It’s a beautiful Sunday morning and my husband showed me a really great song to start the morning right. Here it is. I hope you like it too. Piano music is so peaceful.
Tag: short stories
Roses in Bloom
I got a little rose garden. After the rains of April, the roses are starting to show up. I wanted to share them with you to brighten your day!
Making Origami Ladybugs
It’s Sunday morning during the pandemic. It was raining and hailing hard outside so I decided to do some relaxing stuff. I like origami. Do you?
Here’s a great book of instructions to make about 50 different origami shapes. I’m on level 1 difficulty shapes right now. Here’s what I made:
Do you have a favorite hobby book on your shelf? I’d love to hear recommendations to order on Amazon.
Have a great Sunday!
How I Wish You Were Here
By J. Speer
(I wrote another happy quarantine story. This is a romantic comedy. I kind of picture the Dad in the story like a Kevin James type and the Mom similar to Jennifer Aniston.)
She was a nurse practioner at the busiest hospital in New York City during the COVID pandemic. He was a marketer at a New York publishing firm. He was on quarantine with their three teenage boys under stay-at-home orders. They lived in the suburbs. There was Nick, the eldest, who was in his senior year in high school and sadly missing out on all the fun of prom parties and graduation and such. Patrick was the middle child. He was a sophomore. Then there was their youngest, Drew, who was a 7th grader in junior high.
John was their father and he was pulling all the household duties while working from home on his laptop and helping the boys with their online schooling. It proved to be quite a lot of juggling. Carol, his wife, the nurse practioner, was working very long hours at the hospital helping the COVID patients. She too was incredibly busy.
They had not seen each other in over a month and a half. Other than her previous medical trips to Africa, Carol had never been away from John that long. They had been married for nearly 20 years.
A month and a half ago, when things started heating up with the pandemic, she moved into a tiny apartment as close to the hospital as she could get. She shared it with one other nurse. She wanted to keep her family safe so she stayed away from them. Carol pulled 14 hour shifts a day. She had volunteered to put in extra hours here and there as needed. She had seen a lot in the past few days. Things that she couldn’t share with her husband. It was getting stressful.
They talked on the phone every night. He was talking to her that night as he multi-tasked working on a marketing plan for a new account at the company, cooking Hamburger Helper at the stove, and making sure their youngest finished his math homework. Although John excelled at school before, he couldn’t understand this new common core Math stuff. When his father tried to sit down with him and work on the derivatives homework that night, Drew just kind of shook his head to himself. Drew knew he wouldn’t get much help.
John had thrown the pasta noodles into the cream sauce in the pan. He was supposed to cover it and let the whole thing simmer but he forgot to turn down the heat as he was explaining to Carol his new business account.
“Ok, so he’s a real curmudgeon. Rumor is, we are the third publishing company this old coot has worked with. He gets dissatisfied and leaves and looks for another,” he explained to Carol over the phone as he checked over Drew’s shoulder at his homework. He had no idea really what Drew was doing for this common core stuff but he figured if he checked him periodically, Drew would stay on task. Drew looked up at his Dad sullenly and pushed his pencil and paper farther over to the left, further away from prying eyes.
“His name is Max Hogard,” John stated.
“The Max Hogard?” asked Carol inquisitively as if she knew the man.
John said, “Yes, how…. how do you know about Max Hogard?”
Carol said, “He’s a popular author. Writes detective stories. Lots of people like Max Hogard’s books. I guess I heard about him at work.”
“Well,” said John, “trust me, if you met this guy in person, you would think differently. I can’t seem to pin him down. We got the big Literary Fair coming up in Boston in 2 months and he won’t attend with the marketing plan offered. Says it is too high. Just refuses. I can’t get him to budge for anything.”
“Well,” replied Carol over the phone. “I have faith in you. You’ll find a way.”
There was a pause in the conversation. Normally she was pretty talkative but not tonight.
“The boys doing okay?” she asked. “I miss them.”
That was Carol. No matter what was going on in her life, she always made the welfare of others her top priority. That was what he loved about her most of all. She had a big heart.
“And you, John,” she asked. “I hope you’re doing okay. I worry about you taking care of everything at home.”
He hadn’t really told her what a challenge it all was for him. There was constant cleaning and laundry and more cleaning and more laundry with three teenage boys in the house full-time. Plus, he had these online meetings with his department. He would wear his pajama bottoms to the meetings with a nice work shirt and, during his work shift, he would move the mouse every couple of minutes to show he was actively online, even though sometimes he fudged and did other stuff around the house. Still he was trying to nail down a commitment from this Hogard guy to attend the Boston Literary Fair and he was trying his hardest. Apparently, his bosses thought it was very important.
“I’m fine, Carol,” he said, “To be honest, I’m much more worried about you. We all are.” And with that, Drew looked up from his homework at his Dad for a moment. Then Drew resumed working on his equations.
There was another long pause on the line. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything at all. This wasn’t like her.
John went to the stove to check on the Hamburger Helper. The noodles were stuck to the pan.
“Ah man,” he said, “I think I burnt the Hamburger Helper.” Drew looked up and did a slight eye roll movement. Then he resumed his homework.
Carol laughed into the phone. It was a laugh but it didn’t quite sound right. It sounded more like to John that she had been crying.
“Carol?” he asked with sudden concern, forgetting the Hamburger Helper mess for the moment.
“John….,” she started and then stopped.
“John, it’s getting hard to do this. The people……. I, um….,” and she stopped talking again on the line. There was a silence.
He moved into the dining room away from Drew and said, “Carol, you’re strong. You always have been.”
She didn’t say anything more.
“John, I gotta go tonight. I’m sorry, I just……. I need to rest,” she said. “Give the kids my usual: a hug and a kiss and an I love you. Bye, John. Have a good night.” And with that, she hung up.
She always said the same thing. Give the kids a hug and a kiss and an I love you. She said it every night. But this time, she got off the phone earlier than usual. It worried John.
He went back to the mess of Hamburger Helper and tried to salvage what he could into a bowl. He and the boys sat down to a meal in the kitchen that night as usual. They did their usual quick prayer that included a brief request that their mom stay safe. Then the boys devoured the Hamburger Helper with lots of ketchup. They ate the green beans and mashed potatoes John had made too. Afterwards, they scrapped off their plates in the trash, placed them in the kitchen sink, helped clear a couple of stuff off the table, and then the boys headed to their usual evening spots. Nick went to his room upstairs where he promptly texted Abby, his girlfriend. Patrick went back to playing Xbox in his room. Drew went to his room and lay on the bed. He began reading his Manga Promised Neverland book. All three boys had shut the doors to their rooms. Nick’s door had a sign on it that read, “Stay out.” And he meant that.
