The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wrestling in Room 12

       If you've lived in St. Louis for a long time (50+ years) you probably remember "Wrestling at the Chase (Park Plaza)." I never went (I barely survived the phase my son went through, when he went to wrestling matches and he made sock puppets--a la Mankind--and he'd practice leaping straight up into the air and landing--with one knee--on my husband's back/kidney). However, since the Chase Park Plaza Hotel was a luxurious spot, I always imagined that their regular wrestling matches were refined...classy...and frequented by celebrities from all over the world.

      Well, wrestling in room 12 is not quite so refined. There is a smell in our classroom that is probably similar to the smell in the locker room of the Chase in that long-past era (sweat) but that is where the two part ways.  I'm wrestling with nine-year olds.  It's verbal. Emotional. Sometimes almost literal. And it's slippery.

       This is to preface my whine-session (and if anyone has cheese and crackers to go with my whine, I'd appreciate you sending them my way) to explain make excuses for why I am not writing every day.  Why I don't submit things on a regular basis. Why I head for the couch as soon as I get home--which is three feet from the front door--and spend a good part of the evening there.

       I am exhausted. Drained. I wish I could get into some writerly groove, and perhaps I will sometime soon, but I haven't gotten there yet.

        Within the last week, a writer posted a comment. I'm always interested in what other blogs are like, so I read her latest posting.  It is one that should be emblazoned on a t-shirt, or framed and hung up in your writing studio spare bedroom/clutter collection room.  (She's also going to be doing a book signing at the Big Read in Clayton tomorrow afternoon.)

        Please read Dianna Graveman's Write in the Midwest blog.  The post on September 26 called "Curse of the Practical Writer" is phenomenal.  Perhaps I can get it tattooed onto my forehead (it is large enough) and when snooty writers look down their noses at me, I can lift up my bangs, demand that they read it, and then I can wave my hand dismissively at them and stomp away...

Mankind, the Wrestler
photo by Gato Ranch

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Malo! Malo! Malo!

        OJ Gonzalez-Cazares,  in her blog, has written a poem about domestic violence.  She also has linked a music video of a singer named Bebe..

          There are subtitles, but the chorus gets under your skin, and the singer's power and style make it unnecessary for a translation. 

           I am reminded of a parent in our school. She always referred to her husband as
"Mr. ____."  She never referred to him on a first-name basis when speaking of him.  The kids loved to spin tales about the teachers, so their father could go on a rampage at the school, because that meant his anger was aimed at someone other than them. 

          This family has several sons and one daughter.  What kind of monsters will the boys develop into, with that kind of role model?  What kind of mate will the daughter look for?  From her perspective, is love always black and blue?

photo by Bianca Inez

Another Writer Heard From...

         Somehow, Jennee's contest submission got lost in cyberspace.  I wanted to make sure it was published here. Again, it amazes me that each writer came at it from a different direction.

         The piece had to be 200 words or less, it had to include a bit of poetry (at least a couplet) and it used the photo below as inspiration.

photo by Rhodentette

           Here is Jennee's piece:

Rushing around, faster than the wind
Rushing around until you can't stand
Stop. Rest. Relax.
Life becomes a blur, the beauty to pass
Life is a blur, this lifestyle can't last
Stop. Rest. Relax.

The words of the hypnotist make my eyes heavy. I fight to stay alert. I don't have time to relax right now but the man speaking the words is calming, soft and sincere. How can I stop, rest and relax?  I'm too busy.

Forget the worries, forget your stress
Time management is an answer to your mess
Stop. Rest. Relax.
Fulfill your life by taking moments
This isn't a far fetched idea, just common sense
Stop. Rest. Relax.

Everything around me is blurry as I drift into oblivion.  I feel myself sitting in a red chair in the middle of nowhere. I'm sitting there admiring the mountains' alarming beauty. The fresh air softens my tense facial expressions and the voice chanting stop, rest, relax fades.


I'm alert and refreshed.  I glance around to the large auditorium to the 200 business men and women in suits. None of us are jumping up to move on to our next appointment.  We all just stop, rest and relax.

           ---Jennee Thompson and her cheap therapy.

The Winning Writers

            Recently I followed in Becky Povich's footsteps and had a writing contest.  There was a 200-word limit, it had to include a poem/bit of poetry, and the photo below was provided for inspiration.

           It was really hard judging, because they all came from such creative (and unique) perspectives.  (I mean, how do you compare an apple to an orange?)  After some scratching and biting (amongst the judges), T'Mara Goodsell's piece was chosen as the winner. However, I wanted to publish all four, because I was amazed by all of them...


I dreamed of finding serenity, but it always seemed to elude me. I wanted to live near the beach someday. The beach
was serene---not like here, in a weird little neighborhood near the mountains. Across from my house was a field, and at the far end, a red chair sat all by itself with nothing around but a stop sign. No road, just that sign stuck in the grass. What  kind of nut does that?

