The sixth grade gym teacher said: “RUN!” And so his students ran. They ran and ran and ran laps around the school yard, a simple little country school.
The class ran and ran, including one tired classmate, being practically dragged along behind her sighted guide, finally unable to run another lap, not even one more step. She fell to the ground, feeling and smelling the cool tickle and scent of the grass against her cheek, but feeling close to death, hardly caring if she ever got up again.
She was. Close, horrifyingly close, but nobody knew it.
A long, long time ago and very far away, there lived a frightened little girl. She felt like she couldn’t hack it, any of it.
Homework was a nightmare. Math especially filled her with dread at the prospect.
The doctor dismissed her symptoms.
“Her stomach pains are just the start of menstruation,” the GP stated emphatically.
He said it, even as the mother kept bringing her daughter back, time after time. Finally, her shaky hand and general appearance of being unwell would seem to warrant blood tests and a referral. Thank God for that.
Twenty years ago seems so far away to me now. If it had been too far back or longer than long, things wouldn’t have turned out like they did. Medicine has come a long, long way.
Dialysis. Transplantation. Twenty years ago all this was possible. Just twenty years before that and the twenty before that, not so much.
Sometimes it feels like another girl lived all that, another life, and one that wasn’t me. Was I really that frightened little girl?
This week’s triumphant return of mine to Finish the Sentence Friday, brought to you by:
“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
–Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
There was a tragic school shooting, here in Canada, at a high school in Saskatchewan. The snowstorm to rival all storms hit parts of the US. Sounds like a rough week, right?
As for me, I keep letting social media get to me, but if it weren’t for Facebook I still would have heard the news. The other day there was another birth announcement, in the family, and even though I am incredibly happy for the new parents, I found myself having a moment.
Why does it happen for some and not others? How will I be okay if it never happens to me?
I need to keep writing it down, reasons why I am grateful, and marking the little things that are infused with beauty and sweetness. That’s why I am here, to find the good in life when sometimes, well sometimes it just sucks.
Getting a little perspective on a situation often leads to a better chance for forgiveness.
I can’t believe I am saying this. I sure didn’t feel it in the moment, but I am trying to let each rejection of my writing give me more and more of the determination to keep working at it.
It was painful, just like one of those first rejections I received, almost exactly this time, on another cold January day a few years back.
I don’t know yet if I believe all that stuff about not giving up, letting rejections fuel you, but I know it’s true deep down, somewhere. Even the biggest writers have been rejected at one time. Not every place is going to love or want your writing. I am just thankful I have found the nerve necessary to share, to try, and to get back up and try again.
For an unexpected reminder of what colours look like, something I miss everyday, and from the beautiful mind of a child.
It took a couple weeks to get back to it, but I’m glad it worked out for so many.
There they all were, and there I was, communicating through my phone.
That technology really is pretty cool. Speaking of technology…
For past, present, and future.
As I wrote out some homework of sorts for the writing workshop I was attending in the morning, I thought about days of homework past.
I needed to be able to just read out loud in class, so I pulled out my old, heavy duty Perkins machine. I had forgotten how hard on the arms it can be to jam away at those keys.
The next morning, at the workshop, I brought my Braille Sense, instead of my laptop this time. A Braille Sense is an electronic typewriter of sorts. I could write braille, like with an old broiler. There are three advantages: not so heavy a machine to carry, easier on my arms, and much quieter in class. My old schoolmates know what I mean and only wish I had today’s technology back then.
Technology is always improving, bigtime since I was growing up, and a full tactile/braille tablet is up next. I can’t wait to get me one of these.
For the second of three Saturday morning writing workshops I’ve been attending with a wonderful instructor and for the one who made sure I didn’t miss out. Thanks for the ride. Thank you both for giving me the chance to do what I love.
In the creative writing workshop I am doing at the moment the writer/instructor is helping us appreciate moments, as we write, small things in life.
