So I’ve Been Writing…and Reading About Freeze-Dried Grooms

I’m totally slacking off on my Daily Prompts of late simply because they just don’t interest me as much as they used to.  I’m also buried in things that need to be done before the  year’s end, like finishing my novel.

I finally got done doing the first round of edits till the last chapter, which helped me continue to write the “real” final chapters. I never realized how it can sometimes take awhile before your characters find the right and perfect way to tie the loose ends together.  But  until then, they hound your dreams till you do.

Another thing that I’ve been doing is reading.  Lots of reading. Some of them bad stories, some good stories, and then some awesome stories. Among the awesome stories is Margaret Atwood’s The Stone Mattress, a collection of 9 short stories (some of them interlinked) written in classic Margaret Atwood fashion. I honestly can’t remember Atwood fashion but reading stuff from her and other literary awesomeness reminds me that everything else I write is just so-so.

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One of the nine stories in her collection is called The Freeze-Dried Groom.  Even the title is pretty darn cool!  You can read the short story on Wattpad, where Atwood is also a “member.”  She’s also holding a fan fiction story contest, where you can take this short story beyond its ending.  Write your own version of what happens to one or all of the characters.  I didn’t think I’d throw my hat in the ring, but after reading the story and having the characters, especially Sam hanging out in my head overnight, I finally decided to give it a go.

So tonight, I finally clicked “Publish” on that sucker, and you can find it here.  It’s called Miss Hazel Eyes.  You know me and titles – I completely suck at them.  You don’t have to be a member to read the story, but if you happen to be a member, I’d love to hear what you think.  You can even vote for the story, or like it by clicking the yellow starry thing at the top right (for web-based readers) or the starry thing at the bottom of the screen (for mobile users).

Regardless of what you do, I’d be happy with just a read.  Oh, and maybe wish me luck, too!

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I’d Pick Elizabeth Gaskell

Today, Audible.com asked the question, “If you could read only one author’s work for the rest of your life, who would it be?”  They also said that it could “easily be the toughest question of the day.”

Probably, if one had many authors to choose from – Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens all the way to the contemporaries like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, and so many more.  However, it didn’t take me long to pick one author I wouldn’t mind reading for the rest of my life.

Elizabeth Gaskell.

In November 1865, when reporting her death, The Athenaeum rated Gaskell as “if not the most popular, with small question, the most powerful and finished female novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists.” Today Gaskell is generally considered a lesser figure in English letters remembered chiefly for her minor classics “Cranford” and “Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story.”

Gaskell’s early fame as a social novelist began with the 1848 publication of “Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life,” in which she pricked the conscience of industrial England through her depiction and analysis of the working classes. Many critics were hostile to the novel because of its open sympathy for the workers in their relations with the masters, but the high quality of writing and characterization were undeniable, and critics have compared “Mary Barton” to the work of Friedrich Engels and other contemporaries in terms of its accuracy in social observation.

The later publication of “North and South,” also dealing with the relationship of workers and masters, strengthened Gaskell’s status as a leader in social fiction.

via Elizabeth Gaskell: Biography.

I bought the complete works of Gaskell for my e-reader and I’m taking my time reading her stories, beginning with the obscure ones.  I’ve already read North and South, but I can’t wait to read Mary Barton, as well as Cranford.  I loved how astute she was about the social changes around her, the plight of the poor workers, even if it put her at odds with the general thinking of the time.

So, yes, for the rest of my life, Elizabeth Gaskell would be perfect.

Who would you pick?

 

 

A New Reality

Your coming back into town
doesn’t excite me anymore,
I no longer sit and count the hours
nor keep watch at the door

I no longer think of your face,
those blue eyes that once shone so bright
I no longer remember those lips,
everything about you has turned cold as ice

I no longer wish to see you again,
though I often catch myself wanting to know
how you’re doing without me wherever you are
does life become much easier once we go?

