July 21, 2009

Singing in the Rain

raindrops.jpg

Rain again, second day in a row. A whole afternoon of it, delicious wet plops, more even than the dry, baked earth can soak up. There is plenty, a veritable feast of water, leaving big clear puddles in the yard. An oasis in the desert, and life answers the call. The grass is standing eagerly, a happy chorus of frogs chirp outside my window, birds and squirrels come out of their hiding places, our pet rabbit races around the yard, kicking up his heels... Rain, sweet rain! The sigh of relief is nearly audible, as thirsty plants, and parched animals, and desperate farmers, and dusty children, all lift their faces as the rain comes.

Something settles down in me. Something is right again, that was wrong. Some primitive need to know the rain is there, though we live a life of pipes and wells and water towers. Fill us up, lavishly fall in giant plops upon our head, baptize away the heat of the summer-- for there is no pool or tub or faucet that can rival God's own rain. It is tinged with the taste of Heaven.

raindrops2.jpg

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:52 PM | Comments (3)

May 31, 2009

Changing Seasons

I have been waiting for inspiration to come back to me. I hang on to this blog, each day wondering if this will be the day I feel like writing. Surprisingly, I move past the question with a languorous shake of my head. No, not today.

Once upon a time, I couldn't write fast enough. There was so much in my brain, so many thoughts that needed working out through my fingers. I wrote every day, I questioned something within me every moment. It was like I had to pull it all out and set it in front of me, so that I could know who I was, and what I believed.

But now, I just don't feel the pressing on my soul. Maybe it's that I am comfortable with my own thoughts, I don't have to analyse them so literally anymore. I know more of who and what I am. There's not so much angst in my life. Maybe it's that I don't feel like I have to convince anybody of anything. Not that I'm right, or somebody else is wrong. Maybe it's that I don't feel like I've got to be heard, because I've learned the hard way that sometimes being quiet is wiser. Maybe I've gone from needing attention, to actually paying attention, and that shift is evident in my blog.

All possibilities which, I suppose, make for a boring bookmark nowadays. But, oh my happy life. I am happier than I have ever been, buried up to my neck in The Ordinary. I am not writing so much, but I am living, wholly. Life is rich, each moment is full of flavor. Most days are sweet, some days are not, but I am never left wanting. I am not hungry anymore. I am satisfied. I do not need writing to fill holes in me, whatever shape they were.

Many people say (and I definitely see this arguement) that the best art is born from pain. There are Poes and Dickensons aplenty to say that yes, creativity can be conceived in the darkest places. I suppose, because in the lightest places, it's hard to do anything but bask in the pleasure of it. But, something I've come to understand-- it is far more preferable to LIVE in a joyful moment, than to WRITE in a painful one.

Not that all my writing came from dark times, it hasn't. And it's not that I won't write again. As the children grow older and need me less... when I find there are empty spaces in the day again-- I know beyond a doubt, it'll be there. One day, I will plant my novel in the fertile soil of this life, in the richness of these days. It will grow to be something, in it's own time. But for now, I am content to wait, to let the ground lay fallow. Let wildflowers grow here today, let the herds graze, let the tall grasses have their hour.

This is not a farewell post, by any means. I suppose it is just an explanatory one. I want you to know why the pace has changed here. I am not adrift, or discouraged, or overworked. I have not lost my muse. I am, simply, immersed. I am baptized in life, in love, in the workings and restings of the day.

There will come another season for writing. When it comes, I'll be ready. But I cannot hasten these days, not these. Let another write for a while, it is living and loving that call me today.

**

Posted by WonderGirl at 6:08 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2009

Along For The Ride

I checked out a book from the library the other day. I'd like to say it was a choice based on the author's reputation, or good reviews, or a sterling recommendation from a friend. But no, it was a random response solely to book cover and title. Tsk. Discriminating reader, hm? I should be more impervious to flashy words and images, but I am not that cultured. But, I won't berate myself too much. Another post. Today, it is just an observation about myself. I am an easy sell. Who could resist "Father Melancholy's Daughter"? Not me.

So, this title, it's bold. Promising.

Maybe.

(Unfortunately, it is the books who brag the most, who deliver the least. Nothing quite so disappointing as an overly ambitious title...)

I tucked it into my pile quickly, sheepishly.

Later at home, my husband casually finds two boarding passes inside the pages of the book. I am a little put out. That was, to my way of thinking, a discovery intended for me. I was the one who succumbed to well designed graphics and a dramatically constructed title, after all. But, I am not so peevish, hopefully, to hold a lasting grudge. After thirteen years of marriage, I am sure I have stolen his prizes a time or two. So I forgive him his unknowing trespass. I will pretend I found them, and that is that.

So, the passes, an old flight, from Houston to San Diego, for Billie and Elaine H. Bookmarks, now, I suppose. Tucked in a borrowed book, from a poky library in the middle of the nowhere I call home.

I find myself intrigued. Whenever I read this book (which turns out to be a slower, less captivating read than I had hoped for--sigh), I study the passes, and wonder about them, about this trip. Why were they traveling? A wedding? Graduation? Funeral?

My imagination takes this book up into the air, a silent traveling companion, a witness to this moment in their life.

Does Elaine gaze out the window, as I would have, in amazement at man's triumph over gravity? Or does she squeeze the arm of the chair, white-knuckled and scared? Does he laugh nervously at take-off? Or is he indifferent, well-traveled enough to recognize the usual clatterings of aircraft engines?

Do they share the hours in conversation, or in comfortable silence? Or are they disconnected from one another, strained, awkward? Do they stare at nothing in particular, so that they do not share the intimacy of being two people, two people connected even at thirty-two thousand feet? Does she read this book, while he watches the inflight movie, because nothing is novel about this moment?

I don't know. It makes me sad, somehow. You shouldn't read mournful literature as you are soaring through the sky with your husband, with your wife. It's not right, somehow.

So, in my mind, I see her, beginning this book, and glancing over at her husband. She notices that he got his hair cut for this trip. She smiles to see his mouth quirk up at the movie. Billie leans his seat back a bit, and she catches a brief hint of his cologne in the air. And then, a glint in her eyes. Elaine slides their boarding passes in the pages to mark her place. "Father Melancholy's Daughter" goes into her bag.

He notices.

She lays her head on his shoulder, and he thinks, I've seen this movie a hundred times. He takes off the headphones, and turns to look at her, at his Elaine. They are two people, connected even at thirty-two thousand feet.

Later, they take turns with the window seat. They share tiny foil packages of peanuts and clear glasses of ginger ale. They speak excitedly of their plans for San Diego, of the patchwork of towns and fields and lakes beneath them, of how they are so glad they are finally taking this trip they'd always talked about...

They fly together, Billie and Elaine, and "Father Melancholy's Daughter" is just an unlucky, unread book along for the ride.

Or, at least, so says my imagination.

I return the book, unfinished. It wasn't much of a read, to be honest. I press the boarding passes carefully back in, hiding the edges so that a diligent librarian won't discover and remove them. I leave the prize for another, because the best story wasn't found within the author's words. It was in the mystery of Elaine and Billie, who once upon a time, took a trip, in a plane.

And hopefully, lived happily ever after.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:04 AM | Comments (5)

January 12, 2009

Let's Not Break Up

Oh, I can't stand it.

I'm weak. I'm a bad-breaker-upper. I didn't mean it, I'm sorry, let's try it again, okay? We can go to couples therapy, if that's what it takes, but let's not give up on this thing yet.

So I'll just take a little time, a few weeks-- and I'll come back. For better or worse, I can't give up blogging, but a little vacation wouldn't hurt. So, we'll say, February 1st, mkay? I know that will give me a chance to rest, to enjoy other people's blogs, and to consider where I want the Sift to go from here. I know there's more left to say, I just have struggled to know what it is lately. You can't help but wonder in those moments, is this it? Am I done? After a few days to mull it over, I think I just need a break. I think a few weeks of quiet, of stillness, will help things come into focus. A few weeks to dip my pen in the ink of life, and what I write will be better for it.

Thanks so much for all your sweet comments and emails-- I treasure each one. You remind me why it's worth the effort. I am humbled by the breadth of your love for me, and for this blog. It's just not something I can walk away from.

Looking forward to a new season at the Sift...

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:55 PM | Comments (3)

January 8, 2009

You Lent Your Ear, Your Heart

Oh my goodness. As I sit here, feeling better, probably good enough to actually write a blog post, I realized something. A huge, shocking epiphany.

I don't really feel like blogging anymore.

I have dismissed that feeling over and over these past few weeks- assuming it was because we were busy or traveling, or sick, or whatever. But the truth of the matter is, I'm just kind of... done.

It makes me sad, because truly, I love writing. I love the friendships I've built here, the encouragement I've enjoyed, the growth I've experienced in this place. But, no matter how much I want to, I just can't seem to pull anything else out.

So, for now, I'm gonna disappear into Real Life. I don't know for how long-- however long it takes to fall in love with writing again. However long it takes to fill my bag, to store up the moments, till my arms can't hold it all and I have to write it out again. I want to write because I can't help myself. I'm not in that place right now. And, oh how I don't want to write for the wrong reasons. It is the worst kind of writing, it is empty of spirit.

William Wordsworth said, "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." I don't want to do anything less than that.

I'm not going forever, I'm not removing this site, I'm not giving up. I know that I'll still update with pictures and things from the kids, because this is a record-keeping tool for my family. But, it's going to be less than it was. It's going to be less "me". And I'm okay with that. It's time.

Thank you for reading, my friends. I cannot express how much your support and encouragement over the years has lifted me up. You've brought great joy into my life by lending me your ears, your hearts. You helped me be a writer, before I even knew what that meant. You are the best, the best, the best.

I will miss you madly.

Love to each and every one of you,
WonderGirl

Posted by WonderGirl at 8:45 PM | Comments (10)

December 2, 2008

The Bleginning

Once upon a time, I invented blogging.

Okay, not really. But, I began writing online in 2000, during the first wave of internet journaling, back before it was known as blogging. A dear friend, Dan, helped create a site for me that I could update daily. It eventually died out when I discovered the blogging programs and networks out there, and I lost the posts I had written. Verra sad. But, it just goes to prove that nothing is ever REALLY lost on the internet, because Dan found it all again for me! He's the best- it wasn't easy, and I want to publicly thank the man for his hard work! He has resurrected the long lost posts of WonderGirl-- and I have to say, oh mah goodness. I have to laugh at myself, at my nervous writing. I didn't know what I wanted to say exactly, and I can read the insecurity, the shyness in my attempts to communicate. I am surprised at the difference 8 years makes in my writing. It really brings home the fact that we never stop learning or growing. I wonder, I really do, what it will look like in 8 more years.

Anyway, I'm going to start uploading those old posts here. They'll be tucked away in the archives, in a comfy chair, with their sock feet up to the fire. Because they deserve it, the old timers. Pioneers of my writing, blazing a trail in uncharted territory, they have earned their place at the Sift. If you want to read the first one, you can find it here.. Please, be kind, they're sensitive old dears.

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:52 PM | Comments (1)

October 5, 2008

Remember This

Tonight, I try to memorize her voice. I etch the sweetness of her high pitched, little girl cadence into my mind as she reads aloud about a unicorn named Twilight who helps to rescue a kitten named Sparkle. And when it is my turn to read, and the kitten faces the dangers of a barn fire, I can feel her heart overcome with concern. And my own is overcome with who she is right now, right in this instant. She is unicorns and kittens and rainbows... it is funny and precious, and I want to remember it exactly as it is.

I open all my senses, making myself a blank slate for her to write upon. I will my mind to make a perfect memory of her, exactly as she is at this moment. Her still squeaky voice, her shiny curls clean from a bath, her long limbs with all the bumps and bruises of a tomboy, her nimble and elegant fingers fluttering the pages... I call upon everything in me, the billions of neurons hard at work, to make no mistakes in recording my child. Please, help me, I say. This is the most important job you have.

Because, I know, oh how I know. I will want this back.

As much as I look forward to in her life, as proud as I am to see her moving and growing... I will want this back. I know it in my bones, as you know it in yours.

It is this thought that has helped me reach a decision about whether to keep blogging or not. This blog is a lot of things, but it's most important function in my life is as a Keeper. This is where I hide my treasures. This is where I squirrel away the good things in life, building up a stash of all the things I'll want back.

So, I'll keep writing. It may change tone a little. It may be less frequent. But what's here will matter to me in ten years, more than having a little extra time to read or jog or sew. I am not ready to stop writing, not when there is so much inspiration around me.


Posted by WonderGirl at 9:41 PM | Comments (5)

August 21, 2008

Arctic Blue on My Eyes

I've been poking around in my archives lately, and republishing some old entries from my first blog, A Peck of Gold. Remember that one? I still have many to sort through, but the effort has me taken me back to my blogging beginnings. Ah, the good old days, back in '03. Let's see, I was a mother of two, 27 years old, and basically clueless.

Now, a mother of four, 32 years old, and still largely clueless. Go figure.

It's funny though, reading those early posts. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I just wrote whatever I could to fill the page. It's like seeing old pictures of myself where I'm learning to put on makeup (you can never wear too much blue eyeshadow), or fix my own hair (everybody had wings, dadgummit! Not just me!!)

Laughable, sweet, definitely embarassing. There's color on my face, sure. But, oh how inexpertly applied.

It took a long time to learn how to give over to blogging, to begin sharing how I felt and where I was-- and not just post funny (and often not-quite-so funny) links. I wonder how much of writing honestly has come from just the process of growing up, maturing-- or if it is the honest writing that has helped me to grow up. Probably both.

These thoughts inevitably lead me to think-- if I see myself as endearingly blundersome five years ago, will I see the same about these days, these posts, five years from now? How much change waits for me in the years to come? I'll be 37-- mother of four (?), and still largely clueless, I'm sure.

I certainly hope I look back at these posts and chuckle at myself, because that will mean that God is still working in me. I hope for that bemused retrospection- that today's wisdom will be tomorrow's foolishness. I hope I see blue eyeshadow.

But, lest I paint it too cheerfully, I will confess- I do not only laugh when I read old posts. I weep, too.

There are many entries that I never published that were too raw, too lost, too shameful, to ever share aloud. They came from the dark moments over the last few years, times when I was in rebellion to God, when I was running from wisdom and righteousness. I read those, and I can't help but thank God that He wasn't done with me. I can't help but rejoice in the many miles covered in the last five years, and beg Him for even more in the five to come. This blog has marked the steps. I began it for entirely different reasons, but somewhere along the way, it became a scrapbook of my life. My joy, my sorrow, my fear... it all comes out here, in some form. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

The one encouragement I would give as a veteran blogger (yikes, and as if anybody was asking in the first place!)-- is, Write honestly. Let your blog be a chronicle, for better or worse. Don't be afraid to show yourself. It's scary sometimes, because, shoot. We're all messes. I don't want you to know how offbase I can be, and I know you don't want to broadcast your own faults, either. Who wants that?

