Sunday, April 27, 2008

Meme 123

I stole the tag from Mother Reader's meme - plus I pretty much just copied the wording from her post. It's a good kick in the pants to get the blog re-started. Hope to have a complete PBSS story up for you tomorrow!

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences, uhm, sentences six, seven and eight.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the blogger who tagged you.

(Now, Janie from Sketchy Words, being an author and an illustrator of picture books also gave us the PB version, which is to go to page 23 and just put down the text.)

So the book I have at my desk is The Hauerwas Reader, a collection of the essays of Stanley Hauerwas, the ethics professor I had in Divinity School. I've been using it as a reference for one of my other blogs, No Coward Soul. I grinned in delight when I saw that page 123 falls in my favorite work, The Peaceable Kingdom.


The king, the prophet and the priest were judged by how well they dedicated their lives to being suitable models for the people to imitate. As a result there was a clear tendency in Israel for the three functions to coalesce in one figure - for example, Moses or the servant in the "Servant" songs of Isaiah. For, like the prophet, the servant is predestined (Isaiah 49:1) and called by God for a special task.



I tag any five bloggers who would like me to come and visit them at their blogs. Anyone? Tell me in the comments if you're playing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apologies

Things are not good here.  By here I mean, my life.  I am sorry, but I need to take the night off from my PBSS.  I have some bits and pieces, so I should have a finished story tomorrow.  Unless things get worse.  Huge apologies to McK - I will finish, I promise.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PBSS part 2

Here's part 1, reworked a little, with part 2 added. This is SO much harder than it seems. Couldn't I try underwater basketweaving instead? Or maybe I could solve world peace? Or find the cure for cancer?

I'm really worried that I'm showing, not telling.  I mean, I'm being freakish and obsessing about it.  I finally had to shut off my brain and just let my fingers type words; so here they are, raw and unedited.

______________________________

The way the story is told, my godparents were emergency medical response workers who were arguing as to whether they should get married. My godmother, Zara, went into some strange sort of seizure (they said it was the alcohol), and began driving the vehicle as if possessed. The two of them ended up in front of my grandmother’s house, in which my 19-year-old mother was giving birth, to me. No one would have known something was wrong until too late. Zara and Zeke saved my life, and my mother’s. Purely by divine intervention.

At least, that’s the way the story was always told, until last night.


Audrey

In my earliest memory, I am a little over 2 years old. I’m sitting on the back porch, which is really just a huge slab of grey concrete heated by the summer sun. The backyard is a large rectangle, with a grey wire fence marking its borders. I’m not allowed to climb the fence, and don’t want to, anyway – it hurts my feet. But the yard is mine. I wander, naked, toward the back fence. The grass is smooth under my feet, so dark green it’s almost indigo in certain places. I am allowed in the garden, because I have been taught that gardens are special and important places gardens are. I reverently check the green tomatoes, and pick a nice ripe red one because it is ready to eat. The metal playset has recently appeared in the yard. It is my castle, which I have saved from dragons, who have chipped and peeled the bright green and orange paint.  

My mother is inside. I can see her peer out at me from the kitchen window. She says it is too hot for her to be outside when the baby is so big inside of her. She reminds me of my tomato plants. She is tall, and bendy, and sort of fuzzy, with a baby tomato starting to grow in her middle.

Time passes. I don’t know how much. It doesn’t matter. I’m lying in the grass, looking up at the sky and watching my fingers fold together, apart, together. Suddenly, I’m swooped up and tossed high in the air. I land in Zeke’s big arms, safe. Zara is standing on the porch with my mother.

“Zeke, no scare Audrey!” I remember saying this quite clearly.

“Sorry, sunflower.” Zeke falls to the ground, sits, cuddles me on his lap. He’s still wearing his uniform, with patches on his dark blue short sleeves. Zara walks over and sits down with us. I squirm off of Zeke’s lap and into hers. She’s also in uniform, the baggy fabric bunches up all around her. She is tall and bendy like my mother, but with no tomato bulge. Zara kisses my cheek, my other cheek, and my palms, which is our special greeting.

