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Week 7/ Keep the Pen Moving - Page 2

post #21 of 56
charmarty... I didn't think you conveyed that you were TRYING to conceive, just that you HAPPENED to conceive on a night of passion! And I like the "Other" because honestly, it removes the husband-wife from it... especially cool in the beginning when this could be nothing more than an act of passion between two people of any gender for no reason at all.

post #22 of 56

My secret desire...

Odd that I am the most intelligent person everyone knows--when they need advice. Or the strongest person everyone knows--when they need help. I'm the person they run to... and the person they scoff, scorn and dismiss when my work is finished.

My husband told me once that I was their fruit tree. A tree that they picked from and nourished themselves on, but didn't maintain; and that in the end, they'd curse the tree for being diseased when it no longer produced for them. And for his family, he was that same tree. We were two peas in a pod: our family's rocks and at the same time, their doormats.

Bit by bit, I cut them off. It took years... and one by one, I had just had enough. I couldn't do it any more. I needed nourishing. I needed advice. I needed. And nobody was there but my husband. It was enough for me. Bit by bit, my husband did the same... both of us trying to work it through and meeting with the resistance of change. Both of us breaking through the mold we'd been cast into and alienating all of the people closest to us as a result. They didn't want us to be strong. They relied on our love that allowed them to draw upon our resources at will without having to say thank you, or having to return that love.

I'm not sorry. Neither of us has any regrets. But in that moment before I fall off to sleep, I often wish that it could be different and I know that it cannot. I often wish I knew that my husband didn't miss them--that he felt as strongly as I did. In that moment before I go to sleep, I hold him close and pray to God that my son and I will be enough for him... forever.

Happy to take criticism. I realize that this is a recurring theme this week for me and this may not really come across as desire, but it is. Bad family week!
post #23 of 56
That is what I thought when i re read it. That the title and then the story that followed left a reader going what does this have to do with trying too hard?
It does though, the whole story, but I noticed the time and I tried to cut it off. The point I was trying to make was even when we think we are doing our best by trying so hard, it's those times out of the blue where things really do happen becuase the universe has that planned for you.
I will try to think of an alternative and things to remove from it.

I also want to share with you, that I am in exactly the same boat as you and your dh are with your families and I can totally relate to everythign you have written about it. I think you described the feelings that stem from these types of situations very well. And here It's hard going through that!
post #24 of 56
I am trying too hard to be a writer, to come up with something profound to say. The problem is that I am not a writer or at least I wasn't before. Maybe this is the new me, the writer me, the words and letters me.

The old me was a musician, a violist actually, and a violinist before that. I always wanted to be a vocalist thought. The problem was that when they found out you played an instrument you never got to sing; your voice was always filtered through the object, the instrument you made speak through your body but not your voice. Take it the next step forward, at conservatory where your whole identity becomes your instrument it superceeds even your gender. "She's a violist"; end of description. You are your instrument, your audition, your seat in the orchestra. Sometimes the human suffix was dropped and he became "a wind" or "a brass" or "a string". It was nerve wracking to be a string: a tightly wound piece of cat gut. To be only the gracious curves of a pine box and the tension of the steel wound strings was a stressful place to be. You'd think it would be enough to make anyone snap. But anyone didn't snap: I did. I just felt I should be so much more than a sight reading score or a perfectly timed double stop but I could never find the voice to say so. I could only find the apologetic sounds of regret for not being perfect, for not practising enough, for not being as good as I should.

But that was from a life when I was trying to hard to be a viola. Now I am trying to hard to be a writer, one that won't bore you to tears like an out of tune etude. I am trying to find my voice independent of my box, of my strings and my past. I am trying to find words that make music..........

END ASSIGNMENT. I like the assignments, I like the time limits. They make me feel safe for now. They provide structure for my chaos and give me space at the same time. This is all because i don't actually HAVE to do them. If they were real assignments with grades and red pens, I'd never do them and then ask for an extension at the end........I don't mind red pens, especially on the assignments so feedback is welcome, not sure what kind of feed back I'm looking for though. Maybe let me know which piece grabs your attention deserves some more polish. Am I redundant? Too cliche? My real test will be if I ever post anything that's not an assignment. That takes more courage then I have right now.
post #25 of 56
Trying too hard...

