Thursday, August 25, 2011

Indie Ink: the knight in shining armor

I decided to see how close to the deadline I could push this week's Indie Ink Challenge.  For some reason I thought I'd have more time to write on vacation - not the case thus far. I was lucky enough to get another great prompt from Tim KingThe story opens with your main character at the checkout counter of a convenience store, and s/he is $1.50 short - and I challenged Chaos Mandy (her great response is here).  I totally own that I just wrote this in a hurry to make the deadline and it hasn't been edited properly yet.  Also, this week 
I'm playing with my recurring character, Cady.

I stared longingly at the Snapple and aspirin on the counter of the convenience store.  The twenty-something guy in the blue smock behind the register didn't seem to care much about my plight.  Just repeated, "Yeah, you're short 1.50" as he shuffled the three dollars in his hand for effect.

"I realize that," I gritted out.  My head was in the middle of hammering out a full-fledged symphony.   I checked my pockets hoping that I could will two bucks into existence to no avail.  I sighed and said, "Forget the Snapple and just give me the aspirin."

"Don't do that.  I've got it," a familiar voice said.

I caught Lucian out of the corner of my eye and felt torn between happy to see him and utterly humiliated.  I bit down on my lip and nodded in order to keep from saying something mean and unnecessary.   I bit down even harder, tasting blood on my lip, when strange sensations burned across my skin where his hands brushed up against me as he moved to the pay cashier. 

He offered me a dazzling smile, the type that reached his eyes and made the midnight blue coloring seem so bright.  He handed me the plastic bag and it gave me the opportunity to get a good look at him.  His jet black hair was wet and pieces clung to his forehead.  He was wearing his usual cargo pants and tee-shirt attire, but it looked good on him, and despite the lighting in the store, his creamy skin made him look almost ethereal. 

Everything about him hit me in waves in a way I wasn't used to.  I had liked guys in my time, but this just seemed to good to be true.  In my life, that usually meant he tortured small animals for fun.

Lucian squeezed my shoulder and said, "You look like hell, Cady."

I wanted to roll my eyes, but it would've hurt too much.  "Is this how you woo all the girls?  Swoop in to save the day and then insult them?"

He winked and said, "Only the special ones."

"I'm honored."

"Everything okay?"

I shrugged.  "Rough day."

"Well, I'm glad I could help, even in such a small way."

My body betrayed me and I smiled.  What was it about this guy that turned me into this girly-girl that I never was before?  "You're a regular knight-in-shining-armor.  Thanks."

"You almost sound like you mean it."

I met his gaze.  He always had this amused flicker in his eyes.  I was both jealous and suspicious of anyone who could take on life that way.  I wasn't sure what to do or where this was going or if I even wanted to go along for the ride, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine never seeing Lucian again.  And how sad was that?  Some girls require wining and dining, but my heart can be won for a bottle of aspirin and a Snapple. 

"I'd invite you out for coffee if you didn't look about ready to pass out on your feet.  Can you get home okay?"


"Are you sure?"

"I'll be fine," I replied.  I realized I was still smiling like a crazed loon and skirted around him to make a getaway.  Our hands brushed against each other and I felt my face flush with heat and I wondered if his lips felt as soft as they looked.

I think I hit my head harder than I originally thought.  When I swayed clumsily on my feet, Lucian was there to steady me.   I couldn't help but notice he smelled like soap and a peppermint.  Oddly appealing.  I shut my eyes and said, "I'm okay, really."

"I'm helping you home.  I promise not to tell anyone that even you occasionally need help.  Please tell me the other guy looks as just as bad," Lucian replied, leading me out of the store. 

I shrugged.  "It's a long story."

"It always is with you."

I nodded.  I wasn't used to this type of closeness with anyone, let alone a guy that made everything go blurry around the edges.  I was torn between making a run for it and enjoying the warmth and safety of his arm draped around my shoulder.  I knew what I should be doing.  Lucian was a potential complication and those never boded well. 

"What can I say?  I'm an enigma."

"Well, you're definitely something."

I chuckled, despite the pain that thrummed through my veins.   "Right back at you."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

vacation all I ever wanted...let's wishcast too!

First day of my vacation and headed down to Wildwood and then hit Atlantic City on the way back.  Sun, beach, boardwalk, and we drove past the summer house of my childhood - well, kind of.  There's a new, bigger house on the property now.  After we were done, we decided to head to Atlantic City and hit the outlet shops and maybe gamble a little.  I'm not really a gambler, so I blew 10 bucks on the nickel slots.

