategy to deal with inner monsters is by facing them and trying to gain insight into their origins. Facing the inner monsters is what happens at the end of every story in literature.
Prompt: Let's take a walk on the wild side...We all have something we'd like to write about, but that doesn't really fit our blog. Write it anyway.
Note—Since I started writing from prompts, some on the outlandish side, everything and anything fits my blog, no matter how much I try to connect the subject at hand with the idea of writing. Since monsters rule from their deserved place in literature and they are on the wild side, they have been what I wanted to write about, even if the prompt might be asking for something else.
|Don’t Drink the Water is the first and only play I watched Woody Allen in person on stage. I wonder if a warning was concealed in the title of that play regarding today’s prompt. Don’t Drink the Water was a silly but entertaining comedy, as is this prompt about drinking water from the fountain of youth.
The year I watched that play was 1966 or 1967. It had to do with someone taking pictures in a country behind the iron curtain and causing havoc in the American embassy. Well, we know what happened with the iron curtain and also with Ponce de Leon who was intent in finding the fountain of youth. I bet the same will happen with my blogging and all fountains of youth even before my blog item becomes full.
Although my blogging has gone down the drain of absurdity, Florida, the state I live in, seems to have benefited from Ponce de Leon’s calculations because it offers several tourist-trap fountain-of-youth wells, springs, and water. But then Florida is water or rather watery mud over which cement is poured to create towns and cities. No wonder we have so many sudden sinkholes. Worse yet, some of that water—meaning the water from Ponce de Leon wells-- is said, to be radioactive. The tourism department of Florida may go after my neck for leaking this little bit of information, but what the heck. I am standing by my word, and before taking a sip or two, I’ll still take a guess on how water from such a fountain of youth will work.
I think that water will nuke me to youth. Like a microwave oven. After it spins me around, I won’t care what age I'll become because returning to youth will be so much fun even if by getting nuked--as long as I get to keep my experiences, memories, and what little I have learned so far. Especially since I’ll be joining Charlieeee 🌈 ’s World Domination Crew in three years.
Thus it is imperative that someone give me that water before the three-year period is up. What I am aiming at is real youth, and I should turn as young as I can get. Who knows, I might be the first six-month old to rule New Zealand and Australia.
Until someone offers me that water in a fluted champagne glass, as no lesser vessel will do, I’ll be dreaming about the future and hoping that water from the fountain of youth won't become a nightmare.
Prompt: If there was a real fountain of youth but there is one catch, you don't know what age you will be once you have drank the water. Would you still drink the water and take your chances?
|“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” This is a question that doesn’t qualify to be a question, like art that doesn’t qualify as art. Did you think I was a Dadaist? I may be old, but not that old. I wasn’t around as a painter in 1916. If I were, you would have something to be scared of just by the sight of me.
Since such a question that can only be asked by a Mad Hatter, Alice gave the best answer, in a scolding sort of way. "I think you might do something better with the time than wasting it in asking riddles that have no answers."
Or yours truly who loves quotes could say, “Quoth the raven nevermore!” and with that, I would brazenly imitate Poe who wrote on both of them (raven and desk, that is), which this idea of Poe’s “writing on both of them” I also stole from the internet.
On the other hand, I like to have fun with nonsense, any time. So, I am going to challenge me by attempting to answer this question by logging off the web.
The raven is like the writing desk because of the dark color of ink and wood, unless we writers write in colored fonts and make the ravens turn colorful, like a Picasso of riddles taking liberties.
Picasso or Poe? I guess I must like P names, but never mind that because a sudden thought occurred to me. It has to be crap which must bind the writing desk to the raven as two unlikely lovers. The writing desk can frustrate us with its existence, expecting us to write. We push ourselves, and what comes out is crap, or at that moment it looks like crap to us. Then, we go out for some fresh air, and a raven on the fly leaves its crappy offerings on our heads.
Nonsense! I can’t believe I just wrote nonsense more nonsensical than the Mad Hatter’s question. To appease myself, let me just separate this question into its components. A raven and a writing desk. Like two characters, a protagonist and an antagonist.
Raven, the protagonist, is a large black bird that likes to show off its acrobatic skills especially during mating, and it doesn’t mind garbage as it sometimes dines on it. It also adapts to any climate, just like a motivated hero who goes after conflict with dark magical powers; therefore, a raven must be a writer, any kind of writer, but more like an incompetent one who dines on writes garbage while attempting to pen a steamy romance novel. No wonder ravens’ croaking sounds remind me of my own voice when I sing.
The antagonist is not any old desk, but a writing desk. Such name calling! What else can anyone do with any desk but write on it?
Before dirty minds come up with raunchy answers to the innocent question I just asked, let me say that these kinds of desks belong only to us, writers. Don’t we writers know that our desks antagonize us, especially when the page or the screen goes blank on us? It is, therefore, the act of writing that provides the kinship between a raven and the writing desk.
At least for me…For now.
Prompt: Why is a raven like a writing desk? I love when the Mad Hatter asks Alice this question. There is no right answer. Just an opinion question.
|Wow! Vegetables! I can do a happy dance for I love all vegetables. I think most poets do, although vegetables do not a poet make--not out of me anyway.
"Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds—
the thick tangle, the openings, and the pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold—"
Even Virgil, from way back when, got into the act and made a salad in Aeneid.
