Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Day I was the Parent

The Day I Was the Parent

The day I was the parent still gives me a heady rush
“I could do better” ‘s what I thought, Mom sneezed, then gave a huff

“I don’t wanna cook!” she fussed, throwing down the loaf of bread
Her lower lip began to quiver, her eyes were turning red

“Mom,” I scolded harshly, not willing to appease her
“You have to cook. How will we eat? Please pull yourself together!”

But Mother threw a tantrum then, with kicking, crying, screaming
I didn’t know quite what to do. Just what was Mother scheming?

Father came home grumpy too, threw his keys down to the floor
I ordered him to pick them up, but he stomped out, slammed the door

Dinner still not cooked I tried as best as I was able
To warm some soup and place three bowls upon our dining table

“What is it?” Mom demanded. “Eww, I’m not eating this!”
She took a big sip anyway than spat it in the dish  

“Come back here now!” I yelled to her; that sneer invoked my wrath
But Mother hid all night from me, didn’t even take her bath

My father too, refused to eat, bathe, or pick up keys
But just when I could take no more, there came a low, faint sneeze

“That’s it! You two are grounded for a year –No, make it two!”
Excuse me?” Mom poked out her head. “I hope I didn’t hear you!”

Copyright 2011 Laurie E. Still

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Day We All Sang What We Spoke

The Day We All Sang What We Spoke

The day we all sang what we spoke was interesting and new
I hummed to school, when I arrived, the rest were humming too

The teacher burst into a song while handing back our work
I stared amazed at what she thought a grade of C was worth

She sang the revolution next, first Washington then Adams
It made our history come alive, patriotic as an anthem

Science was a lively tune, then art, and then mathematics
All put to rounds, or clever chants by musical fanatics

It didn’t stop there though, no, lunch was much the same
Along the line of steaming food, the servers scooped and sang

My friends made up their own songs, to ask about my day
Or wonder if the rain would stop in time for them to play
They harmonized the chorus too, it seemed like no big deal
I found myself very impressed; this fad had great appeal
Even on the bus back home, the students sang their lines
The drivers too in cars we passed, all giving it a try

The foreman and his quartet crew, with power tools in hand
The mailman and our neighbor Sue, a duet on the lawn

I ran inside the house singing my own dramatic score
My mom and dad just stared at me, then Mom said, “Close the door.”

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

My Baby's Flute

A nursery rhyme I wrote for a contest a while back. No, I didn't win anything.

My Baby’s Flute

High note
Low note
A twittering teasing tune
My baby played a wooden flute
Whittled upon the moon

Whenever the moon was shining
We came to hear her play
A lovely song
A lonely song
A lullaby
A lay

All the stars would gather
All the crickets too
Forest critters
Eyes a-glitter
Creeping into view

My baby played a sad song
While wolves around her howled
Then a ditty
Short and pretty
Saw bobcats strut and yowl

Frogs croaked deep with sonnets
Mice with love songs squeaked
Baby kept pace
With infinite grace
Even as barn owls screeched

But before very long
Baby'd played the last song
A ballad her own hand had penned
The stars whispered warning
Soon it’d be morning
Our concert must come to an end

Night creatures flee
So do Baby and me
We know now is the time to scoot
But tomorrow night’s new
This time you should come too!
To hear Baby play songs on her flute

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

Saturday, October 22, 2011

See What I See, Hear What I Hear

This was another short piece of fiction for my creative writing class. In addition to the bit below, there is rewritten version of events in journal format from the revisions portion of class. It adds more to the story but is written in the uncensored vernacular and not for sensitive eyes. If you choose to read it anyway, you may click on the "Read more under here" link at the bottom of the post.

See What I See, Hear What I Hear

I was dead.  There was no other explanation.  All the same, I opened my eyes and sat up.   My eyes wouldn’t focus, or maybe they finally did, but the images they registered seemed meaningless at first; colorless, lifeless mounds of ash, heaped together, sculpted into things familiar.  Bricks of ash, stacked on top of one another, formed buildings on either side of me, and beneath me, the ash had been packed into the hardness of pavement. 

I could really use a drink right now. 

