Writing 101, Day Four: Why Does It Look So Clean?

Written for The Daily Post’s Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer

Write about a loss. The twist: make it the first post in a three-post series.

My post is here:
Why Does It Look So Clean?

I felt upset thinking about it again.

M is for

The path was still muddy from Wednesday’s derecho when I tripped on a tree root. An envelope caked in thick mud stuck to my hand. I carefully unfolded the letter inside. It read:

Anna, Meet me Friday at 3:00 at the burger joint on Madison and Elm. I’ve waited for this for so long! I miss you terribly. Have you thought about my question? If I don’t see you there, I’ll know your answer is no, and you won’t hear from me again … All my love, M.

I flipped the letter over — nothing.

Today is Saturday. Too late. My heart sank.

A Pocket Full o’ Gravatars

I think I’m completely not doing Gravatars correctly. I would expect my avatar to be pretty much the same all the time — that’s the point of a Gravatar, right? But sometimes I see the generic pattern avatar, sometimes my black & white cat next to a tea kettle, and sometimes the stylized image of my daughter gazing at a lightningbug (blue and pink tones with glowy dots). I’m not sure what everybody else sees. The same mix I do? One, but not the others? Help?

Why Does It Look So Clean? A loss series, part 1

The space in front of my car looked unusually clean and tidy. A lack of dirt did not make it that way. I could see the usual specs, a dust bunny, and a little sticker stuck to the concrete. But it seemed uncluttered. Not normal. And it wasn’t until I got to the car to open the door that the reason seeped into my consciousness. It looked so blank because my daughter’s bicycle was gone.

It had been her big birthday gift from less than a year ago. Not expensive, but a beautiful not-too-girly hot pink Huffy Trail Runner with a spring in the middle which was supposed to absorb the shock as she road, giving her a smoother ride.

Nothing absorbed my shock.

I walked to the exact spot as if that would make it reappear. It didn’t. Gone too was the cable lock that should have held it securely to a small section of the fenced area in front of my car. All gone. Who steals a kids bike?

The little sticker semi-adhered to the concrete was from one of the lights we had attached to the bike for safety. The sticker told us where to put the batteries. Lights gone. Batteries gone. Bike gone. Bell gone. Bastards.

I realized a bike two parking spots down was also gone — the green one that had been covered in a thick layer of dust. A blue bike, just as dusty, was still there — held securely with a D lock.

Why did it have to be my daughter’s bike? We should have had a better lock, but I never imagined we’d need it.

We put up signs for her beautiful missing bike. It made us feel a little better. Finally we purchased a used one from a neighbor.

The blue bike with the D lock is still there now a year and half later. Still covered in dust. It hasn’t moved. I think the people who owned it have moved away and forgotten it.

Updating to add that the sticker actually tells how to operate the light. I checked. It’s still there in our building’s garage in front of my parking space. And I was really proud of how my daughter handled all this. She was sad, but very grown up.

Writing 101, Day Three: Three Songs, a Trilogy

My take on assignment three is up. Check it out
The Daily Post Writing 101, Day Three: Three Songs, a Trilogy

The twist is to commit to a writing practice — the frequency and amount of time is up to us, but a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes is recommended. I did that for assignment three — fifteen uninterrupted minutes, amazingly enough. I even tried to keep writing the entire time — keep my fingers moving — and not go back to edit anything as I wrote. Though, I admit to a bit of backspacing for an actual typo or two as I went — that’s practically reflex for me. I use a computer not paper. I let the words flow from a relatively uninterrupted stream of thought. After the fifteen minutes, I went back and edited a few more typos, punctuation, and a word or two. Nothing in the guidelines said we couldn’t do that. But I tried to keep the original stream primarily intact.

Going forward, I’m only going to commit to ten uninterrupted minutes five days a week because that’s a whole lot more likely, so I’m less likely to get frustrated when I can’t do it. I will, however, try for a longer stretch from time to time.

Three Songs, a Trilogy

It’s the song you hear when Darth Vader walks into a room, The March. It’s there instantly telling you how to feel about this tall man, if we can call him a man, in a mask and dark robes. It’s energizing and pulls at both our fears and our sense of awe and wonder. There’s power there. At this point only a few notes are needed, and that part of our brain is engaged.

The Star Wars Main Theme does about the same. Those first few notes and you are there — transported, instantly, not just to the world of Star Wars but to that time in your life when you had all that awe and wow and popcorn grease on your fingers. And you didn’t know that Luke Skywalker was quite as whiney and cheesy as he would turn out to be. And you didn’t know how dangerous it was to fall for guys like Han Solo — you can change them in the movies but maybe not so much in real life. Those pesky scoundrels. Those bad boys. And you didn’t yet know that when Leia would kiss Luke in Empire that they would turn out to be siblings.

