Writing 101, Day Eighteen, Neighborhood Troubles

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

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

Today’s Saturday.  It’s Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for the fifth of May.  We learned that yesterday in history.  Ms. Jenkins told us about the Battle of Puebla victory against the French army that the Mexicans won, even though they didn’t win the war, but it’s sort of like how we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Mom helped me decorate the window with red, yellow, and green crêpe paper streamers, but she wouldn’t let me have a piñata, but at least we’re having tacos for supper and some fried ice cream for dessert.

I wanted to put some of the streamers around the stair railings outside, so I put on my favorite Hello Kitty cap, pulling it down so the sun was shaded all the way and went out.  It was still morning but it was hot already.  There was a green and yellow car with, Marble County Sheriff, in big white letters outlined in black parked outside Mrs. Pauley’s apartment. The sheriff got out of the car and went up the cement stairs to Mrs. Pauley’s apartment.  Some other guy I’ve seen a couple of times was standing outside Mrs. Pauley’s too.  He’s shorter than the sheriff, and the grey suit he’s wearing looks a little big on him.  I hope Mrs. Pauley’s not in trouble, or maybe something happened to one of her kids?  She’s got six kids, but they’re all grown up, and I only know George, who moved out last year.  He was there a few times when Mrs. Pauley watched me.  George liked building card houses with me, but I could never get mine to stay up as well as his.

The last time I saw George, and all of Mrs. Pauley’s family, was when Mr. Pauley died. It was the same day I started school last September, and I watched through the living room window that night when the ambulance took him away, and after that the Pauleys’ apartment was dark for a few days.

Mom and I went to the memorial service because the Pauley’s were nice to us – they were nice to everyone – but, like I said, Mrs. Pauley watched me sometimes when Mom worked late.  I really liked going over to the Pauley’s with mom in the summer when Mrs. Pauley was weeding her flowers she planted on both sides of the stoop.  All the flowers made her house look happier than all the other houses on the block.  Mom would make up a batch of iced tea or, my favorite, lemonade, and we’d bring some to Mrs. Pauley.  We’d all sit down and have a drink while Mom and Mrs. Pauley talked about the terrible Peterson’s next door, with their bratty kids who got in trouble for spray painting swears on the side of City Market at the end of the block, and stuff like that. Mrs. Pauley got sad talking about Mr. Pauley losing his job, and how they weren’t doing so good lately.

I felt bad for Mrs. Pauley, and started helping pull some of her weeds until she asked me to stop because I accidentally pulled up some things that weren’t weeds. I started watching the ants scurry around the sidewalk instead.  One was pulling a dead bug that was way bigger than it was, and I wondered how it could do that.  I liked being there with mom and Mrs. Pauley. I liked the way the breeze felt on my arms and legs, and how it ruffled my mom’s hair.  Only a few of Mrs. Pauley’s grey hairs moved around because she wears it up in bun all the time.

Mrs. Pauley is my favorite neighbor because she doesn’t ask too many questions, and she likes baking chocolate chip cookies – the chewy kind that I never want to stop eating.  I loved helping make cookies the last time she watched me because I got to eat one almost right out of the oven, and the chips were all melted and tasted so good.  Mrs. Pauley also likes that I have good posture and that I keep my clothes clean.  I guess she doesn’t see me much because I do not always keep my clothes clean!  I didn’t like it when we were on sitting on the stoop and Mrs. Pauley said that someday I’d find someone ‘as good as her Harold to marry’.  Eww, I don’t ever want to get married.  Mom laughed and said, “Jeanine’s barely cut her second molars, it’s not time to start talking about husbands!”  Then mom took off my hat and ruffled my hair, which she knows I hate, but I let her that time because she looked so happy sitting there with Mrs. Pauley, and she’s usually so stressed out.

Mrs. Pauley started crying after the sheriff handed her a piece of paper, and I decided to go over and see what happened.  I pushed my hat up a little so I could see better, and went across the street as soon as there were no cars coming.  I’ve been wearing my hat since I got in for my birthday last June, and it’s getting dingy looking around the brim, but I won’t let mom wash it because I’m afraid it will get ruined.

The sheriff was telling Mrs. Pauley that she had to have all her stuff out by Monday, and the other man said he was sorry, but the rent was long overdue.  Mrs. Pauley didn’t even see me standing there.  She just closed her door and the sheriff and the other man left.

I ran back across the street and told Mom that Mrs. Pauley was getting kicked out of her house.  Mom’s eyes widened, and she said ‘oh, no’, and then she took out her phone and called Mrs. Pauley.  They talked for a little while and mom had tears in her eyes when she ended the call.

I decided that we had to help Mrs. Pauley.  I asked Mom what we could do and she suggested starting a collection to help, but Mrs. Pauley was going to need a way to continue paying her rent.  I thought of calling George, and her other sons – maybe they could help.  Mom helped me find George’s number off the internet, and we called him right then.  He didn’t even know Mrs. Pauley was in trouble, never mind lots of trouble!  I didn’t understand why George didn’t know, but mom said some people have too much pride to let others know when they’re not doing well.

The day I saw Mrs. Pauley almost lose her home was a terrible, horrible day – kind of like Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was one of my favorite books when I was nine. George must have called his other brothers and got their help too because Mrs. Pauley didn’t move out.  Mom and I went to the City Market and they gave us a bunch of old plastic containers, and I used a red marker to write ‘Help Mrs. Pauley’ in my best lettering.  City Market let me put a container on their counter, and we brought the others to the library, the Happy Bean coffee shop, and I brought one to the school office, while mom brought the last one to work.

We only got a hundred dollars the whole month, but Mrs. Pauley thanked me over and over.  We’re going to keep the containers there, and try to find other ways to help too.  I told Mrs. Pauley she should start selling chocolate chip cookies, and she thought that was a good idea.  It may not be like the Battle of Puebla, but it did start on Cinco de Mayo.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Seventeen, Fear With A Twist

One of my worst fears?  That the bartender won’t bring my drink soon enough!  That’s my fear with a twist – get it?

Fine, a real fear. I could say something pedestrian and banal like ‘I’ll never find love’, or ‘dying alone’, etcetera, but an honest fear is dying of AIDS, or being burned alive.

The context is ‘address one of your worst fears’.  Of the two mentioned above, being burned alive is probably the worst because there are good drugs for AIDS, but I watched a friend perish from AIDS, each day worse than the last, his broken body wracked with pain, blistering sores, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and he endured each new opportunistic bacteria, fungus, or virus that destroyed his fragile immune system.

Maybe being burned alive is a piece of cake after that, but I don’t know.  I don’t want to find out.  This was a stupid fucking exercise, and I’m not even sure why I did it, but there, it’s done.

Writing 101, Day Sixteen, Labor Of Love

My job keeps me humble.  Every day broken hearts and lost love by the thousands come through the Clearing House, and part of my job is sorting through the morass, deciding what’s repairable, and we send that up to the Techs with the appropriate work orders, but the tough ones are those we ship back for further grief processing.  Sometimes hearts that looked relatively untarnished come back several more times – each time more ragged and bruised.  I’ve been tempted to send encouraging notes with those, but I’m not a Technician, and I’d probably only make it worse.

The Clearing House selected me when I was fifteen, and my empathic powers weren’t developing as my parents had hoped.  I couldn’t repel others’ grief, and you have to keep your emotions out of it if you’re going to be a Technician.  Filtering others’ emotions through my heart used to cause me terrible sadness, but being a Sorter has clarified what’s mine, and how to not attach my heart to others.

Not that I’m immune to heartbreak – I’ve had several leaves of absence while my heart was sorted – and my work review has had several underscores in grief differentiation skills, and too much entanglement.  It has taken me nearly twenty years to learn the craft, and I still slip up now and then.  The older crew worried about me, and a few times I was almost done for, but I made it back, and I hope the last leave was exactly that!

Trey swore he’d never seen a heart that torn up mend, and I owe a lot to the techies – especially Marcia, bless her heart, who took my heart home for some extra care, even though she wasn’t supposed to.  I guess even Technicians can score low on entanglement sometimes.

Dealing with lost love is trickier than straight-up broken hearts.  There’s often so much hope left that you’d think it would be easier to sort out, but lost love is like a bottomless pit.  You send it up to Tech, and it comes right back down to be sorted as hopes rise and fall, and we do our best to piece it all back together into something workable.  Sometimes the best that Tech can do is rearrange pieces to fit, but sometimes there’s only a shell left, the insides are all fragments.

