Tag Archives: NaBloPoMo

A Pepper and a Carrot Walked into a Bar

I’m excited today because I’ve only got TWO things on my to-do list. One has to do with a pepper. The other has to do with a carrot.

To Do List

  1. Write a blog post for Day 1 of NanoPoblano 2018
  2. Write the final revision of “Mudslide” for Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Today I’ll be able to check off both items on my list with this ONE blog post! And then I can immediately go back to sleeping adding more things to my to-do list.

About NanoPoblano

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to NanoPoblano (a daily blogging challenge that takes place every year in November), and I’ve decided that the key to a good month-long blog challenge is to write about something the READERS care about. I’m really looking forward to doing that.

So, in the comments below, please leave a word or two about what you’d like to read in my November blog posts. I’ll do my best to work all of your suggestions in.

About Mudslide

Mudslide is a story I’ve been working on for Carrot Ranch Literary Community.  It’s a writing challenge designed to torture inspire, educate, and motivate writers.

The Mudslide challenge began with a 297-word story about a mudslide, which then gets pared down — first to 99 words, then 59, and then an unbelievable 9 words, while experimenting with writing techniques such as changing point of view, analyzing important “nuggets,” and interjecting words of emotion.

If you’re interested, you can read those earlier versions by looking at my previous blog posts. Or, you can just read my final challenge below, a 495-word story about a mudslide, cascading all the way to the end of this page.

MUDSLIDE

I sat bolt upright and stared at the bright red numbers on the alarm clock. They stared back at me accusingly, unblinking. Two-fifteen. What had awoken me?

Slowly, it dawned on me. I’d just had that dream again, the one about the mudslide.

I’d had it four nights in a row, ever since moving in with Jake – the man I’d promised to spend the rest of my life with. I knew I should tell my shrink about the dreams, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what she’d have to say about them – especially if I told her the whole story.

I looked over at Jake, snoring softly beside me. I touched his shoulder; he didn’t move. What – or who – was he dreaming about, I wondered? But I needed to stop thinking like that. Who was I to be jealous? I lay down and tried falling back to sleep, but I was still haunted by images of the mudslide in my dream.

It was strong – a torrent of devastating mud, carrying everything in its path down with it into an infinite abyss. There was no escape.

What did it mean? Was it some kind of a warning? Did I have to start watching my back – again?

I was lying still, but I felt uncontrollably dizzy. Unable to stop my swirling thoughts, I got out of bed, tiptoed from the room, and pulled my phone from my purse. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to try an internet search of dream interpretation.

I’d just Googled the words “mudslide dream” when Jake startled me, coming up behind me without a sound and kissing my neck. I jumped and dropped the phone.

It started buzzing as soon as it hit the floor. I quickly reached to pick it up, but Jake beat me to it. He stared at it a second and then held it out so I could see the screen. Caller ID said “SLIM DUDE.”

The phone continued to buzz in Jake’s hand. Finally, it stopped.

“Who’s ‘Slim Dude’?” Jake asked, not expecting what I said next.

“My husband,” I said, feeling ashamed.

“You have a … HUSBAND?!” Jake said. He’d started out whispering, but his words were choked at the end.

My mouth went dry and I couldn’t answer. Instead, I saw a vision, flashing like a neon sign in my brain. It was my husband’s nickname, the one he’d gotten in prison, the eight letters in SLIM DUDE tattooed on his fingers.

I knew then that SLIM DUDE would never stop calling me, never stop haunting my dreams. SLIM DUDE wouldn’t rest until he’d found a way to worm his way into my head again, scrambling up my happiness, and converting my life into a MUDSLIDE of despair.

And now the worst had happened. Jake knew the truth. I took one last look at him and said goodbye forever to my happy life, giving in to the power of the mudslide.

nanopoblano2018-notrim#NanoPoblano2018
#NaBloPoMo2018
#teamtinypeppers

Rapping It Up

Day 30 of the Nano Poblano (a.k.a. NaBloPoMo — National Blog Posting Month) challenge is finally here! Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and thanks to the “cheer peppers” who made it all happen and cheered us on by “liking” our posts. I read the posts of my fellow bloggers religiously and learned so much from all of you.