Ignoring my thirst, I found my feet.  Walking was automatic, cost nothing.  It took several steps before I registered what really drove me, and then the alley seemed to go on and on forever.  The pressure that urged me on, that bid me “Run!  Hide!” rose steadily behind me, and I sensed the ensuing heat and light would be my destruction.   I spotted an entrance to the city’s sewer system I dove for it, fumbling awkwardly with grate until panic fueled unnatural strength and I ripped it from the ground.  The pressure faded behind me, balked by the darkness that enveloped me.

I sat there in the cold, wet darkness, marveling that it was neither cold, nor very dark.  Everything had taken on the dull, grey pallor of ash, even the water that flowed beneath my feet.   It was liquid ash.

God, I could really use that drink right now. 

I shook my head to clear the urge and started moving again.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but sensed I would know it when I saw it.  I rounded the corner and stopped.  There, ahead of me in the tunnel, shining as bright as if it were lit from within, was a rat the size of a house cat.  It lifted its rat-shaped head and sniffed the air, but deciding there was nothing there, it went back to rooting through the solid tangle that had caught its attention. 

Fascinated by the rat’s glow and the thought of whatever must have caused it, I didn’t notice at first how my thirst had intensified.  But it caught up to me soon enough and I was soon frantically looking around for something that would sate it.  Desperate, for a moment I even considered the liquid ash, but it repulsed me.  It was dead.

Thud thump, thud thump, thud thump.   The sound drew my eyes back towards the only thing in this place that wasn’t dead.  Liquid poured through the creature with each beat, liquid life that my throat ached for with such intensity that I was hurtling towards it before I’d made the conscious decision.  The rat, hearing the noise of my splashing, turned and scampered down the tunnel, but I was faster and snatched it up.  Hair, skin, and a thin layer of flesh weren’t in my way long, and as the liquid I craved so badly pumped into my burning throat, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, the first breath I’d taken all this time. 

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

Trip to the Backyard

This is another older piece of writing, a non-fiction project for my creative writing class earlier this year. It was written in April I think, when Midori was only about 2-3 months old.

Trip to the Backyard

I’d waited all winter for it to be warm enough. Grinning over at the baby in my arms, I stepped into the yard.  The light breeze made her squint and I thought for a minute she was going to fuss, but she didn’t.  Picking my way across dog droppings in the yard (I made a mental note to remind the hubby to pick these up), I reached the swing set.  “See?  This is your swing set, Midori.  It is blue,” I said, and then because that seemed anticlimactic somehow (I'd pointed out that much from the upstairs window), I added, “and made of metal." Clank, clank, clank, I proved with my knuckles across the hollow steel.  When we reached the first terrace, I squatted on the steps so she could see the light peach-colored flowers, quivering in the breeze.  To my delight, a bee buzzed up, and since we’d already been discussing bees and their noises from books like Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and Mr. Brown Can Moo, I enjoyed this chance to point out a real-life example in the brief moment it hovered in her vision.  The tree was next, where I pointed to buds that would soon be leaves.  Its bark felt rough against my skin but there were no sharp edges, so I held her hand out to feel the same.  She pulled it back, fighting my tug, and I sensed that she just wanted to look, not get involved.  Ignoring this, I squatted amid the gently-swaying daffodils. positioning her so that her face nearly touched one.  “This is a daffodil,” I informed her.  “It is yellow.  It smells nice.”  She struggled to track its movement with her eyes, blinked often, and squirmed, finally growing frustrated.  Safely nestled in my arms once more, we examined Daddy’s grill; the orange, clay chimney, the black, messy innards.  The clay had absorbed the afternoon sunlight and I risked her irritation again to place her hand against its heated surface.  Sunlight broke through the clouds warming the grill once more and making her tiny fingers glow white.  “Time to get you inside, little girl,” I said, remembering she didn’t have any sunscreen on.  My baby girl, content with this decision, took it as an opportunity to learn what the living room contained instead.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Day the World Shrank

The Day the World Shrank

The day the world shrank is one I’m glad to put behind me
I yawned and stretched; when I looked down, my house was teeny tiny

I didn’t move at all at first, afraid of what I’d crush
I slowly stood, avoiding trees, there really was no rush

