Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fun with Appositives

We had a teacher demonstration today, where we were given a photo and a sentence. We then had to add in an appositive to the sentence. Here are 2 of mine: (photos aren't the exact ones used in the presentation.)

The crane, a dormant beast with rusting corrugated scales and teeth of glass shards, sat in the abandoned rail yard. 

The climber scaled the wall, a vertical wedge of ice framed with a mass of frozen hair

Did I mention how much I love this conference, yet? Well, the secret's out.
I heart CUWP.

If I had to pick one...

If I had to pick one Weezer song and call it my favorite, I'd have to say "Miss Sweeney". If you're not familiar with the song, it's a narrative in first person about an office romance (Nothing shady, so ignore the part of your schema that first thought that.) The boss of some company is having a conversation with his secretary when he blurts out that he loves her. It sounds gushy, I know, but Weezer rocks the story (as always). 

I thought it'd be fun to write Miss Sweeney's response to his advances. I chose the romantic route, which if you know me will baffle you a bit, but I hope you enjoy it despite it's lack of my signature humor. 

(The white text is Weezer's lyrics, and the red is Miss Sweeney's thoughts, dialogue or perception of events.) 
[Also, if you wanna hear the song go to my friend's blog, it'll just start playing]

Bzzz... Bzzz...
Hi, Hello, Miss Sweeney?
Could you please come in my office for a second?

Wearing heels and my Navy business suit.
A touch of crimson lip gloss. 
Push back my glasses, then enter your office. 
I'm heading home for the day
And I thought it would be good for you and me to check in
I met with the gal from Expo
And they do have the "slab" cabinets in white
She thinks we can take the measurements
Down at the site
If we do that, we'll be just fine, Miss Sweeney
Nod. Twice.
Tuck a loose chunk of hair behind my ear.
Look up over my notes.
A half smile.

That's all I've got to say to you at this time, Miss Sweeney.
Actually there's one other thing on my mind

Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear 
You're gripping my shoulders.
My legs wobble, like licorice whips.
The sun always shines when you're near
Heart palpitations.
Breath on my cheek.
I'm waiting until you love me

You release me.You look away, fists clenched.
Longing pierces my core.

I'm so sorry Miss Sweeney
I don't know where that came from
I think I was overcome by a spontaneous emotion

“I want…”
Don’t speak. Don’t say it.

Anyway, the cash deposit of $5, 000 will need to be sent to the property owner tomorrow
If there are any problems with the deposit or contract

The fire flickers. Threatens to extinguish.

Don't be afraid to holler
I don't want to have to approve each stinking dollar
That we borrow
Aww forget it, Miss Sweeney

You, you make the rain clouds disappear 
 In your arms again.
Enveloped by your hands.
The sun always shines when you're near
Body pressed to body.
I'm waiting until you love me

I love you.

Miss Sweeney, I got to admit the truth
I am totally head over heels in love with you
Every day you come to the office looking fine
Navy business suit clinging tightly to your spine

“Your laugh. The light in your eyes. In your smile...”

You ask me if I'm ready to get down to work
Sweeney, baby, I'm ready... be my...


Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear
The sun always shines when you're near
I'm waiting until you love me
Girl, you light the skies of my life
I swear I will make you my wife
I'm waiting until you 
“I love you.”
love me

Miss Sweeney.
Miss Sweeney.
Eyes searching.
Electricity clinging tightly to our spines.
Put your lips on mine.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

As writers are we "praise sluts"? [yes.]

One of my reflections while on the writer's marathon:

I started sewing when I was 10 yo, I think. Mom took me to a local fabric shop in Fallon, NV where I learned to sew and stuff a pillow. 2' x 2'. I got to pick any fabric I wanted. (From the sale rack) in any pattern I wanted. (except the ones my mother sneered at.)

I picked a white fabric with concentric turquoise squares. Very geometric. Very 1991. If the fabric had a name, I bet it'd be called the Fresh Prince of Belaire.

