Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Into the Pensieve, IV

She never laughed so much
as when she lounged
with her three sisters,
around the oval Formica table
in the 1950s kitchen of
her parents' house.
Or on the cushions of the decrepit porch swing,
covered with scratchy vinyl flowers,
that rested against the back wall of the garage.
It stood there for eons,
imitating the same stance
her father did in his recliner.

No matter how frustrating
a sister can be--
and believe me I should know--
there's a palpable feeling
of being alive when
your sisters are physically with you,
close enough to touch,
to hug,
to tease.

Bright smiles, loud snorts,
rays of fervent, positive energy
filled the scene,
already redolent with scents
of baking and summer rain.
Vibrant, pulsating, waves of joy
pummeled against anyone
who dared enter into that kitchen.
Usually, we walked right back out. 

It would seem, I think now,
in those thunderous moments with her sisters,
and in the tranquil ones that always followed,
that all was right with the world.
Both theirs
and hers.

But pockets of time are just that:
single slices that we fold into our lives,
hoping that we can spread them out,
thin and unblemished,
like the dough her mother made for pie.
And like that pie,
the pockets get eaten by life
and everything that goes along with it.
So that in the end,
when she returned to her daily life,
not a single crumb remained.

Until the next time the four convened.
When she'd lean in,
towards the other three,
and savor the warmth,
the raucous fun,
those ephemeral junctures of time.
She'd take them back home with her,
and bring them out,
hoping they'd stayed slightly intact,
for the instant that she needed them.
I wonder now
if she remembers those days.

(The drawing above is from Claudia Tremblay's original watercolor and can be found here.) 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Kitty Cuteness, XVII

Seventeen episodes of Kitty Cuteness, oh my! I can't believe it's been so long since I posted some pictures of my favorite felines, but it has been. Mea culpa.

Today, I have pictures the girls took. They are much better photographers than I am and somehow, seem to capture more of the cats' characteristics than I do.

Benedict is an odd cat. He could be looking at someone right now, or, he could be contemplating life.
Arnold sits in front of our window, looking at what? There's nothing but an expanse of carpet below him.
Here Benedict contemplates the charger and ear buds. I'm surprised he's not batting them around.
I think this is Heathcliff...
This IS Heathcliff, in all his majestic glory.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Less is Sometimes More

I love description. In fact, authors who use description in the proper way allow me, the reader, to see the scene, to immerse myself in the writing, and to be present in the story.

That's the beauty of choosing the right details to include in your story.

But more always means better, right?

Not so fast.

The other day I received a piece via email and sat down to edit it. Within the first paragraph, the author had plans to take me on a journey down a river. I was excited! I couldn't wait to see if the banks of the river were made of sand, silt, mud, or grasses. I wanted to know what the foliage looked like and whether or not the fauna and insects seemed familiar to me.


But by sentence number two, I found myself mentally tripping over the multitude of words and having to go back to the beginning to read what was written. The similes and metaphors tried too hard, and the adjectives and adverbs were far too many.
Exhibit A: Majestic gray Barnacle geese with thin, spotted, twig-like legs moved quietly among the long, brown, tail-like thrushes all while a woman--young with blond curls, willowy limbs, and azure eyes, a college student perhaps--sat on the silty warm banks of the 100-year-old ancient river.

Exhibit B: Dressed in tall, black riding boots and a gray-green oversize camouflage sweatshirt leftover from his college days, he walked quickly without noise to the side of the brown, muddy, murky river. Peering into the depths of the dark, dank water, he noticed how much the choppy liquid looked like his mother's coffee. 
Reading those sentences again, you might wonder how I'd fix them, right? I mean, they do give a nice picture of where the character is. And while writing is very subjective, too many words are simply too many. This is what I'd do.
Exhibit A: Majestic gray Barnacle geese with thin, spotted, twig-like legs moved quietly slipped among the long, brown, tail-like thrushes all while a woman--young with blond curls, willowy limbs, and azure eyes, a college student perhaps--sat on the silty warm banks of the 100-year-old ancient river.
The changes aren't much. I've simply removed unnecessary words. After all, twig-like implies thin, tail-like implies long, and if something has celebrated 100 birthdays, I think it's safe to say that you don't also need to use the word ancient.

