Monthly Archives: September 2015

FF – Well Qualified

In haste this week, and probably without much time to read either, but I welcome your thoughts if you have time. The photo is from Marie Gail Stratford, whose writings are well-worth a read too.

mouse-on-the-prowl

Well Qualified

“Sit,” he said, “And tell me what you have to offer.”

No preliminaries for the woman, she noticed. “I have a Chemistry PhD and experience with a major pharmaceuticals manufacturer,” she began, just as she and Dad had practised.

“Ah, yes, your father.” The one thing that had no bearing on her ability to do the job.

“Of course, there is one thing I lack.” She felt suddenly confident, flippant even. “But it doesn’t hold me back in much apart from pissing contests”.

After a moment’s incomprehension, he laughed. “We’ll remember not to put you on that team , then.”

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T13 – Motherhood is…

 

1. Taking a relaxing bath with some or all of: a wind-up turtle, a squirty fish, a small child and Johnson’s head-to-toe (because you forgot to rescue your shower gel from a mysterious game that involves putting odd things in the guest bed)

2. Eating half a cup of your least favourite flavour of ice cream on a cold & rainy day, because there’s just no way you want to deal with that volume of sugar-rush in a tired toddler and he understands sharing but not moderation.

3. Anything  involving bodily functions / pre-chewed food.

4. The most likely career to involve dealing with / eating / cleaning up “concoctions”.

5. Snatching everything: a chance to pee, a moment’s peace, the first drink of the day 4 hours after you got up…

6. A constant struggle to practise what you preach.

7. Knowing exactly which toy it was that you just stood on in the darkness, by the nature of the shooting pain.

8. Never knowing if you’re being too strict or too lax.

9. Everyone else’s business … apparently.

10. Trying to survive those dangerous minutes between when your husband / co-parent said they’d be home and when they actually step through the door and simultaneously take over the cooking, the laundry and all parenting responsibilities so you can finally breathe / have a drink / use the toilet / etc.

11. Never over, even when everyone’s in bed asleep.

12. Getting up not-enough-hours later and doing it all again.

13. Still the most incredible experience in the world.

 

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FF – Preparations

Sorry for my absence last week; I hope not to make a habit of it! This week’s story, inspired by The Reclining Gentleman‘s photo, could almost be a prequel to one I wrote months ago, but hopefully also stands alone. I’d love to read your thoughts.

trg3

Preparations

“You’re doing the right thing,” Irene smiled gently at her friend.

“Am I? Every time I think I’m choosing the tunnel with light at the other end it turns out to be headlights on an oncoming train.” Sandy brushed away the tears. “What if I leave him and it’s just worse?”

Irene didn’t say anything.

“It could be worse though,” Sandy insisted. “He never hurts the kids.”

“Hitler never hit his dog.” Irene picked up the bag and slung it over her shoulder. “Next time, bring me stuff for them and then you’re ready. I’m going to miss you, babe.”

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T13 – Love

Following on from my previous Thursday thirteen list, I was thinking about the first entry there. As adults / married people / maybe even people in general, it’s easy to let love go assumed. Some of us are better at it than others and I certainly don’t consider myself the best, but I got to thinking about ways we can show someone we value them. Not just romantic partners, but anyone in our lives. Here are some suggestions, I’d love to hear yours.

  1. Pay them a compliment. A genuine, unexpected, specific piece of praise from someone whose opinion you value always feels good, right? Just make sure it’s given unconditionally, not because you want something or because the recipient needs it.
  2. Give loving critique. There’s also a real compliment to be found in someone who carefully and lovingly takes time out to help you improve something. Be careful you’re giving helpful and constructive critique though, not just criticizing.
  3. Notice. Did they do something different with their hair, do well at school / work, or just do a chore you normally find yourself doing? Notice, comment and compliment. Especially if it’s something they are probably quietly proud of themself for.
  4. Turn a blind eye. On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice not to notice. And don’t just notice without saying anything, genuinely give them a pass today. So your husband came home late, your daughter didn’t clean her room and your colleague forgot to put sugar in your coffee? Forgive and forget. You probably screwed up today too.
  5. Listen. Oh my God, if this was Thursday 1 instead of Thursday 13, this would be it. Listen and Be Seen to be listening. Put the phone down, turn off the TV and look them in the eye. Then, when they are done, respond. In our distracted, busy, multi-tasking world, 100% of your attention is probably the most generous gift you can give to anyone.
  6. Give them a gift. It doesn’t have to be pricey, or special. A single flower, a candy bar, a lowest-denomination giftcard to their nearest coffeshop all say “I was thinking of you; I don’t expect anything in return”. And how nice does it feel to know someone’s been thinking of you?
  7. Text / Email / Write. Talking of which, what about a quick message during a busy day just to say “Hi”?
  8. Plan Something Together. Quick is great, but long is good too, and having something to look forward to is lovely. My best friend and I planned a holiday together last year and we’ve got a girly night out on the cards this year. Living a mixture of 3000 and 9000 miles apart (she divides her time between the UK and Singapore; I’m based in Toronto) means our get-togethers take more planning than they once did, but anticipation is half the fun and knowing we will both work to make it happen is more evidence of how much we love each other.
  9. Tell Them. Ah, the old ones are the best. Do any of us say “I love you” enough? And not just as in it’s what some people always end a phone call / visit / day with, but an unexpected and heartfelt “I love you”.
  10. Share a hug. 
  11. Say “Thank you”. It’s easy to take loved ones, and the things they do, for granted. It makes them poorer, but it makes us poorer too; everyone knows gratitude is good for your mental health, right? So whether it’s for the big things or the little ones, say it out loud.
  12. Say “Sorry”. While we’re speaking aloud, here’s another magic word. We’re all wrong sometimes; we all make mistakes and it’s OK to admit it.
  13. Ask for help. Because if we admit weaknesses, we allow others to do the same, and that’s a powerful gift too.

