Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Confessional

It's friday again and so I have my second weekly confessional.

Confession-I love vacations and getting away, but I don't tell or ask my husband about this love because I think he feels that they cost too much and he is more into spending money on tangible things. If I could, I would go on mini vacations several times a year. I love the adventure of visiting a new place and exploring.
Confession- I am addicted to Diet coke. I mean REALLY addicted to it. I find myself going through a drive thru almost four times a week, just to get my Diet coke fix. But I don't stock my fridge with two liters or cans because I convince myself that I would drink too much if I had it available at home. Crazy huh? Part of me thinks I should kick the habit, but then I love it too much. Pitiful.
Confession- I hate being cold. I sometimes think I should go out and play in the snow with my kids, but I can't stand being out there, so I either tell them no or wait until the older kids are home and make them take Bethany out with them. I just don't see any fun in getting cold and wet, even if it means building a snowman or sledding.
Confession- The last confession being said, I used to love to snow ski. The beauty of the mountains and the exhilartion of swishing down the slopes is amazing. I haven't been skiing in over 17 years though, so maybe I wouldn't like it anymore now that I am old! :)

I think that will do for this week. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Short Story Submission

Well, I took the plunge and submitted a short story (and two poems) to the Sheridan Edwards Review. I find it funny that I was so nervous about it. I guess it is always hard to put yourself out there to be judged by others. We are all so hard on ourselves that the thought of possible rejection is a scary thing.
I was going to post the short story on the Newman Creative Writing Club blog, but stupid me, I forgot the email address for logging in. (I told you we are hard on ourselves.)
So, if the few of you who are followers are willing to take the time to read it, I think I will post it on here. If you take the time to read it, I would love comments on it as well. If you don't take the time to read it, I understand. I'll hold it against you . . . but I understand. ;)

