Creative 101: They gave me flowers

I like to write opening paragraphs to the great Australian novel. Just opening paragraphs, never accomplished the novel; well, not yet,anyway.

They gave me flowers

 

They gave me flowers the day my father died. They had taken him from me, and they thought that a bouquet of pale pink roses and baby’s breath would sage my emotions. My hatred.

It took me five years, but I got my revenge. The day I snapped those handcuffs on them, and pushed them towards the cells, I knew my revenge was complete.

 

I was wrong.

it’s a gift

gift 1

A number of my student creative writers’ group are seniors and graduating this week. At our last gathering they presented me with a gift. I can only think that they must have noted every single thing I ever mentioned I loved for they filled a box with:

English Breakfast tea bags

Two small bottles of champagne

A box of chocolates

A bag of jelly baby lollies

A moleskin notebook

A pen inscribed with the word “Boss”

and a small white Teddy Bear.

 

I was stunned, and almost burst into tears, but big Flamingo Dancers don’t cry. I was just trying to form the words to thank them, when one of the students piped up and said,

“We’re sorry Miss, we couldn’t find the right stick to put in the box.”

Yes, they had even remembered my stick list!

They have all promised to dedicate their first novels to me, and on their author tours will return to the school and speak to the students of the time.  Good luck to each and everyone of them, bless their little writing souls.

things to write about when you can’t think of a thing to write about

type

 

Some days I could write nine different posts, and then the next day, absolutely zilch comes to mind and my keyboard falls silent. So, I have been trying to develop a back up list of things to write about when I can’t think of a thing to write about!

  1. Why the supermarket should be arranged in Dewey  Decimal Classification
  2. Your first memory.
  3. What your most hated teacher would say about you if they knew you today.
  4. What you would tell your most hated teacher if you met them today.
  5. What you want to achieve before you die – not do, achieve.
  6. The stupidest thing you have ever done.
  7. The worst outfit you ever wore.
  8. Who you would like to be best friends with and why.
  9. Belly buttons – inner or outer and does it matter?
  10. What you would have done, if only your mother would have allowed you.
  11. Five defining moments in your life.
  12. What would you do differently at your wedding, if you could do it again – changing spouses is not part of it!
  13. What you hope your child will do, but will never tell you they did.
  14. Which of your five senses could you live without, if you had too?
  15. The worst medical problem you have ever had.
  16. The funniest/most embarrassing medical problem you have ever had.
  17. Did you ever cheat at anything, in your life – child or adult?
  18. Is it possible to have too many piercings?
  19. Favourite Christmas memory.
  20. Worst Birthday ever.
  21. First attempts at cooking.
  22. The first time you ever spent the night at home alone.
  23. Favourite colour and why
  24. The sound that makes your teeth grit.
  25. The songs you want played at your funeral
  26. Was the painter Picasso really a genius, or did he just fool us all into thinking he was?
  27. The book character you would most like to delete.
  28. Things you never told your mother.
  29. Something you learnt from your sister/brother
  30. Your first driving lesson.
  31. Which celebrity was pinned to your bedroom wall growing up?
  32. If you were the richest person in the world, what daily pleasure would you indulge in.
  33. Three wishes…
  34. Is the book really dying?
  35. Five people you would like to invite to dinner.
  36. The one person you would like for a sleepover. Define the type of sleepover.
  37. Your “go to” movie when you need comfort.
  38. The worst gift you ever gave someone, and why
  39. Giving or receiving gifts, which do you like most?
  40. Should Christmas trees be traditional, or designer?
  41. Why do we love reading scandal?

Well, that’s my first 40. What do you think?

 

[Feel free to use any of these suggestions. May I ask that you just link back to this post, so that we can enjoy too?]

prompted by…

Jill

The writing prompt was : “I’m so sorry, that I can’t offer you a less dangerous solution.”

 

  1. She is to been turned into a teacher.
  2. Double bypass brain surgery
  3. Undercover assignment as a trapeze artist
  4. Laboratory assistant in an Ebola research laboratory.
  5. Double for a hated world leader
  6. Having her hair cut by an apprentice hairdresser
  7. Witness protection in another dimension
  8. Being the keeper of the meaning of life
  9. Being sent on a quest to lock the gates of hell
  10. Librarian in the Library of the Universe and knowledge is disappearing from the pages and the only solution is for you to enter one of the pages…

any suggestions?

