Recommended Reading: I Thought My Father Was God | The Daily Post

In April 1946, Theodore Lustig was discharged after serving three years in the army in World War II. Heading home on a train to New Jersey, he had grand plans for his new life. First, he bought a white shirt: a symbol of his return to a normal routine. The next step? Finding the girl of his dreams: his high school crush.

In his very short piece — “What If?” — he writes:

We got on the same bus — hers — and sat together reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. I told her of my plans and showed her the shirt I had bought — my first step toward making my dream come true. I didn’t tell her that she was supposed to be step two.

“What If?” is just one story among the 180 true stories in I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales From NPR’s National Story Project, a compilation of the best submissions to Paul Auster for this story project on All Things Considered. Each tale is a small window into one stranger’s life: a glimpse into the American mind and heart. The stories are grouped into broad themes: animals, objects, families, slapstick, strangers, war, love, death, dreams, and meditations.

Tales from NPR's National Story Project

via Recommended Reading: I Thought My Father Was God | The Daily Post.

I’ve been a fan of NPR’s National Story Project since it began, and each story they aired always made me cry.  You heard their voices, felt their emotions – and now you can read their stories!  This is definitely one that I’m getting for myself!

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Gimme Shelter

What’s the first line of the last song you listened to (on the radio, on your music player, or anywhere else)? Use it as the first sentence of your post.

Oh, a storm is threat’ning my very life today
and I don’t know what else to say
You tell me you’re not happy and that’s fine with me
’cause I got better things to do, and many places to see.

So you might as well get out of my way
there’s nothing more for us to say
A storm is overhead now, it’s time to run
Time to start again and face the sun.

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From Guest DJ Project: Michael Fassbender

Daily Prompt

Pick Your Poison

Captain Picard was into Earl Grey tea; mention the Dude and we think: White Russians. What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?

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Growing up in the Philippines, no one brewed their coffee in coffeemakers or Moka pots or French presses. They used instant coffee, and that’s how it was in my house. Instant coffee with lots of sugar.  Then when I worked at the radio station during college, the DJ’s taught me how to brew coffee in the coffeemaker, the first I’d ever seen in my life.

When I moved to L.A., I brewed coffee morning, noon, and night in a tiny 4-cup coffeemaker in my tiny 1-bedroom apartment.  Then my best friend Galia, who grew up in what was then Yugoslavia, taught me how to make coffee over the stove in a moka pot.  She said she liked her coffee strong enough to stand a spoon in it.

Years later, when I met Tania, a Brazilian Swiss yogini, she introduced me to the moka pot again, this time, showing me how she brewed her coffee each morning, tamping down the coffee grounds (“You’re not supposed to do it, but this is how I do it,” I remember her saying) with the back of a spoon.

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My best friend Pam used to brew a full pot of coffee in the morning and pour it into a thermos which she took with her when she drove to see her massage clients all over L.A.  Pam knew how to live – I can still see her sitting in her car with her cup of coffee (black, not a drop of creamer), and a library book to keep her company as she waited in her car for her appointment to start. She usually arrived to her clients’ appointments really early, which meant that after she found parking, she’d wait – reading and enjoying her coffee.

When I would visit my mom in NYC, I as appalled that she still used instant coffee.  So I would pack my moka pot with me whenever I visited, till one day she bought a French Press and proudly showed me how to use one.  I already knew how (I have two) but it was a proud moment for me to see my mom graduate from instant coffee to the French press!  But then, she only used it when she had guests over. When she was by herself, she admitted later on that she used instant.

When I went to the Philippines, I was appalled once again that they didn’t have coffee makers in the hotels.  Not only that, when you ordered coffee, they served you instant coffee!  Horror of horrors! I should have packed my moka pot then, too.  Then I went to Boracay and I remember walking around with only one thought in my mind – freshly brewed real coffee.  I was like a woman possessed.  If you pulled out instant coffee, I thumbed my button nose and moved on.  Then I stumbled upon a place called Real Coffee and it was like someone opened the doors up to heaven – and gave me the cure to my coffee withdrawal symptoms, 48 hours after arrival.  Lee and her daughter, Nadine, are originally from the US and have made Real Coffee into an institution.  They serve real coffee – no instant coffee here!

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And because they have no signs pointing to their little spot from the beach, here is how you find them.

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Anyway, so if you haven’t figured it out yet, coffee is my poison.  In Breaking Bad, I loved Gale’s “pet project” and if you’re familiar with Breaking Bad, you’ll know what I mean.

 

Not to be outdone, on Hannibal, this is how Hannibal brews his coffee – doesn’t she look purty?