I’m proud of myself for sticking with it, even though some days were a little rough. Somehow, I managed to eke out 30 different pieces, including:

  • two posts made within 15 minutes of midnight
  • one post consisting of only one sentence
  • two posts that were nothing but questions
  • one that included a video of me singing and playing guitar
  • a poem made up of 14 shorter haiku poems
  • many other posts, some with a bit of history, some just plain silly
  • no cat photos, and only one post with pictures of what I had for lunch

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed NanoPoblano, I’m looking forward to a little down time in December. (Did I just say down time in December?) This year, for the first time since I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for December to get here. I mean, I literally couldn’t wait. As soon as I returned home from New York yesterday, I changed both of my wall calendars to December without realizing that I was two days early.

There’s one thing I meant to post this month and didn’t. It’s a little embarrassing, but here goes: I don’t know how to rap. I don’t know much about it and I think I might be terrible at it. I’d like to learn, though, so that maybe I can use it in my songwriting projects. But how do you learn to rap? The same way you can learn almost anything these days: YouTube! I watched a few videos and I learned that some rappers (I think it’s called freestyle?) compose on the spot by thinking ahead to the end of the phrase before mentally writing the first line. I decided to try it, so I looked around the room for inspiration. I was in the kitchen. On the table was a glass, some cheese and crackers on a plate, and a vase of flowers. I grabbed my pad and pencil, and here’s the result. I may not win a Grammy, but if I make you smile it’s all worth it.

I had no support, I had no backers,
all I had going were these tasty crackers

I needed a genie to grant me three wishes
instead of all these glasses and dirty dishes

I wanted to be strong, I wanted magic powers
or maybe just a bunch of beautiful flowers

I had me some treble, I had me some bass
but I needed something else, like a flower vase

I asked that genie, pretty pretty please
can you bring me some money, or maybe just some cheese?

And on that note, I’m rapping up this edition of loristory. Happy December!

Featured image photo by Anita Peeples

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I Brake for Poetry

Can you think of a more boring and uncomfortable place to spend a couple of hours than an auto repair shop waiting room? The room smells like rubber and fumes. The coffee tastes like rubber and fumes. The television, usually set to the news channel I love to hate, makes me fume. To my mind, there’s nothing pleasant about an auto repair shop waiting room … but wait. Could it be an opportunity for creativity?

I wondered that one Saturday afternoon in 2011, while sitting on a hard plastic chair in a Brake Master’s waiting room, sandwiched between the coffee pot and a rubber tire display. Desperate to escape this situation but unable to do so, since my only method of transportation was currently up on a lift, I did something rarely done in an auto repair shop waiting room: I wrote poetry.

Specifically, I challenged myself to write three-line poems about random objects that I saw while sitting there. Here’s what I came up with. They might not be very good, but they passed the time. You might want to try this method of escape next time you’re in an uncomfortable situation. (Brake) drum roll, please!

FLOOR
I walk through life as if there is a floor
and a ceiling
and something of substance in between.

TELEVISION
The woman in the box prattles on, oblivious
thinking she's all that matters in this room
I accept this, knowing it is true.

FAN
Fans are useful in the tropics
where orchids spring from steamy earth
and bodies cling to gauzy shirts.

SANDALS
She slipped off her sandals and left them by the door
hoping they'd still be there when it was time to leave the cage.
You never knew about a hungry lion.

COFFEE POT
If a kitchen had a double agent, it would be the coffee pot
keeping things lively
while watching your every morning move.

BATHROOM
Bathrooms should be outrageous spaces.
A woman I know has the best one.
It's purple and is decorated with boobs.

MAGAZINE
The glossy magazine calls to me
with parted lips and false eyelashes
but I resist and choose reality, reluctantly.