Tiptoeing tightrope down the street, I tried to leave the city
Behind me towering buildings loomed, sun-sparkling and so pretty

I knew now just how King Kong felt, when faced with those bright toys
How easy they would be to climb, escape from all the noise

Toy cars and tiny parks, miniature ponds and trails
Just like a living doll house world, transformed by witches’ spells

A power line then tripped me up, the jolt restored my senses
I picked myself up gingerly, wincing at smashed fences

I hopped over the train tracks, then leapt over a field
But as I waded through the lake, I suddenly felt a chill

The shiver made me cringe inside my oversized fur coat
But as I raised my head once more I saw the distant boat.

No longer was I walking tall, knee-deep in that cold water
Luckily I was pulled aboard by the boat’s own lookout spotter

They got me warm, they got me home, I’d learned from my near-drown
No longer will I wade through lakes. Next time I’ll go around 

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Day I Got Trapped Inside a Bubble

The second installment of my would-be children stories. This one turned out much more rhymey than the last, hopefully not obnoxiously so. Oh, to be an illustrator as well as writer! Seems you can't even submit children books these days without the illustrations ready to go. Meh. I'll still get all these stories written at least, then see where I can go from there.

The Day I Got Trapped Inside a Bubble

The day I got trapped inside a bubble was at a party for my friend.
We were blowing bubbles, I blew too hard, and the backdraft sucked me in.

I floated up, up, up so high. The sky was all I saw.
But with a gust I spun around and saw the rising wall!

The house was made of bricks you see, all roasting in the sun
My little bubble, made of soap, was fragile as they come

I leaned hard to the left, hoping I could steer it
And drifted downward towards the porch. I came so very near it!

But just as I was going touch, another soft breeze found me
It aimed me skyward once again, then towards a rustling oak tree

I leaned with all my might this time, but the tree loomed ever thick
The leaves closed in, I held my breath, I didn’t want to look

Just a tiny peak revealed a swirl of tangled branches
Jagged bark and pointed leaves, all trying to leave scratches

A parting in the leaves at last, the light grew ever brilliant
I broke free with a whoosh of air, glad soap was so resilient

I steered my thin craft towards the yard, giddy with relief.
My friends still played on unawares, shouting, running free

I came to rest there in grass, a pop that no one saw
I straightened, glad I had survived, and ran to join them all

Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Montgomery

Genesis 1

I know this is up on Facebook already, but I'm going to start systematically posting all my writing here so its in one easy spot for people to access and read. Literary agents, for example. Sorry for the spam in the meantime. :)

