Category Archives: Challenges

Thin

via Daily Prompt: Thin

Thin

In anything else, thin is bad.  Thin walls, thin logic, thin resume.  All indications of insufficiency.  Thinly veiled threats don’t fool anyone.  Thinned paint shows the old color beneath.  “It’s a thin line between ___ and ___…”  Fill in the blanks.  Sanity and Madness, Love and Hate, Order and Chaos.  The thin line represents a precarious balance.  No one talks about the bold line, the thick line, the substantial line.

Thick, substantial walls protect.  Substantial logic has weight in arguments.  A thick resume indicates loads of education and experience.  All these things are considered good.  A bold character gets the leads in movies and plays.

So why do women want to fit into a size 0?  Why are ribs sexy?  Why don’t you want your thighs to touch?  It’s better to be rich and thin?  If I were rich, I would EAT BETTER!  I wouldn’t stay thin for very long–that’s for sure!  When so many are starving to death because they can’t get food, why do we emulate them in a rich country where people can walk into a grocery store and buy ANY food they want?  It makes no sense to me for anyone (male or female) would want to look like they haven’t had a good meal in months when they have access to anything they’d want to eat.

Skinny people exist.  They have high metabolism and cannot gain weight.  They are not half-starved because they eat a tiny piece of lettuce and spit it out.  They are healthy as far as their bodies are concerned.  Can you be healthy and not thin or skinny.  Of course!  Look at the athletes at any Olympics.  They have honed their bodies so that the demands of their sports are met.  They are flexible where they need to be flexible, they are powerful and fast.  Dancers should be the same way, but still some will starve themselves to look good on stage.

It is in my humble opinion that people want to be thin because of whom they think are watching.  If they weren’t on stage, on TV, in the movies, in the magazines, basically ON DISPLAY like a manikin in a store, they would not obsess on how much weight they appear to carry.   You should be comfortable in your skin, able to move and do the things you love without the side effects of too much or too little weight.  Your dance partner shouldn’t wonder if he’ll drop you because you’re too big.  He should also not worry about accidentally throwing you through the ceiling.

Not a big fan of “thin.”

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Melody, Harmony, Rhythm

via Daily Prompt: Song

Music Major!  Wait. Can a song be something not musical?

The Song of Myself by Walt Whitman is 52 verses long! Would this guy be a narcissist?  Or is he exploring every nuance of his being:  what it means to be a person, to be a human, to be a man?  We do that don’t we?  We think deep thoughts and then craft them into a whole.  All our experiences and adventures become us.  All of the little bits of information and insight are interwoven into our being.  Our philosophies are developed atom by atom.  We envision big events as being catalysts for our lives’ direction, when in fact, it’s the looks from friends and parents, the Sunday school lesson, the fall off the bike, the first times–walking, climbing, writing…

Would you be the same person you are now if the first time you wrote your name, you did it with red crayon instead of a pencil?  Would you be the same if your parents had read Beetle Bailey out loud instead of Peanuts?  What kind of person would you be if your parents played Sinatra instead of Elvis?  Would you respond the same to bullies or would you be the bully?  Nature vs. Nurture has been an ongoing philosophical discussion for decades.  They cannot be separated.  2 infants with the same types of parents going through the same events would still turn out completely different due to their nature, and 2 infants of the same nature would turn out completely different due to their upbringing and surroundings.  Look up “What a piece of work is Man” by Shakespeare.

Let’s get into music then, as I am an expert.  (You put those eyebrows down!  I AM an expert!)  How many notes are there?  88 on a standard piano.  What about all the quarter tones…the notes between the notes?  What about the notes that are higher than one can whistle that you can play on a violin?  Are there notes so low that you can only feel them?  Of course.  So this is a huge palette of  sounds as pitches are available.  Then look at the rhythm instruments!  Continuous sound vs rhythmic repetition can make a difference in the ambiance of the music.  A rain stick is an example of continuous sound and a drum kit is typical of rhythmic repetition.  Then there are tuned rhythmic instruments like the piano or the xylophone, marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, you can think of hundreds of others.  The rhythm can be untuned or tuned then!  The bass guitar acts as a rhythm instrument as does the strumming guitar even though neither would be considered a percussion instrument.  Do you see the possibilities of musical themes?  They would be limitless and as you add more elements such as orchestration (assigning aspects of the music to different instruments or voices) counter melodies, chord progressions…the number of songs goes to infinity.   What happens if we rearrange the songs so the melodies stay constant and the harmonies change?  Look at all the covers of “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing” by Stevie Wonder! In addition, we can find the same chord progressions in multiple songs  but notice the melodies are all different?