CHAIR
I sit here and await the verdict
when all I asked for was an oil change
and some honesty.

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Life Imitates Art Garfunkel

It’s Tuesday, 11:30 p.m., Day 28 of the November Nano Poblano blog challenge, and I have to get to sleep soon.

I’m flying out in the morning, early. My alarm is set for Wednesday morning, 3:00 a.m.

I’m reminded of two songs:

“But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn, the taxi’s waiting, he’s blowing his horn” — John Denver, Leaving On A Jet Plane

“The morning is just a few hours away” — Simon and Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.

Aristotle thought that art imitates life, and Oscar Wilde once said that life imitates art … but it seems that my life imitates Art Garfunkel.

Gee, I hope so. I’d love to sing like that some day.

In Carnegie Hall.

While standing next to Paul Simon.

But I’d stay friends with him until we were old.

Old friends.

Now, if I were flying to Denver, that would be like life imitating Art Garfunkel imitating John Denver. I’d like to see that.

Country Roads, bring me home across the 59th Street Bridge Over Troubled Water, to Scarborough Fair.

Bite Bite Bite

I was wandering alone in Florence (Italy) recently. It was the last day of my vacation, and I decided to get as much as I could out of it. Lunch at a sidewalk cafe seemed just the ticket. After a quick glance at the menu, I took a seat and ordered lunch #5. A nice little bite to eat and I’d quickly be on my way to the cathedral a few blocks over, right? Ma, no!

The primo piatto (first plate) was pasta.

Delizioso.

Next, the secondo piatto (second plate) appeared.

Dio mio. I managed to eat most of it.

And then … dolce (dessert). And not just any dessert, but my absolute favorite dessert, tiramisu. And this tiramisu was out-of-this-world good.

I enjoyed every last bite.

P.S. Today’s post was brought to you thanks to today’s Daily Post prompt, which is the word “bite.”

On this 27th day of the November daily blog challenge otherwise known as Nano Poblano, I found myself coming up blank. I’ve already used songs, haiku, personal confessions, humor, autobiography (disguised as fiction), history, and photography. What else was left? I don’t have a cat, so a cute kitty meme just wasn’t possible. I had no other choice but to post photos of what I had for lunch!

In Sync Saturday

I’ve heard people say that there are no coincidences. I take that to mean that they believe in a grand plan, where whatever happens to us happens for a reason. Or that we’re reliving the same events over and over. Or that the universe serves up whatever we imagine. Or something like that. I’m not really sure what I think about all of that. I do know one thing for sure: life is a mystery, and our tiny brains aren’t very well-equipped to understand it. When I meditate, I feel a connection to something, or maybe it’s a biochemical reaction to getting more oxygen to my brain. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure. That really bugs me. I want to know why we’re here and what it all means. But for now, I’ll have to be satisfied with just scratching my head in wonder at all of the weird coincidences and synchronicities that keep happening all around me.

For example, after posting my last blog post about Lena Spencer and her coffee house, I googled Ms. Spencer and learned that she was the daughter of Italian immigrants from Avellino. I have an AMAZING coincidental story about my Uncle Frank that I’ll tell you sometime (if I haven’t already, haha) having to do with Avellino.

But the reason I’ve been thinking about synchronicity today is the coincidences that my mother and I have been experiencing when working on crossword puzzles. That’s something we do when I visit her. And several words in our puzzles have been popping up here and there in our real lives — on TV, especially. Here are a few strange, coincidental examples:

1) Crossword clue: a staple of Southern cooking

Answer: OKRA

We happened to see it on the menu while out to dinner the same day that I was working on the puzzle. How often do you see OKRA on the menu?

2) Crossword clue: Actor “Pat” in Karate Kid

Answer: MORITA

We were watching an artist paint a picture of some dolphins, and out of the blue he mentioned that he knew “the actor Pat Morita from Karate Kid.” I think they had some sort of a dolphin connection. About an hour later I picked up my crossword puzzle and the word I needed was MORITA.