The second sewing class I got was from the female version of Skeletor. Mrs. S. She was very very old and had no business teaching 7th grade girls in rural Missouri (which is where I moved in 1992).

Mrs. S. did know how to sew though. Like a champ.

She taught us to make boxer shorts. I made pink pig shorts and soccer shorts and sunflower shorts.

It was the year of shorts.


My favorite quotes from CUWP today:

  • As writers are we "praise sluts"? [yes.]
  • Stacy climbed through a window. 
  • Move everything below the "but". [When you hear this out loud, it's hilarious.]
  • Sarita rode a chicken named the colonel. [This is not a metaphor. Wrap your mind around that.]
  • Is that the word that means no penis? [the Indonesian word for this sounds a lot like "no thank" you, btw.]
  • Do not make me call my flying monkeys. [something to tell little children.]
  • Children left unattended will be given an espresso and a new puppy. [something to tell parents.]
  • Chaos, panic, and disorder. My work here is done. [and...scene!]

True Story

Since all of his kids were off to college and no longer living at home, my father thought it was a good time to visit us here in Utah. When he got here, he wanted to spend time with individually, take us each out to a restaurant of our choice and discuss what our futures, our goals, essentially what was “next” for us. He’d give in his two cents, and guide us along the path to our goals.
He went in order, first taking out the eldest, my sister Michelle who had finished law school at was working at Utah Legal Services.
“Being a lawyer is not enough,” he said. “You need to be a judge!” Then walked her through the steps of how this could be done.
Next was David. He had finished his Bachelor’s in English at BYU and was working at the BYU Library while doing artistic things on the side.
“Think about your family,” said Dad. “You can’t live on a library salary. You need to go into Intelligence, like me. Work for the DIA or Customs.” I imagined he pounded his chest as he said this , though the gesture wasn’t common for him.
Third was my sister Sarah. She was on her last semester at BYU and majoring in history. “Have you thought about grad school?” he asked, then continued to show her the research he’d done on schools that had programs she would excel in.
My turn. I was thrilled at the idea of hearing what grand plans my father had for me. My siblings filled me in on all the details of their meetings, so I was psyched, anticipation pumping through my veins.
“Rena,” he said over a pasta salad, “What are you doing about dating? You put on what…” he eyed me, “10-15 lbs. since you came out to school? You do want to get married, right?”
My sandwich tasted like bile.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pretty as a Picture

At our conference today we talked about using paintings to inspire writing in your students. I was given a picture similar to this one, but from a much older time period. Think A painting of a mother and two daughters around the dinner table in a setting more akin to The Crucible.
Here's the dialogue I wrote with it.

MOTHER: Eat your porridge, Sariah.

SARIAH [older daughter]: Yes, mum. For I know that money for this porridge does not grow on trees. I also know that if I please you, there’s more of a chance that will be able to play my drum later.

MOTHER: True, dearest. And, Madeline? How do you like your porridge? 

MADELINE [younger daughter]: I hate it! I don’t want it. It looks like mucus.

MOTHER: Now, Madeline. That’s all there is. We’ll have roast when you father gets well. I don’t know where he picked up the disease that resembles syphilis, but which he assures me is not.

SARIAH: [picks up spoon. Porridge slops back into the bowl.] This is gross, mother. I don’t want it either. 

MADELINE: It’s sick! Did daddy puke this up earlier? [In her examination of the gruel she manages to get it on herself, the table, and the floor. 

MOTHER: “Just lie back and think of France.” “Just lie back and think of France.” [She recites. Picks up plates and makes a new meal.]

This painting better captures the juxaposed frustration and joy of motherhood.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Stench of Poetry


Inhale the small
Words. Fragrances
Sweet and Spicy like
Thai food. A putrid rank
From another. My senses
Titillated. Sucking in meta-
Phors, nostrils flare like a
Singer in the climb of a
Song. The Bard breaks
Free of the pages.