I was trying too hard and it was making for some tough days. When I was myself, I was the new resident they said seemed like she'd been in the OR for five years.When I felt the shadow of my reputation, or at least what I imagined to be my reputation, and tried too hard to get from under it, I was too self conscious to be at my best.

I was in the position of my dreams, a resident in my first choice spot, a prestigious program in my specialty-to-be. I'd survived internship and now I was on my way to finally finding some satisfaction in this career that seemed to take me, more than I took it. The last week of my internship I was heady with senioritis when I got a call from my future residency director inviting me to a meeting.

This is a story I was ashamed of for years. I told no one.

The residency director, the man who'd offered me my new world put me into the same chair where I was when he decided I was worthy of a spot in his program. His face was stern and he went through few formalities before announcing he was going to read a letter from my internship director. All accolades. Great brains, great work, great team spirit. I was wondering why I was there.

Then came the second paragraph. But she is a problem...unpredictable behavior...not necessarily suited to the position...I don't remember the specifics but that was the jist. It was a warning to my new director, of a dark side I didn't know I had. I had no response. I was told that I would still start the residency program but that I was being warned, and I would be closely watched. I walked on wobbly legs out of his office and grabbed a train back downtown to talk to the internship director.

He was also my department chairman. His setup was more cozy. A chair next to his desk. The last time I sat there it was to say that if they insisted on making me work under the supervision of a certain resident ---, I'd sooner quit the program. I said I was apalled that they were letting him finish the year before they tossed him off to another unsuspecting program, with a promised good letter of recommendation according to the rumors. Because everyone knew he was a walking death squad. The most public incident was the year before in the emergency room, when was giving drugs for a hypertensive crisis and the patient died under his hands. I wanted to be switched to another service, where I could continue my tenure there a good distance away from this person.

That time he, promised the resident would be closely supervised by an attending who would be available to me day or night. Now, he spoke in fatherly tones, but his eyes were blank and cold. Who was I to ask questions? It's a good thing you're leaving here in a week, because if you'd been planning to stay on here I'd have never renewed your contract. He lifted my file right from his desk, and read a performance evaluation. It described a change in my once admirable energy level. That one was from the month I started inderal for frequent migraines, and I felt like I was walking through muddy water. He waved another sheet. Excellent work but erratic behavior. I think she is depressed, probably to a psychotic degree.

The author was the cardiologist who was the attending assigned to supervise --- when I had to work with him. The month they all murdured Billy Williams. And I was a witness.

This director talking to me now was the one I'd called in the middle of the night, to say, --- is standing at the bedside and here's what he's doing and the nurses just keep bringing him more, he won't stop, and he's going to kill this patient. It was he who gave me a verbal pat on my little head with a now now, I'm sure he's not, we'll talk about it after I make rounds in the morning if you want, and hung up on me. I called him, because the cardiologist who was supposed to be keeping an extra watch on the problem resident, who was supposed to be immediately available, had only a message with the answering service that he was gone for the weekend, with no coverage, when I called him first.

This is an attempt to discredit me, and not a very good one. Look at the holes: Excellent work but psychotic? Impossible to do both. He's a cardiologist, who is he to diagnose depression? And if he was really so worried, why didn't he see that I got care instead of leaving me for the rest of the year? I ask to see the other evaluations, confident in doing so because a friend of mine used to serve on the evaluation committee, and he told me I was regularly described as outstanding. The director answered with an admonishment to be grateful I had a residency spot to go to. Implied were the words, for now.

He spoke in a hushed monotone, not the way I was when I marched down to the CCU conference room, where he was finishing rounds, when I stormed in saying, did you hear that code they called awhile ago? That was they patient I told you about last night. The one --- was trying to kill. You know what, now he's dead and you as good as killed him too. I stopped only to take a breath before I shouted that I was going to call 60 Minutes, or the New York Times, and keep calling until I got someone who would make public the story of the hospital that murdured a patient.

A few weeks into my residency program, I was invited to a dinner in the honor of a visiting faculty member. My hair was freed from the cap and I discarded my scrubs for an elegant sweater and skirt. I sat at the table set with white linen and china, and sparkling crystal. I was seated beside the department chairman. With my fork I went poking at squab, while being plied with a different glass of wine for every course, by my chairman.