Genesis 1

1. In the beginning, God received his Limited Addition Do-It-Yourself World Kit in the mail.  2. The World Kit came unassembled, the pieces sealed in small plastic bags.  A set of directions hovered nearby.
3. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and his roommate looked up from a game of Sudoku and said, “What, already?  Shouldn’t you put it together before you plug it in?” 4. Ignoring him, God jammed the plug into the outlet and flipped the switch, grinning as the space around his world began to glow.  “Cool!” he gushed.  5. “I shall call it… ‘Day,” he announced.  “And this,” he added, flipping the switch again, “Night.”  The roommate was not impressed.  “Brilliant.  You gonna sit there all eternity flipping a switch back and forth?” 
“Nah, there’s a timer.  Coupla’ hours ought to be enough… There.”   6. Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 
“Huh?” the roommate asked.
“Sky, man,” God translated, sliding atmosphere pieces out of the box. 
“Oh.  Then why didn’t you say so?”
7. God didn’t answer, concentrating all his effort on getting the stratosphere and ionosphere layers to snap together. 
“Shouldn’t you be using the directions for that?”
“For this part?  Nah, it’s easy.”
The layers snapped together with a gratifying click and God looked smug.  “You were saying?”
“Your expensive world kit,” the roommate mumbled, and went back to his Sudoku.
8. “I shall call it ‘Heaven’,” God said regally.  “Eh?  What happened to the light?  Oh, shut off already?  Let’s stretch that out a little, shall we?”  He fiddled with the timer until the light came back on.  9. Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.”
“Stop that,” the roommate snapped.
“Stop what?”
“That!  Stop being so dramatic!  What are you trying to do, anyway?”
“I’m creating, man.  It’s called art.”
“Blathering on like an idiot is ‘art’?” the roommate snorted.  He reached for his drink, eying God through the warped glass as the latter scooped wet dirt into a landmass.
“Huh, that’s funny,” God mused.
“What is?” the roommate asked, curious despite himself.
“They didn’t give me enough dirt.  Look, there’s way more water than land!”
“Are you sure you did it right?”  The roommate glanced pointedly towards the directions, still untouched.
“Of course I did it right!  They shorted me on dirt!  Totally ripped me off!”
“Yeah?  That sucks.  Can you order more?”
“Yeah, just sucks having to.  Jerks!  Guess that’s what I get for going with the limited addition,” God mumbled, moving across the room to a cluttered desk.   He sent soda cans and empty ramen containers flying, absently brushing crumbs off the keys as he sank into an oversized swivel chair.  The steady tap-tap-tap of virtual progress drifted across the room, and the roommate had just begun to make headway on his puzzle when God exclaimed, “They want how much for dirt?  Are they out of their minds?  There’s no way I’m paying that much!”
“Keep it down, would you?”
“I mean, come on!  It’s dirt!  Dirt!  They’re mad!”
“So you’ve said,” the roommate said dryly.  “Look, I told you at the beginning this was an expensive hobby.  Especially after you bought that stupid solar system kit.”
“Yeah but… dirt, man!”
“Do you really need it?”
God sat fuming, crunching the numbers in his head.  “Stingy jerks,” he finally grumbled, sliding out of his chair.  He began remodeling his continent, stretching the dirt as far as it could go.  10. “I think I’ll call this dirt bit ‘Earth’,” he mused.  “And all this water here, ‘seas’.  Hey you know what?  I think I’m starting to like it like this.”
“Good for you.” 
11. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth.”
“Shut up!  I’m in the zone!” God said, scattering pieces everywhere as the plastic finally gave.  12.  He spent a few moments sweeping them back into a pile, then sprinkled handfuls onto his landmass.   When the last bag was dispersed, he watched in child-like wonder as the land began to team with life, turning first light, then dark green as the plants grew and spread.  “That is so cool!” he laughed.  13. “Ack, stupid light keeps shutting off!” he complained.  14. “Guess it’s time to install my Solar System Deluxe add-on pack!” he grandly announced.   15. “This should cure my light problems.”  16. God carefully unwrapped the golden orb, glancing around for another outlet.  “Hey, I’m going to unplug this lamp.  We never even use it,” he added defensively.
“Fine, whatever.”
God snatched the offending plug out of the wall and tossed it aside.  He squinted as the orb acquired power. 
“Are all of them this bright?” the roommate complained, and God shook his head.  “No.  All these little ones are supposed to be a lot dimmer.  Hey, do we have any splitters?  I’m gonna need a lot more outlets.” 