                                           alters when it alteration finds,   
                               Or  bends with the remover to remove:
                               O no! it is an ever-fixed mark   
                               That  looks on tempests

                                                                            and is never shaken;

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Fight with the Fires of Mordor

I can’t remember why she got into trouble, but my best friend in the world, Kristal, sure was in deep water. We were at a softball game. Don’t ask me why. I can’t remember ever liking baseball or softball except for that one time I dated that guy on the baseball team who had the same name as my dad. It didn’t last. 
I couldn’t let Freud win that round.
But anyway, huddled by the concession stand, Kris told me she was in trouble. Her dad was mad. The kind of “mad” with two syllables. Mah-ad. I glanced over at him sitting on the stands. His round face, which extended all the way to the middle of the top of his head on account of his receding hairline, was pink. He had the kind of complexion that you read like a thermometer.
Pink = bugged.
Coral = miffed.
Red = MAD.
Fire Engine Red = Furious, and borderline crazy.
“He’s threatening to not let me go on the temple trip,” Kris said.
“What?!” I said feeling the infinite superiority of fourteen year old wisdom blossoming in my chest. “That’s just not fair.” I bit off some courage and chewed slowly. Kristal rocked from one foot to another.
“I’m gonna go talk to him.”
“No, Rena!” But I was already marching his direction.
“Brother Z,” I said, sucking the juice out of the wad of courage still safely in my mouth. “You can’t punish Kris by taking away spiritual stuff,” I said, my litany taking shape.
The words aren’t what I remember after that. I’m sure I laid out my case with proper evidence and reasons, but all that stands out is the change in the color of his head. It changed from pink to the Fires of Mordor red in less time than it took me to finish my argument. The thermometer boiled. He started to look like a Ute fan on game day.
I tapered off the last few words and stepped off the bleachers, backing away like the prey of a feral beast. He said something to me, but the words melted into the heat emanating from his fury. I dodged out, before he erupted on the spot.
Kris did get to go on that temple trip, but I am 100% sure that it had nothing to do with me. 

Sorry, Bro. Z. 
There's no excuse for my ostentatious-ness.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir

Words are my thing.
It's what I do.
Weave the written language into a tapestry of intrigue piped with humor.
There are very few times in my life where I couldn't express how I felt about something with words...or at least to the degree it merited. The first time was when I tried writing a few words to read to my husband at our wedding reception. Trying to tell the man you love just how much you love him, while including all the nuances, inside jokes, isolated moments, tender embraces, sotto voces, in a few little words seemed an impossible task. I fumbled something out, but it will never entirely cover all the bases of my love for him. Which is why I affectionately inscribed, "Words Can't Describe" on the inside of his wedding ring. Seemed fitting. And it's high praise to stump a writer with a concept that can't fully be developed in writing.

The second time this happened was when I read Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir. Now, I'm not catagorizing my love for Jennette Fulda's book as the same love as I have for Cole, but I heart it. A lot. (See how simplisitic I get when I can't think of the words?)

Below are some of my favorite lines from the book. (PS I'm reading it on my Kindle, however, and the page numbers are not reflected on my digital pages.)