John cleared the kitchen table, put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and did the rest of the clean-up of the kitchen. He tried to do his usual thing too which was working on marketing and figuring out a way to convince Max Hogard to play ball. But, tonight, John just stared at the laptop unable to work. He thought about Carol and his eyebrows furrowed in concern.
He eventually wandered from the kitchen to the living room and plopped down on the big leather Lazy Boy recliner. That was his chair and even Carol had insisted that everyone leave John’s chair alone. It was his special spot and he had the remotes and coasters and such positioned just within reach. He pushed the side button to bring his legs up. Man, he loved this chair so much. He got the remote and turned on the TV. He found an old 80s movie. It looked like something Carol would like. It had that guy John Cusack and it was a love story. Yep, Carol would like it he concluded. So, he watched the movie almost to the very end. It was a good one. In the movie, John Cusack stood with a boombox over his head playing a love song for his girl. John looked at the movie and suddenly grabbed the remote and froze the screen. He watched the frozen Cusack image for a few moments.
John pushed the down button on the Lazy Boy and came to a sitting position. He went upstairs briefly and checked on the boys.
He called out to the closed doors. “Hey you guys, just wanted you to know that your Mom said she loves you.” No response back. He, in fact, had said this phrase every night since the pandemic started and the boys were used to it. He opened the door to Drew’s room. Drew was reading a Manga book. John did a slight wave at Drew who just looked at him. Then he closed the door. Next, he could hear video game sounds from Patrick’s room so he didn’t even bother to open that door. He knew better though with Nick’s room. He always knocked first with Nick because Nick was older and he could get testier.
Nick said, “What?”
John opened the door. Nick was laying across his bed with his phone in his hand probably from texting with Abby.
“Nothing,” said his Dad. “Just wanted to make sure you’re still alive.” Nick scowled at him and he closed the door.
John put his hands to his eyes and muttered to himself, “Teenagers.” John missed the good old days when they would spend more time with each other than with their electronics but he realized his boys were growing up and needed their alone time.
After that he went back to the living room where John Cusack with the boombox overhead was still frozen on the screen. He watched it oddly and went up close to examine it. Then he blinked a few times and he proceeded to go to the basement.
He knew it had to be down there. The basement was old and musty smelling. It had lots of storage space and lots of stuff thrown here and there. Carol hated organizing the basement and rarely went down there. She didn’t like creepy basements. So, he looked at the stacks of boxes and holiday decorations and stuff here and there. He walked towards the old cupboard in the back with the sliding doors and shelves. He was pretty certain, if it was anywhere, it would be around there.
He started going through Carol’s old stuff. There were lots of old medical books and such from college. There were old pictures of the two of them at various functions throughout the years. He stopped and smiled at an old college photo of them dressed up as Fred Flintstone and Wilma for some costume party. He kept digging through the boxes and stuff until about thirty minutes later, he found it.
It was her old stereo from college. It was the really old one from like 1993 that she had kept forever. It was not quite a boombox but heck, it sure looked close enough. It had two cassette tape players and a CD player at the top. He took out the electrical cord and opened the battery compartment. It needed 8 D batteries. Geesh, what a battery guzzler. He didn’t know if he had 8 D batteries in the house.
He set the old stereo on the nearby table and before he turned, he saw something else that had been underneath the stereo. It was an old black leather case full of old CDs. It was Carol’s first music collection. He pulled it out and dusted it off. It was really dusty.
He brought the leather case over to the table and flipped to the first page. It was an Alan Jackson CD. John laughed. God, Carol sometimes had bad taste in music. She was eclectic. He would give her that. He kept going through the CDs. He wanted to find the perfect song. As he looked at each CD, he thought about the songs on them. On the second to last page, he found the CD he wanted. He found the song as well. It was the perfect song for Carol. It was number 7.
John started to get excited about the plan formulating in his head. He thought it might be a little crazy but……. well, hell……. why not? He went to the storage closet and found the box of batteries and prayed he would find some D batteries. Luckily, he had two packs of four. It was perfect. It was getting late that night and with all the stores closed early, there was no way he could get more batteries until the next morning. He happened to luck out.
He put the batteries into the old stereo and turned it on. He held his breath and hoped it would work. Yes! The light came on and it worked. He fist pumped the air. Yes! Yes!
John tested the old CD in the stereo and as the song he picked out played, he smiled more and more.
Next step in his plan was to go to the kids’ old toy/art room. It was on the other side of the house and rarely visited now. He flipped on the light and looked around at the toy collections and bookcases, the bean bags, the musical instruments, the art easels and all the art supply off to one side. He was looking for some particular items.
He found three white posters and set them on the floor, one after the other. Then he dug around in the art file cabinet and pulled out a paint brush. He also pulled out some old paint the kids used to use. It was tempura paint, the kind they used in schools. When the kids were little, Carol used to work with them on art projects drawing race cars or sailboats or whatever their imaginations could think of. He had a flashback to those days. Carol sitting in the little chair in the room at the little table beside a little Nick and they were coloring together. She was smiling and she was beautiful. And Nick was smiling at his mother.
John got back to work on the three signs. It took him a good two hours. It was 1 am before he finally stopped and stepped back, admiring his handiwork. He had even drawn a red heart on the last one. He cleaned up his mess and left the signs to dry. Then, he went upstairs to sleep for a little bit.
At 5 am, he was up and waking each of the boys. He told them to go to the kitchen. They were groggy and grumpy as hell but he eventually, did convince them to go. They sat around the kitchen with disheveled hair and pajamas and their father told them about his plan.
At first, Nick said adamantly, “No way!” The other boys agreed with Nick. Even Drew shook his head no. But, when their father explained the situation fully and explained how sad their mother was, and that she needed them ……they softened up a bit. John also had to do a little bit of tough negotiation.
30 minutes later, they were all dressed and, in the car, driving towards New York City. The traffic wasn’t difficult this time. The three signs and boombox with CD were in the trunk. The three boys were in the backseat with their heads all down looking at their phones. Nick was looking at YouTube. Patrick was playing a game. Drew was reading his favorite Manga Fanfiction site. Occasionally, one of the boys would look up at their surroundings and sort of roll their eyes or shake their head and go back to their phone. John hurried along the route to the hospital where Carol worked.
They parked in the parking garage and carried their stuff to the grassy spot across the street from the hospital cafeteria. The cafeteria was a large glass enclosure with many windows. They knew that Carol always went there first to get her morning cup of coffee and meet with a few colleagues for breakfast before her shift started at 7 am. They were just in time.
John called them together for a group huddle on the lawn. The sun was just beginning to rise and folks were going in and out of the hospital. It was going to get busier and busier. Drew looked around at all the other people and started to get second thoughts. So did the other boys but John convinced them.
