On dying young.

I lived beyond my means today. I spent too much money on clothes, and ate too many sweet treats during a bridal shower. However, this excess is a lesson learned and I will be braver and better tomorrow.

🙂

That being said, Spotify has cured my writer’s block. I totally know the plot for my second manuscript, and I am super excited! It’s not as thrilling as I imagined, but I think it’s awfully romantic and grapples with the universal and ever-pertinent theme of mortality.

I am super pumped.

http://www.iviewtube.com/v/165473/the-band-perry-if-i-die-young-(official-music-video)

On making progress.

I haven’t made it official by consulting my blog’s statistics, but I do believe that “On being worse than teenage poetry” is my most popular entry thus far! That being said, I am clearly going to revisit that topic and include similar posts in the future. I would like to take this opporunity to thank every single person who read it and enjoyed it, regardless of whether or not you commented. It means the world to me that my writing has the ability to help me connect with people I have never met. That, my friends, is what it is all about, and why I really became a writer – to connect, only connect, just like E.M. Forrester wrote in the beginning of Howard’s End (which is an AWESOME read, by the way).

And speaking of reading, have any of you gotten a chance to read Fifty Shades of Gray? I’ve been hearing mixed reviews, but am truly tempted to see what all the buzz is about. It was highly and adamantly recommended by a colleague, so I feel an obligation to check it out. Currently, I’m reading four books: Jane Eyre, Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda, Broke and Elixir.  Operation Anaconda is the true account of a military operation during the war in Afghanistan and Broke is Glenn Beck’s take on the current economical crisis.  Jane Eyre is an old favorite and Elixir is Hilary Duff’s first novel, which was recommended and then lent to me by a student. I’m enjoying all of them, the first two because I feel I am broadening my interests and educating myself. What are you reading?

This weekend was hectic, but also productive. My gradebook is all caught up, and I’ve printed progress reports for my students. 🙂 The trick now is remembering to hand them out. Also, I spent a lot of time with my family, and it was enjoyable, incredible and remarkable. I highly recommend spending more time with those that matter most.

Okay. So, truth be told, I am NOT crazy about the prompt for tonight, but hey: it gets me writing and thinking, and that’s what matters most.

Enjoy.  🙂

PROMPT: Most of us set a New Year’s resolution that this was going to be the year we finished our manuscript. But once again, we neglected it. Write an apology letter to your manuscript explaining what happened and how you plan to make it up to the manuscript by December 31.

Dear Second Manuscript,

I am terribly sorry I have yet to get us off to a roaring start, let alone a stellar finish.  My first manuscript is settled and in the midst of the publishing process and yet, I feel unable to move on and leave the plot and characters behind.  Perhaps it is that reluctance that has prevented me from entering into what I am sure will be a whirlwind romance with you.  I imagine the ups and downs, and am enthralled.  Honestly, there is nothing I desire more than to start anew with you.  Every sinew, every pulse and every heart beat is screaming for something new, for an original passion that will make me feel less ordinary and less stagnant.

But where to begin?

Maybe you could help? Offer an idea, or intriguing phrase that will serve as the launching pad for the next great American novel?

Forever yours,

Mandi

On being worse than teenage poetry.

I teach twelfth grade English at the local high school. I interact with teenagers every day, bearing witness to the comedies and tragedies that fill the hallways, cause lockers to slam angrily, demand hall passes and fill their little worlds right up. I enjoy being an audience member to one thousand mini-melodramas five days a week, and to be honest, I find it fascinating. I don’t think teenagers should be ridiculed and lectured on the importance of perspective because as we age, we lose the passion we once had. I think perspective should only be mentioned when comforting the distressed, and I definitely do not believe that one should be admonished or feel ashamed because they reacted passionately to an event, a person or an idea they felt strongly about. We should forever be passionate.