"There flourish'd star-wort, and the branching beet.
The sorrel acid, and the mallow sweet,
The skirret, and the leek's aspiring kind,
The noxious poppy—quencher of the mind!
Salubrious sequel of a sumptuous board,
The lettuce, and the long huge-bellied gourd;"
Spinach even got to Sylvia Plath, piercing through her melancholy.
"Bunch after bunch of green
Upstanding spinach-tips wedged in a circle"
Popeye would be swooning.
Although spinach can get my heart beating, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, peas, legumes and the rest follow very closely. I assure you, no one ever needed to push vegetables on me, and this has nothing to do with Dr. Oz or his fancy word phytochemicals. I was always deeply in love with the veggies. Even the lowly Brussels sprouts, neglected and unappreciated until recently, have inched close to the others after I learned how to spice and bake them.
Veggies, the earth-grown feast. How do I love thee, let me count the ways, even if I can't get to all the ways.
Vegetables, that burst of color, so green, so red, so yellow, so purple, so orange--sautéed, roasted, baked, steamed, or raw, big-hearted, with flat or stringy leaves, exotic or commonplace--an oasis too cool for words; I pair well with them all.
I even adore Jalapeno peppers, although I doubt I can take a big bite out of a perfectly shiny red one, but I have never tried it, either. On the other hand, I am getting excited over that idea while I write this. After all, what do you expect from a woman who used to eat lemons when she was a baby?
Prompt: Today is National Eat your Vegetables Day in the United States, but everyone can play. What is your favorite veggie and your least favorite veggie?
|Has anybody ever asked you, “Why did you do it?” Just the thought of that ominous question creates one serious regression in me, by about several decades.
My mother is right here, towering over me, her huge beautiful brown eyes flashing and throwing lightning bolts at me. “Why did you do it?” Next will come several more thunderous accusations and just the suspense what will come afterwards can make me quit breathing.
“Why did you do it?” can be a good question, too, for a writer. For example:
“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
“Willy, dear, I can’t cry. Why did you do it? I search and search and I search and I can’t understand it, Willy. I made the last payment on the house today.”
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
I am not in the same league with these authors, but I find “Why did you do it?” to be a good question to ask characters while writing because it makes me think about character motivation. It is also a good question to ask myself after I have goofed in some situation. “Why did you do it?” Unlike my characters, being the fleeing kind in fight or flight situations, I like to keep the answer short because the more I try to explain, the more difficult the explaining gets. Also, I am never prepared to answer the follow-up questions, but my characters should better be, since an entire scene or chapter will be dependent upon their answers.
For that purpose, I can think of several scenarios:
“Why did you do it? Why did you fall in love with that loser?”
“The loser? Well, he was just the prototype. The way I am going to operate, there will be other losers to follow.”
“Ahha! Sorry, lady, but I can’t make you my protagonist. I like my protagonists to be fighters who go after better, loftier things. If only because I might choose the flight option in my real life, you guys better do the fight thing to make me feel better.”
“Why did you it? Why did you rob the bank?”
“Because the bank has more money than me, and I thought it would be easy, and I could get away with it. How could I know beforehand that…”
“Okay, okay…you are a possibility, although you have acted as if you had butterfingers. I might embellish you and…”
“Why did you do it? Why did you argue with your dad for nothing?”
“It’s practice. I plan to go to law school.”
“There you are. You can be the next protagonist in my YA story.”
I guess “Why did you do it?” can be asked in a song, too. The only songs I can think of --in my flimsy, off-the-top-of-my-head fashion-- do not exactly use the words, “Why did you do it?” but they imply them. Case in point: Lucille by Kenny Rogers. In that song, I’ve always enjoyed the line, “You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.” It has so many meanings hiding in it. It is like an urban legend or a joke, well almost. By the way, Kenny Rogers’ own mother was named Lucille. And from this, I deduce a threat to mothers who scare their kids with difficult questions, such as: “Why did you do it?” That question has its way of biting back.
Prompt: Why did you do it? The details are yours to discern.
|Friday the 13, and full moon, too. Shall the civilization as we know it crumble, quite literally? Maybe the aliens in Alpha Centauri will be kind enough to take us in. So much for humans being the dominant species…
Although the study on facts behind superstitions and their origins is an inexact science, if it is a science, some people refuse to go to work, won’t eat in restaurants, and wouldn’t think of setting a wedding date for Friday the 13. The doom and gloom attributed to Friday the 13 is mostly guesswork and gossip. Still many shudder with the thought of that day like foolish clowns, basing their actions on pure dinosaur-sized hearsay.
Not me, if only because I have a contrarian streak that requires me, every once in a while, to dare to make something opposite of what is typically popular. Thus, of all imponderable eventualities, I don’t get tangled in superstitions, but I only take responsibility for my fear of the dark, of the insidious unknown, of its complete destruction of my courage, totally imagined, of course.
Besides, Friday the 13th is lucky for Writing.com. The StoryMistress was born on Friday the 13. So, if anyone here has any qualms about that day, they should just “forget about it” to quote Don Corleone or the guys in Sopranos.
If a person is superstitious and believes in the crazy hype about Friday the 13, then he or she first should try to pronounce this word: Paraskevidekatriaphobia, which stands for this irrational, saturnine fear of Friday the 13th.
