Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Improper Poll: Driven to Distraction

I’ve been feeling somewhat peevish, so I’ve decided to cover peeves in the next few weeks. Is that exciting, or what? So allow me to begin with Traffic Peeves. Sad to say I have only too many of those, but this one is inspired by something that happened Friday on my way home from work. Then in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be moving on to General Public Peeves and possibly Grammatical Peeves. So prepare your peeves!

This Traffic Peeve actually has three parts. No, wait—four. Part I is that the sirens on police cars in my area really are not audible until the cruiser is right next to you. Ambulance and fire trucks are audible, but police cars seem not to be. However, those redblueredblue lights are visible, and that’s how I first detected this one, flashing in my rear-view mirror in the other lane several cars behind me.

So I pulled over to allow him to pass. By the way, this was at the start of rush hour, since rush hour seems to start so early these days. But here’s Part II of the peeve: no one else pulled over even when he was right there and they could obviously hear the siren. In fact, it looked like no one was even willing to pull into the slow lane to let him pass. And there were a lot of cars.

I’m not being holier-than-anyone, either. Honestly, I almost didn’t pull over myself just because no one else did. I hate to admit that, but for a second it actually crossed my mind that maybe someone had changed the rule and I’d missed it.

But here is Part III of the peeve. When I did pull to the side of the road, the woman behind me honked. At me. And she kept it up until after the cop car had passed, so it couldn’t have been that she didn’t see him. This was no little honk, either. This was a what-the-heck-are-you-doing-you-idiot honk, accompanied by flailing arms. To which I flailed back even more angrily. I pointed to the police car. I pointed to the side of the road. I shook my head sadly (which has been my favorite traffic gesture ever since someone used it on me when I was a teenager, but which once almost got me attacked in a genuine instance of road rage; but that’s for another time).

I have to wonder if her own mistake finally hit her, because I noticed she abruptly stopped gesturing and honking. Then she actually stopped riding my bumper after that.

Or maybe she was afraid I’d come after her. Part IV of my peeve is me. I should have ignored her or maybe just done the Sad Head Shake. I don’t like it when I allow other people’s stupidity to have any effect on me.

What’s your worst traffic peeve?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sub Notes: The Boy Who Died Outside My Window

I did not see the boy die, and I will forever be glad of that. What I saw—what was almost surreal—was the rescue chopper. Today’s schools are often built almost without windows (literally prison-style) in order to avoid distractions. But this was years ago, and beyond the wall of classroom windows, about 40 feet away, was the Flight for Life helicopter landing in the parking lot.

When I hear the phrase, “snuffed out,” I think of this boy. Sometimes I wonder how long he pondered the decision to huff Freon. Minutes? Seconds? Regardless, I imagine that his last deciding breath was his last one altogether. And then that presumably strong, healthy boy was snuffed with a sniff, blown out with a breath.

I’ve heard that it happens that way with inhalants—that you are stopped. Ended. Frozen, almost, which I suppose has a horrifying appropriateness in the case of Freon.

I think sometimes about how abruptly and unexpectedly life can end. I heard rumors about how hard they tried to restart his heart. I know they were there in the parking lot for most of the class period. Until at last the helicopter rose to the sky in no particular hurry.

I wish I could stop messing up but I don’t know how. What is it that mends broken people? Jesus? Chocolate? New shoes? I wish someone could tell me. I wish I had an answer. Once I asked Nathan what the answer was. I thought he might know, considering all he’s been through [the holocaust], but he told me I would have to find it for myself. That everybody has to. ~Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Improper Poll: The Nekid Truth

Don’t blame me for this. Blame Linda of Write from the Heart for writing from the funny bone a couple of months ago about the first time she saw a naked man. Her description of Bazooka Joe is hysterical.

So I confessed that, since I came from a family of sisters and was not even remotely privy to male privates, I once studied a picture in a figure drawing book with increasing confusion until I realized much later that what I’d been sneaking peeks of had in reality been…a fig leaf. (This was a black and white drawing, by the way. If the leaf had been green, I would have had a clue. Or maybe not.)

Never fear—I did not give up on my pursuit of the personal parts! Much later I discovered a big sister’s copy of The Godfather (I think) in our attic and read a description so terrifying that I would say that prose alone did more to protect my virtue than pretty much anything else. So yet one more reason to be a reader! What I pictured was very angry and not of this world and could have starred in its own horror flick.

Eventually my best friend and I got to talking, and she ended up stealing her big sister’s ID in order to buy me a copy of a “Playgirl” magazine.