That being said, I’ve decided to share some of my “teenage poetry.” The following poems were written when I was in high school. Feel free to judge them harshly 😛

“Untitled” (Actually, the title of this poem was the name of the boy I liked at the time, but names have been changed to protect the innocent 😉 )
Even though the words are awkward
And I don’t know what to write,
I’m sure there’s something I need to say
so that I can set everything right.
Sipping liquids that are too hot,
Willing them to burn your tongue,
Feeling a thousand years older
And now wishing you were young.
Sitting at a lonely table
In a coffee shop in the mall
On your hands and knees, I beg you.
I am daring you to crawl
Back to the ones that loved you
Back to me who still does
And maybe now we can share that drink
That never was

Apparently, one of my friends saw this beloved boy of mine at the Starbucks in the local mall, and commented that he was alone, drinking coffee. I loved this image of him – I romanticized his loneliness, enhanced my own desires and wistfulness. That boy was everything to me when I was fifteen and if I am being completely honest, I still think about him a lot. Is it because he’s the one who got away? Is it because things ended so badly? Is it because I feel so stunted emotionally? Who knows?

“Untitled” (This one really didn’t have a title, I promise)
The lines on the page start to blur.
The pain shoots up my spine.
The sweat drops off my forehead.
There’s a pounding in my mind.

One pill, two pills, three pills, four
I took the whole bottle with regret
I downed a whole bottle of vodka
So many things I just had to regret

My body’s shaking and I can’t see
I trip and stumble until I hit the floor
I raise my weary, pounding head
There’s no redeeming light behind that door

There’s no saving grace, no second chance
Someone lied to you, it’s okay to give up
I was close to the edge and I decided to jump
Life was hell, enough was enough

I convulse on the floor, puking in pain
I took my own life without regret
Life was shit so I’m moving on
I openly welcome death

This poem is embarrassingly juvenile; I realize that. Suicide is NEVER a viable option, let alone the answer. The hopelessness that pervades the poem is unnerving- were things really that bad less than a decade ago? They weren’t, but I’m sure they felt like they were. I am not ashamed of this poem, or that I have several suicide-themed poems in my arsenal, because the writing helped me to express all my feelings into something positive, into a creation. The writing saved my life.

“Untitled” (There was a time when I totally titled my poems … this just wasn’t that time, apparently)
fix the seams of all my parts
starting with my broken heart
make me whole, make me complete
get me back out on my feet
but take me by my trembling hand
and help me to fully understand
how your needles and your thread
brought me back from the dead
you breathed new life into me
made me whole, happy and healthy
i owe you every breath i take
thank you every time i wake
because you’ve saved me
you’ve ressurected me
because you love me
i can be
healthy
whole
and happy

There are notes from a math class besides the poem – clearly, I wasn’t paying attention and I need to send an apology to Mr. Savitsky. Not only did I not understand anything that was happening in math class, but I did not understand real heartbreak or recovering from heartbreak. Writing is all about writing what you know and experience. I had very little experience with anything at fifteen – other than the social microcosm of high school – and now, at twenty-three, I feel the same. I have yet to travel, to have a full-time job with benefits, to live on my own, or to experience a whirlwind romance. I crave these things every day, and they do find their way into my writings, but then the writing comes off as cheap and not genuine.

My friend Brandi and my mentor both told me to start living; to finally begin my journey. I vowed to you that I would.

But have I?

On mentors.

I was assigned another home instruction student on Monday, so today, I went to the classroom teacher – who also happens to be my mentor – for some background, advice, etc. While we did discuss the student, the most important piece of information I took away from the impromptu conference was this: “To live.” I jokingly commented that I wanted to be my mentor when I finally grow up, and she laughed with me, but told me I could do it now. She told me to stop wishing and making excuses and to simply do what I wanted. A light bulb went off in my brain, an explosion ruptured my soul and things finally made sense.

I need to stop wishing and start doing, and I need to do it as soon as possible.

So tonight, I signed up for a conference in New York City for writers of thrillers.

🙂

On trying to inspire.

I stayed for an hour after school today with two young women from the section of creative writing I am teaching.  We discussed their works, their methods and what their goals were for the rest of the year.  I believe I helped the girls, and the other day, another student said I was the type of teacher that could change a student’s life, that I was supportive and motivational.  Though my goal is to be a writer, teaching and thereby touching lives is not a bad way to make a living.

After school, family came over for a couple of hours and my schedule was wrecked.  I didn’t get a chance to write, but I thought I’d share with you my favorite poem of all time. Hopefully, it can inspire those of you who write.