John turned the volume up to max on the stereo. He set the song to 7 and hit the pause button. The boys, meanwhile positioned themselves in front of their dad. Each one was holding a sign with their back to the cafeteria across the street. John was nervous all the sudden and wondered if this whole thing would flop horribly and he would be publicly disgraced. Oh hell, he thought and then he thought of Carol and how she sounded on the phone last night. She needed them. He resolved to do what he was going to do.
He got his phone out of his pocket and dialed her. The phone rang three times and then she picked up. He was nervous. He told Carol to come outside the cafeteria.
Carol looked around the cafeteria. She said, “John?” and she looked quickly about the place and then out the window. It startled her to see them across the street, her boys and her husband standing in the grass. She told her colleagues and they looked out too. John told her again to come outside and her friends were welcome too. He hung up.
She looked down at her phone and looked out the window. She and her friends, some nurses and doctors and medical staff, they wandered out from the cafeteria and across the street in the grass across from the boys and John.
Nick looked at his Dad, “You owe me,” he said quietly. He too was nervous and embarrassed. All the boys looked uncomfortable but they stayed in place.
“Ok,” said John and he nodded first at Nick. Nick turned around with the sign in his hands. It read We love you Mom!
John nodded at Patrick. Patrick turned around too with his own sign. We miss you Mom!
The boys and John noticed Carol smiling across the street and her colleagues smiling too. Other people had stopped too to watch as well. One person even had their phone out and was filming it on video. Nick started to lower his sign when he saw this but he looked back at his Mom. She was smiling and holding back tears. He reluctantly brought his sign back up.
“Ok,” said John and he cued Drew to turn around. At the same time, John hit the play button on the old stereo and he hoisted it overhead just like he’d seen John Cusack do it in the movie. He felt utterly ridiculous and he noted that people were filming this but he continued to smile and look at Carol.
Drew turned around with his sign and it read You are our hero!
Just then, the music clicked on. It began to play very loudly an old Foo Fighters song from Carol’s college days, one that John was certain she would recognize. It played My Hero.
John kept holding the boombox overhead just like he’d seen John Cusack do. The boys kept holding their signs up. More and more people stopped to watch them and some videotaped them. They were all pretty embarrassed but they held their ground and smiled for Carol.
The song lyrics rang out There goes my hero. John and the boys kept in place for their mom and her friends. More people were coming out to see what was going, other medical staff as well. When the song finally ended, John lowered the boombox. The boys turned around and looked at him embarrassed and this time, they all said, “You owe us.”
He winked at them and said, “Thanks. I mean it.” People in the small crowd were clapping now. Some were drifting back inside to the hospital. A ginger kid with goofy glasses on the side was still filming on his phone and all three boys looked at the guy sheepishly. They headed to the car with blushing faces.
John stood alone on the grass looking at his wife. She was smiling and trying to hold back tears. She smiled again. John smiled back. They both walked forward to the edge of the street between them. They stood on either side of the street away from each other.
“Thank you,” she said. “I like that song. I miss you all.” She wiped a few tears away and tried to smile again.
“We meant it, Carol,” he said.
They kept looking at each other across the street. The ginger kid kept filming them and John looked over at him and motioned his hands for the kid to stop but he wouldn’t stop. He just kept filming. John tried to ignore him.
“So, how did you convince the boys to do this,” asked Carol grinning at him. She knew it must have taken a lot.
John looked at her and slowly pulled three pieces of paper from his pocket. He read them to her.
“Drew wants Promised Neverland books 13 and 14. That was the easy one. Patrick said he wants Animal Crossing……and Nick,” he began. “Nick was the hardest to convince. He wanted a new phone.”
“What?” she said.
“Yes,” he said and he nodded. She laughed.
“I agreed to a gift card for him instead.” He smiled.
“When this whole thing is over,” he said, “we’ll go on a trip together or maybe a dinner date.”
“I’d like that,” she smiled. She looked at her watch. “I’ve……I’ve got to go, John.”
“I know,” he said and just looked her way.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you too,” he replied. They both smiled at each other.
“Go on,” he said, “We’ll head back. The kids got some zoom meetings for school this morning.”
“Ok,” she said and she waved goodbye. He waved goodbye too and they both walked away from each other, each one turning their head every now and then to look back. At the cafeteria entrance she stopped one last time to wave goodbye. He stopped and raised his hand goodbye. Then she disappeared inside. He turned and went back to the car where the three boys were waiting.
He drove back home. He was smiling but it was kind of a sad smile. The boys were playing on their phones again. When they got home, the boys went to their rooms, closed their doors, and John was left alone again. He cleaned up the house and did some more laundry and dishes before starting back to work. The boys did their school zoom meetings that morning. The day went pretty well.
John tried calling Max Hogard again to convince him to go to the Literary Fair. Max said no again. He was curt and blunt with John.
“No,” he said again.
After John got off the phone again with Max Hogard, he spent the rest of the day on work and making dinner. A little after 7 pm, he got a phone call from a neighbor friend.
“Hey, you’re on the news!” said his neighbor.
“What?” said John. Ah no! he thought. It must have been that ginger kid. Great he thought to himself and he felt even more sheepish.
“Yeah, check out channel 9. Some video of you holding a boombox outside the hospital,” said the neighbor.
Just then, Nick came out of his room and yelled at his Dad. Great thought John. I’m in trouble.
Nick met John at the stairs.
“We’re on the news! We’re on the damn news!” said Nick with a horrified look. “Abby told me!”
The other boys came out of their rooms too. They all looked embarrassed and were thinking what would their friends say.
“You owe us double,” said Nick and he glared and went back into his room and slammed the door. The other boys went to their rooms too.
John put his hand to his eyes and wiped them. He hadn’t anticipated this. He sighed. He went to the garage and backed out the car. He headed to the local Wal-Mart.
He found a $50 Amazon gift card for Drew, a copy of Animal Crossing for Patrick, and for Nick he found the gift card near the cashier stand. He was standing in line with the boys’ bribes, when a man came up behind him.
“Hey, you’re that guy on the news!” the man said.
John looked up with chagrin. He nodded hesitantly. He realized maybe he needed to add more to Nick’s gift then.
“Hey what you did……that was pretty cool.” Said the man.
John just said, “thanks.” The cashier looked at him curiously but he looked down.
The man in line said to the cashier, “This guy was on the news tonight.” John just kept looking down and hoping to get out of there quickly. He paid and left.
“Have a good night, man,” said the guy behind him. The cashier smiled at him.
The next few days with the boys were a little awkward. Nick was still mad at him and the other boys just ignored him. Somebody had put the video on Facebook apparently too and it ended up going viral from what John heard. He stayed in his home after that, feeling embarrassed. His colleagues heard about it and told him, “Way to go, John!” He just smiled sheepishly.