For those who are in the grips of this fear, let’s separate the date into its components. Number 13 stands for the baker’s dozen. Who wouldn’t want 13 doughnuts instead of 12? Maybe those people whose doctors have issued a warning. Surely, this doesn’t have anything to do with me. Just when was the last time I took my doctor’s word for a God-dictated truth? Ask my doctor. I bet he has compiled a few stories to tell behind my back.
Getting back to 13, there were 13 people at the Last Supper, akin to the 12 Norse gods at the table, until Loki showed up. Then there is Apollo 13, an unsuccessful moon mission, but the astronauts returned home safely. Let’s just say this was all a coincidence or myth, but isn’t 13 the age kids officially become teenagers? Eeeek!
Fine, even so, which parents have ever rid themselves of their kids as soon as they turned 13? The idea might have crossed some minds every now and then, but kids outgrow stuff. Don’t they? Mine did, I think. If they are not trying to pull the wool over my eyes, still.
Yet, it is fairly clear that, treated with a healthy tongue-in-cheek skepticism, there’s more to be said about Friday than the number 13; not in unlucky terms, however. Some say Friday’s bad reputation has its source in the Garden of Eden. It was on a Friday, Eve tempted Adam. Now, who can blame Eve? As a rather redundant revelation, it was the end of the work week, and poor Eve didn’t have maids or people who worked under her, with all those animals and plants to tend? Then there was that snake, and it must have been the full moon.
If a temptress, Eve was tempted, too, not in terms of dust and decay but for a glorious and desirable transformation. And ever since, who wants to admit to being alone on a Friday night? Don’t everybody candidly confess that they go bonkers on Friday nights?
Ahem…Did I tell you I was married on a Friday?
Prompt: It is Friday, the 13th. Are you superstitious? Have odd things ever happened to you or someone you know on Friday, the 13th? Where do you think all the crazy hype about Friday the 13th began? Avoiding the 13th floor? Was it about the number that makes people nervous?
|If I could change my…anything, I wouldn’t be me. No, I am neither being facetious nor wallowing in self-glorification.
I know they say the only person you can change is yourself, but up to the present time, who I am got me this far, however in a stumbling fashion. If I didn’t stumble so much, I would lose some of the people who like me. Truth is, half the people who like me became close to me because they saw I had shortcomings same as they. Just human nature, I guess. People warm up to me, as soon as they see how goofy I can be.
Case in point: I have a doctor’s appointment on Thursday. The doc had mentioned six months ago, at the last visit, that he wanted me to get blood tests a week before I saw him again, which I totally forgot. Late last night, I recalled vaguely that he had said something like it.
Early this morning, I called the lab and asked if I had blood-work ordered in my chart. Sure enough, I had. Half an hour later, when I was in the lab, I told all this to the nurse while she was drawing blood and I asked her if the results would be in by Thursday for the doctor. She said, yes, she’d rush them for me.
The nurse became really friendly after that. She told me the things she forgets all the time and a few other things about her life, her family etc. Luckily, there weren’t many other patients waiting, and I left there feeling like I had tea with a friend, instead of getting my blood drawn. Before she learned of my goofiness, she was very quiet, very professional. Chances are, she would have stayed that way, had I been a bit closer to being less flawed.
One thing about me I may need to suppress is, when life turns shallow around me or conversation borders on banal, I tend to shut others off and go live inside my own head. This sometimes ends up with me staring blankly or laughing or giggling at what goes on within me. I have to admit, this behavior has gotten me in hot water at times, but then, at other times, it has encouraged the environment or the conversation to change. So, even that is welcome as long as I can get away with it.
Another thing is, I don’t see why I should re-invent myself at this age. I want to live the rest of my life to my liking. It is just too late to reform. Maybe, trying to change oneself, to improve life and lot for the better, would work for young people as they are still works in progress, and some people could use a personal plan for growth if they feel they have problems bothering them, problems whose outcomes they can change by changing themselves. Stretching oneself toward improvement is something I would applaud in anyone especially in the young, but for me, faults, flaws, absurdity, and foolishness can happen without notice, and I am fine with that.
Now, if you asked me who or what I could change surrounding me, that would be another story, as I can easily imagine how I would want to change other people or the circumstances of the world. But then, I don’t think I would do that either. This world with all its faults has gotten me this far, and my imperfections, somehow, seem to fit in well with everyone else’s and the world’s deficiencies.
To put it in a nutshell (pun intended), in this flawed world, my internal clutter is all mine to enjoy.
Prompt: If I could change my... Complete the statement (multiple times if that floats your boat) Play it crazy or play it safe - as long as you play.
|What would you do if a delicious bar of chocolate were inviting you and you had just enough time to finish the dirty task of cleaning the bathroom before your guests arrived? Something had to go, right?
Those of us with stronger willpower would finish her latrine duty, chuck the bar of chocolate into a kitchen drawer for later enjoyment, and welcome her guests. But scratch that for those of us who are hedonists. We would enjoy the chocolate bar, welcome the guests, and let the chips fall where they may. After all, since we procrastinated until the last moment to do the cleaning, who cares if the bathroom stays a bit under approval? One can always clean up the next day, the next week, or whenever. There is more to life than tackling that dirty job.