Enjoy.

 

🙂

 

1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats         5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….         10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,         15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,         20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.
And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;         25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;         30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
In the room the women come and go         35
Talking of Michelangelo.
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—         40
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare         45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,         50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—         55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?         60
  And how should I presume?
And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress         65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets         70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!         75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?         80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,         85
And in short, I was afraid.
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,         90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—         95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
  That is not it, at all.”
And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,         100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:         105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
        110
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,         115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old … I grow old …         120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.         125
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown         130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

On rain never ending.

It started raining on my way to church with the family – around 11:00AM – and it hasn’t stopped since.  The wind’s picked up some, and its mournful howl rallies against the windows and rattles the doors.  I don’t mind the rain.  In fact, I happen to enjoy it very much.  Before I die, I want to get caught in the rain somewhere with the man I love.  I want the two of us to be careless and young and living for the moment.  I assume that’s probably a strange goal, but I’m coming to find all my goals are strange.  I’m a strange person, but I embrace it.

I wrote some more of what I hope shapes up to be my second novel.  Please, please, please read and let me know your thoughts.

🙂

The car came to a stop at a red light.  Brian had his window down and the sound of the tires slowly rolling to a standstill on the dampened pavement reminded him of pouring milk over a bowl of Rice Krispies.  The sound was louder than the radio, which Penelope had only turned on to discourage Brian from talking.  He stole a glance at Penelope, his wife, beside him.  Her head was turned away from him – most likely to further discourage him from talking – and all he saw was her red hair.  It had been the first thing he had noticed about her some thirty years ago.  It was just as vibrant as it had been then, and he wondered if Penelope was proud of that fact.  He wondered if he should tell her he noticed, if it would make her smile.  He stayed quiet and his dark eyes moved to take in her entire form, but they soon became focused on her hands carelessly resting on her lap.  They were small and delicate, though not exactly fragile.  A ring denoted each and every finger, aside from her thumbs.  The only other adornment was that wooden beaded bracelet.  “Where’d you get that bracelet?” he asked.
The light turned green.  Brian accelerated accordingly.
Penelope shot him a sharp look, annoyed that he had broken her reverie by talking.  She regarded the bracelet in question.  “My brother gave it to me the day I met you.”  She paused before adding, “I thought it was lucky, so I haven’t taken it off since.”  She laughed but the sound was forced and lacking in any genuine amusement.  Penelope used her left hand to cover her right wrist and the bracelet.  She turned away from Brian again, and he assumed the conversation was over.  Then Penelope asked, “Why?”
“I don’t know,” Brian confessed with a shrug.
“We’ve been together for over three decades and you’ve never asked me about this bracelet, so why the sudden interest?”
“Why have you never told me about it?” Brian asked, trying to be clever.
“You’re impossible,” Penelope growled and that signaled the real end of any and all conversation between the two.  Her face was pinched and ugly because she was so angry.  She was tired of looking out the window and couldn’t stand to look at Brian, so her eyes – much like her hands – fell to her lap.  Penelope moved her hands so they rested flat upon her thighs with palms facing downwards.  The bracelet that incited the clipped conversation that had so upset her became the focus of her gaze.  Her pinched features softened as she allowed her thoughts to drift and recalled a memory.
She had been young – just twenty-years-old – and she had been so excited to go to the boardwalk in Ashton Park.  Penelope and her friends had made plans earlier in the week to fill a cooler with beer, to fill a stereo with batteries and lay in the sun on the sand.  Penelope remembered being up in her small, neat bedroom.  The windows were open and the ceiling fan was rapidly rotating but still, it had been hot; great beach weather.  She had her bathing suit on with some shorts she had made herself by cutting up an old pair of jeans.  She had been maneuvering and modeling in front of the full-length mirror in the near right corner, piling her hair atop her head and then letting it fall.  Penelope had been so self-absorbed that she hadn’t heard her older brother knock on the door frame and it wasn’t until she saw him in the mirror’s reflection that she even knew he was there.  Penelope had spun to face him, and she asked him what he wanted.
“Relax, Penny,” he said with the goofy grin he always wore when he was pleased with himself.  “I just wanted to give you a surprise.”  He had pulled the bracelet from behind his back and slid it onto her right wrist.  He had planned on giving it to Sandy – his current girlfriend – but rumor had it Sandy had already received a bracelet from some other guy on the block – Tommy Cook, maybe.  Penelope smiled ruefully, chiding her brother about just wanting to dump the bracelet.  Her brother feigned taking offense and explained that Penelope was a beautiful girl who deserved beautiful things … like the bracelet.  Penelope didn’t think the bracelet was beautiful at all, and had rolled her eyes and had playfully kicked her brother out of the room.  A horn blasted outside and before she could take the stupid bracelet off, she was on her way to the beach, to the boardwalk, and to Brian.  It had been the perfect day and she missed the feeling of being infinite, of being invincible.  Maybe she still wore the bracelet in hopes it would be a magic talisman of sorts that could keep her young and happy.  Maybe she still wore it to remind herself of better times and to remind herself of why she had fallen in love with Brian so fiercely that day.
So much had changed, been ruined and shattered.  Why didn’t she just take the bracelet off?  She suddenly felt weak and sad, so Penelope tore her eyes from the bracelet and resumed staring out of the passenger side window at the generic scenery passing by.  She sniffed loudly and then leaned forward to raise the volume of the radio.