The best part of the job is seeing mended hearts, and when love is found – either old or new.  It’s difficult, but the world couldn’t exist without our work.  The Techs get most of the gratitude, but they share it with us because the entire operation is only as good as its parts.

Last week, I picked up a heart, and was just about to toss it into the irretrievable pile, when it fluttered and shimmered for several seconds.  It wasn’t really enough to send up to Tech, but my empathy must be getting better because I couldn’t toss it.  I knew I might get reprimanded, but I was prepared to defend my decision.  Turns out, I didn’t have to.  We don’t always get to know particular stories, but yesterday Marcia came down to tell me that the heart I saved was from a young woman who reminded Marcia of me.  She almost didn’t make it, Marcia confided, but just as Marcia was about to stop resuscitation, the heart leaped and glowed stronger than ever.  Marcia delivered it personally – she might be the one reprimanded if management finds out! – but the woman decided to love herself, and finally knew that she was enough.

I’m so glad Marcia shared that with me because it helps keep me strong too.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Fifteen, They Canceled The Fair

fryeburgfairnightHow many years has it been? Twenty-five, no, thirty!  I’ve been going to the Down Home Agricultural County Fair since I was seven or eight, and now it’s canceled.  Sure, there are other fairs, I suppose – other fairs that are not the Down Home!

I had my first kiss underneath the bleachers next to where Frank’s Fabulous Pigs raced. I had turned thirteen the previous September, and Jimmy Reynolds, my friend and secret crush since third grade, grabbed a hold of my hand and pulled me under the bleachers.  At first I thought we were just going where we shouldn’t be, maybe to look for lost money, him beaming that ten-megawatt smile at me, and me awaiting further instruction, when he leaned in and kissed me.  My heart pounded and my hands were instantly sweaty as I kissed him back, and we stood there until the sound of feet stomping above us broke the spell.

We held hands the rest of the night, and although it was usually hard to shut me up, I couldn’t think of a thing to say – and neither could he.  We just kept riding the rides, playing the carnival games, and sharing fried dough, and a fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Jimmy moved to Florida at the end of the summer, and we wrote letters back and forth for a while, promising to visit, which we never managed, and after a year went by the letters slowed, and by the next summer, I stopped hoping for a response to my last few letters.

The Down Home County Agricultural Fair was a near guarantee to see everyone I knew – and the chance to eat my fill of french fries with vinegar, fried dough, and over-priced lemonade, that I enjoyed watching the vendor make for me.  “You like it sweet or tart, honey?”  Sweet for me, tart for Jimmy.

Time wore on, and every year the events that attracted me changed from thrill rides to animal shows, and after my son was born I went with friends who had children, and we’d meet year after year, first riding with our children on the kiddie rides, our knees scrunched up, or wider hips not quite fitting into the tot-sized cars, and when they were big enough, putting our children on the kiddie rides alone, and watching with happy trepidation as they thrilled or freaked-out, and when they were older, bidding them farewell with instructions to meet later by the front gate, and having them pretend they didn’t see us whenever they’d pass by.

With my son in college, and friends scattered around, I went to the Down Home by myself last year, and spent most of my time looking at prize-winning quilts, home-made clothing, garden and preserve entrants’ displays, and shook my head at the carnies luring game players to win prizes not worth the two dollars to play one game.  Back in my day, I find myself thinking, it was a quarter, and the prizes were bigger, and better quality too.  I might as well start yelling at the kids to get off my lawn.  I catch myself and laugh, I don’t want to be in the ‘old coot’ category – not now, not ever.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101, Day Fourteen: Letter To Mother, August 19, 1912

Photo credit: The Fairmont Copley Plaza
Photo credit: The Fairmont Copley Plaza

August 19, 1912

Dearest Mother,

I am so very sad you couldn’t make it to the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s opening gala.  I’ve been told there were over a thousands guests, although I knew it must have been close!  Oh, the crush of people, so excited to be in such a gorgeous hotel, and Mayor Fitzgerald’s wonderful remarks for the occasion.

Samuel and I toured the hotel with the mayor’s coterie, and you would fall in love with all the furnishings, paintings, and such fine architecture.

Our sixth-floor room looks out over Copley Square, and the windows are shaded with gorgeous gentian-blue brocade drapes, and the floor is covered with thick, soft, deep blue carpeting. There are custom-made furnishings, as well as the finest Queen Anne dresser and desk, and the feather bed makes you feel like you’re floating rather than lying on solid material! The cool marble in the bath feels so good on your feet, even though our room, as every room, has air-conditioning!  Imagine that, mother – all the cool air you could want at the click of a knob!

I wish I could stay here forever, but I’ll have to cherish our weekend as Sam’s architectural work and my household duties, as well as all the children’s activities, keep us from ever doing much these days.

Samuel and I have a luncheon to attend this afternoon, and I promise I’ll write more on our return.  I do hope you’re settling into the Gloucester house comfortably, and I can hardly wait for September when I’ll get to see you, and your mark on the place!

As ever, your dutiful daughter,

Marie

Fairmont Copley Plaza

 

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Something Found

Shimmering, silver, shadowed light,

Guide my path through darksome plight.

Arose a call cut through still air,

A screech, a chill, nothing there.

Trembling hands, heart’s fast throb,

Holding back a muffled sob.

Stumbling through brush,

A tear at my sleeve,

Barely feel able to breathe.

Ahead, Yes, there! Thankful Shelter –

Door pulled open with a heave –

Behind all chaos I did leave.

Locked, barred, against my fright,

Growling, scratching, they seek to bite.

Once lost, I am found,

And won against the raging hounds.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101, Day 12, Too Shy

Too Shy, that was my nickname for a while in fourth grade, only the bullies ran it together – Toozhyyyy – so it sounded like my parents named me from a science fiction or fantasy book, or that I was from some exotic locale, which was how I liked to think of it.

I went to a new school a few weeks after fourth grade had already started, and made friends with Annabelle at recess my first day.  She wanted me to join in a game of Red Rover, but I said I didn’t want to because I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t very good at it, and she declared my problem was being too shy, which Eddy Frost and Kyle Jacobson heard, and started calling me Toozhyyyy, looking at me with their stupid, sour, faces, as if they had made up the best insult ever. I guess, maybe they had, because that’s what everyone called me when the teachers weren’t making them use my name, which is Susan.

Most of the time I pretended it didn’t bother me, but Annabelle suggested I bow the next time they called me it, and after that I became Queen Toozhyyyy, and one day I couldn’t take it anymore so I started calling Eddy, ‘Betty’, and Kyle, ‘Kyle-Pig-Pile’, and Annabelle laughed like it was the best joke she ever heard, and she called them that too, but it didn’t catch on.

Eddy told me he was going to beat me up after school if I kept calling him Eddy-Betty, and I told him I’d stop when he and Kyle-Pig-Pile stopped, and I hoped he knew how to fight good because my older brothers taught me how to fight, and I’d sure hate to see the bloody nose he was going to have.  I said it with my meanest look, staring right into his eyeballs as if I could see right into his bloody brains.

Eddy and Kyle left me alone after that, and I’ve been Susan ever since.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day 10, Favorite Food

From: http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734
From:
http://shortorderdad.com/?p=1734

“Why can’t I go with Lisa and Trudy?”, I begged mom for the third time in twenty minutes.  She was cutting up carrots, and celery –  and she gave me and my little brother a half a celery stalk for a snack, before adding the rest into the pea mash in the big stew pot simmering on the stove.

“For the last time, you’re too young to go out by yourselves.”

“But their moms are letting them go!”

Mom stopped chopping and eyed me, her lips whiting around the edges.

“Well, they are not your Mom, and your older brothers will take you after dinner, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to go at all.”  She wiped her hands on her blue and white-flowered apron before picking up the ham-hock and adding it into the pot. “And, it’s the first year your little brother is going Trick-or-Treating, and you’ll have to stay with him”  She turned around starting to chop the onions, and I knew I’d be in trouble if I said another word, but I couldn’t help groaning, and I left the kitchen when I saw her raised eyebrows.

I laid down on the couch in the other room to pout, and listened to the wind blowing leaves against the side of the house, and after a while mom began humming, and I could hear my brother playing with his Lincoln log set on the kitchen floor, the sounds making me sleepy.  The celery hadn’t made me any less hungry, but mom would just get irritated again if I started asking if supper was done.