And I got an awesome, very very cute Coach bag at the Outlet store, part of the Poppy collection, that was marked down from 225 bucks to 89 bucks!  SCORE!  Happy early birthday to me!

But I didn't want to end the day without getting in my Wishcasting.  I love the energy it puts out there and the wonderful wishcasters I get to share the magic with.

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

Simple:  I wish to enjoy my vacation.  To not get too caught up in all the things I need to do or should be doing and let myself relax, read, and create.  No lists of to-do and errands to run.  Do what I feel like doing and not worry about it.  Enjoy my vacation and explore.  I've earned it.

Today was a very good start.  The beach was wonderful.  The boardwalk was fun.  And the coach bag is so pretty.

Oh, and I want to enjoy my birthday on Sunday and not get caught up in the number or where I think I should be in my life.  Enjoy and relax and be thankful I've got another year in front of me to conquer the world.

I'll be responding to everyone's responses tomorrow, but please know, as you wish for yourself, so I truly wish for you also.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fiction: Careful what you write...

It's that time of week where I post my Indie Ink writing challenge.  Remember the days I used to be mad at myself for not posting until Wednesday?  Ha, I've sure learned my lessons about procrastinating.  I wrote about three different things before settling in with my other ongoing character, Elaina, for this week's prompt.  This week I challenged Runaway Sentence, whose great response is posted here, and was challenged by Sherree.  My prompt was "It's not what you said, it's how you said it."  This was such a great prompt and it sent my mind spinning in many different directions.  This is the one I've chosen to share tonight.

I entered the cafeteria with a fake stride of confidence in my step.  The past twenty-four hours had been a life lesson in humility, or humiliation, maybe both.  My fellow students and a few adults, who clung to the greatness that was high school, were a little angry with me for something I had recently written.  Who knew stating the obvious would create such drama?

Note to self:  no one is ready to hear the obvious stated, which is probably why it's always so obvious in the first place.

I’ve decided to blame my latest foray into loserdom on Mr. Jenkins, one of my school’s English teachers and the faculty advisor for the Cougars newspaper.   “The pen is mightier than the sword, Elaina” and “There's a great amount of power in a few well-placed words, Elaina.”  Why wouldn’t I take that as a sign to write a scathing op-ed piece on the uselessness that was the Homecoming Dance?  Life isn't like Sixteen Candles and our football team hasn't won a game in twenty years.  Homecoming alienated a large portion of the high school population and turned the rest into dance-crazed lunatics.

The words had to be said and Mr. Jenkins didn’t stop me.   I’m guessing it was one of those he-wants-you-to-learn-that-fire-burns moments adults are so fond of forcing on you. 

“I don’t know what you were thinking,” Mike said as he sat down across from me at our usual lunch table.  He was very cool about not acknowledging the dirty looks people had been sending my way.

“I expected this sort of reaction from the rah-rah crowd, but even the persona non grata freaks are giving me the evil eye.  You'd think I slaughtered a puppy in front of toddlers." 

Mike shook his head as he dumped the contents of his brown bag on the table.  He said, "You're demented."

"And a social pariah."

He cocked his head to the side and shot me an appraising glance, the same one he'd been shooting my way since kindergarten.  He was probably wondering what God he had pissed off in a former life to end up with me as a best friend.  "It'll pass eventually."

I shrugged and said, "I hope I live to see that."

"I think you're overreacting a bit."

"I'm overreacting?   Principle Henry called me into his office and said that I was a rabble rouser.  He told me that I had to write an apology in the next edition of the newspaper and threatened to force me to join the social committee to show me the error of my ways.  I really hate high school.”

“I know, and thanks to your This Cougar Knows column, everyone knows.”

“Newsflash - it's your job to keep me from doing stupid things like this.  You know how I get.”

He rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, I do know how you get and would’ve stopped you if you bothered to mention it to me.”

“And that’s why I didn’t tell you.”

“Do you hear yourself sometimes?” he asked with an exasperated sigh. 

I waved him off and said, “That’s not the point.  The point is the entire school is angry with me for saying what we all know to be true.”

“If it’s any consolation, I don’t think it was what you said, so much as how you said it,” Mike replied.  He shoveled a banana into his mouth and off the look on my face, added with a full mouth, “You basically referred to the popular kids as power-hungry ninnies and the rest of us as cowardly losers.”

