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I’ve decided to take a major step in my life. Again. You see, I have failed to keep tabs on a serious problem I have. That problem is called low self-esteem. If I work at it, pay attention to it, and make a concerted effort to stay positive and recognize all the good in myself, I do pretty well. But I’ve had so much going on lately that I’ve let it slip and now I’m in a little bit of a dark spot, and I need to address it and quickly.

Pretty soon, I will have a new little bundle of love (as in, less than 2 weeks soon!) and I know how important it is that parents love themselves as well as each other and their children. I want to make sure that my little one gets to have a mother who loves herself, is proud of who she is, and sports a positive attitude about her appearance. It’s so easy for children to develop complexes from the judgement they face outside the home every day, I don’t need to add to that pressure or stress by showing my child that I can’t love myself. That could easily turn into “Well, if mommy can’t love herself and I’m so much like mommy, then how can I love myself?” I just can’t have that happen to my child. Ever.

So, I’m embarking on an amazing eCourse called “How to be a Fat Bitch.” And yes, it’s just as rad as it sounds. But the first week, the discussion topic got me a little off track and I realized at the end that I hadn’t even begun to answer the question at hand, but instead had poured out all these years of repressed feelings and shame. And what do you know… By getting off my chest and into words, I somehow felt better. Like, a lot better.

I didn’t want that energy or catharsis to go to waste. I don’t know, it might even help someone somewhere along their journey. We’re not so different after all. Everyone has a story, and this one is mine.

I’ve been large for the majority of my life. I was the little girl put on the carrot and water diet when she was 6. The little girl who was kicked out of tap, jazz and ballet because the teacher thought I was just a little too big to fit into her show. The little girl whose parents were told that she would be so pretty if she could just lose that baby fat. And I didn’t see it. As a child, I wondered why so many people cared about how I looked. I thought I looked great in my spangly jumpsuit as I practiced tap dancing to “The Locomotion” for hours in front of the mirror. I would pull my hair back in a tight ponytail, throw on my brightest, biggest headband and my awesomely humongous red plastic-framed glasses, don my puffy-painted bunny sweatshirt (my mother’s creation, mind) and traipse off to school never even considering that someone else would have something to say about my getup. But boy, did they ever. Parents, students, teachers (shame, shame)… Everyone seemed to feel like they had the right to tell my parents not to “let me wear this” or to “watch what I ate” because obviously they were failing at this whole parenting thing by having a chubby little porker like me running around the world like I actually belonged there. *Gasp!*

There was a period of time in college when I was “fit and trim,” and honestly it will go down in the annals of history as one of the most miserable stretches of my life’s road. I was obsessed with the food I was putting in my mouth, often restricting my calorie intake to less than 800 calories a day and to top it off, I would exercise more than 5 hours a day. Did I mention I was also in college with a full-time class load, working a full-time job and going through cancer treatments? I was convinced that if I kept myself healthy and exercised, my health couldn’t possibly diminish. I was compulsive in my habits, often waking in a cold sweat at 3am with the idea in my head that I had to go running *that very moment* or I would succumb to my illness. Every choice I made with regard to exercise was dangerous, from running in dark, unpatrolled, unsafe parks at 3 in the morning to doing so many weight-bearing exercises that it sent me into ketosis.

That girl? Weak, sad, miserable, terrified, and just barely holding life together under the seemingly beautiful exterior. I prided myself on my diet and the fact that I hadn’t lost my vigor (or my hair) during the course of my treatment. I was a poster child for vain pride, but neither self-acceptance or self-love. After I was given the all clear and pasted with the sticker of “in r——ion,” I slowly started to conquer my compulsive habits and realize that I had a serious problem. I ballooned. More than 100 pounds in the course of a year. Hell, more than 100 pounds in the course of about 4 months, if I’m being honest here. Still didn’t have a great view of myself, but I felt healthier once I stopped the restriction and obsessive exercise. I could sleep through the night again, and suddenly I just started to feel better all around.