“Audrey, little girl, you get taller every day,” she says. I smile and stand up, reaching way up on my tiptoes.

“Tall, tall, tall,” I say. “Like Daddy.”

“Yes, like Daddy,” Zara says, looking at my mother.

“Audrey, come on,” my mother calls. “Time to go bye-bye.”

I jump up. “Bye-bye! Bye-bye in the car?” I run to my mother, wrap myself around her legs and under her baby tomato belly. I pat the bulge. “Baby. Hi baby.”

“Yes, you and me and baby are going to go bye-bye in the car. But you can’t go naked!”

“Come on, sunny,” says Zeke. It’s the first time he’s ever called me that. “Let’s get some clothes on.”

“Say bye-bye to the garden,” my mother says. We always say bye-bye when it’s time to put the toys away. I run to the playset and hug one of the rusted poles.

“Bye-bye, castle.”


“Bye-bye, apartment!” Audrey said softly. Tears pooled in her eyes as she put the blue Volkswagon bug into drive and pulling away from the tall brick building.

“Oh, for god’s sake,” her sister exhaled from the passenger’s seat. “Do you want me to drive?”

“No, I’m just going to miss it.” Audrey took a deep breath and tried to focus on the road. Her legs were already starting to sweat. She flipped the air-conditioning to high.

“You hated that apartment. It was too small. The upstairs guys were always thudding above you. You could hear Suzanne having sex two doors down.”

“I know. But it was the first place that was really mine. I hope someone moves in who will love it.”

Kate sniffed. “You and your weird anthropromorphization of houses.”

Audrey smiled to herself. Kate was a sociology major, and tended toward psychological observations.  

Kate fiddled with the CDs. “We have to get you an MP3 player for the car. And update your music.” She thumbed through the small collection. “Well, I guess, the Fray…again?”

“Sounds good. Want to take bets on how quickly I can get us home?”

“Audrey, if you kill me in a car crash, I will haunt you forever. And not cute, Casper-y kind of haunting.”

Even driving at Kate’s speed, it only took about two and half hours to get from Bloomington to Louisville. Just outside the Clarksville exit, Audrey’s phone went off.

“Haven’t you changed that damn ringtone yet?” Kate asked scornfully.

“Hey Da,” Audrey answered, sticking her tongue out at her sister. “Yes, I’m driving. No, it’s fine. Yeah, we’re about to cross the river. Hey, I’m just going to run by the school real quick. Just take a peek at the classroom I’ll be teaching in. We’ll still be home within the hour. Sure, grilling out sounds good. Okay. Love you. Bye.”


Zeke

Sometimes, I still drive to the school in the mid-afternoon as the children are pouring out to go home. The building is made of pale beige bricks, with huge windows that look into – and out of - the classrooms. I wish she hadn’t gone here. The playground isn’t fenced; in fact, it belongs to the Park District rather than to the school, so that senior groups and classes of retarded kids have activities there while she’s out at recess. Her mother disagreed with me, falling back too often on the argument that it was not my decision to make. And that Audrey deserved the best education possible. But doesn’t every kid?

This is the last week of school. The kids will be free until August, free to swim and eat ice cream and discover that doing nothing is sometimes really, really boring.

I unclench my hands from the steering wheel. I have to be careful, these days. A lone man, sitting in a truck, watching kids. A neighbor once mistook me for the kind of person I’m trying to protect Audrey from. Now, I drive by slowly, carefully, trying to appear like I’m just a normal citizen watching out for school children. Instead of what I am.



“I was afraid you’d forget who you are,” Jonathan grinned as he watched Audrey dip into her cheese fries. Steak n’ Shake at midnight was a tradition with Jonathan, their long-time neighbor and friend. “You didn’t even come home for Derby; you were all preoccupied when I saw you at Christmas. You can take the studying too far, y’know.”

“Says the guy who dropped out of high school to start a dot com,” muttered Audrey. Kate laughed, on a sugar high from two double chocolate chip milkshakes.