“I was talking about myself in that cowardly loser bit.”

“I know that, but the rest of the school does not.”


“I wouldn’t use that in your apology.”

I glanced down at my sandwich, pretending not to feel a hundred sets of eyes watching me with disdain, but made no effort to eat.  I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, feeling out of place in a way I hadn’t since the first day of high school, and tried to put on my brave face.  The problem I’ve always had with the brave face is that I’m terrible at hiding how I feel and people know I’m not brave or confident.

“Hey, don't get that look.   I'm sure something much more interesting will happen soon and you'll drop off the school radar.  I just wouldn’t plan on getting nominated for Homecoming Queen this year.”

“Are you telling me there isn’t a massive yearning to have a bitter, sarcastic sixteen year old wear the crown? I'm shocked.”

“You’re too young to be so cynical, Elaina.”

I grabbed a chip from Mike’s brown bag and popped it into my mouth.  “My father is in politics, Mike.  I’ve been cynical since the womb.”  I turned my head and caught a group of cheerleaders glaring in my direction.  I groaned and said, “I guess I should refrain from sharing my thoughts on prom and stick with scathing reviews of the hot lunches."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

to dreams and choosing...

I'm pretty sure that the universe is currently trying to teach me a lesson of some sort, maybe test how far it can push me before I break.  Or it's just my time to feel completely dumped on - root canal with crown getting done today, roof leaking in the sun room from the torrential rain storms, car had to go into mechanic, and we lost our verizon triple play (phone, internet, cable) for three days.  when it rains, it pours, my friends.  And I'm trying to balance feeling genuinely frustrated with the guilt of my first world problems.  My head is a chaotic place at the moment.

But it is Wishcasting Wednesday, a chance to put all that aside and wish and hope and share with others.

Today Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

My immediate answer is that I wish to choose myself.  That seems too simple and that probably means it's actually extremely complicated.  I think I wish to choose my creativity over the things I put in my own way.  I'm quite skilled at procrastinating to an unhealthy level.  I always find different things to keep me from writing or doodling or knitting.  I'll play solitaire for forty minutes for no real reason except it's a way to avoid the work.  I'm scared and I hear the voices of people telling me that being creative and dreaming are wastes of my time and to "grow up" and I acquiesce.  I waste time and only make myself unhappy.

It's funny this question arises on the same day I receive the following Daily Truth from the Brave Girls Club - "...PLEASE, wonderful friend, PLEASE do not let yourself get tricked into the idea that if your dreams are coming true, or that your life is good, or that you have found peace....that it means that you took that opportunity away from someone else.  AND PLEASE do not let yourself EVER believe that because someone else is living the kind of life that you want to live, that 'those kinds of lives' are all taken just is not so! There is enough for you, too..."

There is enough for me too.  I just need to believe it.

I wish to choose myself and what I truly want over the voices in my head that want what's "right" or "grown-up."  I wish to get out of my own way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Finding my inspiration

This week feels like it's moving way too slowly.  I feel like it should already be Thursday at the very least.  Why is it that I never feel this way with vacation or weekends?  I never find myself on a Sunday night thinking, "Wow, this weekend went so slowly."

It's Wishcasting Wednesday though and that's always a bright spot.

This week Jamie asks:

courtesy of we heart it

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing you are the author and everyday is a new page.” Mark Halahan

I wish to follow the inspiration that the universe brings into my life on a daily basis.  I want to recognize it and put it to good use.  I want to allow my imagination to roam free and create without bounderies. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Artist Way: Check-In - Chapter 3 (Week 1)

Another week has flown by and we're at the halfway point for chapter three of the Artist's Way journey.  I realize I missed last week to update everyone on where I was with chapter two.  To be honest, it's because untill Saturday, I wasn't done with the tasks for chapter two.  This past weekend was one of playing catch-up on tasks and reading chapter three.

Chapter 2 Wrap-Up

How are your daily pages going?   Very good.  I did my pages every single day.  Most of them mornings and the full three pages.  Last week, with sickness and sleepiness, there were a few mornings where they were "not quite morning pages" and I am noticing a difference in the own perspective on the days when I start out getting the crap in my head out onto the page.

Gone anywhere nice for your artist date?   on July 30, I went to the Fine Arts Festival at Cooper River Park.  I walked around for about forty minutes, loving so much of the work their, wishing I could paint/draw/create like that, and wishing I had lots of money to buy things.  I was a window-shopper at the festival.  I took a few business cards from places like The Alpha Canvas and Painterly Photography by Linda McAdams.  