Moving quietly can be replaced with a more descriptive (and adverb-free) word like slipped. Furthermore, I don't think that blond curls, willowy limbs, and azure eyes necessarily conjure college students, so if that girl is indeed a college student, the author should find another spot in the narrative to give us clues that tell us that fact.

The same technique can be applied to the second sentence as well.
Exhibit B: Dressed in tall, black riding boots and an gray-green oversize camouflage sweatshirt leftover from his college days, he darted walked quickly without noise to the side of the brown, muddy, murky river. Peering into the depths of the dark, dank water, he noticed how much the choppy liquid looked like his mother's coffee. (?)
I cut out unnecessary adjectives and replaced a verb-adverb combination with a better word choice, but here, we also find something that happens often in writing. The use of a simile (or metaphor) that just doesn't work for the reader. In my opinion, dark, choppy water never will be compared to smooth, warm coffee, even if his mother's coffee stinks.

In fact, as I publish this post, I'm still thinking about the best way to replace that simile.



Many writers get the description right. Pick up a book you think is well-written and pull out a paragraph. I'm betting you find yourself inside that story so fast, you won't know what hit you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

These Things I Know, III

These days, when I get up in front of a class and try to tell the students something and what I want to say doesn't quickly come to mind, I think to myself, "What do I know? Do I really know anything? And even if I know anything, how do I not know that Alzheimer's isn't already rearing it's ugly face."

And I go back to thinking about all these things that I know.

I write better when my computer sits on the dining room table and I'm facing west. I don't know exactly why that is the case, but I suspect that it has to do with the way the light comes into the room.

One of my writing group friends had a breakthrough moment last night, and I hope that her last day of spring break is filled with a multitude of words.

The Simpsons' writers are nothing short of geniuses. Really.

Certain people are meant to exist in your life only for a short time. It is okay to dispose of them when the relationship is no longer meaningful to you.

I like Superman ice cream.


I took a long time to get an iPhone, but that same phone that I resisted has been very useful.

I have some of the coolest kids on the planet. (Yes, I'm biased, and that's okay.) My nieces are pretty cool, too.


Those kids, including my niece (but especially MY brood), talk a lot. And I mean, a lot. At least when they're with me.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Creativity Fails

My children love to create objects: with paint, pencils, clay, play dough. You name it, they will use it.

Yesterday morning, Aaron and Melina decided to manipulate some clay into a few objects they wanted to play with.


I can't remember the name of this guy, but Aaron made him look exactly the way he should look.

Melina wanted a snail. She attempted the task once and turned to me. I found a YouTube video and made this.
"And now, can we bake them?" Aaron asked.

"I don't think this is oven-bake clay," I replied.

"It is," he assured me.

"Really?" I had my doubts.

But I went ahead and placed these two creatures, along with a bowl that Talia had made for Melina, into the oven.



As I suspected. The clay was NOT safe for the oven. Only the white hardened in the heat.

Another good lesson learned here: always listen to your mother--she's probably right.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lyric Lover, VII

The last Lyric Lover post was dedicated to all the people who needed a pick me up. Sadly, I'm now in that camp. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it has to do with the following: we've been sick as of late, I haven't run as much as I would have liked, and I'm tired of my job. Yes, that's right. I want a new job and I'm actually looking for a brand new one. (So, if you know of any places of employment that want a person who loves to edit and write and who might not have that much experience but does have a passion for editing and writing, send them my way. Please.)

Anyway, I have found that anytime this song comes on the radio, I'm dancing in my seat. And any song that can get me smiling and moving is a pretty good song in my opinion.

Plus, I do love the lyrics.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Addendum, III

Marissa sat, cemented to the seat of her car, trying to decide whether or not to go into her parents' house.