But, it is in the looking back that we can truly marvel at the distance covered. It is in knowing just what disastrous, misled, foolish notions we have entertained, that we can see how God has corrected and sanctified and healed. It is in seeing our bright blue eyeshadow and John Denver haircuts, that we can really appreciate the wonder of God's transforming grace.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."

Even a blog.
Especially a heart.

So, put it out there a little. Don't be afraid to blunder about, don't be afraid to look silly. We all do. It's a silly life. We're silly people. And anybody who says differently, well... we'll just wait for them to walk past a mirror and notice their own Arctic Blue eyeshadow for themselves.

Happy writings.


Posted by WonderGirl at 1:13 PM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2008

This is For Dad

Who taught me to embrace my imagination.


Continue reading "This is For Dad"

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:27 AM | Comments (6)

June 5, 2008

Steps Elsewhere

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Today she wears flipflops, a tanktop, and a long, flowy skirt that once belonged to a real flowerchild. She crosses her legs and looks down at the floor. The tile tries valiantly to be sand beneath her feet. Not because she needs it to be, not because it means she'd be somewhere else. Just because it would be nice today, to walk with the crunch of a thousand years beneath her. It would be nice to walk alone with that sound, not walking away from anything, or towards anything, just moving for the sake of hearing her footsteps--

the salty breeze playing with the folds of her skirt, whipping strands of hair into her eyes, the sun warming her shoulders, waves gently whooshing onto the shore, gulls calling to each other...

No, not for any other reason than that.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)

April 20, 2008

Writing in the Dark Room

cam.jpg People intrigue me. A woman sitting in a coffeeshop with a beautiful knit scarf wrapped around her neck, staring off into space... A man sitting at a picnic table in the park on his lunchbreak, watching children play...

What brings people to the places they are? I construct stories in my head to explain them. I give them names and histories and motion, because I can't help myself. They intersect with me for one moment, and it is in that instant that I want to know them. So I give them a circumstance that forces the genuine, I give them a moment that tears away a lifetime of facades. It is not as cruel as it sounds, sometimes the moments are very beautiful. Humanity is exposed by both our joys and our struggles. We are the most authentic, the most evocative, in those rare moments.

It's like this- almost every day of their life is a yearbook picture. They comb their hair, tilt their head, and give the same practiced smile they did yesterday. But sometimes, (and oh to even think of it thrills me), there is a candid shot. An unguarded moment of truth, when the worst and best is laid bare. There is a moment that is quintessentially them. They are unaware of our attention, or life is such that they do not care who sees their soul. It is that moment that I ache over as a writer. I am desperate to catch that moment before the poise and control returns, before they hide themselves behind frozen smiles.

I want to write in grand, sweeping flourishes- I want the space between the beginning and the end to be full and substantial, novel-worthy. But it is not. I can never seem to go beyond that one flash of inspiration. That one moment, that one scene- a life condensed and contained within a written photograph. Once it is written, I am satisfied, and I move on, knowing that tomorrow will be just another yearbook picture. I know, I've got the one that mattered, the one that tells their story.

I am, on occasion, frustrated. I am not a novelist. I am not a poet. I would not even say I fit the short-story mold. So what am I? And more importantly, what do I do with it? I have a collection of scenes, pieces of people's lives. I'm not sure how to stitch them together, or even if I should. But they matter, at least to me, and I wish there was some purpose to it all.

Would a writer's class be the answer? Am I merely stuck where plenty of others have been before?

?

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:59 AM

April 18, 2008

Pictures of Them

It's raining today, and as it sometimes does, contemplation has blown in with the heavy clouds. I think over the pictures a friend sent me of her children. She is a friend of my youth, and I see a young her in the smiles of her daughters, I am awash in memory of her own girlish merriment in her son's joyful visage.

I am glad for it, glad to see her in them. Glad to know that although we are living our lives too fast, something of her and those days is caught in their faces. The occasional pictures she sends, they are sweet and heartbreaking. They mark the way we are flying through the measured time we have here on earth. And yet, they fill me with joy and assurance, that when we are gone, something of us remains. Maybe, hopefully, the best part of us.

One day, I will die. As I move closer to that day, I feel the weight, the need, to leave a heritage my children can be proud of. I want what I leave behind to encourage them, to uplift. I want their memories of me to stir them towards goodness and holiness, to joy and peace. I pray that I leave them more than the color of my eyes, a particular mannerism or quirk... I pray that I leave them a picture of a holy life. More than my smile, I hope they carry some evidence of my heart.

It's partly why I write here. These words are letters to my children. I know I have fumbled and failed, and I try to portray those weaknesses here honestly. I hope they will find my humanity as a stepping stone, that it will encourage rather than shame them. I hope they will not be embarrassed by the public blunders I have made, and will see instead the Pursuit. I hope they see a life that moves forward, to redemption, to Christ.

It is not arrogance, it is not an attempt to immortalize my feeble wisdom, it is only hope. Hope that they will avoid treacherous paths, that my own inadequacies will warn them away, that my joys and struggles, all those lessons so hard-learned, will encourage them... long after I am gone.

I am not saddened by these thoughts. I am inspired. Leaving a memory like that, means living a LIFE like that. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?

And now, a break in the rain, a break in my thoughts. The rain can only fall so long, as briefly as the human heart can ponder it's own mortality.

To other things- to laundry- to Dr. Seuss- to rounding numbers and koolaid- patience and love and gentleness... to the Pursuit.


Posted by WonderGirl at 1:59 PM

March 25, 2008

More Fun For Me

(Started this here, and here, and adding to it. It's not a complete story yet, more like a string of scenes to stitch together as I go along. There is something incredibly fun about writing this way. It's completely liberating, writing as you think, almost like letting the rough draft run wild. Anyway... just thought I'd play around with it a little.)


Part III

She was deathly still, laying on the floor in front of me, her neck twisted at an unnatural angle. Oh, I know how it looked. I had the candlestick in my hand, raised above me. A candlestick of all things- what am I, Professor Plum in the library? I would have laughed if the cop in the doorway wasn't pointing a gun at my head.

"Drop your weapon," he shouted.

I tried to appear nonthreatening, for what it was worth. "Sure," I said calmly. "But you might want to let me finish this. She's about to get extremely cranky."

He looked down at Eternally Sleeping Beauty, and back at me, crazy homicidal guy. I guess it wasn't much of a contest. I didn't think it prudent to bring up the fact that you can't break someone's neck with a candlestick. He didn't seem open to small talk.

"I said, drop your-,"

I didn't need to look down to know why he froze in his tracks. I sighed. No doubt, he noticed the faint twitchings of the figure on the floor. Well, here we go again, I thought to myself. I started the mental countdown to all hell breaking loose. Ten, nine...

I looked at the officer in pity. I'm sure when he woke up this morning, he didn't expect to take a trip to bizarro world before lunchtime.

"Oh, don't worry," I tell the cop. "Your assessment of the situation was correct at the time. She was dead. Not," I added, "that I killed her." Technically, anyway, I amended silently. Eight, seven...

He didn't seem to hear me, which was understandable. It was hard to concentrate as the previously dead groped about, her neck wobbling horrifically on her shoulders. Six, five...

The body on the floor seized upward, and I backed up a foot, holding the candlestick firmly in hand. Professor Plum, indeed. It was downright embarassing. I eyed the officer's nine mil enviously. Four, three...

"You're familiar with zombies, right, Officer?" As if on cue, she slowly shuffled to her feet, blinking solid black eyes in the bright light. "You know, brainhungry, slow-walking, kinda stupid?"

She turned at the sound of my voice. I gulped. Curse it all, if she didn't smile right at me.

Two, one...

"Well, this is much, much worse."

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:50 PM

Too Late For This

And I know it, but I just can't go to sleep knowing I've let ANOTHER day pass without blogging.

What a strange week it's been. It started with the flurry of excitement over the birth of my nephew. A bit of spring cleaning in the beginning of the week, then company came for a few days in the middle, and ending it all with a funeral, and an Easter egg hunt the same day. Life has been a crazy patchwork quilt, and I don't know quite what to make of it.

I am now at my parent's house for a few days, then back to Monroe Wednesday, and we'll finish out the weekend there.

It's a little bit exhausting, but most of it in a good way.

Lots of thoughts in my head lately. I find myself laying in bed at night, composing dialogue in my head, which is usually an indication that I've put off my creative writing too much. Honestly, it just gets pushed off to the bottom of the list right now. I can get away with it for a few months, and then it won't be put away like that. I can feel that pressure rising, like steam in the kettle. I know it won't be long before one of those midnight musings forces me out of bed, and I'll have to put my thoughts to pen so I can sleep. When inspiration gets desperate, it will do what it must to be heard.

In some ways, I welcome it. I miss it. I need it to override my perfect schedule, create a little chaos to my order. There are days I'd like to go on a writing binge- I'd like to fall of the wagon, eating, drinking, living the words that have waited patiently as I folded clothes, and went over math problems, and brushed curls with a happy giraffe comb. I'd like to write till my eyes burned and my back hurt, and my fingers cramped and I'd gotten it all out of my system because I never seem to be able to do that anymore.

I've come to understand something, though. It's not about choosing one over the other- it's not about motherhood battling the writer I can't not be-- it's more about finding that place where they coexist. Finding the balance, and being happy with it. Knowing the difference between self sacrifice, and abdicating yourself. I want to be both, mother, and writer- and I'm not talking about a published, famous novelist or anything. By writer, I mean, using that muscle that yearns to be flexed. I know when I've used it, and when I haven't, and publication has nothing to do with it.

God made me both. It's me who messes it up, who can't figure out how to make it work. It's me who didn't understand it for a long time, who thought there was a choice to be made between the two, who mourned what I thought had to be the loss of something important inside me. But I am both, and somehow, I've got to make them work together. Because being one doesn't make the other go away, ever. And I wouldn't want it to.

Perhaps, though, the midnight hour is best used in sleep tonight. I am not driven yet by the sharp crack of inspiration, who keeps ruthless hours. But I may not be so lucky tomorrow.

Wishing you all well, and good night. May your dreams, be they dialogues or paintings or gardens or flying horses, be sweet.

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:14 AM

March 14, 2008

Hearing Myself Think

Oh, inspiration.

It was so easy to come by in the old days, the quiet days. When all it took was the right song, a perfect, breezy day on a blanket, the sound of rain at my window...

Now, inspiration must be LOUD to be heard in my life. I must tune out the chaos to find it. The right song competes with the battle cries coming from the playroom. That perfect, breezy day on the blanket has been replaced with days at the playground. And the sound of rain in my window is often drowned out with "Mom, I'm bored!"

It's not that I don't find my family inspiring, because I do. I wouldn't want those old days back even if I could have them. I am blessed with every loud, comfortably chaotic day and I would never go back.

But I'm going to tell you, it's hard to find a quiet moment now to sit down and write.

And I do miss that.

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:20 PM

February 22, 2008

Imperfect Words

Oh founder of my soul,
Great author of my life,
Who breathed a holy breath in me,
And brought this dust upright;

Glory to thee for all thy works,
Those without and those within.
Thy hand moved across the cosmos
To stir my heart from sin.

Keep me at thy feet, Oh God
In fearful awe of thee.
Thy praise forever on my lips,
Humble and bend my knee.

Make me to know thy goodness,
Cause sin to grieve my soul.
Teach me to love thy law each day,
And find strength in thee alone.

Oh kind and faithful God of old,
Who knelt to earth for me,
Make this servant truly thine,
From hence to eternity.

-insufficient words for a sufficient God, imperfect words for the perfect God- but still we try and try we must, for that is what He asks of us.

Posted by WonderGirl at 4:42 PM

November 27, 2007

Cherry Tree Dreams

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"Mama, tell me a story?"

"Snuggle in, little one, and I will tell you the story of a dream. Close your eyes, so that you can see with your mind."

Continue reading "Cherry Tree Dreams"

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:06 AM

October 9, 2007

she says before bed

Oh sleepy me.

Day is gone, I know it, and yet, see me fight the night!
With tooth and nail
And toss and turn
The mouse asleep, the candle burned.
The kids tucked in, with slumber's view
Don't I need the sandman, too?
No more stalling, must close the sash
To sleep, to pillow, to sheets, I dash
Make a wish, and close my eyes
Lay down the day, to dreams arise.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:42 AM

August 17, 2007

An Ending

Autumn leaves littered the ground, scattering as I ran through the woods. Tears stung my eyes, drying tight on my cheeks as if I'd been standing in front of a fire too long. Branches whipped at my face and arms, leaving angry red welts on my skin, and I welcomed the needling pain. My shoulder ached and I knew the wound had opened again. I didn't care. I ran hard, punishing my lungs, wanting them to feel as strained and constricted as my heart.

Wordless anguish raged inside my head. I came to a clearing, stumbled over a root, and fell to my knees. The grief I'd been running from caught me, wrapped itself around me like a vice and squeezed until I couldn't breathe. I laid sobbing under the skeletal trees, their bare arms black against the gray sky. I curled my knees into my chest, and let the pain come, embracing the weight of my loss. I waited for it to crush me, to sweep me away from this world of barely living. I touched the bandage on my shoulder, and stared at the blood on my fingers, remembering.

Let her go.

The cold metal of the gun was pressed into my temple, the icy kiss of death on my skin. It had happened so fast, this leap from normal life into nightmare. Danishes, I'd craved cherry danishes for breakfast from the bakery down the street. He loved Saturdays, perfect for lazy strolls, for matinees, for love in the afternoon, for pastries in the mornings. We walked hand in hand, happy, too happy for the world. Past the dry cleaners, past the newspaper stand at the corner, each step closer to that moment. A woman handing out flyers, a man walking a yapping dog, two boys on skateboards, and then pandemonium. Popping, like fireworks and confusion and a scream...my scream? I was jerked up by the arm, and pulled away from Dustin. I fought, but the click of a gun stopped me cold.

"Let her go," Dustin yelled at the man.

Those were it, the last words. The gun tilted, and exploded beside my ear, and the world stopped. I stared at a still photograph of the horror, saw the surprise on his face, the red blossoming on his chest, saw the realization in his eyes. Reality crashed back in, and what was frozen became chaos again. Dustin fell. I wrenched away from the man, running forward, when I felt a sudden burning in my shoulder. I never heard the crack of the gun, my ears still ringing with the first shot, but I knew. I didn't even care, all I could think of was getting to Dustin. Then I was holding him, his blood spilling out with mine. I screamed for help, cradling his face in my hands, willing him to stay, demanding that he not leave me.

But I saw it coming, Death crept up. I fought him, pushed him away with everything I had. But Dustin's gaze grew unfocused, and Death snatched the light from his eyes. I clutched him to me, in a pool of blood and grief and senseless tragedy.

The lonely call of a bird broke my reverie, brought me back from the horror of that day, and into the present agony. I lay in this desolate place, far from the sympathy, the condolences that I couldn't bear to hear. Another gun, this one mine, heavy in my hand, and the click of the hammer caused my heart to lurch. I sobbed, holding the barrel against my temple, and begged Death to walk this way again, to release me from this world of guilt and emptiness. I could see him, that familiar blackness, see that Death crept in once more and all I had to do was squeeze to bring him closer. So easy, so much better than remembering oceans of soft sheets, or riding in the car with the windows down, or the way Dustin's hair felt threaded through my fingers. I closed my eyes, my hand shaking.

