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 – 2/17/2018 – Bad Date

Write about a bad date – on the calendar:

You see it coming from far away. The anticipation begins to build well before. It’s like it is hunting you, stalking you, lying in wait to ambush you as you creep along the forest path. It is a panther, large, sleek, terrifying, destructive, waiting for you, and you are helpless to stop it.

You see the beast ahead – you recognize the telltale signs of its lair, or its path, or its spoor, mocking you, teasing you, berating you for days, weeks, a month ahead. “Ha, ha,” it says, “You’ll be here soon enough! Can’t avoid me!”

And as much as you hate it, it is right. You cannot avoid its presence. You cannot avoid the memories it contains. Whatever happened, way back when, will continue, through our collective conscience, to surface, time and again, every year, like clockwork. April 7? March 24? January 30? These happpen. All. The Fucking. Time.

You cannot ignore them. You cannot go out of your way to ensure they don’t happen again. We don’t get the option to jump from May to July and totally skip June, forever avoiding that date on the 24th that reminds us of when dad died, when mom left, when our heart was broken, when we broke another’s heart.

We don’t have that luxury. Our path through the forest is one way, and there is no deviation from it. We see our enemy, our predator, our anti-joy lying in wait for us, and it fills our hearts with dread, with desire to turn, to run, to flee, to scream “No! Not this time!” And take to our heels, crashing through the undergrowth and breaking free of its inevitability. We long to separate, to dissolve whatever unimaginable bond it has over us; to rid ourselves of the mental & emotional shackles it somehow still holds – but we cannot. This is an impermeable chain. The metal binding us is of our own making – we have forged these bonds in the fires of our own emotional turmoils, and so they come with the strongest tempers of all – those of the heart. As much as we may wish to break free, we know we cannot, and we resign ourselves to press forward, one day more, one day again, one more day, creeping towards that midnight maw waiting, waiting, waiting to devour us. We go. We go. We go.