She'd always hated that house--the muddy siding and dark rooms never welcomed her in--and she'd much rather sit in the warmth of the summer sun than walk into whatever waited for her inside. Although she couldn't be completely certain, she was pretty sure the two scenarios she envisioned were both something she really could live without.

And what did she envision?

An irate husband, one who had convinced himself she'd been unfaithful last winter, even though she hadn't, and a mother who couldn't acknowledge that times had changed, that she needed help.

She imagined them sitting at the mahogany dining table, fingers wrapped around condensation-laced glasses of lemonade, whispers of the television in the background. Both of them with legs crossed and eyebrows furrowed, waiting for the moment Marissa opened the sliding door.

Yeah, I could use a little more time to just breathe, Marissa thought, as she pulled the keys from the ignition and pushed them into the zippered pouch of her purse. She'd leave the doors of the car unlocked for later, when she would most likely be called to do some errand or another for her folks.

She'd been asked to do many things for them lately--trips to the grocery store or pharmacy were the most probable--but she'd also transported her mother to buy cigarettes. Gosh darn, what had she been thinking, enabling her mother to kill herself? Of course, which option would be worse: lung cancer or Alzheimer's? Marissa couldn't honestly say.

Shutting the door as quietly as she could behind her, she walked slowly, hoping to burn up some time. A shrill whistle flew over her shoulder and into her ear, and she turned her head toward the sound. There, leaning against the old maple on the side yard, was Luke.

Shit. What was he doing here again? And did her husband realize that Luke was here?

"Hey." Marissa fiddled with a stray hair that had escaped the messy knot at the back of her head. Luke made her nervous, he always did. One word was all she could muster at a time, at least for now.

"Hey back to you, Marissa. You're looking well." Brown eyes lit up as she approached him and he pushed off the tree with his hands.

"Looking well, Luke? In whose universe? Don't try to butter me up. What do you want and why are you here?"

Marissa placed her hand above her eyes, trying to block the sun so she could see Luke's face. Not that she really needed to see it. He'd been her everything for over five years. She had his face memorized and hadn't forgotten a single bit of it, despite having been married to Trevor for so long.

Crap, even now, she could feel the blush rushing through her cheeks. Maybe the slant of the sun would prevent him from seeing it. A girl could hope, right?

"I'm here to see you, of course." Luke came close. Too close, really, and Marissa backed up by a step or two. Just like she knew he would, he then stepped closer. The scent of his cologne wafted by on the slight breeze, which caused a shiver to run up and down Marissa's spine. She felt trapped, ensared by an unseen force, and it wasn't a completely unpleasant feeling.

To be continued...


Friday, March 18, 2016

To-do List

You can find this all over the internet. Choose the one you want and just go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Think Think Think

Last Friday, I subbed for a seventh grade math teacher. I've subbed for her before, and she knows I enjoy teaching seventh grade math. So when she needs to take a day off, she leaves me with a lesson plan, one that requires me to actually teach. I love days like that because I have trouble sitting still and as much as I love to read a book, babysitting a classroom isn't all that much fun.

Mrs. T's day is full of regular seventh grade math with a one period of pre-algebra. These are the kids who get math pretty quickly and do well at it, and will be ready to take algebra in eighth grade. But despite their innate ability to catch onto the concepts, they still have trouble thinking for themselves.

Exhibit A: Unable to answer the questions; unable to show the work.
Me: How do you do this problem? Would you like to tell me?
Her: Well, I know the answer, but I didn't write down the answer.
Me: How did you do the problem then?
Her: I did it in my head.
Me: Can you tell me how you did it?
Her: Uh, no.
Some of these students can do mental math and get the correct answer. Others, like this girl in particular, didn't even get the correct answer using mental math. Neither did the guy in the front row who said the same thing to me.
Me: Can anyone else tell us how to do this problem?
Him: I didn't get it right and I did it in my head, too.
Me: You know, as you move onto algebra and beyond, and even now, you need to prove that you can do the math. You need to show your teacher what you know. Write it down, people! Always write down what you're doing.
We then when through the correct steps and by the end of the lesson, the students seemed to understand what I was saying.
http://www.newhopetutorials.org/pre-algebra-1/