He got a phone call later that week from some person at Good Morning America. They asked him to appear on the show via online. When the boys heard the news, they just groaned. He didn’t want to do it at first, but reluctantly he agreed.
The next day, with the boys upstairs, he sat at his laptop in the kitchen and met with the host from Good Morning America. He was extremely nervous about the whole thing but she was very kind and gracious. They talked about the frontline workers, the nurses and doctors at the hospital and all they were doing to fight the pandemic. John said a lot of nice things about the hospital staff and so did the host. She played his video again and he just looked on awkwardly with a smile. As the interview was closing, he was hoping to get off air soon. He felt uncomfortable.
She said, “John, before you go, I have a surprise for you. I want you to meet someone special…. someone who saw your video and agreed to come online too. He happens to share your first name too, John.”
There was a pause. Another screen popped up and when John saw who came online his jaw fell open and he about fell out of his chair.
“Hey, John,” said the actor John Cusack from the other screen.
Oh God thought John but he smiled. John Cusack smiled back.
The host from Good Morning America continued, “We wanted to thank you, John.” John Cusack nodded. The host continued, “and we wanted to thank all the doctors and nurses at your wife’s hospital and all the medical staff.” The host explained that they started an online fund for people all across the nation that had heard the story to donate to the hospital and other hospitals in New York during the pandemic. They said the whole nation was worried about New York City. The host held up a sign for John.
“See John, donations have poured in from people all over the country that saw your video. We’re pleased to announce we’ve collected 1.5 million dollars to donate to the fund for the hospitals.”
John smiled but he was having trouble smiling because he was fighting back tears now too. He felt as veclamped in that moment as Madonna on an old SNL skit. He struggled to say, “thanks.”
“You’re a hero too,” said John Cusack and he smiled on the screen.
It ended up being a great interview and when it aired, his bosses called to congratulate him. The rest of the day went okay. The boys were no longer avoiding him as much. They all sat down to spaghetti dinner that night. The boys, as usual, gobbled up their food. Patrick and Drew cleared their plates and went to their rooms. Nick stayed behind and helped his Dad. He stood off to one side as his Dad started to put plates in the dishwasher. Nick looked at his Dad thoughtfully.
He said, “You love Mom a lot, don’t you?”
John stopped cleaning dishes and nodded.
Nick looked down. “I love her too. We all do.”
John looked up at his son and smiled. They hugged. Nick went back to his spot near the fridge. His phone beeped.
John looked at Nick and smiled. He said, “You better get that. It might be important.” They both knew it was Abby.
Nick smiled and went upstairs again. John continued clearing dishes and putting stuff into the dishwasher. He got a phone call and looked at his phone. His face fell at that moment. It was Max Hogard.
Great he thought.
He answered the phone anyway and with his best effort he said, “Hi Max, what can I do for you?”
There was a gruff cough on the line and then Max said, “Saw you on Good Morning America.”
John got silent.
“I’m in,” said Max.
“What?” said John with surprise. He covered the phone and jumped up and down elatedly.
“I’m in. I’ll go to the event and we can talk tomorrow about your other marketing plans. Have a good night, John,” said the gruff voice over the phone.
John said, “Thank you! Thank you!”
“Oh, and John…,” began Max Hogard. “Tell your lovely wife she’s my hero too.” There was a click on the line and the call was ended.
John began jumping up and down in the kitchen with fist pumps in the air.
“Yes! Yes!” he said. He was so happy.
Later that night, he started to work on the marketing plan for Max Hogard for their meeting tomorrow. His phone was near the laptop when it beeped. It was a text from Carol.
He looked at the text. It read, “I’ve been thinking about that old boombox. You must have found it in the basement with my college stuff. Did you find my old CD case?”
He typed back, “Yes.”
She typed more. He watched the little conversation box with the three periods for her reply.
“Go to the CD case and find my old Pink Floyd CD. Put it in the boombox and hit 3. That is my song for you. I love you, John. I love you with my whole heart. Have a good night.” That was all she texted.
He went to the CD case lying by the boombox on a side table. He opened it and scoffed at Alan Jackson again. Then he went through it to find Pink Floyd. He turned on the boombox, pushed 3, and hit play. It played the song How I Wish You Were Here.
He smiled and went back to the marketing plan work. He would see her soon. When this whole thing would be over. He couldn’t wait to see her again.
A Covid Romance
by J. Speer
(I wrote a short story for a contest. This is the first draft. It is still a work in progress. I’d love an honest critique on it. I am supposed to write a short story dealing with life during the pandemic. I chose to write a simple love story. Here it is below.)
She noticed when he wasn’t there that morning. In fact, she noticed everything about him from the brown leather shoes he wore every day to the way he combed his hair or the half smile he would give when he was happy about something. She noticed that he drank his coffee black. There was a myriad of things she had picked up about him over the years that they had worked together. But, of course, she didn’t let it show. She adhered to professionalism at all times.
They worked across from each other on opposite ends of the large telemarketing center. There were many rows of small workstations with computers between them. Yet, she could still spy a subtle glance his way every now and then. She would look in his direction. If he looked at her, she’d look away as if she was just casually scanning the room. This happened a couple times a day since they were stuck on an 8 hour shift together, day in and day out, for nearly 2 years.
They had only talked briefly. Sometimes, he’d come over to her work station to get a paper signed or to find out some pertinent information regarding insurance claims. His smile seemed genuine and friendly. Occasionally, they would even chat for a few obscure moments about the business, or work, or current events. She noted he liked football. He noted she liked art. Their discussions were always short as the supervisor was constantly watching with disapproving glances. If they talked too long, the supervisor would often walk over in their direction. As always, he would abruptly leave at that point and head back to his desk.
At break time, they sat at opposite ends of a long table. He was with his friends. She was with hers. She would play on her phone. He would play on his phone. She might look his way briefly. He might look her way for a moment or two. They would both look away. Nothing much happened between the two of them for 2 years.
But today, he wasn’t at work. She frowned a little behind her fabric mask as she overheard the boss and supervisor talking. Apparently, he was sick. He called in with a cough and fever. The managers were discussing it quietly near her workstation which was situated close to the supervisor’s office. She eavesdropped while she continued working on her computer with the medical claims. Their work was considered essential since it dealt with healthcare. So, they had continued working through the stay-at-home orders and quarantining of people from other industries.
The management had gone through many precautions, however, to protect the workers. They made hand washing mandatory several times a day and distributed pamphlets about worker rights during the pandemic. The supervisors often held impromptu meetings for the employees to come together to discuss the current state mandates and the changes with the health insurance premiums and deductibles and such. It was sort-of a stressful time for her and, try as she might, she didn’t get much restfulness at home despite the precautions recommended by the CDC.
