Post for 6/20/2014

I have attended many weddings.  I’ve been told I even attended my own, but I leave that for the conspiracy junkies out there.  I just deal in facts.  That and satire, but mostly satirical facts.  Weddings are life changing events since I get to eat free for just bringing a condolence card for the bride or the groom, or their pet.  That being said, have you ever wondered what a wedding would be like if they allowed corporate sponsorships?    No?  Me neither until I had this prompt about thinking what would happen to an event if an evil corporate force took it over.  Why only one evil corporate force?  I give you value my dear reader and expand your evil corporate forces to at least five to ten.  So I propose to you this is how weddings will be paid for in somewhere between ten years to fifteen thousand years

Let me set the scene.  One of my daughters comes to me excitedly waving a letter.  Which daughter is up to you, or it could be your daughter or son.  I collect daughters, having successfully appropriated five of them over the past eleven years or so.  What can I say, I am a ladies man.  Anyway, we will say her name is Sariah since I haven’t collected one of those yet (but I am writing a story about a Sariah that you can find in a first draft in progress here).


 

Sariah comes in waving a letter.  “Dad, it’s official.  I’m getting married.”

I look up from my diorama devoted to mashed potatoes through the ages.  “That’s nice dear, but I have some bad news for you.”

“What is it, Dad?”

“I can’t afford for you to get married,” I say.  “These dioramas are not selling like hotcakes as I had hoped.”  I smash both hands through the middle ages moldy potato and Spam gothic chapel.  “That’s it.  I should make the mashed potato dioramas out of hotcakes.”  I smile broadly at her as I begin to talk with my hands, flinging moldy mashed potatoes and Spam at her.  “There is hope for you yet Deidre.”

Sariah looks at the moldy potato and Spam on her blouse and shakes her head.  “Dad, I’m Sariah.”

“I just said you have hope.  You don’t need to be sad,” I reply.  I worry about this generation.  They always seem depressed.

“I’m not sad,” Sariah continues, but I don’t believe her.  “I’m happy,” she says.  “We found enough corporate sponsors to cover the whole thing.”

“Corporate sponsors?” I ask.  “I’m surprised they picked you since you can’t seem to keep your food off your shirt.”  Sariah gives me the ‘Look of Dead Dad’.  I decide to play along before it becomes the action of ‘Dead Dad’ or ‘Screaming, Crying Dad’ which means my wife evokes the ‘No Fun in the Sack, Dad’.  “Who is covering what, Deidre?”

Sariah places the letter close by, but shielded from any potato Spam fallout from the pieces still decorating the ceiling.  “First off we have the ushers who get to wear sausage suits with the Oscar Meyer logo.  Next we have the mother’s march by Ugg boots.  We just need to get the mom’s to pick out what colors and wear short enough dresses to show them off. “

I decide to interject, because that is what dads do. “Your mother-in-law in a short dress?  That could cause an international incident.”

That brings Sariah up short.  “Oh, well maybe we can find a pant suit that will fit inside the boot.  Yeah that might work.”  I smile encouragingly.  No need to have me be the bearer of bad news on how horrible that idea was.  That’s why she has her mother.  Sariah continues.  “We will have the giving away of the bride by K-Mart.”

I get excited.  “Do I get to wear a blue light special hat?” I ask.  “That would be awesome!”

Sariah stamps her foot.  Some Spam and potatoes fall off her shirt.  “Dad, I am not a blue light special!” she screeches.

I smile and pat her cheek with my potato and Spam encrusted hand.  “You will always be my blue light special, Deirdre, because I love you.”

Sariah steps back and shakes her head.  More potatoes and Spam drop off.  It is amazing how much was getting around my workspace.  I need to remember to not work in quantities over twenty five pounds in the future.  Of course hotcakes should be less dense and therefore lighter by default.”

“Are you listening to me?” Sariah asks.

I look at my daughter and nod.  Yep, she is definitely moving toward the ‘Screaming, Crying Dad’.  “Of course Deidre, please continue.”

Sariah picks up the letter wiping away even more potatoes and Spam.  “Budweiser is sponsoring the “I do of the day”™.  They just want a thirty second ad played on a large screen behind us.  I got to pick the Clydesdale ad where the horses cry beer when the duck flies to the guy who trained it since it hatched.  I’m always moved when the trainer says ‘You had me at quack’.”