Exhibit B: Doesn't want to answer the question; is too lazy to answer the question.
Me: Okay, let's fill in the blank here for this definition of sector.
Them: Well the teacher usually just tells us and we fill it in.
Me: Well, I'm doing it a little different today. You're all pretty good at math. I think if you read this out loud, you can think about the question and come up with the answer.
Them: Groan.
Me: Thinking. Yep, I'm making you think. 
I write this post somewhat in jest, but that concept--making a student think and do the work for themselves--is the single most common issue I run into both while subbing and teaching at the college level. I might be the only adult to have made them think that day. And that's not a pat on my back, that's simply a reminder to myself to keep doing what I'm doing. That way, I'll remember to ask my own children to think, too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You Can't Win Everything

Around these parts, the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition is a big deal. Erma lived in the Dayton region and wrote for several Dayton area papers for years (her column eventually went into national syndication). Every two years, a writing workshop is held in her name. The workshop is so popular it sells out in hours. But you can win the competition and get the chance to go, too.

In past years, I haven't entered the writing contest. First off, I'm not funny. Secondly, I don't write shorts (under 450 words). This year, however, an event happened one day and I thought to myself, "Yes. Let's write that up and submit it."

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I didn't win the contest. And truthfully, I didn't expect to.

(You can see who won here.)

But I received an email from one of the coordinators yesterday which read:
I am writing to tell you that your essay “Be Careful What You Wish For” advanced to the final round of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition in the Local Humor category and received some constructive comments from the judges.
Oh cool, I thought. Glad to know that someone liked my writing.
Would have been a 10 if the writer hadn't spent so much time building the premise and stopping right at the joke. I want to know what Tim did with the measuring cup.
Yes. I agree with the first half of the comment. I DID spend too much time building to the premise. I should have cut to the chase a little quicker. This comment is constructive and will help me with my writing down the road.

But what Tim did with the measuring cup has no bearing on the story. Which means that the reader didn't really get the piece, and so I'm more than inclined to believe that despite what the reader says, it probably didn't belong in the final round.

And that self-depracating feeling was backed up by the next comment:
I like the twist at the ending. I like that "the joke" is on her. More humor is necessary to make the jump from mundane to mirth.
Exactly right. This mundane moment could have been made so much funnier, and in Erma's capable and imaginative hands, I'm sure it would have been. But I'm no Erma. That much is clear.

The email ended with the following words:
I hope this brings a smile to your face this morning. Again, congratulations, and please enter the competition again in 2018!
I have to be honest: the words did bring a smile to my face. And even though that's all I got from this competition. I'll take it. Smiles are sometimes hard to come by these days.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Believe

This month, my book club chose to read Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I knew nothing of the book, nor of the author, besides her name. The novel tells the story of Kambili and Jaja, two teenagers being raised in contemporary Nigeria by a dictatorial father and a traditional mother. But the story is more complicated than that. This coming-of-age novel is rooted both in the Nigerian culture and as well as the political dissonance at the time. In the end, I enjoyed the novel and I found myself, as I always do, highlighting passages that spoke to me.

One passage in particular stood out.
It was what Aunty Ifeoma did to my cousins, I realized then, setting higher and higher jumps for them in the way she talked to them, in what she expected of them. She did it all the time, believing they would scale the rod. And they did. It was different for Jaja and me. we did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't. (p.226)
We did not scale the rod because we believed we could, we scaled it because we were terrified that we couldn't.

You can find this photo here.
How many of us can attest to living our lives that way? Not doing something because we're confident in our abilities, but because we simply are too afraid to fail?

The outcome may be the same, yes, but the journey getting to that outcome will be completely different.

I plan on making sure that from now on, I scale every rod because I believe that I can.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Listening Skills, II

Sometimes, the fewer words the better.