The roommate sighed and rose to look for one, leaving God to his unwrapping.  In addition to a lesser orb to rule the night, he had nearly a dozen planets, and a large wire net from which to hang about a billion stars.  When the roommate returned, God was arranging the stars into silly shapes, chuckling to himself.
“You’re a moron,” the roommate told him, tossing down the splitter.  “They’re going to figure that out, you know.”
“You think?” God smirked.  17. “Here, help me hang it, will ya?” he half-ordered, holding out one of the corners. 
“Hang it where?” the roommate asked, reluctantly taking it.
“On that shelf there.  Put a couple of books on top to hold it down.  I’m going to tie my end off with the blinds cord.”
“What?  That’s dumb.  Didn’t it come with tacks or something?” the roommate demanded, kicking at the box.  The metallic clang drew his attention.
“Hey!  What are you doing?   No!  Hold your end up!”
“Hold on!  There’s some kind of frame in here… Did you even read the instructions?”
“Oh.  That’s what that was?”
The roommate rolled his eyes and put the frame together, and God gratefully secured each end of the net to it.  “What’s next?” the roommate asked.
18. “Now we just set these on timers so they aren’t on all at once… there!” God said, flipping a switch.  The large orb lit up, painfully bright, then slowly faded.  Meanwhile, the dimmer orb, on its own timer, and had faded already.  “No, stop that!” God cried.  He readjusted, but then the dim orb transitioned so slowly the large orb had completed its full cycle before the dimmer one had begun to fade.  “Aaaaaag!” God growled, growing frustrated.  He was quickly losing patience, the roommate could tell, already eying the bags of animal parts beside him.  He fiddled with the controls a moment longer, then declared it good.
“They still aren’t in synch,” the roommate pointed out, but God ignored him to hang the orbs on their respective hooks on the frame.  19. He watched for a moment as they glowed and ebbed, then reached down for the first bag of animal parts.  20. And God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”
“Still annoying,” the roommate called, on his way to the kitchen for more juice.  21. He came back to find God painstakingly sorting thousands of newly assembled creatures according to their respective habitats.  “This is a lot harder than it looks,” God admitted with a sheepish grin.
“If you say so,” the roommate shrugged.  22. He settled back down with a magazine, but glanced up at the utterance.  “Now go have sex?” he repeated.  God nodded seriously.  “They didn’t give me enough of these either.  I need lots, lots more before I put the others down.”  23. He waited for a few moments, as if his little critters would indeed multiply in the span of a day, but slowly gave up and started pulling the other bags over.
“Want a pair of scissors?”
“Nope, I got it,” God said, tearing open the bag with his teeth.  24. Then he said, “Let the earth bring forth each living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping things and… What?  Don’t give me that look!  You’re just jealous because you don’t have a World Kit.”
“Jealousy.  Yeah, that’s it.”
25. God shrugged, and began fitting parts together –leg parts with like-colored torsos, neck segments, and heads.
“Wow, those are huge!”
“Huh?” God startled.
“What are you making anyway?  Have you followed the directions at all?”
God glanced distractedly towards the discarded instruction booklet.  “Heh, no.”
“Aren’t humans your dominant species?  How are they supposed to share a world with those things?”
God watched as his giants stomped around, ravaging everything in sight.  “Crap!  What do I do?” he groaned.  “I can’t take them apart once they’re in motion!”
“You should have thought of that before.  Dude, what’s with that one’s neck?”
“Neat, right?  It’s so he could reach really tall trees, but I didn’t have and trees that big at first so I had to stretch a few over here,” God replied.
“It’s a little overkill, even then.  And this one… three horns?   Why would he even need three horns?  Wouldn’t one horn be good enough?”
God started to answer, realized he had nothing.  He made a face.
“And this one’s all head and teeth… what’s with these tiny front legs?”
“Oh come on!  How could you not love this one?  He’s terrifying!  Look how he chomps the others right down!  Ha!  Just looking at him gives me chills!  Look at my arms, man!  Chills!”
“Right.  Yeah.  Very scary.  But there’s still the question of how your humans are supposed to survive them,” the roommate hinted
“Uhg, you’re the one who told me to get such a weak dominant species!  I wanted to go with those new ProwlerXR models!”
