Posts Tagged ‘ Writing Adventure Group

WAG #31 A Confession (Laughter)

C stared at the sad, wooden eyes, which would forever reach towards Heaven, begging for forgiveness. “What a gruesome image,” she thought to herself. How had she never noticed how terrifying a symbol this was- The statue of a semi-nude waif of a man looming overhead, red paint covering his hands and feet to emphasize the nails our sinning ancestors drove into his hands and feet. We gape at the photos of starving people around the world in National Geographic and dread the thought of going on any sort of vacation that might not involve running water, but will accept this figure as our savior?

Yes, it had been a while since she’d last been to mass. Approximately two years, as a matter of fact. Another cousin was getting married and not going wasn’t much of an option. She’d thought that going back to something she’d done once a week for 19 years would be a piece of cake- it would be boring, but she could fake her way through it, right? So what if she’d spent the last 10 years struggling, with herself and (especially) with her mother, over whether quitting church had been the right thing to do.

But once she’d gotten into her pew, C had a mini panic attack. She wasn’t the one getting married, and she probably wasn’t going to be the next in line either, but what would happen when (or if) that day did come? She’d never survive Pre-Cana classes and would feel like one of those dreaded false prophets for even pretending to have a slice of faith left. She certainly wouldn’t want to make all of her non-Catholic friends sit through all this incense and chanting.

Maybe it was time they all knew. Of course rumors had circulated about her church going habits- oh, she had indeed heard those “whispers” that emanated from her grandmother’s kitchen last Christmas, and now she would finally lay them to rest.

C refused to utter one single “amen,” “and also with you,” nor sing any form of “alleluia” or “praise be to god in the highest.” Before she knew it, everyone around her was uttering the Nicene Creed. To her dismay, she remembered every. single. word. Still, she held fast and allowed herself to observe the rituals as an outsider. She continued to wonder how anyone could expect her to believe in any of this.

She lapsed at one moment and kneeled with the rest as the priest and deacon prepared the Eucharist. Was she really going to do this? This was the big moment. She stood, lifted the kneeler, and waited for her row to move forward for Communion. Fear pulled at her but determination to hold her own proved firm. Her aunt turned to her with surprise when she noticed that C had sat down instead of joining the line. Her cousin looked slightly bewildered as he stepped past her- but she wasn’t too worried about him.

The family silently noticed and passed judgement (or so she had decided). “We all go through our doubting phase,” she could almost hear them saying.

It was just about time to go. The priest shared a few extra words and closed with, “The Lord be with you.” Unable to stop herself, she responded, “And also with you.” Her hands drew the sign of the cross to the rhythm of, “May almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” “Amen.”

C swore to herself, smiled, then broke into laughter. It wasn’t an overly loud laugh- more of a soft chuckle, but a few of her neighbors noticed it. She laughed because one day, perhaps as many as sixty years from that particular moment, she would no longer remember the words to the Nicene Creed nor have to prevent the response, “Only say the word and I shall be healed,” from slipping off her tongue. It may not fully disappear on its own, but she’d made great strides that day.

“How did you enjoy the ceremony?” C’s great uncle asked as they exited the church.
“It was wonderful,” she replied. The smile on her face was anything but fake.

Instructions for this week’s topic were:

Writing Aventure Group Topic #31: “Laughter”. There are many types of and reasons for laughter: twitters, titters, guffaws, snickers, snorts, belly laughs and bursts of inappropriate giggles at a funeral.  Laughter can mean many things and be displayed in various ways. This week write about someone (real or fictional) and a moment of mirth. Your piece can be as long or short as you want, using any form you like. No Rules! Now Write!

To see my past WAG entries, click here. To learn more about WAG and see what others have written this week, visit India Drummond’s blog here.

WAG #26 Serve Chilled

This week’s theme is “Fish out of Water” (see full deets at the bottom of this post).