I got up and went into the kitchen anyway, and sat at the rectangular Formica table with the bumpy metal trim I liked to run my fingers along.  I didn’t like the kitchen chairs in the summer when my legs stuck to the plastic seat.  My brother got his head stuck in between the chair top and seat last summer and mom buttered his ears to get his head back out.  The stupid kid tried to do it again but mom warned him that she would just leave him there this time.

I thought that sitting at the table would make supper get done sooner, but instead, it seemed to take longer.  I liked the way the windows were steaming up though, and I went to draw a finger picture on the window but mom yelled at me that it would leave grease marks, so I sat back down and laid my face on the cool table-top.  Mom told me to get up and get the bread out of the pantry and put it on a plate, and then get the bowls and spoons out.

I didn’t grumble this time because I was so hungry and I knew that meant supper was ready!  I even got the butter without being asked.

Mom sat my brother on top of the phone books on his chair, and she told me to get my brothers and sisters for supper.  I yelled from the bottom of the stairs, making my mom yell at me from the kitchen to walk upstairs and get them, but they were already stomping down.

We all sat and ate our dinner, my older brothers finishing first, and my sisters close behind.  I loved the soup so much I wanted another bowl, and mom said there was just enough for seconds.

I hated having to wait for my little brother to finish, but mom let me go get my costume on while she cleaned up my brother.

After Trick-or-treating, the house still smelled like the pea soup, but I was too full of candy to want any more.  Mom made us pour out the rest of our candy to see what we could keep, while I smirked at my secret of already eating several pieces until my stupid brother told her we ate some on the way home – and I had told him he could have some only if he didn’t tell mom when we got home.  She told us to go straight to bed, adding that if we were poisoned it served us right for not listening to her, but when my brother burst into tears thinking he was going to die she relented and let us stay up another half-hour.

Through the years, Halloween has held a special memory of my mom’s pea soup, but I’ve yet to have, or make, pea soup as good as hers.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day 9, Life Goes On

Chester smiled at Bree, squeezing her hand, “What an absolutely gorgeous day!”

“I know! After all the rain, it’s nice to feel the sun again.”  Bree lifted her face toward the sun, she and Chester standing still for a long moment on the park’s dirt path, just past the weathered magnolia tree not yet in bloom.  “The air smells so clean, doesn’t it?” Bree inhaled and exhaled, looking at Chester who nodded his affirmation, his eyes still closed against the sun.

Bree clasped her fingers through Chester’s and they walked on, enjoying the greening grass, the azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwood, cherry, and ornamental pear trees in varied states of blossoming.  Spring was the hardest for Bree, the time of re-birth and awakening, but this was the fifth spring without Jason, and Chester seemed to sense her thoughts as he brought her hand up, kissing her fingers.

The path turned onto the broader paved bike lane where concrete benches sat every few hundred yards, and shade trees offered respite from the sun.  A calm breeze ruffled the edge of Bree’s new spring skirt and she hoped the wind would stay mild.  She bought it because she needed something new and pretty, but more because it was Chester’s favorite cerulean blue, and he liked it when she wore something other than jeans and t-shirts.

A woman sat knitting on a bench, and Bree felt her stomach tighten as she noticed it was a small, red, sweater.  Chester put his arm around Bree’s shoulder as he felt her trembling, and guided her beyond the bench.  Tears welled up in Chester’s eyes at the memory of Jason at two years old, in the red sweater Bree had knitted him, the sweater he was wearing that awful October day.

Bree had been doing laundry down cellar while Jason napped.  He had fallen asleep on their drive to the store and hadn’t woken when she brought him inside.  She put him in his crib and rushed to get some chores done while she could.  She had just finished transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer when she was seized with terror.  She ran upstairs and into Jason’s room to find him hanging over the side of the crib, the neck of the sweater having gotten caught and twisted on the crib’s edge, choking him.  He wasn’t breathing, his body tinted a grey-blue, and Bree heard herself scream but it seemed that someone else far away was screaming.  She frantically untangled him and began CPR, but it wasn’t working.  She scrambled to get the phone, her shaky fingers missing 911 twice before she connected.

She begged them to call Chester at work, not able to remember where he was at first.  The first responders found her clutching Jason to her, her face swollen from sobbing, and unable to speak.  She heard herself growl as they tried to pry Jason out of her arms, and she came back to herself when they told her she would have to let them help her child.  She thought that meant he was alive and she jerked herself up holding Jason out to his redeemer.  She didn’t notice the other responder had taken her arm and was pulling her back.  She heard soothing tones, but she didn’t know what he was saying.

Jason wasn’t coming back to life, and Bree felt hers slip away too as the edges of her sight narrowed and she was no more.

She woke up in Presbyterian Hospital, Chester holding her hand, looking gaunt and vacant. “Hi, love”, he said, bringing his face closer to hers, taking her face in his hands, and kissing her. “We almost lost you, too.”  Tears dropped onto her face, mingling with her own.

“He’s gone.  Our baby’s gone, isn’t he?  They lied. They didn’t save him.”

Chester kept his face next to Bree’s.  “They tried, honey.  They tried with all their might. I love you so much, please stay with me.  I can’t lose you too.”

Bree wailed, the sound chilling to all who heard her grief, and Chester dropped his head down to her shoulder, sobbing along with her.

The next year went by in a blur for both of them.  Their families and friends rallied around them, providing them with meals, comfort, and distraction.  They decided to sell the house and move into a condo.  Chester and Bree took leaves of absence from work, and it was several months before Bree stopped contemplating suicide daily.

Several years passed until Bree’s mourning was less surface, and she and Chester were learning to live side by side with their grief.  The first time Chester and Bree laughed felt like a new ability to Bree, but she felt guilty for having mirth, as though the world should be in black and white now, and always raining.

Bree had a psychic friend who came to tell her that Jason needed to see her happy.  He was waiting for her, just out of sight on the ‘other side’, and her joy would make him glad, and comforted.  Bree wasn’t sure she believed her, but she appreciated her friend being kind and consoling, and trying to guide Bree into the present.  Chester often looked lost and not as ready with a laugh or a joke as he used to be, but he went back to work sooner than Bree, and he started telling her about his daily routine again.

This year Jason would be seven, and Bree saw Jason in any boys about his age, wondering what he would be like.  She and Chester thought about trying to have another baby, but neither of them were ready yet.

Bree forced herself to breathe deep and slow, and find an object to focus on.  A beautiful maple tree grew several hundred feet off the path, and Bree noticed the tiny yellow-green leaves against the dark wood branches.  She looked at Chester who was also admiring the majestic tree.

“Life keeps going, honey.  Maybe we can think about trying to have another baby before we’re too old.”

Bree let the statement hang in the air, but she held Chester closer, and murmured, “I love you so much.  I’m happy to be with you, but I’ll think about more.”

Chester leaned in, kissing Bree full on the mouth, kissing her across her face and down to her neck.  He knew it embarrassed her, but he couldn’t help himself.  Being together in the beautiful day with his gorgeous wife, having survived such loss, but willing to risk again made life feel new for the first time in many years.

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Eight: Adverbs Schmabverbs

A detailed description of somewhere I go today, and the twist is to write without using adverbs.

Tucked inside a low, single-level brick building, housing a law practice, and four other health practitioners, is Dr. Brad’s office. The asphalt frontage allows ten parking slots, one for handicapped parking, and I try to use a different space each time I go because I read that staying away from rote behavior helps your brain.

There is a six or seven-foot tall evergreen tree that reminds me of a Norfolk pine except it’s bent over like someone stuck some branches in the ground and called it a tree, but I can see that it’s alive.  I giggle every time I see it. Maybe it’s a young hemlock that got crossed with a Willow tree in a grotesque plant science experiment?  The landscaping also includes magenta-flowered rhododendrons, and low shrubs, set in a brick-lined, elongated s-curve in front, stopping at the three concrete stairs to the glass door, as well as a Zen sand garden enclosed by small white rock chunks.

Warm air flows over me as I open the door, and I walk over the wall-to-wall, multi-colored, low pile carpeting as I head to Dr. Brad’s door.  A slatted blonde wooden bench, and low white plastic table, garnished with several old copies of, Coastal Living, sit against the wall opposite the office door.  As we live nowhere near a coast, the choice of magazine is odd, but I’m glad to peruse the pages for tips on my future beach digs.