“Look, I was just trying to save you some heartache.  My buddy made the mistake of giving his souls both brains and brawn and they ended up taking over his world from him.  Nah, one or the other is best.  You’ll thank me later.”
“So what do I do now?”
“I dunno.  You’ve got spares, right?  Start over.”
God’s expression became pained, but he wordlessly slunk over to his computer.  “There.   I bought a few more units of dirt and some new plant species.  Cost me the rest of my savings, but there should be enough left over to add another continent.”  He returned to his world, cheering as he watched his giant lizards tear each other apart.  He jumped up as the doorbell rang, but returned decidedly less animated.  Judging by the size of the box, the roommate could guess why.  “Ouch.  That’s it?”
God nodded tightly.  He pried open the box, glared down at the tiny baggies, sighed, and then began burying his lizards.  He ran out of dirt before he could finish, and started scooping it out of the ocean. 
“Won’t they wonder why there are aquatic skeletons on top of those mountains?”
“Shut up!  What am I supposed to do?  There’s no way I can afford more dirt!”  God angrily shook the new plant life over the continent, missing whole sections in his haste.  “Anyway, what am I supposed to do with all this water now?  Tell me that!”
The roommate studied the problem.  “Why one big continent?  You could make several smaller ones, spread them out a little.”
“Oh,” God reluctantly agreed.  “I guess so.”  Using the butter knife he’d used to open the box, he carefully carved up his continent, sliding pieces around until they were more or less equally spaced.  He took more care with the next batch of animals, but they too proved too powerful for his prototype humans.  He had to get a little creative disposing of them –mounds of ice added from the freezer, or by flicking them into tar pits designed for the purpose- but his last bunch of animals were comparatively tame and he called it good.
“Good?  What about all those extra parts?  I’m pretty sure there wasn’t supposed to be any extra parts.”
God scrutinized leftovers.   “I guess I can add some extra legs to this thing…”
“Eight legs?  What’s it going to do with eight legs?”
“…and I can add all these extra neck pieces to this little guy,” God decided.
The roommate snorted.  “You and your long necks.  Let me guess?  Taller trees now?”
God sheepishly nodded, stretching the plant life to accommodate.  “Hmmm, this guy could use a longer nose…”
“Now you’re just being cruel.”
“What?  No!  He can use it to, um, suck water up, and lift logs over his head and stuff.”
“Fine, but what about those random pieces?”
“Hmmm.  Well, there’s almost enough here for a whole new creature…”
“What?  A mammal with a bill, thick tail, webbed feet, and venom?”
 “I don’t know,” God said irritably.  “I’ll just stash him on this mini continent here.  No one will ever find it anyway.”  Finished, he reached for his human pack. 26. Then God said, “Hey, I was going to make them look a bit like us, what do you think?”
I don’t look like that,” the roommate retorted.
Smirking, God put the finishing touches on his human, 27. then made a female one just like it.
“Ha!  Is that supposed to be Leslie?” the roommate asked.
“No!” God yelped, hiding the evidence behind his back.  He slowly drew her back out, blushing furiously. “No,” he repeated firmly.  Ignoring the roommate’s snicker, he placed her with the male.  28. Then he said “There you go, little guys.  Go make lots of babies.  Fill up this place up so you can dominate the heck outta it.”  29. He added, “Hey, here’s a bunch of plants you can eat, all right?”  30. “And these birds and stuff.  All these critters too… whatever you want really.”  31. He looked up, giddy with elation.  “Man, did I do awesome or what?”
(Genesis 2) 1. “Yeah, congratulations,” the roommate said.  “You put together a World Kid.  You know it’s grade school difficulty level, right?”
“I know, right?  We put one together in Mrs. Jenkin’s class.  So cool!”
“Whatever.  Will you shut up now?”
2. “Yeah,” God said, heaving himself onto a nearby sofa.
“…Er, what are you doing?”
“Takin’ a break.  I’m beat!”
“You’re not going to… You just turned them loose and walked away?  What if they get into something they’re not supposed to?  What if one of your stupid creatures eats them?  The one with the long nose maybe?”
“Nah, I made that guy an herbivore, no worries.”
3. “I’m tired, man!  Do you know how much work that was?  I did a whole, what?  Six days of work?  I’m calling this one a holiday!  Wake me if something interesting happens.”
“Something interesting.  Sure.  I’ll do that.”
“Thanks!  Goodnight!”

