The Keys to Oz: Peaceful Retreats

As a human, it’s important to know what recharges our spirits. As writers, it’s imperative to our craft. Write too long on empty and gobbledygook splats out, pouring black ooze from our fingers and drips onto our feet. The gook sticks to our legs, trapping us suddenly in our chairs. Our brains soon crawl out afterwards and slink away to find a new oasis. Our noses follow quickly, searching for roses and rain showers of bygone, blissful days. If truly dire, legs may start a feverish tap dancing number underneath your desk, greatly upsetting the carefully arranged pencils and tawdry knickknacks. Away, they demand! Away, away, away!

We’re not meant to work forever; we’re meant to live in Oz. Truly.

Don’t argue with me. Take a munchkin and move over.

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Things Overhead in a Restaurant: Mosques, Loud Neighbors & Bigotry

The saint* and I have a true penchant for being seated next to loud people in restaurants. It reminds me of being assigned the seat next to the noisy kid in grade school. The logic of the teachers, and perhaps the hostess, must be the sound/lack of sound will balance out. But it never works. All it does is annoy us quiet, reflective people and grates on our patience. And if we’re polite, we think we need to make conversation back to the class clown. (I have.) Come, now. Let’s rethink this maneuver.

Today was such an occasion. The two dudes (and dudes is a fitting term) appeared to be employed by some sort of military contract and were talking shop. Loudly. Dude One asked lots of questions, talked most of the time and appeared to encourage Dude Two in his career aspirations. Dude Two appeared to want to move someday and continue his military career elsewhere. Dude One began describing a potential place to Dude Two in punctuated interest:

“…They’ve got everything there, it’s a nice area. They even have a mosque so it’s good for finding terrorists.”

I looked up, startled. The man was in his 30’s or less, possibly Hispanic, but spoke with a jock/valley boy like accent. When he ordered from the South American menu, he had a refined Spanish accent.

I poured my Coca Cola over his $40 polo shirt and left.

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Church Through an Introvert’s Eyes: More Thoughts on America’s Warped Christianity

As an introvert (an INTJ to be exact), I find American society at once demanding, garrulous and worshipful of charming extroverts. This perception of the perfect American finds its way into churches, bleeds over the pews, stains the carpets and infiltrates the very verbiage and conversational rhythms. Modern churches exemplify this particularly with stage lighting, booming mic’s, catchy tunes and coffee bars. And suddenly church is about working and collecting merit badges at warp speed. If you have lots of energy, bright eyes and agreeable conversation–you’re in!

If not, you’re a problem.

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Flash Fiction: Women Warriors

You know the drill–99 words, no more, no less. Carrot Ranch is the spot. This week’s theme is “Women Warriors.” Saddle up!

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Labrador Lessons III: Pace Thyself, Human! (Our First 10k)

There are gulpers and there are chippers in this world. I am a gulper. There are no stages, no stepping stones of graduated achievements with how I proceed. There is simply the goal and myself, whatever it may be. Everything between me and the goal must be overcome. And now, today, this very instant in fact! Definitely not tomorrow or a wishy-washy “sometime later, honey.” I will stay the course, finish strong, even if doctors and nurses hurry behind me with a crash cart and tranquilizer darts. Reality be darned!

All this I thought today during my first 10k, walking at a steady pace with my saintly husband* and tolerant Labrador. And then my Lab, during mile six, laid down in the middle of the road during a water break. She peered up at me and my so-called goals.

“Go ahead–try to move me, human,” my Labrador taunted me from the ground. “But you’re going to carry my 55lb butt back to the air conditioned car. And then I’m gonna pee all over your azaleas you just planted so lovingly…”

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Giving & Giving Up: One INTJ’s Perspective

INTJ’s are often described as cynics in Myers Briggs write-ups. If the article is being fair, this innate cynicism is framed around an INTJ knowing how things should be–aka, not like the current state of affairs. As an INTJ, I observe this trait within myself. I’m often skeptical of nonprofits, charities and other agencies with grand, doe eyed missions. I once heard someone share about an agency that planned to eradicate poverty entirely through money–and fairly quickly. I scoffed. Whenever was poverty just about money–particularly generational poverty? If the problem was that simple, wouldn’t it have been solved ages ago? That’s like saying cancer is just about radiation—so much more goes into combating such a crippling disease.

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Flash Fiction: Property Values

Here is my take to this week’s Flash Fiction prompt over at Carrot Ranch. Saddle on up and join in on the rodeo. It’ll improve your writing, pardner.

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Demons, Death & Double Standards: “What a Slut…”

I ask your pardon for including the word “slut” in the title. I dislike the connotations and one sided power the word carries. I imagine the word as a broken woman, dragging her dirtied feet through this patriarchal world, a shamed prostitute surrounded by self-righteous rock throwers. A man I knew died recently and, as I learned, wasn’t married to whom I (and everyone else) assumed was his spouse. The news startled me, but I knew it wasn’t my business. I instead chose to help as I was able with the memorial arrangements. I overhead the following conversation happen the day of the funeral:

“And what was with “their companion” written in the obituary…? What, they weren’t married? …What a slut…”

Ecstatic giggling followed the speaker’s judgement. I couldn’t see the group listening, but could hear parts of the conversation. I imagined the speaker’s tongue like a snake’s, split and elegant, licking the air in glee as she laughed. The group murmured some type of consensual agreement I couldn’t quite decipher. The conversation moved onto other matters, sliding easily to other interests.

I sat in my chair, shocked, my brain numbly processing what I heard. I began wondering if I was honestly in the presence of a demon.

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A Partial Movie Review & Thoughts on the Horror Genre: “The Quiet Place”

My spouse bought the tickets, got us free glasses of ice water and I scurried off to use the restroom. I sat down in the dark theatre, baffled by the motley collection of previews that ranged from the dramatic yet playful “Avengers” series to an odd, demonic horror movie of  uncomfortable supernatural darkness. I was reminded how even though I write horror, most horror I’ve come across I dislike and avoid. More on this later.

I relaxed as the “The Quiet Place” finally began and flashed my husband a grin. I was geeked about this movie, particularly because I could learn more American Sign Language (ASL). As I mentioned previously, I’m attempting to become fluent in ASL and was curious how the language–and maybe even Deaf culture–was incorporated into the film.

“A Quiet Place” is the story of an American family cobbling a bizarre, post-apocalyptic existence while striving not to make the slightest noise. The parents are raising children, one who is a teenaged deaf girl and two younger boys who are hearing. Alien neighbors surround the town and farm where the family scratches out an existence. The aliens are blind, armored predators; they target and kill anything that makes the slightest noise (including unlucky raccoons). The family walks barefoot on sand paths, eats on lettuce plates and plays Monopoly with soft fabric playing pieces. They cannot cry loudly and struggle with expressing (and suppressing) their emotions. The parents whisper hoarsely to their kids and use ASL to communicate and teach their children how to survive.

I made it through about 40 minutes of the 90 minute film before leaving. Hats off to Mr. John Krasinski, the director, for the movie’s unique power. I walked out of the theatre, afraid to make any noise in case an alien was hiding around the corner ready to ambush me. I blared my Pandora station with courage at home and proceeded to clean my house–until 2 in the morning.

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Flash Fiction: The Boldness of Cranes

Wander on over to Carrot Ranch for this week’s flash fiction and join us as we celebrate cranes–99 words, no more, no less. Cheers, all.

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