It’s what Carrie was speaking of, to one of the mothers in the group, that the special things and the funny things and the wise things come and go and come again, but some things are over and gone. Small moments. Then Lisa found a way to capture one of them, a snapshot of what her own child is thinking and how she sees the world at a young age. The world will never get something quite like that again. Now it’s caught in writing.
For some new friends showing me a new experience.
I don’t know how many of you know anything at all about Dungeons & Dragons, but I knew only what The Big Bang Theory showed of the game.
I didn’t want to go in with too many preconceived notions. I did not want to judge until I saw for myself.
I guess what I was thankful for about it was the chance to not be myself, not really, but instead to become whatever else I wanted, for a few hours. I was a neutral sorcerer. I wasn’t Kerry for a while and that break from the harsh realities of life was the welcomed part, that and laughing with some interesting people.
“Take it easy. Take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. We may loose and we may win, but we may never be here again.”
We say goodbye to Glenn Frey, another rock musician, but these words calmed me down this week when I needed to hear them.
“Life is terribly deficient in form. Its catastrophes happen in the wrong way and to the wrong people. There is a grotesque horror about its comedies, and its tragedies seem to culminate in farce. One is always wounded when one approaches it. Things either last too long or not long enough.”
It was a circular, silver jewelry tin I’d received, from my oma, on my twentieth birthday. She handed it to me, in her kitchen, at our combined birthday celebrations. Hers was three days before mine. When I was turning twenty she was turning eighty-three. Inside the tin I discovered twenty loonies, Canadian dollar coins, one for every year of my life.
Why hadn’t I thought of that for her? Would have needed a bigger tin.
Fast-forward more than eleven years and I placed the silver tin, faded from sitting on a dresser in my bedroom, on a conference table – my contribution to my new writer’s group and the game called: Mystery Object.
It was, I’d recently discovered, an excellent writing exercise. I was pleased I was getting the chance to bring the object for this week’s festivities.
The rules are: someone brings an object, an air of mystery to it, and the remaining time is spent with everyone, after having passed the object around the room, writing a story where the object plays a part, no matter how big or small.
Past mystery objects have included:
— A painted model of a dragon
— A ticket stub from a visit to the Eiffel Tower.
I guess I cheated because I didn’t just bring the silver tin, but inside, instead of twenty Canadian dollars, there now rests a necklace, a blue pendant on a chain.
Two for one I guess, but nobody seemed to complain. I’d taken the necklace as the object, originally; however, as I’d needed a case to carry it, in the moment I grabbed the tin and placed the necklace inside.
This gave us all more options. We could write a story about the tin, the necklace, or any combination of the two, more or less.
They even wanted to know the history of the mystery.
The mystery object meaning the necklace, which a few of the women around the table murmured comments of interest over. The guy with, what I’m guessing is a British accent, he was supportive when I told the group a little bit of history about the blue gem on the chain.
“It was originally a Christmas present for a friend who never came back to claim it. A bit of a falling out with that friend, the end of a friendship,” I told them vaguely, leaving plenty of room for creative licence and imagination.
“‘Looks like you came out on top,” someone said. I appreciated this person trying to make me feel better about the situation myself and my necklace had been through in the past. I appreciated that, as new as I was to the writing group, any one of them would say that, as my relationship to these people is still just beginning to develop, for whatever that might mean.
My first attempt at the mystery object exercise resulted in a narrative, made up of two people in an antique shop. This is one of my favourite settings for a story, since my senses were set off strong upon entering an old building, converted into an antique shop in my town, on a dreary October day a few years ago.
I have had a dislike for old things ever since childhood, but now I see their stories in the feelings they bring forth in me and in others.
This mystery object exercise is brilliant. I love to see what the other people bring and, in this case, I couldn’t wait to find out where their minds would go when attempting to write about the object I’d chosen to bring.
I know what the silver tin and the blue necklace mean to me, the history they played in my own life, but the trick would be letting all that leave my mind for an hour, allowing me to write fictionally about them. Then I was waiting to hear what they would come out with.
