How To Find What You Came Here For

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stage Fright & Other Fun Things

Play Information: Click Here!
I haven't written much these last few weeks, but I have a really good excuse - I'm in a play with our community theater group, and our opening night is TOMORROW.  Not that I'm panicking or anything.

OK, that was a lie.  I'm totally panicking.

As with most things that freak me out, there are a couple of layers to this panic.  Kind of like a wobbly layer cake, waiting to crumble.

The first layer is simple - stage fright.  In rehearsal I am confident, but I know from my experience with the handbell choir at my church that when it comes time to do anything in front of an audience my knees turn to Jell-O.  Actual Jell-O.  Sweartagod.  And just like that jiggly wiggly stuff, the shaking works its way from my knees through the rest of me.

I'm the first one out: I walk out all by myself onto an empty stage and speak the first lines of the show.  I know I won't walk out and just stand there like an idiot...but what if I'm so nervous that my voice works itself up to chipmunk range and shakes uncontrollably?  That'll be fun.

The second layer is my weight.  Ironically, the play centers around five friends who decide to take control of their lives after losing their good friend, Vonda Joyce.  Vonda Joyce had spent years telling them that "as soon as she lost the weight" she was going to...well, fill in whatever.  Unfortunately, she dies before she does any of it.

I'm terribly self-conscious about my weight (even though I'm slowly but surely losing it), and there are plenty of things I choose not to do because of it, but I'm trying to change that.  Of course, that means walking out on stage with that little voice in my head yammering away about how awful I look.  I'm trying to beat that voice down, but it's like playing Whack-a-Mole - smack it down over here, and it pops up over there.

At any rate, this little adventure is the reason I haven't been writing.  My brain is so wrapped up in the play (and my lines, some of which I would kill to re-write), that I haven't been able to sustain a thought long enough to write even the shortest of short stories.  We've got three shows this weekend, and three shows next weekend, and then I'm done and I'll be back to writing.

Promise!



The play is called "Hallelujah Girls" and I'm playing Carlene Hart Waldrip Mukewater Travis - a woman who's been widowed three times and given up on any kind of romantic life.  If you are going to be in the Asheboro, NC area this weekend or next, come on by!  The other ladies (and the two men) in the play are AWESOME, and it promises to be a fun night!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Changes

For Original, Click Picture
Rebecca struggled to lift the baby’s car seat out of her two-door car.  Little Emily was only three months old, and light as a little pink feather, but when she was in that damned car seat the entire package felt like it weighed at least a hundred pounds.

The handle of the car seat finally popped past the door frame and the edge of the plastic seat jerked forward and slammed into Rebecca’s hip.

“Shit!” she hissed, then glanced down at Emily.  She’d have slapped a hand over her mouth for good measure, but they were both full with the car seat, diaper bag, and a hastily wrapped gift.  The baby slept on, peacefully unaware of her mother’s slip of the tongue.

Rebecca juggled everything up the walk to the Fisher’s front door and then stopped, trying to figure out how she was going to ring the doorbell.  Before she could decide what to put down, the door swung open and she was confronted with Brenda Fisher's ever-smiling face.

“Oh my, you’re really loaded down aren’t you?  Here, let me take that package for you.” 

Rebecca followed her through the house to the party that was already in full swing.  She worked her way around the edge of the room, horribly aware that her body had not exactly rushed to drop the weight she’d put on during her pregnancy.

To make things worse, she hadn’t had the time to put on any makeup and it had been months since she’d had her hair cut.  A glance down at her nails revealed cuticles that would probably make her manicurist cry, several broken nails, and a few that showed signs of being bitten.  Her gaze was drawn to a spot on her blouse that she hadn’t noticed, and since none of her pre-pregnancy slacks fit, she was wearing her fat jeans.

Looking around at the other women, she remembered last time she’d been to one of Brenda’s Summer Saturday parties, nearly a year ago.  She’d worn lemon-colored slacks in a size four, and a silk blouse in stripes of green, yellow, and orange.  She’d been to the salon and her hair and nails were done to perfection.  She’d fit in…before.  Now she was the ugly duckling in a pond of swans.

A small sound from the car seat pulled her eyes from the flock of women to Emily, beginning to stir.  Rebecca reached down to unbuckle the baby and lift her free of the seat. 

With the ease of repetition, she cradled the baby and tossed a light blanket over her shoulder.  Reaching under the blanket, she rearranged her shirt and bra, settling Emily against her breast.  As the baby latched on and Rebecca felt the comforting pull of the nursing baby, she smiled.

Who cares if my stomach’s not flat and my hair is.  Look what I can do! Rebecca thought.