During one hot afternoon, I decided to clean up my view a bit and throw that junk out. But when I jogged down there, I discovered that the wind seemed to hit the little chair straight on, and it was cooled by the fields of grass. I did what the sign said. I stopped. I sat. The experience of being perched like a lifeguard at the edge of that ocean of grass was exquisite. The constant, cool breeze sent ripples through the grass like waves. And the fragrance! Green, herbal...fresh.

I closed my eyes and wrote this haiku:

I am on the shore
Of a sea of discovery
The tide brings wisdom.

The chair remains. And I've decided to obey all stop signs.

                               ----T'Mara Goodsell of Message in a Bloggle


Think It Through

Life gets hectic at times we know.
We're always doing something, always on the go.
It pays to stop every now and then,
Perhaps sitting, reading, or talking to a friend.
There is a difference when we make the choice,
Rather than being told by someone else's voice.
We don't want to hear we're not doing our best,
Especially when our days are already full of stress.
The doctor telling us we need to pick and choose,
So our quality of life is not something we will lose.
Another voice we hear is the one inside our head.
We need to stop and listen to what is being said.
Most of the time we know what we should do.
But there are moments we avoid this truth too.
It may call for changes we don't want to make,
When in our minds there's too much at stake.
Taking the time to think things through,
May help us make decisions that are long overdue.

                       ---Barbara Hodges and her purple pen


Stubborn Ain't Good

      Grampa were stubborn, and stubborn ain't good.
      He shoulda bent a little, but no way he ever would.

      There were this field, ten acres of tall grass and stickers. Grampa loved it.

       "Boy," he said to me. "There's memorable  things happened under the stars in that there field." And he spat his chaw juice, hitched up his overalls and marched off.

       Few years back some company were gonna plow up the field and build a Wally-Mart store. Grampa got his stubborn on.  He unloaded a chair from his truck and set it next to the stop sign in front of that field.

       "Ain't nobody diggin' up nuthin'," he said.

       Well, Grampa plopped hisself down in that chair with his coon dog settin' to his right and a cooler full of beer to his left. Weren't nobody surprised Grampa wouldn't move for them diggin' machines.  When a three day rain started he still didn't move, jest set there gettin' wet.

       Course, no one were surprised, 'cause Grampa was stubborn.

        When the rain stopped he jest set there dryin' in the sun. Turns out Grampa were three days dead 'fore anyone knew it.

         And that's why stubborn ain't good.

                             ---Lisa Ricard Claro in her writing "attire" 


"You can run, but you can't hide
Once you get in you can't go back...
A secret passage took you right here
You came in freely, lured by the breeze.
The sound of music, the smell of me
Your dreams of freedom, to escape from thee;
But there is no breeze, there is no shining sky
No grass that is greener, no better life.
You were unhappy, selfish and mean
Nothing was ever good enough for the queen.
The trick was easy; I just followed your lead
Made myself available, you saw me in every scene
The perfect handsome stranger that night at the club
The extra drink, why not, if it is free
The feeling of greatness inhaling a line
Nothing could stop you, not even a clear sign
That you were indeed secretly, sealing my pact.

Yes, the cozy sofa seemed somehow so real
The dark shadow in it so eerie, yet friendly and sincere
All was part of your magic-pill field trip.
If you are reading this, stop wondering: It is rather clear
That your trip is over, that your end starts here.
Welcome to my world, make yourself at home;
Because now you are mine...and mine alone."

      ---OJ Gonzalez-Cazares and her brilliant blog

        If you have not had the good fortune to stumble upon these writers' blogs, please do so immediately. 

        And Jennee--I'm sorry I never got your piece. If you email it to me again at I will be glad to publish it on my blog, and if you send me your snail mail address, I will send something your way...

        Thanks again for the submissions.  It is always great when one is inspired to write.

      So, I followed Becky's lead... Who will host the next writing contest?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Microfiction Challenge---From Stony River

      Rough landings. No frequent-flier miles. No beverage service. No peanuts or pretzels with TWA (The Winged Apprentice). But it WAS cheap!

      Check out Susan at Stony River.  Every Monday she posts a picture, and you write a story or poem that is 140 characters or less.

And the Winner is...

     I am so sorry.  I meant to post this yesterday evening, and fell asleep on the couch grading papers.  (Oops!)

      It was a difficult decision, because even though there were only four entries, each writer came from a completely different view.  Unfortunately for the judges, each one was not only unique, but engaging...

     Therefore, I'm going to send something to each of the authors. (OJ and T'Mara---I need your snail-mail address.  Barb's I have already, and I have Lisa's.)

      The winner is...T'Mara.   However, when I post all four entries this evening, you'll see why every one of them could have and should have been a winner.

        Thanks again for entering.  I hope it was fun---my friend and I certainly enjoyed reading the stories.