Writing 101: Dashing Under the Night Sky (Part 1 of 3)

What I remember, when I was maybe four years old, is staring up at the night sky through the back window of my father’s hatchback.  We were on the road and it was dark, except for the billions of stars above me.  I could feel the tires of the car, a flesh-colored Volkswagen Dasher, on the highway, and it was so late at night, or maybe so early in the morning.  I was tired, but being lulled back to sleep by the movement of the car, the smell of the car’s dry heat coming from the plastic vents, and the soft glow of the lights in the dashboard.  My brother, a year and a half younger, was asleep next to me.  It is a brief memory, but one that I have held onto for some reason.

The events surrounding the memory are a little less clear.  I seem to recall my dad waking me up in the middle of the night – or was it early morning and still dark? – and telling me and my brother to get up, that we were going.  I can’t remember if the car was packed with our belongings.  Previous to that night, I don’t remember my dad packing our things, or telling us we were moving, although I’m sure he did and I was just too young to really know what it meant.  I don’t remember arriving at our destination, or if a moving truck was involved.  I didn’t know at the time why we were moving.

It was the first time though, that I remember knowing, really understanding, that my mother was not with us, would not be joining us along the way, and would not meet us there.  I didn’t know when my brother and I would see her again.  I worried that she wouldn’t know how to find us.  I worried that we would not see her again, or that perhaps we would be too old and that she wouldn’t recognize us.

And as those stars slipped across the night sky, as we dashed along the highway moving from our home in Wisconsin to our new home in Oklahoma, the distance between me and my mother seemed to grow greater and greater, until we became no closer than the nearest stars in the sky.

 

Photo by Frank Delargy

Photo by Frank Delargy

Related post:  Silence is never louder than when you should be asleep

 


 

This is Day 4 of Writing 101.  Today’s assignment was to:  Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.  And the twist:  Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

I really struggled with this post in that I couldn’t think of what to write about, let alone how to incorporate it into a three-post trilogy.  I thought of all kinds of losses – people, pets, objects, games…but nothing really stood out, until I found this memory, lurking in the corner of my mind.  It wasn’t a permanent loss; today, my mother is very much a part of my life, I am happy to say.  I’m not quite sure how this will start my trilogy, but I’ll think of something, eventually!

Sketchy at best…a true story of intrigue and mystery, and it’s just across my street!

And now for a little bit of audience participation.  I need your help, dear readers, in providing me with a key component of a story I’m trying to unfold.  A mystery, an intrigue.  A true story (up until this point), and when finished, a potentially entirely true story but likely only partially true story, depending upon the accuracy with which you are able to use the clues I’m going to give you to provide me with the missing piece of this tale.  Are you ready?

Meet my neighbors across the street (or at least take a look at their house):

The House Across the Street, aka the House of Mysteries!

The House Across the Street, aka the House of Mysteries!

Let me set the stage:  we live on a normal street, in a normal neighborhood.  Our houses are all ranch-style, built in the 1950s (when people evidently didn’t need any closets or counter space).  Our houses are fairly nice – kept up, yards managed, pleasant.  Except for the house across the street.  Note the following:

  • Blinds drawn on all windows all of the time
  • Front porch light left on all of the time
  • Front yard consists of gravel, which also serves as a driveway to a gravel parking lot in the back (where the back yard should be)
  • Crumbling paint job and general shoddy appearance
  • Yellow sign and stickers in all windows advertising the security company that protects this gem of a home from potential robberies
Who remembers Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?

Who remembers Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?

I’ve lived across the street from this house for over three years now, and about a year ago came to the conclusion that this house is some sort of business.  Two or three cars arrive every morning at about the time I leave for work; I usually see one normal-looking, middle-aged woman (the same woman, daily) park on the street and enter the home in the back entrance.  Occasionally, an unmarked white van (it looks like a utility type van, not a passenger van) will park in the driveway or go around back.  For the past year, I’ve been trying to figure out what type of business this could possibly be.  Are they making or packaging meth?  Is this some sort of prostitution ring?  Are they breeding small monkeys for circuses and fairs and shuttling them in and out of the house with the vans?  I don’t see a lot of strange men visiting, nor do I detect any odd fumes wafting through our neighborhood, so I think that rules out the first two possibilities.  But the third???  Hmmm…

Last week, as I was backing out of my driveway and the woman I usually see was locking up her car at the start of our day, I seized my golden opportunity to get more information.  I rolled down my window.  “Excuse me…hello?”  The woman looked up at me and smiled.  “Hi!  Just curious, but what type of business is this?”  She paused, and said, “oh, it’s a tax business.”  I wrinkled my nose, puzzled and disappointed.  “Oh, ok…thanks.”  I drove away.

Wait a minute, LIES, all LIES!!!  When I got to work, the first thing I did was search for “tax business” in the vicinity of my address.  It took a little digging around, but a business did pop up – Jackson Hewitt.  But since when does a Jackson Hewitt tax service look like THIS???  I’m thinking it’s got to be a front.  I, for one, would not be surprised at all if there were indeed small primates being bred in that house!

neighbor_catHere’s where YOU come in.  Tell me, WHAT KIND OF OPERATION IS GOING ON IN THIS HOUSE???  Leave your ideas and thoughts in a comment, and I will try to incorporate the winning idea (or ideas, or maybe even all of them) in a short story or poem or diorama or some other medium of my choosing.  What do you think is happening here?  Should I be scared?  Are they missing some key permits?  Are they underground because they can’t meet some sort of compliance or regulation?  Are they building something?  Are they harboring space aliens?  Are they under quarantine for an infectious disease and the women who visit daily are there to feed the infected???  What do you think?  LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW, PLEASE, and I’ll choose the winner(s) at the end of June!  Good luck – I can’t wait to find out what my neighbors are up to!

**UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE**  This morning, I saw the other woman (who, incidentally, always arrives in a newer model black Mustang, so I assume there’s money actually involved in this business) enter the house with a small bouquet of flowers.  Who are the flowers for?  Is it the birthday of the lady that I talked to?  Or maybe they are for one of the lepers that they must have impounded in their basement?  And YES, THEY HAVE A BASEMENT.

Alone in a Room Full of *GULP* Dog People

This past weekend I started on my path to doing pet therapy work on a volunteer basis.  This means that I took an all-day class on the human component of a therapy animal team.  The class is offered by Pet Partners and is the first step in becoming registered to do animal therapy with your pet – you know, visiting people in hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, schools, prisons, and other places where people can benefit from having a visit from animals.  I’m SOOOO looking forward to being a part of this!

But did you know that the vast majority of therapy animals are dogs???  The course instructor had never taught anyone who wanted to use their cat as a therapy animal, but Pet Partners certainly supports it.  To the instructor’s credit, he did his best to answer my cat questions and even invited me to attend a cat evaluation the next day, which was also very informative.

Please don’t get me wrong – I really do like dogs, but obviously I am a cat person.  And I like dog people too, but obviously, I am a cat person.  I was a little nervous about being trapped with hanging out with a bunch of dog people for the entire day, but they really were friendly and nice, just as I expected them to be; I just didn’t know how much I would have in common with them.  And to be fair, cat people can be kind of weird, too.  But man, they sure do get passionate about various breeds and talking about the differences between all the various types of doggies!  This made me think, just as there are personality differences between breeds, surely there are personality differences between dog people and cat people.  So I did a little investigating.  And here’s what I found:

JESS3 Mindjet Dichotomy Cat and Dog People

Interesting, yes?  And for those of you who want a little more detail, I found these stats from DeathandTaxesMag.com:

DeathandTaxesMag.com
I don’t know how true these figures are, but they sound about right to me.  Perhaps this can be best illustrated by the following video, which has been floating around for a while, but I love it:

Hmmmm…on second thought, perhaps using cats as therapy animals might be a bit more challenging than I was expecting.  So, if you have any hints or advice for me, feel free to let me know.  Anyone?  Anyone???

Round Two: Another Post about Bras – Let’s Get Ready to Grumble!

Vintage Bras

Wow – we ladies certainly love our boobs, and have strong, loud and opinionated voices when it comes to protecting our options.  Whether it’s breast-feeding in public or the injustices brought about by ill-fitting and unflattering breast support, it seems that, when it comes to boobs, we’re ready to rumble.  Or grumble, more like.  In fact, the post I wrote about a month ago called “Bra Shopping:  Not as Titillating as I Had Hoped” was my most commented-upon post ever, since starting this blog back in 2005.  I received a lot of comments through Facebook, and was even offered custom assistance from a personal shopper who works in the lingerie department at Nordstrom’s.  Thank you so much for reading my rant and telling me how you feel regarding your own bra-shopping experiences!

Looks like I'm not the only one confused by bras.

Looks like I’m not the only one confused.

When it comes down to it, bras are pretty confusing.  Not the concept, of course – just give us something comfortable and pretty that can help stabilize our ta-tas.  Where this becomes troublesome is in the details.  For example:  Why the awkwardness – why is the clasp in the back?  Why so few sizes that are either pretty or sexy; do the physics of bra construction prevent the use of color, sparkles or texture?  And why the discomfort?  Why, oh for the love of god, WHY is METAL WIRE with STABBY ENDS a component of ANYTHING that comes near our boobs?  Where did we go wrong???

In addition to the problems I outlined in my previous post, a number of you wrote about issues that seem to be common when we go to the lingerie department.  Here are a few of your comments:

  • Linda wrote: “besides color and poor construction, why does almost every bra out there in larger sizes have padding in the cup???”  I know, right?  It seems like most “every day” bras now come standard with padding or are push-ups.  That’s not my idea of every-day comfort.
  • Amy echoed the above sentiment and added “I need a strap that doesn’t roll but hopefully doesn’t look like something out of a 1940s Sears catalog”, and I agree!
  • And Jessica also made a very good point about cost: “I take great issue with the fact that all the cute, frilly bras in the smaller sizes are always so much cheaper. I realize that it takes sturdier construction to hold up a larger chest, but come on. When they are three or four times the cost of all the other bras out there and still plain black, neutral or white that is just absurd. It is not that much extra fabric.”
  • But it’s not only the more curvy girls among us who have complaints; I heard quite a bit from the smaller ladies as well.  Susan wrote, “Try shopping for 36A, also known as the 36nipple. I do not want an underwire, I want comfort…is that too much to ask?”  Yes, yes it is, Susan.  Just. Too. Much.
  • And it’s not even just the women, the men have something to say too.  Ken passionately stated, “This injustice will not stand! I want everyone to have fun underthingies that fit. Seriously, why aren’t the manufacturers responding to the market that clearly needs a product? Do it for the boobies!”  Thank you, Ken, for your (ahem) support!

The fact is, we women like to think that every single one of us has broken the mold in some respect.  We like being individuals, unique, interesting, different from everyone else.  And when someone tells us that we have to force our boobs into something that is, well, molded to a few specific shapes and sizes, that rankles us to the core.  Truly, when I look back upon the history of the bra, I can’t say I’m excited for the future.  If they haven’t listened to us by now, when will they?

Gas Mask Bra

Well, I guess we’ve got priorities. At least it’s pretty!