I mean no insult to the male gender when I say that being underwhelmed can be good.  Whew.

Did you have any interesting thoughts on the other side’s nether sides?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Blurb Friday #59

Could it be? It is! It's Book Blurb Friday! Every week, Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff posts a meme with a picture for a pretend book jacket. Our challenge is to write a blurb of 150 words or fewer to go with it. My blurb has 150 words.

~Riley was Here~

Sweet little Riley Kiley was not like other nine-year-old children. From the time he stopped breathing when he was five, he began talking to an invisible friend named Bosco. And when Riley talked to Bosco, he always seemed to slip out somehow and disappear. For three minutes and fourteen seconds at a time. Always left in his place was his penguin, Gwen. Riley said Gwen was Bosco’s promise that he was coming back.

How did he do it? No one—even the child psychologist assigned to work with him—could figure it out. Cameras in his vicinity at the time always seemed to go dead.

Then one day Riley told his parents that Bosco had something important to say…and he wasn’t back in three minutes. Or three days. Where was he? The press caught wind of his story, and the people began to gather, hoping for more than one miracle.

The unkown is something not yet found. ~James Van Praagh, Talking to Heaven

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Improper Poll: The Mall Creature

I didn’t know from what hole the thing had crawled, but it was clearly not of this world. The hands were small and human, but the head was nothing short of disturbing. It was enormous and loomed above me with a perpetually grinning, funhouse mouth that stayed frozen when it talked with its too-happy girl voice like some great, furry pink mutation. The thought of this freakish hybrid sneaking around my house in the middle of the night hiding anything—even baskets of candy—was terrifying.

Bad enough they dragged you every December to sit on some strange, hairy man who smelled of sweat and old wool and moth balls. I told my mother that this creature didn’t look at all like the Easter Bunny, and no way was I going near it, least of all to sit on its lap. Then I dug in my new patent leather Mary Janes and braced for the fight.

But to my absolute shock, my mother agreed. Then she laughed. It was creepy, she giggled, and she was sure the real Easter Bunny didn’t look at all like that. So we turned [cotton] tail and left.

To this day, this is one of my best holiday memories ever, allowing Easter to remain a pure, no-frills holiday that brought lovely things, like candy you didn’t have to ring doorbells for and tiny daffodils and crocus that sprouted along the church sidewalk. And those hats, like sailboats for your head with kite tails that blew in the cool spring wind.

Happy Easter.  Do you have a favorite Easter or spring memory?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Blurb Friday #58

How quickly the week goes! Every Friday, Lisa Ricard Claro of Writing in the Buff posts a meme with a picture for a pretend book jacket. Our challenge is to write a blurb of 150 words or fewer to go with it. My blurb has 150 words.

~So, Like, Over the Moon~
By Stuffeny Mayer

You loved reading the first book in Stuffeny Mayer’s new series about Jacob and Renesme, The Cow Jumped Over the Moon:

“Dude, your prom date smells like vampire.”
“That’s not vampire; I think her diaper needs changing.”

And you clamored for more in Shoot the Moon, when Jacob and Renesme have their baby, Isadorbell (named after Bella and Jacob’s mother, Dora), and Jacob contracts distemper and fails to phase completely, leaving his bare human buttocks exposed when he becomes a wolf.

Now you will enjoy Stuffeny’s last in the Full Moon Series, So, Like, Over the Moon, where Renesme finds out that her accelerated aging continues until she is seven, which is the equivalent of 49 human years…leaving her in eternal menopause.

Now her hot flashes are even too much for Jacob, he is perpetually in the doghouse, and he’s afraid that his wife will bite his head off. Literally.

Take this letter that I give you/ Take it sonny, hold it high/ You won’t understand a word that’s in it/ But you’ll write it all again before you die ~Queen, “Father to Son” (from Queen II, one of the best albums ever made)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Improper Poll: No Foolin’

Don’t get me wrong—I can be plenty foolish. But I am sadly bereft of April Fooling talents. The best I ever did was pretend to be The State Messy-Desk Inspector for my sister’s fourth grade class. I was in costume, though one astute kid did notice there was no glass in my horn-rimmed glasses.

And it was probably very bad karma for me since I always had one of the messiest desks in grade school myself. Still do.

Friday at school, an eighth-grader asked me when April first was. Was it Monday? You could hear the hope in his voice. Those cogs were turning. The pranking ones. This is one holiday kids hope falls on a school day because of course it’s way more fun to fool teachers and other students than your little brother, for whom fooling is a daily occurrence. Plus chances are, little brothers know all of your tricks.

Do you have an April Fools prank?