I no longer remember the curves of your face
though sometimes I catch myself thinking of us
back when things were much simpler and real
when neither one of us made such a fuss

But life has a way to tell us
that it’s high time we have to move on,
time to let go of those forgotten dreams
time to accept the reality that you and I are done

True to Herself

“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face.”

via Frances McDormand, True to Herself in HBO’s ‘Olive Kitteridge’ – NYTimes.com.

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When I Gave the Muse Away

The day I gave my muse away
I didn’t know what I was doing
I didn’t read the fine print that said,
this will be your own undoing

for you’ve given us rein
to do whatever we wish
to the one that you love
like some unwanted dish,

and so he’s ours now -
no longer yours to keep.
Oh how I wish I could take it all back
or are my thoughts running just too deep?

Maybe it isn’t really too bad
when someone takes your creation away
when you’re the one who signed on the dotted line,
too stupid to know the difference between playing
– and being played.

OT: Why Do I Teach? And Why I Need To Stop

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Lately I’ve been asking myself why I teach - well, other than the fact that I have to finish the terms of my contract to teach till the end of the next year’s spring semester – but really, why do I teach?

Is it because I love sharing knowledge and my weird interest in the body and healing? Yes.

Is it because I it thrills me to see that moment when a student realizes for the first time just how beautiful and life-changing the power of touch can be?   Definitely.

Is it because I am good at it?

If I were to base it on the new curriculum the head teacher for the program has set up, the answer is a big fat NO.  I don’t teach out of a textbook.  I don’t regurgitate my stuff word for word, or tell students that there is only one way to do things – that the client must say the pain level is 7/10 when you start pressing on that trigger point and get it down to 3/10 before it’s a success.  If they say the pain level is 5/10, you must then press harder on that knot in the muscle to get 7/10.  Because it has to be 7/10.

I don’t teach that way.   I just can’t.

And I’m horrified to see students come to my class after finishing their basic massage class believing that there is only one way to do bodywork – that everyone else, regardless of how many years they’ve been doing it, is wrong.  Including me.  Because I don’t do bodywork the way they were taught as the only “right” way it should be done; that regardless of whether you have a bum knee or bad back, you need to lunge forward to adjust to the prescribed height of the table or you’re doing it wrong.  And everyone else who doesn’t do it that way?  They’re wrong, too (don’t worry, I do lunge).

So I’ve grown tired of hitting that mental wall that students present to me and my teachings, the close-mindedness they present to class when they come in seeking hours for their transcripts – and usually nothing else.  My 17 years of education and practice is now plain wrong because it does not match up to the way they learned to do massage in the last 3 months, learned only from one teacher who follows only one book, and teaches according to her beliefs – that the sound a pump bottle makes is similar to the sounds of sex in a porn film, so you can’t use one during your massage, or that aromatherapy learned through her Young Living classes is enough to give you what you need to learn about essential oils.

Theses students, now specializing in “aromatherapy” no longer know the individual properties of lavender, rosemary, tea tree or frankincense, and have no desire to do so because they  are now armed with 8 hours of aromatherapy and a kit that can cure everything.  They can tell me what Thieves oil blend is good for (apparently, everything), but not be able to name one ingredient.

So, yes, apparently I’m wrong.

And now, I can honestly say, I’m also tired.

Tired of hitting that wall, that close-mindedness that these students bring in to my class, believing only what they were taught, and not allowing themselves to be open-minded, whether it’s about the varying levels and perceptions of pain (emotional, physical, and spiritual) by others who will, one day, be their clients, or that a therapist can use his/her thumb in massage as long as it’s supported  – because it was drilled into them for the past three or four months that there is only one way to do things.  It pains me to see them go out in the world with such beliefs, such narrow-minded mentality, – such indifference – knowing how their touch can make or break a spirit seeking only a touch with loving kindness and understanding.

For awhile I thought I could do it – that there is room for my way of teaching in this world – because after all, I have been very fortunate to have been taught this way, where my own spirit was allowed to grow, and explore and bloom under patient, open tutelage, where I was taught to feel and listen to the tissue allow you in, release and let you in a bit deeper. What I learned – what the teachers taught me – hardly came from a textbook.  It came from the heart.  It came from their own lives.  It came from their souls, and I count myself truly fortunate and grateful for having been given the gift of their instruction and time.