“So the movie star sisters are being split up,” Jonathan teased. The old joke always irked the girls. Since Jonathan had learned that heir mother had named them after the Hepburn actresses, he’d been merciless.

This time, however, Audrey replied thoughtfully. “Well, the way she’s going, Kate’s going to be arrested soon, anyway. So it’s best I’m not there, so I’m not tempted to bail her out. Again.”

“As if we could pull you off your Mac long enough, you nerd.” Kate turned to Jonathan. “She hasn’t hooked up with anyone all year.”

“Ah,” Jonathan nodded. “Sex deprivation. Makes even the best of us cranky. Though it’s hard to imagine ol’ Aud crankier than she is naturally.”

“What the hell is this, dump on Audrey night?”

“Aw, sissy,” Kate put her head on Audrey’s shoulder, just as her phone started to ring. “We wuv you.” She checked her caller ID. “Oh, it’s Chase. Hey, babe,” she said, scooting out of the booth. She mouthed the words “better reception” and walked just outside of the restaurant doors.

Jonathan reached his beautiful, manicured hands across the table, taking Audrey’s.

“Hey, Aud,” he said quietly. She looked into his face, silently daring him to say anything else. “What’s up with you? I can’t tell if you’re grumpy or just distracted.”

“J, it’s..it’s nothing.”

“Audrey Isabella. Come on. I know better than that. Talk to me.”

“Fine,” she sighed. “What do you want me to say? I’m a spoiled brat? My life is perfect and I’m still not happy?”

“How about the truth?” he asked, releasing her hands. When she didn’t say anything, he kicked her under the table.

“Okay, okay! God, give me a minute. I,” Audrey caught sight of Kate outside. Her little sister waved. “She gets to go back - back to Bloomington, back to classes, and Friday nights on the Quad, and her roommate. I’m staying here, where I grew up, in an apartment by myself, with no boyfriend, no social life, and a job that’s going to be teaching kids who are not that much younger than me.” She bit the sides of her tongue, hard, to keep from crying.

“Hey. I’ll take care of your social life,” Jonathan said, pretending to be offended.

“Uh, watching you and Oliver make out is not my idea of a social life,” Audrey smiled weakly. Kate had slipped back in and settled onto the booth next to Jonathan.

“They’re not so bad,” Kate shrugged. “I mean, two hot guys comfortable with their sexuality. It’s kind of a turn on.”

“Yeah, we’re going to start charging you for watching, though, little girl,” Jonathan said, tousling her hair.

“Are you not meeting Chase?” Audrey asked. “I thought that was a – erm,”

“…booty call,” Jonathan supplied.

“Nah, I told him I wanted to spend time with my two bestest buddies.” Audrey and Jonathan exchanged looks.

“You need a wax, don’t you?” Jonathan asked.

“See?” Audrey said. “Trouble. She’s going to run a brothel next year, I know it. I just can’t keep up with her.”



Monday, April 21, 2008

PBSS

Welcome to the second installation of Procrastination Buster Speed Story. You can find the first one over at McKoala's.

I'm a little nervous about this. Other than my Clarity of Night entry, I haven't done much writing in the past...oh, several years. I am not only getting back into the writing-thing, but also am experimenting with ways of telling stories. So. Here goes!



The way the story is told, my godparents were emergency medical response workers who were arguing as to whether they should get a divorce. My godmother, Zara, went into some strange sort of seizure (they said it was the alcohol), and began driving the vehicle as if possessed. The two of them ended up in front of my grandmother’s house, in which my 19-year-old mother was giving birth, to me. No one would have known something was wrong until too late. Zara and Zeke saved my life, and my mother’s. Purely by divine intervention.

At least, that’s the way the story was always told, until last night.