But my fingers wouldn't. I cried, I wanted them to, but they wouldn't.

Let her go. Dustin's voice chased Death away. I dropped the gun, gasping for air, quaking at his words echoing in my ear. I won't, Dustin. I'm sorry, I won't, I promise.

I layed there, alone but learning the feel of it, learning that alone still meant alive. I left the gun, under dead leaves and a gray sky. I left to find my way out of the woods, out of my loss, all on my own.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:15 AM

August 15, 2007

Blow

Oh, nirvana. I'm saving my birthday candles for this wish. I mean, you only turn 32 once. I so wanna go.

Posted by WonderGirl at 2:12 PM

August 11, 2007

--the running place--

the sky was gray above her, the certainty of rain heavy in the air.

Continue reading "--the running place--"

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:51 PM

July 27, 2007

Penmanship

Thankfully, there is some common sense to be found rattling around in my head occasionally. Despite my intentions of turning in early to sleep last night, I spent way too much time writing a letter. When I looked up from my heavy treatise, I realized it was 1 a.m.

No letter you are writing at midnight needs to be sent, because nothing you say in those late hours is worthy of hearing. Words born in the darkest hours need baptism in the light of day before you send them off on their task. So I saved it to the "draft" folder, and sought my bed for a restless few hours.

I woke up in relief. Reading back over my words, I realize they do not serve me as I intended them to. I was glad for that little voice that said, wait.

Today, it says shhh. And I am perfectly content in the silence.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:26 AM

July 2, 2007

Shine Mountain

I started this a long time ago, and have picked up the story again. I fleshed out (and changed) the beginning a little. What do you think?

Continue reading "Shine Mountain"

Posted by WonderGirl at 7:16 PM

June 30, 2007

Legacy

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One of my favorite days happened today, though you wouldn't know to look at it. It started yesterday, when Czarina noticed me reading an old diary.

"What's that, Momma?"

"This is my journal, Honey. It's where I write things I want to remember."

"Like what?"

"Like how I feel, or what I did today, or special things that happen." I paused, wondering if this would be the moment I've waited for.

"Do you think I could do that?"

I smiled. Finally. "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea."

So today, in between running errands, going to the pool, doing our customary Saturday business- we bought her first journal. She examined the selection with care, eventually deciding on a small blue Beatrix Potter diary. We made an occasion out of it, celebrating with a chocolate milkshake.

This is a big day for me. King Pen has been drawing with Czarina ever since she could hold a crayon. I've always been glad for that, but a part of me longed to share the things I love, too. I hope she will find the pleasure and solace in writing that I have during my lifetime. If she doesn't, well that's alright. She's not me, nor would I want her to be. She will find her own way, I know this. But, I am happy for today, happy to share the excitement of a blank book, even if it is just this once.

On the ride home, she was quiet in the backseat. I asked her if she was okay, and she said, "I'm fine. I was just thinking of what to write in my journal."

So, what did you decide, I asked.

"I'm going to write: Today is a good day. Today I had a milkshake with my mom."

I think that's an excellent beginning.

***


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Posted by WonderGirl at 10:02 PM

June 14, 2007

A Ketchup of One's Own

Continuing with "Reader Appreciation Week" (which should have been called "Reader Appreciation Month").

******


"New Heinz EZ Squirt (now featured in New Blastin' Green) with precision stream allows kids better control, more creativity in mealtime decisions!!"

Keri snorted as she read the advertisement aloud. "Are you kidding me? Do you know what my blessed angels would do if I put a bottle of ketchup in their hands?" She glanced over to the sandbox at her two boys. "Steven, don't you dare take that shirt off, I mean it! How many times do I have to tell you?"

She flipped the page of the magazine. "Like life isn't enough of a zoo already. I can see myself trying to get green ketchup out of my Laura Ashley curtains. God bless the dry cleaners, that's all I can say."

I opened my mouth to reply, but Keri's screeched out across the playground, "Hunter! Stop dumping sand on that little girl's head right this instant! Don't make me come over there!"

"Honestly, sometimes I wonder if they ever ask parents about crap like this before they sell it." She stuck the magazine in her purse and pulled out a pack of gum, popping a piece in her mouth. "Seriously, " she smacked, "are they out to make my life more of pain in the-- STEVEN!" She bolted off the bench, swearing under her breath, and took off after the errant and now shirtless Steven.

I looked down at my little one, only a few months old, peacefully sleeping in his stroller.

"Don't even think about growing up," I whispered.

**

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:14 PM

June 4, 2007

More Reader Appreciation

Submitted by Katie:

What Not to Wear and Do when you become a Mommy

1. Mom jeans are an obvious no-no. Nothing says "I've given up" quite like the roomy cut of apathetic denim. Come on, Mommies. You may have some extra junk in the trunk, but let's leave the pleats in the 80's, where they belong.

2. Don't try to squeeze all your belongings into your prepregnancy purse. It just ain't gonna happen. Your jeans aren't the only item that go up a size. Your purse must now become the 8th wonder of the world, able to hold your wallet, brush, keys, a spare diaper, pacifier, kleenex, sippy cup, box of crayons, your mascara, AND a small Chinese acrobat. Don't ask about the acrobat, just trust me.

3. Don't throw away the "toddler leash" gag gift that your aunt gave you at your baby shower. You will need it.

4. Don't put a "Baby on Board" sticker on your minivan. It's painfully redundant. Do put a bumpersticker about your child being on Honor Roll though, because yes, other people judge you by your child's accomplishments. (Sorry- it's true. I'm just saying.)

5. Don't worry about a manicure, but please, oh please, don't forgo tweezing/waxing those eyebrows. This is not just about you. I can't talk right when your eyebrows are wagging at me. I can't quit looking at them. You could have such lovely arches, if only you'd let me have ten minutes with that unibrow.

6. Don't swear to never use your t.v. as a babysitter. Unless you like the taste of crow.

7. Don't give up on style altogether. Okay, so maybe you won't be Sex in The City. But you can still get your chic on at Target (thank you Isaac Mizrahi.) As a sidenote, spit-up comes right out of most of his fabric blends- the genius!

8. Don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself, but don't make excuses for dropping the ball either. Just get out there and do it and don't whine about it, whatever "it" is.

9. Don't wear swimsuits with skirts attached. They will make your husband cry like his best dog died. Don't break your man's heart like that.

10. And lastly, don't pick your child's nose in public. Yes, it's got to be done- you know it and I know it, but we must all agree to hide that shame in the bathroom.

Okay, that's it for now! Add 'em if you got 'em!

Posted by WonderGirl at 3:34 PM

May 31, 2007

5 Things I Like About Rosie O'Donnell

(Thank you, Ashley, for making this post possible. You're a dear.)


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1. I like that Rosie isn't related to me. I don't have to buy her a Christmas present, or listen to her conspiracy theories over Thanksgiving dinner.

2. I like that Rosie isn't a blond, because we don't need that kind of P.R.

3. I like that Rosie got into it with the Donald, because it reminded me that I should stop watching so much t.v.

4. I like that Rosie uh.... Ashley, this was too cruel.

5. I like that Rosie quit the View, because now they can get Sandra Berndhart in there. Yes! (---please note the sarcasm.)

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:12 AM

May 30, 2007

New Exclusives from the Seedy Underbelly of the Sippy Cup Vortex

Kicking off Reader Appreciation Week with Jeannette's submission.

***********

The baby had on what I referred to as the French Moo. It was a white longsleeved suit, with gray and black polka dots. He looked like the spurious offspring of a cow and a mime. Why the French ancestry, I couldn't say, but it seemed to fit. This was quite the occupation for such a little fellow, and I laughed every time he was outfitted as the French Moo.

The baby cooed from his mother's lap, breaking the universal law of mimes everywhere.

"Oh little one," I crooned in my unpracticed maternal voice, "Come to Auntie Zoe!" I held out my arms and was rewarded with an excited squeel. The baby bounced up and down on my knees, and I watched my sister through the corner of my eye. She was mumbling to herself as she sifted through the various baby paraphernalia piled around us.

"It was just here," she said distractedly, peering under the table.

"What?"

"The sippy cup. Dang it!"

I hid a smile. A year and a half ago, "dang it" wouldn't have made it into her colorful vocabulary. Who knew that my spikey-haired, punk rock older sister would grow up to be a respectable, responsible adult? I guess babies will do that to you.

"Is Mommy having a little breakdown?" I asked my tow-headed nephew, earning a gummy smile.

"Seriously, Zoe, help me. You have no idea how many of these we go through a day."

I spotted the blue and yellow cup where it had rolled under the stroller. "There," I pointed. The baby clapped and held out a chubby, star-shaped hand. I preened slightly in auntly pride.

"Here you go, you little monster," said my sister fondly, handing him the prize. "Try to hang on to it for more than two seconds this time."

I stared at her for a long minute, remembering. It wasn't all that long ago that I was the little monster in her life. "You're a great mom," I said.

She smiled, an unknown and secret smile. It looked good on her. Better than the spikey hair.

The baby giggled as I tweaked his nose, and the sound drifted down on us like snowflakes, light and soft. "Come on, little French Moo. Let Auntie Zoe introduce you to the seedy underbelly of the sippy cup vortex. I know just where to hide 'em." Big eyes looked up into mine.

"Then I'll teach you how to drive," I whispered conspiratorily.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:22 AM

May 11, 2007

The Last Day, Part II

(Part I here)

"Forget it, Jason," Megan said. "I am not letting you drive. You don't even have a license yet."

"I don't need a piece of paper from the man. I could drive blindfolded."

"Well, not in my car you're not," She adjusted the rearview mirror, and pulled out of the driveway. Jason's house was close enough to skateboard home, but he had talked Kyle's older sister into giving him a lift on her way to the mall. He and Kyle had been friends ever since Jason moved to Edgewood three years ago, and he'd had an embarassing crush on Megan from the moment he met her. Two years older than the boys, she was often delegated the duty of keeping an eye on the pair. She pretended she didn't notice Jason's stares and hopeful gestures.

Continue reading "The Last Day, Part II"

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:43 AM

May 8, 2007

The Last Day

She had long legs, the kind that went on forever, and she knew it. Her foot tapped to the mellow sounds drifting from the radio, and he fell a little bit in love with her pinky toe. The tiny nail was painted cotton-candy pink, and Jason tried unsuccessfully not to stare.

It was the summer he turned sixteen, and he was floating on a raft in his best friend's pool. He came here during the part of the afternoon that was too hot for skateboarding. In Southern California, you either surfed or skated. He had tried surfing, but could never entirely overcome his fear of sharks, not that he'd admit that to anybody. Maybe if he hadn't seen Jaws the weekend before his first try up on the board, he'd be surfing right now instead of drooling after his best friend's older, and completely unattainable, sister Megan. Maybe if he hadn't been so busy trying to impress an uninterested girl with cannonball splashes, he would have been in the right place to stop what happened. The maybe's and what-if's of that day tormented him for years, and did nothing to undo the worst event of his life. He was a boy doing what boys do, making memories in a sunlit afternoon. He had no way of knowing that four miles a way, a darkness was circling like a shadowy shark in the depths, coming to steal his happiness.

It was the last day of light, the last day of youth, and he never saw it coming.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:04 AM

May 3, 2007

Part II

(Read Part I here)

I'm just having fun with this-- writing whatever comes to mind. It's full of pop culture references and slang and won't last the test of time or anything. It's strictly for entertainment purposes. So, um... all that to say, don't be mean.

***

Somebody was trying to set me up, and they were doing an excellent job so far. The first person the police suspect in a homicide is the spouse, and I had the misfortune to fit the bill for two murders in a week. It didn't help that I also had motive out the wazoo. Wife number one had been sucking me dry in alimony payments for five years, and I was cranky about it. And wife number two, well that pretty little number had drugged me and robbed me blind two days ago. You'd think she would have at least waited until the honeymoon was over, but no. I wasn't one of those lucky in love kind of guys. However, actually having them die in my presence was a new development. And here I had finally overcome my fear of commitment. Go figure.

Continue reading "Part II"

Posted by WonderGirl at 8:02 PM

One House Down

I'm reading a book right now called "American Bloomsbury" that has me totally fascinated. Did you know that Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller all lived in the same town, at the same time? They had relationships with each other, pooling their literary and political interests to become the founders of Transcedentalism. They rented houses and land from each other, had brief romantic interests in one another, used each other as inspiration for characters in novels... They learned, and lived, and wrote, together. They were a community unto themselves. I had no idea! I've always thought of these authors independently. It never occurred to me that they interracted with each other. I love the concept, though. I would love to live next door to someone who wanted to exchange literary critiques, to engage in conversation about writing techniques, and in a greater sense, how to interpret life as writers. Someone who inspired me, and found inspiration in me as well. What would such fertile ground produce? When it comes down to it, yes, you sit alone with a pen in your hand, but you write with the world at your shoulder. What could you write with genius one house down?


Posted by WonderGirl at 10:57 AM

April 26, 2007

A Random Beginning

He knelt beside her motionless body, careful not to touch anything. She was pretty, before somebody or something had gotten to her. Her purse sat a few feet away, the contents scattered haphazardly across the floor. He checked his watch, five more minutes. Not much time to solve a homicide. But he'd done it in less.

He closed his eyes, and listened.

"Get out," she screamed, her voice reverberating in his ears. She couldn't see him, of course. He was listening to the past, and she was screaming at someone else. But who? "It's not here, I swear it," she said desperately. There was a scuffling noise, and then the raw sound of bodily impact. He cringed as the woman cried aloud under a rain of blows. Whatever was attacking her was big, and mean, and didn't say a word. He cursed to himself. He wasn't going to find any answers here. The drawback to hearing the past was that it required somebody to actually say something.

The sound of sirens in the distance brought him out of the past, and into a very complicated present. He couldn't afford to be here when the cops arrived, not after last time. Two corpses in one week was two too many, especially since he had been married to both of them.

**

That was fun! Just thought I'd try something a little different. We'll see where it goes.

Posted by WonderGirl at 4:54 PM

April 12, 2007

Somewhere She Dreams

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She loved the wide open plains of Kansas. When the walls of her house starting closing in, when every inch of her life was filled to capacity with toys and boxes and pots and pans that didn't fit right, she sought the refuge beyond her door. The turquoise sky waited, wide and empty. It beckoned her to forget about a life that was too tightly stuffed, it promised space for all her dreams. She sunk down into the dancing grass, letting the wind tickle the blades against her skin. Here, she could get lost in the girth of the land. Here, she was small, nearly invisible. Closing her eyes, she breathed in the scent of the whole wide world, and wished herself up into that blue expanse, if only for a while.

The endless horizon stretched around her, and she could reach forever and never touch it all.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:35 AM

March 19, 2007

Written in the Margins

Sometimes I jot things down, tuck them away, and forget about them- like this short passage.

