Heck no-I won’t go …

Did you know that Halloween is the beginning of the Christmas season?

It’s not bad enough that kids don’t know when presidents were really born, or that all holidays do not all fall on a Monday. Soon we’ll tell ourselves it’s a good idea to celebrate Memorial Day in April to coincide with Spring Break.

And did you also know that the second week of October is the time to get your keyboards ready for a November challenge?

There are deadlines and then there are deadlines. You can get them from a boss, from a committee, from a friend or family. And there are those you can give to yourself.

The one I reject and have steadfastly ignored is Na-No. So without guilt or shame, I say no, no to Na-No.

deadline

Graphic credit

Since I love the blog, I’ll use it to make excuses why I cannot and should not join in the Na-No challenge.

Speaking of blogs …

How on earth would I explain to my mother what I am up to this time?

“Listen to me young lady. I’d better not find out that blog is a nasty word or you’ll get it good.” 

I can’t remember how many times I tried to tell her to relax and enjoy my special kind of organized chaos.

“I’ll give you chaos. Just wait until your father gets home.”

I never stop missing them. Between the Brooklyn docks and the town of Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River, I’ve met dozens of marvelous characters, fodder so rich, how could I avoid using them?

 “And if you tell tales out of school I’ll wash your mouth with soap.”

Most of my funny non-fiction stories are about my mom. Because I had her around longer, because she was a more dominant force in my life, and because she was funnier.

Dad was like a summer rain storm. All day the weather is hot and sticky, the humidity so thick you can slice open a cloud and drink. Then in the late afternoon or early evening, the sky darkens, electricity crackles, thunder and lightning, rain pelts hot concrete and fast and furious the storm is here and gone.

My dad was like an afternoon thunder-storm, electricity, thunder and lightning, and fast and furious he was gone.

He was young. I was younger. We did not know or understand each other in time to make any sense of it.

But he loved a few things I loved.

He loved walking in the rain and music, cowboys and baseball, football and politics. He loved his adopted country, and more than anything or anyone, he loved my mother.

He loved swimming in the ocean and telling tales of the sea, and like his baby girl he loved to read.

Therefore, I could blame my family for not wanting to participate in Na-No. I could do it but the chemical ingredients in my genes prevents me from responding well to structure. Deadlines anyone?

deadline.03

Graphic credit

Somewhere in that recipe of mixed Italian nuts who comprised my family there was a writer, a reader, a craftsman, a scholar … we had a fashion plate and a Tom Boy, a genius and one certifiable crazy person.

More than anything we had lethal injections of rebellion and since I wanted to be the biggest, the loudest and the most pronounced rebel of them all, I refuse to conform to someone else’s schedule.

My high school counselor did suggest I might want to go to a college with a theater program.

“Don’t be ridiculous. You need to make money. You can make jokes on your own time.”

Earning a living for instance …

Fate flounced her head of lovely red curls and college would be put on hold. We needed money and I was to find gainful employment.

For the purpose of this post, dead end means gainful employment and if by some chance, the employer of said dead-end job decided we should part company, I learned early to come home during rush hour.

No sense provoking her. “What? You got fired again?”

In the twelve years before I became a college freshman, I held down a myriad of clerical jobs, designed to drive nails into my brain at regular intervals. I was a group typist, a pool stenographer, and a secretary. I even rose to the ranks of Executive Secretary and Executive Assistant. It mattered not. I despised and held in contempt the lot of them.

I wasn’t exactly fired from all of them. Some I outgrew. Others became so boring I went to lunch and decided to scope out the twice year leather sale at Lord & Taylors instead of going back to work. I mean for real … it only happened twice a year.

Gainful employment?

That was having a job that brought in a paycheck you could slap down on the kitchen table, lest your parents put your bed in the backyard with the landlady’s bull dog.

It wasn’t that our parents were insensitive to our passionate desires to express ourselves as artists or musicians. Nor were they blind to our need to find our true calling.

