Writing exercise #2

Because to write about my life would be oh-so dull, here’s a 14-30 for you.

The words/phrases, chosen at random from Apples to Apples, a silly family game I recommend:

My future
graffiti
gang members

Swiss chocolate
blood
handguns
family values
choir boys
girlfriends

toes
hair transplants
daytime TV
terrorist attack
castles

My future does not include handguns; I am too prone to depression, and a gun offers an instant gratification that most other methods do not. My past does not include gang members or graffiti – unless you count the time I smeared “Slut!” on the passenger side of Darrin’s Porsche, red lipstick bold against the black paint. My present includes family values, although not the sort you hear discussed on talk radio or daytime TV with talk show hosts sporting bad hair transplants. To hear them talk, my little welfare family is somehow linked to terrorists attacks – broken condoms, sure, but weapons of mass destruction? The Republicans must not realize what goes on between the choir boys and their girlfriends; it’s a wonder the priest gets any break from confession at all. My real weakness is chocolate, Swiss chocolate. I break a chunk off the bar, rest it on my tongue, imagine the chill of the Alps juxtaposed with the warm sweetness dissolving in my mouth. Don’t tell the children, but I hide chocolate on top of the refridgerator, where they cannot yet reach. And so Jimi plays through the radio, as if he never died, the asphyxiation on his own vomit not even a footnote.

“And so castles made of sand slips into the sea, eventually…”

I think of sand warm between my toes – that is something to live for – as the blood erupts between my fingers, neck pulsing to my heartbeat. I shake my head. The image falls like snow from branches, in bits. Individual snowflakes do not scare me, their relationship to avalanches aside. I inhale. I exhale. The cold assures me, I am alive.

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4 thoughts on “Writing exercise #2”

  1. uh, Jennifer, this winter will too soon pass. Your post was complex. Concerning your latest post, I have picked up many hitch hikers on the way to Manila. Never had a bad experience. Used to give Pete rides back in his more lucid times. I once picked up a few crank heads with Shane and I think he thought I was crazy for picking them up, and then after he heard my conversation with them, he understood why I picked them up. They are people too. Just have issues like us all. The funny thing is, I am sure you know the couple I picked up also. They live not far from you in a trailer. Castles in the sand indeed.

  2. Oh, Richard! Thanks for the concern. I should emphasize that it’s just an exercise in creativity, not so much a reflection of my own life/thoughts. Using the first person does tend to confuse. But now you’ve inspired me to write a more positive paragraph or two:

    The choir boys lined the walls of the gymnasium, their as-yet-unchanged voices lending even more innocence to the carols. I loved this time of year, when even the hardest of hearts could be thawed. Earlier, a group of convicted gang members had been sent over from the juvenile detention facility, low-risk offenders, the officer said, despite their gang status. We were a bit worried, I admit, but they needed something to do for community service and the school did need the graffiti, and more, cleaned up. When they arrived, they seemed like men, not boys. Scary men at that — either too skinny and unnatural-looking, or too muscular with the sort of strength that inspires fear instead of a sense of protection.

    At first the talk I overheard, as I passed out buckets, brooms and instructions, contained the expected references to handguns and drugs, plus some not-so-kind discussion about women. Not that they used that word.

    But then someone mentioned missing his mom. And someone else wondered out loud what he could write to his girlfriend for Christmas. He wanted to apologize for not being with her for the holidays, for screwing up. “I gotta make her think my future’s gonna be good,” he said. “I gotta make her believe in me.”

    I feltl hope for this boy permeate my whole body, right down to my toes. They just need some family, I thought, some real family values to show them right and wrong, to teach them how people should take care of each other. Too many of them, I knew, grew up in this world where terrorist attacks were commonplace, where daytime TV subject matter consisted of everything bad about the human condition. But here they were, working honestly — and doing a fine job, too.

    I laughed silently when they whispered about Father Joe’s hair transplants after he complimented them on their successful clean-up. And at the end, as I thanked them all with praise and a bit of Swiss chocolate one of our patrons had delivered, they looked like children again with a spark in their eyes and a smile on every face. The feeling of hope remained. Perhaps the difference between our choir boys, still singing, and these troubled young men was not so great — or insurmountable.

  3. I loved the line “individual snowflakes do not scare me their relationship to avalanches aside.” Seems pretty true about most of life’s problems. I’ll try to remember to sort my avalanches back into snowflakes.

    nice piece and nice second piece in the comments.

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