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FF – Nothing / Not Even Love

Ooh, my picture today, and a recent one too, taken in the waterfront park at Penetanguishene, Ontario. My story went a different way and I would appreciate your feedback. In particular, the middle sentence in the final line was a late addition. I think it adds clarity, but I’d love to see what you think.

Edit: I always say it doesn’t matter how you read these stories – your interpretation doesn’t have to match mine. But the interpretation most people seem to have had made my last line feel incongruous to them (rather than being a clue), and that’s just a shame. I’ve taken the comments on board and rewritten somewhat. Does it help?

jp3

Not Even Love

There’s rust on the gate he walked through daily, coming and going; and the flowers in the bed beside it are wilting because he was the only one who ever remembered to water them. There’s cheese in the fridge that used to smell in a good way, but not anymore; and the box of chocolates I bought to console myself is empty but for the fudge one, even though I know he won’t be coming back for it and I’m not really saving it for him.

Nothing lasts forever, they say. Not even love, they say. Let’s hope they’re right.

***

Nothing (Previous Draft)

There’s rust on the gate he walked through daily, coming and going; and the flowers in the bed beside it are wilting because he was the only one who ever remembered to water them. There’s cheese in the fridge that used to smell in a good way, but not anymore; and the box of chocolates I bought to console myself is empty but for the fudge one – which he likes and I don’t – even though I know he won’t be coming back for it and I’m not really saving it for him.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even love. Thank goodness.

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Thursday Thirteen

A blog friend linked to this little writing prompt group and I thought I’d give it a go. Not my usual fare – move along if you’re looking for 100 word fiction. I won’t be doing this every week, I’m sure!

Thirteen Observations From A Stay-At-Home Mum

  1. It’s surprising how much of a difference it makes to have someone occasionally say “you handled that really calmly; I think I’d have freaked out” or “you have a tough job,” instead of implying they think you sit around eating bonbons and watching TV all day.
  2. I watch a lot of TV. I watch it in 10 minute stints whilst nursing and on mute with the subtitles on, or else it’s an episode of Peppa Pig we watched every day last week and twice yesterday.
  3. I also eat too many sweet things, but not when there’s a witness.
  4. Nothing is easier when a toddler ‘helps’.
  5. It is always easier to accept a toddler’s ‘help’ than to prevent it.
  6. There’s never enough time – and if there is, you’re early and waiting around with a grouchy child.
  7. There’s always time for a hug.
  8. Hugs, like hearts, always have room for one more.
  9. When people talk about the challenge of ‘two in diapers’, it’s not the diapers they are complaining about. It’s just a shorthand for two dependent beings, both of whom demand and deserve 100% of your time and attention, neither of whom is really able to do a great deal for himself and both of whom are inclined to noisy melodrama if they have to wait for anything.
  10. The diapers are (literally) sh!tty, though, at times.
  11. There is something incredible (and terrifying) about being able to see how everything develops – the phrases or accents of a particular tv character or friend; the moods and moments they take from us; the right and the not-quite-right science being pieced together from observing the world.
  12. On the other hand, I’ve no idea where “side up down” (upside down) or the “walking side” (sidewalk) come from!
  13. I can sleep through thunderstorms, radio alarms and tsunami sirens, but one of my boys so much as whispers and I’m wide awake, ready to nurse, comfort or kill tigers for them.

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Friday Fiction – Bespoke

Today’s prompt comes from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields herself. My story is below it and your feedback is welcomed.

bay-windows

Bespoke

“‘S bespoke,” Lauren’s tiny pride beamed through the word.

Gerry rolled over. “What’s bespoke mean?”

“Err… special, I think,” she replied, not wanting to be caught with education now.

“Sounds like a word that needs more than cardboard over its head.”

Lauren laughed, pointing each syllable of the noise down to avoid sounding like she’d ever had cotton sheets around her where Gerry’s arms and yesterday’s newspapers now huddled.

“I love ya,” Gerry said, “An’ our bespoke home for tonight.”

“Good,” said Lauren, “Because tomorrow I’m gonna raid the art store bin and get us some plastic for a window.”

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