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So there you have it! Since I can’t be drinking margaritas and wine coolers all day, I have had to settle for the next best thing. Coffee.

And while we’re on the topic of coffee anyway, here’s one more.

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So, what’s your poison, I mean, potion?

Daily Prompt

Just Get Me Out of Here Already

If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

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If work, you mean giving massages, no.  No, no, and no.

What I would do with my free time if I didn’t have to work is quite easy.  I’d hire a nanny (FULL TIME) and just write. That’s why I went into massage in the first place because I could make my own schedule.  Only problem was, when I was building my business, I had NO time to write at all.  When I did write, everything I wrote had to do with massage.  Every. Single. Word.

These days I have no free time still. Being a mom during the weekdays and trying to clean house, take care of an autistic kid and make sure he’s entertained between going to the swimming pool and home projects, and work and write are just a pipe dream for me – so I have to pick my battles.  When my son’s father comes home, I can either work out or write – so I write, but there’s so much guilt attached to every word typed, because the house is not clean enough, the kid is not tired enough and he’s cranky as hell because he can’t watch his favorite TV shows.

So if money were out of the equation, I’d get that full-time nanny, kick everyone out,  and just write. With no guilt attach.  No stolen moments just to write a thing or two about characters that do all the things I wish I’d like to do, and live the lives I want to live.

Yes, it’s summer vacation.  And it’s one of those days…

neilgaiman

Daily Prompt

 

 

How Does He Know?!

Just a cute video to open the week – you know, one of those days where there’s so much to do but I don’t know what to do.  Anyway, this is the Josh Williams Band performing live 3 years ago, when a baby bird landed on his guitar in the middle of the song, Mordecai

Now that’s a real Disney princess prince!

 

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Show and Tell – My First Professional Critique

There’s this false sense of security that lulls a would-be writer when she posts her work on a site like Wattpad and read all the praise pouring in.  One writer friend told me that it was “instant gratification” to read all those comments as soon as you click ‘Publish’ and that it was addicting. It makes you want to keep on writing not really for the sake of writing to perfect your craft, but to keep hearing that praise pouring in. 

Problem is – the praise isn’t from your peers, fellow writers or editors who know the essentials of a good story. 

And so after almost 4 months of writing and now currently rewriting my novel, I decided to send the first 2500 words to an editor and author – just me being the type of girl who ‘runs with scissors and never thinks before she says something.’  The woman’s well-respected in the business and people actually were proud to have “bricks flung” at them (in the form of critiques, of course) and admitted that while the critique was harsh and took months to receive, it was what their novels really needed.  No false sense of security there.

I didn’t know what to expect really.  What I did know, the moment I clicked Send, was that my first chapter was the weakest of all 46 chapters in the 140K word novel.  But maybe I needed the validation. Maybe I needed a brick or two flung at me after all the praise I’d been hearing from readers via comments and private messages.  Or maybe I just needed a professional editor to look at it and tell me it was crap so I’d know what to do to make it not so much like crap.

Three hours later, I got my reply.  As I read her email, she first told me that she wasn’t flinging bricks at me – yet.  She also told me what I already knew about that first chapter.

Unfortunately I had mis-identified the genre I was writing by putting down ROMANCE instead of WOMEN’S LIT.  So her critique had more to do with the romance genre, one of which included the advice to read a 100 books for every one book I wanted to write, or read a How To Write a Romance Novel type of book – that is, IF I was writing a romance.

“If this is “women’s fiction” rather than “romance” … then this is fine, but it’s still riddled with the telling, not showing problems.

“Decide if your book is a romance or women’s fiction, then start it at the latest point possible when something more interesting is going on for the [protagonist] than being in the throes of grief for her friend.  I question even using that as a plot device.”

This critique was definitely what I needed to know just how weak my first chapter was.  It also told me that I had a long way to go.  I have heard of people writing novels in 3 to 4 months, then have it published by the 5th month.  Is it polished?  I don’t know, though sometimes I buy then and wonder I wasted my money.  But I shouldn’t be worrying about those authors, that they’re published and I’m not.  I should worry about me, and the type of work I want to produce. 

I need to move that story forward, find my voice in women’s lit (the genre I prefer most to read) and keep on editing till I know that that first chapter is the best I can send out.  Then, and only then – after she asks me to send the full manuscript – do  I wait for the bricks to be flung my way…

O, Buggy Babe With Your Airline Tape, Where Are You Now?

Have you ever named an inanimate object? (Your car? Your laptop? The volleyball that kept you company while you were stranded in the ocean?) Share the story of at least one object with which you’re on a first-name basis.