I found a partner who, while not super supportive or loving, stayed with me despite my weight. I should have seen the warnings, should have held out for someone who loved me because of my body and all it encapsulated and not despite it. But I didn’t, and I hated myself more every day because I just couldn’t shed the weight, even with my lover’s “help.” He would do everything from fat shaming to pinching my body fat to sabotaging meals he saw as unhealthy. I saw this as his attempt to help me, because I still didn’t care for myself. I heard how worthless and disgusting I was from society and, more detrimental than that, I heard it from my would-have-been spouse and family. At this point in my life, I started to hide. I hated how I looked and didn’t want to put anyone else through the horror of having to look at me.

That girl? Still weak, sad, miserable… still barely holding it together, but this time she didn’t have the “beautiful exterior” to rely on and fell way down the rabbit hole of self-loathing. That dark and scary rabbit hole led to an eventual suicide attempt. Luckily, it didn’t work. Obviously, lol. And I am so happy that it didn’t.

I woke up the morning after my failed attempt and decided that that was quite enough of that, thank you very much, and that I was going to fix myself and my attitude. And you know what? It worked. I put myself on a strict diet of positive self-talk and redefinition. I embarked on more than three years of self-imposed celibacy to try and correct my pattern of abusive choices in partners. Turns out… yep, that was exactly what I needed. I needed to discover myself again, my positive outlook, my independence, my love for life. At the end of three years, I was amazed at who I saw when I looked in the mirror. I was big *and* beautiful. I was complicated *and* lovely. I was kind *and* feisty. And that was ok; I could be each of those things. I could be a big ol’ mass of contradictions and still love every convoluted inch of me, just as I am.

Now, that girl? She doesn’t care if people in the grocery store mutter when they spy cookie dough lounging in her cart. She just happily tosses in that bag of oranges and goes on about her day. That girl doesn’t mind when parents come into her place of work and ask her if she gets stuck in the tunnels (oh yeah, that girl? She works in a children’s museum. Lol). Well, truthfully she minds like hell, but it no longer pokes holes in the delicate balloon of her sense of self-worth. That girl has the most amazing husband who loves her just as she is, not despite her size, but because her beautifully big, imperfect body holds in all of her sass, her talent, her intellect, and is currently creating and nurturing their first child. And that man? He’s just about the best thing to ever happen to any human being; and this woman, yes this woman right here, is the luckiest person in all of the world because that man chose to love her just as she is.

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And I even managed to finish a day early 🙂 My final word count for the timeframe was 50,114! I didn’t quite finish it completely, there are still four or five plot points I need to cover and then comes the long, arduous process of editing and adding additional detail/scenes/etc. But that’s what December is for… and January, and February, and… well, we’ll try and keep it to February.

And, though my posts in November were few, I wanted to close out my NaNoWriMo experience with a recap: My Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo.

  1. DO find your inspiration beverage and use it shamelessly. (Mine? Peppermint hot tea, imported dark beer and/or gingerbread chai tea lattes)
  2. DON’T join a book club in the middle of NaNoWriMo (Found out the hard way)
  3. DO participate fully in the process: take advantage of the website stats, forums, etc. They really do help! But don’t rely on those tools alone for your inspiration. You are your own best writing tool.
  4. DON’T allow well-meaning friends/family to belittle your goal; you decided to silence your inner critic. Don’t let the external critics win, either.
  5. DO share your goal only with those you know will understand your insanity. If you have someone in your life who has done NaNoWriMo before, turn to them for strategies and guidance.
  6. DON’T choose this time to be a grammar nazi. I’m not saying that you should turn to phrases like “ain’t this place some kinda neatoriffic” or “golly gee, whys don’t ya’ll all just walk around in yer underbritches”, unless, of course, that is something one of your characters would actually say. And if that is the case, perhaps you should ask yourself why your character needs to speak that way. Lol.
  7. DO use writeordie! I cannot tell you how many more words I wrote during the blocks I used this website. I don’t know why it works so well; it’s a very simple concept. But I can tell you that it works!!!
  8. DON’T use really, really cheap word count tricks (like copy-pasting the same chapter multiple times). You’ll regret it when you go to rewrite.
  9. DO use only moderately cheap word count tricks 🙂 (such as writing out most of your numbers, not using contractions and giving your characters complicated first names like Sally Anne or Jimmy Jo Bob). Names of places also help. (I have to admit I didn’t actually use these tricks, but I still think they’re acceptable)
  10. DON’T use NaNoWriMo as an excuse to lock yourself in your room and not emerge for 30 days. When all is said and done 1,667 words a day is not that much and it won’t take up your entire life. Unless you get behind and still have 10,000 words left to write with three days to go. Lol. Then it’s a little hairy.
  11. Oh and one more: DON’T stop with 50,000 words! Beef it up, flesh it out, finish that sucker! Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite… Polish, pluck, twist, turn, do whatever you need to do to whip your draft into a passable semblence of a novel and then get it out there!!