Ten brutal and silent minutes later, Brian parked the car alongside the curb in front of a trendy restaurant downtown.  It had been a favorite and frequent stop of Brian and Penelope when things had been good – great, even – and they still had dinner there every other week to keep up appearances.  They smiled wide and laughed louder than what felt comfortable.  Brian even held Penelope’s hand and during dinner, they talked without raising voices.  It was a nice break from the usual tension and dramatics and Brian supposed that was the real reason he and Penelope had kept up the charade – they had become so good at pretending that for a couple of hours, they could actually believe that nothing was wrong.
Brian climbed out of the car and headed to cross in front of the car to open Penelope’s door.  He looked at her through the windshield and found she was still not looking at him and was still staring out of the window.  Halfway to the other side of the car, Brian stopped because he heard Melissa’s unmistakable and unapologetic laughter radiating from somewhere behind him.  He turned and saw her beneath a streetlight with friends.  One of the friends, a young man, had slipped his arm around Melissa’s waist.  Brian noted that Melissa did not cringe or subtly slip out of the embrace.  He wouldn’t say she welcomed it, but she definitely had not refused it.  Heat had started to collect in his chest and rise up his neck.  Soon, it would flood his face and his anger would be apparent to everyone, especially Penelope.  Brian had a strong desire to call out to Melissa, to have her come to him and explain herself with her head hanging low and her eyes full of shame.  He also debated marching over there, pulling Melissa free of the guy’s grasp and proclaiming loudly that she was his, and not to be touched.  Both of the options Brian entertained were unrealistic; he and Penelope had decided to keep the affair a secret so their two girls wouldn’t find out.  As a result, divorce was not a viable option and Penelope and Brian had continued as if she hadn’t found out, and as if everything was as it should be.  Sighing heavily, Brian continued to Penelope’s door and opened it.

Dinner was delicious, and the conversation wasn’t entirely terrible.  It slowed and halted, but was not hostile.  Fans stopped by the table to quickly say hello, as did the owner to ask about the family, the new novel and upcoming book tour.  Penelope and Brian smiled and were completely engaged; no one suspected a thing.  When the visiting had ceased and an awkward silence had descended, Penelope excused herself and went to the bathroom.  Brian took the opportunity to dial Melissa’s number on his cell phone.  The phone rang and rang and rang; there was no answer.  He left a voicemail through gritted teeth, indicating he was angry but he nearly pleaded for her to call him back.  He shoved the phone in his pocket before Penelope came back, and the evening continued the same way it had started.