I think every person procrastinates at one time or another, so the practice must be quite common. “Why?” should be the question to ask, here.
I would say, performance anxiety is a major cause. Fear of failure for any task stops us from beginning it. Still, most of the time, procrastination happens due to dysfunctional work habits and attitudes, dragging on its tail awkward rationalizations. Causing the listeners to roll their eyes, some of those rationalizations can be something like: “I didn’t mow the lawn because I had to chase the raccoons away from the garbage cans.”
In any case, procrastination is not that much of a pariah, unless it comes with self-blaming and feelings of guilt afterwards, but if we procrastinate as a habit regarding even the tasks we like to do, then we have a problem.
Aside from being a psychological problem, another cause for procrastination has to be low frustration tolerance. When we look at a task and see it to be not only difficult but also impossible to finish, we put off doing it, but isn’t this over-exaggeration?
Well, I should know. It is one of my surface reasons to put off re-writes. Every novel in my port or computer is begging for a rewrite, but I won’t tackle it. Why? I don’t want to go through such a long process. After all, life is short, and why not write another novel instead? I guess, what I procrastinate in doing shows how much I value my right to choose, and I may just be a picky procrastinator simply because, deep down inside, I belong inside the group of the hedonists. Writing the first draft is fun. On the other hand, re-writing a novel is hell.
In other areas, however, I don’t procrastinate. My practice of procrastination is limited only to those tasks I don’t like doing or those that seem to take too much time. Usually, in daily life, I attack stuff immediately. My motto is: Do it now.
I know if I don’t do things immediately, they will be forgotten naturally. Or they will be forgotten on purpose, just like my novels.
Prompt: Procrastinate Now! Are you a procrastinator? What is your attitude toward procrastination?
|When I look at great characters in literature, I consider the villains to be of utmost importance to a successful story. A character who causes our skin crawl makes the polish of an author’s pen sparkle. Although not all antagonists are villains, those evil, slithery antagonists are the reasons for any story’s success in long life.
I think the quirkiness inside the villains add greatly to the entertainment factor. It’s no contest that villains are the most important catalysts when their dastardly deeds twist the stories around into absolutely terrifying and mind-bending channels.
Moreover, those bad boys and girls get the best lines with large doses of poison or ridicule about their appearances. They are entertaining. In Alice in Wonderland, isn’t the Queen of Hearts with her “Off with his head!” command evoke a horribly joyful wickedness? Story villains not only can tickle our funny bone, but also may influence our way of thinking, beliefs, and attitudes toward life. Without them we would not fully understand and appreciate the virtues of the heroes and the goodness in happy endings.
There are so many villains that cause our blood boil and want us to jump inside the story to avenge the good characters. Now who wouldn’t want to tear the wings off Bram Stoker’s terrible Dracula? But then, the world of literature owes so much to him, and no wonder the latest re-tellings of Count Dracula show him as a more likable character. It is as if the literary world is paying its debt to a character who can do vile things unheard of earlier but also he can fly.
Then there’s that Joker in Batman with the look of a clown who is a joke himself, same as Captain Hook in Peter Pan. And who can deny Iago’s genius with his sweet tongue who kills with words in Shakespeare’s Othello? Would Othello exist without that wheeling dealing Iago? Would any successful story gain so many readers without its villain?
I think not. Therefore, if it were at all possible, I would like to be the patron saint of literary villains in the past and those in the future who are waiting in the wings to be created.
Prompt: In 300 years, if you were to be named the patron saint of X, what would you like X to be? Places, activities, objects all are fair game.
|Imagine how awful it would have been if any one of us were hiding somewhere during the German Nazi invasion and Holocaust? I bet most of us who read Anne Frank’s Diary put ourselves in her place. Yes, Anne Frank hid, but she didn’t hide alone. She hid together with her family and friends. She thought she was hiding with them, but deducing from her diary, she was also hiding in them. It is true, wherever we are, whatever our physical environment may be, sometimes we hide in other people. But then, sometimes we hide inside ourselves, too.
Yet, why do we feel the need to hide? I think it is because we need the urge to find and embrace our aloneness. Our aloneness, some call that solitude, is where our individuality is affirmed. Yes, in our hiding places, we feel validated, no matter which outside force is beating up on us.
When I was a child, I had several secret hiding places. Under a circular table with the table cover’s fringes reaching the floor, inside the broom closet, inside the coal shed, behind the bushes in the yard, or behind the sofa in the living room. I am too big now to fit into such similar corners and crannies.
Instead, I hide in open spaces. The back porch at sunset is my most frequented hiding place. Yes, everyone can see me, but it is very quiet there; besides, the sunsets are exquisite in Florida even if they don’t last long. My second open space to hide is at the beach. True, it is crowded, but I blend in and become one with the sea, sand, seagulls, waves, breeze, and the smell of the ocean.
In addition, I have other secret hiding places, too. They may seem too tight physically but my mind fits in them. You guessed it. I am talking about books. I do hide in my reading…a lot. Possibly, most of my reading hides me from myself, too.
Then, when the going gets tough, I hide inside myself. Inside me, is my best place to hide. Some humans are frightened to go inside themselves. I learned not to be afraid of me. I learned it many years ago when I started meditating. Nowadays even when I don’t do the rituals of any meditation, I find I can easily rush within me where no one and nothing troublesome can find me. Can any other place top that?