She looked at his empty desk. She was worried about him but she didn’t let it show. To be honest, she still didn’t know much about him. She didn’t even know how to contact him. She didn’t know his last name. Everyone there went by a first name basis only.
That morning was busy and eventful. She guided many callers through the insurance claim process and helped others with disputes on their billing. She answered questions about deductibles and copays and coinsurance. She fielded all sorts of complaints and even some hostility from a few callers. That was normal. It happened every day. At first, when she started the job, that part was exceedingly uncomfortable. But over time, she had become more expert at the topics as well as handling conflict. Over the years, she’d moved up within the department. Now, many of her coworkers looked to her for answers and training.
She went to break with her friends, Mary and Jamie. They played on their phones and laughed at a few silly memes and videos. She was aware of the empty space at the end of the table. As break ended, her friends got up to head back to the main room. His friends did likewise but one lingered for a moment. He put his phone away and went to grab a pop from the nearby vending machine. His name was Bryan. She knew him well.
She got up from the table too and put her phone away. She glanced at Bryan’s back as he looked over the selection at the vending machine. She walked over to him hesitantly, not knowing how to ask the question she was considering.
“Hey Bryan,” she nodded at him. He looked back at her briefly and smiled.
“Hey,” he said as his eyes wandered back to his selection. He pushed a button on the machine and a pop can rolled to the dispenser.
She looked at him for a moment. She bit her lip. She knew she had to head back to work soon. Bryan started turning towards the main room and she knew she would lose her chance in a moment if she didn’t speak.
“Bryan,” she began. “Hey, do you know Kevin’s last name?”
Bryan didn’t say much but he eyed her curiously. He probably wanted a reason for the question. She just stood there and did not give him one. There was a little pause. He cracked open his pop.
“Yeah, it’s Piper. Kevin Piper,” he said. He smiled. She just smiled back politely.
“Thanks, Bryan,” she said sweetly as she followed him back to the main room and to another couple of hours of hard work.
At lunchtime, she sat in the break room with her usual sandwich and bag of chips. She got a bottle of water from the communal fridge. Most people left the telemarketing center for lunch but she drove pretty far every day to work. She couldn’t go home. She was also health conscious enough to avoid the fast food.
She was a cute girl, a little shy and quiet but not bad to look at. Today, she was wearing her favorite grey knee-length skirt with a cream blouse and matching cardigan. Her heels were mid-rise, enough to look flattering but not too much. Her hair was shiny and curled. She wore glasses as she peered at her bright computer screen all day.
Mary and Jamie had gone out to eat fast food. There were only a few others in the break room for their hour lunch. She sat there eating and thinking. Then she picked up her phone, scrolled through Instagram, Snapchat, and Google news. She opened Facebook too.
She looked around and then tapped the search box. She typed in Kevin Piper. She didn’t know if he’d be on Facebook but she did find someone with his name and several mutual friends. She looked at the name for a long moment. She pursed her lips and then hit friend request. She let out an exhale and then turned her phone over on the table. She resumed her break and ate her lunch.
The rest of the workday was long and tiring. When she headed home to her tiny apartment, she saw that he had accepted her friend request.
The next day as she clocked in and washed hands, she looked over to see his empty desk. She secured her face mask again and headed to her own desk. She furrowed her eyebrows briefly with concern. That day would be another long day for her answering phone calls and helping customers with their inquiries.
She went home that night and cooked dinner for herself. She petted her black cat on the couch as she watched Netflix. She looked at her phone a couple times as she watched the TV.
On the third morning, he was still gone. At break, she went to the bench outside by herself and looked at her phone. She pulled up Facebook Messenger, found his name, and pulled up a chat conversation. She looked at the empty space on her phone for a long moment and then hit the handwave button. Then she took in a deep breath and typed.
“Hey, this is Anne from work. I heard you were sick. Just hoping everything is alright.” She hit send and then waited with baited breath for a moment or two. She was looking for his reply on the screen, for the little conversation cloud with the three periods that indicated the other person was writing back. She waited and it did not appear right away.
He must be busy she thought to herself. It wasn’t like her to do something like this. She never contacted guys just out of the blue. She never made the first move….at least until now. This was different though. This was the pandemic, the Coronavirus, and frankly she was concerned for his well-being as a friend and a fellow co-worker. So, she had decided to reach out to him but now, as she watched the mostly empty screen, she was having second doubts. By the time break was over, she bit her lower lip glumly. She closed her eyes briefly and thought to herself, He’s not going to answer back. Rejection central. If he does answer at all, it will be something short and then I will get ghosted. This was a bad idea.
She got up from the bench and headed back in to work. She set her phone aside and tried her best to ignore it for the few hours she had left of work that day. When she got off work and clocked out, she retrieved the phone. As she walked out of the call center, she was surprised to see that, in fact, there was a notification that he responded after all.
She opened up Facebook Messenger and retrieved the conversation. There was the reply. It said, “Are you worried about me?”
She paused walking to her car. What should she say at this point? Be serious and say, “Yes, of course!” Or be nonchalant and just say, “Maybe.” Or should she could say something satirical or flippant or even funny?
She thought it over. If she was honest, she would finally signal to him after 2 years that she did, in fact, have some interest. But if she was coy or subtle, the conversation might end right there. And, he obviously wanted to know where things stood at this point. She reasoned it would be best to be truthful but yet lighthearted. So, she texted him simply, “Perhaps, yes, I just simply wanted to make sure you’re ok.” Then she hit send again.
This time he was replying back right away but it took a while for this second message to come through.
He said, “Ah, well thanks. I’m doing alright. Doc says it might be just common cold but, just in case, they did a swab. It wasn’t very fun. Not recommended lol. Anyway, I have to self-quarantine for fourteen days so I did notify the bosses. They said I could take paid leave time which is good. In the meantime, I will get the results back from the swab in five days. Wish me luck.”
She didn’t know at first how to respond to that information. Then she typed back, “Oh so sorry to hear that but I’m glad you are doing well. That’s good that you can take paid leave. As for the swab test, I have heard it is pretty rough.”
She stopped for a moment, not knowing what to say next. Then she added briefly, “We’ll be thinking of you. Get well soon.” She hit send.
He replied, “Thanks.”
She watched the screen for more words but nothing came through. Then she added in closing, “Be sure to check your temperature and get plenty of sleep. Ok, ttyl.” She added a small smiley emoji at the end.
His reply simply stated, “Thanks for checking up on me. Ttyl too.” He also sent back a small smile emoji.
Anne got in her car and drove home. When she got in the small apartment, she put her mail on the side table, slipped off her shoes, and found her black cat. She gave her cat a brief snuggle and then checked his food and water bowls. Later, that night as she was preparing another dinner for one, she got another notification on her phone. She thought it might be Mary or Jamie. Yet, she was really pleasantly surprised to see that it was Kevin again. He had texted her a short message.