At home that night, Penelope went to her bedroom on the far side of the luxurious house.  Brian knew he wouldn’t see her again until breakfast the next morning, so he wasn’t too discreet about leaving the house.  He walked out the front door and down the long, twisting drive until he reached the sidewalk.  Melissa only lived about two miles away, in an attractive apartment building made of red bricks with wrought-iron railings.  Bruce wanted to walk to clear his mind and to formulate what it was he would say to his lover, his mistress.  Melissa hadn’t reacted as well as Brian had hoped to the idea of keeping things as they were, even though Penelope knew.  He didn’t know what Melissa had expected or what she had wanted to change, but he did know that was part of the problem.
About half-an-hour later, he was standing in front of the front door of her building.  Brian had been about to ring the buzzer, but he stopped and retracted his outstretched hand.  He retreated down two of the three long, wide concrete steps leading up to the door and had half a mind to walk back on home.  He had called Melissa and left a message; wasn’t that enough?  Was he being silly and juvenile?  He couldn’t afford to be so, not at his age and in his line of work.  Brian turned away and was about to descend the last step when the doors opened.  He turned and was surprised to find Melissa, clad in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, walking out.  She wasn’t wearing any shoes and her hair was sloppily pulled back.  A cigarette dangled between her thick, pink lips and he presumed she was reaching into the long pocket of her sweatshirt for her lighter.  When her dark eyes lighted upon Brian, she became impressively still.  It was silent before she called, “Brian?”
He took a few steps closer.  “Hey Melissa,” he breathed.
Seemingly incredulous, her eyes shifted left and right.  Melissa asked, “What the hell are you doing here?”

Read. Comment. Share. ❤

On Hamlet and aging.

Today was a wonderfully lazy Saturday. I had a huge breakfast late in the day, after grading four classes worth of work and applying to five jobs. I went for a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the sunshine and breezes and got some writing done that wasn’t prompted, but came from my very own mind. Rather than completing a prompt, I’m going to share what I wrote with you, and would love for any kind of feedback or criticism you’d be willing to offer.

Enjoy!

🙂

Brian knew with certainty that he loved Melissa, but he didn’t know what to do with her. Brian didn’t even know if he had to do anything with her necessarily, but things had been stagnant for a while now. A better adjusted man would use the word “comfortable” instead of “stagnant.” With his elbows pointed and digging into his thighs, Brian dropped his head into his hands and deflated his lungs. He hated not knowing how he felt because it kept him from knowing what to do. He hated feeling like he had to do something. In his younger years, Brian had found his restlessness romantic, but now it was tiresome and depressing.
There was a loud and impatient knocking on the door. With his eyes closed, Bruce could easily see Penelope’s thin and bony and pronounced knuckles rapping against the wood. The wooden beaded bracelet she always wore on her right hand – her dominant hand, her knocking hand – would roll back and forth, very slightly, across her soft, smooth, pale skin. Every now and again, Brian would catch Penelope wince and curse under her breath because the common bracelet she loved so much would catch on the fine hair on her wrist and tug mercilessly. A hundred and one times, Brian suggested she move the piece of jewelry to her left hand, the hand she rarely used, so it could just sit and not pinch her at random moments. Penelope had nodded to be kind and to show she had heard, but she didn’t move the bracelet. Penelope was stubborn, but also loved the bracelet and could handle the pain.
Brian knew Penelope loved him like she loved the bracelet, but he wasn’t sure how that particular knowledge made him feel.
“Let’s go. Are you ready?” Penelope called. She sounded irritated.
Brian’s eyes popped open. “Yeah, I’m coming,” he answered. He rose to his feet amid popping joints, an auditory and physical reminder that he was getting old. Hell, he’d been getting old for years. For the first time, Brian considered the possibility he was old. He grabbed his dinner jacket that was hanging on a nearby chair and walked from the bedroom. He turned off the light as he left.

Well? What do you think?

Read. Comment. Share.

On delivering pizzas.

My little brother made his Confirmation today. It was a very nice ceremony, and I was happy to see so many students with their families. Afterwards, we had a nice pasta dinner.

I finished lesson plans, and plan to get my gradebook up and functioning this weekend.

I wish I had an update about the publishing of my manuscript, but alas; I am empty-handed. I sent in my unformatted manuscript so the editing process could begin and while that is underway, I am beginning to fill out the media forms. I am to provide the publishers with contact information for local media sources so the publishers can send out a press kit. It’s exciting but if I’m being honest, I’d rather be writing – just simply writing.