I hear noise from within the office, and see the doctor striding over to unlock the door. He smiles and holds his hand up in greeting. I return the gesture, and place the magazine back where it was while saying, ‘hello’, as he utters his, ‘Come on in!’ – a routine that has varied, in the five visits I’ve had with, ‘Glad to see you’, or ‘Welcome’.

Brass coat hooks line a wooden strip on the wall, and a black rubber mat with a sign reading ‘Please take your shoes off’, are to the right next to the door as I enter the waiting room.  Two deep-red fabric-cushioned, mahogany chairs are to my left, and four more of the same chairs edge the white wall leading up to the sliding glass-paneled window separating the business area and treatment rooms.

Three Van Gogh reproductions hang in gold metal frames over the three windowless walls, and New Age music plays out of round, white, ceiling speakers, but I follow the doctor through the tan wooden door to the left of the business window, through the blue carpeted hall, and into the sage-green painted treatment room, its central features a black treatment table, and a large window taking up three-quarters of the wall across the room, framed with light-yellow cotton curtains shading the room from the outside.  A mounted pull shade sits inside the top of the window frame, with a white-ringed cord at the center hanging down an inch or so.  Dr. Brad places a tissue-paper cover on the split-cushion top of the treatment table, and says, “Please lie face down, and let’s see what needs adjusting today.”

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Writing 101, Day Five, Found A Letter

“Darling Lisa”, it began, “I am so happy you said yes.  My life without you would be less fun, far less beautiful, and I would only know a life half-lived.”  The letter was signed ‘Paul’, and it was well-worn.  I spied it next to an E Station bench, curiosity overtaking me.  I looked around hoping to find her, unless she had discarded it?  Oh Lisa, where are you?  Two trains had come and gone already – was she on one?  Had the letter been here for days?  I watched a worker removing refuse and felt it was lost today.

I hope it wasn’t Paul who dropped it.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

 

Writing 101, Day Three: Three Meaningful Songs

“In My Own Little Corner”, from Rogers & Hammerstein’s, Cinderella, was one of the first songs I remember relating to:

I’m as mild and as meek as a mouse
When I hear a command I obey.
But I know of a spot in my house
where no one can stand in my way.
In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
and the world will open its arms to me.
I’m a young Norwegian princess or a milkmaid
I’m the greatest prima donna in Milan
I’m an heiress who has always had her silk made
By her own flock of silkworms in Japan
I’m a girl men go mad for love’s a game I can play with
cool and confident kind of air.
Just as long as I stay in my own little corner
All alone in my own little chair.
I can be whatever I want to be.
I’m a slave from Calcutta I’m a queen in Peru.
I’m a mermaid dancing upon the sea
I’m a huntress on an African safari.. it’s a dangerous type of sport and yet it’s fun
In the night I sally forth to seek my quarry
And I find I forgot to bring my gun.
I am lost in the jungle all alone and unarmed when I meet a lioness in her lair
Then I’m glad to be back in my own little corner,
All alone in my own little chair.

Even though I knew the song was a fantasy, I became aware that someone else felt like me, and I learned how to compartmentalize my feelings.  Cinderella saw herself in many adventures and I wanted that too.  That version of Cinderella helped me believe it was alright to dream, even when you couldn’t escape your situation.  The song has popped into my head several times throughout my life, always buoying me up enough to keep going, but it has never had the revelatory effect on me that first hearing had.

Along the same lines, Nazareth’s, Love Hurts, and Elton John’s, Sad Songs, saw me through break-ups and other heartaches along my life’s journey, Dan McCafferty belting out love’s wounds, and becoming jaded: “…Some fool’s think of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness.  Some fools fool themselves I guess, they’re not fooling me.  I know it isn’t true, I know it isn’t true; love is just a lie, meant to make you blue.  Love hurts“, while Elton John sings not only of suffering’s universality, but of enjoying wallowing for a while:

Guess there are times when we all need to share a little pain
And ironing out the rough spots
Is the hardest part when memories remain
And it’s times like these when we all need to hear the radio
`Cause from the lips of some old singer
We can share the troubles we already know

Turn them on, turn them on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on

They reach into your room
Just feel their gentle touch
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much

If someone else is suffering enough to write it down
When every single word makes sense
Then it’s easier to have those songs around
The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you
and it feels so good to hurt so bad
And suffer just enough to sing the blues…

And while it was three songs, lest you think I’m always wallowing, there’s no other feel good, kick-ass song like Katrina & The Waves’, Walkin’ On Sunshine:

 

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

DPChallenge: Dystopia, The Musical

Set Present Time. Suburban neighborhood. Backdrop sunny, blue sky, distant hills, but a dark pall hugging charred tree tops, suggesting recent fires, and dank atmosphere.

Act I
Scene I
Chorus in black-hooded robes, heads bowed, arms folded tight to body, hum discordantly – low in front of curtain. Curtain rises on street scene: once beautiful homes graffiti-ed, broken windows, smashed bird bath, broken fountain. The chorus retreats US center, in a crescendo-ing hum, then silence as grey-ish filtered early morning light rises on a disheveled lone female quickly searching through a garbage bin on the sidewalk.
A shot is heard – the female rises erect, alert, looking around for close danger. No one appears. The woman relaxes her stance, continues her search, and finds a torn one-armed rag doll. She stares at the doll a moment, then holds it close, silently weeping as music begins. She wipes her tears as she sings:

 What have we done? What have I become? Is this reality now?
I can’t believe this awful dream, I’ve got to wake somehow.

She puts the doll in her coat pocket.

Enter two children, dirty & hungry, salvaging. They see the woman and turn back.

“No, stop! It’s ok – I won’t hurt you!” The children stop hesitantly.

“I’m looking for food too. We can look together.” They look doubtful. The woman takes the rag doll out of her pocket. “Look, you can have this, if you want it?” She holds out the doll to them.
The boy steps in front of his sister, stopping her from going closer.
“I know you don’t trust me, but I’m really not going to hurt you, or take anything from you. I’d just like to help – and have some company.”

The boy relaxes and lets his sister take the doll.
“If we stick together, we can try to help each other, alright?”
The children nod in expressionless agreement.
“Are your parents alive?” The children look down, unanswering.
“Oh, you don’t know? I’m sorry.” The woman looks toward a fenced compound on a near hill. “Sometimes the Citadel cooks throw out scraps or bones, but you’ve got to get there early and be fast to get anything. Do you want to come with me?”
The children look hungry, but doubtful. “You don’t have to go near, you can wait by the trees, and I’ll try to get what I can – if there is anything today.”
The children follow the woman off SL.

Scene II

The woman and children enter in front of the curtain, SR, through a line of trees.
“You wait here. Don’t eat the mushrooms, they’re poisonous.” The woman points to mushrooms growing around and on the trees. “And if you see anyone, pick some and pretend you’re going to eat them, but don’t really put them in your mouth. The juice can make you very sick, especially when you haven’t eaten anything else. They’ll think you’re stupid and won’t bother you because they think you’ll die soon anyway.”

The choir chants low ominous sounds, becoming louder as the curtain opens to reveal barbed wire fencing with a metal prison-door like gate, and security cameras facing all directions. Choir falls silent.

The woman walks up where a window is seen from the fence, her face obscured by a tattered scarf. She searches the ground for scraps and finds none. As she waits, others begin gathering. The woman stands more erect, but does not look at anyone. A figure appears in the window looking out at the gathering crowd, and closes the curtain. Some soft cries and groans are heard among the crowd, the signal that no food will be thrown today. They begin shuffling off stage L&R. The woman and three men remain in hopeful expectancy. One man puts his hands on the fence as the others are too late to warn him. The shock jolts him, and he cries out from the powerful surge.

The window curtain opens slightly, and the figure in the window looks at the remaining few. Two large meaty bones are thrown out over the fence. The woman has drawn a knife and readies for a fight. Choir takes up chant, pantomiming the actors with voice and action in their group. DS man draws a knife and the woman lunges, slashing his arm. He retaliates, narrowly missing her shoulder as the woman ducks and slashes again, missing his leg. US man has grabbed a bone and the woman lunges at her foe’s face with her knife, meeting his shin with her foot, stomping down. Choir finishes tones in triumphant harmony, reforms original stance.

The woman grabs the remaining bone and runs, the man limping after her in pursuit. The choir takes up a crescendo-ing chant for the chase. As the woman nears the line of trees, the man catches her shoulder, but the children rush out screaming and running toward them, the woman using the moment to plunge her knife in through his ribs and twists it in deep. He falls dead. The choir ceases their chanting through rushing expelled air.