This past weekend, on August 6, I took some time to do my tasks from chapter two and read chapter three.  After doing the tasks, I decided to bake, heat be damned, and I made some brownies. I miss baking.  I used to do it a lot more.  My issue is that I try not to eat so many sweets these days, but I enjoy baking.  I think I just need to start making it for work and such!

Which was your favourite task? I found task #3 to be my favorite - the twenty things.  It was interesting to see what popped into my head and how long it had been for some of the items.  It's been over fifteen years since I rode a regular bicycle and considering how close I live to the Jersey shore, it's been way to long since I walked on the beach.  Interesting stuff to see written out.

Did you put one of them aside lightly?  Once I actually sat down to do the tasks, I did them all.  I'll admit that Task # 2 - Where does my time go - was hard simply because I waste a lot of time.  I know this, but never seem to stop myself.  

I don't think I had any tantrums, but then again, I did avoid doing the work for a week, and I'm always best at avoidance.  Maybe that was my way of throwing a tantrum - trying to wish it away by ignoring it.

One thing I had fun doing - I decided that my notebook for my tasks and writing during the Artist's Way journey was too boring, so I created a collage.

my writing notebook after collage

Chapter 3 - Week 1 (Kinda/Sorta)

I did my morning pages every day.  Most of the time they do continue to serve as a place to just dump out the random blahs in my head, my worries, my to do list, and snippets of dreams I remember.  I wonder if there does come a time when it becomes just lovely writing...I'm not too worried as I know I'm doing the writing and these are things that tend to bog down my brain.

This week's artist's date didn't have me leave the house, so I'm not sure it qualified as a date per se, but I allotted time just for the Artist Way tasks and reading and then I baked, something I haven't done in too long. And my brownies were yummy.

Daily Affirmations:  I'm trying to expand my use of daily affirmations in my morning pages.  I always use the same ones and avoid a lot of them.  Working on that.

I found this line from chapter three (p. 62) so true, and yet something I never really think about: "Anger is not the action itself.  It is the action's invitation."

Tomorrow I'm hoping to catch up on everyone else's journeys as I'm about to sign off the computer for the day.  I still haven't been able to find my motivation to be online after work lately - I just wanted to finish this post before I forgot.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

fiction: line karma scene

It's that time of week where I post my Indie Ink writing challenge because I'm a skilled procrastinator, who can create an excuse out of anything.  This week I challenged and was challenged by Tim King.  My prompt was, "If I had just taken the express line, none of this would have happened."  (Tim's response to my prompt is here.)

I wasn't sure what direction this would go in, but Cady's voice, a character I've written a few challenge responses around, came to the forefront first. 