My daughter actually tears up.  I try to give her a tissue, but since, well you know by now, she refuses it.

“So then we move to the Citibank Ring Exchange as long as we include the phrase, ‘What is in your wallet, and on your finger?’.  Lastly we have the recessional sponsored by Mylanta.”

At this I burst out laughing.  “Let me guess, your honeymoon is sponsored by Viagra?” I ask.

This earns me another stomp.  “Dad, get serious.  Gavin doesn’t need Viagra.”

“And how do you know that?” I ask.  See, I am paying attention.

“Dad!”

“It is a legitimate question, Deidre,” I say.  “I am your father.”

Sariah ignores me.  “The honeymoon is sponsored by Baby R Us,” she says.

I shake my head.  “I’m going to contact Trojan or Bayer to see if they can make a counter offer.”

“Bayer?” she asks.  “Do they make birth control?”

“They might,” I reply, “but I was thinking for the aspirin I am going to need when you bring a baby over.”

Sariah stomps her foot again.  I can see this is not going well.  I decide to ask a different question.  “What about the reception afterward?”

“We don’t have anyone yet,” she said.  “Do you have any ideas?”  Sariah looks at me with those big pale blue eyes.  I would do anything for those eyes.

“I have an idea, but it is a bit unorthodox,” I say.  She nods her head in encouragement.  I take a deep breath and continue.  “We can serve hotcakes.”

Prompt for 6/20/2014

Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?

Let’s consider your voice again. This topic can be tricky, as you might not be sure what your voice sounds like — yet. But it’s not that it’s not there, as Chuck Wendig explains in his “Ten Things I’d Like to Say to Young Writers” post. It just takes time to hone it:

You will chase your voice like a dog chasing a car, but you’ll never catch it. Because you were your voice all along. You were never the dog. You were always the car.

Our favorite writers, from Jane Austen to Gabriel Garcia Marquez to Paul Auster, have distinct voices. You read their writing and hear their words in your head. From their word choices, to the rhythm of their sentences, to the intimate spaces they create — right there on the page — they sound like no one else but them.

Today’s twist: While writing this post, focus again on your own voice. Pay attention to your word choice, tone, and rhythm. Read each sentence aloud multiple times, making edits as you read through. Before you hit “Publish,” read your entire piece out loud to ensure it sounds like you.

Prompt for 6/19/2014

Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

Post for 6/18/2014

In a previous post I was challenged to write about the time I lost something.  I ended up writing a post about when I lost my first daughter at the age of three.  I realize that it was quite personal, and a lot of people might have been put off by such a difficult thing.

Today I was challenged to write about something I had found.  I was happy to see this since it allows me to talk about how Angela, my special needs daughter, impacted the lives around her in ways I hope to achieve in my much longer lifetime.  I hope that while this post might still be challenging, it can inspire you as well.

We always knew we had a special child, and everyone who ever met her fell in love with her.  We would have aides or therapists who had to stop working with her for various reasons still stop by to visit Angela.  Her smiles ware infectious, and if you were having a bad day all she had to do was smile and laugh and you would forget about what had you down.  She inspired hope and a strength in people.  She was a fighter, beating the odds, and it inspired those around her to do the same.

I know I sound like a typical gushing parent.  I might sound like someone trying to justify what is a tragedy by saying she had such a large influence on whomever she interacted with.  What evidence can I provide to back up such a claim?

When we set up her funeral arrangements we tried to limit the number of calling hours.  We were already in a fog and we wanted to begin to pick the pieces sooner rather than later.  We went to those first set of hours and people began to wander in.  And more came by.  And then more.  Pretty soon we needed to expand into a second room to handle the over flow.  Each and every person made sure to tell us how our daughter had touched their lives in ways they had never imagined.  They wanted us to know how lucky we were to have such an amazing girl.

It was then when we truly discovered that Angela’s time with us wasn’t cut tragically short.  She had been placed in our care to do her work, and when it was time to go home she left this place, but never left the hearts and minds of the people who needed to see her.  We found out we had hosted an angel for three years before she took up her wings again, and I will be ever changed by that.

Prompt for 6/18/2014

On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today, write about finding something.

Tell us about the time you retrieved your favorite t-shirt from your ex. Or when you accidentally stumbled upon your fifth-grade journal in your parents’ attic. Or how about the moment you found out the truth about a person whose history or real nature you thought you’d figured out. Interpret this theme of “finding something” however you see fit.

Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.

Post for 6/17/2014

Christopher looked at the two pocket cards, making sure to have his poker face in place.  He had king and queen of diamonds.  Chris looked at his four other competitors and threw in a red chip.  “I call,” he said.

Freddy threw in a red chip as well.  “I’m in as well,” Freddy said.  “Glad you could make our little game here tonight.”

“Thanks for letting me sit in.  I haven’t played in a long time,” Christopher said.

Jack checked his cards a second time and chucked them into the center.  “Newbies have it hard, man.  That’s why I invited you tonight.  I wanted a chance at some of that money you doctors make.  I figure you’d make easy pickings since you don’t know anyone’s tells.”

Christopher laughed.  “Can’t get my money by folding before the flop,” he replied.

Jack shook his head.  “Can’t get any money with the crap I had,” Jack said.  “Besides, I needed a ride.  What about you Liam?”

Liam grunted and threw in two red chips.  Jack laughed.  “Liam doesn’t like to talk while playing,” said Jack.  “He’s afraid if he says anything it will give away his hand.”

Myles threw in two red chips.  “I call,” Myles said.  “I think it’s because he’s said ‘Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in a court of law.’

Christopher tossed in his second red chip as well as Freddy.  Jack tapped the table indicating he was calling as well.

Myles paused with the cards in his hand.  “Of course it does give him an advantage since he can usually sniff out a punk from a mile away.”

Freddy tapped the table.  “Are you going to deal or bore me to death so you can win?” Freddy asked.  He then turned to Christopher.  “He can find the perps because the kind of people he picks up don’t bathe.

Myles dealt out the three cards of the flop.  Christopher had a hard time keeping a straight face.  The flop had ace of spades, king of hearts, and jack of diamonds.  Looking at the other three that stayed in the hand he could see almost no reaction from any of them.  Christopher decided to play it slow.   “Well, I do play a psychiatrist on TV, so I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  I am an expert at people lying to me, as well as themselves,” Christopher said as he knocked on the table to call.

Freddy laughed.  “Oh yeah?  Okay, what can you tell about me?” he asked.

The game paused for a minute as everyone turned their attention to Christopher and Freddy.  Christopher stroked his chin and stared Freddy in the eyes.  Christopher slowly smiled and said, “You touched your cards with your left hand, but you are right handed.  That means you are nervous about how this is going.  You are in it until the bid goes up a bit fast, then you will fold.  Since I called you decided that it didn’t cost you anything yet to ride it out hoping the turn has better news.”

“You are dead wrong.  I raise you,” Freddy said.  He threw in a white and a red chip.  He turned to Liam and poked his thumb at Christopher, “Watch out for mister psychobabble.  He might read your mind.”

Liam grunted and put in two white chips.  Myles threw in his cards.  “Yeah, that pushed me over the edge.”

Christopher put in three white chips of his own.  “I raise you.  Myles plays it safe pretty much all the time, unless he has too many beers, but you guys probably don’t let him get too far since this is his house and that would be disrespectful.”

That brought a surprised and hurt look to Myles.  “Is that why you guys decided to go dry tonight?” he asked.

Freddy gave Christopher a hard look.  He turned back to Jack.  “No man, we just wanted everyone to bring their A game,” Freddy said.

Myles laughed.  “I guess my drunk game must be a D then,” he said.

“More like an F-,” said Jack.  “Who wants to play with a guy like that?”

Freddy jerked his thumb in Christopher’s direction.  “Who wants to play with a guy like this?” he asked Jack.  “Where did you dig this guy up?”

“I brought in fresh meat,” Jack replied.  “If you can’t beat him don’t come crying to me.”

Christopher cleared his throat.  “I am right here guys,” Christopher said.  Freddy and Jack shrugged.  Christopher continued, “And Freddy, it is your turn.  Are you in?”

Freddy reached for his cards with his left hand, then realized what he was doing and switched to his right.  Everyone except Freddy and Liam broke out in laughter.  “Oh hells bells,” Freddy said as he threw his cards into the middle.

Liam put in one whited chip and tapped the table to call.  Myles picked up the cards and dealt the king of clubs on the turn.  Christopher stared at Liam.  “A man that won’t talk is not very interesting.  I call.”

Liam picked up two blue chips and tossed them into the pot.  This gave Christopher pause.  He turned to Myles.  “What is interesting is I learned that if you have lost your license you can still get in trouble for driving,” Christopher said.  He picked up two blue chips and one red and tossed them into the pot.