Prompt: Most of us as children had a secret place to get away from our family.
Do you have a secret place now you go to avoid real life?
If not, do you think you need one at times?
|I am not sure why I am writing about shoes, today. I am not sure why anyone does or why anyone stuns the bloggers with shoe prompts.
Truth is, I like shoes just fine but I don't have a shoe fetish, and neither am I like my mother who thought she was making a statement with her shoes. In any shoe store, my mother had a knack for finding that individual pair, one of its kind, to define her as an invincible entity, like a goddess rising on tiny feet above crowds.
Unlike the woman who brought me to this world, I don't have that intimate level of a connection with my shoes. At least not at the present time. I usually viewed shoes as mere coverings for my two feet; that is, after my very young years and the era of my stiletto days. It might have been my subconscious mind mimicking my mother, but I walked on those stilted things like a kangaroo hopping from one place to another in the city and didn't feel their pinch or squeeze, no matter how badly they molded to the arches of my feet. Much can be said about young feet that haven't learned to complain.
Later on, during my middle years, I dumped stilettos in favor of pumps, which were more comfortable and useful, and they adapted to every occasion. Still, some shoes, be it pumps or flats, without the perfect fit, were like trying stay with incompatible friendships, where it is always difficult to get along.
At one time, between my pump and stiletto days, I have to confess, I was in love with boots, but winters are cold in Northeast, and I strongly disliked that frigid feeling inside my feet. In addition, the boots had supported me through snow and ice and rain puddles, and each time I had to throw away an old trashed pair, I went into trauma, as if I had lost my best friend, my sense of place, belonging, and support.
As soon as we moved to Florida in 1992, however, I liberated my mind and my feet from boots, pumps, heels, and tennis shoes that I used to wear in NYC. Welcome freedom with sandals, open–toes, sling-backs, and no-backstraps, but Flip Flops failed miserably, although I tried very hard to tolerate their sh-plop sh-plop sounds and the way they made me waddle like a duck. Granted they were a tad better than the leather torture devices I used to wear when I lived up north. Still, in good will and utmost respect, I laid them to rest in an obscure corner of my closet, to accompany the covered-all-around, ugly-faced shoes I keep wrapped up for traveling north.
Nowadays, I am happy with my sandals, and I wear them year round because my toes are free in them and they wiggle at will, though mostly from the arthritis in my small joints. Even so, I let them do whatever strikes their fancy. No way will I let their boundless energy go to waste.
Prompt: Flip Flops or bare feet? What does summer look like in your world?
|Violence in the world today is and should be a huge concern. Not a day passes that we don't hear of some violent act either around us or in the media.
Of all the violence I hear of, what concerns me the most are the basic conditions that produce violent tendencies in human beings, mainly children. This concern has its roots inside the years during my training for a teacher's license, which led to experimental psychology classes later, and then some voluntary fieldwork for emotionally disturbed children's summer camp.
Those eight to eleven year-olds were something else. Although closely watched and monitored by the teachers and camp officials, we field workers ended up having to come face to face with sudden attacks by the boys. By the time, the camp was over, I was all black and blue from having been kicked suddenly especially on the lower legs. I never squatted or sat down for fear that the kick would find my lower back or the kidneys. I didn't complain, and neither did I let the little attackers know they got the best of me. I had volunteered for this after all.
One condition that produces violent behavior in children is that, needless to say, the child has been hurt early in life. A child who has been spanked, beaten, hit, isolated, sexually abused, neglected or threatened may become violent himself. Although not all children who have been subject to such behavior do not act violently, that hurt has to show itself in some way. The ones who show violence because of this are probably the luckier ones, as they can get attention early enough. The ones who don't show violence outwardly, the violence turns inward, sooner or later in life. It may take the form of self-mutilation, eating disorders, and depression.
Other than being subjected to violence, a factor which usually goes unheeded is the genetics. Children with genetic mental illness or faulty chromosomes suddenly come up with violence earlier or later in their lives. Unfortunately, since little is known concerning this area, practically nothing is done medically to weed the sicknesses out and possibly cure such conditions. I sense, right or wrong, those genetic tendencies usually are responsible for drug and alcohol addictions, or probably any other addiction, later in life, which may lead to violence. Moreover, justifiably or not, such people face social isolation, which intensifies their problems.
What we are doing or trying to do at this time--such as passing gun control laws, building mental health facilities, and aiding families in trouble--have their limitations. The root cause of violent behavior, the thinking and justification of it, must be addressed attentively and thoroughly.
As such, one fact exists in society that leaves me dumbfounded. As much as I am a defender of free speech, I can't disregard the effect of the media, the TV, and the movies, in which violence is glorified and linked to appropriate behavior, usually for males, although females aren't exempt either. Case in point, in the news, two twelve year-old girls took another girl into the woods and stabbed her numerous times just a few days ago. Children learn to bully, haze, and do violent acts by assimilating all data they are being subjected to and by observing adult behavior. While sensitive children become victims, the others become delinquents, bullies, mass shooters, gang bangers, and sadists.