He died several years ago, and I've never encountered anyone else like him..It was the end of a grand era in that place when he retired. I stared at the tiny drumsticks of the squab I never ate, wanting to blurt out, the letter isn't true, you know, something happened. He poured another glass of wine and encouraged me to take a sip. It's a 1966 Pinot Chardonnay Dubleegibberishsichnoir. This fine wine is wasted on me, I tell him. They all taste like gasoline..then I quickly want to make it clear it's not like I really know what gasoline would taste like.

He holds the wine toward me and smiles warmly. So Ivy League formally professorial, yet I know that he is really seeing me when he looks my way. I know his daughter is a medical student and she fights with depression.

When I came back from my tirade in the CCU, I thrust a piece of paper at --- when he was sitting doing the paperwork after the code. This is his mother's phone number. She was just discharged from the private service last week. YOU call her and tell her you killed her son!

--- got up and walked past me. I stood at the nurses station and stared at the paper left in my hand. I dialed Mrs. Flowers' number. I knew her well by name if not by face; I'd spent many hours checking potassium levels as her blood pressure medications were adjusted. I have vague recall of a dainty black woman with knobby knuckles.

I aplogized for my news, she heaved a weighty sigh. “That boy. Always so troubled. On the street, drinking and drinking and drinking. I always knew he'd meet an early end.” She requested no details, and before I could think of offering, she issued a gracious thanks and hung up. It was that easy. That's why no one cared what was happening. Just an alcoholic destined for early death, one way or the other. So what if our machine of a system moved things along with intravenous injections of too much Valium for what --- claimed was the fever and delerium and seizures of DT's but what the pathologist said was really pneumonia turned to meningitis. I guess that's why I never called in the reporters, I couldn't bear to look at someone else who didn't care.

From the resignation in her voice, I could tell that Mrs. Flowers didn't think she could have done a thing to change the outcome. What does someone do when they feel they can't reach their child?

Do what they can for someone else's child, maybe hoping that karma will send someone who can make a difference, to theirs...

The chairman is very tall. He puts the wine down at my place, and hunches down close to me. All the chatter around us, the performing visiting professor, the shmoozers, the brown nosers, the waiters, the clinking utensils, become frozen in time. He whispers, “I know the letter isn't true. Come talk to me in my office.”

I tasted the wine and winced. Our laughter joined the din of the room.

I enter his office with it's windows looking down on the skyline downtown. His desk is bigger than my bathroom, and he's in a leather throne. He's pulls out the letter. I start to talk. He interrupts and raises the letter. “This isn't about you.”

I'm amazed he doesn't need to hear it, he has that much faith in me, but he knows I need to tell something. I thought a lot about what I was going to say, and I said as much as I could of what happened, in as few words as possible. I also need for him to hear my fear. That no matter what he may see in me, no matter what I make of myself in the program, the letter will color the opinion of anyone who has need to see my file, for decades to come.

He never took his eyes from mine, while he crumpled the letter and tossed it in the garbage. He closed my file atop his desk.

Did I ever worry that he pulled it out and returned it to my file as soon as I walked out.


This is quite a bit worked on but not terribly polished.

I started this as the 15 minute exercise. My plan was to tell the story that led to my personal predicament. But by the time 15 minutes were over, I'd still told only the part about how my life was affected.

I first wanted to tell it as sort of a medical horror story. But I wanted it to be something for Dd to read when she is older, about a event that haunted me in many ways, for a long time, and, on a bigger scale, dealing with being powerless, and dealing with shame.

I ended up telling two stories here because I went back and wove the hospital story into the personal story. I flip back and forth through time, as I have often done in these exercises. I don't happen to consider time to be fixed, so it makes sense to me.

?????I wonder how it strikes a reader though, as I move through time and verb tenses.

???? Also, I never come out and say, the letter was created in order to discredit me because of what I knew and could spill at any time. I think the story should convey that for the reader to figure out, without me spelling it out. Does this come through clearly?
post #26 of 56
Oh charmarty, so sorry to bring everyone down after your gorgeous post!
post #27 of 56


Maybe in the transition you could start with what happens when you try too hard in the garden and then segway into the rest, it would be more rather then less but it might read a bit more smoothly. Maybe cut out a bit from what the garden is like when you are just trying hard and find a line to describe what might happen to your garden if you try too hard. I think the second to the last paragrah is very good and I identify much more than I'd care to admit! I wouldn't cut anything from that one. I'm not sure that knowing you talk to your seeds added anything for me (but I am not a gardener), so you might could cut that line and not lose anything. I'm reluctant to say anything more about chopping...........I may not be the best person for feedback on that count.
post #28 of 56
Originally Posted by Curious

???? Also, I never come out and say, the letter was created in order to discredit me because of what I knew and could spill at any time. I think the story should convey that for the reader to figure out, without me spelling it out. Does this come through clearly?
I think it does!!!! And please, you have absolutely nothing to be sorry for!