What does that have to do with the premise?  Each person is the melody of their own existence.  The depth and breadth of their growth is the harmony and rhythm that each person builds with each day they live, each book they read, each thought they contemplate, each tune they listen to, each task they perform, each interaction with the world that surrounds them.  At the end of life, this song can be as simple as a nursery rhyme or as complicated as a symphony.

Make your song beautiful!

Flying Fingers CW

Evelyn Miller.  I haven’t thought of her in years!  She was my neighbor in my formative years and from the time I was 12 until we moved, she was my knitting mentor.  She knitted traditional style, throwing the yarn with her right hand.  She knit a coat with 5 different types and colors of yarn.  It was amazing…and heavy!  Her fingers flew!

After we moved, I learned how to knit continental style holding the yarn in my left hand.  I have to be careful the type of yarn I knit with now because certain brands are not much more than acrylic rope.  This means that I get rope burns on the back of my finger.  It is rather annoying.  My specialties are Aran patterns and Fair Isle patterns.  I can do this while watching TV or just sitting watching kids play.  The hardest part is establishing the 1st row of the pattern.  My fingers fly…1st class on the Concorde.

I have a friend that does American Sign Language for guest speakers and such.  It’s like choreography for the hands!  So beautiful to watch!  Her fingers also fly.

My mother taught music for nearly all her adult life, and her favorite composers were Bach, Chopin and Brahms.  When she played Bach’s Inventions, her hands flew!  In fact if you watch any type of instrumentalist, there are songs that require phenomenal technique and their hands have to fly.  I remember playing in a pit orchestra and we were doing Man of La Mancha, Caberet, Carousel, and Hello Dolly and I tell you there were some songs in there that when you finished, you’d worked up a sweat!  I love watching especially Eddy Van Halen because he’s having fun when he’s playing, and Bella Fleck because who knew you could play Debussy on the banjo?!  (I’m sorry you couldn’t see him actually play this.  But you can hear him.)  Then there’s this guy!

So many people’s fingers fly.  They are amazing to watch because it is so beautifully graceful and expressive in just the movement.  Pay attention to the way people’s hands move when they talk, when they dance, when they play an instrument, when they type, when they play their instruments.  Be in awe!  What a piece of work is man!

CW challenge: They all died, I survived

They knew

They all knew

The Parents

The Teachers

The counselors

They knew

We weren’t crying

for help

We didn’t want

help

We held life and death in

the palms of our hands

We weren’t weak

We were determined

Hold hands, 3 of us

1…2…3 JUMP

cold icy water

my foot hurts–no my ankle

why do I feel pain?

Struggle to surface

Why struggle?

Current moves me

Pain

Inhale water

But I can’t

Blow out all air

but I can’t

Rock in my side

Branch on my arm

Roll to back

Cough…cry

Strong hands pull me out

I failed

They didn’t

Alone

 

 

Honestly…

Honestly, Truthfully, Trustworthy

I can believe

I can disbelieve

I can act

I can choose not to act

Why must I be protected from truth?

Ignorance is Bliss

It takes my decisions

and makes them impotent.

It takes my perception

and skews it.

“You don’t need to know

“Not now, later

“To protect you

Saying this only

when I NEED to know

when I NEED to know now

when it doesn’t protect me because

I don’t know.

Facts in timely manner

Not emotions

Withhold, Lie

No preparation

No trust

Surprise, and confusion

Tell Me.  Honestly

 

Descent

I heard an interesting piece on Exploring Music tonight.  The composer was writing this in the 1980’s and so many of his friends had died from Aids.  So he wanted to commemorate them in song and wrote a special symphony for the Chicago Symphony.

The music inspired me.  It describes his friend as he goes slowly insane due to his disease.

It’s simple

It’s just perception

You get it don’t you?

It’s such a straight forward concept.

You just… um…yeah

You just take it, um, one step at a time

I can do this

All I need to do is…um

Do is…

Where was I?

Just access your memory

Picture what you…um…

What you want to say

I’ve done this… um…

before  and I remember…

um

The kids playing

Dog in the way

Homework

Dishes need to be…

waxed…washed

and then…

Yah…

I stare into space

I’m confused.

