Day Fourteen:

Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.

Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.

You have a number of options: you can write a letter to the word or an image, or an open letter to the world inspired by the word. You could pen a series of imaginary notes between you and a friend, or between two fictional characters, or between old you and young you.

Dear Depression,

I try to fight you with all of the ammunition I have – medication, therapy, self-talk, meditation, and exercise.  I used to think that most days I was winning this battle, but lately, I’m not as certain.  You seem to take up residence in the winter when the weather is cold and the skies and landscape are grey.  It’s hard for me to ignore you and to keep you at a distance; you have a way of sneaking in and taking hold, staying for the long term and wanting to go everywhere I go.

I’m not sure why you find me so comfortable!  What is it that makes you want to stick around?  I try to ignore you when I’m meditating, but you interrupt me, with nagging questions.  When I’m running, you catch up and take me by the arm, begging me to stop for just a minute.  The music that I listen to does little to drown out your voice.  I try to watch Sam, my running buddy, as she keeps stride ahead of me.  For a few minutes I am able to let my thoughts focus on her.

You are more of a nuisance on cold, rainy days when I can’t get outside and dig in the dirt, as I try to bury you deep in the earth. There is little that I can do inside to keep you occupied and away from me. Whether I am cleaning, reading, sewing, or watching TV, you are there – always.  I just want you to go away.  I don’t want you around anymore.  I’ve had enough.  I’m tired of you.  Tired.

Day Thirteen: Serially Found

Write about finding something

Lost and Found

When I worked in a school district, I used to enjoy rifling through the lost and found boxes.  Day after day people turned in items that had been found on the playground, in the restroom, in the cafeteria, and in the gymnasium.  The items were as diverse as they were numerous.  There were the usual garments – jackets, sweatshirts, coats, boots, sneakers, sweaters, shorts, jeans, and socks.  And there were eye glasses, key chains, lip gloss, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, hockey sticks, lunch bags, travel cups, books, 3-ring notebooks, and retainers!

All of these lost and found items were tossed into large corrugated boxes, and I often wondered how much money these items represented.  The brands were recognizable and trendy. There were jackets and coats from Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale, sneakers from Nike, and designer jeans which included brand names such as Guess, Armani, and Vigoss!  All of them just tossed into a cardboard box.

Day Eleven: Size Matters (In Sentences)

I lived on Weaver Ave in a suburb of Columbus. It was typical of the 1950s post-war houses that were springing up on the outskirts of many metropolises in the United States, giving way to suburbanization. I was five years old when my mom bought the house. My mom, like so many of her neighbors, decided to move away from the city as the crime rates started to climb. My father had died two years earlier, and my mom no longer felt safe raising three children alone in the city. She moved us to the suburbs. Our “new” house was smaller, a little over 1100 square feet, on one-floor with three-bedrooms and one-bathroom.

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We made new friends and played in the backyards and basements of our neighbors. During the warmer months we played outdoors from morning until night. Kick-the-can, tag, and hide-and-seek were some of my childhood favorites. It was safe. Parents didn’t worry because someone’s mom – yes, it was often times the mom – knew where we were playing. Within a couple of short blocks was an elementary school with a large playground that included a sliding board, merry-go-round, swings, and a baseball diamond. We spent days and weekends running and playing in backyards and the school playground. This was our new home.

Day Ten: Happy Birthday

I don’t remember a special or favorite childhood meal, but birthday’s were a treat because it meant cake made from scratch and ice cream. We didn’t have a choice for either. Mom made a yellow cake and served Neapolitan ice cream – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – a flavor for everyone. The yellow cake was dense and moist with vanilla buttercream icing. I often gave into temptation and sneaked a fingertip taste of the icing within minutes of my mom putting it on the cake plate. But, when it was served after dinner, the cake was dotted with birthday candles, no trace of evidence from the earlier taste of icing.

While my mom and siblings sang a traditional rendition of “Happy Birthday,” I was searching for the perfect wish before blowing out the candles! I often came up short on the wish and the candles! The ice cream was more of a plate decoration for me. I could and still do avoid “vanilla” ice creams such as Neapolitan. If I’m going to consume the calories, I want to enjoy something worth its weight. How about goat cheese & red cherry ice cream or salty caramel? Would you try pecan & whiskey ice cream?

Today my birthday celebrations continue to revolve around food, but the options are less vanilla. Meals with friends, drinks, and desserts. Ice cream parlors remain a popular dessert destination for me. In fact, just two months ago friends and I celebrated my birthday with dinner followed by a trip to Jeni’s, a local company that has since opened in Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. What did I have? One dip of Brambleberry Crisp and one dip of Goat Cheese with Red Cherries – not my mom’s “vanilla” ice cream.

Day Eight: Death to Adverbs

I’ve decided to use an existing post from Day Two.  I have removed adverbs.