Audrey

In my earliest memory, I am a little over 2 years old. I’m sitting on the back porch, which is really just a huge slab of grey concrete heated by the summer sun. The backyard is a large rectangle, with a grey wire fence marking its borders. I’m not allowed to climb the fence, and don’t want to, anyway – it hurts my feet. But the yard is mine. I wander, naked, toward the back fence. The grass is smooth under my feet, so dark green it’s almost indigo in certain places. I am allowed in the garden, because I have been taught what special and important places gardens are. I reverently check the green tomatoes, and pick a nice ripe red one because it is ready to eat. The metal playset has recently appeared in the yard. It is my castle, which I have saved from dragons, who have chipped and peeled the bright green and orange paint.

My mother is inside. I can see her peer out at me from the kitchen window. She says it is too hot for her to be outside when the baby is so big inside of her. She reminds me of my tomato plants. She is tall, and bendy, and sort of fuzzy, with a baby tomato starting to grow in her middle.

Time passes. I don’t know how much. It doesn’t matter. I’m lying in the grass, looking up at the sky and watching my fingers fold together, apart, together. Suddenly, I’m swooped up and tossed high in the air. I land in Zeke’s big arms, safe. Zara is standing on the porch with my mother.

“Zeke, no scare Audrey!” I remember saying this quite clearly.

“Sorry, sunflower.” Zeke falls to the ground, sits, cuddles me on his lap. He’s still wearing his uniform, with patches on his dark blue short sleeves. Zara walks over and sits down with us. I squirm off of Zeke’s lap and into hers. She’s also in uniform, the baggy fabric bunches up all around her. She is tall and bendy like my mother, but with no tomato bulge. Zara kisses my cheek, my other cheek, and my palms, which is our special greeting.

“Audrey, little girl, you get taller every day,” she says. I smile and stand up, reaching way up on my tiptoes.

“Tall, tall, tall,” I say. “Like Daddy.”

“Yes, like Daddy,” Zara says, looking at my mother.

“Audrey, come on,” my mother calls. “Time to go bye-bye.”

I jump up. “Bye-bye! Bye-bye in the car?” I run to my mother, wrap myself around her legs and under her baby tomato belly. I pat the bulge. “Baby. Hi baby.”

“Yes, you and me and baby are going to go bye-bye in the car. But you can’t go naked!”

“Come on, sunny,” says Zeke. It’s the first time he’s ever called me that. “Let’s get some clothes on.”

“Say bye-bye to the garden,” my mother says. We always say bye-bye when it’s time to put the toys away. I run to the playset and hug one of the rusted poles.

“Bye-bye, castle.”


“Bye-bye, apartment!” Audrey said softly. Tears pooled in her eyes as she put the blue Volkswagon bug into drive and pulling away from the tall brick building.

“Oh, for god’s sake,” her sister exhaled from the passenger’s seat. “Do you want me to drive?”

“No, I’m just going to miss it.” Audrey took a deep breath and tried to focus on the road. Her legs were already starting to sweat. She flipped the air-conditioning to high.

“You hated that apartment. It was too small. The upstairs guys were always thudding above you. You could hear Suzanne having sex two doors down.”

“I know. But it was the first place that was really mine. I hope someone moves in who will love it.”

Kate sniffed. “You and your weird anthropomorphization of houses.”

Audrey smiled to herself. Kate was a sociology major, and tended toward psychological observations. Audrey herself had just graduated summa cum laude with a BA in English and a Master’s of Education. It was a five-year-program that got her ready to teach as soon as she was finished. She’d accepted a job as a high school English teacher at a magnet school in her hometown. Kate had come help her pack up, and they were driving home together for the summer. But in the fall, Audrey would stay, while Kate came back to school, classes, her roommate, Friday nights on the Quad, and everything else Audrey was giving up. Packing up her apartment not only meant she was leaving her first place, but also leaving her sister and her first sense of being herself.

Kate fiddled with the CDs. “We have to get you an MP3 player for the car. And update your music.” She thumbed through the small collection. “Well, I guess, the Fray…again?”

“Sounds good. Want to take bets on how quickly I can get us home?”

“Audrey, if you kill me in a car crash, I will haunt you forever. And not cute, Casper-y kind of haunting.”