He said, “So, how’s your art classes going?” She smiled when she saw the message, mostly because he had remembered something special about her. She realized too that he was also trying to start up a conversation. She leaned against the kitchen counter as the black cat lay lazily on the table and swishing his tail back and forth slowly. The pot of water on the stove was boiling and filled with spaghetti noodles. She had already prepared the meat sauce.
But the phone had her attention at the moment and she started to share a conversation with Kevin. They talked about several things that evening as she had dinner and sat on the couch as usual to relax. They talked about their pets and their apartments. They talked about their families and their interests and hobbies. The conversation lasted quite a while and it made her smile. She felt happy. She wondered if he did too. When she went to bed that night, she slept pretty well with the warm and soft black cat curled up beside her on the quilted bedspread.
The days prior to learning the Coronavirus test results were filled with the usual work for her. However, there were intermittent and fun text conversations with Kevin throughout the days. Each day, she’d ask how he was feeling. She made a few suggestions for getting well soon. Otherwise, they would make small talk about the weather or food or sports. They discussed things about work. They made some jokes and told funny stories to each other about colleagues and especially the supervisors. He would send her GIFs or memes he liked. She would return those with other memes she had found as well. They talked about YouTube videos and channels they liked. They talked about video gaming or streaming channels.
He seemed in good spirits. He seemed to be doing alright. He said his symptoms were going away and that he wasn’t too bothered by the test. Kevin claimed he was certain it would come back negative. He made light of the whole situation and said quarantine time was starting to bore him. She asked him what he did during the day. He said that he mostly slept and watched TV. He read books and read stories and news on the internet though he tried to stay away from some of the negative media stories. They tended to bring him down. He said he liked music too. He offered to make her a playlist.
As the days and evenings passed, they became closer friends. They even chatted via Facetime every now and then. On the night before he would get the Coronavirus results, Anne lay in bed looking up at the ceiling in the darkness. Her cat purred soft and low beside her. The cat was all curled up and she decided not to disturb him. He could get grumpy at times. Instead, she thought about Kevin and even prayed for a moment that the results would be good for him.
And to her surprise and to Kevin’s as well, they were just that. The test results came back negative. She smiled warmly at him on video as they Facetimed.
She said, “I’m really happy for you! I’m so glad.” And he half smiled back.
He said, “Well, that means I can come back to work soon….as soon as the doctors will release me. I’ll let you know.”
The doctor did release Kevin to come back to work the following Monday. Kevin let her know through a text. She answered back to him that this was great news. He said he was going to miss sleeping in but he needed to get back to his old routine.
Saturday and Sunday were sunny and cheerful days for Anne. She talked over the phone with Mary and Jamie and a few other friends. She did some grocery shopping and cleaned the apartment. On Sunday, she watched church online. She also watched some of the new series on Netflix later such as Ozark. Anne watched Tiger King to see what all the fuss was about. It proved very entertaining.
Monday morning, Anne got up a little earlier than normal. She took extra care that morning with her appearance. She was really looking forward to seeing Kevin again. She hadn’t heard from him since Sunday early afternoon. She figured he must be busy.
Anne drove to work with her cup of coffee in one hand and she listened to XM radio. She felt a little nervous about seeing Kevin again. She pulled into the parking lot and walked to the call center entrance. She clocked in just before 8 am at the start of her shift. She washed her hands and turned to put her face mask on as she looked over at Kevin’s desk. He was there. He looked nice as usual. He didn’t seem to look her way though. He was busy with his friends surrounding his desk. The supervisor came over and also wanted to talk to him.
Anne looked away. In that moment, she felt a little downcast. She finished securing her mask and turned to head to her desk. That is when she saw it.
On the desk near her computer was a glass vase full of a dozen scarlet, red roses. She blinked and exhaled into her mask. She walked slowly to her desk and went around it to sit down. She sat down looking at the beautiful flowers and even lowered her mask a little to inhale just a little bit the rose fragrance. There was a little white envelope attached to the flowers.
The supervisor walked by and briefly said, “Well, well, looks like you have someone special.” She raised her eyebrows at Anne as she walked past. Anne blushed profusely.
Anne just said, “Thanks, they are very pretty.”
Anne looked across the room at that moment to the one person she hoped might have sent the flowers. She looked at Kevin. He was no longer with his friends. He was seated across from her and looking at her directly. And for the first time in 2 years, she returned his gaze boldly without looking away. He lowered his face mask and there was a half-smile on his face. She lowered her mask briefly and returned the smile. He nodded towards the roses and the card. She lifted the little white envelope and opened it. She pulled out the white card and read it.
It simply said, “Thanks for everything. You helped me through a difficult time. I appreciate you. In fact, would you consider going on a date with me?”
Anne bit her lower lip again. She then smiled wide behind her mask. She looked at him across the room. He was wearing a mask too. He looked at her. Then, she nodded her head to say yes.
4 Books by New Author
During social distancing and quarantine time, I’ve had some time to work on these writings. These 4 books are available as eBooks on Amazon. The three self-published works are available for $2.99 as an eBook and the book published by Archway Publishing is available for $3.99 as an eBook. Searching for Fire is also available as a paperback book for $12.99. Searching for Fire has received a great review from Midwest Quarterly Book Review in their December 2019 Issue. It has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and a few really nice reviews from readers. Searching for Fire came out in July 2019.
The other three books are brand new, released just in the past weeks during the social distancing time. I would recommend Summertime Adventures for ages 7 and up. It is definitely G or PG rating. The Curse of the Sapphire Jewel is for ages 15 and up. It is more adult and has 6 short stories based on works posted on this blog. The last book is a collection of poetry based on my life and the lives of my children. I would say this one is for ages 15 and up. All three of these works are writings I developed over the course of ten years and finally got the confidence to publish.
If you read any of them, I would love to hear your feedback or post a review!
Thanks for your interest and please share any information you like with others. Click on the Amazon links to read the previews and find out more info about the books or author.
I am from southeast Kansas. I have lived in Germany and Virginia as a military spouse. I have a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and studied abroad in Israel as a college student. I used to work for the Army and then as an HR manager for manufacturing. Now, I work at a frame shop for photography and artwork. I love my job for MPix.com. I like to write poetry, short stories, and work on other creative writing in my free time. Other hobbies are knitting, cooking, and gardening. I love gardening a lot! Just finished putting in my summer garden this past week and hoping to have lots of fruits and veggies to share with family and friends. It has gotten colder the last few days here in Kansas and I sincerely hope and pray I won’t have to replant due to frost.