That being said, enjoy tonight’s prompt.

🙂

PROMPT: “Pizza Delivery Driver”
You’re a pizza delivery driver and it’s your last stop of the night. The house is on an unlit, unfamiliar street. As you ring the doorbell, you’re greeted by an unusual character who invites you in while he gets cash- and abruptly knocks you out cold. When you wake up, you’re tied to a chair. What happens next?

PIECE:

My eyes blinked slowly and out of sync. My left eyelid rose higher and just a moment before my right eyelid, so that it took a few blinks before the room surrounding me came into focus. At first, it was only two halves that my sluggish mind was having a hell of a time connecting. I went to bring my hands to my face to rub my palms up and down my cheeks in an effort to wake myself up, but my hands were tied securely behind me. The fear and implications of the realization were enough to jolt me to reality, and revitalize my lethargic senses. The room came into a startlingly specific kind of focus; the walls that were not quite white with the cobwebs hanging in the corners; the scratched, wooden floors that had probably been a point of pride some time long ago; the chair across from me; the emptiness of it all. I could find no identifying detail that would be used later to apprehend the individual who lived here, and who had clearly tied me to a chair.
I tried to recall what had happened. I was working at the local pizzeria, delivering pies for lackluster tips. My 1995 Ford Explorer was wheezing away from the pizzeria – and unknowingly away from the safe harbor there – towards an address I had never delivered to before. The rain had just let up and as I neared the destination, I let my foot off of the gas pedal so I was just rolling along, the rubber tires crunching against the damp pavement in the still night air. It was late, true, but it was eerily quiet. No one stirred, and there were no lights – not even lamps besides televisions that could just barely be seen through curtained living room windows. When I stopped outside 85 Potter Lane, the house was just as dark as the street and I debated on whether or not I should even get out of the truck, let alone walk up the driveway and knock. But I knew there was money to be made, cash to be in hand, so I willed the hair on my arms and neck to relax and headed for the front door. I knocked, and it sounded casual and sure.
That confidence with which I knocked quickly fed when the door opened and revealed a stooped, older man with delicate, fragile-looking hands that were clasped together and resting against his thin, frail chest. His hands were the first thing I noticed and from there, my eyes observed his dark blue velvet sweater, and loose jeans that had never been and never would be in style. He had no shoes to cover his wrinkled, nauseating feet and he was bald. I wonder if I observed everything I possibly could before meeting his eyes because in some unexplainable way, I knew it would be creepy. The lines were muted so that though he was older, his face did not show it. His eyes were nearly blank and unremarkable, as was his small and twitchy mouth. He smiled wide and it did nothing to disarm me. “Oh, pizza’s here,” he breathed. I could smell tuna and an abundance of patchouli – a combination that offended the nostrils and turned the stomach. “I just have to get some cash from my dresser. Won’t you come in?” He was still smiling.
I stepped in, smiling and holding the pizza box as if it ensured a barrier between the two of us. He shut the door behind me, and I silently prayed he would be quick in retrieving the money. I also scolded myself for my unwarranted feelings of distrust and hostility to this stranger who had so far been awkward and nothing more. Turning to look at a picture hanging on the nearest wall, the world fell to black.

I awoke tied to a chair, with only an empty chair before me to keep me company.

“You’re awake,” he breathed from somewhere close behind me. I couldn’t help it; I screamed and struggled against the ropes binding me.

“All the cash is in the car, and you can have all of it! Just let me go, please! Please don’t hurt me!” I screamed.

“I don’t want money,” he argued, sounding offended. “It’s not about what I want at all. It’s about what you want.”

“I don’t understand,” I readily admitted. Ignorance could translate to innocence.

“I saw you, looking around my home. You were looking to rob me, to take from my home!”

Clearly, this man was psychotic. “Sir, I was just looking around because there was nothing else to do! I swear, I had no intention of robbing you!”

“They sent you to spy on me, then.” He walked around the chair to stand before me, and his blank eyes were no wild. His hands were at his sides and his fists were clenched tightly. There was a palpable energy exuding from him, one of rage and paranoia. I swallowed hard.