They simply expected us to pay our way and no one pretty much bothered to ask if we loved our work. Work was to make money not have fun.

funny-pics-cool-jobs

Ad credit

I was told I was lucky I would not have to wait tables with Flo or Flossie, die my hair carrot red and wear a huge hanky in my breast pocket fashioned like a flower in direct view of my low cut, tight uniform. Nor would I have to earn my tips by bumping my hip against a bald headed man with garlic breath.

I was blessed and lived a charmed life.

Between then and now, I found another passion. I was able to work my way through college, raise two kids, had a job I loved and then … well … then the kids grew up and mama was once more a free agent.

These days, my work history begins and ends with one wonderful word … RETIRED.

And to wrap up this disjointed rant … I will not participate in Na-No because I don’t want to.

How about you reader,

Do you need a push to get your juices flowing?

Have you ever participated in Na-No or will you this year?

 fOIS In The City

 

 

writing humor

 Graphic Credit

11 Comments

Filed under Ramblings

The end of the beginning …

Writers enjoy pretending to be someone, somewhere in their dreams and those dreams become their stories. An encounter barely remembered, the face of a stranger, that first moment when the fire begins to burn.

The time and place … the who, what, where, and when of the story.

The when puts the reader in the moment. Be it historical fiction or memoir, the when brings your reader into your world.

cat

Writer's Humor

As a baby boomer, I might have a proclivity towards the time in which I was born.

My other bent has been the time in which my children grew, those we coined Generation X.

I might posit a story that took place hundreds of years ago, or a hundred years into the unknowable future.

I read a post on Anne R. Allen’s blog asking readers to put in the last 49 words of their first chapter. The post was about the importance of chapter endings.

In other posts, I have read about the importance of beginnings … that first page, paragraph … the opening sentence.

darkandstormy_5013

Graphic Credit

Today, my mind wanders back the years of my childhood, my formative years and to an experiment with openings.

This snippet is one of three possible openings for Sunset Park, a collection of short stories. This one waxes poetic, nostalgic, and introduces the story of my alter-ego, Antoinette, who she is and where she came from.

The beat of a different drum …

They were urchins running in the open fields behind the factories; a vacant lot became their playground, exploring the Brooklyn docks their adventure.

But like the children on both sides of the border, they identified most with Sunset Park, her long hills and hundred year-old oak trees, the wide turquoise pool and the circular brick wall surrounding the flagpole where they watched a hundred sunsets.

They were the product of blue-collar, first generation dreams.

They played stickball, punch ball, ring-a-lievio, Johnny on the pony, handball, stoopball, and kick the can. They leapfrogged over hydrants and climbed up telephone poles.

A cardboard refrigerator box became a temporary “club house,” orange crates became scooters, and soda caps filled with melted candle wax became a popular street game called Skully or Skelsies.

They were street kids. No one missed them if they left their houses after breakfast and did not return until supper time. The rule was … be in the house before the street lights come on.

With nothing between them and concrete and asphalt, they raced along the sidewalk on solid steel skates, scooters or fat wheeled bikes.

No one monitored their behavior or organized play groups. They were not required to wear helmets or knees protectors. And when they fell, they got up and kept riding. On cheap skates or on homemade scooters pushed by bargain Keds on uneven sidewalks, they explored their world.

Without adult supervision or interference, they created a caste system for selecting kids for stick ball or taking turns to play “stoop” ball.

As teenagers, in mixed-gender groups resembling roaming marauders, they walked everywhere to save bus or subway money. A fun night was sitting at the local ice cream parlor drinking a cherry-coke or an egg-cream and listening to the jukebox.

When the last full moon of their youth waned, the kids left Sunset Park. They got married and raised their kids in safer places. Some crossed the country to settle on the west coast, others never moved more than five miles from the house where they were born. A few went to Woodstock, a few more to Vietnam

They stored their old forty-five records, packed away their short skirts, opened bank accounts, and contributed to the economy.

The street kids of New York City lived and played through the innocence of the fifties, worked and protested and died during the turmoil of the sixties, and survived to become senior citizens in the new millennium.

