Author Archives: ramblingsfromtheleft

About ramblingsfromtheleft

I am unpublished and optimistically waiting for that one magic moment.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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


			

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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

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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

 

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Fall forward …

In the northeast and other cooler parts of the country autumn is in full bloom, her orange, yellow, crimson, rust colored leaves dancing in the fall breezes, giving us a wonderful show before they fall forward into winter.

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I think of Gail as the quintessential late bloomer, a girl of autumn, her blooms melting into the earth where they will wait patiently for the rebirth of spring.

Snippets from two chapters …

You might be wondering how a nice Jewish girl from Washington Heights ended up like this. It’s simple.

My Aunt Rachel plays Mahjong with Sarah Silverstein. Aunt Rachel worries over her poor unmarried niece. That would be me. Mrs. Silverstein also worries about her wonderful bachelor son, who needs to settle down and give her grandchildren before she buys a ticket to the farm. That would be the ex, Benjamin Silverstein.

Both sets of parents invest plenty, a formal wedding at Huntington Town House on the Island and a furnished, darling two-bed, two bath co-op apartment in a doorman building off Central Park West.

During our marriage, I would not say the groom was warm and fuzzy. More accurately, he was like cod fish; big, cold and stupid.

Three years later, in the dead of winter, 1981, a blizzard traps Ben in a quaint log cabin in the mountains with his latest conquest.

Before he departs for the mountain cabin with the bimbo, he moves out all his stereo equipment and his amazing collection of record albums.

By spring, my father talks to my Uncle Herb, who talks to a couple of his old college chums and comes up with the perfect job for Gail. “It’s real estate, Ira. What better career for a young divorcee than real estate.”

It’s not exactly like selling high-end co-ops to the likes of Carter-Smythe. I’m in the lower end of real estate. The bottom of the barrel would be a step up.

It reminds me of the water barrels scattered around the bungalow colony in the mountains where we spent our summers.

Jerome Kravitz, the manager-coordinator of High-Top Bungalows, left water barrels with small ladles hanging off wilted brown rope.

Every time the boy had to move the barrel closer to the hose outlet, my friend, Stu and I watched. It was fun to see the slime, wriggling with worms and dead flies that populate the portion of the world under the barrel.

Real estate management for instance.

Don’t get your shorts in a knot. I know management is a dignified career. Sharp looking people work in management. Women in designer suits, sporting imported briefcases, in which they keep their monogrammed day planners and men with gold-rimmed glasses and silk ties, manage the ass off thousands of Manhattan apartment buildings.

They make appointments, keep the doormen in line, and make sure the super doesn’t skim more off the top than they do.

No, I work on St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights for Greenberg Brothers. My boss, Sol Greenberg, is my uncle’s old college buddy from NYU. He and his partners manage low-end buildings on the East Side of the neighborhood, below Broadway.

Every time I push through the double glass doors, heading for my desk and the coffeepot to get Sol his black coffee with three sugars and not that phony stuff, all I can see is the kid rolling the barrel closer to the hose while Stu pokes the mud for worms and dead flies.

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Avoiding people, I learn, is easy. I work in an environment where no one notices if I am breathing and at home, I am invisible and prefer the anonymity of take-out food.

New York City take-out is about the most marvelous invention of the twentieth century, beating out Pac Man and the magic-lift bra. When I am not of a mind to walk the neighborhood for the delightful array eateries, the food vendors deliver.

A short, smart-assed kid wearing black on black attire, sporting long hair, stuffs hot cooked food in my hands and leans on the doorframe, waiting for his tip.

The time it takes to close the door, bring the wonderful Chinese, Italian, Spanish or whatever else to the table, is more than enough time for Miriam Goldblum to reach for the phone.  “So, you don’t want to eat good, home cooked food? What, you’d rather eat grease and risk another eruption?”

It’s been a long day slaving at the management office. Do I need to watch Dan Rather with my dad, or listen to my mother telling me of Elaine’s latest vacation plans?  “Martin is renting an island in the Bahamas for their anniversary. He’s so romantic.”

Martin Hamlin, changed from Horowitz, is a wealthy stockbroker on Wall Street. Like my ex, Ben, he has the eyes of a shark. This, my mother claims, is the intensity he brings to his career. “Your father has tripled his investments since we left Ben for Marty.”

Marty is a graduate of The Harvard Business School, the training grounds for the dark knights of the corporate world. Elaine met him at a mixer one weekend at Harvard and within the year, the proud parents posted their vows in the Sunday New York Times, right next to the picture of Lizbeth Payton Carter to marry Thornton Sterling Smythe next summer in Hyannis.

It’s not like I don’t care where my sister goes for her anniversary. I care. I care dearly for my sister. For instance, I would care if her hair turned into mousy blonde frizz and her narrow, athletic frame puffed up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

It’s just that I’d rather sit with my latest Silhouette novel and eat my food in peace.

As the plot thickens, I treat myself to Rocky Road ice-cream.

You know? Straight from the carton. No little dishes with manageable portions. The whole thing, spoon by creamy spoon, until the melted ice-cream at the bottom is the consistency of a milk shake and you can drink it.

I lick my lips and wait for the rich ranch owner to notice the poor cowgirl who struggles to help her aging grandfather run his failing ranch.

I’m crying and blow my nose, happy the little cowgirl married the rich ranch owner and will live happily ever-after.

I turn the last page of my book and spot the latest carton from Publishers Clearing House sitting on the living room floor and before retiring I rummage through to get my next installment of happily ever-after.

This, I am sure, will lull me off to dreamland.

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There is a good reason millions of people read hundreds of millions romance books each year.

There is nothing more addictive than a story you know from the get-go is going to have a happy ending.

prince-charmingGraphic origin

 

 

Not all happy endings are found in romance novels. There are lots of coming-of-age, young adults, cozy mysteries, and fantasy stories to warm your cockles.

Tell me, should I give Gail a happy ending?

And what mood do you expect when you

crack open the spine of yet another tale?

fOIS In The City

 

News Flash …

Yesterday, I Googled “writing prompts” and found this web site:  The Working Writer’s Club. Since this is my first look-see, I cannot recommend you join. I do, however, recommend you scan their fifty-odd sentence prompts. You never know when one of them will show up here.

writers humor

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