“Sir,” I gasped, trying to relax and be rational, “I’m just a delivery guy. You ordered a pizza, so I brought it to your house. If you keep me here like this, you’re going to be in trouble.”

“Let them come,” he said. He seated himself in the empty chair opposite me. He leaned over to his left and pulled a knife that had been resting on the floor. Delicately, he placed it on his thigh and looked to me. “I’m not afraid anymore.”

My jaw dropped open and I screamed. What else could I do?
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On getting back up.

Okay – I know I promised myself that I would run while on vacation, and watch what I ate, and write every day. I also know that I did nothing of the sort. I am angry with myself, and I readily acknowledge that I am weak. But I simultaneously acknowledge that being weak is acceptable as long as I am not defined by my weakness. So here I am, trying again and for that, I am allowing myself a proverbial pat on the back.

Vacation was wonderful. I love my family and the time we spend together. I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my younger brother and was enamored with the theme park. My younger brother was a trooper, taking pictures and following me around as I flitted from attraction to attraction. He allowed me to be a nerdy, immature young woman and I love him for it. Clearly, the day we spent together was my favorite part of the entire vacation.

I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert at Madison Square Garden on Monday, April 9th. It was exhilarating, and most likely the closest I’ll ever come to having a religious experience. It inspired me to start work on a story involving an older musician coming to terms with his mortality despite the protests of his young lover and indifference of his numbed wife. What do you think? The inspiration is obvious, but I’m still working with the characters and themes, trying to twist them into something new, original and thrilling.

I was the candidate chosen for the maternity leave at the high school. I’m teaching senior English, and one section of creative writing. It is amazing, and I am incredibly excited. It hasn’t truly sunk in yet, and I need to be more disciplined in my lesson planning and classroom management. I’ve been so busy and tired that I’ve been letting things slide; for example, my first day in the classroom was yesterday, and immediately after school I had a final interview with the superintendent at the Board of Education office, then home instruction and then Confirmation practice with my younger brother. I did not get home until 8:00PM. Today, I taught, attended the faculty meeting, home instructed and now here I am, ready to write.

🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

PROMPT: “Inspiring Books.”
As writers, we all love to read good books for inspiration. What book inspired you as a writer and why?

PIECE:
I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the tenth grade, when I was fifteen-years-old. I had never experienced love that was reciprocated, but it was the only thing I wanted and something that I still yearn for. I would do anything, be anyone and commit any crime to have a hand reach for mine out of desire. I thought I had that my sophomore year, but it all came crashing down around me the way things seem to do in high school. The boy didn’t like me; he just liked the attention that I freely gave. When I read Fitzgerald’s classic, I totally empathized with Jay Gatsby and intrinsically believed that novel was written specifically for me. It was that universality – though it is a dangerous term to use – that helped me to realize that I was not crazy or melodramatic, but human and that is a story worth telling. I gained so much confidence and comfort in Gatsby’s desperation and heartbreak and demise, and fell in love with the craft because of its possibilities as presented in The Great Gatsby. It truly is the great American novel.

On pulling pranks.

Today has been uneventful thus far, but tonight is going to be nothing short of spectacular; I’m going to a Bruce Springsteen concert at Madison Square Garden with Eric and Maeve. 🙂

THE PROMPT: “Best Prank”
What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled on someone?

THE PIECE:
I’ve never really pulled a prank on anyone; I’m not the best at keeping secrets. My twin sister, on the other hand, is very adept at this skill. She scares the hell out of all of us on a daily basis, hiding in and springing from closets, creeping in doorways. She pulls pranks often, but the best she ever did was on April Fool’s Day last year. She convinced my mother and myself that my mother’s sister was pregnant, despite her age, her husband having had a vasectomy and the lack of desire to have any more children. My mom was beside herself, wondering if her sister had cheated on her husband, if her husband knew about the pregnancy and what it all would mean for the family. I remember standing in the bathroom before the large mirror on the wall to the right, just repeating, “Poor Pam.” The whole thing was a lie, and my twin sister was quite pleased with herself. She deserved the pat on the back, though; well-played.