Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Second Thoughts

It occurs to me that anyone reading my blog randomly might not understand where I was coming from on my last entry. I want to make myself clear: I love children. I love the children I watch. I don't accept babysitting jobs for people I don't like, and I don't watch children who drive me crazy. So if you're reading this worried that I'm talking about your kid, there's a 99.999% chance I'm not. It's not that at all, actually. The sentiment is more along the lines of, "I love kids, but is that really all my life is about?" Also, "When is my grownup time?" I didn't want someone reading this to get the wrong message. Now, for some writing:

I think this will be another flip-to-a-random-page-and-continue-writing entry.
Excerpt from "Saint Marie," by Louise Erdrich.

It was a quiet day with everyone working at their desks, when I heard him. He came in ranting and raving, hair tousled and suit rumpled. "Are you kidding me?!? What are we supposed to do about this? I can't fix this!" He was frantically waving around several sheets of paper, and one crumpled lost page fluttered to the floor at my feet. I picked it up and scanned the sheet for something useful to determine the source of his anxiety. At first I saw nothing. Then, as I looked more closely, I could see the error. This paper was a copy of a final document sent to our most prestigious client, and in the header of every page her name was misspelled. Our client's name was "Frances Dissustin," but each page had listed her as "Frances Disgusting." I could see why Michael was so upset.
"She already has her copy!" he screamed. "Which one of you did this?" Grateful that the answer to that question was not "me," I waited until Michael's back was turned to sneak out the back hallway.

As the sounds of someone's failed career faded behind me, I briskly walked to the women's bathroom for a refuge. We were on the 52nd floor, and the hall I was in was on the outside wall of the building. The view was breathtaking, although I rarely stopped to enjoy it. Today I did. I had no desire to be back at my desk anytime soon. The fog of clouds usually obscured my vision of much of the city, but today was clear and sunny. Each building glinted back at me like pennies in a wishing fountain. I could almost make out my apartment building ten miles away nestled among several other impressive edifaces.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" asked a smooth voice by my side. I turned my head to see Neil, an accountant from my company. "I never actually take the time to look at it," he said.
"Me either," I admitted, turning toward him. "Someone messed up in Marketing and it wasn't me, so I booked it out of there before I could become someone's scapegoat."
"Nice," he chuckled, reaching into his pants pockets and jingling some change. "Nothing worse than paying for a crime you didn't commit."
"Exactly," I agreed. "So what's your excuse?" Usually the only time I saw Neil was through a glass partition in the office, as he hunched over numbers at his computer.
"I'm taking a breather," Neil sighed. "I'm working on a really difficult account, and the numbers started looking like little animals all fighting each other." He laughed and rubbed his eyes. "Wow, I'm starting to sound like a prime candiate for therapy!" Neil checked his watch and looked at me. "It's nearly lunchtime," he said. "Interested in grabbing some food?" I thought about it for a moment. Why not? He seemed nice enough, and it was just lunch.
"Yeah, sure," I agreed. "Just let me sneak back in for a second to grab my purse. If I don't come back in five minutes I've been abducted," I joked. Looking back, later, I realized the irony of my statement.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

no booze for the caretaker

I am so ANGRY
so tired
so dissatisfied
so wishing the moon
would come by my side
I need to relax
to let off some steam
but it's not gonna happen
there's no in-between
don't party or sleep
just watch those damned kids
gotta be creative
and not watch those vids
One of these days they'll
catch me gone mad
crazy and sleepless
and scared just a tad
that I'm going to get sick
as I so often do
when I even think of drinking
at a party with you. :(

Wednesday, February 4, 2009



I owe you ... a post.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Finish it: 1

Hello, writer's block again. I've decided that I'm going to open up one of my anthologies to a random page and quote a piece of text, then work from there. I don't care if I write a few lines, a whole novel, or a scene. I just need to write. Okay, here goes:

*closes eyes, flips through The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction- Fifty North American Stories Since 1970 until she stops on page 317. David Gates' "The Mail Lady."