Act II
Scene I
Curtain opens on the woman and children sitting around a fire where a pot containing the meaty bone and gathered roots has cooked. They share one cup, sipping the broth. The woman watches the area for intruders, but none come.
The woman speaks: “When I was your age, my parent’s left my sister and me in the care of the Citadel home while they went to look for work – before the Citadel fell to Bolinger. They never returned, and my sister and I tried to find them when I was old enough to travel longer distances on our own. She knew about wild plants – what could be eaten, or used for medicine. Bolinger’s guards found us. My sister died defending me. I had fainted and they left me alone in the woods. I came to next to my sister’s body, and I cried through the night. No one came to help, and I had nothing to bury her with, so I covered her with nettles, leaves, and branches. I wandered through the woods hoping I’d find some help, and came across a family that let me travel with them, probably because I was still young enough that I wasn’t a threat, and acted as a look out for them when they hunted or stole food and things they needed. I learned to steal too, but I never got used to it, and I finally found work washing clothes for food and shelter at the Citadel. I spoke up to Bolinger’s men mistreating an older woman, and was beat and thrown out. I’ve been on my own ever since. I’d like to know what happened to you, if you’re willing to tell me?”

The boy looks at his sister, and back at the woman, and speaks: “We woke up one day last week and our parents were gone, and they haven’t come back”.
“Did you live far from where I first saw you?”
“No, we left our camp trying to find something to eat – and then we met you…”
“It’s OK. I know what it’s like being alone and lost – inside and out.” The woman smiles, and gestures toward his sister. “Does your sister talk?”
“Yes, but not since our mother and father left.”
“I’m sorry. I hope they find you again soon. We can stick together until then.”
“I’d like that.” The boy looks at his sister who has moved closer to him, and he says – “We’d like that.”
“We need to find somewhere to sleep tonight, and maybe I’ll find somewhere to work for food tomorrow.”
“I can work too”, the boy says.
“I think your work is taking care of your sister. It looks like you both could use a washing, so we’ll go to the falls. Have you been?”
“No. My father said to stay away because it’s too dangerous. The rocks are slippery and you could fall and die on the jagged rocks under the falls, and there are bad people who live there that like to eat children.”
“It’s trolls who like to eat children, and they don’t live at the Falls. They live in fairy tales and made up stories. Your father was right that the rocks are slippery, and there are jagged rocks in the water below, but that’s where the sweetest fish are too – when there are any to find.”

As the woman and children walk through the woods, the chorus begins a low hum and appear in staggered relief in the woods. They cease humming as forest dwellers who have been watching the woman and children’s progress step out to confront them.
A man speaks: “Where do you think you’re going?”
The woman says: “We mean you no harm. I am bringing my children to safe sleep for the night, and then we’re on our way out of these woods.”
“There is payment required for safe passage.”
“But we have no coin or goods to offer.”
“Then you’ll turn back the way you came, and hurry through, or you may not make it out at all.”
The girl holds out the rag doll which the man takes and rips off the other arm, throwing the doll roughly back at the girl.  The men laugh coarsely.
“That was all we possessed.” The woman picks up the doll putting it in her pocket, takes the girl and boy by the hand and turns back the way they came.  She speaks quietly and urgently to the children: “Don’t look back, and walk quickly. They’ll leave us alone if we don’t stop.”

Scene II
The sound of a waterfall is heard as the woman and children walk in front of curtain. Two of the forest-dweller men trail them at a distance. The woman turns to pick up the girl to quicken their pace, and glimpses one of the men. She pretends not to notice as the curtain rises revealing jagged looking rocks and cascading water. The choir appears on an US riser, intoning rising cacophonous sounds as the men move in for the kill. The woman lifts the girl to a higher rock, telling the boy: “Take your sister over these rocks staying as far from the water as you can. You can make it, but you must not stop, no matter what. There is a Citadel corn field down below that you can hide in and wait for me. Now go!”
As the children disappear over the ridge, the woman takes the opposite, more treacherous path by the water, slipping toward the edge of the falls, but finding crevices for her hands and feet as she goes. She finds the opening she once knew under the falls which the men do not see, and comes out onto the opposite side, stepping out onto a rock where the men will see her. She mimes difficulty ascending as the men leer at her and begin climbing to reach her. One of the men grabs hold of a rock protruding from the Falls, assuming that was the woman’s path, and loses his footing, falling to his death on the rocks below. The other man looks for an alternate route, and slips onto a jagged rock, lying there in obvious pain as the woman expertly climbs her way over the outcrop of rock and disappears over the other side. The choir has been rising and falling throughout, emphasizing the man’s demise, and the woman’s triumph. Close curtain.

Scene III
The children huddle at the edge of the cornfield below the stage, anticipating the woman’s arrival. Unfamiliar sounds, an owl hoot, or coyote howl, are heard in the distance, causing fearful reactions as they wait. The woman, scratched and hurt, limps toward the cornfield in front of the curtain, checking around her as she goes. As she comes offstage toward the cornfield, she spots the children and reunites.
“Are you alright?”

The children nod yes, but the woman sees a gash on the boy’s arm. “We’ll have to get that cleaned out so you don’t get infected. We can’t stay here because Bolinger’s guards will soon pass by, if they haven’t already. Did you see anyone since you’ve been here?”
“No one has gone by since we got here. I was afraid you wouldn’t find us.”
“I was afraid too, but we’re OK now.  We can rest for the night in Fairwoods – it’s near the brook where we can wash up, and if my old mistress is in her cottage, we might have something hot to eat.”

Exit SL

Scene IV

The woman and children are seated DS, the wooded area behind them, their faces are clean, and they are eating stew from an old chipped porcelain bowl.

“You’ll clean the bowl in the brook when you’re finished.  I’m going to try to catch some fish and we’ll leave it at my old mistresses door for feeding us such good rabbit stew.”  As the woman walks toward the brook the Chorus enters with low, ominous chants.  A lightning storm stirs up and thunder crashes as the Chorus chants the louder, urgent cacophonous tones as a bruised and limping man brandishing a machete lunges toward the woman from SR.  The boy sees the man and picks up a large rock, coming DSR, throwing it and connecting with the man’s head, just as the man has slashed the woman’s shoulder and arm with the machete.  She cries out, badly hurt. The man has fallen, unconscious.  The girl cowers US with the doll in her hands as the boy does what he can to help the woman USC and helps her sit.  He takes the shirt off the man and tries to staunch the woman’s wounds, but the woman is fading.

“Go and tell my old mistress – that I am done for, and you will work – for her – if she can take you.  Help – your – sister.”  The woman dies.  The girl cries and hugs the woman, and keeps crying as her brother puts his arm around her, pulling her away, and leads her off SL.  Curtain closes.

Scene V

The boy enters SR, a rough shack is USL, in a wooded area.  The boy has a large fish that hangs partially over in the chipped porcelain bowl.  He goes to the shack and knocks, but gets no reply.  After a few knocks with no response, he leaves the fish in the bowl in front of the door, and turns to leave with his sister.  A window curtain is slowly pulled aside in the shack and we see an older woman peering out at the backs of the children, and she closes the window curtain again.  The Chorus has been chanting slow, quiet, tones, and stops as the light fades on the shack and comes up diffusely focusing on the girl who has dropped her doll and stoops to pick it up.  The boy has stopped to wait for her.

The girl sings, with a quiet echo of the woman’s voice in the air:

What have we done? What have I become? Is this reality now?
I can’t believe this awful dream, I’ve got to wake somehow.

The children exit SL.

End.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Evolution Of A Boy

I found this letter/ode I had written to my son in a bunch of old papers I was going through to recycle today.  I wrote it when he was twelve, and pulling further and further away from me – right on schedule!  But just because biology dictates a thing so, doesn’t mean it wasn’t terrible for me…

                                 Evolution Of A Boy

When you were born I held you close, rocked you, walked you back and forth while you screamed with colic – or was it protest at being out in this cold, drafty world from the temperature controlled, fluid womb?

You stayed in a crib until you were two and a half and began crying to me of your needs in the night, or in the morning, coaxing me with “Up, Mommy? Up, Mommy – peas.  Peas, Mommy?”  How could I ignore that?  You asked so politely, so pleadingly.

As a toddler, and ever since you were born, I read to you day and night.  It became the bedtime routine: books and a back rub until you fell asleep.  Often you would play with my ear – a throw back from your nursing days – a comfort habit that never bothered me.  Whoever held you until you were four or five would have their ear manipulated by you.