But those schools are long gone, either struggling to get by or closed because the big companies have moved in with their high tuitions and student loan options, state funded programs regardless of whether you have an existing conviction record or not, hiring teachers fresh out of massage school with barely two, three years experience, hand them a thick binder representing a syllabus and telling them, “teach this,” where instead of semesters, there are modules and anyone can join in at anytime of the year.   You learned by the book, you taught by the book. Experience as far as hours spent with clients, listening to them with an open heart, is not of value – not the ones whose main goal is enrollment and the bottom line, and regurgitating words in obnoxious massage textbooks that have lost their soul a long time ago.

And now I know there is no room for me in this present space, when every word I utter is filtered through some impregnable wall that I no longer have the heart and soul to fight every time I stand up in class, wishing I were somewhere else.  Because that wall is there, and it’s not about to come down.

Not without breaking me down first.

So…This Happened

Remember that story I wrote about First Love? No?  –>

I honestly gave up on the voting thing and stopped asking people to vote for the piece because, hey, I’m just not good in that department, yada yada yada – but anyway, this happened this morning:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.45.20 PMI’m one of the 11 finalists, chosen for this little ditty about love that I submitted!

Honestly, I’m just happy I made the cut and seriously don’t think I’d win the big kahuna thingy.  There are some amazing stories on this list actually (the ones with * are my personal favorites), and if you haven’t been to Wattpad to check it out – definitely worth a look.  All stories are under 1500 words (I think it’s 1500, or was it 2000?), so it’ll only take a little bit of your time to check out.

The other winning entries below.

His Hands* – My personal favorite

Beautiful Scars*-  Another personal favorite

No Names*  – Another young love favorite

Keeping the Sky

Post Marked

Promise Ring

Room 405

A Taste of Ava

Stretching the Hood

Remember Our October

 

 

Lessons Forgotten

Lessons Forgotten

Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?

He was a judge, a councilman,
my grandfather.
He taught me how much
the written word
mattered,
that good books read
helped one’s spirit grow,
excellent books devoured
only strengthened what
the soul already knows.
But when he tore that
Harlequin romance paperback
in two,
he told me that among great books,
there would be trash, too,
that none of them would enhance
a brain that continued
to always grow,
so read only the best, he said,
that’s all you need to know.

But if grandfather
were still alive today
would he like what he’d see?
What would he say
of the Kindles and the iPads
with their trashy books within?
Would he gnash his teeth
knowing I’ve gone past
Harlequin -
when he’d find out that among
the hundreds of books in my e-readers -
even the best,
there’s a trashy tale hidden here
and there, tucked in
with all the rest,
of whips and chains
and sex and gore
He’s probably rolling in his grave
right now -
for there’s even more.

Daily Prompt

Standing Appointments

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Today, while bitching and moaning about how I had no control over my former massage studio, where I only use it one day a week since I decided to focus more on my  writing and raising my little one – which unfortunately means that so many people use it on the other days of the week and break my things that are still in there without any consideration to me* – my client said something to me that made it all worthwhile.

While scheduling his weekly appointment for the rest of the month, he told me that he wasn’t going to make one of those weeks since he’ll be out of town.  So I said, “good!  Because your slot is highly sought after.  Now I can fill that with someone who wants it.”

Then he said, “Well, they’ll have to wait till I die, because I’m not giving it up till then.”

I’ve been seeing this client since 1999, by the way – same time each week.  And his words, after so many years of being his massage therapist, truly made everything else seem so mundane.

It even made my day.

* My co-renter rents out the room to whoever bodyworker or energy worker needs to use the room for a few hours, which leaves my poor neighbors so confused.  But this was a huge lesson of letting go for me last year.  You can’t have everything, after all…sally-field-oscar-speech-o

Of Writing Prompts & Other Musings

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