The quote: Though she hardly needed such help: even as a little girl she was always the prettiest in a group. Or so her father always thought. She was almost plump in grade school. Adelaide could never reconcile her past figure with what she had become. Every time she looked in a mirror she saw the Addie from the past. The girls told her she was beautiful, and so did the boys for that matter, but a small part of Addie always wondered what they thought in secret.
"Come on, Addie!" Jennifer waved her over to their lunch table, then continued gossiping with the group already eating. Adelaide pushed through the swarm of students jostling her on their way to the lunch lines, carefully trying not to drop her apple, celery, and water.
"Hey guys, sorry I'm late. I had to stop by the bathroom." She had to give some sort of excuse for being late, and oftener than not the semi-truth seemed to work. Adelaide slid into the seat next to Jennifer and set her food down, then turned in place and hung her green backpack on the back of the chair. "Man, it seems like it gets crazier in here every semester, doesn't it?" she sighed as she swung back around. Addie held the apple in her hand and examined the dull red sheen. She hated red apples. At least the green ones had a little more taste. Everything she ate these days was bland. Adelaide twisted off the stem and rubbed the apple on her jeans leg. She was stalling. Did they notice, or were they too busy eating their mushroom macaroni and cheese? Just thinking about the dish made her feel like she'd gained weight. Addie stole a glance at Max, the guy across from her. He was trying to open a tightly sealed sports drink for Christy, another girl from the group. Addie could tell he was flexing, as though he could make it open faster if his muscles appeared larger.
"So what took you so long? Were you in the bathroom this whole time?" asked Jen, taking a bite of her leafy salad. "Classes ended like twenty minutes ago," she said with a disbelieving look in her eyes.
"Oh, well, I wasn't feeling well, so after I went to the bathroom I stopped by my locker and grabbed some medicine. My stomach's acting up again," she added in a lower voice. Whether or not it was true, she didn't need an inquisition.
"I thought you were getting that looked at," said Jennifer. "You've had 'stomach problems' for practically the whole semester. I wouldn't let it go that long, that's for sure." She took another bite of her salad and then turned to the Lindsey, the girl on her other side. "What did you get on that math test?" Adelaide heard her ask. Addie sighed again and opened the plastic wrap hugging the celery. It was a full time job keeping her diet a secret from Jennifer.

Okay, people. Leave me a message on the tagboard under "e." Should I continue with this, or pick another passage?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Why do we slush
and mush
and suffer through the snow
and wait
and hate
and wish it were the spring
and see
the groundhog is in charge?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Welcome to February: Leslie's story