Nighttime was our time.  It was sometimes the only peace in the day.  I was really present most of the time for you then, and we both knew it wouldn’t be a struggle of wills; it was a time any outside observer wouldn’t question my parenting skills.

That nighttime routine when you wanted me to lay down with you after reading and rubbing your back until you fell asleep – or nearly – lasted until you were eight or nine.  I would sing Mockingbird – replacing Papa with Mama, of course – and Lily Of The Valley, three or four times each, and sometimes you would sing along.  Then we would always play the ‘I love you more than’ game.  “More than chocolate cream pie with ice cream and marshmallows, and a ton of whipped cream” – or whatever we would dream up.  A phrase we had read: “I love you to the moon and back”, began a long tradition of sometimes jokingly arguing over who loved the other more – “I love you the most – eternity, infinity!”

The mornings nearly always had me picking you up and carrying you into the kitchen for breakfast until you were about seven years old.  It seemed to help you wake up just that little bit more.

Sometimes you would jump up into my arms for a hug and you did that until you got too heavy for me to grab you up into a hug like that.

Now you’re twelve.  You are on that precipice between knowing you are not a dependent child to knowing you are not quite grown-up either.  It can be confusing, frustrating, and scary – but exciting too.

You are, at times and often, so much more than you think you are.  You have so much to offer this suffering world.  She needs boys and men who care, as you do.  Societies may seem indifferent or hostile to boys and men who care, but that is because societies are not grown-up either.  They don’t know how to accept the whole boy or the whole man – but they are learning.  Just as I am learning to let go – but I have built a path from my heart to yours – and there is a path from your heart to mine too – so that we’ll always know there is a home for us, especially when you find the need, or just to be reassured that it’s there.

I love you my dear child.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Scarecrow’s Night

The pumpkin was now a Jack-O’Lantern lighting up the night, a visage peering from the porch to give the kids a fright.  A scarecrow without a head sat listlessly nearby, he had no eyes to see with, so couldn’t even cry.

Little Gretel Gardner saw what needed to be done; she bravely picked the Jack-O’Lantern up, though it made her want to run.  She set it down upon the neck of the body filled with leaves, and then stood back, no longer afraid, and feeling very pleased.

She thought she saw the scarecrow wink, and release a happy sigh, but knew, of course, it couldn’t be, it was just the breeze passing by.

Gretel went upon her way – she didn’t see the scarecrow turn – and didn’t hear him say, “I wish she wouldn’t go, for now I want to play!”  The scarecrow did his best to rise upon his shaky legs, but found he wobbled much too much, so stayed upon his ledge.

Oh, but the sights he saw that night!  A skeleton, a witch, a vampire, and a ghost – there was even an angel walking with a heavenly host.  Each came by and admired him, and he felt flushed with pride, but a terrible monster frightened him – even worse than the monster’s bride.

The night grew late, the pageant thinned, and the Jack-O’Lantern’s candle began to dim. The scarecrow knew that his time would soon come to a close, and he sighed again, as a tear dripped into his nose.  It was a sad little sigh, a lonely sigh, but just before the end of his light, he saw one last wondrous sight.

Little Gretel Gardner had slipped out from her bed, with a thought to bring the scarecrow a pillow for his head.  She felt sad to see how dim his glow, and said how she would miss him so – then kissed his cheek and hugged him tight, and told him how glad he had made her, this very scary night.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Plainly Rainy

The rain came down, softly at first.  A gentle drizzle, my face thinly misted as I walked out to collect the recycle bins from the curb.  The rain began in earnest as I headed back toward my porch, quickening my steps ahead of the downpour.

A dense fog bank hangs low over the hills, making their height appear uniform, and looking more like a greenery stockade wall surrounding my town than rolling westward hills.  Summer has been retreating steadily, although the weather remains warm to hot most days.

I hated putting on jeans instead of shorts today, and the sneakers I squeezed my feet into are an affront to my normally flip-flop shod feet.  I could still wear my flip-flops or sandals, but they spray the water from the sidewalk up onto the back of my pants with each footfall.  No, thanks!

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Tale Of Antigone

Interviewer:  When did you know, or suspect, it all went wrong?

Me: There was nothing indicating that I’d failed until now.

Interviewer: Was there more you could have done?

Me: Clearly, I’d re-think my assumptions and take further steps, or not become so narrow in my thinking, and maybe even my objectives.

Interviewer: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to share?

Me: Whatever you create takes on a life of its own.  It no longer belongs to you, even if you’re credited – or reviled – for its existence.  Most of us know, or have read, Mary Shelley.  We understood, generally, that forces beyond our reference can intercede, but we also reason that that only happens when you’re careless, or evil.  I used my genetic code to create a better version of myself because I wanted to see what that would look like in the world.  What choices would she make?  What heights would she attain?  I believed all the variables were controlled and contained…  I deeply regret my arrogance.

That was the gist of the short and feeble phone interview I allowed after Antigone created and released a virus that was far more devastating than the Bubonic plague, Ebola, or AIDS combined.  She was everything I had hoped for upon her awakening.  Her human DNA combined with programmable memory – designed to interrupt inhumane or violent thoughts or actions, failed to take into account her ability to rationalize her actions.  Humanity was a scourge, Antigone reasoned.  Few were working toward sustainable life – and those could be inoculated against the virus before it was released.

She chose a swath of humanity to protect – so many scientists, leaders, philanthropists, teachers, and other forward-thinking citizens.  Antigone tiered the die-off.  There would eventually be four hundred million dead in the United States, and in all of North America; two hundred million in South America; two hundred million in Europe; three hundred million in Africa; three hundred billion throughout Asia, and Australia; and several hundred million throughout all other reaches of the globe.  The first wave of dead would be burned and buried before the second wave broke out, and before an antidote was released.  The third wave would not reach quite as many as intended because Antigone released the antidote shortly before her destruction.  Whatever humanity lived within her must have surfaced as she bore witness to her action’s outcome.

Why she spared me is something I continuously ponder.  She knew I would suffer, certainly, but did she feel some sense of connection to me as her creator?  I was not incarcerated because my scientific work was too valuable to the Government, but I was under house arrest.  My research notes, experiments, and coding work, revealed that I did not premeditate Antigone’s actions due to her fail-safe programming.  She didn’t override her programmed code, but circumvented it, which led to her demise.  I had coded an undocumented interval virus that I could remotely activate to shut down Antigone’s AI, and kill her body, if ever necessary.  I hadn’t considered the scope of Antigone’s thought process.

I had thought, of course, that she might try to undo, or act against her code, but that thinking was only as a series of precautions during her programming, or so I attempt to console myself with.  Her code worked, but her human brain, her DNA – my DNA – overcame her AI, and all other barriers to inhumane actions.  The virus, was, in a sense, humane.  It acted quickly – killing the brain before mutating to kill the body.  It worked within hours, and was stunning in its delivery.

Antigone came to see me at my Newport, Oregon, home soon after she released the virus.  She wasn’t emotion-less, but believed she acted justly.  It was a moment that changed me down to my very cells.  I had created a monster.  Frankenstein showing on a towering screen at that moment would not have construed the quake of shock rocketing through my being.

She left without further discussion, and after activating her internal virus, I notified the Center for Disease Control, whom Antigone had already contacted.  She had claimed sole responsibility, and stated her reason for her actions.  I owed the world my explanation, my regrets, and the end of my life, which will have happened by the time this tale is revealed.

Antigone is gone, and I go with her.  May the world never experience the like of us again – but knowing humanity as well as we do – I hope you’ll fare better then.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Far From Here

Or near, maybe it’s all just veneer –

and under the surface reality lies,

hidden from prying eyes.

I look to a falling star,

and I wonder just how far

that light has come,

and know the star and I are one.

I traveled so far from home

no ruby shoes to call my own,

or click my heels to find myself

in my backyard.

Dreaming was never hard.

I kept looking out, when it all was in –

did I create original sin?

Am I held fast within my cage –

like a lion roaring, displaying his rage?

Or docile, defeated, lying down?

Undiminished, resounding crash of thunder, lightning –

nature’s lash.

Rise up and know,

you’re more than you’ve been led to believe,

but hurry now, no time to grieve.