In most industrialized countries, be it with good intentions, children are exposed to the ideas of "us versus them," "win at all costs be it through immoral acts," and "conquer or die." Moreover parents worry about children who refuse to fight, who are not tough, or who cry easily. As a society, we have to accept that violence does not solve problems, not in the long run. As a society, we must not condone tough behavior no matter what, so young people do not feel powerful and justified when they hurt others or even themselves.
Then there is that idea of reciprocity, an eye for an eye. I don't want to insult any religion or belief system, starting with mine, but if we ever tried to create a violent culture for young people on purpose, we couldn't be as successful as what we have today.
Prompt: A personal experience with violence, either one you experienced personally or one you witnessed (or even choose a violent scene you watched on television or film that affected you) Can violence ever play an effective role in problem solving?
|I have to ask: Is there such a thing as “normal”? If the definition of normal depends on the habitual actions and the usual accustomed circumstances surrounding a concept or a being, can what’s normal for one person or concept be normal for another?
Entire sections of industries, of any kind, grossing billions of dollars are built on the words "normal" and "abnormal" and on the ideas of "well" and "disordered." Yet, how do we know what is normal or abnormal or if the right thing can be done for the so-called abnormal (sometimes to mean undesirable) so that the situation can change?
What bugs me the most about the word normal is that what is normal for one person or situation may not be normal for another. This, however, doesn’t mean that defined parameters of behavior are not there. All of us have different fears, quirks, likes, dislikes, ups, and downs, but some expected behaviors and reactions to situations also exist. These may mean an everyday reaction to a special circumstance of life or a serious mental health issue. This mostly depends on the person assessing the situation.
In addition, the expected reaction of behavior of one group of people or countrymen may not be the same as another. Thumbs up may mean victory to us, whereas in Thailand it means condemnation or an insult, equal to sticking out your tongue at someone.
If we take normal to mean average, even that average depends on the person, circumstances, group, placement, and special considerations. In such a case, the word normal would serve to establish a standard. For example in math, it may mean “at right angles, or perpendicular, “whereas in biology it shows a natural occurrence--with reservations to the surrounding facts.
This May was not a “normal” month for me in WdC because of the GoT games. In this case, although I checked in every day which is my normal behavior, I accelerated my reviewing and put my personal writing on hold. On the other hand, normal for another WdC member may mean checking into the site only twice a week and not entering any contests, plus doing little or no reviewing.
The word normal does not mean simple either. Some people have defined Forrest Gump, from the movie, as being a simple-minded man. Yet, Gump has strong morals, a heart of gold, and unshakable loyalty, and he doesn’t judge or punish people he loves and is not prejudiced at all. If Gump is simple and us with fully functioning minds are the 'normal' ones, then it seems what Forrest is lacking is the prejudice and anger that the so-called “normal” people live with every day. Still, it is normal to Forrest Gump the way Forrest Gump is, and the way we usually are--which changes with time and circumstance--is normal for us.
And if you ask me what my “normal” is, I have to say even my so-called “normal” is not normal, because I like change, as life, in its essence, depends on change.
Prompt: Define what "Normal" means to you.
|Photographs are not like paintings, but they are beautiful in their own right, and they enable a person to connect with the world in a deeper level, as they make everyday living gain a mindful quality.
My love for taking photos probably come from watching my two uncles' intense devotion to their cameras. They both had dark rooms in their houses and they hung their photos to dry. When they were in that room, no one, absolutely no one, was allowed to get in. So much so that, they would lock the door from the inside.
The first real cameras I used were theirs. One was a Leica, the other a Kodak. Both uncles used numerous lenses of different sizes and shaped and tripods. One of them won a serious competition once. In those days, most photos were black and white or sepia, and all my photos were taken by my uncles.
The first camera I had, while I was in third grade, was a class project. It was homemade out of a shoe-box, black-taped all around and with a pinhole at one end, and if you ask me how I used it, I have no idea, but all I can say is that my uncle developed a photo I took of a tree, and it was all blurry. He said, out of his kindness, the blurriness happened because I had real art inside me.
My real first camera came much later, It was a Kodak instamatic, took 126 square photos. I absolutely loved it and used it for a very long time through three decades, although it had fixed focus, fixed aperture, no exposure meter, a flash-holder on top of it, and it used pop-up flashes. I used that camera even when I took my babies' first pictures and the Alps while flying over them. Later I was gifted a 35mm Kodak camera, but that instamatic was/is my only first true love.
Cameras nowadays have spoiled us. Everything about them is automatic, not that I am complaining either. My present camera, is an outdated, seven-megapixel Sony. I've had it for more than ten years, and although I know replacing it with a better version will cost me under a hundred dollars, I don't have the heart to do it. I have that habit of getting attached to things with which I have created memories, as if they are people. Sometimes,I take photos with my phone, but I never liked phone photos.
I love to capture sunsets from the back of our house, full moon, animals, especially birds, my family, and whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I know my uncles would cringe if they saw me love the instant images without sweating over lenses and dark rooms, but they had professional minds where photography is concerned, and I don't even qualify as an amateur, except for my love for photos.
Prompt: What kind of camera did you take your first photographs with? What do you love to photograph?
|“The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,”
Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t own my Saturdays. Saturdays are tribe-owned or couple-owned in my life. So any type of planning by me is out.
Saturday is named after Saturn, the god or the planet, whichever you wish it to be. In folklore, it was the preferred day to hunt vampires, because on that day they were restricted to their coffins. For me to spend the last day of the week by peeking into any coffin or hunting a vampire would not be enjoyable at all.