Thy name shall be Discipline

discipline

discipline 1

 

discipline 2

discipline 3

I want to spend more time writing, but I allow myself to be too easily distracted (oh look, there is a fly) and so another day, another week, another month and then another year and decade goes by. Not to many decades left so I need to gird my loins with steely discipline, something I have always possessed in very small perishable amounts, to sit down and write. First to learn to write for just me.

September thy name is discipline and thy aim is 20 minutes a day…

discipline

eating my words?

Reading one of those “ten ways to start your novel” by some “best selling author” that I have never heard of, is my tried and true way to procrastinate about actually writing that novel that I have waiting to write since I was twelve years old. I guess it is the modern equivalent of tidying a desk, choosing the right paper and lining the pencils up, all nicely sharpened. Busy Business that gets me nowhere.

 

However, at the end of the authors web page was an advertisement for statins. If high cholesterol is a requirement for being a successful author, I am an over achiever in that area.

 

Which reminds me, this was the delicious salad that Daughter1 created for our ANZAC Day lunch – spinach, roasted beetroot and pumpkin, chickpea and goat’s cheese with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Superb.

salad ANZAC

Tuesday round robin writing and the zilkenzenderpied

woman writing picasso

So here is how it is going to be people; a story in many parts. I will start the story and then leave it hanging. The next person will write their contribution (in the reply area so we can see the thread) and leave it open for the third to continue and then the four and the fifth, until it comes to its natural end – if it does!

It might even be a choose your own adventure, it two people post at once. What fun!

And it starts…

It would have all been alright, if only she hadn’t heard that Mildred have found a zilkenzenderpied which she had presented with more than a simple flourish of superiority at the last Ladies Club gathering. Thirty pairs of eyes had settled on it, clasped in Mildred’s finely manicured hands, and there had been an audible sound of air being sucked between veneered teeth and glossy lips.

If Josephine had just stayed in bed that morning, beneath the blankets as had been her first instinct, then she wouldn’t had witnessed the look of triumphant that Mildred had thrown her way; that challenge her eyes had communicated would have fallen unnoticed. No, Josephine; Josie to her husband, Jo to her school friends, had not listened to her instincts, but had ventured forth, unknowingly ruining her own life…

lunch time write

No one tells you that one day you are going to walk through a door and life as your know will cease to exist. If they had there is a good chance I may have chosen to not open that door to find my husband in bed with his best friend, and I may have not accepted the job that my husband’s best friend had offered me two years before and that obviously I had to leave after finding the two in a naked romp in our marital bed.
Did I mention that my husband’s best friend was named Douglas? Douglas, not in the way Americans name their daughters Sydney which is a boy’s name everywhere else in the world, and even a city in Australia, but used as a girl’s name in the good old USA, the land where anything is possible. Douglas as in a six foot, dark haired male Adonis that every female in the world swooned over, and now, as I was shortly after informed by my husband, was the love of his life.
“Our marriage was a mistake” he said, already putting it and me into the past.

Mistake – muh-staky. Noun. 1. Incorrect idea or opinion; thing incorrectly done or thought. 2. Error of judgment. Verb. Choose wrongly; in error.

“I was mistaken”.

