Writing101 – Day Nineteen Prompt

Okay – a Challenge?  Well, for someone who isn’t too keen on publishing free writing – yep!

At least 400 words (oh….that’s hard…..yeah, right.)

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So I was writing in my journal this morning about competition and what I think about it.  I’m still unclear.  I don’t consider myself a competitive person because I never was athletic or played sports, but of course, that’s a big fat lie.  I continually compared myself to others in the classroom.  With grades and test scores and all that stuff.  In fact, it was so toxic to my sense of self, that I think I’ve been putting up a big defense against it.  Telling myself I’m not in competition with someone else.

But it’s right here in my house.

Hubster is writing, too.  We have a joint blog but I don’t write on it a lot anymore – I’m over here writing away.  Since he’s also writing everyday, he’s actually written and finished a first draft of a novel.  It’s pretty good for a first draft – I’m reading it right now.  And I’m kindof jealous.  I’m also proud.  I’m also happy for him and even for me – if we can sell this, great.  Maybe make a few shekels – maybe not.  Plus, he’s had fun with it.

But mostly, I’m in awe.  He’s shipped something.  I’m not so great at that.  I guess, in a bigger sense, now that we’re both retired, we’re trying to find good things to do – and some of them cannot be the same things.  I’m trying to practice my writing although I don’t have any end game in mind.  I’m not working on a novel.  I wrote over 50,000 words on one a couple years ago during NaNoWriMo, but I’ve never finished it.  I just wasn’t sure about it, after all.  Who would read it, I wondered?

And maybe that’s part of the problem – part of my sense of jealousy or competitiveness and comparison.  Can we both be good?  Can we both just use writing for whatever reasons we use it?  Do we even have to like what the other person writes?

I’m the one who wants some space – he comes over and touches me, pets me.  I like it – mostly.  But sometimes, like a little kid, I’m like – too much!  Leave me alone.  I don’t want to be left alone entirely, I just want a little bit of breathing room.  And now we’re both writing?

I’m not going to figure out the ins and outs of marital stuff in one writing, I know that.  It always feels dense and uncomfortable and faintly irreligious – I love this man.  I do.  But I need to spend time alone.  I get up earlier now to go downstairs, to write in my journal – behind a closed door.  He writes in his office, behind a closed door and I type away upstairs.  Usually that’s enough space, but sometimes . . . it just isn’t.

I wish I had a good template for how much togetherness was optimal – how much we can do the exact same thing and have it be our own.  And not be each others.  I don’t have that template.  I lurch forward and backwards – come closer, go away.  Leave me alone, I miss you.  I get withdrawn and then I approach.  He looks hurt when I pull away – then I come forward and repair.

I want my work to be better, but then I realize how petty and childish that sounds.  Then I want to retreat and just stop writing entirely.  I want to keep mine secret, so he won’t read it.  But he’s not invasive.  That was my mother.  She was unable to give me any privacy and that’s not the case now.  I guess I do tend to judge him guilty for her earlier crimes.

Okay.  So he’s not my mother.  You think I’d know that by now.  But there it is – it’s an old feeling.

He’ll probably read this.  I don’t want hurt feelings over my own bullshit, so I hope he keeps it in context.  My best self wants him to succeed – and wants me to succeed, too.  My worst self is petty and feels wanting and scared.  I don’t want to operate from this self and sometimes I do.

I hate that I’m human some days.




Writing101 – Day Eighteen Prompt

The Challenge:

The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.

Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.

Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.

Note:  You’ll see I mostly stuck to the “script”, but thought my version a bit more intriguing, shall we say?

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Such bullshit.  I hate, hate, fricken hate all the BS coming from inside.  Who gives a flying whatever about Kim’s booty?  Or Kanye’s latest rap song?

I’m heading outside to get rid of my stupid sister’s BS show TMZ.  The Moron Zombies is what it should stand for.

I sure as hell hope I’m not a lame-o like her when I’m sixteen.

As I’m sittin’ there, I hear what sounds like an ambulance, but as it turns the corner I see it’s a Sheriff’s cruiser.

Whoa.  Somethin’s happening in our little neighborhood.  Nothin’ ever happens here.

Well, not entirely true.  Nothin’ ever happened her ’bout three years ago.  But when the mill closed and they started makin’ those clothes in wherever the fuck they make them – China, or India or a place that’s spelled Sri but pronounced Shree Lanka – a lotta people lost jobs.  A lotta people in this ‘hood that is.

