Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A perfect day

(Author's note: A helpful creative coach has sent along some creative writing exercises- an opening line to jump start no more than 100 words {!} I've got quite a few of these now, and I'm going to be posting them- but I'm going to ease myself into the 100 word limit thing (basically only 1 paragraph!) Too wordy for that now. Will work on it however) ;)

As she sipped her delicious tea and looked out on sunlit lawns and trees in their fresh spring green, she felt a rush of gratitude that was almost like love. But was it only gratitude? Maybe it was really, and truly, a sensation that was love. Yes, she reasoned to herself, it was love; it simply had to be. A love of normalcy, of perfection, love of an ideal. That was what this place represented to her, the epitome of life, the achievement of a perfect American dream. Terrace Grove- the luxurious pinnacle of a modern gated community; perfect manicured lawns flanked by identical trees in the front and identical swimming pools in the back, all wrapped up tightly in a smug WASPy death grip. It was all so... perfect. I worked so hard to get here, she thought furiously. I have earned my place among the beautiful people, the perfect people! She placed her tea on the window ledge and leaned her forehead against the glass. The day had started out perfect, just like every other day since she first arrived at Terrace Grove. Perfect breakfast (fresh squeezed oj, fresh picked strawberries, low-fat muffin), everything fell into place, perfectly of course, as she cleaned and readied for the ladies' book club- they were finally going to let her host one! It was finally the last signal of acceptance Cassandra desperately had wanted from the other women in the community. Today was going to be Cassandra's Perfect Day. And everything had gone so well- everything from the hand made dip for the veggie tray to the book itself (an Oprah's book of the month pick, no less!) Until the doorbell rang. Cassandra groaned inwardly as she closed her eyes and rolled her forehead, left to right on the plane of glass, replaying the moment in her head. It was like slow motion- you know, the kind in the movies where when you see it, you know something bad is going to follow.

This little movie showed like flashes in her mind, broken and disjointed, as if her mind couldn't handle seeing every last second play out in full Technicolor glory. The grandfather clock in hall chiming noon as Cassandra passed it, her hand on the doorknob, HIM standing on the doorstep. Angry, fists clenched in rage, the alcohol fumes radiating off of him. Grease and oil stains all over his ratty overalls. Losing was never Buck's strong suit, and losing his wife and his life's savings, well that couldn’t have sat well with him. Looks like your luck just ran out, a voice calmly replied from somewhere in Cassandra's mind. You should have never taken root in one place, running from him was the only way to hide from him. Amazing how calm one could actually be, when staring down such intense rage. This was, after all, a man who had shattered three of Cassandra's ribs and dislocated her shoulder when he threw her across their grimy little trailer into the far wall, screaming that he would kill her if she ever left him. Funny, how one could be so calm. It was no longer "slow motion" after that point, things seem to fly by after that. Cassandra making huge strides through her house, pushing her guests out through the French doors, firmly, but politely, explaining to the lovely ladies of Terrace Grove that her house had a possible gas leak and the gas company was here to do an immediate inspection- and they had to leave at once. For their safety of course. Gas leak. Inspired, really it was, Cassandra congratulated herself now. Walking back into the house, locking the French doors behind her. Staring at Buck across the island in the kitchen. Mind racing to what her next course of action should be...

To Be Continued (I promise!) :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Thought for the Day... (or subtitled: Delusions of Grandeur)

Ok, so not a short story or vignette- but from time to time I'll post random thoughts and other such misc. blogs (plus I'm toying with the idea of also blogging book reviews on this blog as well..)

Here's the thought, of which I came across in another blog- that had this quote on it:

"Writers are the only artists that that think their first work of 'art' will hang in the Louvre."

It's true, don't you think? No other artist- painter, musician, dancer, sculpter, etc. thinks that the very 1st time they create something, they have created a masterpiece. But writers, myself included I'm sure, have this weird pathos about them- I think it stems from the mythology/ideal in this country of writing the "Great American Novel". Everyone always says that it's a dream of theirs to do {come on, be honest- how many people/friends/family/3rd cousins-twiced removed do you know that claim it's one of their "Life's-To-Do-List" ambitions??} But of course-hardly anyone ever does (or do they?), yet the urgent dream of such still pervades.