Make hay while that sun shines,

you’ll dance in the heavens when it’s time.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Being Honored And Honoring

The Versatile Blogger Award

I think what I like most about blogging is discovering other blogs that make me want to read more, and often change how I perceive the world, and/or myself.  I so enjoy these folks who have blogged on topics impersonal and personal, tragic and uplifting (sometimes in the same post, or at least on the same blog), and my favorites are those who can pen nearly all those states with a sense of humor.  Some have made me snort out whatever I’m drinking at the moment in a fit of laughter (which is a cautionary tale about not drinking while reading blogs), while others have left me leaving my chair for a tissue to wipe my eyes (which is why I now keep a box of tissues by my computer desk).

Here are the requirements for having such an honor bestowed upon you (should you choose to fulfill it)

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.

Thank you so much Renee Mason of:

http://pooterandboogersplace.wordpress.com/

I found Renee’s blog after she ‘liked’ one of my posts, and I was riveted from the start.  Although the first post I read was intense in subject matter, it was the way she wrote that pulled me along and invested me in what was happening, making me want to know more.  I’ve since found her to be delightfully sarcastic, hilarious, and real.  I’m grateful to have found another writing sista in the blogosphere.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

~ I go out of my way to find humor.  I seek out friends who I can make laugh, but more appreciate when they make me laugh, or when we laugh together.

~ I can mimic accents fairly well (as long as I can practice them for a while before trying to speak them authentically – or at least what I hope is authentically…)

~ I have been singing since I was four or five, and first recorded a song for a local advertisement when I was seven or eight (with my entire second grade class).  I am not a great singer, but I am a good singer.  Singing is one of the few things I ever cared about excelling at.  Acting and writing are my other life pursuits.

~ I like meeting people and learning about their lives.  Humans, for the most part, are so cool.

~ I dislike judgment around age so much I never tell anyone, and I lie if pressed to reveal it.  It’s less about vanity and more about not wanting to be codified.

~ Fear and procrastination have been the biggest obstacles to achieving what I desire in life.

~ I am sometimes ridiculously selfish and petty, but I am also often generous and magnanimous.

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

5. Post a picture of the Versatile Blogger Award on your site.

http://brendamarroyauthor.com/ – Brenda’s is one of the first blogs I discovered that speaks to my heart and soul, adding fun, joy, comfort and another woman writing friend on the journey!  Thanks Brenda!

http://belleofthecarnival.com/ – I don’t know Belle Of The Carnival’s real name, but I do know she’s hilarious, entertaining, and thought-provoking.  I’m happy to have found another phenomenal woman writer out here in Internet-land.

http://happyvalleynews.wordpress.com/ – Paul resides in the same area I do, and I recently found his blog and have looked forward to his writing, video posts and commentary ever since.

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/ – Lesley Carter’s blog is about LIVING!  Reading her blog has inspired me to be braver, laugh more at myself, and just do whatever I can to enjoy this limited time I’m given.  She’s who you want cheering you on when you’re not quite sure you can do it.

http://notquiteold.wordpress.com/ – Nancy Roman’s blog is fun and thoroughly enjoyable.  I like her take on every day life, along with her sense of humor!

http://quotidianhudsonriver.com/ – I found Robert Johnson’s blog after he had ‘liked’ one of my photo-challenge posts, and I’ve come back to his site again and again.  His pictures of the Hudson River and take on life around it make for a fascinating photo journal.

http://lifeasiknowitv1.wordpress.com/ – I first met Molly through another blog that she had chronicling some of her life and times in Alaska, particularly a hiking challenge she embarked on.  It was comforting to have her posts during a time that was not so great, and I love her new blog: ‘Life as I know it’.

http://talinorfali.wordpress.com/  – Talin had me at Lemon cake! Her blog isn’t a food blog, but she posts recipes sometimes that I can’t wait to try, and her writing style is comfortable and familiar.

http://kanatyler.wordpress.com/ – Kana’s Chronicles makes me smile and want to read more (ok, sometimes I cringe like when I saw the picture of the stitched up leg, but it was a good post…).  I appreciate her humor and take on life.

http://findinglifeinadeath.wordpress.com/ – I only know her as ‘Rising On The Road’, but as with many of my favorite blogs, I found her blog because she found mine.  Her writing is lovely, and her life journey is as varied as it is beautiful to read about.

http://melodygodfred.com/ – Another versatile woman writer I found on WordPress is Melody Godfred.  I’ve learned so much from reading her blog posts, and am looking forward to reading her début novel!

http://blinkutopia.com/ – I’ve followed Jim Culleny’s topical commentary for years in my local newspaper, and I’m delighted to read more of his writing and even some of his poetry too.

http://thelaughinghousewife.wordpress.com/ – Tilly Bud is another happy find on WordPress.  Her posts keep me giggling, and often pondering.

http://chicoryskies.com/blog/ – Deborah Gregg Folk Art Paintings.  I so enjoy Deborah’s art.  The colors, style and subject matter keep me going back to look at her latest creations.  Thanks, Deborah!

There are many other blogs that I’ve come across and read, so it was hard to pick some and not others for my count of fifteen, but there are some that would have been on the list no matter what.  I think I appreciate the varied audience that writer’s have.  Some only like humor, some only horror, while others go in for adventure or romance, and there are those who take a pass on fiction altogether and stick with facts – which we all know is often stranger than fiction anyway.  I appreciate being given this award, and I hope those I returned the favor to will feel honored as well.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Morning Frost

Still and grey.

A crystalline glaze coats the land.

The blazing aura of the sun, newly risen, remains celestial,

Its beams hindered by dense clouds resolving downward into mist.

A frozen Earth repels the moist sky gift.

Thus impeded, the icy vapor settles where it may,

Supplanting argument with silent resignation.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Holiday Get-Aways

I am on several e-lists of vacation-hawking sites, and most of the time I look at the Grecian seaside pictures, the trips down the Nile, to the Great Pyramids, and the Sphinx in Egypt, the azure waters of so close, yet so far away locales, drooling over them all.  After wiping the drool off my computer keyboard, I sigh, and think: someday, I’ll get to all of those places.  Then to console myself when reality sets in, I remember that most of the places the brochures depict are aerial shots on perfect days (and often air-brushed or otherwise tweaked) that never show cockroaches, bed-bugs, or the final room bill…

Yeah, if you need a sour-grape story, I’m your girl!

Just a while ago, I was looking at one such travel site advertising an Inn in New  Hampshire (basically my neck of the woods), for a lovely winter vacation spot.  First off, my idea of a winter vacation is somewhere more southerly than New Hampshire – and I don’t mean Rhode Island.  Secondly, the picture the site shows makes me think of the Stanley hotel in Colorado that inspired Stephen King‘s novel: The Shining:

Mountain View Grand Resort, Whitefield, New Hampshire

I know it’s a beautiful resort, and it’s probably a lovely place to stay, but it creeps me out.  Now, if they wanted to pay my way to stay there for a weekend and write about my experience, I wouldn’t turn them down.  I just wouldn’t think of it as a ‘vacation’ per se, but maybe more like an investigation.

Just for reference, here’s a photograph of the Stanley Hotel:

I know that there are many people who look forward to, and really enjoy, cold weather, and snow, and all the winter activities therein.  I, however, would rather write about those frigid climes and enterprise from the warmth of an Aruban beach.  Heck, I’m not picky, any equatorial or South Pacific locale suits me just fine.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

OPBs (Other People’s Blogs)

I could read other people’s blogs all day.  I am humbled and delighted by the creativity and thoughts in this world – and that’s just from reading about twelve other blogs I currently subscribe to.  I have a few blogs off of WordPress I follow, and I know there are thousands I could get lost in.

I’m often inspired by what I read, and sometimes I read blogs and wonder if I should keep writing because those writers are far more skilled, funny, focused, and/or interesting than I am.  Then I take that step back and think that I have a voice too.  I write because it’s in me to do so.  I find this world endlessly interesting, and frustrating, hilarious and dour, simple and complicated, treacherous and secure, etcetera – and all the writing I come across about the myriad of life experiences and differing viewpoints is so captivating!

Although I’ve not physically met anyone from the blogosphere, so far, I feel like I’ve made several friends, and that is so cool.  Thank you to all of you who’ve visited my blog, so that I in turn found you, and to all of those I happened across (or StumbledUpon: www.stumbleupon.com), or sites recommended to me.

I always read the blogs I’ve subscribed to through my inbox, and don’t always comment or show appreciation, but please know that I am thoroughly enjoying them, and I am grateful for your writing.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

Saturday, Please Don’t Mock Me

No writer’s block will stand in my way.