All in all, I had a blast and finally rediscovered my love for writing. And I kicked my serious case of writer’s block squarely in the ass. I cannot wait to do it all again next November 😉 And now I’ll leave you with a few final images from my journey:

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  • Chapter 1: 4 pages
  • Chapter 2: 6 pages
  • Chapter 3: 9 pages
  • Chapter 4: 6 pages
  • Chapter 5: 7 pages

Sitting at a little over 23,000 words and about 9,500 behind. I am getting very excited for my kids to get out early on Wednesday, then comes the four-glorious-day weekend coming up!! Lots of hot tea, writing, shopping & random picture-taking. But mostly writing.

On a side note, do you think 21,000 words in was too early for a sex scene? I, for one, do not. However, I will admit that writing a sex scene in Barnes & Noble is slightly awkward. 😉

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Andit is painful and I don’t like it…

So the first week of NaNoWriMo went pretty swimmingly. I managed to silence my inner editor and just write; and surprisingly not everything I wrote was deritivate dreck. There were one or two pretty lengthy passages that, I think, will even make it past my 1st rewrite intact. I wound up only being a couple thousand words behind, which is not bad, all things considered. And I purchased a netbook to help me write away from home (read: distractions like facebook, TV, animals, books I need/want to read and craft supplies) so I felt all optimistic and happy about this week’s prospects. Fast-forward to today.

I am now sitting at slightly over 11,600 words and should be hitting 20,000 tonight to stay on pace to finish my 50,000 by the 30th. I have managed to slide from a couple thousand words behind (mere hours of work) to almost 9k in five days. If I write all day Saturday and Sunday, assuming that I can somehow climb over this giant brick wall of writer’s block and self-criticism, I will probably catch up. Maybe. Or I may just fall further and further behind until I inevitably just throw in the proverbial towel, and papercut myself repeatedly with a cheap self-printed copy of yet another incomplete manuscript. The proverbial towel may come in handy at that point; I’ve heard they are good for sopping up the sweat of failure andsloppy tears of self-pity.

However, on a positive note, I really like one of my main characters. He is strong, passionate, couragious and really pissy when he is mad. I think it is really cute when big, strapping men act like petulant children when their feelings are hurt. I’m not sure that the novel will be finished in 50,000 words (it may require more than that to adequately move the story forward), so far I haven’t really gotten to explore the backstory or the developing relationship between my main male and female characters. And the supplementary characters need some fleshing out and dialog. I will confess that I am a pretty crappy dialog writer. It always sounds so cool & witty when it’s playing out in my head and then I realize once I write it down and read it back that, without the inflections I used in my mind’s ear, it sounds hollow and wierd. I think I need to ask some friends who are legitimate authors how they’ve managed to cross this particular hurdle. Any resource in a crisis, eh?

Ok, now back to my actual task. I am determined to at least cross 12k by the close of the evening. I will need to break for dinner, probably watch a bit of television, read a chapter in a novel… I’m just trying to break this writer’s block and staring at an empty piece of virtual paper on my computer screen is not helping. Here I go; wish me luck, send me good vibes, do a little dance to banish my evil writing trolls, whatever you think will help will be greatly appreciated.

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Not that I have been a very good blogger for the past two months anyway, but since I have signed up to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), this novel has taken over my life. I originally had two novel ideas in the works, but hadn’t gotten beyond the same 1,000 words each time I tried to work on them. I have this process: I write, I read it. I rewrite. I reread it which leads to another rewrite. Which leads to… insanity. And an empty bag of whatever is in the house that is comprised of chocolate, potato chips, marshmallows or all of the above. And then it starts all over again. It always puts me in mind of “The Song That Never Ends.” (If you now have that song stuck in your inner jukebox, I am sorry. But please know that it torments me as well. Lol)

For those of you who have not heard of NaNoWriMo, here is an explanation from their site:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

So far, I should have about 11,669 words according to the daily pace of 1,667 words to get you to the goal on time. How many words do I actually have? 7,018. And what am I doing instead of writing? Well… writing. But not the right thing. When I am stressed, I tend to deflect my stressor in favor of something completely unnecessary. This time, I am conceding that it really is past time for me to update my blog, so this was kind of necessary, right? Alright, enough whining about my pace and failings; let me let you in on the fun 🙂 Here is a quick synopsis and excerpt from the novel-in-progress.