One thing that I do enjoy, however, is a visit to the local library on a Saturday. Now that the libraries are not funded as generously as they used to be, our local library is closed Sundays and Mondays. So Saturday becomes the best day for us to visit it.
The rest of the day depends on the-spur-of-the-moment activities. Unlike most writers in WdC, I don’t plan anything in the form of writing or reviewing for any Saturday, as chances are, should a spontaneous outing occur, I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my plans. If nothing happens, then I do write and review, but that, too, is always unplanned.
If I were to plan a perfect Saturday for me alone, however, I’d start the day by checking into WdC, then with an early walk on the beach, taking photographs. As Saturn was the god of agriculture, Saturdays feel like they should be spent outdoors. With that thought, I would have a simple brunch at an outdoor café, followed by sitting on a chair outdoors inside our porch area or on the beach and reading for an hour or instead visiting the library. An alternative would be to spend a couple of hours at the Barnes and Noble’s, having a large Earl Grey Tea and Chicken Pesto Sandwich and selecting reading material.
After that, I’d like to get in touch with friends and family members and spend the rest of the day with them, having dinner at a seaside restaurant or just sitting some place outdoors like on a bench in the park, powwowing, chatting, and watching the sunset. The evening would be some TV watching, like a PBS channel, or whatever I have on the DVR. Then, some more reading or writing before bedtime would be a perfect way to polish off a heavenly Saturday.
Yet, Saturday Spontaneity seems to be the norm for my Saturdays, and at times, that turns out to be better and more enjoyable than all the planning I can ever do.
Prompt: How do you plan the perfect Saturday?
|Talking about bars, I am not much of a bar-hopping person. Fact is, not at all. My only experience at a bar came in restaurants while we waited for a table.
Yet, a while after our wedding, in dinosaur time, when I told my new husband that I had never been to a bar, he took it upon himself to educate me. In those days, they had cocktail lounges, where you sat and sipped your drinks and if the establishment was a little classy, they provided a show. Classy cocktail lounges were designed with the idea of comfortable, sophisticated, and emblematic vintage living room with the color red thrown into the decor.
But for my first lesson, we skipped the classy, and as I perched on a stool and smiled at the bartender, I fidgeted, waiting for hubby to park the car. Right away, the seats on both sides of me ran the risk of being taken. I placed my both hands on the stool to the left of me and said, "I'm waiting for someone." The bartender pointed to a table on the floor. "Why don't you wait for him, there?"
Just then, hubby walked in and took the seat I was still holding for him while the guy who had taken the seat to the other side of me was trying to make small talk with me. Hubby whispered bending toward me and smirking, "For a novice, you are doing great!"
"How do you know each other?" The guy to my right asked.
I said, "We're married." It was probably the wrong answer. Someone from the other side of the bar said, "Then what are you doing here?" Before either one of us could answer, two ladies, I didn't see from where they landed on earth, surrounded hubby, asking if he would buy them a drink. He did, but by then, I felt I had learned enough by osmosis to pass the kindergarten class of bar-hoppers and repeated the bartender's suggestion to him. "Why don't we take a table?"
I don't know what bars are like today, but if a blogger, a short story writer, and a poet walked into a bar, they would probably do much better than me. Naturally, they would all be complaining as most anyone in love with the word-bending arts usually do.
The poet recites from Milton: "There you are, waking up and you're not in paradise anymore./Good Morning my marvelous fall! / Sit there and mull over how you slid into this life... Why is it some dummies expect every poem to have end rhymes, and meter, and form? 'It is the meaning you look for first, idiots,' I want to scream. The meaning is king. But no, people are so gauche." Then he would turn to the bartender and ask for Absinthe, but when the bartender would shake his head in negation, would he settle for Rum and Cola and wink at a lady in red with hoop earrings.
The short story writer is all eyes now, as people-watching is her forte. Still, as a multitasker, she can give her opinions on the subject dearest to her heart. "Character is king," she says. "You have to keep the bitch and the sob in check, so they stay in character. A lifelong habit I must say, despite the wish to droll on an on and push yourself into the story. A reasonable price to pay for the sake of the creative art. Other things matter, too, like setting, style, scenes."
"Watch it," says the poet. "You are falling into the error of esses. Ssss! Like a snake. Don't use alliterations with S all that much!"
The short story writer looks at him menacingly and raises a brow. "I might just put you in a story and kill you together with your esses," she says, and sips the Cosmopolitan the bartender knowingly has placed in front of her.
"Hey, guys," says the blogger, "keep it down will ya!" And he orders a Highball, for he likes the extra liquid and ice and enjoys sipping his drink slowly. "Talk about delivery service!" he says, "I have all the freedoms in the world. I can write anything I want. Life is complicated enough. Why bother with rules?"
Both the poet and the short story writer exclaim together in one voice. "Where is you art, then?"
"It is in my blog," says the blogger. "It has everything that concerns you two and then some, and it is for real if I want it to be real. I can add photos, video, poetry, tell a story or two, and talk about real things, things as simple as the content of our drinks or the big bang theory, and I am not talking about the show; however, I can bring that in, too, if I so wish..." And he takes a huge slurp from his Highball. "I think, tomorrow," he adds, "I'll write about a blogger, a short story writer and a poet walking into a bar...and..."