I banish you, wandering thoughts!

Stay on task, write the book –

oh wait, a cute man just walked by, and I stopped to have a look…

No!

Back to writing, back I say, I don’t care that it’s such a glorious day!

There will be others, now don’t you fret, and you’ll waste them as you would have today if you didn’t commit to write, I bet.

Dr. Suess, you are not, well, maybe if we find a fish in a pot, and the fish starts talking, and telling you what to do – but if that should happen – I’d go to a doctor, if I were you.

Fine, I shall go back to writing my story, about people doing things, maybe it’ll get gory.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.

A Short Story

Today I decided to post a story I wrote while in college.  It was printed in my college newspaper, and while the writing is acceptable to me, I feel like I’ve grown more as a writer since it’s publication.

~ Happily Ever After ~

Jerri Higgins ©1989

Diane turned the corner and thought she saw Chris across the street.  Her heart pounded as she retreated back around the corner.  She inched her head out to look again, and a weakening sensation of relief came over her as she saw it wasn’t him.  She prayed she wouldn’t meet him on the street.  Continuing on to Avernon & Bullock, Attorneys at Law, Diane couldn’t stop her hands from trembling.  ‘How strange’, she thought, ‘to feel such hate toward someone I still love.’

Eighteen days ago they were together, but that night he had come home and ended their relationship.  She remembered clearly and painfully his pronouncement as he sat beside her on the couch – the couch they bought at Cassandra’s Furniture in Soho when they first moved in together.  He bluntly stated: “I’m not attracted to you anymore” and he hoped she would “be okay”.  His words made her feel numb, and sounded remote, like he was talking about someone else.  Hadn’t he pledged his eternal love to her?  Didn’t he say, just a few months ago, that they would be together always?  She replayed his words over and over in her mind.  He said it had been building up for a while, and he tried to get back the old feelings, but he couldn’t.  And then, he got up, took an already packed suitcase out of the hall closet, and walked out the door.

Diane shook her head in an effort to stop ruminating on what happened, and went over her speech to try to win him back, if he would listen to her.  She straightened up and made her steps more resolute.  She would do nothing of the sort.  She didn’t want him in her life if he didn’t want to be there.  Five years meant little to him.  There was someone else out there for her, wasn’t there?  Diane turned to go home, and then checked herself. ‘No! I’ve got to do this’, she thought. ‘I need him to see me and make sure there’s nothing left for him – for us’.

Her gait slowed as she walked, but she was intent.  In her mind she saw his deep, grey eyes – those beautiful eyes that could look so hurt that she would give in during an argument – even when she was right.  Diane came out of her reverie, surprised to find herself a block from the intersection before the law building.  This was where she and Chris had met six years before.  She had been rushing for a taxi, the same one he was running for.  They argued over it for a minute, and both stubbornly got in, announcing a mutual destination of LaGuardia Airport.  Diane laughed first, then Chris.  He said he could have waited, that had he missed his plane, he might have been able to relax for the first time in months.  She told him she had to make the plane for her first assignment as Head of Public Relations for Greylock Investments.  She was headed to a meeting in Chicago.  He, too, said that he was on his way to Chicago.  Diane continued that the investment firm she worked for was reviewing a number of law firms; among them was Avernon & Bullock.  Chris had looked at her so surprised that Diane blushed thinking she had been babbling.  He had laughed at her expression and revealed that it was his father’s firm, and how big the odds were against them both getting in the same taxi, bound for the same destination.

Diane reminisced with a smile how he had affected an accent like Humphrey Bogart’s and said: “Of all the taxis in all the world and she had to get into mine…”

Chris’s father, George Avernon, and his partner, Charles Bullock, owned the prestigious law firm in New York.  Diane remembered her nervousness; she wanted to impress Chris.  His easy manner and disarming smile relaxed her, however, and they chatted all the way to the airport and managed to sit together on their flight.

They became fast friends and were dating steadily within a few months.  They fell madly, passionately in love, and by the end of the year they moved in together.  Sex was incredible; life was good.  They worked too much to get very used to one another, and Diane once remarked how their life together felt like a modern fairy tale, to which Chris responded by swirling her around, dipping her in a graceful movement, and bringing her up to him with a tender kiss, said: “here’s to our happily ever after!”.

Then, three years later, Diane’s firm had a major restructuring, and she was laid off.  Depressed for weeks, she stayed in, needing more of Chris than he could give.  She looked for work intermittently, and tried to get out of her slump, but began to be bothered by little things that Chris did or said.  She felt Chris withdrawing from her but when she asked he would tell her: “Nothing’s changed; I’m just overworked, and tired.”  But he was leaving earlier and coming home later too.  Diane hated herself for the way she felt, for arguing over petty issues, and she vowed to make things better.

She began getting up with Chris and making his lunches before her now daily routine of cold calls and any networking opportunities she could find.  She finally got work in sales at a graphic design firm, and after a while it seemed that her and Chris’s life was getting back to where it once was.  Chris seemed more at ease.  They were making love more – and they were talking more frequently again.  Diane noticed that Chris was paying more attention to their relationship.  He would even occasionally keep her awake late into the night again, telling her childhood stories, discussing his dreams and hopes for the future.

“That’s it!”, she said aloud.  A few passersby looked disdainfully at her.  Diane was too caught up in her conclusion to care about her impropriety.  ‘He only talked about himself’, she thought.  ‘I was never included.  Maybe I should have talked about what I wanted.  He probably wants to start a family and thinks I’m too involved in my career!  Maybe…’

Diane cut her thought short.  It wasn’t about a family that Chris left her.  It was because he thought he couldn’t be happy with her anymore, but she needed to convince him otherwise, if he’d even hear her.  Chris’s last blank look toward her flashed through her mind, and her anger flared.  The sad fact, she mused, was that she still loved him, and wasn’t handling the break-up as well as Chris seemed to be. Diane switched her thoughts to how Chris would see her looking and feeling her best, and he would realize the terrible mistake he had made in leaving her.  He’d beg her forgiveness, saying that he didn’t know what had come over him, and although he wasn’t worthy – would she give him another chance?  A smug satisfaction filled her to think of Chris on his knees, begging Diane to take him back.

A slight laugh escaped Diane at this thought, but a blaring horn brought her back to reality and she shuddered to see where she was.  She checked traffic and stepped off the curb.  Across the street the chrome block letters of Avernon & Bullock seemed to mock her.  The black marble facing that had always represented elegance to Diane, now seemed cold and stern, as cold as Chris’s words: “I’m just not attracted to you anymore.”  Her stomach turned with that thought.  She shrugged it off with a more determined stride as she tightened her grip on her shoulder bag, pulled open the glass door, and stepped inside.  Her heart raced again with the thought of what she would say to Chris as she proceeded down the long hall.

The last door on the left was only a few feet ahead.  She stopped in front of the dark, mahogany door.  Diane breathed deeply to steady herself, but her hand shook as she grasped the cool black knob and turned it.  The receptionist was gone, as she had hoped, but she knew that Chris almost always ate lunch in his office.  Diane glanced at the clock above the desk: 12:15.  She crossed the room to Chris’s office and cupped her ear to the door, but heard nothing.  Perhaps he’d gone out to lunch after all.  She knocked lightly, half hoping there would be no answer.  The sound of his familiar footfalls across the hickory flooring of his office made her stomach flutter.  Chris opened the door; his usual pat expression of greeting leaving his face.

“Diane! – Why? – what are you doing here?”

Diane looked into his eyes.  Wasn’t there a flicker of his old feelings for her?  The love must still be there – it just needed coaxing, she thought.  It couldn’t have left him so soon.  She quickly suppressed those feelings, and said:

“I want to know if you might change your mind about us.”

“Look, I’m very busy”, he stammered.  “It’s over, Di.  I don’t have anything else to say.  I’m sorry, but that’s it.”

“I’m really sorry to hear that, Chris”, she said while reaching into her shoulder bag, pulling out a .38 Special and pointing it at him.  She saw the color drain from his face as he gasped and blurted out,

“Diane, what the he…”

She fired twice into Chris’s chest, and watched him fall to the floor, surprised at how calm she was now.  For a moment, time seemed to stand still, and then a cacophony of noise sounded all about her.  She heard other doors banging open and the sounds of shouting and movement in the hall as clearly as though it were all going on next to her.  She would never know who found them.  All she thought, before taking a final breath and firing into her heart, was that she and Chris would be together, forever.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.