Maybe it's partially a fault of the media- everytime a New! or Upcoming! young auteur appears on the screen, they are plastered all over the news, (or at least Amazon & Borders) but then never heard again after that 1st novel? Like for example, the young woman who wrote The Historian- a New York Times best seller and her very 1st novel. (Which by the way, I hated and couldn't even finish- and that's coming from a girl who even read her college science textbooks cover to cover.. but that's a rant for another blog) But doesn't it seem like that- a young man or woman, seemingly from nowhere, just appears and their 1st book becomes a nationwide best seller? And they are lauded in the press and being "The Next Best Thing Since Sliced Bread" or "The Next New Voice of a Generation" blah blah blah. And people think- Hey! Look how easy that was! First Book! I can do that too!!

And isn't that just the American Dream, boiled down to its essence, right there anyway- do something only once and *poof* it works? No repeated tryings, going through rejections, failures, working hard over and over- just add water and instant success! (and instant moolah $$ too)

Any thoughts/rants/comments?? Anyone up for a blogging discouse of a literary nature? Hahaha (For some reason, rt now I feel like Mike Myers as the Coffee Tawk gal on SNL- "A Peanut is neither a Pea or a Nut. Discuss. Tawk amongst yourselves. I'm getting verklempt!" LOL. )

Okay, that's enough random thoughts from me- I'm completley free-typing here (just blogging whatever is running through my mind here, no spell or content check for me baby!) and it's prbly not making a lick of sense either. Hrrmmm, free-typing: Typing while Musing. Kinda like Driving while Intoxicated- FEAR IT! ROTFL. Must...get...back...to...work...don't...want...to...piss...off...boss.

~AG

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Vignette du jour

(Author's note: I've recently found some old short novelas saved to my hard drive. They are much much too long to post in their entirety, but I thought it might be interesting to take smaller [well, smaller is a relative term-I was never good at editing] snipettes out of them and post, to see if they can stand up alone as a vignette and to critically review them oustide of their larger contexts. Or at the very least, it's a way for me to be lazy- post new blogs on here without having to write. Ha! Writer's block, indeed. ~AG)

The rain is drumming against the taxi at an ever-increasing rate; fortunately this also increases its sound. The louder the storm grows and ferociously beats “Rat-a-tat-tat” over and over on the roof, the more it helps to drown out the incessant chatter of the taxi driver, going on about the Mets, or the Yankees, or some other god forsaken team here in the city that Phillip could care less about. He leans against the door, turning his head to the left, pressing his forehead into the cool glass of the window; trying to soothe his pounding headache. Way too much drinking at dinner again, you old fool Phillip silently tells himself.

Suddenly Phillip is nearly thrown out of his seat into the sliding glass partition that separates the front of the taxi from the back. The driver has slammed on the breaks and comes to a screeching halt in front of a tall apartment building, the back of the taxi sliding almost into the other lane as the tires hit water on the road. An outrageous cab fare is announced from the front. Phillip picks up his glasses from the floor where they landed after the abrupt stop, slips them back on, sighs and tosses a couple of wrinkled twenties onto the front seat. Dashing across the street as fast as he can, jacket held over his head (he’s forgotten his umbrella at another restaurant, again); Phillip wonders why he didn’t just take the goddamned subway. Upon short reflection, Phillip remembers that it’s very late at night and after the sun goes down, the local thugs tend to congregate on the subway. And at this stage in his life, Phillip has decided that he is too damn old to be getting the crap beat out of him, so that is why he chose not to take the "goddamned subway".

Phillip shakes the rain off of his jacket, leaving a trail of droplets on the marble floor as he crosses the lobby to the bank of elevators on the back wall. He punches the up button aggressively and considers mentally calculating what this night has cost him so far, including the perilous cab ride home. La Maison Rouge he thinks disgustedly, La Maison Rouge, where on earth do they get off charging 24 dollars for a pitiful little salad?? I should have known right then and there, when she choose that place- this date was going to be a disaster. Overpriced, overrated French food that should only be served to gullible tourists. I make better French cuisine Phillip tells himself. Oh well, what can you expect from a place where their "claim" to fame is that they were once a French brothel in the 1920’s?

The elevator finally arrives and Phillip steps in, shaking his head. Turning around to stare up at the numbers individually light as the elevator passes each floor, Phillip shifts his thoughts away from the exorbitant sum this night has cost him, and focuses on his date. Another well-meaning friend fixed him up on yet another blind date. Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Phillip thinks peevishly. Late 40’s, dishwater blonde/light brunette hair, decent figure (for her age anyway), and a pleasant enough face. But as with most women in that age bracket- already divorced, bitter as hell about it, and angry at the world, or at least all the men in world.

