Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Smorgasbord - for Sunday Scribblings

(Look -> here <-- to see what this is all about. 92 prompts in one story.)

When we were wee
, life was like a chocolate sundae. Sweet, yummy and blissful. Perhaps I should say blissed out. Because I don't think childhood is rooted much in reality. At least, not the adult version of reality.

Fantasy was a mainstay of my childhood. Bedtime stories allowed my imagination to sprout wings and fuelled inspiration for secret identities where I could be the wicked stepmother or monster one moment and hero the next. No masks necessary.

I always met bedtime with anticipation. Bed was a place to go on a dream journeydestination; unknown. The following morning, I'd sit in the kitchen where I regaled the family with another new tale.

These stories always troubled my grandmother. They gave her goosebumps because according to her old-world superstition, she believed that retelling dreams was like bringing a fortune cookie to life. It would bring both punishment and reward, but most likely the former. A powerful force, that could change the course of an already slippery life.

My earliest memory of real storytelling was with my best friend, Dana. We had an ongoing storyline called the "Chronicles of ED" (our initials). The chronicles always began with the words, "I have an idea" or "I have a secret". They ranged from silliness about my shoes to the weightier issues of first love and the spicy details of a date. Anything was fair game and went on until one of us said the words, "the end". It didn't matter to me if Dana had done most of the talking in the past hour, as long as I got my 2 cents worth in, I was okay with it.

It's still a mystery how Dana and I became so close because we came from totally different backgrounds. I was The Town Mouse to her Country Mouse. Yet we were like two peas in a pod. We shared everything: our deepest darkest secrets, skin and hair tips, music; we even had our first crush on the same guy who approached us with the lame pickup line, "Hi, my name is Larry. What's your sign?" We shared a collector personality – collectors of quotes and snippets of overheard conversation – invaluable for our storytelling.

After college, as one last fling before beginning real life as adults, we went backpacking in Europe. We continued our storytelling tradition as fellow travelers by keeping a journal titled, "Hotel StoriesWith (or without) Baggage".

If I could stop time or go back with a Time Machine, it would be to this part of my life. Alternatively, if I could be an omnipotent monarch, my first act as Queen of the World would be to banish all greed and pettiness.

Dana planned to be a writer. I wasn't so sure what I would do. My own writing began with simple Dear Diary entries and I had continued keeping journals throughout school, but writing as a career was something else. If money had been no object, I would have made the decision to become a writer after our European trip. As it turns out, we said our goodbyes, Dana gave strict instructions to keep in touch, and we went our separate ways.

My first job was also my worst job. I was organizer of a hospital fundraiser and Christmas dance. I carry holiday memories of tuxedoed strangers kissing in boozy embrace and helping guide (carry) tipsy socialites back to waiting limousines. I'll never view society pages the same again. I couldn't continue.

I realized that my dream job was writing. So, I got hired on a news-talk radio station writing a little of everything. I got very good at summarizing what was in the news. Heck, I even did a piece about the inner life of pets.

I continued to do my own writing on the side and began submitting pieces to various online magazines. Through Google magic, Dana found one of them. She sincerely congratulated me on the publication. She, too, was doing okay with her writing. Then something happened – it became a competition between us. Who had the most/latest published piece; was it syndicated? I suppose not an uncommon phenomenon – but she became more nemesis than friend. The last straw was when she called me a thief for using an anecdote from our Hotel Stories journal. I snapped. As a child, I had dreamed of the books I would write. I didn't need her approval. I was a writer, period.

I don't want to be a passenger in my own life or fall victim of a misspent youth. There is no second chance. I've decided that rather than dream about who else I might have been, I should think about who else I can still be.

Every now and then, I get that sinking feeling I'll never write anything worth reading, but then it brings me back to my three wishes I shared with Dana way back in childhood.

That's why I live where I live - next to the ocean, pen, paper and laptop at hand.

Life is good.

If you made it to the end, congratulations!

Here's the list I used (original minus the 8 I've already used):
Real Life --- When we were wee --- Chocolate --- Why I live where I live --- My Shoes --- The books I would write --- Three Wishes --- First Love --- Earliest Memory --- Mystery --- Bed --- Music --- Two Peas in a Pod --- Hotel Stories --- With Baggage --- Thief --- My 2 Cents --- Who else I might have been --- Who else can I still be? --- The Inner Life of Pets --- Monster --- Fortune Cookie --- I would never write... --- Google Magic --- Instructions --- Skin --- If I could stop time --- Good --- Bedtime Stories --- Morning --- I don't want to be a passenger in my own life. --- Hero --- Nemesis --- In the last hour --- Punishment and Reward --- Anticipation --- Change --- Destination --- Kissing --- I have an idea --- Fantasy --- Chronicles --- Goodbyes --- Yummy --- Crush --- Troubled --- Superstition --- Dream Journey --- Inspiration --- In the Kitchen --- Deepest darkest --- In the news... --- Secret Identity --- Rooted --- Wings --- Ocean --- Second Chance --- Masks -- Simple --- The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse --- Spicy--- I have a secret --- What's your sign? --- Slippery --- Hair --- Wicked --- Phenomenon --- Decision --- Goosebumps --- Dear Diary --- I get that sinking feeling --- the end --- Writing --- Collector Personality --- Hi, my name is... --- Powerful --- First Job, Worst Job, Dream Job --- My first act as Queen/King of the World would be --- Hospital --- Money --- I Carry --- Misspent youth --- Competition --- Dance --- Holiday Memories --- Now & Then --- New --- The Date --- Fellow Travelers --- Passion --- Time Machine

5 comments: said...

Well, I'm impressed. Don't think I'd ever be able to pull all those word prompts together in one piece. And it was a delightful piece to read on top of it all (though I'm sorry the friendship turned bad).

keith hillman said...

Terrific job you've done her. I did the same thing but ended up with a totally different story!
It's here if you are interested.

Kay Dennison said...

Awesome! When you rise to a challenge, you don't mess around! You go, girlfriend!

writersisland said...

Nice post! Enjoyed visiting your blog. Please stop by

ell said...

Thanks, all.

This piece ended up somewhere completely unexpected. I had a whole other vision in mind when I first read the prompts. Funny how that happens. :)