Grandpa Amos, the Indian boy and my Cherokee Battle
As I sat in grandpa’s old, rusty, blue pick-up truck, I could feel the pools of perspiration dribble down my chapped cheeks. The hot summer wind raced through the open windows and tangled my dark brown hair into a mangled mess. The red, Oklahoma soil was so dry that my body was covered in a thin layer of red mud and sweat. On any other day, this grime would probably consume my thoughts. This day was definitely not just any other day though. I was on my way to an authentic Indian Pow Wow.
Grandpa Amos wasn’t my real grandpa, not by birth anyway. My grandmother had been married and divorced two times and the grandpa sitting next to me in the old blue truck was her third husband. He was full blooded Cherokee Indian and was different than the other two grandpas. I had only met my birth grandfather a couple of times and the second grandpa was a man I had never met at all. But Grandpa Amos, now he was different. I spent time with them every summer and they came and visited us in Kansas several times a year. He took time to get to know me and talk to me. He taught me about the restaurant that he and grandma ran in Chickasha and would make me whatever I wanted to eat whenever we went to visit. So he wasn’t my grandpa by blood, but he was still my grandpa and that was okay by me.
He grew up on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma and although it was the twentieth century, he knew most of the old ways. He spoke some of the Cherokee language and liked to dress up in authentic leather attire and dance in Pow Wows, and now he was taking me to one. I was so excited!
Images of what this adventure could possibly be like raced through my ten year old mind. Dozens of dark skinned men and women all dressed in animal skins and feathers, dancing and stomping rhythmically around a large fire. Drums would be hauntingly pulsing alongside the group and encouraging the dancers to move to the beat. The figures floated through my imagination as we drove along the red, dirt roads that lead into the reservation. In less than five minutes I would be witnessing real live Indians at a real live Pow Wow.
I tightly gripped grandpa’s rugged hand as we entered the wide doors of the . . . community building? SLAM! There goes one image already erased from my mind. Why in the world would they hold a Pow Wow in a community building? Indians didn’t have community buildings. They lived in tee pees and held their dances outdoors with a huge bonfire. Seriously? A community building? Well, this was quickly becoming a huge disappointment, but I went inside anyway.
There were people of all different ages inside dressed in elaborate costumes. Some had head dresses made of feathers in all hues. Others wore leather costumes that had been painted in reds, and greens and blues. Okay, maybe it isn’t so bad. At least the idea of costumes was right. About fifty of these people had formed a circle and were moving in very slow, somewhat jerky motions. Not exactly what my friends and I do when we dance to the radio, but there was something captivating about it. Behind them, in the far corner of the room were two men. One of the men stood behind a large drum and was beating it with his hand. The other man held a microphone, yes a microphone; another image that was certainly not present in my imagination. He was doing what I assumed to be some kind of singing or chanting of some sort. Whatever it was, I found it to be quite repulsive.
One vision that heavily drew my attention was that of a little boy. He couldn’t have been more than two years old and every stitch of his clothing was made of hand sewn leather. He had tassels and fringe hanging from every inch of his tiny body. It seemed that everyone around him was more consumed with how adorable he looked in his outfit, including me, than he was. He stood nearly two feet away from the drummer and remained quite still, staring at the man in wonder and amazement. The boy appeared mesmerized by the pulsing beat of the drum and he was not alone. As I looked around the large room, many of the spectators were also mesmerized. But, I was ten and so my ten year old mentality caused me to become disinterested quickly. I asked grandpa if I could go outside and then left the building to check out what was happening out there.
The air had cooled down and the sun had set by this time leaving the whole area around the building to be dimly lit by an old light post. Under the post stood fifteen or so Indian children talking amongst themselves. The orange-yellow glow of the light bulb cast unusual shadows all around, making the kids appear somewhat intimidating. Despite this impression, I put on my brave fa├žade and walked up to them to see what was going on.
“Hi! My name is Becky. What’s yours?” I said to a thin, dark haired girl.
“Cas.” She practically whispered as if she was scared of me or something. “Why would she be scared of me?” I thought to myself, but I decided to continue the conversation.
“What are you guys doing?” I asked.
Finally a less timid young boy spoke out and said, “We’re going to play tag, do you want to play?”
I jumped at the opportunity with all my soul. I love to play games, especially tag.
“You’re it!” The boy screamed at me and all fifteen children scrambled.
The game had begun! I have always loved a challenge, so I darted toward the young boy who had just screamed in my face. He ran like the wind and so I quickly realized that my speed would not prevail in this situation. I decided the best way to win at this was to trap him and so I chased him to a place where he became blocked against the corner of the building. As we both raced toward the side of the community building, he realized what my scheme actually was and attempted to dart around another corner. This change in motion slowed him down just enough for me to be able to brush my hand against his left leg.
“Gotcha! Gotcha!” I yelled with glee.
Unfortunately for me, he didn’t seem to agree with this statement and came up to me, looked me square in the eye and said, matter-of-factly, “No you didn’t.”
“Yes I did,” I protested. “I touched your leg.”
He pushed closer in towards my face until I could almost feel the tip of his nose touching mine, and growled, “Did not!”
“Yes I did you lousy cheater.” I shrieked through gritted teeth. By now, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. Not only because I had been running, but because I was mad. I mean really mad. I absolutely hate cheaters. Worse than brussel sprouts or cauliflower or even wearing dresses, I hate cheaters!
It didn’t matter how mad I was though, because I am pretty sure that he was madder. I say this only because as soon as I got the last syllable out of my mouth, I felt a sharp pain run through my lower lip. He had hit me. He had actually hit me! As soon as I had come to my senses, if you could call it that, I swung my fist as hard as I could right back at him. The battle had begun.
Fists began to fly and every kid who had been playing tag gathered around us as we rolled and scuffled in the dirt. I don’t remember much of the battle simply because I was outmatched. It could have been the fact that the fight was so short, but it could also be that I got creamed by this kid and most people don’t like to remember the bad parts of a story.
All I know is that the next thing I remember was the crowd breaking apart. My vision was blurred with sweat and the instant swelling of my left eye, but through the haze I saw a tall figure coming toward me. At first I was sure that it was Superman, because he was wearing bright blue and red, but it wasn’t Superman, it was Grandpa Amos. He swiftly separated the two of us and grabbed me by the arm, pulling me away from what could have turned into something very ugly.
Inside I praised this dear man who had saved me from the slaughter, but then he began to speak. “Becky.” he said. “What on earth were you thinking? Do you realize how stupid that was getting into a fight with that boy? Well, you sure are lucky that you were losing. I can’t imagine what an ambush it would have been if you actually had the upper hand. Maybe it will teach you a lesson.”
His lecture was painful and so were the bruises I had received from the fight. But the thing that hurt worst of all was the look of disappointment I saw on grandpa’s face as we walked back into the community building. I don’t know if it taught me a lesson or not but I do know that I avoided fights as much as possible after that.
The ride back home after the Pow Wow was rather silent. My mind reflected on the events that had unfolded that evening. I thought about how grateful I was that I had nothing more than a black eye and a fat lip. I thought about how different my ideas of Indians and Pow Wows were compared to what I saw, and I thought about how much I loved Grandpa Amos and how he may not have been Superman, but how he was a hero, to me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My friend Rachel posted her Friday confessions today and challenged all to do the same. I'm game so here it goes.