Mistaken / muh-stay-kuhn. Adjective. 1. Wrong in opinion or judgement

I had been called a mistake once before in my life. My mother had met up with a friend that she hadn’t seen for many years one day when we were shopping and she descried me as her “happy little mistake”. At the time, being only seven I wasn’t sure what she meant, but as she rubbed the back of my neck as she spoke as she always did when she was being affectionate I somehow managed to understand that it, or rather I, was not considered a bad thing. Later, as I grew I understood the meaning more, especially when the large age gaps between myself and older brother and sister drew understanding. I had been unplanned, my birth a “happy mistake”, but my mother never stood in front of me naked and told me she would prefer never to see me again.
It was all one long out of body experience after that. I walked out the front door, then walked back in, only to see my husband being embraced by Douglas as if he was the one that just had his heart ripped from his chest like one of those actors in some B grade sci-fi movie that are always on at two in the morning when you can’t sleep and the only alternative is the shopping channel and you know that you don’t have the strength to resist buying some over priced magic dusting rag that you would never use anyway and so you watch the damn alien hand slice into someone’s chest and draw out the heart, squishing it between greedy fingers.
I digress, if such a thing is possible when your life becomes a B grade movie in its own right.
I walked back in and spoke to Douglas. He had shorts on now. Why was I feeling embarrassed when he was the one cavorting naked in my bed with my husband? “I want the keys to your cabin.” Douglas owned a cabin surrounded by trees on the side of some lake I had never remembered the name of. “You can have my husband if you give me your cabin.” Somewhat of a successful high flyer Douglas had more to lose then I did, I just had husband who made a mistake, and so a cabin to silence me would be a cheap payment.
“The keys are on my car key ring” Douglas replied gesturing to where his trousers lay on the floor.
If he thought I was going to rummage through his pockets as if searching for loose change he was crazy. I put my hand out and waited for him to retrieve the key from the key ring and place it in my waiting palm. If his hand had touched mine he would have felt my hand starting to sweat. It was quite possible that at any moment I was going to hyperventilate due to a panic attack.
“You two get out of here while I pack my things. Then I never want to see either of you again.”
They didn’t argue. I would like to think that they had the decency to know that I needed peace and solitude to work through the bomb blast that had just blown my fairy tale life to smithereens, but even then I knew that they just wanted down with me and in the easiest way possible.
I waited until I heard the car turn out of the drive and into the street before I screamed abuse at their retreating backs.

Anguish /ˈaNGgwiSH/ Noun. 1. excruciating of agonising pain of either body of mind, acute suffering or distress: the anguish of grief. 2. to affect with or suffer anguish.
Synonyms. Noun. agony – pain – torment – distress – torture – misery
Verb. agonise

It helps to have a sister who is a lawyer. Whilst not a divorce lawyer, sister knew lawyers who knew lawyers and so within days the divorce ball was rolling. I really didn’t have to see the husband ever again if I chose not to, and I certainly chose not too.
Not surprisingly it took me more than a night to pack my things. In fact, that first night I did nothing constructive, well not from a moving sense anyway. A therapist might have considered what I did as very constructive. After I exhausted my lungs and made my throat raw screaming abuse at the back of the closed double front door (did the size of the door mean I could vent more anger? It was a very large double panel door; maybe that symbolised a door for each betrayer) I saw in the hall mirror that my eyes were puffy and I had produced a red rosacea nose that needed wiping. I cried ugly obviously, but hey there was no one here to see so who gave a damn?
If my life had been a chick lit book at that moment I would have opened a bottle of the husband’s finest and drank myself into delirium, except it wasn’t a chick lit book, and I don’t really drink. Well, just a glass or two. One glass makes me happy and I laugh and laugh; the second glass sends me to sleep. A two pot screamer in the old language. Instead I made a pot of tea and sat in the kitchen in my pyjamas and just tried to breathe.

“The nose of the Bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.” Winston Churchill.

The next day, after I sobbed on the phone to my sister, my brother, but not my parents, my siblings roared into revenge and sorted my life out. My sister organised a lawyer for me. My brother called a removalist. The house would be divided between us, but the contents were going with me, it seems. Professionals neatly and with great care packed my life into a number of cardboard boxes which they then deposited into a long moving van and drove to their storage warehouse until I summoned them to reverse their task and unpack the boxes to fit into my new life.
New life.
That was going to be the not so easy bit; mainly because I had to do that for myself. A tiny weeny bit impossible when all I wanted to do was sit in the corner of the room. The tea cup clutched in my hand was the only thing stopping me from curling up into the foetal position permanently.

For ever and ever amen.
No husband, no marriage, no home, no job. All I needed was a fatal disease and I would have the jackpot.
In the cold light of morning I realised that going to Douglas’ cabin was maybe not the best place to lick my wounds and blossom as an unemployed divorcee. The idea of a house in the woods on a lake still sounded right though. Somewhere where I didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know me. No questions, no replies required, no stares or knowing looks behind my back. I could be Eden the woman who lives in the cabin on the edge of the forest near the lake and not the ex-Mrs husband who had been too blind to see what was happening right in front of her face until it was lying naked before her.
So, the only thing I did for myself in those first few days was to phone a realtor and locate a cabin of my own. I mentally christened it Lake Woebegotten and loading my Honda Civic to the roof with basic necessities I headed out of town and into what was to be…
I got lost on the way. It was the sat nav’s fault. Recent road works had change onramps and off ramps and so female voice giving the direction kept recalculating until in the end I stopped to buy fuel and a map. Recalculating. If only I could recalculate the last fourteen years of my life. B.H. Before Husband.