Let's ruminate on that thought for this weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Addendum, II

Marissa wasn't worried. Even though she'd been telling her Dad for two years to get his mole checked, she knew it probably wasn't metastatic melanoma. She wasn't sure how she knew, but she just did. But if it she was wrong, well, he was over 80 years old and had lived a good life. Not that she wanted to be callous about the situation, but in her line of work, she'd seen sadder stories than her father's.

"What else do you know, Dad?"

"Not much. They didn't tell me anything."

"Well did you ask for the pathology report?" Marissa shuffled some items on her desk, searching for Trevor's itinerary. He was due in from the airport this afternoon, and she didn't want to make him wait for a ride. If she wasn't mistaken, she'd need to leave soon, and therefore, she needed to quickly end this conversation with her father.

"No, I didn't ask for the pathology report."

"Why not?"

"I just didn't."

Marissa adjusted the phone against her shoulder and moved a piece of hair that had fallen into her face. She swallowed the words she wanted to say: Haven't I taught you anything? But she knew that her wise-ass remark would fall on deaf ears.

"Okay, Dad. Let me see what I can do for you. We don't know anything until we get the path report. But in order for me to see it, to help you out, you have to go down to the doctor's office and sign the paper that allows them to release information to you and to me. Can you do that?"

"It's only a mile away."

You didn't answer my questions, jackass. "That's great. So can you go?"

"I guess so. What do I say?"

"You ask for the release of information paper and then add me to it. Better yet, add David and Dominic, too. Then any of us can call and get information for you."

"Okay, Marissa. That's a great idea."

I know, she wanted to say. I'm full of great ideas, if you just listened. But now was not the time to take up an argument with her father. She had her hands full enough with her marriage and getting to the airport on time.

"Listen, Dad. I need to go."

"Oh sure. I know you do. You're always so busy. Sorry to bother you. See you soon."

As Marissa hit the End button on her phone, she realized something: she'd crumble under the weight of her marriage or under the guilt placed upon her by her dad. She just wasn't sure which one would get to her first.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Germ Nation

My household is harboring germs right now. Some of those germs actually cause Influenza A (yep, she tested positive) and other germs, well...I'm not sure what they cause. But whatever it is, it ain't pretty. Aaron stayed home one day last week and now is home again. Zoe was out one day, and Tim has taken two and a half days off due to whatever crud is lingering inside his body.

And now, I have something.

What is it? Not sure. But my head is beating like a drum, even though a drum cannot beat itself, right? You can see where I am. My similes are so bad, I should quit writing.

So I will. Instead, I'll post a few funny flu/cold memes.





That last one? I'm about to that point. We've been lucky this school year, but when we get hit, we get hit. And now, I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#OneDayIWill

I woke up to find that it's International Women's Day. And while I have so many words I could use to write something eloquent about this day and what it means to me, life has been a bit crazy here lately, and I simply don't have the time to do so.

But I stumbled across this picture a friend had posted, and realized that the sentiment it holds can go along with Google's campaign to share #OneDayIWill moments in celebration of today.


Google's doodle today links to a YouTube video that shares many #OneDayIWill ideas from across the globe. The answers span everything from playing in the Major Leagues to becoming an astronaut to traveling the world.

My biggest #OneDayIWill dream is, of course, to publish my novels.

What's yours?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Beware of Talking Heads

I love Talking Heads, at least when I'm speaking about music. If you're not sure who Talking Heads are--yeah, I'm looking at all you young ones out there--then take some time to listen to their classic song, Psycho Killer:



But of course, I digress.

The talking heads I don't like are not the musical group but characters in a story, engrossed in dialogue, and the only things the author has given to me are the words of the conversation. No setting. No gestures. Nothing that grounds me, as the reader, in the scene.

I'd love to give you an example from one of the books I read recently, but if I did that, I'd out the writer and I don't really feel like doing that at the moment.

So here's what I will do. I'll pull out a conversation from the novel closest to me right now, and take out anything from the scene except the dialogue. (Here's hoping that the book I choose is well-written, right?)