Synopsis: The Dragon & The Lady

In an age rife with heroes and villains, Gavin Morgan fears he may have a foot in each camp. Plagued by the memories of a brutal war, his brother’s death and a narrowly escaped assassination attempt, Gavin returns to his childhood home of Caedmon’s Keep only to find his sister courted by dozens of suitors, his father bed-ridden with grief and the keep his own responsibility.

The one light on Gavin’s dim horizon is the sister of one of the suitors, the beautiful Fiona Royce. From the moment Gavin laid eyes on Fiona, he resolved that she would be his. But when murderous eyes watch from every shadow, can anything really be that simple?

Excerpt: The Dragon & The Lady

Stretching his long, taut legs, Gavin tested the barely healed battle wound on his left thigh. He had been sitting astride his horse when a lanceman had skewered the leg through, just above the knee. The red, puckered scar still itched with the deep, unseen efforts of healing. The wound had quickly become infected as the battle raged on for nearly a fortnight, and King Richard had offered his personal tent and physician to ensure that Gavin was healed. After eight days of having everything brought to him, Gavin was fairly ready to run from the tent. He even had an attendant to wash him after he used the privy. Och, he thought, who would want someone else to wash his personal bits? It was still a memory that made him cringe, and at that moment Gavin was acutely thankful that no one could see him check to make sure his manhood was decently covered.

A few moments later, Gavin realized that he had once again wandered into his favorite clearing. Thick trees skirted the edges of the sun-dappled clearing; the late summer’s grass was thick and lush under Gavin’s booted feet. When he was a lad, Gavin remembered imposing a rule about entering the clearing. He wanted to do as little damage as possible to his dream-place, and so he dictated that he would have to remove his shoes any time he crossed the sunny threshold into the thicket. Gavin hadn’t removed his boots for pleasure since well before he had left for war. It’s high time that I had some time to relax, Gavin mused. Relaxation surely would not be forthcoming in the days, weeks, and months ahead, with Aileen’s suitors running around the castle, Gavin’s father in poor health and the witch Morgana looking at him with future-sight glazing her eyes. Whatever it was she saw, the sight of it made her look like a pond frog that had eaten one too many flies and turned sickly. He pictured Morgana lecturing him about the treatment his father was receiving, and imagined her flapping tongue darting out of her mouth to capture an unsuspecting insect. Smiling to himself, Gavin sat at the base of a tree and removed his heavy leather boots. Leaning his head against the ancient and crumbling bark, he closed his eyes and let the magic and warmth of the place envelop him. In a short time, Gavin slept a dreamless sleep. Dreams no longer chased his mind in sleep, no. Gavin’s memories plagued him whenever he closed his eyes, and as anyone who has suffered tragedy will tell you, memories are far more vicious, cold-hearted hunters than dreams are wont to be. His mind’s eye began to frame the memory’s shape: a battlefield still raging in the heart of the night, a cold tent, the smells of poorly healed battle wounds, blood and poultices, and a feeling of foreboding.

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

And now I am going to get back to my actual project. Ok, first I’m going to go make a cup of hot tea, pull out my iPod, check the football scores, play with the cat and mindlessly surf the interwebs, but *then* I’m going to get back to my actual project.

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Today’s word is zucchini. I had an imediate reaction to this word, though probably not the one people would expect. It made me hungry. So off to the kitchen I went… and twenty minutes later I sat down to my computer, sauteed zukes in hand, to write this week’s story. Hope you enjoy!

If she had just handed over the recipe, everything would have been alright. If she hadn’t been such a selfish bitch, everything would have been fine. But she didn’t and she was, so everything is decidedly not alright. I suppose I should back up a bit, let you in on what got us to this point. What point? I am the owner of Beth Trinkle’s prize-winning Zucchini Bread recipe… and Beth? She’s dead.