G walked into the coffee shop with the intention of obtaining a quick caffeine fix. He was relatively new in town, although he hadn’t moved from too far away. It’s crazy how a 90 mile distance can make such a difference in how people dress, greet each other, and even serve their coffee. G hadn’t (unfortunately for himself) taken much of that into consideration before placing his order.

Let’s take a moment to step back and take in the scene shall we? The cafe lies in San Francisco’s Mission District, home to glasses and tight jean wearing hipsters- those who could afford to live some place else, yet choose to associate themselves with bold murals, 24 hour taquerias, and vintage clothing stores.

There are many coffee shops to choose from here, but the one G has opted for is the cream of the crop, the bee’s knees, or the [insert other odd, clichéd idiom here]. This place is so hip, it doesn’t even have a Wifi connection. Work from home? Take your computers and your smart phones elsewhere.

Animal heads are mounted upon one wall, a bizarre confrontation for the many veggie/vegan types who approach the counter. The staff hides their expertise on how to best brew their specially crafted Colombian behind some serious facial hair.

G is wearing cargo shorts, hiking boots, and a t-shirt. No one pays much notice, everyone here is super accepting after all. He makes his way to the front of the line but has yet to make up his mind. The menu distracts him from noticing that today’s barista is all business on top (crew cut) and party below (a beard to make even Yosemite Sam proud). The people behind smile but wish this guy would hurry the eff up. Beardy asks how his day’s been and what he can do for him. A friendly gesture with a tone of “hurry the eff up.”

G replies, “Uhh. Hmm. Could I get an iced cappuccino please?”

A gasp, followed by silence.

“An iced cappuccino? You want me to make you an iced cappuccino?”

“Yeah, can you not do that? I got them all the time back home.”

“Do you not know what a cappuccino is? How am I supposed to include a layer of foamed milk on an iced drink? You know what? I’ll just make you an iced latte.”

“Uhh, okay.”

The barista’s feigned friendliness vanishes as he slips around the corner to prepare G’s drink. The other people in line roll their eyes and wonder what this n00b was doing in their highly esteemed establishment. This isn’t any place for an amateur. Unacceptable.

G left with his iced latte and debated whether he’d ever set foot in there again. He was a pretty chill guy, he didn’t tend to get razzled as easily as your average bear, but this just seemed excessive. Was there really all that much difference between a cappuccino and a latte? He took a sip, shrugged, and decided he’d make his mind up some other time. He had to admit, the coffee was pretty damn good.

Instructions for this week’s WAG were:

WAG Topic #26: “Fish out of Water”. Sometimes it’s easy to tell when someone is out of their element. It can be their clothing, their manner, what they’re carrying with them… so many things give them away. This week, observe (or create) someone who is out of place and describe what tells you they’re a fish out of water. Your target can be a tourist, someone who is in an unfamiliar place/situation, someone at a new workplace, or any of a million times in our lives we can end up somewhere we’ve never been before. It’s up to you! No Rules! Now Write!

For my previous WAG entries, click here. To see what other’s have written, visit India Drummond’s blog here.

WAG #24 "Unexpected"-Double Take

“This is an announcement for all passengers traveling on American Airlines flight 1234 to New York JFK. Boarding will commence shortly so please have all passports and boarding cards ready. We would like to thank you for your patience and apologize for the delay.”

She sits in the gate lounge quietly waiting for her future to (hopefully) begin. Soon she’ll be in the air, flying backwards through time, to a huge job interview with an internationally acclaimed consulting firm. Anxiety grips at her despite the fact that she’s spent the last few weeks studying several cases and completely owned her last practice interview.

Something has taken hold in her gut and she can’t quite shake it. In a flash she remembers a conversation she had with one of her father’s coworkers several years ago. He’d advised her to follow a certain career path and laughed softly when she replied that she’d wanted to do something that makes a difference. “Of course you do,” he’d said. “We all do when we’re young. Wait a few years and that’ll change.”