Confession #1: I know most of the words to songs from shows like Barney and The Wiggles and like to sing along with them.

Confession #2: I love to sleep! I can sleep in late everyday if I don't have anything going on and if I do have early morning activities I like to take naps. I don't always get them, but when I do. Wow! They are the best!

Confession #3: I secretly wanted to be a famous singer . . . and famous author . . . and professional soccer player. That isn't too unreasonable is it?

Confession #4: I am doing nothing in my life right now that I had imagined when I was 16, or 18, or even 20. And I sometimes wonder if I would be happy if my life had turned out like I thought it would.

Now these are not nearly as entertaining as Rachels, but they are confessions none the less. Play along if you want. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Third day in a row of no school because of the weather. Although the temps have been quite frigid and the snow that blew in on Tuesday was pretty intense, I don't think I remember EVER being let out for snow like this when I was a kid. At first I asked myself if this was just a result of worsening weather conditions, but I am pretty sure we had heavy snowfalls and subzero windchill factors when I was a kid as well. Are we as a race becoming "soft"? Do we live in such a technologically controlled environment that we simply can't handle the out of doors? Having a home in which there is no heat or air conditioning is practically unheard of anymore. My elementary school (and middle and high school for that matter) did not have air conditioning. The heat for the building consisted of a boiler room that fed into radiators placed in each room. If your desk was near the radiator, you were sweating through out the day. If you were closer to the door of the classroom on the opposite wall of the radiator, you froze. That was just the way it was. We dealt with it, we didn't complain (okay, not much anyway), we simply didn't know any different. I remember my mom telling me on very cold mornings to make sure and wear my hat, gloves and scarf when I went to the bus stop. She would emphasize the morning news estimates of windchill factors and tell me that exposed skin could develop frostbite in a matter of minutes. But the point of the story is, I walked to the bus stop. I stood there in the freezing cold and waited for the bus to show up, and I went to school. Toughen up Superintendent. Let the kids go. They will be okay, and while they are there, they might actually learn something.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Creative sparks fly

The kids are home from school today thanks to the Midwest Blizzard that is attacking Wichita. Of course that means I create a cleaning list to give them something to do with themselves other than watch stupid sitcoms and play computer video games. I'm not utterly cruel though. I give myself a list of jobs equally as long as each of theirs. But as I busily scrub toilets and mop floors, I can't stop thinking about Alex and Pierre. Alex and Pierre are the characters from a short story (The Project) I have started working on for my creative writing class. I got up the nerve to post a portion of it on the class blog last night. What really got me excited was the fact that the first comment left on the blog was incredibly complimentary. Reading a complimentary review has sparked my desire to continue writing. Normally I am the type of person that is able to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but last night my mind raced with plot ideas and dialogue for the story. I just couldn't sleep. So I crawled out of bed at 1:30 am and worked on the story until 3:00. I can't wait to start working on it again. It is the first time in a very long time (years in fact) that I really felt that I had something exciting and personal to focus on. I am even considering submitting it to a literary competition at Newman this Spring. I just hope that the comment on the blog was sincere and not casual flattery that was unwarranted, leading me to disappointment.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Today has been one of those days where you just don't know how to really absorb everything that is going on around you. I attended the funeral of a woman that I didn't really know. I felt saddened by the low attendance at the funeral and began to think about what I would hope my funeral would someday be like. The woman was in her early 60's and her lack of numbers was not directly associated with her age. If she would have been in her late 90's you could attribute the lack of attendance to not having many of her loved ones still living.
I want to be surrounded by a lot of individuals who I have somehow touched. I want to be actively involved in the lives of those around me so that I will be (hopefully) fondly remembered by many.
I heard recently that my sister has a fear of dying alone. At first I thought that this was a ridiculous fear. After attending this funeral, I have a different perspective on this concern that my sister has. I guess in a way, I too have a fear of dying alone. I think that it would be very sad to know that I had not positively touched the lives of those I come in contact with everyday enough for them to want to come and celebrate my life and mourn the loss.