"You guys," the bartender says to them, "Go sit at a table and carry on your private, boring discussions. People around the bar are into other things." Then he announces to the other customers, "Next round's on the house!"
Prompt: A blogger, a short story writer and a poet walk into a bar. . .
|According to psychologists, if many people are around, it is less likely for the bystanders to help someone in trouble. This finding surprised me, but I can understand why people would go into a passing-the-buck mentality in an unsavory situation. Chances are they might be assessing the situation, and probably, aligning their own reactions with what the others are doing. In addition, subconsciously, they may think they only have the smaller percentage of responsibility than a 100% of it, should they have been the only one present.
I believe we all have a duty to help each other, but that help depends on the situation at hand. If a mother is telling her child, “No, I can afford to buy another bar of candy,” and the child is bawling, it is not up to me to intervene. Even if I were to believe a parent shouldn't say no to a child, I should not interfere, because I would be acting from my own highly subjective standpoint. Should there be a child-abuse situation, however, I think I would have to do something about it.
One of the first steps in anyone's decision to help another depends on the recognition that if someone is indeed in need of help. What if we think the situation needs our help, when it doesn’t? What if someone is beating on someone else and we rush in without looking around to spot the movie cameras? We would cost quite a bit of money to the filmmakers, wouldn’t we?
Another factor in the decision to help is the bystander's capability. Would he be able to stop a crime? Or if he did, how would he go about it? For example, if twenty big guys are beating up one person and the only witness goes to help the victim, he’ll end up being beaten himself. In this case, the best option would be to call the police.
Then there is another problem with the present day customs of a society, as the understanding and the norms usually change in time, and according to place. For example in the earlier decades of the twentieth century, spanking children was the norm. Nowadays, if a child is being spanked in public and the people are around to see that, you can be sure, someone will alert the authorities. As an aside, I’ll have to add that I always felt spanking to be very wrong. A parent can express dissatisfaction in other ways.
Now, another scenario: One member of a couple is being abusive to the other, and you intervene. What if both of them turn around and tell you to mind your own business? It has happened, and it is not unusual for the victim-spouse to defend his/her mate.
But what about if you are by the shore and you see a child splashing in the water wildly? You might take it upon yourself to save him, even if he wasn’t really drowning and even if you end up looking like a fool. It is better to help in such a case than feel bad about it later.
Then there are medical emergencies. How can one get involved if he or she doesn’t know how to help? But he still can. He still can get, call, or look for help.
Most of us think of ourselves as decent, helpful people who wouldn’t turn their back on someone in obvious trouble. Still some people, even those who think highly of themselves, hightail it in a second in order not to get involved. It is understandable that we put ourselves first, in any situation, but how are we going to feel about ourselves later, if we saw a murder or any kind of victimization happening and did nothing? Just think of the feelings of guilt we’ll have to live with if we don’t interfere.
Do bystanders have a responsibility to intervene when someone is in trouble? Why or Why not?
|The car I would like to drive is already in my garage. What is missing from my car is me. Why that is, I’ll get to in a little while, but first, let me declare a few things.
When I drive, I do not, under any circumstances, text or talk on the phone, run red lights, cut in front of other cars, signal to the left but turn to the right, wrestle with a map, take a curve too late, nod off at the wheel, drink coffee and eat, or go over the speed limit. I also do not drink and drive, plow into trees, or veer into traffic as I swat at my kids. I have never swatted at them anyhow, and my kids, in their early forties, are too old to swat at, in the first place.
My driving license has the “safe driver” clause on it, and it has still several years to go for renewal. I have never been in an accident, not even a fender bender, in more than 20 years, and neither have I had a ticket for anything.
So why am I missing in the driver’s seat? Several years ago, being the conscientious couple that we are, we sold hubby’s car and decided to do with one car only. It would save the insurance costs and help the environment. In any case, we do go to most places together, and neither of us drive to work anymore.
God knows how we came to this, but it seems whenever we go out, hubby automatically hogs the steering wheel. The rare few times I get a chance to touch it are when I drive him home from the ophthalmologist’s office due to his dilated pupils. I am so used to this by now that I robotically take the passenger seat, as the auxiliary driver with the job of shouting directions, such as: “Slow down!” “Watch out on the left!” “Don’t go too close to the biker,” etc. But since he has the hold of the magic wheel, he is happy. He even encourages me to add my wisdom to his driving skills.
I don’t know what is with the male gender that attaches them to a car? To me, a car is a vehicle to take me to places. I demand a smooth ride and a good engine from it. That’s about it. It used to be, in the good olden days when we had children and jobs to go to, he had his own car and I had mine. Alone in my car, I used to play my kind of music, sing off-key to it, with the AC on and windows tightly closed, of course, and go to or stop at wherever my heart desired. Yet now, my off-key singing has abdicated, and on its throne sits my screeching from the passenger-seat.
I guess, I could put my foot down and tell hubby that I, too, would like to drive that toy, which isn’t totally his anyway, but I don’t. Why do I allow this? Because I still see him as the young man he once was, and as always, my barely noticeable soft side lets him play with any toy he likes.
Prompt: What's missing from your car to make it the greatest ride you could ever dream of?