Adapted from New King James version. Copyright 2011, Laurie E. Still.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Day the World Turned Upside Down

I've been working on ideas for a series of surreal-themed children's books. This is my first attempt, but it's still a work in progress. Feedback would be nice, actually. More rhyming? Less rhyming? This draft I was mostly focused on getting the rhythm and flow of words just right (still working on it).

The Day the World Turned Upside Down

The day the world turned upside down I was sleeping in my bed
I rolled over, the world rolled with me, and I woke up on the ceiling

I crawled out from under my mattress and took a look around
What I saw gave me start. My room was upside down!

All my furniture overturned, books scattered, alarm clock buried
My ceiling fan still spun its blades but it didn’t look too hearty

I had to jump to reach the switch, then climb over the door frame
The hallway to my parents’ room was littered with our portraits

“Mom! Dad!”I yelled, while banging on their door
I heard and groan and then a moan; I couldn’t take much more

Standing high on tiptoes, I fiddled with the knob
It gave at last and I shoved past the clutter with a sob

Mom and Dad were safe and sound, just tired from their night
“Why’d you wake us up?” Mom asked, still rubbing at her eyes

“Can you see what’s happened?” I gasped, but then I looked around
Everything was right-side-up. Had I dreamed the whole thing up?

Dad squinted long at me, then frowned and rolled back over
I braced, but the world remained right where it was just prior

“Go back to bed,” Mom scolded, then she too shut both her eyes
I backed away holding my breath, then tripped over a floor light

Copyright 2011 Laurie E. Still

Thursday, October 13, 2011

J.M. Smucker Co. Does Not Suck

Finished!  <-- That’s what I am with my stupid marketing project. I knew about it from the start of class seven weeks ago but I had no idea what it was asking for or how to do it until last week, and even then I dragged my feet and made excuses and worked on any other project I had due until it became very apparent if I didn’t buckle down and just do the silly thing, I would lose all chances of ever getting an A in this class. And if you care enough about me to be reading this, you probably know how much getting an A traditionally means to me. (If not, I’ll give you a hint: my current GPA is 4.0.)

So… Smucker’s. We could choose any company, mind you. Any product (not a service) and preferably from a company large enough to have tons of information written about it online. I’d also put off this decision until the last minute, when the professor asked us questions in the online conference about our chosen company to gauge how far we’d gotten on our research. Me: “Oh, em… Heh." *Looking around… sees nothing. Thinks about what I had for lunch that day…* "PB&J? Oh, Jif with Omega-3! There we go. Jif. Jif works."

Only I looked up Jif online and found out it was part of a larger company that has many food stuffs under its collective umbrella, including Pillsbury and Folgers coffee. The J.M. Smucker Company to be precise. I don’t want to turn this into a commercial, but after spending five days straight now learning everything there is to know about Smucker’s, their advertising focus, and what all of their marketing promotion says as a whole, I am impressed with the family-oriented and ethical aspects of the company, as well as its wide array of healthy products. Or at least, I am attempting to convince my professor of these particular points, heh.

My favorite part of the project? A “what would you do as this company’s marketing manager?” question at the end that let me ramble happily on for my last two required pages describing commercial after commercial featuring active families picnicking, camping out, or playing board games. You know, while using J.M. Smucker Co.’s products somehow. Genius, I know.

Glad to be done though, and able to think about other things again. And able to write! I had to write this just to celebrate my new found writability. (Writeableness?) There will be probably more celebratory postings tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that… *giggles happily*

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Koln, Germany

Went to Koln today, a field trip with Michael’s history class. Technically, he is taking U.S. History, but that seemed to be beside the point since a German national is teaching the class. (Yes, a German teaching U.S. History. It’s a good thing though, because without the bias he can actually get the facts straight). 

We arrived at the meeting place a little late (okay, more like an hour late), but still managed to meet up with the others. Our first stop was the Koln cathedral, although we didn't see much of it because we didn't take the paid tour. After that brief walk-through, we walked down to the stadt-museum which showcased the history of Koln. Michael’s instructor was our guide and gave us brief overviews of all the exhibits. From there we walked down to the Gestapo headquarters and explored the prison used by the Nazis during WWII. This was pretty interesting. The cells were very small, but often had 20-30 people crammed inside them. People were jailed for all sorts of reasons like speaking out against the Nazi’s, being foreign nationals (one guy was from Ohio), or hiding their Jewish friends and neighbors. Many never found out the reasons for which they were jailed, and their confusion is reflected in preserved writings scratched or penned onto the walls, conveniently translated in modern exhibits. Among these were poems, manifestos, insults, curses upon Nazi Germany, names, dates, or even just a count of the days they were jailed for. I couldn't possibly read them all, but the ones I read made these people’s stories come alive. 