Everything about Beth Trinkle was perfect. She had the most beautiful, bouncy blonde hair I had ever seen and even with braces in her 15-year old mouth, she was gorgeous. And to a gangly, mousy-brunette, ordinary looking new girl like myself, she looked like the epitome of what a girl should be. Beth and I met in the 9th grade at Benjamin Franklin Preparatory Academy. Her family, being of the genteel southern variety, had been going there for generations and mine had finally scraped together enough money to get me out of the horrible school I had been attending. I had been telling them for years that my school was hell. They only began to believe me when a 12-year old black boy was hung outside the school gym in 1954. Integration wasn’t going to come easy in Georgia. Or in other places in the deep south from what little news came to my teenaged ears.

After that incident, my parents pinched pennies until they were able to afford a year at Ben Franklin and a year away from the racial hatred. Oh I’m not black, but my parent had a lot of black friends as did I. We weren’t the type people wanted around in those days. My parents were what we called “free thinkers” and in the 60’s they would march on Washington, DC, smoke a lot of pot and have sex in public. I would be mortified by them, but would secretly be doing the same things, just on the other coast. I was in my early 20s and I would have the time of my life, even if my parents were doing the same. I would be ok to be my mother just this once. And now back to Beth.

We never spoke. Not once. I tried my best to blend in with the deep mahogany panelled walls of BFPS and Beth never bothered to look beyond the end of her pretty little button nose. She had her lackeys, her boys in letterman’s jackets and her home economics club. And beyond my penchant for disappearing, I also had a penchant for poetry and older men. We did not travel in the same circles. But I knew her nonetheless. Who wouldn’t notice if a unicorn strolled into their math class? Even a unicorn who couldn’t multiply to save her rear end.

Alright, this is moving way too slowly. We met, she was beautiful, I was a little jealous (though I would never admit it then), blah blah blah, jump forward hmm… about 45 years. That should be good.

In 1999, we were both 60 and wound up in the same place for the first time since leaving Ben Franklin Preparatory School. I had just gotten my second divorce and moved back to Savannah, GA to get a new start. Neither of my marriages had produced offspring and I was secretly glad for that. Both my husbands had wanted children, but I had not. I do not have a maternal bone in my now-post-menopausal body.  I was doing some shopping at the Piggly-Wiggly down the street from my newly leased duplex when BAM. There she was. Even though I hadn’t seen her since the 50’s, I knew her instantly. The same bouncy blonde hair now had a slight hint of silver and her damn button nose was just as cute. I admit I stalked her around the store for about 10 minutes just staring at her. I couldn’t believe how well she had aged. I wanted to think she had married a plastic surgeon who was secretly holding everything together, hell holding everything up with all his surgical prowess. I wanted to think it took  a lot of prowess, but she was just one of those lucky people who aged gracefully. Somehow she was even more beautiful than she was in her teens. And she had two equally beautiful sunny blonde toddlers in the basket of her cart. And I figured that unless she was the world’s most beautiful bionic woman, those toe-headed tots were her grandchildren. Twins, wouldn’t you know it?

And now that the dripping green tones of envy are beginning to taint the edges of this little tale, we’re going to skip forward again. I still will not admit that I could have possibly been jealous of the grandchildren I didn’t want the children to get.

In 2007, at age 68, I found Beth Trinkle again. This time at Peter Pepper’s Pie & Pasta Cook-off. We had both entered the pecan pie contest & our tables had been assigned across from one another. I was unloading all of the ingredients for my blue-ribbon winning cinnamon-laced pecan pie, when the thin patch of sun between the overhead tarps bounced off of those stunning blonde waves. Needless to say, she won. Though I probably handed her that particular blue ribbon by failing to actually get my pie in the oven before time ran out. I was too busy watching her easy movements and steady hands.