I’ve considered publishing all the pieces I come out with during these bimonthly writing groups, posting them here afterward. I have had the feeling of not being naturally good at writing fiction, as I have been told and felt myself that maybe I do better with nonfiction and memoir especially, but that is why I like this group. I can write like they write, and I get so much from that interaction already, and I’ve only gone three times so far.
This latest time I wrote about a jewelry store burglary and the mystery of why the thief took only that necklace, leaving the rest of the jewelry behind.
I did not finish the story and have no idea what was so special about that necklace. Time was up for the evening, the library closing and the cleaning crew anxious to start their work to prepare the building for the following day’s borrowings.
I purposefully did not volunteer to read my jewelry store tale, preferring to hear the other stories, on the off chance that we would run out of time, which is exactly what ended up happening.
I’d preferred my previous Wednesday night’s fiction writing exercise attempt, starring the Eiffel Tower ticket, dropped from above and onto the Paris sidewalk.
Some of the stories written about the tin/necklace included:
— One rooted in hints of the wardrobe leading to Narnia and a reference to the famous sketching scene in the movie Titanic. (This movie came up, somehow, in our chatter at the beginning of the evening’s meeting.)
— One about a love sick young man and the jewelry he purchased and later returned, bought for the object of his affection.
— One beginning with a wonderful scene of a little girl dying to arrive at her grandmother’s house and ending with that little girl finding a beautiful blue necklace in said grandmother’s spare room, unaware of the history it has.
— One about a spur-of-the-moment dropping of a necklace in a coat pocket and the chase others take to get it back.
I love to listen to the other writers read their stories, how different each one is, but the theme of the past of a piece of jewelry (real or fantastic) was a thrill to me, the person who really does own it.
People feel different about reading their work, depending on the day and what they come up with in the group, but not one person said they weren’t able to write something using my contribution to Mystery Object Wednesday. I was happy about that part. I was pleased to have spurred their imaginations, even if I couldn’t quite let go of what I know about the necklace in my own reality and past.
The true story of the friendship which ended with that necklace, indirectly, is best left for another time, but I just wanted to mark this occasion, as was pointed out to me the other night by one of my new writing friends: if that friend had stayed and taken the necklace, events wouldn’t have been able to lead up to the experience of my mystery object contribution with those who bravely took a stab at coming up with alternative storylines for a blue necklace on a chain.
For next group we’ve all been given a small slip of paper, containing a scenario and we are supposed to use it to demonstrate the concept of a favourite writing rule: show don’t tell.
This is the sort of homework I am more than happy to complete, I think. I will keep posted on what I manage to come up with for that one.
Mystery objects are exciting things, fiction that bursts forth from each and every one. They mean different things to different people and tell a story worth hearing. They are helping me get to know my fellow writers, one story at a time.
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
Politics is on everybody’s minds lately. There is enough going on, as I have to listen to nothing but, here in Canada, but at least it’s only for the next two months. It’s the US that will be going on about this insane popularity contest, masquerading as something deeper, that might actually change our collective futures, for more than a year still to come.
I probably sound very negative about it all. This is precisely why I am focusing on the things that bring me to a place of zen with this week’s:
TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL.
Pardon me if I might seem like I’ve recycled a few thankfuls today, from weeks gone by, but I have put a new spin on the ones I’ve already used.
Not for cool summer weather or the central air I love so much, but for the fact that one leads to not needing the other. I am glad, where others may not agree, at the cooler temperatures. When I need it, I am thankful for AC. This first thankful for the week is now awarded to the lack of humidity, requiring the use of AC, which saves me on the cost, keeping my electric bills lower.
For summer vacations and road trips, may they be a relaxing week at the cottage or a spontaneous, east coast adventure.
I am just happy my brothers both are getting the chance to enjoy themselves this week, to make lasting memories with family and friend respectably.
I hope my brother has a blast out east and that his time, by the ocean, might bring some peace and tranquility and a bit of zen for himself.
They both work hard and deserve the chance to have a bit of fun.
For the opportunity, the need, and the openness to try something new now and again.