I hope you are safe and well. I have been blogging recently about my family’s “social distancing YouTube trips.” You can find out more about this on my blog. So far, we have learned about Tokyo’s Akihabara District, Kyoto, the planet Mars, the Pyramids of Egypt, and Universal Studios/Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Next stop on our adventures…..the Taj Mahal.
Thanks for your interest and have a good day!
I self-published 3 books to Amazon Kindle recently. The last book is my favorite and is a collection of children’s stories based on the true childhood adventures of my own kids. This book is called Summertime Adventures and is a short read, about 60 pages long on the Kindle. The writing reminds me of cartoons like Caillou or maybe Max and Ruby.
There are three children in the book called Jake, Lucy, and Danny. The children go on numerous adventures outside in nature, fishing with Grandpa, visiting an old Apple Cider Mill, picking raspberries in the sun, flying kites, and tubing at the lake. These adventures are definitely family-friendly and would make good bedtime stories. Check it out here. The eBook is $2.99 or you can view it via Kindle Unlimited.
Here also are the other 3 books available from J. Speer. Moment of Magic is a poetry collection and is $2.99 for Kindle eBook. Age level for this book, I would say is adult.
The Curse of the Sapphire Jewel & Other Short Stories is also $2.99 as an eBook on Amazon. This book is age level adult as well. There are 5 short stories in the book, each very unique in their storytelling.
The last book is published via Archway and is the most popular one. It is a North American action adventure quest and mythology story. It is very fast-paced and can be intense at moments with scary villains the heroes combat. This one has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon and some great reviews. I would recommend this one for 15 years old or adult age level. This one got a very positive review from Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review in their December 2019 issue. It is available as paperback or eBook and sold on numerous sites online: Amazon, Archway, Barnes and Noble, Google Books, Waterstones, Foyles, Wal-mart, Ebay, etc. etc.
Here, below are the links to the collection of books and each one features a book preview section on Amazon you can read. Thanks for your interest and have a great day!
New Poetry and Short Stories
Hi folks, just wanted to let you know I self-published a book of poetry called Moment of Magic. It is selling just as an eBook for $2.99 on Amazon. The book is various poems I have written over the years. Many of the poems are meant to be inspiring and uplifting. Some are poems about raising children, or being a working mom, or time spent with the military. Some are poems I wrote for my children. Others are poems about love or just reflections on life. The first and last poem in the collection are my favorites and tie in together nicely. The collection is less than a 100 pages and a good quick read for anyone that likes poetry. Thanks and God bless. Be safe everybody.
Here is the link to the book and if you press the look inside portion about the book, you can read the first three poems. Thanks again!
Along with the poetry collection called Moment of Magic that I self-published to Amazon, I created a book called The Curse of the Sapphire Jewel & Other Short Stories. It is a small collection of brief fictional stories, each one unique in storytelling. The first story is about a stolen jewel and the consequence of theft. The second story is about a college student named Amara and a decision she makes to forgive her father. The third story is a funny and interesting first chapter. It is a work of alliteration about a Medieval monastery of Moldavia. The next story is a Medieval comparison story to France during World War II. Finally, the last story is titled Black Sheep. It is a story where I took a typical antagonist, a supreme villain, and tried to show a more sympathetic and compassionate almost positive side to the character. This short book is about 65 pages long and is selling for just $2.99 as an eBook or can be found for free reading on Kindle Unlimited. Thank you and I would love to hear your feedback on any of the stories. Have a wonderful day!
Luck Helps Those Who Help Themselves
I’m starting to plan for the first public event for the book Searching for Fire. There’s a lot of things to consider: sales tax id, how to use a square, how to setup a paypal account, how to setup the accounts associated, etc. Then there is the packing list for the event and books to be ordered and how to price them, etc. etc. My husband agreed to help me out on this one. It is the Artwalk in my hometown which features a wide array of artists, musicians, and literary folks, as well as food vendors from my local community. It will be on Broadway in the downtown area this Friday from 5 to 9 pm. There will be lots of arts activities for children and lots of fun things to do and see that night. I am really looking forward to it! That is also the same day the kids go back to school so we are gathering school supplies and getting clothes and such all ready for their big day too!
A book launch event should be fun – a time to celebrate months and months of preparation. In other news, the book got the first review today on Amazon and got 4 stars. This makes me super happy and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I was so fearful it would just get one star…..or worse, half a star or a big ole goose egg zero stars………which brings me to an interesting topic. …..
A friend asked me to help her with writing. To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about the subject. I do not hold an advanced degree in English or frankly any degree related to writing. I haven’t poured through tons of manuals or expensive online classes. We got to talking. I offered to help any way I can but I got the impression that the more we talked, the more prepared she was for writing than I. She talked about Scribner and other softwares and technologies and even some theories on writing. I just listened greatly impressed by her knowledge.
Writing to me………..it seems the one main element that you have to possess is an unusual one. It is not flashy or super sophisticated with all sorts of advanced technologies. The element that seems most crucial to me is this…………courage.
Now, hold up, before I go any further…….I don’t want you to think I mean this kind of courage.
I mean you gotta have courage like this…….
Do you remember being a kid at the public pool and your friends dared you to jump off the high dive? You look up at that behemoth of a diving board and the tall ladder leading up to the top and you sorta gulp. But you say, “Sure! Let’s try it!” And you follow your friends to the line waiting at the tall metal ladder. One by one, the kids climb up the ladder. Some of the kids have done this before and take running leaps off the top board. Other kids are like you and they slowly climb the ladder hesitantly and then carefully and slowly walk to the edge to look over and at the far, far distance down below. Yikes! You think to yourself that you would prefer to take the chicken exit but you have seen what happens to the kids that bail. Some of them get chuckled at and some of them never do gain the courage to overcome their fear and jump. And yet, you’ve seen others…….over-cocky and maybe a little arrogant types that over turn their jumps and end up doing painful belly busters. You don’t want to do that either.
It’s your turn. You’ve been waiting for this and your friends are counting on you to try. You climb the ladder rung by rung with a nervous feeling in your belly. Maybe even your mom has stopped watching from the poolside cabana chair and is now standing and watching you. She’s squinting into the sun. Her hand is over her eyes as she watches you above. She wants you to try but she’s also deeply worried about you and ready to jump in at a moment’s notice to save and protect you.
Your feet feel the hard nubbles of the concrete slab of the high dive. You’re very aware in that moment, feeling the adrenaline in your body. Pools of water surround your feet as you look at the edge. Then you slowly walk step by step to the end. You look down for a little while, enough time that you won’t look like a coward. Your heart is pounding now. Your breathing is a little jagged. You step a few paces back and then……
You run off the ledge to freefall. And it is terrifying and exciting at the same time. Your eyes are wide open and you straighten your body out to execute the jump just right so you don’t belly buster. The last thing in the world you want to do is belly buster cause that is embarassing.