A few months later, we both entered another contest. Cookies this time. I made a mental note not to watch her from across the venue and this time I actually had something to present to the judges. And it came down to Beth’s Pomegranate-Passion fruit shortbread cookies and my Oatmeal-Cardamom Chocolate Chip cookies. The judges really seemed to like my cookies, but she won. This was becoming a pattern. Not a good one. Over the course of the next year, she trumped me 7 times and I only managed to take home 2 ribbons. And to top it off, she still didn’t bother to talk to me. She beamed when she won and she lost graciously, without ever shaking my hand. I really started disliking her. I could see under her calm, ladylike southern veneer to the shallow, sullen and ugly underbelly of her temperament.

Two weeks ago, I was sent the email entry list for the mother-of-all baking contests. I had been accepted to bake in the Betty Crocker Bread Bake-off. So had Beth Trinkle. This one was special. I had never been the one to stand up front and demand attention. I was always the one who stood to the back and was content to just participate. But now I wanted the glory. I wanted my recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. My name. My fame. It was the only time I had ever wanted recognition and I was damned if she was going to take my title away from me. I found her in the Piggly-Wiggly gathering ingredients for her famous Zucchini Bread. I decided she was probably practicing it so she could enter it into the contest. Damn, I thought to myself. This was going to be hard. Really hard. I was making a pumpkin bread with a swirl of cinnamon-sugar. It was good, but was it that good? I had had Beth’s bread at a bake-off in Atlanta (where, incidentally, she won $4,000 for taking 1st place) and it was absolutely the best zucchini bread I had ever eaten. Something inside me snapped. My fame was slipping through my fingers as quickly as she was loading flour and vegetables onto the checkout counter.

As she left the store, I abandoned my cart where it was and earned myself an angry look from the cart-boy. I was starved for attention that was 50-odd years overdue and I didn’t care what I had to do to get it: Beth Trinkle would know my name before the day was out. I got in my car and tailed her to her home. It was easy to keep track of her; she was the only shimmery pink SUV in Savannah with the tag “GRITGAL.” Gag.

Her home was beautiful. The kind of home you see on the cover of Southern Living magazine. Magnolia trees in the yard, azalea bushes hugging the wrap-around veranda, two-storeys of post-colonial masonry and wood painted a demure shade of farmhouse cream and three cars in the driveway. I don’t know why but I was incensed. How did this woman manage to get everything?  The attention, the men, the house, the kids… no, not the kids. I didn’t care about the progeny. I still don’t.

I parked my car on the street and followed her into the driveway. I just wanted to see what she was doing. I just wanted to see her make the bread. Now let’s be honest with ourselves here, I could tell you she went right in & started making the bread, but she didn’t. She futzed around putting away groceries, did the dishes, washed the counter and laid out some fish (presumably for dinner the next night). I waited through all of this. Just to figure out how she did it would be worth the hours I spent watching her mundane home-maker’s existence.

I almost gave up hope when she started to grab the pruning shears. I thought she was going to go get some magnolia blossoms from the trees to have as a centerpiece on her table when she swapped the shears for a pair of gardening gloves. There was a large sun hat laying next to the gloves, but it was nearing dusk and there was little sun to mar her pretty porcelain face. She exited through a side door off the kitchen and very close to the window I was crouching below. I forced my way into an azalea bush and out of her line of sight and continued to watch her from my hiding spot.

She strolled  silently down the path to the garden & knelt down in front of the carrots? No, those couldn’t be carrots. She was baking zucchini bread. I knew my enemy, had tasted my enemy, and as long as I could see her make it I could figure it out. If she was making something with carrots I was out of luck, out of cookbook… I was out of options. I pulled myself out of the bush by sheer will and strolled up behind her.

“What are you making for the contest?” I demanded.

“Excuse me? Who are you, why are you on my property?” I shared a winner’s podium with this woman and she didn’t even recognize me.

“I have known you since 1954. We went to school together. You’ve beaten me to a blue ribbon 8 times and I’ll be damned if you’re going to do it again. Betty Crocker is mine. Give me your damned Zucchini Bread recipe. Now.” I was getting madder by the second and her outraged expression wasn’t helping matters.

“I most certainly will not. I don’t know you and even if I did, that is my favorite recipe. I created it. It’s mine. And it will not be yours. Now kindly leave.” And just as she would dismiss an angry two year old, or a dog she had scolded, she turned her back on me in a huff.

