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Archive for September, 2012

For a long time I’ve been pondering whether this subject was worthy of a blog post.  It seems like a no-brainer, especially to a writer, but then again, I’ve only been keeping a journal for two years.   So, maybe I was brainless before?

There are a plethora of reasons for journaling and just as many variations on the theme.  As a writer, it’s an indispensable aide, and an insurance policy against ever having writer’s block.  As a mom or dad, you might just want to keep a running log of those milestones and little quotables the kids spew out every so often (like when a sibling is being baptized and they ask you quite clearly why they are being appetized).  Grandparents might want to leave a memento of family history for their descendants.  You might want to record historic events you’ve lived through.  You might want a diary to explore your deepest thoughts and dreams and never plan to share it with a living soul.   Whatever the reason, it’s a valuable endeavor.

My grandfather kept small, hand-written journals which are a fascinating insight into him, the family, life in the thirties and forties, and historic events.  They contain mundane events such as the June 17, 1941 entry telling me my father started work that day on the ice truck for George Etter, and when my uncle was born on August 22, 1941, two stitches in wife’s insides were required, doctor cut baby’s tongue (eewwww), and the fee was $20 instead of $25 because boy was born already (when doctor arrived).  On December 7, 1941, you see the only entry written in red pencil in all of his journals – scrawled in large letters:  “Sunday, December 7, 1941, Japan bombs PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii & Philippines & Declares War on U.S.”  The next day, back in #2 black:  “Monday, December 8, 1941, USA declares war with Japan”.  I love that I have these – from his hands to mine, and eventually to my son.

As a writer I keep a completely different sort of journal.  You should always have a small notebook with you.  Things to jot down:   dialogue and bits of interesting conversation you overhear; interesting characteristics of people you see around you; scenes that play out before you; descriptions of places; memories.   Anything you see and hear that is memorable is a possible story idea.  Days, weeks or months later you can flip through your notes and have an amazing cache of wonderful things to write about.  They could develop into poetry, flash fiction, short stories or novels.  Inspiration is all around us, but recording it with even a word or phrase is important.  Remember my post on Memory Writing?  Sensory memories only last one half to four seconds.  They disappear like smoke.  Don’t lose them.  Journal them.

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With no sleep, my son, daughter and myself had an occasion to visit a McDonald’s in Frederick, MD at precisely 3:50 am.  (Our dog was at the emergency vet clinic nearby.)   This is another of my completely true stories…

At 3:50 am, it didn’t seem unusual that the McDonald’s parking lot was empty, but all the lights were on inside.  Without over-thinking this, we got out of the car and prepared to go inside.  The first door was locked, but another door four feet away was open.  We walked in and gathered a few feet from the counter, contemplating our order.  A little female person had literally run away from the counter when we came in.  We assumed she would return…but no!  A little man who resembled Don Knotts ran up to us and demanded, “How did you get in here?”  I have no explanation for the following exchange, but my son, Cameron, immediately volunteered, “Well, the first door was locked, so we just broke in.”  (I really should create a journal of his witticisms.)   Delivering a line like this, dead-pan, you would probably expect the cops to arrive shortly thereafter, but I think the night manager was too utterly startled (and maybe Jess and I looked like nice people).  Keeping his beady eyes on Cameron, he explained that only the drive-thru was open.  He didn’t believe Cameron when my son tried to explain the door actually was open, and the guy was visibly very happy when we took the crazy boy and went outside to head for the car.

We pulled up to the drive-thru speaker, and, being sorely sleep-deprived, we assumed we could get breakfast.  After all, it was morning.  A very little-girlish Asian voice asked for our order.  Cameron ordered a breakfast item, to which she started yelling, “No bekfas, no bekfas.”

I inquired, “What do you mean no breakfast?”

“No bekfas till for o’crok.”

Incredulous, I asked, “What time is it now?”

“It thee fity thee.  No bekfas till for.”

“Okay, what are you serving now?”

“Now we serve dinnar.”

From the backseat Cameron asks one of those rhetorical questions…  “Are you kidding me?”

I tell her, “Okay, give us just a minute.”  We took about thirty seconds to mull our options, and Cameron yells over my shoulder that he wants a double cheeseburger.

She immediately says, “We no have that burgar.”

He finally orders something else that doesn’t elicit a negative response from the little voice.  Jess ordered next, and as I was about to, the little voice cheerily announces, “Hokay, we have bekfas now.”

We look at each other, with that “are you s*itting me” expression.  It is now 3:56 am.  They cancel their dinners and we  reorder breakfast.  When we picked up our food, Don Knotts was in the window with his little employee.  Throwing caution completely to the wind, he informs us he has discovered the door is, in fact, broken – that he can’t get it to lock at all and will be calling someone to fix it.  That’s just what I’d tell complete strangers in the middle of the night, wouldn’t you?