I approached the check-out line with sixteen items in my basket.  I momentarily considered the Express Line, but the old lady in front of me pulled out a check book and looked puzzled by the paper or plastic question.  I decided it was smarter to get into the regular line.  I should’ve known better.  I should’ve done the exact opposite of my natural instinct since I was pretty sure that I had the worst line karma in the world.  In a past life, I had abused people who were waiting in long lines and this was a punishment that came back to bite me in the ass every time I entered a grocery store or bank. 
I knew almost immediately that I had made a mistake, but my own stubborn optimism – maybe I’m wrong and this is the fastest lane – kept me from correcting the situation.  Cue to ten minutes later in a line that was barely moving, a bratty kid, and a parent that had bought fifty Lean Cuisine meals.
Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb,” the small child in unisex overalls sang out.  It appeared that Mommy and daddy never taught him the meaning of indoor voice.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if the kid knew the whole song.  Instead, he repeated the same few words over and over.  We were on round thirteen when my cellphone rang. 
“Tell me I have to drop whatever I’m doing at this very moment and come save the day,” I answered.
My brother chuckled and said, “I wanted to make sure you remembered the vegetables.”
“I know you, Cady.  I’ll end up fifty dollars poorer and only cookies and ice cream to show for it.”
“You should be so lucky,” I muttered.  I watched as the young mother in front of me pulled out a stack of coupons like she had escaped from an episode of Extreme Couponing.  I groaned and said, “I hope you weren’t planning to cook that broccoli anytime soon because I’m pretty sure I’m going to die here.”
“You keep saying you need time to think.   The universe has provided.”
“Not like this.  There's a weird smell and really bad lighting.”
“Suck it up.”
“Why do I have to do the grocery shopping?  It’s sexist!”
I could practically hear Sean rolling his eyes.  “I believe I gave you a choice.”
“Grocery shopping or bathroom duty is not much of a choice.  I took the lesser of two evils.  That doesn’t mean I have to suffer in silence.”
“Like you even know how.”  
“I hate you, and you’ll be sad when I die of boredom.”
“Don’t forget to use the tote bags.  There's no reason to take your bratty mood out on the planet.”
I glanced at my basket and realized I had left my brother’s collection of canvas bags on the radiator at home.  “Yeah, whatever. Bye.”  I hung up without giving him a chance to respond and watched as the cashier manually entered each coupon.  I glanced over to the express lane and the old lady was long gone.  Of course.
I glanced back and forth between my current position and the line at the Express lane, debating whether I should live on the edge with my sixteen items or just stay where I was.  Before I could make a move, a young guy slipped into line behind me.   I was fated to spend the rest of my life in the longest grocery store line ever created.  All the ways I used to picture my life ending, none was ever nearly as tragic as going out quite like this – ensconced in boring domesticity. 
“That lady has a lot of coupons,” the guy said just as the kid started in with yet another round of “Mary had a Little Lamb” sans most of the words. 
I glanced at the guy.  He was about my age and he had the look of someone who tried too hard to be different.  His hair was messed up in a way that showed he used a lot of product to make it messy and he was dressed in a strange concoction of pleather. 
When he caught my gaze, he smiled and held out his hand.  “I’m Tyler.”
“Hi,” I offered and spun back around. 
“Do you come here often?”
I rolled my eyes, but remained silent.  I didn’t make a habit of talking to most people, let alone strange guys in the grocery store, even if they were semi-attractive.
“I’m new to the area and this was the only shop that had decent food at decent prices.”
And that’s when I knew that he was one of those, the type of person who just kept talking and pretended not to notice the recognized social hints for “leave me the hell alone.”  It didn’t matter if I took part in the conversation or not.  Tyler-Tries-Too-Hard was going to keep talking.  Somehow, I would find a way to blame my brother for this.
“I still haven’t found a decent coffee place.”
I turned around and said, “CafĂ© Buzz is pretty good.  Two blocks down.   Cheap, but it gets busy pretty quickly.”
“Good to know.  Thanks.”
“Maybe we could go together?”
Save the planet, fight bad guys…these were things I could do in my sleep.  My brother had made sure I knew every possible way to defend myself, but I still hadn’t mastered the ability to talk with guys that weren’t related to me.  I was lame and I embraced it.  Kind of.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said.
“Your boyfriend would get jealous?”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
“A pretty girl like you single?  It’s my lucky night.”
Curse you, coupon lady and bad line karma!  Apparently, even in everyday situations, I was a magnet for trouble.  Sometimes it just came in the form of really bad attempts at socializing.
I glanced down at my basket and weighed my options.  The problem with moving to the express line was that Tyler might follow me.  If I didn’t return home with my brother’s required greens and protein, I might as well find a new place to live.  I decided to do what any tough, smart teenage girl would do when faced with a situation like this.
“Oh, would you look at that?  I totally forgot Sean’s complex carbs.  He lifts like these really big weights because he’s like really big…and he’ll be so mad if I forget them.  Excuse me.  Gotta go,” I said, moving past him back toward the store.  I didn’t give him a chance to respond, just darted into the closest aisle where I could hide out. 
If I had just taken the express line, none of this would have happened.  And now I was going to have to explain to Sean why it took me an extra half hour at the store. 
Not the best night of my life, that was for sure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

open the door to another world...

I think I'm a jinx.  This weekend I was impressed that I had been managing to avoid any down-and-out sicknesses outside of allergies and a migraine or Monday around 11am, I started to feel so sick.  Still not 100% but back at work today.  Ugh.  i'm a jinx to myself, my friends.  I apparently make myself sick by even thinking about it. 

Happy things?  Today is Wishcasting Wednesday

Today Jamie asks us:

courtesy of we heart it

I wish to open the door to my creativity.  I wish to continue with the Artist's Way journey with the group, but also make time for myself to write, doodle, and explore ideas.  I want to stop worrying so much about finished products that I censor myself too soon. I wish to allow myself to flourish, learn, and make mistakes as I continue to grow. I wish to be the creative person I'm meant to become.