Last night I babysat for three little girls, one of whom wanted a story. So I wrote one for her.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Leslie. She was a princess in a far away land. Her kingdom was full of flowers and nice animals Leslie had a little sister named Kelley and they played together all the time. The girls' mother and father, Queen Jill and King John, were very kind to their people and everyone loved them.
One day, Princess Kelley got very sick. No one could figure out what was making her so sick. The king and queen called doctors from all over the kingdom to come see Kelley, but not one of them knew what was wrong with the little princess. Princess Leslie was very sad and wished she could do something to help her little sister, but what could a little girl do if all the doctors in all the land were stumped?
As Leslie was walking in the palace gardens one afternoon, she noticed a very sparkly pink flower. Leslie thought that it was strange that the flower should be so sparkly. She bent closer to get a better look. Suddenly, a burst of tinkling music and sparkles burst out of the flower! Princess Leslie jumped back in surprise.
"Oh!" she exclaimed. "What was that?" Something that looked like a dragonfly came flying at her. Leslie was scared and began to run away.
"Wait!" came a tiny voice. "Don't be afraid! I have something important to tell you!" Princess Leslie was curious about the little voice. Where had it come from? "Look over here," squeaked the voice again. "I'm in the pink flower." Leslie couldn't believe that a voice had come from inside of a flower, but she looked anyway. As she got to her knees, she was able to see little wings fluttering inside the petals. When she looked even closer, Leslie saw a tiny head, arms, legs, and body. She blinked once, twice. It was a fairy!
"My name is Sasha," the fairy said. "I know why Princess Kelley is sick and can't get better."
"Why?" asked Leslie. "Did you do it? How do you know these things?" Now that she was seeing a fairy with her very own eyes, Leslie did not want to think that it was a mean fairy.
"I live here in the garden," said Sasha. "I see things that go on here every day. Your sister ate a purple berry from the bushes under the apple tree. They are poison berries, and she will only get better if she eats the orange berries from the Bea-leaf bush, found only in the land of Fathe."
"Oh no!" cried Princess Leslie. "How will we ever get those berries?" She began to cry because she was afraid her sister would never get better. The land of Fathe was very far away and almost no one had ever been there. Leslie knew what to do. She ran to the palace to tell her parents King John and Queen Jill the news. They would send their finest soldiers and fastest horses to go get the berries.
"Leslie, go back to your room and play there. I think you have been reading too many books. There are no such things as fairies, and we have a very sick little girl to take care of." King John did not believe her, but Princess Leslie would not give up. She went to go talk to her mother, who was in Kelley's room.
"Leslie, thank you for trying to help," said Queen Jill, "but what we really need right now are real things to make Kelley get better, not magic berries." She patted Leslie on the head and gazed at Kelley with tears in her eyes.
Princess Leslie knew then that it was up to her to find the magic berries. She went to her room and changed out of her royal robes into some warm traveling clothes. She made sure to get extra socks and her special red blanket. After she had her things together, Leslie went to the palace kitchen and got some pieces of pizza to take with her. She wrapped everything together in the red blanket and tied it in a bow, then headed down to the garden.
"Sasha," she called. "Sasha, I need your help!" She heard a rustling in the bushes. Leslie was afraid it might be a fox, but then she saw sparkles floating in the air and soon Sasha was by her ear. "There you are, Sasha!" Leslie exclaimed. "I have come to ask you for directions to the land of Fathe. It is up to me to save Kelley." She was determined to do whatever it took to get those berries.
"I don't know how to tell you to get there," said Sasha sadly. "I don't give very good directions."
"That won't do!" stomped Princess Leslie angrily. "I have to get those berries and save my sister!"
Sasha thought for a moment, tapping her fingers to her head and scrunching up her eyes. "Well," she began slowly, "there is another way."
"What is it?" asked Leslie excitedly.
"You have to hold me in your hands and whisper with me three times: 'I have Fathe'," said Sasha.
"And that will take us to the land of Fathe?" asked Leslie. this sounded too good to be true.
"Are you ready to go now?" Sasha asked. She was getting jittery, Leslie could tell, because sparkles were flying everywhere.
"Yes, please, as fast as we can," breathed Princess Leslie. She was afraid that time was running out for Kelley.
"Pick me up, very gently," said Sasha. Leslie knelt and gathered the tiny fairy up in her hands, lifting her close to her lips. Together the two whispered, "I have Fathe. I have Fathe. I have Fathe."
Suddenly the garden was filled with swirling colors, all twinkling and weaving together, like a rainbow basket carrying them to their destination. When the colors faded, Princess Leslie and Sasha found themselves in another garden, where all the leaves were silver.
"Where are the Bea-leaf bush and the berries we need?" asked Leslie impatiently. She looked around one way and then the other, searching for them, but she could not see them.
Sasha pointed to a tree that looked like an apple tree, but all the fruit on it was pink. "There, underneath the tree," she said. "Can't you see it?" She looked at Leslie with confused eyes.
Princess Leslie was angry. "Did you bring me all this way for a joke?" she asked. "This is not funny! My sister's life is in danger and I need to save her! Are there berries here or not?"
Sasha couldn't understand why Leslie was so angry. "This is not a joke," she said. I can see the orange berries right there on the Bea-leaf bush under that tree." As she spoke, Sasha thought carefully about what she was saying. "Princess Leslie," she started. "I think I know why you can't see the berries. You don't believe in magic!"
"What are you talking about?" Leslie asked. "Of course I believe in magic! How do you think we got here?" Leslie began to wander around the garden, looking for the orange berries.
"You think you believe in magic, but you don't!" said Sasha. "You don't really believe in magic, because your dad King John said it isn't true! You have to know in your heart that magic really does exist, or you won't be able to see the berries and save Kelley. You have to have faith."
Princess Leslie thought about it. Could her father have been wrong? Yes, he must have, or there was no way that she could be standing in this strange garden with the silver leaves. Did this mean that her father was not strong? No, she thought. Did this mean that he was not brave? No, of course not, she decided. It must be that grown-ups don't believe in magic. "But I do!" she said. "I believe that the Bea-leaf berries are here, and I believe that I can help save Kelley!" As she spoke, the orange berries appeared on the bush. "I see them!" she shouted.
Leslie happily gathered up as many berries as she could put in her red blanket while Sasha flitted about, and then they knelt down together. Leslie cradled Sasha in her hands and they whispered together, "I had Fathe. I had Fathe. I had Fathe." Once again the garden swirled around them, and soon Leslie and Sasha were back on the palace grounds.
Princess Leslie ran up to the castle and raced through the halls until she reached her sister's bedside. "Mom! Dad!" she shouted. Queen Jill and King John came running into Princess Kelley's room.
"What is it?" asked King John, breathless. He was worried Kelley had gotten worse. Queen Jill was behind him, worried as well.
"Watch," said Leslie. She took a berry from her blanket and put it between Kelley's lips. Kelley sleepily chewed it up and swallowed it. "These are the Bea-leaf berries I was talking about," Leslie said.
"I don't see anything," said Queen Jill.
"What is she chewing?" asked King John.
Then Kelley opened her eyes. She sat up a little higher in her bed and looked around. "Mommy? Daddy? Leslie?" Kelley reached out her arms to her parents and sister. "I feel much better!" King John and Queen Jill excitedly hugged both of their daughters.
"I'm sorry I didn't believe you," said King John. "I should have known that you were telling me the truth. I just didn't believe in magic, but now! I guess I do!" He looked at the orange berries in surprise, for now he could see them.
"I'm just happy to have my family happy and healthy," said Queen Jill with a smile on her face. "I think this calls for some ice cream." The king and queen and Leslie and Kelley all headed down to the palace kitchen for some very large bowls of their favorite ice cream, and from that day on, Princesses Leslie and Kelley were very careful not to eat any strange berries unless a grown-up told them it was okay. Sasha the fairy was made the Royal Fairy Advisor, and took messages back and forth between the fairies and the royal family.
Princess Leslie became good friends with the garden fairies, and she introduced them to Princess Kelley. They had fun parties and danced with the fireflies every night until the princesses grew up. The princesses never stopped believing in magic, and when they grew up and had little girls of their own, they told them the story of the magic berries and how Princess Leslie saved her sister by believing in magic and having faith in herself.

The End.