Mostly folks who graduated high school, started work and liked to drink beer ev’ry night and on weekends.  Mostly nice guys, y’know?

Now it’s just sad.  Lots of guys still out of work.  Lots of people have left the block – there’s a bunch of apartments empty.

I know this cuz my friends and I explore every so often.  Great place to stash cigs and beer.  We can just be ourselves without big brotha and big sis lookin’ over our shoulder at every little thing, all appalled cuz we swig a beer now and then.  Last time Bobbs showed up, he had one of his big brother’s doobies, which was a first for me.  Man, I couldn’t stop coughing.  Ugh.

Here’s what I know – no matter what happens – I’m outta here in a few years.  I’m goin’ to college, not beauty school like my idiot sister – who calls it es-the-titty-an school.  Nah, that’s what I call it – course, last time I did, she threw a plate at my head.  Missed.  Cuz she throws like a lame-o.

So nothin ever used to happen here.  Now . . . well, now we have idiots doin’ all sorts of shit up and down the block and a few blocks over.  Sellin’ drugs, some kids in gangs, people bonkin’ each other over the head with frypans, and even a shootin’ and knifin’ here and there.  What a fucking mess.

But through it all Mrs. Pauley’s been here.  She was here from way before I was on the planet.  Too bad about her old man, though.  Had a stroke – gone in a flash.  Dead before the ambulance came, that’s what I heard.

She’s a real nice lady.  Pretty old.  But lively, y’know?  Doesn’t act all mean – “get off my lawn!” – or nothin’.  In fact, she’s more like to have a plate of chocolate chip cookies on her porch, and welcome you to have one on your way home from school.  Not every week, okay, but probably once a month or so.

So real nice.  And I hear tell that she even likes some rap music.  Least that’s what she told Kev and Gigi when they asked her.  I guess they thought she’d say she liked the waltz or somethin’.  But no, she said she liked Michael Jackson and that white kid Em-and-m and someone else, i dunno.

I hate rap.  Stupid.  But y’know, I don’t understand it, so maybe one day, I’ll be cool with it –  but I doubt it.

It’s been kinda weird since the Mister died.  He was always workin’ on his car and stuff.  They got along okay, I guess.  No fightin’ or anything.  But they also had those boys.  Six of ’em.

Geez.  Bad enough we have three girls, although of the three, I am the coolest.  I can’t imagine havin’ more kids in the family, especially the size of these apartments.  We have to share a room as it is – least it’s just me and Mads now.  Just so mom and dad can have a bedroom to themselves.

You know, there was a rumor about Donnie.  It was going ’round that Donnie was runnin’ with a tough crowd, tryin’ to become made in some stupid gang.  Good grief, man.  You got parents.  You’re not like some orphan kid or somethin’.

Anyway – part of it was he was s’posed to be holdin’ some drug crap or the drugs themselves and be sellin’ to the neighbor kids.  Kev said that Donnie tried to get him to try crack.  Uhhh.  No fuckin’ way.

That shit’ll kill you.  Ev’rybody knows that.  Donnie told Kev he could try it for free and all, see if he liked it.

Kev didn’t say it, but I know he was scared.  I’d be, too.

Donnie never said boo to me, but this was a year ago and I was a little kid, like 11.  And after this, we heard his parents got wind of it, and they threw him out.  On his ass.

Well, I guess the old man did.  Mrs. Pauley always had a soft spot for the big overgrown brat.  Don’t know why.  He was a thug, a criminal, man.  Headed down the wrong path – do not pass go, do not collect $200.

I haven’t seen him in the ‘hood for months.  Course that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been around, just that I’m not watchin’ for him.

Kinda weird, actually.  Most of those boys don’t come home or visit their parents.  Some days I think – when I leave, I ain’t never comin’ back.

But I bet I feel different when I’m older.  Geez – Susan is always comin’ to visit, bringin’ that snot-nosed brat of hers.

I don’t mind being an Ant, it’s just weird, is all.  I’m too young to be around babies.  And she stinks – a lot.  Maybe Susan never learned to diaper her proper like.