I have added a couple of words in the last paragraph to help clear my message. Let me know if it helped please. Thank you.
post #29 of 56
Here is a freewrite... I did a tiny bit of cleaning it up. I think I might want to expand this one later on. Any feedback on tone and what's funny (or not quite) would be helpful. Thanks!

Secret desire
Nothing comes. I guess the secret is that I have no desire. And let me explain what I mean by desire.

I used to think that parents were some sorry set of people who lost all their desire for a “normal” life… and in some ways, now that I’m on the other side, I see it’s true. But not in the way I used to think. The secret is that for me, it’s not really a loss at all. Before I start to sound like one of those people who is trying to make mothers out there “feel guilty” for not approaching motherhood with Betty Crocker-like cheer… I just mean, as much as I sometimes wish for my d@mn kid to give me the tiniest bit of space, please! I don’t actually think, “Oh, I wish I could go back to like it was before.” Sure, it’d be nice to go to the movies. Speaking of desire, it’d be nice to have sex with my husband. It would be even better if I had a sex drive (thanks, breastfeeding!). It would be nice to eat something without having to get on the floor and let my toddler put his hands in it and “help” me eat it. I’d like to wear clean clothes -- just think! I used to manage this one every day! I’d like to have an uninterrupted conversation… I guess you get the idea. There are things I miss. But are they “my loss”?

I’m not dying for these things. Have I been liberated from these desires? Or have I been beaten down into submission? It’s a pretty close call, don’tcha think?

It’s just not that wanting these things is futile (totally, utterly so), but I don’t really honestly want them that much. They’re sort of like passing fancies, vague notions of a dreamlike maybe, a not-really-listening reply of, “Hm… That’s nice, dear.”

Or maybe it’s that the cost of getting them doesn’t make sense to me anymore. In the middle of the DVD if the baby starts crying, I go upstairs and nurse him. I’m tired, too, so I fall asleep. Rarely will I feel like, “But I just HAVE to see the rest of that movie.” I will admit there are a few that I would make the effort to finish watching, but the rest? I am sure you’re as familiar as I with the Hollywood Movie Machine, so I don’t have to belabor this point.

Having this kid has given me the ability to choose the easy-street –- sometimes things are just too hard with a kid to make it worth it. Helplessly plead with your infant to stop crying so you can buy groceries? Or grab what you can and get the hell out? You decide! Try to corral your toddler in a fancy restaurant AND have a conversation with friends, or order take-out and eat on the floor? You choose!

So it’s not quite the sorry state I had thought pre-kid. It’s more like having this kid has kicked the “what matters meter” into hyper mode. It’s much clearer to me what matters now -- from a stronger sense of service (to the world, to others, to myself, and family) to the color and number of son’s bowel movements. Does it really matter that there are rice cakes (and banana, and raisins) scattered all over the floor, if it is what gave me just a few minutes of uninterrupted time to write this?

To say that becoming a parent changes your perspective is a cliché and a weak one at that. It’s more like it rips your eyes out and puts in a new pair: these ones are awake (in the Buddha sense and in the not-enough-sleep sense).

© 2004 Stacy M. Lewis
post #30 of 56
Another freewrite. I cleaned this one up a bit, too. I doubt I would really expand it, since it's pretty sappy and cliche. But I had fun writing it, working with the words.

Not really looking for feedback, but if you feel compelled to let me know what struck you or what was too abstract or clunky, please do. Thanks!

Where my heart lives
My heart lives in my chest, in that nether-chamber of dark wet, pulsating its tune through me.

My heart lives inside me, bathed in blood, housed in muscle; my heart, it beats and beats.

My heart is soft and small, a quivering and injured animal: at my mercy, quietly guiding me in compassion.

My heart is a tadpole of a thing, jiggedly-jaggedly propelling itself about, splashing in the first waters of earth, setting upon its evolution to the beyond.