It’s simple…

You just…just…

OH Come ON!  Just say it!

You just…?

WHERE ARE MY WORDS?!

ok  breathe

You…just…

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Things and Emotions

When you talk of things…you need to describe them in 3 dimensions, then the time setting, then the surrounding elements.

The clock on the wall was old fashioned.  It had a second hand, a minute hand and an hour hand moving slowly around the circle.  The clock was a plain white against the flowered wall paper in the kitchen.   It was about the size of a small paper plate, but the numbers were big enough to see.  You could see it from the living room, and though it was never accurate, it was getting close to dinner time. The cord snaked down the wall to the outlet which was above what should have been wainscoting, but was in fact just a different pattern of wall paper and border.  The clock was covered in dust and grease from the kitchen.  It might have had some sugar debris from all the jams and jellies cooked there.

The more words, the better the author has succeeded in putting you in the room with the object.

Now if you talk emotions, fewer words are better.  Same clock, but now we’re getting the emotional side

Tick

Tock

The second hand crawls

The minute hand feels frozen in time

Slowly and relentlessly

Tick 

Tock

He’s coming

He’ll be unhappy

I tried

The kitchen is not much different

than when he left

It’s late

He will have been drinking

Will he hit me?

Will he yell?

Will I survive?  

Tick 

Tock

(Lest you get the wrong idea, I watch too many SVU episodes.  I have known women who have been abused, and the clock is not their friend.)

See?  You don’t need to know what size it is or what color.  It represents an emotion. That’s why poetry is so difficult to write.  You have to distill the emotions and get them across to make your emotional point.  Do the emotions come first or does the object?  For me, it’s the object.  I pick one and think how I can use it to describe what my character is feeling.  Others choose an emotion and look around for something suitable to convey the feeling.  I wanted her to be experiencing dread and hopelessness.  Another would have used those emotions and then stared at something else.

They were still high

Piled up on the counter

and some stuck to each other

I work

I have to take care of kids

The drain is slow

He’ll be home soon

I can get the big things washed

The roast is nearly done

I’m scrubbing as fast

as I can but

Was that his car door?

“Kids? Get upstairs

Daddy’s home

and he smells funny…”

Code words.

See the difference?  You may get the same feeling but different imagery.

When you describe things, you allow people to relate to the objects, to recognize them as something they might have at home.  When you describe feelings, you get the words out of the way and use vague enough images to bring forth emotional responses.  Instead of picturing your clock, they picture their own or that of someone they know that is in a similar situation.  In the other case, they might picture a time when they knew they were going to miss the deadline and the consequences would be considerable.

So when you’re communicating, remember the purpose of your communication…is it to describe something physical?  or something emotional?  Then you can choose the means to most effectively describe what you’re trying to get across to your audience.

 

CW: Saltines, a horseshoe and a thumbtack…

Pregnant

Again!!!

I’m not ready

Oooo, that was bad, need saltines

My next appointment

a small card on the bulletin board

I pull the card

contemplate…crap just dropped the tack

Pick it…urp…run to bathroom

eat another saltine

take card back and tack it to bulletin board

eat another saltine

take a walk to my rose garden

enjoy breathing something

that doesn’t make me puke

5th time’s the charm…

Charm Hmmm

1st was St. Christopher medal

2nd was my old pet rock

3rd was a bunny foot

4th was early!  Shamrock at the last minute

This one kicks like a horse…

How about a horse shoe?

I don’t have a horse shoe…

How about a ballet shoe?

eat another saltine

 

Creative Writing Challenge: I am not your father

She flinched

He pulled back

I know you’re afraid

“You don’t know me!” she said vehemently.

I know you… you’re me

“I’m nothing like you!”

I used to flinch like that.

“So?”

I used to cry like that.

“So?”

I have scars like that.

“What?  Really?”

He used his belt, and his cigarettes.

“So?”

You miss him?

“…yes.”

I miss my father too.

“Why?”

Because he was what I knew.

I thought that’s what fathers did.

He said he loved me.

“Mine did too.”

I think my father liked the idea of me, and not really me.

I always disappointed him.

“Me too.”

Here’s a tissue.

“Thanks.”

I don’t know how long you’ll be here.

“I know.”

I will love you like my own kids.  You’ll see no marks on them.

“So?”

Give me your hands.

We can let that be our hug.

I’m not my father, and I am not your father…but I can be your Dad for a while.