So here I am, the cops are flashing their lights and banging on Mrs. Pauley’s door.  I notice out of the corner of my eye, that Gigi, who’s a big snoopy girl (don’t tell her anythin’ you don’t want the whole class to know – trust me on this) is out of her door and sitting on the steps of her building.

Hey, I nod in her direction.  Shit, she’s comin’ over.  Crap.  I don’t mind her when Kev’s with her cuz he’s cool, but she’s just a jerky pants.

“Hey, Lexi,” she’s casual like.

“Geeej,” I respond, as casual as her.

“So . . . what’s going on over there?”


“Well . . .” and here it comes.  Rumor mill central.

I heard that Mrs. Pauley was actually in on it . . .”

“Oh come on, bullshit.”

“No, really.  She’s been in on it from the beginning.”  In on what?

I turn and flash her a vicious look, lowerin’ my voice:  “Look.  You are so full of it.  We’re talking about Mrs. Pauley.  She bakes us cookies for crap’s sake.”

“Hand to God!”  she looks all wounded, so maybe she ain’t just blowin’ smoke up my ass. Now, I gotta find out.

“So what are we talkin’ ’bout here?” I might as well be open, since really, I’ve no idea what she’s blatherin’ about.

“Selling drugs.  With Donnie . . .”


And then it makes sense.  The Mister was incredibly pissed off.  The day he threw out the kid, it was a big scene on the block.  Clothes, his crap – all over the postage-stamp green they called a lawn (yeah, right).  It was, don’t let the door hit you on the ass, kiddo.  Asta la bye bye.

But Mrs. Pauley seemed okay.  She didn’t act all P.O.’d.  In fact, she just sat there.  For all I know, maybe she was baking some POT cookies!

I can’t really hear what’s goin’ on over at the Pauley’s, but I see the cops leading her out the door and kindof stuffin’ her into the backseat.  What?

I see the handcuffs.

Maybe what the Geeej is saying is true.  I turn to the girl and say,

“Who told you?”

“Who else, idiot?  Kev.”  Kev is her brother and he’s 15, in high school.  He’s the one Donnie tried to get hooked.  “Donnie told him.  He was real proud of his mama.  Said she’d be around for any orders he might have.  Kev also said he could be one of the runners on the block, if he played his cards right.  Could make him a LOT of moolah.”


Maybe that would ‘splain it.  The teens who were chummy with Mrs. Pauley.  Maybe they were workin’ ‘tween her and Donnie or those gangbangers he was hangin’ with.

I don’t know how it all works.  Shit, I don’t wanna know how it works.

Man – this was a day when I learned a pretty big lesson – people aren’t always what they seem.  Maybe Mrs. Pauley waited until her old man was dead ‘fore she got involved; maybe she needed the money; maybe she just wanted to help her kid out.  I don’t know why she would do something like this.

But there’s a bunch of stuff that adults do that is just plain fuckin’ puzzlin’, y’know?


Writing101 – Day Seventeen Prompt

The Challenge:

What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own

Sure this will be obvious to all.  Style?  Minimalist – first person.

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Monday, April 2

I left my keys.  Just left them.  Mike asked me where I’d been last and what I heard was “Janet! where you been fuck??”


Blame him?  Not me.

Lilly, bless her, bounds upstairs – keys in mouth.

Where?  No idea.


Saturday, June 3

Another day – Mike hands me checkbook.  Why?  What I hear:  “Janet, checkbook freezer . . . fuck?”

Wanted it, I guess.

Why he thinks me?

Puzzle.  Who puts checkbook in freezer?


Tuesday, June 14

Doctor today.  Tests.

Count backwards.  Easy.  ten, nine, eight . . . NO.  Wrong.  From 100 by threes.  Threes?  100, 90, 85 . . . confused.

Who President?  Who cares.

Try again.  President?  Black man.  Funny name.  Bar something.

Today date?  This I know.  June 14 – Flag Day!  I know this.


Sit there – new pills to try.  So tired.  Don’t care anymore.



Monday, September 8

So tired.  Hear Lilly bark and go.  Keep hearing her.

Now – Lost.

Look down.

Feet bare.

Dark out.

Where dog?

Where I?


Wednesday, December 16

Mama.  Want Mama.  Dog comes over and sighs, gets on me.  Mama?

Feel tears and snot.  Mama, mama, mama. 

Man comes over – says “Janet?  What?  Why crying?”

No idea.  Who he?

Who Janet?