"There are wells, deep and dark and cold within me. They tap hidden springs, places I've never seen, from places I've never known. Rushing water beneath my surface- it feeds me, and chills me, and leaves me."

I don't remember why I wrote that, or what it was about... but I do enjoy the discovery of old writings.

Posted by WonderGirl at 2:52 PM

January 25, 2007

Introductions

Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend who was lactose intolerant.

Wait, stay with me for a second.

We began dating in the summertime, in the South, and everybody there knows between the months of May to September, the third date is the Ice Cream date. So when I suggested it, I was shocked to learn that my new boyfriend couldn't enjoy the delights of dairy. I felt really bad for the guy. I couldn't fathom a world without cheese, or milk, or ice cream. "You can have sherbert, though, right?" I asked.

He was perplexed. "Sherbert?"

Oh. my. gosh. "You've never even had sherbert?" I replied, horrified. Now, granted, he was from a different country (yes, it's true- girls are suckers for accents) but he wasn't from a different planet. I assumed he'd at least had a Push-Up or something in his life. But he hadn't.

So, off to the grocery store we go, where I picked out a box of tri-flavored sherbert. We drove up to one of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, and cracked open the box. I watched him take one of the plastic spoons, and experience the flavor and texture of something he never thought to enjoy. It wasn't ice cream, but it was closer than he'd ever thought he'd get. It was a culinary milestone for the guy. We watched an amazing sunset display, and finished off the entire box. It was idyllic.

I love that memory.

Not because it was a great date, or he was a great guy (though both were true), but because in that moment, my favorite phrase was born. A sherbert-colored sunset. Now, when those same pinks and oranges blaze across the sky in shocking hues, I always think of sherbert. I think of youth and innocence. I think of growing up in the South, in the simple pleasure of cold slipping down your throat on a hot night. I think of the muddy Mississippi River, who for a magic hour, dons the fiery, juicy colors of the sky.

I realized that night, that words are like a butterfly net to me, catching the moments of my life that would flitter away. Just as his eyes widened at the new sensation of sherbert, I had my own epiphany as well - that I would always count my wealth by the words I've collected. A sherbert-colored sunset became the first of a lifetime of treasured words. I discovered a passion for finding just the right ones to express my world. It has been one of the driving joys in my life.

Anyway...

I just wanted to share that. It was a defining moment for me as a person, and as a writer. It's good to revisit those places in our life occasionally.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:29 PM

July 5, 2006

Beginning

I begin today-- Bayou Sara has waited patiently for me to become settled in my new life, but it will wait no more. I have researched as much as I can at this point, and I am anxious to begin. I am nervous, actually. Sweaty palms and all. I want this, in a way I haven't wanted other written pieces. It's there already- the stories, the people, all I have to do is find them and let them speak for themselves.

It's exciting.

Okay, all for the moment. Before I get to do the fun stuff, there are housewifey things to do, like laundry and spilled cereal on the table. Off I go!

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:48 AM

July 3, 2006

The Penwheel

I haven't felt much like writing lately. I think there are seasons in a writer's life when you need a break, you need to stop writing life and start living it a little. There is a fine line between observing and recording your world but also participating in it. The days have been filled with trips to the pool, the creek, the library, the playground. I have also visited with family and friends and made trips here and there. The days of summer pass quickly before me. I feel the need to make the most of them.

But I haven't forgotten this place, and it makes me sad when days at a time pass with no word from me here. But, ya know. Ebb and flow. I won't force myself to write when I don't feel like it. That's not doing anybody any favors.

I expect that as summer gives way, my writing will pick up. I write best when there is a nip in the breeze, when socks warm my toes. I love the Fall. It is the harvest, a gathering of the words grown during the long, sunny days. Summer is for the living. Fall is for the writing.

Anyway- that's all for now. I just wanted to jot those thoughts down while they filled my head.

Happy 4th, dearies.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:37 PM

May 9, 2006

Bayou Sara Pictures

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Posted by WonderGirl at 10:00 AM

May 3, 2006

Emerging

Yesterday, I spent the whole day researching Bayou Sara. I drove out to St. Francisville, about thirty minutes north of Baton Rouge, and holed myself up at the West Feliciana Historical Society Museum. I was in heaven.

Bayou Sara is an actual bayou (imagine that) that dumps into the Mississippi. The town of Bayou Sara was called Bayou Sara Landing and was founded in 1790 as a river port. The "Landing" part sort of dropped over the years and it was just known as Bayou Sara.

St. Francisville sits up on the bluffs above the area that used to be Bayou Sara. These two towns were peas in a pod- maybe a little competitive at times, but functioning together to create most of West Feliciana. St. Francisville was the social center, it had the churches and schools, etc. Bayou Sara was the rowdy, business area. It had the grog houses and livery businesses, and amusements for the flatboatmen. It was one of the most important ports on the Mississippi, very busy, with lots of money coming in and out. Bayou Sara Landing was the ideal crossroads- planters from the area would come in on the bayou with their goods, and merchants would load up cargo and passengers on steamboats or flatboats to tote up and down the river. Business, as they say, was good.

Until the fires.
And floods.
And the War.
And the boll weevil.

Bayou Sara is totally, absolutely gone. And entire city, burned and washed away and obliviated by circumstances almost spooky. Like it was cursed. The bluffs of St. Francisville remain, preserved and beautiful, but Bayou Sara has returned to wilderness, as if it had never been touched and tamed by man.

Anyway, there are so many amazing stories here, fiction is almost an unnecessary tool. As I begin to learn more about the people and events that are Bayou Sara- I am excited, and overwhelmed, and feel a strong responsibility to write their stories well. I love this little town already. As a writer, there is no greater thrill than loving the story.

I mean, look at this guy. How could I not write about him?

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Is it me, or does he have the tiniest feet you've ever seen?

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:19 AM

April 18, 2006

In Love

As a writer, one of my favorite experiences is falling in love with an idea, or a place, or a character. It happens spontaneously- I'll see someone on the street and I'll be inexplicably drawn to them. I will spend days infatuated with them, until I finally sit down and flesh out their lives with my pen. Or I'll read about a town and find myself in a fantasy of life within it's boundaries.

The excitement, the anticipation, the breathless possibilities rush over me like a lover's words in my ear. I am anxious for a quiet moment to spend with my newfound interest. My heart quickens at the chance to see the spark grow into a full blown story...

Bayou Sara has captured my eye- a boistrous Lousiana river town, which suffered fires and floods and war and eventually disappeared into the pages of history. It was known for it's wild ways and unflinching perserverence. It is simply, absolutely, ripe for the picking. There are stories to tell there, I can almost taste them. I want to gobble them up by the mouthful.

So off I go for now, daydreaming of this vanished town, seeking ways to revive it once more. Nothing is more gratifying than stirring the dust of a forgotten place, a forgotten time...

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:15 PM

March 18, 2006

The Moon's Too High

mooncow.jpgBed, bed, bed beckons.

But... not entirely. For who should awaken at this very hour but the writer in me, who has been so quiet lately. Lazily slumbering in the midst of the chaos that has been my life the last few weeks, finally she is stirred to write. What woke her? And can she be put off till morning?

Zah. Tonight we must heed the body and slip into the cool sheets of sleep, where dreams wait patiently to fuel the morrow. No jumping over the moon tonight, oh frolicky one.

G'nite, sleep tight.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:40 PM

February 13, 2006

A Savage Occupation

Warcraft of the Writer

The ink etches into the paper with brutal force, dominating the white space, taming the blankness in her hands. There is no mercy, no quarter given until the emptiness is subdued beneath the furious scratching of the pen.


Posted by WonderGirl at 1:54 PM

February 10, 2006

Freeday

Have been a bit preoccupied lately with the slow birth of a story. This is the first time I've stuck with one piece long enough to see it really flesh out. I am excited about it, I feel like this could be the one where I get to write "The End" on the last page.

One of the things I've concentrated on is developing believable characters, and I did this excercise to help move me towards that. It's basically just a questionnaire, but the implications direct you to some interesting conclusions. After doing it for all my primary and secondary characters, I kind of wanted to do it for myself, too. Forgive my obvious narcissism, and go ahead and indulge yourself too if you wanna. I won't judge you. But I might base a character on you!

1. Name: WonderGirl
2. Age: 30
3. Occupation: Domestic goddess and mother extraordinaire!
4. Residence: south La
5. Marital Status: Married
6. Children: three-5, 3, and 9mo.
7. Pets: Nameless cat
8. Religion: A free spirited Presbyterian
9. Drug: Whatever kills the pain. (tylenol, baby. Straight from the bottle.)
10. Food habits: I eat like a squirrel. A grilledchicken-loving squirrel.
11. Nervous habits: licking my lips
12. Hobby: writing/blogging
13. Dream: Under an umbrella, on a beach, journal in hand.
14. Fear: that being a good writer quite possibly makes me a bad everything else.
15. Clothes: realistically -casual and easy. But if I wasn't so lazy, I'd do a little more bohemian glam.
16. Secret: Oh I got issues. Too dark for publication, my dovies.
17. Worst thing that ever happened: Debts- which to be honest, just isn't that horrible a thing to me.
18. Fetish: Good smells.

Anyway, this little excercise really helped me understand a few things about my characters, and sent the story in a new direction. Very productive. And it gave me a freebie post for the day! Whoohoo!

Okay, I'm off to prop up my life again before it tumbles down around me. Have a good weekend, all!

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:55 AM

February 9, 2006

Scribblings

"Her love was the spikey and killing kind."

I like that sentence. It's not completely there yet, but the idea is forming.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:19 AM

January 19, 2006

Men Have Called Me Mad

Oh no, no, I groan. It's too late, I want to sleep! I don't want to be here, in front of this computer, fashioning something out of nothing. But inspiration will do as it pleases. It waits for no man. Sleep! Ha! Zere is time for zat when you are dead, it says Frenchly.

So what shall we write? What words shall we set free from my frightfully artistic and tortured soul? Who gets their wings tonight?

Oh but I am a simple soul. There is no mystery to me. I live, I breathe, I laugh and cry and love and grieve and die. As we all do.

But it is enough. The spring of who we are is fathomless, our waters run deep. I could write from this moment on for a hundred years and still not drain the well or words that make up Life. There will always be stories to tell, stories to hear. Stories to dream and live, those to rejoice in and those to regret. There is no need to chop off my ear, not tonight at least.

So, off I go, to my horde of unfinished and untold stories. I could be sleeping, dreaming, but that will wait. Sleep will always wait. Inspiration is not so kind.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:13 AM

January 2, 2006

Pauses

I love the blank spaces in my life. The moments that are white and empty, waiting to be filled only with my daydreams. They come at stoplights, as I'm running, when I clean... times when there is nothing else I could possibly do but think.

My hands may be busy, but my imagination is unbound, I am free to go anywhere. The past, the present, the future- they are my playground. This is where I go to find inspiration, and why I probably haven't written much lately. There has been no time for blank spaces. But, the busy season is behind me, at least for a little while.

Once again, there is time to think, to dream, to write.

What do you do with the blank spaces in your life?

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:35 AM

November 9, 2005

A Girl With No Wings

(notes from my journal, forty thousand feet in the sky)

Flying inspires me. The novelty will probably never wear off for my simple mind. The fact that we wingless creatures can soar the open heights fills me with awe. The chance to explore the anatomy of the clouds, to plunge ourselves into this white, ethereal field of cotton - well, it's fun. I love the momentum of takeoff, that one second before the wheels lift and you think, "Here it comes! Go, baby, go!" as if your will and encouragement are what gives the plane that last needed push. I smile, every time, even though I try not to. What a victory for mankind! What an accomplishment! And I look around at the people who have already begun to sleep or read, and I wonder, how can you not mark this moment? Look at us! We fly! We did it! We conquered gravity!

I don't want flying to ever be commonplace to me. I don't want to pull the blind down and block out the clouds. I don't want to close my eyes against the patchworked terra firma beneath me. I want to feel the magnitude, the history, the effort, the sheer miracle, that has brought me into the sky. And if I seem naive, or inexperienced, or totally lacking in sophistication with my nose pressed against the window, I don't care. My mind is on other things- like the twisting of rivers, the geometry of corn fields, the glimmering of lakes, the cresting meringue of clouds.

The world becomes bigger as the people become smaller, and I am reminded of life beyond my own vista.

I see the world, and know that I am such a small part of it. And yet, it's exactly the way it should be. The world is too big for any one of us. It takes us all to fill up the nooks and cranies, we each hold up our own little end of the world.

What a lovely way to live, and what a beautiful sight it makes.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:25 PM

October 16, 2005

i learned to dance from my mother

who swung me around to fats domino and aretha franklin and all those greats that i never knew. she was spontaneous and gorgeous and perfect and mine. she pulled me into a place that stands outside the rules - she wasn't a grown up and i wasn't a kid, we were just people for the very first time. the years between us were suspended, as we danced in the living room in the middle of the day beside the vacuum cleaner and the speakers and orange shag carpet. the whole world was right here and for a minute i saw her exactly as she is, how she was, how she'll always be on the inside. she let me in, she let me see, and i never knew why but i didn't ask. as she twirled me around to make me laugh, i loved her as i'd never loved anyone in my whole little life. she was sunshine and motion and i'll never forget it.

stream of conciousness-- i love where it takes you. back home, so long ago, when all seemed right and new and amazing. and home, now, which is also right, just right for my own wide eyed little girl who dances with her mother in the middle of the afternoon. we twirl and laugh and i remember, and i know we are all exactly where we should be.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:29 PM

October 10, 2005

Composed

Yesterday evening, I ran.

I ran past houses with warm lights in the windows, mothers in kitchens, fathers in yards, and children darting between the two. I peeked into their life and soaked up their happiness, their normalcy, their comfortable routines.

There was one home that was particularly poignant to me. It was no different, really, than the scores of other houses I passed, but for one thing. The view through the window showed walls and walls of shelves, filled with books from one end to the other. Ahh, I thought. Readers.

What kind of books do they read? Who reads them? Are they trophies or pillars?

As I thought these things, I wondered what people see through my windows. They don't see books. This is strange if you know me, because books prop up my life, keeping the bits and pieces balanced, harmonic. You would think my house would be overflowing. But it isn't. The few books I own are usually ones given to me that I've read but haven't had a chance to donate to the library yet.

Why is that?

Well, it's because I am not a collector of books. I am a collector of words. I hunt and gather words like a literary savage. They are crowded into my brain, archived in a messy chaos that only I can navigate. They wait patiently for employment. Innoculate. Puissance. Gratuitous. Fathomless. Melancholy. Conspicuous. These words beg for utterance, for a chance to exist, and I am sympathetic to their plight. I am helpless against their pleas, I can't bear the dying of words.

So when I saw that house, those shelves and books, I gloried in the thought that those words had found a home. They are read over and over again, until they are polished and shiny from use. With each reading, they are resuscitated from obscurity, guaranteed a few more years, a few more breaths.

My run carries me away in seconds, my glimpse into their home abbreviated by my speed. My legs move faster and I am fueled by satisfaction. There is purpose in my effort, in my tending of words. Someone cares. As writers, we release our much loved words into this wide world, hoping and praying that they find their way. We watch them wobble out, new and eager and impossibly innocent. We fret nervously and helplessly as they find their own fates.

