The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why Doesn't It Come With Instructions?

       Today I had a boxing match with my top. I won a few rounds; my shirt won a few. The officials are still debating who's the winner--they'll get to wear a big fancy belt.

     If they determine I'm the winner, make my belt spandex, please.

     I think most women know the kind of top I was battling this morning. It has the appearance of being a wrap-around blouse, and has a (usually) contrasting "panel" in front under the deep v-neckline. However, the "panel" is really a tanktop apparatus. 

     Slinky and slippery, that tanktop was. It's made of lycra or spandex or some flesh-constricting NASA-created material. And it was wily.

    I put it on this morning--the first time I had worn it--and initially got the straps of the tank top twisted around. They bunched up in a wad at each shoulder, making me look like Lada Gaga when she was in that weird pointy shoulder protusion phase.

    However, once on, that top did not want to come off. It had found a lovely home...plenty of cellulite, some floppy fat rolls. It refused to budge.

     After a clever fake-out move on my part (I stood in front of the mirror, patted my tummy and looked at my reflection in mock admiration, then like a panther I pounced on the bottom hem and yanked like my life depended on it...because considering the girdle-like abilities of this shirt, my life did depend on it), I got it off, read the nine-pages of directions, and carefully put it on again. This time, the right way.

      Why is it that only women's clothing is complicated?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Writing Groups or Linda O'Connell is Now in a Safe Place

What do the following comments have in common?

"What is that you're drinking--cat pee?"

"You don't have to pad your comments for me. I want to know if it sucks. Just say--'It sucks' if it does suck."

"My cat died...So now, I'm looking for a boyfriend."

"Your endings are always brilliant. These letters could be an incredible book. We want to see more."

"Your ex-husband lives with his mother? Yikes!"

"I don't know where this circus guy came from. I think I channeled him." 

If you thought these might be things overheard during a writing group meeting, you're correct.

photo by Janny Brocken

Recently, I had the good fortune to fall into a writing group. We've only met twice so far, but already I'm enjoying it immensely. (Over the summer I joined a marvelous one--temporarily--but since I had to return to work in August, I no longer had Tuesday mornings free.)

I have a few guidelines, if you're not involved with one but would like to be:

1. Make sure you're clear about what you want when you share your work. Do you want really constructive criticism? Do you want everybody's comments tied up with a pretty bow, or are you of the opinion "If it smells like poop and looks like poop, it is poop...So say 'It's poop,'"?

2. Find a suitable place to meet--one that adds the desired ambience, is quiet enough to hear each other, and has carpeting (so the landings on one's rear-end is a soft one).  We first met at Barnes and Noble, but some whack-job assaulted Linda O'Connell while we were there, and Linda ended up with a multi-colored bruise after falling on her...Well, you get the idea.

3. Make sure everyone is in the same "ballpark," writing-wise. I'm in the bullpen--not quite on the field yet--but I am learning from the other writers and getting great suggestions and submission ideas. Soon, I'll be in the batting rotation...

4.  Make sure your group stays on track. Bawdy comments, snarky remarks...those tend to get the writers off the subject of writing. Revel in Avoid them.

Linda is worried that, after reading the comments at the beginning of this post, people will wonder if she suffered brain damage when she fell. Only two of the comments were said by her. (You figure out which two.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I? Where Were YOU?

This is where I was ten years ago--at Griffith Elementary, in Ferguson, Missouri.

          Ten years ago, I was in a fifth grade classroom. The students had not arrived yet, but even though they would be arriving soon, I could not do any of my normal last-minute preparation work. I was frozen. Frozen in place, mouth gaping open, staring at the television screen.

      Did I see the first tower topple in slow motion? Or was it my imagination...had my sorrow made things freeze in place momentarily in an attempt to allow my heart and mind to catch up with what my eyes were seeing? I clearly remember being amazed that--even though a plane had rammed into the tower--it remained standing. I thought, 'Well, it's awful for those people on the affected floors, but everyone else escaped harm.' I was amazed that the structural know-how of architects ensured that a skyscraper could withstand such an accident and remain upright and sturdy. 

     But all-too-soon, my amazement turned to overwhelming sorrow as the tower fell, and then the second one as well. And the horror continued...

     As our class had discussions that day, that week, that month, we spoke of differences in people. We spoke of prejudices and stereotypes.  All white people are not good. Some are murderers. All black people are not good. Some are criminals. All police officers are not honest. Some are dishonest.  We spoke of different religions, and spoke of Muslims, and how one particular religion was not to blame...A particular group of individuals were to blame.

     The teachers painted a huge flag on the playground, and signed their names. The vivid red and blue, the pure was a simple way to express what we were feeling.

     Of course, 11-year olds could not really comprehend the enormity of what happened, any more than they could grasp the concept of what slavery was truly like...In their mind, if they were enslaved, they would simply fight back against their owners and run away. 

     But for those of us old enough to understand, we all remember where we were ten years ago on this morning...And it's a memory we're unlikely to ever forget.