“I haven’t come this far to leave empty handed, you old bitty. And you do know me; you just never bothered to ask my name. Or even give me the time of day. You’re going to give me your recipe because you never bothered to be human with me. You never let me into your world,” so now I’m going to force my way in, I added as an afterthought. “Give me the recipe.”

She remained facing away from me, calmly pulling carrots and brushing off the excess dirt. I could feel my hands clenching into fists at my sides but couldn’t make them stop. I felt my feet moving me forward but couldn’t make them stop. My teeth were grinding with rage and I didn’t want them to stop. The sound of my tortured molars was drowning out my rational thoughts and I liked it. I didn’t want rationality, I wanted my due. I wanted that recipe. And if I couldn’t have it, neither would Beth Trinkle…

The last thing I remember I had taken about 6 unrelenting steps toward her still kneeling body. When I came to myself again, she was lying on her side, eyes staring at me vacantly. This was a woman who no longer had that spark of life. Her hair no longer shone in the dying sun, her button nose was blotchy and imperfect and she was less… she was just less.

As I walked away from the home of Beth Trinkle, all I could think about was the competition. My pumpkin bread was going to win. I was going to win & there was nothing that she could do about it now.

Like I said before, if she had just given me the Zucchini Bread recipe, we would have been fine.

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This week’s word is sushi brought to you by Heather Beth. I asked her to give me a random word and this is what she spit out. And to think, a couple of months ago she hated sushi… I’ve created a monster. Lol. Really I’ve just created a sushi buddy & I couldn’t be happier about it!! 🙂 I wanted to try something new this week and not be as literal as I was last week. Instead I created a little short “story” and a poem. The first actually uses the word and the second just invokes the feeling of sushi: the wrapping, the intricate display, the consumption, etc.

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Renaissance

A letter to a lover that needs no stamp.

It has been ages since you severed my heart from my body, since the fabric of my world was rent by your erstwhile loving hands. Still I grieve, still I hope, still I ache. And I ask you why. Today I have answered my own inquiry. You were unneeded in this most primal of discoveries. Your voice was obsolete. Your reassurance was not required. Every answer I needed lay locked in the wounded fist at my side.

You took the pieces of my soul and wrapped them up as neatly as an Itamae assembles sushi: the largest part of my heart, the majority of my mind, all of my will wrapped tightly in a raw chunk of that secret place that each woman holds sacred and apart from her lover, freshly and savagely sliced. Even my secret became just a part of the plunder you stole from me. You stole it from me and laughed, with no intention to ever relinquish your bounty.

Until this day, I had not dared to reach out to you, to regain a hold on the rolled up bundle that was my life. I could not extend my hand to you because I feared my own grasp. I knew I would reach for my soul and instead brush your hand, glimpse your smile and I would clutch onto everything you are. Everything I was. All that we were and could have been.

As I said, until this day.

Today, I extend my shaking, still-wounded open hand and reach past the pain. Past the fear, longing, loathing; past the empty promises of your touch, the lure of your breath on my skin, the undercover-parasitic balm of your words in my ear. I reach all the way into your soul and reclaim what has been mine all along. My heart is mine. My soul is mine. And damnitall, my life is mine. And while I may remember the way your fingers skimmed my skin in the moonlight, how your eyes raked hot and feral over the soft curve of my thighs and your hair fell across the swell of my breast as you lay listening for the silent heartbeat in my broken womb, I will no longer allow that to break the shakily reconstructed wall of my secret stronghold.

I have gathered around my crushed spirit all the materials I need to recreate myself stronger and more whole that ever I was before. I assemble them, call upon all their powers. I gather sun to give me warmth, the warmth of love. I gather star to give me shine, in the darkest of my hours. I gather air to fill my lungs and drive my breath. I gather water to cleanse and heal my wounds. I gather earth to nurture and strengthen my soul. Each harbinger of rebirth helps me to reclaim, to rebuild, to renew.

You cannot break me now.

I am stardust.

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Contrivance

Collect my facets

Take the pieces with careful hands

Display and lavish them with

The sweet shadow of golden touch

Wrap me tightly in a blanket of breath

Hot, hot, hot and lush

Lay me on a polished and flowered salver

My love pale and fragile

Paired with scarlet heat, passion

 Beauty composed to invite just a taste

A nibble

Then another

Until both are consumed

And the salver as empty

As the night

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