She settled back on the couch and prepared to enjoy the party with her baby girl.





This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge - we had to pick four numbers, and those numbers told us what we were writing about.  My numbers gave me a new mother for my character, a party for my setting, summer for the time, and reminiscing about how things change for the subject - with a 500 word limit.

As always, please let me know what you think of this short story in the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Say What?

“Ms. G, can Tre come sit in the office with you a while?”

I looked up the long hallway toward the four-year-old classroom.  The daycare I worked at had about two hundred kids, and this sort of request wasn’t at all unusual.  I walked back to the room to retrieve Tre.

“So what’s up with Tre?” I asked.



“He fell out,” the teacher stated, frowning down at the little boy.

I gasped.  “He fell out of his chair?  Is he OK?  Did he bump his head?”

The teacher and the child stared at me with matching expressions of confusion.

“Nooo,” she said slowly, giving me a look that clearly indicated she’s thinking I’m the one who’s hit their head.  “He fell out.”

The extra emphasis wasn’t helping.  I still had no idea what had actually happened, and I was too embarrassed to ask again, so I just nodded.

“Anyway,” she continued, “his mama done told him if he falls out again, she gonna tear up his little behind.  So I’m gonna give him a chance to settle.”

“OK, Tre, come on up with me.”  I led the way up to the office at the front of the building, and sat the little boy in the chair next to my desk.

A few minutes later, the center’s director came in and stopped at my desk.

“What’s Tre done?”

I kept my eyes on the report I was working on.  “Don’t know.  His teacher sent him up for a little bit of quiet time.”

“OK, but why?”

I could feel a blush rising up my neck to my cheeks.  “She said he fell out.”

My director looked from me to Tre, who shrugged and tried to look innocent, and then back to me.

“You don’t know what that means, do you,” she stated, putting her hands on her hips and cocking her head to one side.

I shook my head, and my blush intensified when she started laughing.

“It means he had a tantrum,” she said, taking little Tre by the hand.  “I’ll just take him back to his teacher for you.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, and put my head in my hands when I clearly heard the both of them laughing as they walked down the hall.  





This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write something on colloquialisms and dialects.  This was not the last time I had to have a phrase explained to me, and it was not the last time my confusion gave my co-workers a great deal of entertainment.  I can't think of any phrases like that when I was growing up in Wyoming, but after we moved to North Carolina, there were times when I felt like I was trying to learn a new language that sounded like English, but didn't always mean what I thought it meant.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Walls

Liz pushed the door open and stepped into the cool silence.  The walk, meant to give her some time to regroup and relax, had lasted longer than she’d meant it to.

The house felt empty and still.  A quick glance through the kitchen window confirmed that Sam’s car was gone.  She knew his suitcase would be gone too, and the empty space in their closet mirrored the void in her heart.

“I love you, Liz, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep trying to prove it!”  His words replayed in her head until they squeezed the air out of her lungs.

“I know.  I’m sorry,” she whispered the words she wished she’d said, hoping they’d chase away the memory of his frustration, but her stifling fear remained.

She loved him…more than she’d ever thought possible.  But it wasn’t enough.  Her walls were just too high, too thick, to deeply rooted to be torn down.

Liz knew the distance those walls created hurt him.  They’d served a purpose, once—something she’d never thought she’d be able to share with anyone, until him.  He’d made her feel safe.


Her fear of losing him, losing the miracle that was his love, would drive him away just like it had this afternoon.  She wondered if this business trip would be the one he decided not to come home from.

She sat on the couch and rubbed her arms, chasing a chill that resisted the warm sunlight dancing through the windows.  Her words and his repeated in her head, each iteration magnifying the misery that squeezed her heart but wouldn’t let tears fall.

It was instinct that had her turning to the stereo, hoping to drown out both their voices.  The yellow sticky note took her by surprise, freezing her hand in midair.

“PUSH PLAY” written in his familiar, blocky hand.

The CD player whirred to life, the first strums of a guitar flowed through the room, and Jimmy Buffett’s husky voice followed.

From the bottom of my heart
Off the coast of Carolina
After one or two false starts
I believe we found our stride

And the walls that won’t come down
We can decorate or climb
Or find some way to get around
‘Cause I’m still on your side

Joy and relief soothed the ache in her heart.  The walls weren’t gone, but if he wasn’t giving up, neither was she.




This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write about how a character reacts to music.  Jimmy Buffett is one of my all-time favorite artists.  I have very diverse musical tastes, but Jimmy is the only person or group I've ever waited in line to see live.  His music - the lyrics, harmony, everything - can inspire an incredible range of emotions.  And, he's just plain fun.   As always, please let me know what you think of this short story in the comments!