Okay, so it ended up not being my sort of thing. Sure, the chocolate is of the more healthy variety, but really, who wants that?
Well, we were given free samples and told that many people do, but frankly, I don’t see the point.
Dark chocolate is good for you. It is actually beneficial to have a few squares of a chocolate bar, if it is bitter and with no trace of sugary sweetness.
I say it, loud and clear, right there in my About Me page on this very blog. Chocolate, to me, is a delicious anti depressant. It instantly boosts my mood and only milk chocolate will do.
Occasionally, as with this particular trip, a certain kind of dark chocolate, when mixed with something like mint and a good cup of coffee, this can hold its own pleasures. I am glad I went and gave it a shot. The latte was delightful and my nephew found a toy he liked, even if he’d much rather have played with the in-house chocolate-making machinery instead.
You have to make it a “habit” to keep an open mind and experience new things. That’s what I try to do, as often as possible.
For surprise peas.
Yes, these bring me just as much pleasure and enjoyment as chocolate does.
I believe I’ve mentioned them in this forum before, but I am doing it again.
This time they were a pleasant surprise, as I was always used to early July being the only time, a very short window, when I would get fresh peas to pod. My mom’s garden only had them available for a few weeks and that was it for the year.
With the discovery of my favourite peas at a local market, I was surprised to learn that I have been granted an extension.
They are not only delicious, but they provide a zen-like feeling to me, as the act of podding them offers me a very specific kind of nostalgia and a flash back to another time, and my deceased grandparents. They always picked peas and knew how much I loved them and would always save me a grocery bag full.
For living in Canada.
Sure, our political debates may not have the same sort of hype as our neighbours to the south, but at least I can be grateful for one thing:
No Donald Trump trying to run my country.
He’s a bully, who has probably never admitted he was wrong about anything in his entire life. He’s a spoiled, entitled petulant child, which actually insults all the children I know.
Of course, if he were to become the leader of the United States, that would have some effect on all other countries, including my own. I don’t know what the serious odds are that he could win, but stranger things have happened.
Yes, I can’t believe I am conceding that point, but who would have ever imagined the Terminator would become Governor of California.
I admit to not watching the debates. I saw things about both sets, but just in the news the next day. Politics is not my thing. So, in lieu of me being the one to run my own country or the world (I know…what a shame), I must learn what I can about those who will have the job and to stay positive.
For smart, witty, and engaging entertainment from The Daily Show’s John Stewart.
He also brought us more talent from the likes of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.
We will have John’s monologues, on YouTube, for years to come:
These ladies have things I want for myself and they make it look easy, but as I go ahead and read more about them, I learn this is not the case. That helps me deal with the dreaded writer’s jealousy, of which I am certainly not immune, but more than that I know what it’s like to truly admire their work and, for that matter, their hard work.
For the shift forward in accessibility this week, with the Pan Am Games at an end and the start of the Parapan Am Games in Toronto, this was the news I was thrilled to hear:
I will never forget my walk on the edge of a tower in Toronto and I want that same experience for everyone.
For the pride and the hope.
Canada’s one-and-only Major League team, the Toronto Blue Jays is doing well again. Will it last?
Well, currently they are on a seven or eight game winning streak and are beating the popular New York Yankees.
The memory of the two consecutive World Series wins (92-93) gives Toronto something to strive to find again, the glory of the championship.
For the presence, of two very special boys, these past few years.
Right now, this week, I am right smack dab in the middle of two birthdays for two amazing boys in my life.
I always think of the Elton John song “Your Song”, when I think of the blessings my niece and nephews are to me, but it’s the Ellie Goulding cover that I go to when it comes to my favourite lyric:
“I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, now you’re in the world.”
They are two fun, sweet, and smart kids and I am proud to be their Auntie Kerry.
And so with July firmly behind, I am looking ahead into the rest of August. I have a feeling the stakes are going to become higher in the next few weeks, with what is meant to be and I am glad I have these things to be thankful for, whatever that might look like.