“Over the last couple of years, the photos of me when I was a kid… well, they’ve started to give me a little pang or something – not unhappiness, exactly, but some kind of quiet, deep regret… I keep wanting to apologize to the little guy: “I’m sorry, I’ve let you down. I was the person who was supposed to look after you, but I blew it: I made wrong decisions at bad times, and I turned you into me.” ― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

 

copyright logo

self indulgent prose

Her arrival was unannounced. One morning the old man had opened his apartment door to walk downstairs to buy a coffee at the corner coffee shop, his one self indulgence each day and she had been in the hallway. He had heard no sound, but she must have been at work for some time as already there was an oil sheet covering the floor, and she had opened a can of white paint and was painting over the tired salmon coloured hall way wall behind which the old man lived.

She was young, perhaps no more than twenty three or twenty four, he surmised. Dressed in jeans and a long sleeve white tee shirt, her long dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, she smiled at him as he stepped through his doorway and turned, a little stunned at finding a young woman on his threshold, before edging his way around the paint can that blocked his path.

“Oh sorry,” she said, bending forward and moving the paint can out of his way.

“What are you doing?” he asked, though it was obvious that she was painting the wall.

She smiled as though she knew something he didn’t, but was quite happy for him to take his time in learning what it was. “I’m here to make a few changes; to paint the hallways, brighten the place up a little.”

“What?” He gestured towards the area that had already been painted white. “Is that the colour?” He wasn’t sure if he didn’t prefer the salmon, despite its depressing hue over the sterile hospital white.

“Not your colour of choice?” she laughed, rolling more paint on the wall. “What colour would you prefer?”

Now paint colour had not been something on his mind that day, or any of the many proceeding days for a very long time, so he had to think a moment before he replied. A long forgotten memory suddenly came back to life and provided him with an answer, “My grandfather was a beekeeper and when I was old enough to stand still and work quietly with the hives, he would take me along to collect the honey.” His words brought the smell of the smoker used to dull the fury of the bees at being robbed back to his senses and he breathed deeply as though he could indeed smell the essence of that smoke right there, in the hall way, right then. “The honey was the most delicious golden colour, it was rich and deep…it was, it was the colour of…” his voice trailed away as he sought the exact description of the smooth sweet honey that flowed at the hands of his grandfather

“Um, honey?” she supplied. Honey coloured walls; that was a new one, especially from a man. Usually they wanted red like some racing car they dreamed about owning one day, or the green of a golf course; all very pedestrian and mundane, but no, not this one, this one wanted honey. Well, at least the job was looking up at last, this one had a bit of imagination, and she guessed was a little something of the romantic too.

The old man snapped back into the moment and laughed. “Don’t listen to the ramblings of an old man,’ he said. “White is fine. I don’t suppose at my age I should worry about the colour of walls anyway, I should just be content to be live long enough to see the paint dry!” He walked to the stair landing before stopping and turning back to the girl. “I’m Ordell” he said, surprised that he wanted her to know his name.

“Hello Ordell, I’m Marigold.”

“Would you like a coffee?” he surprised himself by asking. “I was just going to go and buy one, and I could bring one back for you if you like.” He expected her to say no, only too happy to be rid of an old man, but something deep inside of him made him want to reach out to her.

“That would be lovely, thank you Ordell. I must say that a flat white is one of my earthly pleasures!”

The woman who had been making his daily cup of coffee for the past nine years couldn’t mask her surprise when Ordell not only ordered two coffees, but ordered them to take away. Why, every morning he would come in, order his mug of black coffee and then wander over to the table near the window where he would take up his position and watch the world walk by as he drank his brew. He never lingered passed the last sip and he never ordered another mug, or any food, just one coffee that he drank in silence before walking back home. Today was a stunner, two coffees and take away at that! Well, old dogs and new tricks! She wondered if this was the start of something new as she placed the two lidded cups in front of the old man.