My heart’s perfect metronome of time is marred by a limp and whoosh; the mechanics of love exposed, a crack.

My heart is huge, an amorphous blob, gelatinous and undefined, hungry and soft.

My heart is an invisible and delicate netting, dusted and shaped with life; an unwitting witness, and participant, in life. This life. All life.

My heart is the sky, its expanse filled with stars. My heart is the ocean, its powerful drum beating the rhythm of all dance. My heart is the wind, its essence set free, dispersed in plenty. My heart is the earth, its center an insistent, white hot core.

My heart is a gooey organ, a meaty muscle, a machinated conductor, a waterworks plant.

What is the condition of my heart? What is the condition of my life? Ask me the condition of my heart and the answer will tell you the condition of my life.

© 2004 Stacy M. Lewis
post #31 of 56


It is a natural compulsion to reach for something that we want. Even if someone’s eye is in the way, a three year old cannot stop reaching. Every fiber of their being is telling them to do something. A severe corneal abrasion occurs when someone’s eye gets in the way of the target. That is what happened to me Monday before noon. It seems as if my life stopped for a week: enough time to restore gratitude for my eyes, and the force inside that drives me to see, to open my eyes, to read, to write...

Jorge Luis Borges, a fantastic, incredibly brilliant Argentine writer, went blind before he died. It has always struck me as the greatest irony that a writer would lose their vision. Someone has been given a gift, which then turns to an obsession, a passion, and becomes ingrained—a natural compulsion, and then the major organs which drive the compulsion: the eyes are taken away.

According to the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, compulsion is defined as “that which compels, driving force” or psychologically as “an irrestible, repeated, irrational impulse to perform some act.

It is a natural and irrestible compulsion for me to write. With “broken” eyes, writing was not an option. I went through withdrawals from the computer, books, and email. What I had been working so hard on: to form the habit of writing every day was suddenly stopped. This Monday when my eye was scratched I had never felt so much pain. I had to keep both eyes shut. When my left eye moved, the right eye did as well, sending additional pain signals to my brain along with the ones that were already pulsing their hurt song. The light hurt, movement hurt, head hurt—the compulsion to see was stopped. But the ingrained, signal to open my eye and look could not be. I just wanted to keep my eyes shut, but brain kept saying, “eyes open, eyes open: look at your baby, look at the fine print, look at your inbox, look at the clock..”. On the second day, I opened my eyes enough to see my baby smile. He was being held by his father, and taken down stairs. There I stood at the bottom of the steps. He saw me, he saw my left eye open, and his face opened up as well. What joy to see my baby smile. What joy to see my boys’ faces.

Writing, for me, is a compulsion. It is both natural and irrational. It seems irrational that I let my two children totally run wild, and destroy my house during this thirty minutes that I must write. But, it’s worth it to me. Time’s up and so is this baby’s patience—he wants to see his mamas eyes, focused on him…

Feedback welcome: How could I develop this more as an essay?…I will be posting a short story that I would like to resurrect and submit somewhere, I would really appreciate feedback on that as well.
post #32 of 56
Which One Wins?