And you close your eyes and hold your breath right before you finally hit the water. And it is the best feeling in the world when you come up for air. You realize it is not so hard as you thought it could be. You realize that the biggest obstacle you faced was dread.
We have nothing to fear but fear itself.
And you maybe even chance going off that high dive a few more times that day.
Anyway…….that’s the kind of courage it seems to take to try to create and show something rather than spend lots and lots and lots of time writing as a hobby but never going any further.
So, honestly, I don’t know a lot about these new templates, and theories, and ideas, and software, and techologies and all these great classes to take on writing. But I do know that eventually you gotta act.
As I was writing earlier this year, I kept two fortune cookie fortunes on my desk. The first read,
Luck helps those who help themselves.
The second read,
The simplest answer is to act.
A long time ago, I had a good friend in the military. He was a decorated war veteran and served six of seven year-long tours in Iraq and Kuwait. He was an Army officer and retired a Lt. Colonel. When we would travel together and I would drive, he would get super frustrated with my driving. I would be polite and always let people pass me or cut in front of me as we traveled around the Washington DC Beltway. He would always look at me and say this mantra of the military:
He who hesitates is lost.
I just figured he was an angsty type of driver but turns out he was trying to teach me a very valuable lesson that I picked up on later in my 40s.
Just act. Don’t waste your life never acting.
Writers by nature, tend to be very introspective and thinkers. They think a whole bunch before they finally make a decision to move. They remind me of the Ents in Lord of the Rings. There’s a certain quote by John Green that sums up their behavior well:
Writing is a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.
So, my main point with this extended post is just to encourage you to act. To use another metaphor…..a pilot can take a brand new plane onto the runway and wait for the go-ahead from air traffic control. He can study all the manuals, memorize all the control panel buttons, put all the latest technology into his plane, learn each and every possible idea about piloting, perfect each and every detail of his manuevers, etc. But eventually, he is going to have to make the hard decision to move forward and race at breakneck speed, barreling down that runway, hoping and praying that those wheels come up and those wings start to lift. He’ll pass the point of no return. He’ll have to do it. The sink or swim point. Fly or crash and burn in a blaze of fantastic but embarassing glory. The belly buster.
Just do it.
Eventually you just gotta do it and when you do, you will want to try again. And remember, a plane doesn’t fly until it reaches a point of intense pressure. To fly, to defy gravity……..that is a worthwhile moment. So, if you are facing a whole lot of pressure writing…..well, maybe that is just you getting prepared for lift off.
So, that’s my cheap and unsophisticated two cents on writing. It’s not fancy. It’s not long enough to turn into an hour long class but it is authentic and real.
And finally, as a side note, the last thing I would add is take the pressure off yourself. There’s so much pressure already on you from daily life……why add more to yourself? Remember to have fun with writing. Make it playful. Just write for the sake of telling a story to yourself or maybe to the one person out there in the whole wide world that might read your stuff.
Don’t write to be successful. Don’t write for fame and fortune. Don’t write for riches or fly b******. Just write for your own enjoyment. It show s in your words when you enjoy what you are writing. Some stuff we try to write to impress others often comes across later in reading it as pretentious and stuffy and just full of it. Don’t believe me?
When I first started to write poetry, I wrote short but decent stuff with meaning like this:
They say you gotta sit in the dark a long while before you see the light,
Hell, I’ve been sitting here for years and yeah, I guess they’re right.
Well I’s seen a share of sadness and a couple shares of doubt,
But I suppose a seed’s got to be buried before it will start to sprout.
See, that one wasn’t too bad and it was authentic and from the heart because I played at writing poetry then. However, things changed a few years later after I had failed a couple of poetry contest submissions. I figured I needed to be more aloof and more intellectual and more big city and more of what I truly am not. And so I wrote this one:
Thoughts on Writers and Figs and Such Matters
Kindred soul, I heard your muffled cry in the library stacks.
The rhythm of your fragile heart still beats within,
rustling the yellowed pages of this forgotten book.
I have found your anguish.
Your essence escaped life on the winds
waiting for love’s embrace.
You lived and breathed like a golden songbird
buried beneath the sands of time in a locked box waiting for a key.
for your sake, how I wish your discontented hand settled on a plump ripe fig
so many years ago in the distant past.
But then, I would have never felt your spirit.
Ok, so………..this second one is not terrible but is admittedly a little over the top. Too emo and a little on the weird side in my opinion. I wrote it to impress poetry authority figures rather than write the things I really thought and felt about the world around me. It’s stiff and awkward and frankly, I haven’t even read The Bell Jar all the way through…….just some passages here and there, some Wikipedia, and some Cliffnotes online. Not authentic. Not good.
So be yourself. Be playful with your writing.
and to finish on a high note, one last quote from the great Elton John.
You could never know what it’s like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you
You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use.
……Don’t you know, I’m still standing better than I ever did,
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid.
That’s my point from Elton John’s Still Standing (and I bet you’re now thinking of a piano playing gorilla from the movie Sing lol). My point is be brave as a writer but also be playful at it like a kid and willing to show and share your authentic voice.
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
Ok, that’s all I got. It ain’t much but it’s from the heart. That’s it for tonight, folks. Have a great night and keep writing and creating.
My First Blog Post
If you had
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?
This is one of my favorite songs. I have a secret. Sometimes I listen to this song to get hyped for writing. The motivational beginning inspires me just like my favorite quote by Laurel Ulrich, “Well -behaved women seldom make history.” This second quote is often associated with Marilyn Monroe or Eleanor Roosevelt, an amazing woman I named my daughter after.
But back to the Eminem song, I like the lyrics and Ulrich quote because in them you can feel a rebellious nature and angst with the status quo, a desire to achieve more. To be more than your environment, more than what life dictated for you……more….more……more. They remind me of a poem I wrote 10 years ago:
I went to the top of Mt. Pilatus a long, long time ago
and stood in the cold wind looking at the white desolation below.
I took a rocky path along the curve of the silent mountain and past the wintry bridge,
to a spot where a single solitary flower clung to the side of the ridge.
I reached out to pluck the bloom but hesitated in that instance.
It was in that moment that I realized the power of persistence.
I heard someone say once, “It doesn’t matter where you came from;
it only matters where you go.
I say, “It doesn’t matter where fate placed you. It just matters that you grow.”
Keep striving and growing, my fellow writers. Reach for your dreams with your words and pull those amazing stories out of hiding from your mind and your heart. Get to that moment in your story when the words flow out of you like rushing water and you lose yourself in the writing. That moment when the story is all you want and the storyteller is all you want to be. There’s magic in that moment. Gold, pure gold.
Keep creating! Keep writing! Keep being more!