She gasped. Had he been right? A career in consulting? My god, she’d gone corporate! No! She stopped herself and tried to prevent this one memory from overwhelming her. She was nervous, that was all. She muttered words to herself…work experience, business school, 5 year plan…it’d all work out okay in the end. She picked up the latest issue of the Economist from where she’d earlier set it down and leafed through the business section. These things do matter, she convinced herself. She was only slightly going corporate and would do her best to make a difference from within.

“This is an announcement for all passengers. We have just been informed that due to Icelandic volcanic ash cloud activity, this flight has been cancelled. All British airspace is to be shut until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience but the situation is completely out of our control. Again, this flight has been cancelled due to Icelandic volcanic ash cloud activity.”

What? She was about to miss the biggest interview of her life due to “Icelandic volcanic ash cloud activity?” Unable to restrain herself she uttered, “You have got to be fucking kidding me.”

This week’s WAG instructions were:

WAG Topic #24: “Unexpected”. Surprise is the hardest thing to fake (in real life and in fiction), but something essential to a well-written story. So observe (or imagine) someone who is experiencing something they didn’t see coming. It can be something big or small. Sometimes the smallest surprises have the biggest impact! No Rules! Now Write!

For my past WAG entries, click here. To learn more about WAG and to see what others have written, visit India Drummond’s blog.

WAG #22 "A Real Hero": Super PADH

Move over Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and even you Don Quixote. This is dedicated to all the every day heroes. Not to the people who fight fires, wear spandex, or your grandfather who overcame all the odds to make life a little better. But to those who have the daunting task of putting up with us: the whiners, the anxious, and the never satisfied.

Fine examples of such heroes are:

-Man who works the counter at Crispins at 4am on a Saturday night. Thank you for not judging my purchase of dark chocolate covered digestive biscuits.

-Denis the overly anal driving instructor who excels in nagging students until they are able to parallel park perfectly.

And especially:

Super PADH- The Passive Aggressive Dental Hygienist

With her short and slim stature, those beautifully threaded eyebrows, and dark hair, she has saved my teeth from perpetual decay. She smells of latex and mouthwash. As I take the suction tube from her and place it in my mouth, she asks me about the last few months of my life. Moments later she subtly asks about my snacking habits and implies that, maybe, I could be eating a little healthier. An awkward laugh, half a smile, forced friendliness and non-confrontational commentary is how she rolls.

“Well, your teeth are okay but hopefully the dentist won’t have any issues. We’ll just have to see!”

With her scraping tool, polisher, floss, and power of suggestion she has proved to be the ultimate champion. I leave feeling somewhat irritated but more determined than ever to get my teeth in tip top shape. “I’ll show her!” I think to myself with my little baggy of plaque fighting equipment in hand.

Thank you Super PADH. I may still be a bit bitter but some day my gums will thank you for it.

Instructions for this week’s WAG were:

WAG #22: “A Real Hero”.

In fiction, often every hero looks like the other, with broad shoulders and a chiselled features, and the heroine always has an oval face and rosebud lips. (Okay, so these are the worst examples!) So for WAG #22, observe a stranger you think would make a good main character, and describe their physical features as accurately as you can (and without cliche) so we can see them as real individuals and not cardboard cut-outs. Feel free to transport those people into your fictional world, or just describe them as you see them in their real environment. No Rules! Now Write!

For my past WAGs click here. To see what other people have done, visit India Drummond’s blog.

Message in a Bottle-Reflections [WAG #21]

I lie awake in bed for the umpteenth night in a row as thoughts, worries, and wondrous imaginings float through my busy mind. The clock ticks. It’s 3:49am. The door moves back and forth due to the breeze entering through the slightly open window. At first I contemplate my life and what I have yet to accomplish-not just in the morning (which has almost arrived), but in the years to come. Where was I 5, 8, or 10 years ago? Have I made that young me proud? If I could have, would I have done anything differently?

A figure stands before me. Though it does not speak, I can understand what it wants to tell me. I’ve been given a chance: the opportunity to revisit one of my former selves. Which self, I wonder, will I see? Will it be the nervous 12 year old girl, who frantically shaves her legs for the first time in hopes that the boys will no longer make fun of her? The 14 year old who wanders down to the sea and wishes she could grab a boat and escape? The teenager who fights with her dad over everything? Or the young adult who chooses love (and a bit of comfort) over following her dreams?