The day that I met my husband he was walking his dogs in one of the many plazas in old Savannah. I was struck by his beauty and theirs—all of them were wolfishly handsome, muscular beasts with a raw vigor that stopped me completely in my tracks. I stopped, I stared, and then as they were about to walk past, I finally found my composure and was able to smile charmingly and comment, “Oh my, what beautiful dogs you have…” Tentatively, I reached towards them as their master jokingly said, “go ahead, they won’t bite, they’ve been fed today.” I reached out my hand and immediately fell in love as the two of them nuzzled and licked me and then sat back to get a good petting.
“What are their names,” I asked while continuing to give the dogs a massage. He hesitantly replied, “Fuego and Aire—that means fire and air in Spanish.” Anticipating my next question he continued, “they are a rare breed of domesticated wolf. I found them in a remote Andean village when I was trekking through South America in 1999. They’re litter mates and are inseparable. One can not live without the other but they are polar opposites—thus the names, fire and air.” “Wow,” I said, feeling like a bit of dumb ass with an inferiority complex in the face of such a good looking, cultured man with such exotic pets. But then I thought, fire needs air, but does air need fire?
“My name is Seth, and you?” he asked. “I’m Bella.” “That you are.” He replied. I blushingly accepted the complement while wiping the sweat off my brow that had started to accumulate in the sultry afternoon. “Hey, you look hot, why don’t we go have a drink and cool off a little?” he asked. I quickly replied, “yeah, that sounds great.” So off we walked heading towards the nearest watering hole.
“Where to?” I asked. There are countless bars, coffee shops, and restaurants down in the historic quarter. I was curious as to which place he would choose. Would he be the juice bar type—super health conscious and fit, or would he be the sophisticated espresso kind of guy, even in the face of such heat, ordering a glass of water along with his cup, or maybe an ice coffee instead, or was he up for a cocktail already, after all, it was Saturday afternoon. Either way, I could hang. In the end, he opted for none of the above and chose a homestyle diner, with a few outside tables….“How about Rudy’s?” he replied. “Sounds great,” I beamed. This was phenomenal. Here I was with the most handsome beasts on the planet getting ready to have a nice glass of iced tea with lemon on a lazy southern day.
We talked for hours about anything and everything. He was surprisingly open with me, professing that he had fed his demons for too long and that he was ready to settle down. Since he opened up to me, I figured I would share with him as well. I felt an uncanny kinship with him. So, I told him of my vices, too. It is not uncommon for a college town or any town, for that matter, to hold its share of illicit pleasures. Not that cigarettes with cocktails, bong hits before class, or bumps to get through finals were all that bad…But, I was ready to transcend to another “adult” level, after all I was in grad school now and ready to get on with my life, find a mate, a job, a mortgage, get insured, have a child, and surround it all with a white picket fence. No more swingin’ singles bar scenes. I was already tired of watching the new freshman batch of hemp-attired, skinny, tanned, vegan, aspiring hippies roll into town every August. It made me feel tired to see their braless perky tits smile at me through their thin t-shirts, knowing that my perky days were down to the wire. I yearned to meet the man of my dreams who would settle down with me and in that instant Seth was the man. He like Jimmy Buffet, I liked Jimmy Buffet. We both had had it with the single scene. Our parents were alcoholics. So, we were both dysfunctional, adult children of alcoholics, parrot heads ready to settle down. Perfect.
He walked me home that night and gave me the sweetest kiss. It was magic, pure and simple. He had cast a spell over me…As of that night he became my official suitor. He called every day after that, left notes and flowers, we dated on weekends and soon he started sleeping over. I saw less and less of his dogs, but didn’t think much of it. I just assumed that I was his pet now.
In three months time, I became his fiancé. And during that time, true to our desires, we had both “settled” down into a comfortable routine of romantic dinners, movies, and sex. We figured that we were spending so much time together, that one of us should save on rent. And even though he was always at my place, since Seth’s place was bigger and had the fenced in yard for the dogs, I moved in there.
From that point, our relationship officially became co-dependent. We were inseparable. There was no Seth-time or me-time. It was our time. I couldn’t think for myself or about myself. It was fortunate that it was during summer break or my grades would have plummeted. And since it was time to start working on my thesis. I was about to get my self into a serious stressed-out funk. While Seth was at work. Instead of working on my thesis, I decorated his house, slowly unpacked my boxes, organized our closets, and made myself a merry little homemaker. I became obsessed to the point of buying the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and began making my man meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I desperately needed him to love me.
In addition to my other self-imposed domestic duties, I also became keeper of his domesticated wolves, or dogs, as I liked to call them. When I started caring for them, I was shocked at how thin Fuego had become. I asked Seth about it, and he said that he had been sick with stomach problems. He said that he had taken him to the vet, and was instructed to feed him very, very small portions. It seemed strange to me that he was having stomach problems because when I fed him, he wolfed his food down without hesitation and begged for more.
Besides wondering what was happening to his dog, I wondered what was happening to me. Wasn’t this exactly what I had longed for? A man to love, to live with, a mate to build my picket fence…But instead of feeling the love, hope, joy and peace that I thought would come of this union I began to feel greedy for all of Seth’s time, angry at him when I didn’t have his complete attention, angry at myself for the inferiority that I began feeling while watching him excel at his architecture firm while I did nothing to stimulate my mind except read Betty Crocker. In three months times I had changed from the witty, thin grad student into a plump homemaker with no goals. My thesis was now Seth; my homework was his dinner. My goal was to feed my man and his beasts--hoping that my mother’s old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was true.
Seth didn’t seem to notice how much I had changed. We had settled into a routine. I had begun to incorporate a little marijuana in my day to help with the cleaning and organizing of our house, then I would cook and eat when the munchies sat in. When Seth came home at five it was cocktail time. We added cigarettes to that. Then it would be time to eat. He would be so pleased with the meals that I had prepared for him. So much so, that he gluttonously ate plate after plate. Our eyes would be glassed over with our eating and drinking. But we were not celebrating life anymore as we had before. There was no joy, it was as if we were in a coma. After the meal, I would clean up while Seth went through his brief case, organizing and preparing for the next day. We would then go to bed. On the weekends the routine was pretty much the same except cocktail hour started earlier, we would also walk the dogs and then throw in an afternoon of kinky sex.
While I was nurturing the dog, Fuego back to health what was left of my romance soured. And, inadvertently by spending so much time with Fuego, I began to neglect Aire. I still fed her, but less and less and began giving Fuego bigger and bigger portions. He thrived, gaining a lot of weight in a couple of weeks. It was during this time that I noticed Seth’s behaviour becoming more and more erratic. He worked like a man possessed. He started to verbally abuse me, but my self-esteem had already fallen so low that I took it and I started to feel like Aire, his neglected dog. The verbal abuse soon turned into physical abuse.
The first time he hit me was during one of our kinky sex episodes. I saw his eyes turn red, and it was then that I knew there was a demon inside him. Only I had no idea that I was the one who was feeding it.
The next day I was beside myself with terror, I did not know how to get out. Should I just leave? Should I take the dogs, would he begin to beat them in my absence? In an effort to find something, some answers about who this demon man was that I had fallen in love with and committed to marry, I started rifling through his photographs and journals.
I found a journal marked 1999 and I began to read of his trek in South America. A piece of paper unfurled itself out of the diary and fell to the ground. And there was the answer. A story of two wolves. It read:

A wise old Indian is telling his grandson about a fight that is going on inside himself. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: Gluttony, anger, greed, lies, ego…The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility…The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?” The old Indian simply replied, “The one I feed…”

There it was, I had been feeding his demons for him. So, I was responsible. Or was I? Without further hesitation, I went to my dresser and got out the little Beringer pistol that I had inherited from my grandmother, went out the back door, and shot Fuego dead. It hurt to watch him fall to the ground, bleed, and die. But I had to save my man from his demons.

Feedback ????: How/where could I develop more dialogue? Which parts need to be eliminated? Too much description in some places? How could I liven up the flow/pace? I would like to make it a bit more "fairy tale esque" along the lines of magical realism--any suggestions?
post #33 of 56

feedback for curious' [I]trying too hard[/I]

as a reader, i enjoyed your story tremendously. i am also working on short stories right now and in my last creative writing class I did the piece that I just posted. With that story and the other three that I did for that particular class the feedback was always along the same lines, "you need dialogue to move this story along..." when I read your story a light bulb went off in my head because I see that your story needs dialogue to move it from a personal narrative to a short story (if that's the direction you want to take it in). It was enlightening for me to see that in your work: to see how strong the story line is, and how dialogue would enhance it. It is a scene that clearly unfolds...Unfortunately, I'm not an expert dialogue writer (as of yet ) so i can't exactly tell you how and where i think it should be translated into dialogue. However, it seems that there are several places in the story that would flow very naturally into dialogue and help to move, and enhance the story as well as flesh the characters out a bit.
post #34 of 56

attempted answers to curious' ?????

?????I wonder how it strikes a reader though, as I move through time and verb tenses.

you did beautifully here for me, i never paused when reading through--so noticed no problems with time and verb tenses

???? Also, I never come out and say, the letter was created in order to discredit me because of what I knew and could spill at any time. I think the story should convey that for the reader to figure out, without me spelling it out. Does this come through clearly?

i often have a problem with spelling stuff out--i don't you think you did that. i did wonder what that meant at the end, though. but i just thought that he knew it was about you and was being fecetious (however the hell you spell that word). no, i don't think you should spell it out, but maybe give it a bit more dialogue to make it clearer.
post #35 of 56

could we continue our discussions during down time via email?