Just to quench your curiosity, I'm taking an excerpt from The Sin-Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury. This scene comes from p. 87.
"Twylla. I hope I find you well. I have obtained special permission from the queen to escort you to the portrait gallery while the servants prepare your room. Your guard will remain here to supervise the arrangements."

"Twylla? Are you ready?"

"Yes."

"It's fine, Twylla. Please, go on."
That's it. We have no context clues to let us know what the people are doing or who they are. Granted, if we're on p. 87 of a book, we presumably know who the characters are and where they might be, but when written correctly, we, as the reader, gain a richness of scene that isn't present in the above example. Talking heads. Two of them.

Now let's see the version that's in the published edition of the book:

"Twylla," he greets me, and I drop into a bow. "I hope I find you well. I have obtained special permission from the queen to escort you to the portrait gallery while the servants prepare your room. Your guard will remain here to supervise the arrangements."

My mouth falls open and the prince bites his lower lip as it begins to curve upward. I blink at him, unsure whether I heard him rightly.

"Twylla?" he says when I continue to stare at him in awe. "Are you ready?"

"Yes," I nod shakily, pulling myself together. He doesn't offer me his arm; instead he gestures for me to leave before him. I hesitate, unwilling to present my back to him, but he nods.

"It's fine, Twylla. Please, go on."
In this version, we've gained a plethora of details. We are reminded that the man talking is royalty (since Twylla bows to him). We know the prince smiles at Twylla and that she is surprised by what he says to her. And we know that she's hesitant to go with him and that perhaps, she doesn't quite trust him. While we don't really know Twylla's reasons for hesitating, reading on in the book will probably reveal the issue. Salisbury managed to help me go from two talking heads to "seeing" the characters as if in a play or a movie. This question remains though: Is it enough?

I don't have the answer, but apparently, C.S. Lakin does. In fact, if you go check out this post, she'll show you how it's really done with a technique called a THAD (Talking Heads Avoidance Device). The device was first conceived by Elizabeth George, but Lakin does a beautiful job explaining what it is and how to use it, and she includes a descriptive, useful example.

Having read the post, I know I have a lot of work cut out for me. But seriously, what good writer doesn't?

Happy Writing!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Easy Banana Muffins

Many times I post a recipe here because I want to save that recipe. That's what I'm doing today.

I looked up "Easy Banana Muffins" because I really didn't want to use my same old muffin recipe and I had, as usual, a ton of bananas. Well the recipe I found was a hit with the kids. And anyone who has kids knows that if a recipe is deemed more than acceptable, you stick with it. So I'll be putting this recipe into the "what to do with old bananas" rotation.

(If you want to see the original recipe, you can find it here.)

Ingredients:
3 large bananas
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg (slightly beaten)

1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional, but I used it)

1 cup milk chocolate chips

What to do:
  1. Mash the bananas and add the sugar and the egg.
  2. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon into medium size muffin pan (lined or greased).
  6. Bake 20 minutes at 350F degrees - 375F degrees.

(I realize that not all of you loyal readers enjoy bananas. The next time I decide to make muffins, I'll take that thought into consideration and search out a different type of muffin.)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ultimatum

He sat at the head of the table,
telling me his story,
as if he knew I would write down
all the little details
of what he had to say. 

Maybe, he said,
this--all these words--
will mean something to you.

He arched his eyebrows
and sipped his steaming coffee. 
He shook his head and spoke. 

I was so cold, he said.
I used to sit,
shivering in my chair,
both sets of legs
trembling.
I'd watch my fingernails turn
from soft pink to vibrant blue,
but still,
she wouldn't budge.

The money,
she'd say,
think of the money we're saving.
And I'd think to myself, 
what about my sanity?
Isn't my sanity important to you? 

Good point,
I interjected. 
She couldn't see it that way,
at least not at first, he replied.

And so each night, after work,
I trudged to the library,
where I'd spend many a warm hour.
Unfurling my fingers.
Breathing in warm air.
Living.