3). Crossword clue: Cheese named after Italian word for “sheep”

Answer: PECORINO

The day before that puzzle came into my life, Mom and I were watching the Travel Channel (we actually do more than just watch TV, believe me!) and the host of the show just happened to mention that Pecorino is the Italian word for “sheep,” a fact I filed away for future reference without realizing that it would someday find its way into a blog post.

4) Crossword clue: The Green Violinist painter

Answer: CHAGALL

Mom heard his name on TV just the other day.

5) Crossword clue: _______ Dhabi

Answer: ABU

It must have been in the news, because Mom remembers hearing it somewhere recently, just before doing her daily puzzle.

I’m going out with my sisters tonight. I wonder what other coincidences will befall me while we’re out . Oh, I just remembered … the name of the band we’re going to hear is Georgie WONDERS Orchestra!

Branded on Black Friday

BRANDED

Who are you wearing?

Whose name’s on your shirt?

What’s on your label,

your purse, and your skirt?

Where did you buy that, and

where was it made?

Is it a knock-off?

How much have you paid?

Did you go shopping

or order by mail?

Visit an outlet store?

Find a good sale?

Did a designer

initial your dress?

Is that a Gucci?

Oh wait, let me guess!

What’s in your closet?

Did you pay enough?

Or did you just order

a bunch of cheap stuff?

Can you keep up with

her wardrobe, or mine?

Is yours generic,

or top of the line?

What does it say

on the soles of your shoes?

Do you insist on

the higher-priced booze?

Are your kids’ crayons

imported from France?

Do you have signatures

sewn on your pants?

Black Friday is here!

(so the ad-man demands) …

but can you imagine

a world without brands?

Coffee House with a History

Quick, what words pop into your mind when I say “coffee house”?

Did you think of Starbucks? Pumpkin lattes? Cold brew? Okay, now step into my time machine, set the dial to 1960, and transport yourself to Saratoga Springs, New York. What do you see?

There’s a two-story brick building on Phila Street, a red awning over a narrow door, an even narrower staircase leading up to the second floor, a room with chairs and tables and a small stage, a couple of long-haired folks carrying their guitars up the stairs, and a woman with a dark bun holding the door open for them. Her name is Lena.

You are standing outside of Caffè Lena, probably the oldest continuously open coffee house in America. And by coffee house, I mean the legendary spot referred to by the New York Times in 2013 as “Folk Music Heaven.” It’s where Bob Dylan tried out some new songs in the early 60’s, and where musicians, poets, and other performers continue to keep the place in business.

Lena and Bill Spencer opened the place in 1960. Lena’s warm hospitality kept it going after her husband left. It seems that Lena struggled to make ends meet but was always generous toward the folk musicians that she hired, one time paying Don McLean (who wrote and recorded the song, “American Pie”) $300 instead of the promised $150 because he “did so well.” Sadly, Lena Spencer died in a fall down the narrow stairs in 1989, but Caffè Lena lives on.

As of today, a total of 35,231 artists have performed there over the years. I had the pleasure of attending a show at the coffee house last July, and I saw two amazing musicians (Happy Traum and Del Rey). I hope to get back there again soon. If you want to learn more about the history of Caffè Lena, I recommend reading “Caffè Lena, Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Coffeehouse,” by Jocelyn Arem.

More Clues

My last post (Where Am I?) included two photos and posed the question, “Where Am I?” So far, none of my readers on WordPress, Facebook, or Twitter have come up with an answer. Either you haven’t clicked the link, are too busy with Thanksgiving preparations, or you truly don’t give a crap. It’s understandable. There is just too much crap out here to read right now, and more important things to do. But in the meantime, I’m still hanging out here somewhere, wondering where in the hell I am. So if you happen to know, please tell me so I can find my way home in time for Thanksgiving!

I do have another clue for you. Remember the first clue was “coffeehouse.” The next one is “1960.” Oh, and here’s another photo.

Good luck. Hopefully, I Shall Be Released from this mysterious place soon. (That was another clue, by the way.)