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Gettysburg Dedication Day is the annual anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  This is held every year on November 19.  We always have a VIP speaker, a well-known politician, celebrity, etc.  In the past, we have had Colin Powell,  Sandra Day O’Connor, Tom Ridge, Tom Brokaw, William Rehnquist (when he was Supreme Court Chief Justice), Ken Burns and numerous other luminaries.  It was recently announced that director Steven Spielberg will be the Dedication Day speaker for November 19, 2012.  I expect Spielberg will be a huge draw to the always popular event.  I don’t always attend, but I may have to this year.  If you are coming, you should probably book a hotel asap if you plan to stay overnight.  I know it’s November, but Gettysburg is busy almost all months of the year, and it is beautiful in the fall.

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If you are planning to attend the 150th Anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg next summer, many hotels in and around town are already booked.  Call asap.

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Hot Breath

His hot breath falls onto my shoulder.

He moves closer and inspects me,

with heavily weighted expectation.

He is insistent and wants to possess me,

to contort me to his indefatigable will.

 

While he shamefully implores,

I continue to adroitly ignore

the message of love and desire and lust

I sense in his strong and muscular body.

 

Can I continue to deny him?

I have tried and failed before.

He touches me and, with his eyes, he begs.

So, I sigh in resignation and follow him

to unlock his damned doggie door.

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The Scream

My version of The Scream…my apologies to Edvard Munch

A woman screamed the other day.

I guessed she had nothing else to say.

It wasn’t in fear or even desperation.

She just went mad in a non-quiet way.

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This is an absolutely true story.  You just can’t make this up…

If you vacation down South in the summer, you will see large bugs.  Specifically, you will see, if walking at night through Charleston, cockroaches the size of rats.  They scurry about the sidewalks daring you to dance and prance out of their way, for who in their right mind wants to squish them?

When my son and daughter were in their teens, we vacationed in Charleston.  After a pleasant day on the golf course, we danced our way to a restaurant for dinner.  It was still so lovely an evening, we decided to dine al fresco and were seated on their deck in a four-person booth against the exterior brick wall of the building.  Our seating pattern later became of considerable importance to the story.  My son and I were facing each other and seated to the inside against the wall.  My daughter was beside me on the outside, and their dad was across the table from her.

It was late and my son was tired from another of our busy, sunny vacation days.  He was reclining against the aforementioned wall.  The waitress brought our drinks and then our dinners.  Still, my son was unmoved to sit up straight and, was uncharacteristically picking at his food.  I caught a slight movement from the corner of my eye.  High on the bricks above my son, I saw a strange and massive dark shape.  As everyone else continued chatting unawares, I concentrated hard to discern just what exactly I was looking at, staring finally in horror when realization dawned.  You know how mothers will go to any lengths to protect their offspring?  Well, that was me.  Adrenaline flooded my previously tired brain in, oh I don’t know…one second?

I loudly ordered my son, “Cameron, move!”  This did not have the desired effect and he continued to lay against the wall.  As I was now very urgently yelling, “I said, move!”, the cockroach began his approach.  My brusque demands were met with only idle, perplexed looks from my son, daughter and husband, but my anxiety was apparently sensed by the roach, and he reacted like he was on a search and destroy mission.  He immediately began running down the wall, straight for my son’s exposed neck.  Well, there was no more time for chit-chat on the subject.  I jumped out of my seat and grabbed my son by the front of his shirt and yanked him, for all I was worth, up and as far away as possible from the four-inch long (I swear) creepy crawler cockroach.  I spilled every drink on the table during the rescue.  And, it was a rescue.  My son was saved, but alas, chaos ensued.  The roach, missing his target, landed on our table, ran onto my plate and across my pork chop (I still remember that because I can count on one hand how many times I’ve ever ordered pork chops in a restaurant, let alone on vacation.).  The roach paused there for an instant, looking at me squarely and I presume deciding his next course of action.  He suddenly jumped onto my fork which startled me so completely, I somehow hit said fork with my hand and (are you ready?) catapulted him almost two feet in the air and right into my daughter’s lap.  Jess began screaming at the top of her sweet lungs and jumped out of the booth faster than you could say…well, anything.  The cockroach fell to the floor, and my husband, who saw the roach fly through the air toward his precious girl, was finally prepared.  He stood up and ceremoniously ground that bugger (get it) right to smithereens.

As we then all took a deep breath, it became apparent that the other diners had taken only a minimal interest in our shenanigans, as if this sort of thing goes on 24-7 in Charleston.  Our waitress as much as said so.  She dried our table and brought us new drinks.  She was completely uncaring when I informed her the roach had run over my pork chop.  I did not get a new dinner.  We did not get anything comped.  She said, “that sort of thing happens all the time.”  Really?

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