And then it happens. Magically. Surprisingly. Someone finds them, and loves them, and gives them a home.

There are few moments in life when I am speechless, when words fail me. A blessing and a curse to be sure, this propensity to articulate my entire life. It's gotten me in more trouble than I care to remember. But in this, words fall short. They can't contain the joy they invoke in my life. Ironic, isn't it?

It's a funny thing, this love affair with words. It's bottomless, insatiable, and yet incredibly fulfilling.

It's just... wonderful.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:33 AM

September 28, 2005

Abundance

There are moments in my life when I stand in the center of all the good things - alone in the field of my happiness, and I want to hold out my arms and spin until I'm dizzy. The blessings of my life surround me like wildflowers, and they become a bright blur as I turn faster and faster. Nothing touches me there, no troubles or dark thoughts dare to intrude.

Continue reading "Abundance"

Posted by WonderGirl at 5:51 PM

September 21, 2005

Verbs and Nouns and Such

Once upon a time, I wrote this. Now, I've cleaned it up a bit since that rough draft, and get this - actually submitted it to a magazine. Yikes. That's my first little tiptoe into the publishing world, so we'll see how it goes. I won't hear from them for a few months, though, so I'm not looking for results any time soon.

Whatcha think?

***

I dropped my bag onto the sand, and gazed out at the sinking sun. My chair sat within reach of the lapping waves, and with a sigh of relief, I settled in comfortably. My toes wriggled down in the soggy sand of their own volition, as waves flirted softly with my feet. My hands stretched over stomach, now rounded with pregnancy.

Gulls cried high above, soaring in graceful arcs. Sun-kissed children combed the shore for one last shell, as parents began to gather their now salty belongings. Crabs scuttled playfully in the fading light, and a school of tiny fish hid in the faint shadow of my chair. I watched lazily as forgotten sandcastles were slowly swept away by the relentless tide. As the waters claimed each crumbling turret, my troubles followed. My worries and fears drifted far into the sea, far from me.

Clouds abandoned their fluffy whiteness, and gleefully donned pinks and oranges and yellows. The parade of colors stretched over the ocean, filling the breadth of the sky. Sunset waited, fashionably late, until we all held our breath for her entrance.

As I sat beneath the canopy of day’s end, I took a picture in my mind. I memorized each detail, each taste and texture and smell. It's all still there, though the memory is but a shadow of the brilliance.

I left the beach knowing I'd never be able to recreate the moment, not entirely. Life was around me, and inside me, for the very first time. In that instant, I was joined with the elements and creatures in their endless cycles. It changed me. The peace and beauty imprinted on my soul. I carry that with me always, a souvenir, hidden deep within.

And now, when I look at my child, with her bright smile and golden curls, I know that I am not the only one who carries the mark of our perfect day. For she shines like the sun, and she smells like the breeze. She soars like a bird, and she has colors in her soul that rival the setting sun.

That day, so perfect and beautiful, passed swiftly into a memory. But my daughter? Her light stretches into a lifetime.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:44 PM

June 21, 2005

Incessant Murmurings

I feel a story creeping around in my head again. It usually happens when I reach critical mass emotionally. I lay in bed at night, playing out the dialogues in my head. Anger, joy, frustration - whatever I feel in my own life becomes a conversation between fictious characters, and pretty soon, I need to see it in print. It's like excorcising my demons in a way. I can look at everything I've ever written, and tell you exactly what was happening in my personal life to motivate it. (But don't ask, because a girl has to have a few secrets!) I wouldn't call my writing autobiographical, but it is an outlet.

Is this why I don't feel comfortable pursuing it professionally? Because writing is actually just an extension of me, nothing more. I'm afraid that if you look too closely at what I write, you'll see it's not particularly special. It's not founded in some great literary education, and there's no lyrical genius behind these words. It is what it is, because I am what I am.

Which brings me to the question, just what do I think I am? And I'm not talking about my roles-- because my first instinct is to answer, "I'm a mom. And a wife. And a friend." I have to go a little farther than that. I want to know what's beneath that, what's under my skin?

Who am I when I'm in a room all by myself? Because that's where my writing takes me-- to a room all by myself. I'm not Mother or Wife or Friend when I'm there. I'm just The Author. And I guess I'm afraid that that isn't good enough sometimes, and I'm afraid to put it out there for judgement.

I dunno. I'll have to mull this one over a bit. But not now, because I am sleepy and everything is terribly dramatic when the body is tired. Time for bed, time for dialogues to bounce around in my head again, until sleep finally wins the night.

G'nite.
Sleep tight.
And so forth and so on.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:51 PM

June 8, 2005

A Color

Fifteen miles south of Natchez, right before the rain comes, you can find my favorite shades of green.

I watch as the grass shivers in the wind, and drinks the water right out of the air. The world glows emerald, sparkling with those few eager raindrops that have leapt early from the clouds. I am not alone in my observations, because even the cattle in the fields can sense the changes in the green around them. They munch greedily, one last taste before the rain rolls in...

Some of the animals have already wandered to shelter under the shadowed jade of the trees. Dark and mysterious, these greens call to me, too. I want to hide beneath them, quiet beneath their canopy. This is a moment in time when it is wise to wait. Let the rain come, let me sit here. Let me watch as the world becomes a rainbow of wet and green.

There's no where else to be, no other thing that needs to be done. I am here only to witness the birth of green from the blue of the sky.

It's so much more than a color, isn't it?

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:14 PM

June 3, 2005

Postpartum Prayer

Lord, grant me the serenity I once knew nine months ago.

Give me a blind eye to the clutter that now fills my home.
Grace me with ears that hear what is actually being said, and not what I think they meant by it.
Lend my hands strength to change the thirteen thousandth diaper, fill the juice cups at lunchtime, and still hug my husband when he walks through the door.
Give me a mouth that smiles and says good things.
Bless me with eyes in the back of my head and an extra arm.
Expand my heart to fit my world.
Grant me a clear head, with thoughts that are healthy and productive.
Give me a body that leaps with the morning sun, and the ability to greet each day cheerfully.

And when You have seen to all the imperfections of my body and soul, then bless the people around me. Grant my friends the ability to understand my weaknesses, and help me to be a friend like that, too. Give my family patience and perserverence during this temporary insanity, and remind them it's worth the effort. Shower my husband with special grace to face the unexplained tears and mood swings, and assure him that the woman he married is still in there somewhere. Fill my children with knowledge of their mother's unending love, and help them know that fun will be had again.

And if You have time after all that, I'd love to be able to get my hair done.

Amen.

****

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:29 AM

March 29, 2005

Knowing Her

Describe her? I... could try, I guess. I don't know if you'll understand though.

She's the gust of wind that rushes through the open window, and blows the papers around the room. Do you know what I mean? That chaotic force, unexpected and disruptive, but exactly what you need at that moment? She sends you scurrying after the pieces of your life that are caught up in the breeze. She brings disorder at precisely the right moment.

She doesn't live by the rules. It doesn't necessarily seem fair, because the rest of us have to live by rules, don't we? I mean... that's how things get done right? But she doesn't-- she floats, she sails, she rides... and watching her is inspirational. It's impossible not to feel that twinge of envy, like watching a bird stretching far beyond our imagination. But, it's not an ugly jealousy. It doesn't eat at you. It feeds you, pushes you, questions you. It makes you look down at your own arms, and wonder if there could be wings there instead.

She sees things that other people don't. She finds the true nature of a thing, and she exposes it with a color, with a photo, with a word. She isn't afraid. She takes chances. She doesn't let fear, of failure or humiliation, or rejection, stop her. Because that's her true nature. What could be cliche, a long solitary walk in the woods contemplating the world-- isn't. Because that's what is really inside her. Her ease with herself is the most natural thing, it's something she was born with. A gift she isn't even aware she has.

Oh, she's not perfect. It's all too easy to see that she is moody and overly dramatic and takes herself far too seriously. But being around her makes you smile indulgently at those things. It makes you love her even more.

There are plenty of people in the world like me. I know this. It's not an entirely comfortable thing to admit to myself, but I can be honest about it. There are only a few people like her though. The rest of us gravitate towards people like her. We want our lives to intercept, at least occasionally, with these brighter planes. Maybe not too much, because it makes us feel inadequate in some ways... but just enough to revive us. Remind us, that life is more than what is beneath our feet. It is also what is above our heads, out there, soaring around in heights that make us dizzy and giddy and laughy...

I count that view a blessing. And I count this soul my friend.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:33 PM

December 5, 2004

The Telling of It

Sometimes, we want to write the stories of our hearts with invisible ink. Those things we long to relieve ourselves of, the stories that reveal too much, they are the ones we want to write the most, but fear the greatest. Little bits of those hidden stories creep into our published works and we cringe. Did anyone notice? Did anyone see that secret theme of me that I tried desperately to conceal? The pen is wild in our fingers, rushing ahead of us, exposing the weaknesses, the fears, the confessions we have buried deep. The ink seeks to reveal us as we really are, and the battle is neverending.

But for the endless stories we don't want to write about ourselves, there are stories we don't want to write about others, as well. Yet, we find ourselves here, feeling unknown pains and joys of people we don't know, unable to stay away. Strangers we see on the street, their faces haunt us until we create the story of them.

Like you.

"I can't do this," you whisper into your wife's hair. You bury your face in her neck, and breathe her in. That scent, so perfect, so her, hints at desert wind and eucalyptus, and you ache at the sensation. You can't imagine how to breathe air that has no taste of her. You can't, but you will. That's what they've told you- hold her now, they said. It won't be long.

Do you know how much I don't want to write that story? And yet, here I am, helpless to avoid the pain you're experiencing, dreading the temporary ache that comes from your permanent condition. But I will stay. You deserve that.

Words, they are such a faint echo of the living. We cannot begin to match the truth of experience with such a simple thing as a pen.

It is a meager gift I give, I know, but it is yours. It is my prayer that in some small way, the telling of it will help ease the living of it.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:06 PM

October 30, 2004

Savoring the Sweet

I've admitted it, I love Halloween. And in honor of the chocolate binge sure to occur around my house late Sunday night, I am reposting "Chocolate Lamentations", an oldie, but a goodie.

Ahem.

Sweet, sweet chocolate, you know my name. Call me less, I plead! For countless warnings in my head, I find I cannot heed!

Your siren call comes in the night
When none else will satisfy
No salty, bitter, or fruity sweet
Will answer your endless cry!

A moment on the lips, they say,
I've heard a thousand times,
So lock me in my house of shame
For all my chocolate crimes.

Tongue in cheek, I end this prose
With more than a heavy heart,
For others may suffice in day,
But chocolate rules the dark.

~WonderGirl~

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:45 AM

October 23, 2004

NaNo-what?

I'm taking the plunge. Into the icy cold depths of commitment. And I'm not talking 'bout the marrying kind, because I've been there, done that, and this scares me more.

I've signed up for NaNoWriMo, at Jeannette's prompting. NaNoWriMo may sound like an adorable little Pokemon character, but it's not. (Sorry to the 12 and under set. You may find this quite boring, so I'll refer you here in the meantime. Come back later for more rubber chicken silliness.)

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. From November 1-31, the goal is to write 50,000 words, or 175 pages.

EEEK!!

Here's an exerpt describing the event:

"The ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel."

I can't begin to tell you how much I DON'T want to do this, which is precisely why I must. I have developed a phobia of the ending of my stories, because I'm a big fat chicken! This will force me to complete the process, no matter how bad the plot or characters. I'm not aiming for publishable material, I'm just going for that big finish line that says, "THE END".

Anyway, here's my icon for the event. See the brave squirrel in his acorn helmet? He really should be out gathering nuts, but he's hoping this will be his big break. The Viking horns are pretty intimidating, methinks.

squirrel-100.jpeg

I am worried that he's blue, though. Is he cold? Did his electricity get cut off because he got fired because he spent too much time writing? And where's his computer? Did he have to pawn it to pay his bills, because he can't hold down a real job? Where's his family? Did they abandon him because he quit making them dinner and washing their clothes? Oh Squirrel, is it worth the loss of everything you hold dear to finish this novel?

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to grab you like that, Squirrel. Of course you'll be fine. There, see, I put your hat back on and everything. All better. Write away.

Lord help me.

Posted by WonderGirl at 6:21 PM

September 25, 2004

The Saturday Night Haiku.

My moo goo gai pan
Fills my mouth with words and food
Delicious again.

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:30 PM

September 21, 2004

Finding A Light

“It wasn’t like anybody was hurt,” was my mother’s way of comforting me.

“I guess not,” I mumbled into the phone. I hadn’t expected her to understand, but I still felt that old pang of disappointment. “Look, I’ll call you later. I have to file the report.” I hung up and wondered to myself why I’d even bothered calling. It always turned out the same.

It took a few hours to finish up with the police, but it was straightforward. The arson team would be investigating the scene for the next few days, but they suspected it was faulty wiring. I’d get a copy of their report for my insurance company, and that would be that.

I stepped out of the police station and blinked against the blinding sunlight. I don’t have a toothbrush, I thought idly to myself. I wandered down the street, thinking of the bright orange flames that ate my house. I can’t stand not to brush my teeth. Had I left the iron plugged up? How much could a toothbrush cost? I had five dollars in my pocket, could I get toothpaste, too? Maybe my electric toothbrush had shorted out and started the fire. I laughed at that, and then, I couldn’t stop. I laughed until tears were streaming down my face, until I was doubled over in the street.

Somebody asked me if I was okay, and I waved them off. Fine, I yelled, I’m great, thanks. I just need a toothbrush, I laughed hysterically.

They probably thought I was crazy. Didn’t I deserve the luxury of losing it for a few minutes? My whole house had been reduced to smoldering ashes in front of my eyes. The house I had rolled pennies to pay for. I loved that house. Now it was a wet, black, sooty smudge.

But that loss was bearable. It was my things, the little bits and pieces that made up my life, that made me want to scream, It’s not fair! The ceramic cat that Jolie brought back from Italy, the Sammy Sosa baseball my dad had given me when I was ten, the rug I brought back from Mexico. I had always prided myself on not being materialistic; I was above people who were attached to their possessions. So why couldn’t I stop thinking about the beaded lamp shade I’d splurged on last month? Or the quilting pieces my grandmother and I had worked on and never quite finished, and the green chenille afghan on my couch, or the friendship bracelet from my brother? Here I am in a street, wallowing in loss like a complete lunatic, laughing when I felt like crying.

I looked up at the bewildered people watching me, and I gave a wobbly smile. I’m okay, I said, standing up. Really, the crazy girl is fine.

I stumbled around for the next few hours, stopping in somewhere to buy a toothbrush. I was pretty sure I needed some other things, but I couldn't think of what, and I didn't really care. It was dark, but I wasn't tired, and besides, I had no where to go. So I walked.

I ended up on the Antioch Bridge, looking out at the lights of the cars and the houses reflecting off the black water of the river. No light out there has my name on it, I thought to myself. I'm alone, and all I have in the world is a new toothbrush. Oh, and baggage. Yeah, I've got plenty of emotional crap. That didn't burn in the fire.