Even driving at Kate’s speed, it only took about two and half hours to get from Bloomington to Louisville. Just outside the Clarksville exit, Audrey’s phone went off.

“Haven’t you changed that damn ringtone yet?” Kate asked scornfully.

“Hey Da,” Audrey answered, sticking her tongue out at her sister. “Yes, I’m driving. No, it’s fine. Yeah, we’re about to cross the river. Hey, I’m just going to run by the school real quick. Just take a peek. We’ll still be home within the hour. Sure, grilling out sounds good. Okay. Love you. Bye.”


Zeke

Sometimes, I still drive to the school in the mid-afternoon as the children are pouring out to go home. The building is made of pale beige bricks, with huge windows that look into – and out of - the classrooms. I wish she hadn’t gone here. The playground isn’t fenced; in fact, it belongs to the Park District rather than to the school, so that senior groups and classes of retarded kids have activities there while she’s out at recess. Her mother disagreed with me, falling back too often on the argument that it was not my decision to make. And that Audrey deserved the best education possible. But doesn’t every kid?

This is the last week of school. The kids will be free until August, free to swim and eat ice cream and discover that doing nothing is sometimes really, really boring.

I unclench my hands from the steering wheel. I have to be careful, these days. A lone man, sitting in a truck, watching kids. A neighbor once mistook me for the kind of person I’m trying to protect Audrey from. Now, I drive by slowly, carefully, trying to appear like I’m just a normal citizen watching out for school children. Instead of what I am.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Speed Story

McKoala has started something of a phenomenon. A week ago, she threw a few words of a short story up on her blog. Over the next four days, she continued the story in rough form, until - voila, she has a fantastic 5800 words.

I'm up next. Starting tomorrow I'll post the first chunk of a story, birthing it as I go. Won't you please come back and join me, offering your helpful critiques?

(Oh, and I finally submitted a writing exercise to Evil Editor: it's here. My not-so-funny-entries to Ello's caption contest are here.)

See you tomorrow!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Books You Love that Everyone Else Hates

All right. So we've heard about books you don't like, books that it seems other people love. And yet, we got quite a few votes for What's Up With Virginia Woolf?, Catcher in the Rye should have played Second Base, and Rainbow Fish: Fun Ways to Sautee Seafood. Also, WriterKat suggested that copies of A Christmas Carol should be pre-packaged with barf bags. Fair enough.

The new topic is - what are books you love that everyone else hates? These are the titles which elicit eye-rolls, fake gagging sounds, and references to the fact that said title permanently scarred most of those who had to read it in high school. (Of course, you were the one who secretly stole your school's copy of that title, reading and re-reading it well into college, and presenting your first born child with a leather copy of it upon his birth.)

I'll go first.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de St.-Exupery





OH! And don't forget!!

Ello's running a Make-the-Pig-Laugh contest! Now! Today! This weekend! Go here for details.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Books You Don't Like

Today is D.E.A.R., Drop Everything and Read Day. It's in honor of Beverly Cleary's birthday. My kids are still a little young for Ramona Quimby, but I wanted to try to read books to them that don't usually make the afternoon-rest-time or bedtime rotation.

Perusing the books toward the bottom of the bin, I came across titles that had been given to us when the kids were born. Frankly, they're books I don't like. I thought I'd give them another try, but a few pages in, I remembered why I didn't like them.

Since I don't want to take too much time away from D.E.A.R. to write about all the reasons I don't like these books, I thought I'd just list them (both adult and kid books). And invite you to list your least favorite books - especially ones that seem to be popular to everyone else.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Cleary - with thanks for making every day at my house a D.E.A.R. day!

A List of Books I Do Not Like.
I do not like them on a bike.
I do not like them hung on hooks.
I do not, do not like these books.

updated April 2008


The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Diary of Bridget Jones by Helen Fielding
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

Friday, April 11, 2008

Children's Authors on Darfur

The various media outlets have reported that JK Rowling joined a number of "other children's authors" to issue an open letter to politicians calling for an end to the war in Darfur.