“Of course you can.  You don’t have a license,” Freddy said.  Liam immediately put two more blue chips into the pot.

“But did you know you get five points added to the license that you no longer have?” asked Christopher.  Christopher checked his pocket cards again.  Three kings was a damn good hand.  “Of course I should have known better, but I was late to a client meeting.”

Myles laughed.  “That must have been interesting explaining as to why you were late.”

“How long ago was this?” asked Jacked with a small grin.

“Oh, just yesterday,” replied Christopher.  He reached for a large stack of chips.

“What the hell, they told you I’m a cop right?” asked Liam in exasperation.  “And you drove again tonight.  Are you a moron?  After this hand we are going to have a talk.”

Christopher moved away from his chips and threw his cards into the center of the table.  “You win.”

Liam shook his head.  “We could have finished the hand at least,” he said.

“Yeah, Liam wouldn’t have arrested you right now,” Freddy said.

Myles began to laugh.  “Oh, I see what you did there.”  He then turned to Jack.  “And you were in on it to I presume good sir.”

Jack laughed and Christopher gave Liam a wink.  “You have pocket aces I presume,” Christopher said.

Liam flipped two aces over.  “How did you?” he began to ask.  “Oh, I talked.  Very  funny.”

“When you wanted to finish the hand that meant you weren’t bluffing, and with two kings out there you either had a king yourself, or a nice little pair of aces,” said Christopher.

“So did you really drive over here without a license?” asked Myles.

Christopher smiled.  “We have a police officer over there.  I’m not telling.”  Christopher held out his hand.  “My deal next?”

Myles handed over the cards.  Liam pulled in the pot.  “I’m going to call this in after we are done,” Liam said.

Jack laughed.  “Doesn’t matter, I drove.”

Liam turned red, but then joined the rest of the group in a round of laughter.

Prompt for 6/17/2014

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction. Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.

Post for 6/16/2014

You know that place on the wrong side of the tracks?  You know, the one no one wants to live in, or even admit that it exists?  Well I lived there, but in a two block oasis in the middle of that place.  For those two blocks my friends and I were kings.  Outside those two blocks?  No chance.  Seriously, I was mugged coming home from school for a crummy watch.  I had my car stolen from my driveway at a latter point than twelve.  I used to have to duck down in the back seat so no one else would see all of us leave the house at the same time so thieves might think twice about breaking in, again.  This might be mild in some parts of the country, but one would not think that in such a small place as Utica, New York.

My house was almost at the center of those two blocks.  It was a white Victorian that in its heyday would have been quite the looker.  By the time I was twelve she wouldn’t have made change if she stood at the corner turning tricks. Actually that is not true.  It was just the time and effort needed to keep it up was hard for my dad, especially since he worked nights.  While the exterior white paint seemed to always need another couple of coats to finish the job, and the roof had about fifty layers of paper and tar smothered on it and still leaked, my parents kept it neat and finished on the inside.  Maybe the outside was because of the neighborhood.  You didn’t want to show that there were nice things on the inside.  The camouflage of peeling paint didn’t always work, but it did probably cut down on the number of times we were selected for the five finger discount derby.

At the time I shared a room with my younger brother.  We are almost seven years apart, so most of the time it was great.  We didn’t have many “special” possessions to speak of, but then again we were young boys.  We didn’t need special.  We needed fun.  We needed a place to mess up, lose toys, and chuck stuffed animals at each other.  We had two twin beads, two dressers, and a toy box that almost always had more toys out of it than in it.  I think kids live on clutter.  It shapes the way we think.  My mother would always try to get us to clean it up, and we would, but as I tell my students, entropy wins.  Entropy would be a twelve year old boy if it was personified.

As to where I lived in my head at age twelve?  Who knows.  Between hormones, discovering why there were girls, and trying to create a me that was separate from my family I am sure I was a mess.  Luckily that is all like a drug induced haze that I catch glimpses of, but never a complete sentence.

The other side of the tracks can be fun, as long as you have a safe and nurturing place you can escape to, and I was lucky enough to have that and so much more.  So look up Cornhill next time you drive through Utica, New York, and drive way around it.  You’ll be glad you did, but you will miss out on a two block oasis that I used to call home.

Prompt for 6/16/2014

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

 

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.