I didn't stop to think what I was doing. I leaned over the edge of the bridge, and looked down into the nothingness. I couldn't see the water churning below me, but I knew it was there. I held my hand out over the water and slowly uncurled my fingers. The toothbrush dropped, swallowed up by the darkness. I turned and walked away.

Sometimes, you have to let things go.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:19 PM

August 19, 2004

Pen Poised

Ahhhhh....

That's the sound of me relaxing. Which is what I'm doing about my writing. I've realized something in the last few weeks. I need to write less, and listen and watch more. Fully aware of how cliché this sounds, (and saying it anyway!), there are stories all around me, waiting to be written. But, I can't do that if I'm not looking for them. Writing is not just about putting a pen to paper and stringing together some nice sounding words. (That’s the heart of my epiphany, folks!!) Being a writer is a way of life, a state of mind. Though you may not have a pen in hand, you never cease to be a writer, because you never stop observing life. It's not just something I do; it's what I am. That's so hard to say, because you worry that people will think you're pretentious or have delusions of grandeur if you say "I'm a writer". But it's not about that. It's not me being any of those things. It's just me being me. God put this love of writing in me for a reason. To record, to capture, to save. Duh, huh? I guess I should have known that, but I didn't. Now I see that I have the chance to preserve the world around me, to voice the intricacies of life and the people living it. Wow. How cool is that?

I've bought a rather lovely, brown leather journal to carry around with me, just like I'd imagine The Greats to have used. I'm inspired just looking at the thing! When thoughts pop in my head, I'll jot them down. When I see that cowboy in his beat-up car waiting at the stoplight, I'll write about him. When I see the lady beside me at the gym trying to hide the fact that she's crying, well I'll write about her, too. It's not for anything in particular; there are no limitations or expectations for this journal. Its only function is to help me learn to SEE better. I know this will, in turn, help me to WRITE better, but you know what, I don't even care about that right now. What comes will come, and that is sufficient for me. Right now, I only want to do the thing I feel called to do, and that is enough.

The rest will take care of itself.

Posted by WonderGirl at 5:25 PM

August 15, 2004

What Disturbs You?

I tend to get introspective, and occasionally blue, on Sundays, and I am not surprised that this post reflects that. Forgive a little self evaluation, if you will.

[writing exercise]

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about.

When all the external things in my life are taken away, when I am bare of the titles and roles I fill, I begin to cast my eyes this way and that, looking for any distraction. A good mother? I am. A good wife? I think so. A good sister, daughter, aunt? Yes. I believe that could be said of me.

But take those things away, and leave me standing alone in a room, hands idle and no task to prove my worthiness- Well, that disturbs me. There is some place inside me that is fully my own, and I fear that what lies there is not acceptable and not deserving because it is not good. Oh, it's well hidden. And if I bring it to light, people who love me are quick to say, oh, no, you're being hard on yourself! You're worthy of love, of respect, of the blessings you've received-- don't think so poorly of yourself. God loves you, so you must love yourself!

But, I. I am the one who knows. Even if I confide some of it to you, it's the gentler version, so as not to shock you, to shatter your illusion of me, because there is, after all, my pride to think of.

I'm the good girl. Just ask anybody. Even the rebellious moments of youth, were not, in fact, so bad. But it's hard to carry that righteous neon sign all the time. Sometimes, I want to come clean and say, you know what? I'm not good! I'm prideful! And selfish! And care too much what the world thinks of me! You don't really know me, because I don't really know me because I'm too afraid. Afraid of what is really there when all the trappings of life are gone, when I have no excuses to look away from the person I really am.

But, when I am writing, I am brave. Those internal struggles find their way into my words, and they are exorcised, they are weakened. I am alone with the pen, alone with my soul, and that's getting easier.

My one hope, my one grace, is that I am disturbed. I am not content with the state, with the inside and outside unmatched. I am driven to find the balance, and as long as I am searching for it, I know it can be found.

Not looking for argument here, okay? Don't post that you think I'm a wonderful person-- or you miss the point entirely. Give me some credit for knowing myself. Instead, go to your blog (or even here in my comments), and write about what disturbs you.

It's really quite liberating. [/writing exercise]

Posted by WonderGirl at 9:45 PM

August 12, 2004

Writing Exercise

Today's assignment: write for ten solid minutes. Start with one sentence. Then write the next. And the next. Don't think ahead about the direction, the story, the plot, just write one sentence at a time and keep your fingers moving.

**
There was a gap in the wall, and the edge of the paper was sticking out. I stuck my finger into the dark space and wiggled it around, trying to dislodge it. I finally managed to get enough out to pinch between my fingers, and I pulled. It was yellowed, but surprisingly intact. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I think part of me hoped that it would have disintegrated, dissolved into nothing, just like my heart had when I’d shoved the paper into this crack so long ago. I swallowed hard, and gently opened up the letter. My hands were shaking slightly, as I read the words I had carried in my heart for too long.

“Jessie,
There is no easy way to tell you that I have to leave. I wish I was man enough to face you, but we both know that’s not the case. Maybe, one day, I will be. Please forgive me, although I know I don’t deserve it. I will pray for you every single day. Peter”

I didn’t blame him now, looking back on it. But at the time, it was all I could do to keep breathing, keep existing. The anger I’d felt when I discovered his letter was almost as deep and raging as the anger that consumed me when I learned I had cancer. A broken heart and a broken body, I couldn't decide which was worse. It was not a time I care to recall with great detail. But, time healed my body. And, to some lesser extent, it healed my heart.

So, why come back? Why revisit a moment of such utter and complete despair? This piece of paper has been lodged into this wall, and into my heart, for too long. It is time for hidden hurts to be exposed, faced in the light of the day. What good is a healthy body if you have a heart that has forgotten how to love?

I folded the letter again, and placed it in my pocket. I looked back at the hole in the wall that had hidden my pain for so long. “Thanks,” I say. "I can take it from here."

Posted by WonderGirl at 8:55 PM

August 10, 2004

The Woman Who Left

You are only an ancient family name to me, removed by over a century from my own life. Yet, without you, I would not be here, and I owe you--- something. Yet, this surprises you, I’m sure. You would not feel you are owed anything. After all, you abandoned your children. Abandoned. Your. Children. You severed your life from the family tree, as if you didn’t even exist. You left them in the care of their father, and you never looked back. Not once. Two children, of your own body, carried around the pain of that betrayal their entire lives. It is the only legacy that we have of you, the only fact handed down to the generations that followed. I know you only as the Woman Who Left. I am saddened for you because of this. Because no matter why you made the choices you did, this harsh memorial is no fate a woman would seek. No fate a mother would seek.

I feel some kinship with you, though. I can't say I understand why you did what you did, and you'll find no approval with me. But, there are moments in my own life when I crave solitude, and relief from my responsibilities. Did you face those thoughts? Did you lose yourself the way I have sometimes, the way all women do? I wonder about you. I wonder how different I am from you. Would you look at me and see some glimmer of yourself? Are my weaknesses familiar to you?

I know I could never kiss my babies goodbye, and walk away from them forever. I knew that the moment I held their little forms in my arms, stroking the sweet, soft skin of their cheeks, smelling the intoxicating scent of newness. How then, did you? What drove you so far from that maternal nature? Did you hold your own sons to your breast, and vow to love, protect them, swear you’d never forsake them? Tell me, warn me, show me the folly of your ways. I would guard myself against the weaknesses you fell prey to, if you will name them.

I would not. I will never. Did you say those things, as I do?

The things that make us different, are they greater than the things that make us the same? I pray that is so. Your story is gone, the reasons, the excuses, all faded into oblivion. We will never hear them, never understand. All that remains of you is that single act, unexplained, and condemning.

The children you left grew into men. They were strong and brave, and loved kin and country. I don't know if you knew that. I hope you did. But they missed you. They suffered. The wouldn't speak of you, not ever. The pain of your abandonment was an inheritance that is still remembered today. But, there are those of us who've gleaned a lesson from your legacy, and that is why I write this. It is what I owe you. I have been touched by the tragedy you wrought, and it strengthens my resolve. It shaped the woman I became.

You were The Woman Who Left, and because of that... I will be The Woman Who Stayed.

Posted by WonderGirl at 5:41 AM

July 29, 2004

Mississippi Yearnin'

If you spend much time at my blog, you know that I have an abiding love for Louisiana. You'd think I was even born there. But, you'd be wrong. (Fancy that, huh?) I sprang forth from the rich soil of Mississippi, where magnolias and manners abound! I have been feeling a bit disloyal to the Hospitality State lately with all my ramblings about LA, so I thought I'd post some of the reasons I love Mississippi, too. Ah, you’re surprised at this, right? You’ve only heard bad things about Mississippi? I’m not surprised. It’s easy to focus on the poverty and the social problems that have troubled the state for many years. But, it is a great tragedy to overlook the quiet dignity and beauty that graces this land. Mississippi has a gentle, sensual manner that soothes her social and economic wounds, if you will only look.

One of my favorite sights as I drive the country roads of Mississippi is the garden. Long rows of produce grace the hillsides beside homes, carefully tended in the cool of the day. They yield ripe vegetables that fill bellies all year round, still canned and put up like the old days, filling the pantry, and shared with neighbors. A perfume of southern aromas rises from heavy laden tables—fried chicken, steaming roasted potatoes, hot-buttered corn bread, field peas, slices of ripened tomatoes and cucumbers, warm pecan pies and cool lemon meringues, and sweet tea to wash it all down. These cherished recipes are family heirlooms, shared with each generation, their value immeasurable. The food is the heart of the Southern gathering, but the true joys are found when the plates have been cleared away. The dominos come out and stories from the old folks are told or retold. Family stories and lore are planted tenderly in young minds. Eventually, everyone migrates outside, retreating to porch swings and rocking chairs. A game of horseshoes or volleyball starts up in the shade, and the children play in home-made forts and castles. When everyone is sufficiently recovered from the big meal, a juicy watermelon appears and the slices deliciously drip and disappear amidst smiling faces.

Kinships are strengthened and renewed in the simple act of sharing a meal, but it’s sharing the time that really matters.

The state moves slowly from season to season, gliding across the year in all her finery. Rolling hills draped in lush climbing kudzu, the sound of crickets on hot summer nights, the scent of honeysuckle wafting on the breeze; these are the shared memories of all Mississippians. Our childhoods were painted with the reds of magnolia seeds, the greens of clover and mimosa leaves, the silver of minnows in creeks, the purple of blackberries, the pink of azaleas. Our minds are filled with the deltas, bluffs, riverbeds, hills, marshes, and beaches- the places our parents grew up, the places we grew up, the places our children grow up—all rich with history and stories. Our history. Our stories.

Mississippi is strong because her people are strong. That strength comes from our connections with each other, and inevitably with the land. The roots put down with our families sink deep into Mississippi soil. They are not so easily transplanted.

--Louisiana may be in my blood, but Mississippi will always be in my heart--

Posted by WonderGirl at 7:49 PM

July 8, 2004

Howling at the Moon

I'm wrestling with my writing right now. I'm caught in a battle of wills, frustrated with a story that won't "go". It chooses instead to stubbornly dig it's heels into the ground, resisting all manner of prodding and nudging and outright shoving. I'm not sure why I even bother at times, except that it's like an itch that I can't quite scratch. No, it's more irritating than that, at least at the moment, she says unkindly. It's the twitch in the corner of my eye that gives me no peace.

Writing is... a compulsion. That much I've accepted, even embraced, and rejoiced over, despite my current complaints. But, having decided it's something not likely to change about me, I'd at least like to do it (somewhat) successfully. I'm willing to put some muscle behind it, I really am, but I'm not sure how.

My conclusion is that I am in desperate need of a teacher. Someone to take the Big Red Pen and make those critical marks on my paper, someone to indifferently slash away the fat of my words and ideas, leaving only the lean. I need direction and instruction that comes from someone far more talented and experienced than me. How do you hone the power of the pen without it? How do you tempt those inner stories out into the open, give them legs and see them run? Or even WALK BRISKLY - shoot, I'm not being picky at this point. I just want, at some point in my life, to type the words "The End".

That seems utterly out of reach at times.

And, oh yes, I WILL take a little cheese with my whinin'-- thank you! Lovely of you to offer!

Anyway, the only thing I know to do as I await the arrival of my mentor (who will reveal him/herself in a dazzling display of light and prophetic brilliance VERY SOON, I'm sure of it), is to just keep writing. Write until my fingers are frighteningly numb and my characters all hate me. For the next two weeks, I plan to wake up an hour earlier, before the short ones rise, and pour some coffee down the gullet and make myself bleed ink. I shall, I say! Who knows what quality of literature will be produced in those bleary eyed moments, but maybe it will get me through the hardest part.

Well, I'm off to do the Things That Need To Be Done.

Hope everyone has a fruitful and relaxing weekend!

Posted by WonderGirl at 7:51 PM

July 5, 2004

Untitled Part II (Is That Catchy Or What??)

Yeah, sorry about the untitled status-- it just hasn't come to me yet! Anyway, you can read part one here if you need to catch up.

The sun settled warmly on Cara’s bent head as she sat cross-legged in the over-grown field. Her hands effortlessly braided long pieces of rye grass into a wreath, knotting wild flowers into the strands as she worked. Her fingers flew deftly in lively rhythm, dancing in the familiar task. When she finished, she walked a few steps to her father’s grave with the offering. The heavy wooden cross bearing his name stood somberly, waiting for her. She sighed as she swept aside a faded and withered wreath, and looped her newest creation in its place. Stretching herself out on the raised ground, she gazed up at the clear sky and began her usual conversation with Pappy.

“Mama said I shouldn’t come see you anymore,” she said in a deflated voice. “She said it’s been long enough, and you would understand.” She paused and watched a little wren hopping in the brush, gathering bits of leaf in its beak. “She thinks I’m crazy. I know I’m not, though.” The bird cocked his head and twittered at her, making her smile. “Somebody has to tell you what happens at the house, Pappy. Like when Jillie fell off the silo and broke her arm, or when Everett set the chicken coop on fire. Who else would tell you?” The wren preened his feathers proudly and fluttered off into a nearby tree. Cara yawned and closed her eyes, listening to his love song. “That’s why I came today, Pappy. I had to tell you about Mama.” Her voice softened and her breathing relaxed as she basked in the afternoon light. “I think Mr. Clayton is sweet on her,” she said drowsily, “and he’ll probably ask her to marry him.” She grew silent, pondering what that would mean in her life.

The sounds of the summer day lulled her to sleep, into dreams of the days when Pappy was still alive. She saw him through the window as he kicked the dirt off his boots, and washed his hands in the bucket outside. He walked in and sat at the kitchen table, taking a glass of water from Mama, and gulped it down. This was Cara’s favorite dream of Pappy, as he came in from a long day of work in the hot sun. His smile was dusty and easy, and endless.

