Writing Practice – 3/18/2018 – Concerning Happiness

Prompt: How far would you go to achieve your happiness?

I admit- this may be limiting me. But I won’t push past the boundaries of another’s satisfaction or happiness in life to achieve my own. If it requires me to leave a wake of destruction in my path to achieve that “happiness”, then I have the wrong idea of happiness or the wrong idea of the ideal.

I should not have to go to such great lengths, either. I should be able to find happiness wherever I am, whenever I am, without needing to search and seek and journey. I should be able to get to a level of happiness by my everyday interactions – by the things I am doing for myself, for my children, for my community, for my nation, for my world.

I should not need to look far. I am and should find happiness in the alarm clock – in the running shoes. In the dirty dishes, that transform themselves under my great care and safe tutelage into sparkling clean ones.

I should find happiness in a well-folded shirt. In an empty e-mail inbox. In a to-do list completely crossed off. In watching my son hit a double. In reading a story my daughter has written. In throwing crusts of bread, in throwing the whole piece out for the squirrels and the chipmunks and the sparrows and chickadees.

I should find happiness in the pen – in using it dry from my words on the push. I should find happiness win a well-covered page. I should find happiness in a well-read book. In a philosophical insight. In a historical lesson I can only now understand.

I should find happiness in ladybugs – in empty wine glasses – in watermelon rinds and runny noses on a winter’s morning. I should find happiness in a lit candle, burning to fend off to ward off to beat away the darkness of night.

I should find happiness in a hug from my mother. In a smile from my brother. In the touch of my lover. In the morning wind, in the stinging rain, in a subway car too full for me to squeeze in. I should find happiness in an evening newscast, and in laying my head on the pillow at night.

And – I should – So I Do.

Writing practice – 3/2/2018 – Vacation

Write about a family vacation…

Anticipation. Of fun, of laughter, of some danger. Of spending too much money on tourist traps. Of the inevitable arguments, about who is on who’s side, who touched what, who gets to sit in the good seat.

Planning. Of how to get there. Of what to do. Of where to go, where to stay, how much to pack. Be spontaneous or scheduled? Be open or structured? Be regular or non-traditional? Make memories either way, any way.

Packing. What will be on the first day? And the second? What do you put in your carry-on and what do you put in the bag that you pack on the back. Shirts, pants, shoes, belts. Toothpaste, shampoo. Phone charger. Charge cord.

Driving. Which route? And then, when we get into the car, do you put on the GPS immediately? Or do you try to wing it for a little while? Flinging it is just much more fun, because you don’t have to worry about rigid schedules, and you have the flexibility to deviate to that “world’s largest Golf Tee” exhibition when ever the mood strikes.

Driving. Driving. Driving. Stop at a rest stop, for a bathroom break. Clowns-out-of-a-Volkswagen first. Stumble up to the restrooms, evacuate bladders. Then approach the vending machines – find them “OUT OF ORDER”. Swear under your breath. Back to the car, hit the trunk and break open the packed snacks. Drive.

Drive. Drive. Play the “alphabet game”. Lose to the six-year-old who saw the sign for “Quincy’s Down-Home Restaurant” first and therefore got to R, then S, then T before anyone else was even close. An insurmountable lead, enough to take it all the way to the Z and earn the first traveling trophy of the trip.

Drive. Drive. Arrive. Tumble out of the van once again. Tumble into the condo, like cats exploring in their new environment. “Check out the bathrooms.” “Did you see that grill?” “Oooh, the view is spectacular!” “Hey, the neighbors have a license plate from Montana, that’s a hell of a drive.” Discover. Settle. Regroup. Smile. Hug. Huddle & plan for the next day. Unwind with a glass of wine and beer on the porch while the kids watch SNL reruns on the pull-out downstairs.

Smile. Hold hands. Stare at the moon. Enjoy family, for tomorrow it starts all over again, and wish this moment to last for as long as it can until the memory is indelibly etched into your mind, permanent, an artwork notable for it makes the whole world better for its existence.

Writing Practice 2/24/2018

Write about irritation…

You know how sometimes you get that little bit of raw spot on your butt because you’ve been wiping too hard, too long, right on that same spot?

You know how your little brother is always singing that same chorus, over and over, an dover and over again?

You know how your partner, whether you’re in a fully recognized, legal-status relationship or not, has those little quirks that just get under your skin and bother you? It’s not like it’s really offensive enough to throw you out of the relationship – not a deal breaker or anything – but it is something that just makes you say, “Oh, no, not this shit again?”

You know how your parents are getting on you to clean your room, even though you don’t see why it should be clean, you don’t mind it like that, it seems perfectly fine to you that there are clothes and books, and candy wrappers, and old tags from the shirts your grandmother bought you three months ago, and Monopoly money, and your viola, and your homework , and your best friend’s harmonica, and your sister’s glasses case, all on the floor, you don’t really mind it, it just takes a couple of steps, a little bit of extra concentration,and you’re good, you can lie down in the bed and read a book and you don’t even notice the extra socks and hangers and the old burned-out light bulb that’s there, and since it’s your room you don’t even know why they bother trying to understand or make you clean it up, because, sheesh, it’s not like they have to sleep there, anyway, they have their own space, dammit, they have enough to do to keep a job and hold down a place to live, and why are they wasting their time wondering about you anyway?

You know how your parents are always annoying you with their insistence they’re not going to move to a nursing home? That they’re totally fine and capable of taking care of themselves, except that in the past month there have been: (1) small fire in the kitchen, and (2) falls, one for each, and (3) instances of forgetting to put the trash out to the curb on Tuesday morning, and (4) examples of forgetting the neighbor’s names, and (5) calls from the library, to You, to ask you what the password is for logging on to their account so they can renew their books. Yeah, none of those things, by themselves, are bad enough, but on the whole they make a good case for Assisted Living, and while you know they’ve got the money for it, your sister out in Nebraska doesn’t want to see them go, she’s just beside herself with worry, and yet you can’t help but fear it’s less about the care (or lack thereof) they’ll receive, and it’s more about the $$$ in her eyes, trying to angle for that inheritance to help pay off her own law school debt (currently in applied as she awaits Tommy and Angelina’s graduation, she absolutely must be their mom, they just can’t get on without her).

So, yeah, that’s a bit irritating, don’t you think?