Usually those women were bitter and pissed off because they were divorced by then. But worse than that, was if they had never been married by that age. Good god! They were either fantastically desperate to get married and reproduce babies on the first date, or else they were jaded, chain-smoking, post-modernist feminists that believed the entire world was one giant glass ceiling and men were the root of all E-V-I-L. Okay, well maybe Phillip was exaggerating just a tad bit here, based on one particularly horrific date he had with a Cultural Anthropologist, who also taught a few "women’s studies" courses at the University. The date had ended with them screaming at each other in a very crowded, swank bistro and with her throwing her wine in his face before stomping out of the restaurant. Unfortunately for Phillip, it didn’t actually end there. The next day, she tried to claim "sexual harassment" and sue both Phillip and the University. The "attempted" lawsuit was stopped dead in its tracks by the administration. Thank God for tenure and the fact that no one else in the University liked the bitch either Phillip thought blackly.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Solitude

(Author's note: One of my 1st works coming out of a long hiatus. A bit rusty, and probably overly dark. )

It was almost missed. The silver of the bracelet was tucked away in the weathered-gray rocks scattered on the beach. If the clouds hadn't parted at just that exact second, and if the sunlight hadn't hit the only part not rusted on it, the bracelet would have never sparkled and caught her eye. She would have continued walking alone the beach, pensive and oblivious to her surroundings. But it didn't happen that way. Her eyes did catch the momentary flash of silver on the ground and it was enough to stop her thoughts and in her tracks. She cocked her head and let her eyes adjust to this foreign object tangled up in a heap around some rocks at her feet. She bent down and plucked the metal chain from its rocky prison and almost absent-mindedly, turned it over again and again in her hands. A silver chain, most of it rusted from a hard life floating in the salty ocean, ivory hearts, aged yellow from time, spaced evenly throughout and finally a single real miniature seashell hanging next to a heart shaped locket. It had been the locket that was the shiny gem that had grabbed onto the passing sunshine and glinted in pale gray February day. Almost automatically she found herself prying the locket open. Inside, engraved across both sides, in tiny elegant script, were a few simple lines from a poem,

I'll love you till the ocean is folded and hung to dry,

And the seven stars go squawking like geese about the sky.


William H. Auden. The irony of coming across a trinket with those particular lines etched on it, lying abandoned on the ocean’s edge was not lost on her. How did he hurt you my dear, she thought to herself. She pictured a prim and proper young woman, in almost a period "Gibson Girl" outfit sobbing her eyes out, on a towering cliff, overlooking the ocean. She closed her eyes and watched in her mind, as the young woman flung the bracelet, now shiny and new, far into the dark tempest waves. Before following suit with herself, into the same deep depths.

"Oh you are so goddamned melodramatic", she said out loud, annoyed with herself. As if anyone would throw away their life on something as insipid as the institution of love.

Bullshit, a voice in the back of her mind whispered darkly. You would cast aside this so-called "life" of yours in a heartbeat, if you weren’t such a coward. You loved so much till you were emptied of your soul. If you didn’t fear death, you’d do the same damn thing as bracelet-girl. Admit it.

"I admit nothing". She turned her back on the rolling waves and studied the grains of sand that stretched out before her. It was true that she had loved him till it felt like her soul would split in two and leave her barren and empty inside. And now, now… things had changed. He was gone. His absence felt like all the air had been sucked out of a room. She had moments where it was hard to breathe, the pain could be excruciating. But to go as far as bracelet girl? No, she could never do such a thing…could she? After all she created such a morose mental image in her mind. If you can dream it, you can achieve it, she thought darkly. A sharp pain in her hand jolted her back into the moment. She had been unconsciously clenching the bracelet so tight in her fist that it was biting into her skin.

Slowly turning back to the ocean, pivoting so that her heel drug in the sand, she came to stand squarely facing the waves again. And in one sharp sudden move, she hurled the bracelet back into the sea with such a force, that her shoulder began to ache in its socket.

Maybe someone else will find it one day, she sighed internally. Perhaps its loving sentiments will reaffirm their faith in love and life.

Fools.

And she continued to walk along the water’s edge once more.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

wishing to be a kid again

life was so much simpler when you were a kid. No student loans, overdue credit card bills, crappy slum landlords to deal with, no entanglements gone wrong, no guilt or sadness or even just general worry about anything.

And if something did go wrong, it was easy to fix too. Fall down, scrape a knee- presto-chango! Mom would kiss it and pat you on the head and everything was all right again. Got a hideously ugly neon orange sweater from Great-Aunt Gertrude? Take it back! (or stuff it in the rain gutters of the back garage, never to been seen again. Till the next rainstorm when it floods the whole backyard- not reccomended).

If you hurt someone's feelings, all you had to do was apologize and buy them some pop rocks and everything was all right in the world. Why isn't it still like that now?