When Cara awoke, the sun was setting and the little wren had flown away. She wished the bird had stayed to watch over her father, so that he wouldn’t be alone when she left. It was a childish thought, and she knew it, but didn’t care. She pressed her fingertips to her lips, and kissed them, then placed her hand to the wooden cross. Leaving the kiss there for Pappy, she followed the well worn trail back home, hoping that Mr. Clayton would be gone by now.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:15 PM

Beginnings

"I've got a strict rule about holding hands on the beach," she said.

"Oh really? And what's that?" he replied.

"It's to be done at all times."

He laughed as he twined his fingers into hers. "I always was a stickler for the rules," he confessed.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:56 PM

June 4, 2004

Other Shores

"What is it?" I asked curiously, fingering the vial with my name on it.

"That's a small question with a large answer," replied the gray man. "It's the distilled essence of your spirit, I suppose. It's what makes you... you."

"So, we all have one?" I asked, marveling at the millions of bottles nestled in the sand. No bird flew in this white sky, and the waves tiptoed onto the pale shore in quiet rhythm.

"Yes, every man."

I uncorked the bottle, and peered over the rim. A sapphire liquid shimmered brightly in the glass and I wondered where such a thing was born.

"Careful," advised the gray man. "You have only one."

“And you take care of them?”

“In a manner of speaking. However, the ultimate responsibility belongs to each person. The course you choose in this life, your words and deeds, either enhance or diminish what’s in that bottle. Some become water, void of taste and color. Others sparkle like jewels in amber and pearl and ruby. And others, sadly, thicken into sludge and muck.”

“Why is mine blue? What does it mean?”

The gray man peered into my eyes, with a quizzical expression. “Don’t you know? You created that color, only you truly know the reason.”

I smiled to myself as I replaced the cork. Kneeling in the sand, I nestled my bottle back into its place. “There was a time,” I whispered, “that I almost forgot.”

I turned from the beach, and from the gray man. I traced my footprints back the way I had come, having learned the lesson meant for me. I walked until the bottles were far behind, and the sound of gulls once again filled the air. I looked up into the cerulean sky, thankful.

We tread the shores of our dreams for many reasons.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:41 PM

May 27, 2004

A Thousand Words

In my early years, someone put an empty journal in my hands and said, "Write."

So I did. I composed poems, girlish and emotional. I wrote letters to God. I hid my secrets in the pages, the loves and hates that lived in my heart. I found and lost myself a thousand times, in a thousand words. There is no better definition to my life than what can be found in those compositions, even to this day.

Reading them is a humbling revelation. It exposes the weaknesses that I couldn’t see at the time. It reveals inner strengths that have come and gone over and over like birds to warm weather. There are more lessons to be found in the past, in those crinkled and ink spotted pages, than I had intended.

Yet, for some of the bitter, there is plenty of sweet. Watching the people I love grow through those pages, becoming the people they are today, what a delight! To remember the silliness of childhood, the awkwardness of youth, the fumblings of adolescence, and the bloom of adulthood- I chronicled not just my own path. I carried everyone around me into those books, and their stories became part of mine.

What a gift that empty journal was. It directed me down a path that changed me, and taught me. I see in those written strokes that I am Flawed and Imperfect. And yet, the beauty, the joy of writing… there is always a blank page to be filled. A new chance, a time for evolution into something better. What gift is greater than the promise of new beginnings and unwritten destinies?

So now, this is your invitation. The empty journal placed in your hands. Endless blank pages, waiting for your words, regardless of age or ability.

I say, Write.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:45 PM

May 24, 2004

Untitled - aw. I hate that.

Fortunately, the stars were shining brightly in the field that night, and the girls had no trouble picking their way carefully through the tall grass.

“Shh… I think I hear them,” whispered the smaller girl. They ducked down behind the weeds and peered into the darkness until they spotted the figures framed in the moonlight. Two men bent over a large tub, and a third was filling mason jars with a ladle from a second tub.

“They’re m-moonshiners,” the girls said in unified horror. “I can’t believe Pappy would do something like that!” Tears gathered in disbelieving eyes, and the girls sunk dejectedly back into the grass.

“I knew we shouldn’t have come here. Mama told us not to go poking our noses into this! Why do you always have to go and ruin everything?” asked the older girl hotly.

“Cara, don’t get mad at me! I'm not the one moonshining or lying to his family!” said the younger girl defiantly. “Besides, I couldn’t make you stay in bed. You wanted to come.”

“I’m not mad, Jillie. Well, I am, but at Pappy, not you.” She sighed. “Come on, let's go home. We know the truth now. I don't want to watch this anymore.” The older girl grabbed her sister by the hand, and they edged away from the troubling scene.

Cara took one more look at her father, her brows creased in frustration, and she fought the urge to confront him right away. She knew daughters weren't supposed to question their fathers, especially a man like Pappy. His word was law in the Folsom house, but she'd come up against him several times in youthful rebellion. He had quickly set his oldest daughter straight, and the rule of the house endured. This time was different though. Moonshining was wrong, Pappy himself had expressed disapproval of it in the past. Tomorrow will be soon enough, she thought to herself, dreading the moment she'd have to admit she'd left the house in the wee hours of the morning. Even more though, she feared the look in his eye when she confessed what she'd seen him doing.

Cara watched him stir the tub with a large wooden spoon. She nearly turned away, when a sudden movement behind him caught her eye. Squinting her eyes to focus in on the motion, her heart lurched as she realized that one of the other men was pointing a shotgun at her father’s back. She opened her mouth to yell a warning, but it was drowned out by the sudden reverberating shot that rang out in the night. She watched in dismay as he fell forward, tumbling over the vat and onto the ground. Jillie’s hand slid out of hers and the younger girl cried out as she ran forward to her fallen father.

Cara propelled herself after Jillie, fearful that her sister would meet the same violence, and terrified that her father was already dead.

“What have we here? The old man’s brats?” asked one of the scruffy men angrily. He yanked Jillie up by her hair, and held her as she kicked and screamed at him. “Get that other one,” he ordered, as Cara flew to her sister’s rescue. She was quickly caught up in big arms, and she gagged at that odor that assailed her.

“You shot my pappy!” yelled Jillie. “I hate you! You’re a bad man, and –“

Her words were cut off when he clamped a dirty hand over her mouth and growled in a menacing voice, “If you want to end up like your precious pappy, you keep talking, missy.” He jerked her cruelly and her small whimper tore at Cara’s heart.

She yelled at Jillie to be quiet. She knew these men. They were hired hands that skulked into town at the beginning of the summer, and had found work on the Anderson’s farm. After a few run ins with the local boys and inevitably the sheriff, the men had earned a reputation for being bad tempered and mean. Everybody in town had avoided the pair, recognizing that trouble followed them like their bad smell. Even the Andersons kept their distance, and had only hired them out of desperation. The town had been holding it’s breath until the end of the summer, hoping and praying the two brutes would leave after the harvest, with as little harm done as possible.

Cara’s mind was racing as she considered her options. If they didn’t escape, she was certain they would share their pappy’s fate, if not worse. Cara knew that men like this didn’t care how young a girl might be, and it was only a matter of time before truly evil thoughts occurred to one of the murderers. Fortunately, Cara was a quick thinker. She remembered the hunting knife she had in her pocket, the birthday gift she had begged for and finally received, despite her mother’s protests that knives were for boys. It was never out of her reach, and she was thankful for her persistence at that moment. Because her arms were pinned at the chest, her hands was near her pocket. Careful not to draw attention with the motion, she slid her fingers into the fabric, and encircled the blade with shaking fingers.

The men laughed as Jillie tried to wiggle out of reach, and Cara knew their time was running out. If she was going to make a move, she had to do it quickly. She watched the men, looking for her opportunity, when she saw Jillie nodding at her in the direction of their father’s body. Cara nearly shouted in joy to see that it was not there. He must be alive! She rejoiced at the thought, and her eyes darted around looking for signs of him. In that instant, a heavy shovel came crashing down out of the dark onto Jillie’s attacker, and he landed with a thud. Cara seized the moment of confusion to thrust her knife into her captor’s thigh. Her hand came away wet with the man's blood. He grunted and let go of her, long enough for Cara to grab her sister’s hand in her own bloody one. “Run!” yelled her father weakly, and the two girls took off into the tall grass, looking over their shoulders at him, utterly torn. He roared at them again, this time loud and fierce, and the natural instinct to obey their father sent them fleeing through the fields.

The shotgun blasted in the shadows again, and this time, both girls knew their father would not be able to save them. They ran harder, racked with fear and grief, fervently wishing they’d never left the comfort and safety of their shared bed. With that simple act, they had forever lost the solace and innocence of their childhood, and the one man that had provided it for so long.


***

~~Not the end~~

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:20 PM

May 16, 2004

Flawed

“You take everything so personally,” he said carefully.
“Yeah, I know. It’s my tragic flaw.” She replied, with no suggestion of sarcasm or ire. She traced the rim of her brandy glass, and stared out the window into the night sky. “It’s not easy to be me, sometimes.”

He reached out his hand, and let his fingers glide through her long brown hair. As he watched his fingers disappear in the dark waves, he thought of all the reasons he loved her. She radiated something indefinable that had mesmerized him, captivating his senses completely. He was introduced to her and in greeting, had taken her hand. At the brief contact, he had felt with a stunning certainty that this hand was formed for his. The revelation shook his normally composed demeanor, and he retreated into silent awe until he could collect himself again. As he watched her laugh and smile through out the night, he reveled in his secret knowledge. He vowed to live his life in pursuit of the moment that she would recognize the same truth.

It had been, in many ways, a difficult path.

She was like a wind in his life. At times, her presence was a peaceful and gentle breeze that surrounded him and refreshed him. In darker moments, she was a tempest that shook the foundations of his soul, challenging the strength of his being. He had learned through the years, when to bend in the storm and when to stand fast. His careful navigation of her elemental spirit had saved her from herself a thousand times, and she knew it.

She turned her cheek into his hand, and looked at the man with the soft brown eyes. “I don’t deserve you, you know.”

He smiled, and tucked a stray lock behind her ear. “Yeah,” he whispered, “I know.”

Her laugh was sweet, and wrapped itself around him like a warm mist. He bent close and as he kissed this woman, this force in his life, he thought to himself, It’s not about getting what we deserve. It’s being deserving of what we get.

**

Posted by WonderGirl at 8:33 PM

May 1, 2004

Raining

There's something wonderful about being by yourself on a rainy day. I light my candles, all of them-- in every room. I clean my house so my space is as uncluttered as my mind. I put on my favorite pair of jeans and a tank top, and no shoes. I make an ameretto sour, I turn on my favorite music, and I just let the day go where it will. Whatever takes my fancy, that's what I do.

When I was little, my mom used to put out these big pots to collect the rainwater, and that night, we'd use it to wash our hair. I remember watching from the window as the pots filled up, and I can still feel how cold the water felt on my head. Clean water, pure, straight from the heavens... Washing away the normalcy of life. It was such a wonderfully strange thing to do.

I think that's why days like today are so meaningful to me, because it's not my normal day, my normal way. I get the chance to wash away all the mediocre, all the repetitions of my usual life, and just for a minute, feel nothing but the refreshment that falls from the sky.

Posted by WonderGirl at 7:37 PM

April 30, 2004

Girls and Horses

One summer in between college semesters, I lived with a family as their nanny, and they had horses. Every day, we went to the barn to take care of them and ride. My favorite thing to do was take them out into the cotton fields and race-- what an exhilarating experience! The fresh, earthy smell of the plants, the warm sun and the breeze on your face as you galloped down row after row... The horses would feel it too, and kick up their heels sometimes and make you laugh out loud just for the joy of it. It was one of those magic summers. You never know when those times are happening that they are some of the best in your life- you don't realize that until it's over, and you can't go back. I think age has something to do with it-- you're so immortal in those times. So unfettered. You're as young and green as the spring grass.

But all things have their season. Cotton blooms and falls, grass fades, and the sun sets on all things. What makes those moments so magical though, is that it seems to freeze in your memory, like a still shot from the movie of your life. It's a place you can return to time and again, for rest, for an escape, for whatever reason you need.

It's such a small thing really- just a memory. Just a few words on a piece of paper. Yet, the uttering of them, brings the image into vivid life, and sends me reHeroBoyng through cotton fields once more.

The mind is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Have a good weekend, everybody.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:03 AM

April 29, 2004

Oh That Language!!

Okay... here's the thing. I wrote this little scene out, and however I tried it, I couldn't get rid of a few curse words. It just totally lost effect, and I guess that's a point of weakness in my writing (that I can't find some other appropriate word to express a moment). Hopefully, I'll get better at that. Anyway, to avoid upsetting my mom, and the members of my church, and my sweet old grandma, and the kindergarten class who reads this, and the adorable litter of puppies that my neighbor just had, I am putting it in the extended version, so you'll have to click the link down at the bottom to read it.

Sorry for my potty mouth, everybody.

Continue reading "Oh That Language!!"

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:52 AM

April 24, 2004

Learning

And now, for something a little different...

I am learning that there is more to me.
The social grace
The smiling face
The endless pace

I am learning that there is more to see.
The shades of blue
The shine of new
The morning's dew

I am learning that there is less to flee.
The fading grass
The rocky pass
The mirrored glass

I am learning that there is more to be.
The lone rider
The last fighter
The meek writer

************
You know, there are times that I am resistant to putting certain things in words, and then putting them on this blog for everyone to read. In a way, it's like showing the worst parts of yourself to the whole world, and holding your breath to see what happens. I realize there are many talented people who can write far better than me, and I certainly hope that by posting these kinds of things, people don't think I have a misconception about myself. The truth is, half the time, I don't even really know who I am or what I think of myself, so I can't imagine what others think of me. Though this is a public forum, it still remains a very personal quest. Each day I write something, even just the littlest thing, seems like a step forward to me. It gets me closer to understanding why - why I'm here, why I am the way I am, why life is the way it is. I'm hoping that by being honest, and this includes being honestly an idiot sometimes, that someone else will see that it's okay to take chances. It's okay that we don't always know who and what we are, even at points in our life when others think we should already know those things. It's okay to show your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, in an effort to change and grow and be better.

So, I plunge ahead, dragging you with me, hoping that at the end, we'll both be glad we stuck to the path.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:22 PM

April 8, 2004

The Difference Between North and South Louisiana

Since I am a local expert on the subject, having lived in La for 3 years now - (tongue in cheek, people) I have plenty to say on the matter. Actually, I have spent a lot of my married life visiting La, and being married to one of it's finest citizens, I do feel a certain level of attachment. It's hard not to love Louisiana, whether it's the north or the south. Louisiana is like Mississippi's older, wilder cousin- you know the one, they always talk you into doing stuff you know you probably wouldn't normally do, and they drink beer.

Louisiana is one of the most unique states to live in. For one, there's the whole "I used to belong to France" thing. The Napoleonic Code, the stubborn use of parishes, and not to mention creoles, crawfish, Catholics, and N'awlins. Every crack and crevice of Louisiana, both north and south, is crammed full of culture and spice. Even those quiet little towns tucked away in some forgottten corner boast a local festival or site that people faithfully come from all over to visit.