I suppose that we will miss next week if they go through with the MDC down time, this time. Oh leader, what will we do? I see that we are to be cut off tomorrow morning....I was wondering if we could do some email feedback on the posts that we have up to this point? or maybe "spam" our work to each other? and perhaps Tanya could send us our week 8 via email???
post #36 of 56
Wow, I usually put computer to sleep for the weekend but somehting I guess made me leave it on and log in here - feedback for me...

zenfulmama, thanks for taking the time. I appreciate that you found the story interesting and were not tripped up by the verb tenses and time shifts. I did not put dialog here because it's not a story, it's true, and 20 years later do I really remember exact words? I know that when true stories are told there is dialog, which I'm sure has to be done to the best of the writer's ability/recall, since a commercial work would be impossible to read any other way. For a personal work, a few steps up from a journal entry, I wouldn't want to start adding supposition.

This man was not being sarcastic. What he meant was, the letter was written out of something bigger than just my performance - that something major and political had happened in which it was necessary to cover tracks by discrediting me. When I say I never questioned if he threw the letter out, I was saying that the way he trusted me to be not who the letter said, I trusted him to purge my file of the insinuations.

OOOOO, I'm going to have to print more so I can keep reading everyone's work, since we're offline soon...
post #37 of 56

Hi everyone!

Joining a bit late but hope that's okay! I've been scanning the other posts and am delighted to be in such accomplished company here. Though I am insanely busy, I need to make writing a priority. I absolutely must! So, without further comment, a quick freewrite on...

Being Still...

Quick...before he cries again. But...is it possible to be still...quickly? Time is always stolen. It sifts through my hands and filters out to be rationed among those I love, those who rely on me for their very lives. And there are nights, days, when I feel stolen.
He cries. Again. The image of him crosses my mind. His thighs, so perfect in their newness, the baby creases outlining the edges right above his smallish knees. He stands in my lap, swaying, anything but...still.
Still. I never seem to be, these days. Not even on my back, on a yoga mat, staring up at a ceiling I had never seen before, contemplating...stillness. Thoughts swept over my mental landscape as I attempted to just be my breath. Perhaps I was missing the point. As I worked the kinks from my body stillness eluded me. I shook, my muscles so long unused except to lift children of varying weights. My biceps have grown in proportion to the growth of my baby, while my legs have faded from the limber strength I remember...when I was 15 years younger. Fifteen years ago when I could run from one end of a soccer field to another, and control a speeding ball. Did I know stillness then? Back then, when the only life I held in my hands was my own? Back then when I felt stolen by parents, expectations, society...but not by the very fabric of life as steals me now? I find shards of myself in four smallish sets of eyes.
And I know that I am not stolen but necessary. Not still...certainly not that.
And yet I am. For just now the flow stopped. Stillness rose up in me, and stilled my voice, my fingers.
And he stopped crying....
post #38 of 56

Oh I just noticed....

That was under the thirty minute writing assignment.... well, that wasn't thirty minutes, but, well, he cried again! As 5 month-olds are wont to do....
post #39 of 56
MamaO, You talk about a much undiscussed area. You captured many of the discoveries I and I'm sure many others here, have made. What you wrote could be a nice letter for someone's baby shower. Because everyone scared me with talk about how "everything changes...nothing will be the same again," and no one told me that something would happen to my brain and being that would make me not terribly miss the things I once valued. At hearing that, I would have been incredulous, but still reassured.
post #40 of 56
zenfulmama: I like the flow of Compulsion. Starting with the epitome of compulsion, a 3 year old, I could relate well! Stopping for the definition gave you a chance to go from the result of her compulsion, to you dealing with one you didn't know you even had until it was gone: to use your sight to maybe sometimes do things you don't need to...does the inbox really need your attention??

I don't know what you mean by essay, but it's good start on something that talks about taking our senses for granted, as well as our daily rhythms and supposed important activities.

Which one wins made me think of something my mother said about my father: how he turned into a monster and she looked back and felt she contributed to it's creation. She never criticized or questioned him when she thought he was wrong in their first years together, she felt like she needed to boost an ego that wasn't as secure as it pretended to be. She felt like she gave him an unrealistic view of himself. I'm not sure this is true, but it's interesting how she, like you/your progagonist (I can't tell if your story is true or not) both took the blame for the man's deteriorating behavior. When maybe it's just that the guys can put on an act for awhile, but eventually their true natures emerge...and the self blaming woman had nothing to do with it.
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