  • "Ever the overachiever, I gained the freshman fifty."
  • "In German, the word kummerspeck is used to describe the weight you gain from emotional overeating. It literally translates to 'grief bacon.'"
  • "You are almost never as fat as you think you are. If I could teach the fat girls of the world one thing, that would be it."
  • After a life-threatening surgery, Fulda decided to get thin. Then, "Only I didn't. I stayed fat for at least another year. Wake-up call recieved. Snooze button pushed."
  • "It was supposed to shock me into realizing I was consuming the gross national product of Ecuador daily. Mostly it made me crazy trying to remember if I'd had a soda with lunch."
  • "The more likely you were to actually use health ins. the more likely you were denied it."
  • "I hoped I wouldn't find myself holding up the local Krispy Kreme in a sugar-crash psychosis, wielding a grapefruit spoon like a shiv."
  • "My gynecologist had told me I had a pelvis, but I thought she was just starting a rumor."
  • "After taking a blood pressure test in a pharmacy, "The display read: 122/71. Woo-hoo! I wanted to take a victory lap around the feminine hygiene aisle, throwing tampons in the air like confetti."
  • "Good clothing injected tiny moments of joy into my life at the most unexpected times."
  • "She must not want that fine culinary creation, I thought. She got a different piece of cake instead. It would be a shame to waste a piece of cake. It would make baby Jesus cry. For purely religous reasons, I leapt up, snatched the plate, devoured the cake, and shoved the empty plate onto my uncle's place setting. Fat girls first rule of stealing food: Always get rid of the evidence. Second rule: If necessary, frame someone else."
  • "My weight loss was a cross-country trip, not a race across town."
  • "...a wall of casseroles and baked goods lined the counter like the Great Wall of Carbohydrates."
  • "It did seem strange that the price of admission to a house of admission to a house of mourning was baked goods. Didn't ppl usually lose their appetites when they were in bereavement?"
  • Upon running into a pack of thin girls in the stairwell, "Don't be intimidated, I told myslef. They are not better than you just b/c they have 15 percent body fat and skin as smooth as goat's milk. Yak's milk is what it's all about this year
I'm only half way through Half-Assed, and I feel like Jennette is a kindred spirit. Wanna be BFF's Jennette? Selling points:
  • I use capitalization. 
  • I use punctuation.
  • I spell relatively well.
  • I'm not snarky, unless I'm cleverly snarky. 
  • I won't ever tempt you into stealing cake at weddings. 
  • and I won't judge you if you do. 
I heart you, Jennette. 
Words can't describe how much.
You are my "thinspiration".

Plus you've inspired me on my next writing project. (My first book is called One-Armed Freak and is available at Amazon for Kindles only.) I'm gonna do a weight loss book too. Granted my 60 lbs is nothing in comparison to your feats in Weight Loss World, but my journey could inspire someone too.
Check out my weight loss blog: www.theredbookexperiment.blogspot.com 

I can't wait to finish it. 
May the flax seed be with you.
Drink water and prosper.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Phased Out

Set Friendship Phasers to Stun
Have you ever been phased out of someone's life? (or maybe you're the phaser. )

Here's what it looks like:

First something life changing has to happen to either you (the phasee) or your friend (the phaser). Examples include: a new job, new spouse, new baby, and/or a significant move.

Next, is sort of a subtext to the first step, because whatever life-changing event occurs, it has to greatly diminish the quantity of time the two of you used to spend together.

Third, the phasee feels like the change that occurred will not interfere with the friendship, and goes on as if all is normal, making weekly phone calls, texts, emails, fb msgs, and/or carrier pigeon msgs to the phaser.[The carrier pigeon is an exaggeration. No one is that needy, and if they are then they should be phased out.] These are nothing unusual, given that the phasee is simply continuing traditions that already existed prior to change.

At this point the phaser too keeps up the ruse that the friendship means something. Most calls are reciprocated. Visits are had. Conversations regular. But after several months, the phaser is starting to realize that he or she can live without the phasee.

Soon, phaser realizes that proximity is highly important and without it, the friendship seems a lost cause. Phaser begins to stop answering calls, texts, and carrier pigeons. Email is their main source of communication at this point.

Phasee walks around with a big question mark above his or her head. "Is it something I said?", phasee wonders. "What did I do wrong? Is phaser mad at me?"

Then the emails go unanswered.

Approximately a month later, the phasee realizes just how unimportant the phasee and phaser's friendship was to the phaser when a simple life change could crumble what was once considered solid.

The phasee is flummoxed, while the phaser doesn't seem to notice the change.
If you haven't cracked my code yet, I was just phased outta someone's life.

It hurts. If I've ever done that to you, I'm really sorry.


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