Arrowheads in cottonfields, cypress trees and alligators, jambalaya and blues, Louisiana has a rich bouquet of things to love. It doesn't matter where in Louisiana you are, we all have a claim to this wonderful place. The only difference, to me, between the north and the south, is the compass arrow.

**As a side note, I am now the official representative of the Louisiana Tourism Board. I sound like a travel brochure in this post!! But, it's all from the heart. Now, if I can just find some glossy pictures to put up...**

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:18 AM

April 7, 2004

The Orchard Continued


And now, an exerpt from the next chapter, again, just a draft.

I moved into a cramped apartment on the west side, and settled into the pace of city living. I took long walks, absorbing the activity. I immersed myself in the early morning bustle, the sounds of sirens and people calling for taxis, the smells of hotdog vendors and exhaust fumes, the bright neon lights flashing
at night. I took my camera with me everywhere, and I experienced life through my lense. I was the woman with her red-headed baby bouncing on her shoulders in the park. I was the seventy year old man jogging around the lake with his dog. I was the homeless guy in an army jacket with his cardboard sign that said, "Waking up from the nightmare, please help". I was everybody, every day.

I then spent hours in my darkroom, developing the moments I'd captured on film. I wasn't interested in making friends, and I went largely unnoticed by anyone except the boy who dHeroBoyvered Chinese food. And yet, I was happy for the first time in my life. I was filling a space in this world with my photography. I was part of the mechanism, a silent, but active participant in the perpetual grind. I began freelancing for papers and magazines, and found enough work to pay my rent and upgrade my equiptment occasionally.

I regularly took assignments that sent me out of town, and it was one of these occasions that turned my world upside down.

To my utter shock, I had found the orchard.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:21 PM

March 21, 2004

"Rare Asian Walrus Asphyxiates After Eating Trainer's Shoes"

He stared at the headline in frustration, and crumpled the paper in his hands. How did it come to this?, he asked himself sorely. I was a serious journalist! I busted my ass in college and internships and I've got the debt to prove it! When did I become such a sellout? Such a loser?

With an angry sweep of his arm, he sent papers flying off the desk, until the surface was clean. He didn't want to look at the dozens of ridiculous headlines and articles that littered his office anymore. He felt shame and depression at the thought that his name followed such literary sludge. The walls of the seedy little office seemed to close in on him, and he buried his head in his arms.

"feeling sorry for yourself again, Campbell?"

"Screw you," came his muffled reply.

"Let me tell you what your problem is. You write an absurd article about something you could care less about, then you beat yourself up about it for days. And the next week, instead of getting out there and writing something worth reading, you just write the same article again. You're all whine, and no change."

Campbell glared up at the woman standing in his doorway. "I don't need this from you!" he said hotly.

"Look. This job, well, it's fine for some people. It's just a job to them, they don't worry about anything but clocking in and out, and taking a paycheck home at the end of the day. Then, there are people like you."

"People like me? And what exactly do you mean by that?"

"Oh, come off it. You know you're different from most people around here. You have talent and you're just squandering it here in this joke of a paper."

"But that's it, don't you get it? I don't have the talent! I don't have anything to say anymore! Maybe I did at one time, but now I'm just old and washed up, and..." His voice trailed off.

The lady eyed him with contempt. "Excuses. You're just afraid."

"Why do you even care?" he asked sullenly.

"That's a very stupid thing to say," she said. "Every day, you die a little bit here. It's time to leave."

"I know," he said quietly. "But I miss you."

Her face softened, and her words were almost a whisper. "Campbell, life is about having and losing things. Now, it's time to let go of the loss. Time to start living again. Time to start caring about things again."

"I don't know if I can do that. Not without you."

She smiled at him, that old familiar smile, and it made his bones ache. "You can," she said. "You were always the strong one."

He closed his eyes. When he opened them again, she was gone.

He sat in the office by himself, looking at the objects that had marked his recent career. The plaques, the coffee mugs, the occasional award, and then his eyes settled on the framed picture that had landed on the floor along with the other papers.

The woman in the picture smiled up at him. Three years, he told himself. Three long years you fought, but in the end, the cancer was too much. You say I'm the strong one, but really, it was you.

He looked around again, trying to decide what was worth taking from this dark period of his life, what was worth remembering. He picked up the picture and traced the outline of his wife with shaking fingertips. You always knew how to set me straight. You never let me feel sorry for myself. Thank you, sweetheart. He clutched the frame to his chest, and turned his back on the room, turned his back on the life he'd sunken into since her death.

And with that, he left. Time to start living again.

Posted by WonderGirl at 5:02 PM

March 2, 2004

Remembering A Day

I set my bag down in the sand, and looked out at the sunset. I put my chair just within reach of the lapping waves, and settled in with a sigh of relief. I wiggled my toes as the salty waves washed over them, and I put my hand on my pregnant belly.

The sounds of gulls, and waves, and families playing in the water soothed my ears. Sometimes city noises, those artificial sounds, misuse that great sense, and all you want to hear is laughter and nature. What a balm to weary ears.

The sun cast orange colors which splashed through the clouds, and bounced off the gently rolling waters. I felt myself falling into the rhythm of life here, anxieties and troubles swept away by the tide like sandcastles. Lulled and relaxed, I let go.

I memorized that moment, the salty breeze, the fresh air, the warm sun on my face, the water and sand... It's all still there in my mind. It's one of my favorite places to go when life is too intrusive. It was one of the Perfect Times. On the thresh-hold of becoming a mother, and surrounded by the ocean - a ceaseless cycle of life in itself, I had such peace and contentment, a kind I'd never had before.

I left the beach that day, knowing I'd never be able to recreate it, knowing a moment had come and gone in my life that was significant. I realized though, that when you are gifted with clarity and beauty, you always carry it with you. That day, I took a little bit of the sunset home with me. And now, when I look at my little girl, I know exactly where it went.

Posted by WonderGirl at 11:16 PM

February 25, 2004

The Curtains In My Bedroom

Writing excercise: describe in one sentence, the item to your immediate left.

The velvet curtains hang like long folds of chocolate, dripping into a puddle of shimmery, soft cocoa.

Funny, it makes me hungry, yet cozy. That was a fun excercise. I'm going to keep doing a few while I'm working out this writer's block. Now, what's to YOUR immediate left?

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:29 AM

February 9, 2004

Chocolate Lamentations

Sweet, sweet chocolate, you know my name.
Call me less, I plead!
For countless warnings in my head,
I find I cannot heed!

Your siren call comes in the night
When none else will satisfy
No salty, bitter, or fruity sweet
Will answer your endless cry!

A moment on the lips, they say,
I've heard a thousand times,
So lock me in my house of shame
For all my chocolate crimes.

Tongue in cheek, I end this prose
With more than a heavy heart,
For others may suffice in day,
But chocolate rules the dark.

~WonderGirl~

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:14 AM

January 27, 2004

Two Letters

She held the folded letter to her chest, breathing in the faint scent that wafted off the pages. It smelled of summer breeze, if such a thing were possible.

She imagined him, bent over a sturdy table, carefully penning the words that would bring her to him. In her mind, she watched him deliberate over his thoughts as he strained to paint pictures of the land around him, using the simple and stark beauty of his life to beckon her forward. She knew he was an honest man, and wanted to give her honest expectations, but she also knew how very much he wanted her to come. So, if he wrote the sunsets a bit sweeter, the flowers a bit brighter, she would not blame him. He sought only the comfort of her presense in his life. Such a small thing really, yet, it seemed more than she had been able to give.

She placed her hand flat on the page, and traced the small, familiar lettering with her fingers. Not so long ago, his hand lay here, poised over a blank page. His hands, hardened from work, had ceased their labor for a time, to form gentle words made for a woman's heart. Her heart.

She stared out at the fading sun. So sad, she thought. The same sun rises and sets on both of us everyday, yet we are as far apart as ever.

She laid aside the letter, and began to pen her own, knowing not the direction of her thoughts until she was finished. She smiled at her final words, daintily signed her name and sealed her letter, sealed her fate.

Holding both letters to her heart, she soaked in the sunset. Maybe it did seem sweeter, indeed.

****

I'm a romantic at heart, and this sort of tumbled out tonight when I intended on writing about the boring details of my day. The idea of a woman coming out west to be married, to live the life of a pioneer, with all it's hardships and rewards--- it's something that has always fascinated me. I couldn't even begin to write something that would rival the truth of the time. I just imagine the moment when a real woman, maybe some great-great grandmother of mine, decided the rewards were worth the hardships.

Brave women.

Sweeter sunsets, too.

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:09 AM

January 12, 2004

The Orchard

"I was sixteen years old when I had the first dream. I was walking through a pecan orchard at night, looking at a white columned house on a hill. Moonlight filtered through the barren tree branches, lighting my path to the house. The only sound was my boots crunching old pecan shells as I drew closer. I climbed the steps of the porch, and without pausing to knock, pushed open the heavy door, and strode up a flight of stairs. As I walked by, I peered into rooms and parlors, but I contintued without pause. My steps were steady and dHeroBoyberate, and I knew the way to the room as if I'd walked it a thousand times. Soon, the sounds of my footsteps increased and quickened, until I realized it was no longer my steps, but the beat of my heart pounding in my ears. I finally reached the end of the hallway, and placed my hands on the cold wood of the door. Light flickered under the door, and I wrapped my shaking fingers around the old metal handle. All I had to do was twist... one simple flick of my wrist, and the door would be open. I stood, waiting for the dream to continue. Mesmirized by my part in this drama, I watched my hand turn the knob, and after a moment's hesitation, I pushed.

I felt the scream rising from my throat before I even heard it.

I knew this dream was different from my usual adolescant repertoire, which is precisely why I kept it to myself. Not that it really mattered, though. There was no one to tell even the mundane details of a normal dream, let alone one that left me drenched in sweat and shaking for hours. There never had been. Friends, I mean. I was lucky if I could find a lab partner and someone to eat lunch with. It wasn't that the kids at the school were uber HeroBoytist and found me unacceptable, although they certainly fit that criteria. The problem was that I simply didn't exist for them. Sarah Jenkins, no, I don't remember a Sarah in my biology class... oh, she sat beside me? I just don't recall... That was always the case. For as long as I can remember, I have lived this invisible life. Sometimes it was actually laughable, if it hadn't been so painful. People wouldn't notice me in a bus seat, and half sit on me before I made a little squeek of surprise. But, strangers weren't the only ones who saw straight through me. My parents, though biologically aware that they had produced an offspring, seemed oblivious of my presence on a daily basis. It was if the mute button had been permanently set on my life. I spoke, but there was no sound. I yelled, and clapped, and broke plates, and still lived the life of a ghost. So, I kept the dream to myself."

Interested?

Posted by WonderGirl at 1:19 AM

December 3, 2003

Contemplations of the spirit.

What wispy cords bind the heart and mind
That etheral essence that tugs our lives in this direction and that.
The heaviness in our ribs that tells us we live! we exist! we are separate from one another. We are not soulless and collective.

The promise of more courses through our blood, draws the breath in and out of our chest.

We are not merely flesh. We inhabit more than this shell, though glorious it be created. And when we are parted from that earthly half, we continue to Be. Oh hope of my salvation, thank you God.

Posted by WonderGirl at 10:41 AM

October 29, 2003

The Note That Changed My Life

I felt sorry for Preston. He sat in front of me in the third grade and he consistently made the grievous sin of being messy. Mrs. Parker couldn't tolerate sloppiness, and Preston was definitely that. True, when it was time to turn in assignments, he had to rummage through his desk for ages, and I'm sure Mrs. Parker was irritated by the delay. His desk was crammed full of old homework, lunch bags, and other odd assortments of things. When he finally did find his paper, it was crumpled and had a pickle stain on it.

Mrs. Parker was a short, no-nonsense kind of teacher, and always reminded me of a pit bull. If she had gotten a hold of you, it was not likely that you'd get turned loose again. I remember Preston cringing, and often missing recess because Mrs. Parker said he must clean out that abominable desk. Poor Preston.

Watching him, I never wanted to draw Mrs. Parker's attention or disapproval to me. I was extra careful and followed her instructions as closely as possible. However, I was finding it increasingly difficult to see the things she wrote on the chalk board. I was afraid to tell her, and I would squint and ask people around me what she had written. One day, as the class was filing out for recess, Mrs. Parker called me to her desk. I was sure I was in trouble for talking and I prepared my skinny self for the worst.

"Are you having trouble seeing the board, Ms. White?" Mrs. Parker asked. Note to grown-ups, using a child's last name is a highly effective way to scare the crap out of them. I swallowed.
"I guess, I mean, I don't know?" I was nervous. Was I in trouble?
"I want you to take this note home to your mom," said Mrs. Parker, and placing a note in my bag, she ushered me back out to join my classmates on the playground.

A note from your teacher is never a good thing. And they're always smart, they staple it, or tape it, and there's no telling what's in it, no chance to prepare yourself for the worst. I knew it had something to do with whether I could see the board or not, but in my third grade brain, it seemed like there was still a possibility that I was in trouble for something.

So, with the note tucked carefully in my bag, I had the rest of the day to sweat it out.

Well, my fears were fortunately unfounded, and the note was only a suggestion to have my eyes checked. Mom took me that week, and as was suspected, my vision was poor. I proceeded to pick out the biggest, squarest, purplest pair in the store. They were ready a few days later, and with great anticipation, we picked them up.

This is the real point of the story.

The day I got my glasses was the first epiphany of my life.

Who knew you could actually see the leaves on a tree? Each excrutiatingly detailed leaf waved at me as we drove home from the doctors office.

Who knew you could see each rock of the gravel in our driveway? I looked down at my feet as they crunched over the thousands of rocks leading to our doorstep.

Who knew you could see the pastors face in church as he preached? I marveled at the expressions and intensity as he spoke and the fists he made as he emphatically pounded the podium.

Who knew you could see the wings on the birds as they flew over, or the unique shapes the clouds formed in the sky, or the clumps of clover that grew on the hill beside our house? I was dizzy with what I could see.

Who knew? I had lived the first eight years of my life assuming that everyone saw like I did. I had no idea of the detail I was missing, I was blissfully unaware, until that moment, the stylishly large glasses slid onto my nose, and my world changed.

It was almost like a right of passage. Seeing the world like it truly was, I felt priviliged and awed.

Few moments in life have equaled that instant. The kind of moment that sucks the breath out of your lungs, and you know that life will never be the same again.

I find the application of that moment as one of the greatest lessons I've learned in life. I rHeroBoyve it, and I am so grateful for the impairment, just for the sake of the revelation. The revelation that sometimes you think you see everything- you live your whole life thinking others see the same things you do, and then, in an instant, your eyes are opened to a whole new reality, a whole new depth.

One more thing.

With my lovely new glasses, I could see the chalk board. I could see each word, follow each lesson. I could also see Mrs. Parker. I realized, she smiled a lot more than I thought she did. She even smiled at Preston and his pickle stains sometimes.

It was a beautiful epiphany, any way you look at it.

Pun intended.

Posted by WonderGirl at 12:33 AM