For lunch we scored a table at the Fruh, an old brewery famous in Koln. It was so crowded we almost didn't get a table, but then the instructor talked to them again and they got us a table in the basement. The food was good, but the beers came in small glasses so Michael was a little disappointed… until he learned that in the restroom there are three stalls: one is a regular toilet, one is a urinal, and one is a puke trough at chest level with a bar above it to hold on to. After that, he was fairly enamored with the place. His instructor had much more to tell about the history of the brewery, including a discontinued tradition involving being polite to the wait staff and possibly becoming inebriated for free (I missed the exact details).  Michael was both dismayed and delighted when we emerged from the building into throngs of people waiting to go in and his instructor pulled a stolen beer glass out of his pocket and handed it to Michael. Free souvenir, heh!

After lunch we made our way to a large bridge overlooking the Rhine. All along the fence line were padlocks engraved with lovers’ names. The tradition is that young lovers buy padlocks and get them inscribed with their names, lock them on the fence, then toss the key in the river. *Aww.* As Michael and I discussed the merits of such an idea, and ultimately which of us would later be required to dive in the river looking for the key, it just so happened that high above us on the bridge’s arched struts, a large bird let loose a mammoth-sized poop that drifted slowly downward, ever downward, all the long, long way towards where I was standing, blissfully unaware of my impending doom. This was not your typical, fist-sized bird poop, mind you. I seriously thought eight birds had simultaneously released their poop in some joint effort to smite me. Even after diving out of the way, poop continued to rain down upon my head, my jacket, the diaper bag, and the ground around me. It was seriously a lot of poop. Luckily there was an art museum nearby with working facilities, so I was able to rinse most of it out of my hair and off my jacket. Grrr. 

After a quick break to feed Midori, we headed down the river walk towards the chocolate museum. Free chocolate! Not so free cheesecake and iced coffee at the cafĂ©! Got a little lost on the way back trying to find the correct parking garage our car was in (17 euro for the day –ouch!), and then we got a little more lost trying to navigate out of said parking garage (the down stalls were blocked so it made us go up, up, up to the roof top, where we found a ramp over to an adjoining parking garage, which finally let us go down). Now we’re home again, Midori’s in bed, and I’ve had a nice long shower to purge any remaining bird poop from my hair. Fun times.

I have to give the little one credit though. Midori was an awesome traveler for once! She was absolutely adorable all day (I’m not the only one who thought so!) and only fussed when I went too long between feedings. Said “Mama” a lot too, showing off her new skills. :) Great day over all, and tons of fun. Michael gets extra credit for his class too, so everybody wins!

Pictures up on Facebook!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Midori's Breakthrough of the Day

She started saying "Momma" today, yay! I was hoping for "Dada" first (Michael needs the baby love too!) but I'll take it! She's so adorable I had to brag!

Breaking Ground

Before I created this blog, I debated revitalizing one of the handfuls of blogsites I've created in the past. Besides the challenges of sickeningly cutsie names or long-forgotten passwords, I also had to decide whether to delete old posts or leave them archived for posterity. That got me thinking about why I created those blogs in the first place, and why generally, no one ever knew about them. My "secret" blogs were created more times than not to rant about everything that sucked in my life, specifically work or whichever idiot boss was pissing me off at the time. Since I couldn't risk work or said bosses learning my true opinion of their intellect (or lackthereof), the URLs to these blogs were only given out to a handful of trusted agents and never spoken of in public again. This had the unfortunate effect of getting the first two or so of my postings read while the idea was fresh in their heads, but none after that as "out of sight out of mind" kicked in and they forgot all about lonely, bitter ol' me. Most of the old posts are so negative anyway not even I would want to read them again, let alone subject fresh audiences to them. Better to start fresh and leave the past behind.

To avoid repeating mistakes of the past I decided on a fresh approach altogether. No more rants! It will definitely be a challenge, since often the only times I'm inspired to write is when I want to bitch about this or that, but the title of my blog will hopefully remind me to look for the good along with the bad and curve my writing inspiration accordingly. I envision a Mommy-ish blog filled mostly with narrative-style posts about Midori and her antics, but it shouldn't surprise anyone to see traveler-blog style posts about life in Germany or the places we visit around here. I'll also post any short works of writing I finish, or any other ramblings about things that interest or inspire me.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy the ride.