So those two songs, if we can call them that. I’ve never been sure. Do songs have to have lyrics? Those two songs are an important part of my life. From middle school through nearly all of high school I’d set up the album on my good ol’ record player and fall asleep listening to the music of Star Wars.

There’s one more significant song, again from Star Wars. It plays when the droids are escaping at the begining of the movie. I don’t know why, but it always resonated with me. It was, maybe, a song of friendship and adventure and rescue (or escape) and safety. So that when it would come on I would be transported, as I could by the Star Wars Main Title and The Imperial March. That third song isn’t as easily recognizable in an instant as are the other two, but it could nonetheless take me to another place. I’d set up the record payer with the machine set to turn off when that side of the album stopped and drift off to sleep. It was a reassuring lullaby that would ensure my dreams were neither boring nor too scary. I could let go and drift off like the droids in the escape pod.

Popular music has not had the same effect on my psyche, though there are many songs I like and some may creep in as favorites. My tie to the original Star Wars sound tracks is hard to beat even today — a time far enough in the future that Star Wars has actually become “long ago.” I had a friend who had the Imperial March as a ring tone. I’ve thought about that, but at this point I don’t want to hear it too much for fear that it will become too ordinary and loose it’s ability to transport me to that other world. I have a Doctor Who ringtone instead. It works well for my blue phone. But perhaps someday that will change.

Editing to add that this was for WordPress Writing 101: Third Assignment: Write about the three most important songs of your life. In the order that I wrong about them, the Songs are:
The Imperial March (Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, original soundtrack, but the march notes can be heard on many tracks of the soundtrack)
Main Title/Rebel Blockade Runner (Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, but Main Title/The Ice Planet Hoth from ESB is similar and ranks up there. I might even like it better than the original. Probably do.)
Imperial Attack (third track on Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope, I had to look up the title of this one because I remember it being the music that played while R2D2 and C-3PO were escaping to Tatooine from the boarded rebel ship early in the original Star Wars movie. I associate it more with the droids than with imperials.)

First Writing 101 WordPress Assignment

Here’s my blog entry from yesterday’s assignment:
WordPress: Writing 101, just write for 20 minutes and for a twist actually publish it. I did actually publish it, but technically not until this morning, Tuesday morning. I started it on Monday, so when I published it the date is Monday. It’s interesting to know that WordPress does that. Maybe because I started it on my phone? I completed it within 24 hours of the assignment, though, so I’m counting it for now.

Of note, I’m probably going to have to write most of my entries in evenings and nights with possibly carryover to the next morning. So yeah.

That Option Not Available on Mondays

So I’m trying a WordPress: Writing 101 thing to write every day which was my original New Year resolution this year. We know how that went. The first W101 assignment is to write for 20 minutes. Just write. I hate to say it but that option is not available on Mondays between the hours of 6:30 AM and 10:30 PM.

I mean are we talking twenty minutes all in a row or can I break that into smaller increments? Because smaller increments are a lot more likely to happen. Twenty minutes in a row of writing on a Monday? I’ll be lucky to make midnight. Oops, see that, I shot directly past midnight and slid right into Tuesday morning. So I’m going with 20 minutes within a 24 hour period of the assignment. 20 minutes not in a row, but I am trying too keep track and make this an actual 20 minutes with the last section being a large chunk of 10 whole minutes in a row. This may or may not be breaking the rules. But, generally speaking, Mondays are crazy days.

I work full time out of the home, and I’m a mom. And I’m the only driver in our house which is probably a whole ‘nother story though not nearly as interesting as it may sound. But, hey, Ray Bradbury didn’t drive either. And I remind myself of this so that I think it’s somehow cool and exotic when I’m feeling the pains of being the only driver in the house.

On Mondays, I take a late “lunch hour” from the office to pick my daughter up from Chess Club and drive her to her dance classes then drive back to work for about 1.75 hours when I turn back around and pick her up again.

Then we’ll need to manage to eat dinner which is usually going to be something quick because by dinner time I’m pretty well starving, and I don’t usually feel like cooking. Though I recently discovered these Meal Bars that have made the process a bit more tolerable. Oh, I do a lot of my writing on my phone or old iPad because I can’t always sit in front of an actual computer, but it is pretty slow going that way because I make a lot of very small typos.

And now I’ve lied because I got interrupted and these last 10 minutes are not, in fact, all in a row. But, hey, I tried.

And … time!

Editing to add:
I originally just started this post on my phone on Monday, but didn’t finish it until Tuesday morning. Once published, it appears that I published it on Monday.

How Do I Start This?

So writing short stories is one of the things I do. Or don’t do, because there’s a lot of that too. And one of the hard parts of writing is not only getting started — putting a device in front of yourself and then putting words on it. It is also tricky to figure out the best way to open your story. You don’t want it to be boring or your readers will take a walk. You want it to work with your story and you want to avoid cliches. So, ack, what to do? Well, here’s a very helpful discussion at a blog I like:

Enchanted Spark
Openings: How do you do them?

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