Yet, somewhere in their memory those moments still live. And on a rainy day or when they miss their kids and grandkids, or need to reconnect to the caste system that molded them …

they take out their old black and white or early “Kodak” moments from shoe boxes or photo albums and remember the time of their life.

########

Do you struggle with how to

begin or end your stories?

Or are you one of those who is plagued with

The sagging center?

fOIS In The City


			

15 Comments

Filed under Random Thoughts

The first time …

 

From birth to death, there is a first time for everything.

We take our first step, and the thousands of steps that follow take us to places … for the first time.

How about the first time you took off on the bike and didn’t fall over? You nailed it and let the wheels eat the pavement.

Can you remember the first time you got behind the wheel of a car?

How about the first time you fell in love? Did you believe it would be forever?

First-Kiss

Site graphics

 

As the song goes …

when I fall in love, 
it will be forever,
or I’ll never fall in love.

There is another song that comes to my lips …

love is wonderful,
the second time around,
oh so wonderful with both feet on the ground.

Who can know or explain what love is? Is it hot and steamy or warm and gentle? Is it a rush of blood to your head or all your blood falling to your feet with your stomach?

Is it once in a life time or can we find that special magic more than once?

The mystery of love, the comfort of a romance, the stories we love read over and over again.

Well into my fifth decade, I loved reading the classics. I was drawn to their dark side and thought my mother’s love of romance novels was silly. After all, she was a widow for decades. So why did she love reading Harlequin and Silhouette paperbacks by the dozen like donuts?

Think of the million ways we can describe and play with the eternal search for that special love, the endless situations and pairings we read about … sing about … and for most of our adult lives … dream about.

In movies we want Pretty Woman to marry the rich man and we root for the lonely widower from Sleepless in Seattle. We are there on the fire escape … on top of the Empire State Building … we feel the connection and never tire of waiting for sparks to fly.

Of course, we know it’s going to be a happy ending, but it doesn’t lower our blood pressure as we wait for that final moment.

It doesn’t matter that it always was and always will be … boy meets girl … girl or boy falls in love … they find each other … they embrace … and of course … they live happily ever after.

Why not?

Why not crack open the spine of yet another tale of those hapless and wonder lust, lost souls, lonely and waiting for that special someone … crack it open and begin to root for them to find each other in the end.

Do you remember the first time you kissed a boy? That one special moment when you felt silly and wonderful?Practice does make perfect in life and in love.

And today … for your reading pleasure … I give you a snippet from Sunset Park. Because first kisses never get old.

The first kiss …

 

 

first kiss

 

Secondary source

Bobby Salzano was the prettiest boy Antoinette had ever seen and when his mom came to see her mom, he and Antoinette would go in the back yard and play. For as long as she could remember whenever they were together, she felt odd or silly.

Bobby had beautiful wavy black hair and eyes like her brother’s blue on blue agate marbles.  He was  the only boy Antoinette liked who was taller than she. Every girl in the public school was crazy about Bobby, especially Teresa, but Antoinette knew he was crazy for her. She didn’t exactly know how she knew, but she knew.

They were playing handball against the wall of the diner. When they got tired, they found two old milk crates and sat down to watch Slow Rosie’s dad, Carmine Tafazzoli up on the roof with his pigeons. Bobby was busy explaining about pigeons when Antoinette felt him put his finger on her arm. She flinched, but he left it there. She felt him move his finger all the way down her arm, giving her a chilly-willy.

He said, “I like you, Toni. I want to kiss you. Okay?”

Antoinette’s head bobbed up and down, but nothing came out of her mouth.

He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her crate so they were facing each other and he kissed her. And before she knew what was happening, she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed him back. She tingled all over and didn’t want to let him go. She was two weeks shy of ten and Bobby was twelve.

Carmine yelled down at them. “Hey! You two cut that stuff out. You ain’t old enough.” They looked up, laughed and ran back to the front of the house.

Do you remember your fist kiss?

And can we ever have enough romance?

fOIS In The City

 

8 Comments

Filed under Bleeps, Blooper and Outtakes