And at that moment, he said,
as he leaned in over the table 
and caught my gaze,
I realized that my quality of life suffered 
by her desire to keep the 
temperature so low. 
Either the temperature went up,
or I would leave.

What happened then? I asked as
he tapped the mug 
and shrugged his shoulders.

She acquiesced, he said. 
We moved the thermostat up
by four degrees.


Four degrees.
Enough to make a difference? I asked.
Yes. 
Just enough to make a difference.
I wasn't cold anymore.
 
But I often wonder what my life would be like,
if she had simply said no
 to my ultimatum.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Realist

He calls only when he needs something. An explanation. A favor. She finds herself cringing when the caller ID shows his number. Can I not take this call? She tosses the thought around in her head. Her husband knows what she is contemplating and tells her to ignore the call. "I can't," she says and  shakes her head. "I just can't."

Visibly wincing as she says hello, she wonders what it will be this time. Do they need a place to stay for the night? Does he have a question about some medicine that he's been prescribed?

"Hey, do you have a minute?" he asks.

"Sure," she says and sits back against the recliner.

"I need you to do something for me."

I knew it, she thinks and looks over to her husband, who flashes a quick smile. He can't hear the conversation, but again, he knows. He's been through this with her for the last several years.

"What do you need?"

"I went to lunch with Mr. Dotson the other day. He said he knew of some guy, working on a cure for leukemia."

She blows warm air out between her teeth and keeps listening.

"I have the information here. Can you do a little research over the next couple of days?"

She vowed last week, when he didn't listen to what she had to say and dismissed her sister's ability to do her job, to stay out of his life. "He doesn't need us," she'd said to her sister. "He wants us to do his dirty work, but really, he can fend for his own life. He's an adult."

But here she is, on the end of the line, contemplating a yes, affirming that she will help him. How can she not? It's so difficult to say no to someone intertwined in your life like he is.

"All right. Give me a few days." She jots down the information he gives her: the name of the doctor, where he works, what the name of the website is. She's happy he can't see her as she rolls her eyes.

"Sounds fine. Thank you. Tell the kids we said hi, and we'll be in touch."

She presses the end button on the phone and slams her hand onto the table.

"All my life," she yells to the walls, the children, the animals, anyone and anything in the room. "All my life he's told me to be a realist. To keep my head out of the clouds. That there's no place for a dreamer in this world." She sucks in a breath, readying herself to go on. "I'm sure what he said influenced my career path, you know? I'd have seriously considered being a writer, but I thought it wouldn't pay the bills...it was too much of a pipe dream."

The room and everyone in it stand at attention, waiting for her to continue. They aren't sure what she's going to say, only that she needs to say it.

"And now, he decides it's okay to dream? He thinks that a prayer and a cure will be found like that..." She snaps her fingers. "...and he'll be able to go on with his life, and she'll go on with hers, just like they always did. Prayer, I get that. I believe in the power of prayer. But a cure? He's not going to see it in his lifetime! She's not going to see it in hers. Realist my ass."

The group lets out a collective breath and she ambles from the room, waving her hands behind her, pushing the less-than-palatable thought of helping him out to the recesses of her mind. She places her hands on the laptop and opens the lid. 

She'll eventually get around to doing the research he has asked. After all, she's reliable, if nothing else. But she'll do it in her own time. First up? That new short story that's been bouncing around in her head...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Lyric Lover, VI

A few people I know could use a pick-me-up this morning. Yesterday, I thought about how I could provide such a pick-me-up. Seeing as these people are scattered across the globe, I knew this blog would need to be my forum.

As I tinkered in the kitchen making banana muffins just before noon, a song by George Ezra came on the radio. Well, I really like George Ezra's music (you may have heard of his single Budapest or Blame It On Me), but I'd never heard this particular song.

Let's just say that I fell in love with both the melody and the lyrics and realized Ezra's song could serve as the vehicle to deliver my message.

I'm linking to the video because then you can hear the song. I dare you not to smile.