We arrive in a bathroom-the one that belongs in my old Dallas home. My younger self, who looks to be about 16 or 17, is rustling through the objects on the counter. I listen to the thoughts inside her head:

Where the hell is that purple eyeshadow? The concert starts in 40 minutes and I am no where near ready to go. This band is going to seriously suck. I’d find some excuse to miss it if K wasn’t going, but he is. I can’t believe he actually likes them, it almost makes me not want to like him. But I do, and I can’t help it. Does he like me too? It seems like he does, and sometimes he says things that make me think that he does, but then why did he ask R to Homecoming and not me?

“Caroline!” I hear my dad yell from downstairs.
“What?”
“Don’t forget to study for the SATs. And don’t listen to music while you study!”
“Not now Dad! It’s Saturday and I’m late to a concert!”
“That stuff will destroy your hearing.”

Ugh, I really wish he’d leave me alone. I’ve got so much other stuff to worry about. I’ll worry about that shitty test later.

She looks into the mirror, and though she doesn’t know it, she sees me in it. A reflection of her grown up self. Still young but more mature (or one can hope). Silence. I smile at her and long to whisper, “K does like you. Everyone knows it but you. He was too chickenshit to ask you out.” She smiles back, finds the purple eyeshadow, puts it on, and hurries to the concert.

The bathroom vanishes and I’m back in bed. The time is 4:01am. I turn on the light, grab my book from the bedside table, and stop worrying for the night.

Instructions for this week’s WAG were:

“WAG #21: Message in a Bottle” It’s part of human nature that we sometimes wish we could communicate with our younger selves, our unreasonable selves, our subconscious selves, our self-destructive selves, our more innocent selves, or any number of other us-es that we all seem to have within. In this week’s WAG, consider the way we talk to ourselves, the tapes we play inside our heads, and write a piece: fiction or non-fiction, about yourself, a character, or someone else. As usual no limits and no rules. One-two-three Write!

For my past WAGs, click here. To learn more about it, visit India Drummond’s blog.

My First Time (WAG)

Since last week’s WAG post was so much fun, I’ve decided to do my best to keep it up each week. To see what other people wrote for the “Pick a Pocket” topic, visit India Drummond’s blog.

Here’s this week’s topic:

“WAG #20: The First Time” Everything we’ve ever done had a ‘first time’. Think of an activity (either of your own or something you observe of someone else) and write about the first time of that experience, and perhaps even compare it to subsequent experiences. Maybe even pick a moment that might have looked mundane from the outside, but made a significant change to the person experiencing it. Not a lot of rules, as usual… just let your imagination flow!

How would I describe my first time?

Awkward. Embarrassing. Slightly painful and certainly messy. Humorous at moments and irritating at others. It definitely wasn’t anything to brag about afterwards.

Nevertheless, I did feel like a new woman the following day.

The date was September somethingeth, 2003. I’d recently turned 19 and started college approximately 1,700 miles away from the place I called home.

Up until that particular day, my roommate and I had figured out how to politely coexist in the tiny space our school deemed suitable for freshman living quarters. She was tall, neurotic, and a bit of an insomniac-let’s call her “A.” I was nervous, unorganized, and a bit of a priss-you can think of me as “C.” Neither of us knew what to expect from the other or how much we dared to admit about our fears and social ambitions.

Had she ever done more than kiss a boy? Did she enjoy getting wasted? Had she ever seen the inside of a fraternity? Did she really think that Harry Potter poster was appropriate for a college dorm room?

Mostly we stuck to different crowds and refrained from sharing too much for fear of being judged by the person who slept less than 3 feet away. Or at least that was the case until that one night in September when the two of us bonded over an uncomfortable, yet funny situation involving a nerd. Said nerd had developed a crush on one of us and had proved to be quite the stalker (but that’s a story for another day).