“There you go,” she announced. “Got a hot date?” she couldn’t help teasing him.

He took a cup in each hand and made to walk to the door without answering, but he stopped and smiled, “A young woman who reminds me of honey!” His answer only mystified the woman more, but he halted any chance of further questions by walking out of the café.

When he returned to the hall way outside his apartment, Marigold had finished painting the wall with white paint and had in fact another three or four more pots of paint standing near her feet. They were smaller than the pot of white paint, but Ordell couldn’t see what colour they were. Except for one which Marigold had already popped open and was now bending over stirring with a short piece of doweling. It was the colour of honey.

“That’s the colour,” Ordell exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief.

“What colour?” she asked as though she had no recollection of their earlier conversation.

“The colour of Grandfather’s honey!”

“Really?” she smiled, reaching out to take a cup from Ordell’s hand. She was playing with him, she had known all along exactly what colour it was. “Who would have thought?” She bent down and clamped the lid on the white paint tin with one hand, thumped it with a closed fist and then moved it to the facing wall, still salmon pink. She gestured towards it, indicating that Ordell should use it as a seat, as she sank to the floor, crossing her legs and took a sip of her coffee. “You must have loved your Grandfather very much.”

“My father died when I was a baby, so I never really knew him. My mother and I went to live with my grandparents. Mother worked as a domestic and so it was often left to Grandfather to see to me. Mostly I just followed him about as he did his chores, tended his vegetable patch, feed the chickens. I reckon he just about fed the family on what he grew in the back yard. Kept a few ducks too.” He was no longer with Marigold, for his memory had taken him back through the years to his boyhood.

She sat quietly, leaving him to his revelry as she sipped her coffee. Not the best cup of coffee she had ever had; the milk had been overheated so that it had a scalded taste. Marigold was a recent convert to coffee drinking and in a very short time had grown quite addicted to it, to the extent that she had quickly developed into somewhat of a connoisseur of the various beans and roasts, and was now quite particular about her coffee. She had found that a good cup of coffee was one of life’s little pleasures and she enjoyed it very much.

A couple of nights previously she had watched an advertisement on the television in which a well known movie star was spared a sudden death by handing over the coffee machine that he had just purchased, along with his favourite brand of coffee, and it had set Marigold to thinking if such a thing were possible. Would God bargain for a good cup of coffee?

Not this time.

 Flamingo Dancer 2012

Saturday morning in the park with Freud

My dream started with a composting toilet.

It was a large square wooden pedestal, or more accurately “thunderbox” in the Australian vernacular, but exquisitely crafter from Nordic pine. It appeared to be sited into a grassy knoll in the cubicle. (I must have been channeling the London Olympics opening ceremony with its meadows and hills). There was moss and flowering nasturtium clustered around the wooden base.

And it was in the middle of New York.

It was in a public restroom/ toilets. I waited my turn patiently, but I was a little anxious that men kept coming into the restroom, and they appeared oblivious when I pointed out the females only sign.

I soon resigned myself to their presence and took my turn in the cubicle, but it appeared that people kept popping their heads over the top and giving their opinions about everything.

I announced myself as a first time Australian in New York and walked out to use the basins. This was five stars with toothbrushes and warm towels for my use. It was then that I noticed a female attendant, and started to become anxious about how to tip her; or rather how much to tip her, and explained that I was Australian and we don’t tip. I wanted to give her five dollars, but she insisted on a dollar, and I could keep the toothbrush as I appeared to have forgotten my own. I resisted and gave her five dollars, which she ripped into pieces.

This upset me, as ripping it up meant that neither of us had the five dollars, so she picked the pieces up again and I left with the toothbrush.

When I walked outside, there was a long queue to an Indie outdoor concert where my sister was waiting. My sister was not my real sister, may I add, and I was not really me. We were both very pretty, happy twenty somethings.

By now, I felt like I was in a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie; especially when I walked along the queue and was joined by a tall handsome young man and his friend, who chose to sit with my sister and I. We were soon laughing and romance was obviously in the air.

My brain was telling me that I had the plot for a romantic comedy, that I was on the road to replace the lately departed Nora Ephron, and having some fun along the way when Mr FD’s voice broke though and he started rambling on about snakes.

His dream ended my dream. I wonder what Professor Freud would make of that!