It is time to change the narrative. It is time to tell a different story. This April many children in Darfur will be reaching their fifth birthdays without ever having known peace. The world needs to wake up.


The other authors include Judy Blume, Cornelia Funke, RL Stine, Mike Berenstain, Louis Sachar. Did I mention Judy Blume?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When I Grow Up

Last week, a fellow blogger (and someone with whom I've unknowingly crossed paths before), wrote about passion. I spared whatever brains cells weren't used in mollifying my 2-yr-old drama queen to think about what my passion is. I've wanted to "be" a lot of different things throughout my life. When I was 12, I wanted to be a biochemist (remember, Lesley?) When I was 16, I wanted to be a translator for the UN. At 21, I wanted to be a theatre director.

I continue to come back to law, which I know I'd be really good at, would have the stamina for, etc. I just....don't want to be a lawyer. I want to do what lawyers do, I guess, only not. I want to teach. I'd love to teach college, but I refuse to deal with all the tenure stuff. I want to teach high school, but I really want to teach honors classes, and isn't that selfish of me?

Anyway.

I finally had an epiphany. I decided that what I wanted to do for a living was read. I want to read books so that I can recommend them to people. A book personal shopper, if you will. A one person booklamp. I spent a delightful few hours reveling in this realization, which has taken me thirty-one and a half years to make.

(Then I started thinking that it sounds suspiciously like I want to be an agent. But I have no idea how to become an agent. I'm probably too old. And I definitely live in the wrong part of the world. There's all of one publishing house in Denver.)

What do you want to be when you grow up??

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You took my Poem!!

Do you ever feel that some part of art is yours? Something you discover on a back bookshelf at Barnes & Noble, or mis-shelved in the library archives? Something that's not "popular", that wasn't assigned for school or work, that you secretly feel is your very own?

For me, that piece of art is Robert Frost's poem, "Fire & Ice." It's not as obscure as some other works I hold dear to my heart (An Old Fashioned Girl? Deerskin? Anyone?), I realize. But it's also not a poem anyone at Hallmark would think the general population was familiar with.

It also has a personal significance to me, as it was one of the first poems I memorized. I had sneaked my dad's collection of Robert Frost poetry (he was less tolerant of sharing then, but even so, don't tell him I still have it), and browsed through and through, losing myself in Frost's words. When I recited the poem for my dad, he was delighted. It was a bonding moment.

So imagine my...well, disgust....when I opened Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse and found she'd introduced the book with my poem. Now everyone's going to know it. The twelve-year old fan club, the teenage romantics, the adults reliving their non-vampire youth. (I liked Twilight, but the sequels get so darn melodramatic and...sappy.) Meyers has previously relied on well-known, cliched literature, blatantly reworking the Romeo-Juliet story as well as Wuthering Heights. Why couldn't she have stuck to cliches????

Now I'm on a quest to find a new favorite poem. But in honor of National Poetry Month, I leave you with "Fire & Ice." At least my dad and I still have the memories....

Fire & Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire.
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
to say that for destruction ice
is also great
and would suffice.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Evolution v. Creation

An excerpt from Evolution, Creation and Faith, over at No Coward Soul. Please come read!


Susan asked, “Is there a way to reconcile creationism with evolution? Or is it one of those "blind faith" sort of things?”


Crede, ut intelligas

In the sense of faith, I’m a follower of St. Augustine of Hippo, who wrote, “Crede ut intelligas.” Translated, "Believe in order that you may understand." In other words, faith must be present for us to know anything. We have to have faith in the credibility of a person, place, thing or idea in order to have basis for knowledge.

I can’t provide you tangible evidence for creation, nor for the final link in the evolution of humans. Either way, your response, your belief, will be something you choose. It’s going to be based by other things you put faith in – do you believe in the Bible is literal? Inerrant? Do you believe your spiritual leader (priest, clergyperson) is the divine messenger, or a human in a career like anybody else? These foundational beliefs will guide what you believe about other theological issues.

Read the full post here.

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