VW-autostick-ad-2I found my first car next to the studio I was about to rent.  Grass grew around its flat tires and there were rusted holes to the side of the windshield.  When I asked my landlady if the car would remain there, she said it was actually for sale, left there by the previous tenant who had moved out of state.

“If you want it, you can buy it off her,” she said.  “I think she said $400.”

So I bought it.  Having been driven around by a driver when I was younger, I knew nothing about cars. And when one is trying to be independent but with no money, I was sure I could afford $400.  Who knew I could barely afford everything else that needed to be done for the car?  But I did.  I scraped enough money to get it running – new tires, rebuilt engine, and have I mentioned – automatic stick shift?

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Yes, I got myself a 1969 VolksWagen with automatic stick.  I was so proud of that puppy I drove it to work 40 miles each way, never giving up when it broke down on the freeway, or when it leaked when it rained.  My  uncle, who worked for the airlines, gave me this special aluminized speed tape to patch up the holes.  He figured, if it can keep planes together, hell, it can certainly keep my little beetle together.  And I’ll be darned – it did. 

It also brought back memories of my mother driving a VW Volkswagen (Yes! My mother! Driving!) and us as kids with faces plastered to the dashboard screaming “Faster, Mommy! Faster!” as we drove up and down hills. 

I named that little beetle Buggy because I’m so unoriginal like that.  When I got my Saturn, I named her Sal, the Saturn.  So this first car was Buggy, the beetle.  Because whenever I was on the freeway going 60, that little car rattled so bad that my eyes probably went buggy from having to make sure it didn’t fall apart while I was driving it. 

I always figured if that tape held the way it did, little Buggy would last forever.  I’d pat the dashboard and say, “here we go, Buggy Babes. You can do it!”

And she did.

I Thought It Was About The Hobbit

When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?

The source material for the 9-hour trilogy
The source material for the 9-hour trilogy

When Peter Jackson’s first of three installments of a children’s book was released almost two years ago, I figured I’d check it out and see what he’d done to further expound on the story of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit from the Shire who gets caught up in the drama of Middle Earth. 

An Unexpected Journey charmed me from the moment I watched it in the theater in 48 frames per second.  I wanted to meet Bilbo, and see how PJ filmed the dwarves and shrunk them.  I wanted to see how he depicted Thorin Oakenshield, the grumpy old would-be king of the mountain.  I had to admit – having read the book years ago and listened to the audiobook as well – I liked it. 

And so for the second of those three installments of a children’s book, I went to see it on opening day.  When Desolation of Smaug suddenly faded into black, there was no applause in the theater. Instead, the guy next to me and most everyone else in the theater, got up and left even before the credits started rolling.  Only the guy next to me said, “That’s it?  That’s baloney! Peter Jackson’s not getting any more of my money for the third movie. I’m waiting till it ends up on Netflix.”

I remember chuckling then, but I had to agree with him though.  And not that it would matter to him one iota, but Peter Jackson is not having any more of my money either. For a movie that’s supposed to be about the journey of a hobbit, I can barely spot the hobbit.  Instead, for Desolation of Smaug, we were introduced to super wonder elves and Sauron-before-he-was-Sauron of Lord of the Rings.

But everyone I know loves it though, even my real life friends, most of whom have never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.  I just hope that they’ve read the original material, which was a children’s book and therefore didn’t have depictions of war in it.  But people who’ll flock in the theaters for There and Back Again Battle of the Five Armies won’t know that at all. 

So I won’t be watching the third film.  Instead, I’m going back to the book and hope that people who’ve never heard of Tolkien before, pick up the book first – especially The Hobbit.  Because if they see the trilogy first, then the book to them will be boring. 

And that would be – and it already is – a travesty.

 

Popularity Vote

A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

Are you kidding me????? I’m already obscure as it is!  Why would I want to be any more obscure than I already am right now and wait till I’m dead for people to admire my work?

So without even having to think twice, I’ll take that popularity vote right now, give pleasure to millions and know when I keel over and die I made people happy in this lifetime – not in some future lifetime where maybe, just maybe, reincarnation is real and I’d get to enjoy the admiration after all.

Though I still won’t be able to enjoy the admiration because people would just probably lock me up anyway…

Daily Prompt

 

We Never Truly Know

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We never truly know what goes on behind closed doors
For behind each smile could hide a frown
Behind each happy face that we see and ignore
There’s someone who needs a little lift because he’s down

We never truly know what prompts each word others speak
Was it really a happy thought or was it sad?
There’s so much in this world that we seek
Yet not everything we get in return makes us glad

We never truly know what hides behind the laughter
Is it only concealing the darkness, the utter despair?
Still there even when the sun rises after
Never seeing the ones who love you, still standing there.

 

Of Writing Prompts & Other Musings

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