So, whether it’s my recent vacation to a warm and sunny location or the wet, grey weather outside of my window, I’m not sure, but the “place” that inspires me and “takes” me is Hawaii. Although I’ve only been there once, I long to return to take in the beauty.

When I first arrived on the big island as many call Hawaii I noticed the heat – the warmth really. A comfortable warmth with a constant light breeze. But within a short distance by foot or by car I was aware of the color – various shades of green, yellow, red, and blue. The sun cast light which gave the environment various hues and shades of every color of the rainbow. Plants – green and several colorful flowering ones were abundant. Fruit trees – guava, bananas, mango and other flowering and fruit plants dot the landscape of homes. From flowers to birds to coffee beans, the colors of Hawaii are stunning.

In addition to the colors – always bright – the lure of the water is also a sight. It’s easy to see various shades and hues of blue when looking out onto the ocean. The Pacific is a feisty body of water that constantly shouts its arrival on shore – large waves crash steadily against sandy and rocky beaches. The sound is both soothing and hypnotic. Waterfalls, too, are abundant. The white, rushing waters fall against a backdrop of deep green foliage into dark bodies of water.

I long for the color, the water and warm temperatures that stimulate my senses. My eyes – like cameras – want to capture every single site and color.  My ears want to listen to the constant rhythm of the waves on the sand. My place is Hawaii! Is it any wonder that many people call it paradise?

Day Nine: Point of View

<A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

We encourage you to give fiction a try, even if that not what you normally do — it can be a fun way to stretch. If fiction feels like a bridge to far, take some element from the scene that speaks to you, and write a non-fiction piece about that. Perhaps you are drawn to the old woman, and will write a piece about your grandmother, or the crying man will inspire a story about the last time you cried joyful tears.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.>

Day Seven: Give and Take

I have 3 siblings and you’d think  we were raised in different families.  Often times people say to me, “I can’t believe that you two are related! You’re so different. You don’t look anything alike.”  But, I’d rather not write about me.  Instead, I will write about my oldest sister and my only brother.

She was a beauty queen and runway model long before cosmetic surgery became a normal way to enhance physical features.  She was a beauty and popular by any standard.  Tess was tall, with medium-length dark hair that she wore in a flip or some coif-of-the-day.  Her dark brown eyes, enhanced with eye liner and mascara, looked right through you. Her smile, wide and genuine, captivated an audience; when she entered a room, people noticed.  Confident and poised, she commanded an audience.

Tess competed in beauty pageants at all levels, even competing in the Miss USA contest!  She had a short-term gig with a modeling agency and appeared in magazines and commercials.  Before long she was anchoring a popular news program, appearing on a nightly broadcast.  The work was rewarding – professionally and financially. She worked in sought-after markets, including Chicago and Los Angeles. While visiting her one summer, she said to me, “I’m living the American Dream! Can you believe it?!”

Terence was scrawny growing up but had and made many friends.  He played baseball for several years, giving up the sport when he got into high school.  I’m not sure what the turning point was for him, but I’m certain something happened to take him down a different path.  At age 14 he started drinking; we – the family – didn’t know it at the time, but I recall a day when he came home and fell asleep on the back steps.  Perhaps he had passed out.  I tried to wake him up, but when I finally roused him, he shouted, “Leave me alone! Get the f#¢k away from me!”

When he woke up, he was sunburned on those parts of his skin that had been exposed to the sun for 3 hours while he slept off the drunken state. He never said anything about being drunk.  He confessed to being tired after having worked several hours the day before.  I believed him.

He kept his drinking hidden for the most part.  I never really knew but I think my mom found out when he showed up for work drunk.  During the summer he was 16, a friend of my mom’s hired him to do some painting as a way to earn some “spending money” for the summer.  He was grounded except for going to work.  I would learn later from my brother that it was at the homes where they worked (painting inside and out) that he would sneak into the liquor cabinets.  So much for grounding him!

By the time he was 17 he had become a heroin addict and would remain addicted to substances, primarily alcohol and cigarettes, until his death at the age of 48.  One of the last conversations we had, he said to me, “I’ve ruined my life.  You have your whole life ahead of you.  You can do something amazing with your life, but I’ll never live to see it.”  It was a death wish of sorts, I think now.

So, while Tess was walking up and down runways wearing the latest fashions, Terence was walking up and down city streets looking for the next fix. Tess enjoyed attention and being in front of the camera.  Terence, on the other hand, avoided anyone and anything that would focus attention on himself.  He would “lay low” and was often no where to be found during the day.  He was focused on staying out of jail.

How do two siblings with the same upbringing choose such different paths in life? It sounds like an episode from Intervention.  I’m not sure what happened to change him from a typical teenager who enjoyed playing baseball to a conflicted and tormented adult.  I guess I’ll never know.