We giggled and discussed our past relationships and crushes. Eventually A turned to me and hesitatingly asked,

“Hey C…”

“Yeah?”

“Have you ever done…?”

“Done what?”

“This is really embarrassing. But I have to ask. Have you ever done your own laundry? Because I haven’t and I really don’t know what to do. I know we were just talking about guys, but we’ve been here two weeks and I’m completely out of clean underwear. I’m totally screwed, aren’t I?”

I admitted that I had survived 19 years of life without once having done a single load by myself. The two of us burst into violent fits of laughter and shared tips that each of our moms had written down for us on how to avoid shrunken t-shirts and how to best remove stains.

That night we shared our first time together. My jeans came out a little damp and I spilled detergent all over my hands, but overall it wasn’t so bad. A, on the other hand, threw her pajamas into the same dryer as her brand new towels, which led to some rather fuzzy (and unwearable) PJs and a weekend adventure to the nearest mall.

We chose to never mention the experience to our mutual friends the next day in the cafeteria but we knew that something had changed between us. I’m not sure how A remembers the story, but I’ll be sure to mention it at her upcoming wedding.

Pick a Pocket…or Two (Writing Adventure Group)

I recently began following India Drummond on Twitter, checked out her blog, and got pretty excited about the Writing Adventure Group (WAG) she runs from time to time.

Once upon a time, I used to really enjoy writing-I still do, but have been pretty crap at keeping it up for the last few years. I figure this will be a nice way to ease my way back into it until I can motivate myself to write stories again.

For WAG, India picks a theme and anyone who likes can write a short piece about it. Click here for details and rules. Here’s the theme for this week:

“WAG #19: Pick a Pocket” Let’s do some stalking people-watching for this one! Pick someone out of a crowd and describe what (you imagine) is in their pockets (Unless you want to be brave and ask them!) Give us both meaning and physical details, and don’t forget to let yourself be surprised. (This week’s topic inspired by my son Bear.)

So, without further ado, here is my piece (apologies in advance if none of this makes sense!).

Here I am on the Circle Line, stuck somewhere between Embankment and where I need to be. I reach into my bag and notice that I’ve forgotten my book at home, which leaves me the choice of either grabbing a free newspaper from the seat next to mine, staring blankly into space, or quietly observing my neighbors-one of my secret, only child pleasures.

Take care fellow passengers, for I will judge you based on the book you are reading, the language you are speaking, and the shopping bags you carry. Fewer things give me as great satisfaction as being able to correctly determine to which country you belong. If you alight before providing adequate evidence, I will assume that I was right.

A woman jumps on board, moments before the doors close (for this train is about to depart), wearing a white blouse, capri length khaki trousers, white trainers, and white socks. She carries a backpack and has short, spiky hair. I’ve never been good at guessing ages, but I’d wager she’s roughly 45. She chooses to stand for two or three stops, continuously looking at the map. We make eye contact briefly, but I do not suspect she knows that I am analyzing her every move. Finally she sits, then stands, sticks her head out the doors, and sits again.

Where is she trying to go? I imagine that in her backpack she has a camera, a London guidebook, and a list of important contact information. Clearly she is somewhat confused as to her whereabouts and is trying to meet someone, perhaps the someone who arranged the trip. She is not used to traveling, especially not on her own. By the clothes I’d say she could be American, but no-she’d have asked me where she was by now, and no American would have that hair. German or Dutch is the answer, I’d almost guarantee it.

The train pulls up to my stop. Turns out she’s getting off too. I take another glance and notice that she’s pulled out an Oyster card, which is shielded by a unique little case. Only someone who used the Tube on a regular basis, or someone willing to spend money on anything, would own such a thing. Was I wrong? Or is she staying with a friend who loaned it to her? I watch her walk towards the escalator and it is here that I must inwardly say goodbye. Although I do not particularly care if she is late to her destination, I feel attached to her and am almost disappointed that I will never see her again.

As I wait for my next train (which will arrive in approximately 7 minutes), I find my eyes searching for the next subject to study.