Friday, June 14, 2013

Reaching for the Best

In honor of Father’s Day, today’s post is brought to you by a REAL DAD — my awesome brother Barry!

I've read many tales about drifters, and to be honest, one of my favorite modern-day main characters is Jack Reacher from author Lee Child. If you've never read a Reacher novel, they’re full of adventure and twist.

You see, fellow Benders, I used to be somewhat of a drifter myself. Back in 1997 I moved from Washington to New Orleans to Pennsylvania to New Jersey to Maryland to South Carolina back to Pennsylvania and then returned to Washington. And this was not for vacation — this was because I couldn't settle down.

If you notice within that list of states I don't say “Louisiana,” I say New Orleans. Trust me, that town should be a different state altogether, and it's motto should be “Home of Adventure...and Cockroaches.” I once saw a swarm of cockroaches so big down there, it was carrying away a baby. Yeah, I saved the baby, but that’s a tale for another day.

Getting back to Jack Reacher...

He doesn't have material things. I used to be this way, too. All due to the fact that once my car was broken into and everything I had was stolen… except for my journals. It seems that the slimy thief or thieves didn't care for a big box of old notebooks. All they wanted was my CD collection and clothes. From that day on, I vowed to be a minimalist. Well, until 2008. That was the year my son Luke was born, and I found out what life was really about. Minimalist? His toy trains alone would not fit into a cargo plane.

I would like to see Jack Reacher change a diaper when, in the middle of doing so, the little fireman decides to put out a fire that isn't there. The first time this happened to me I just stood there in a sleep-deprived stare getting whizzed on and wondering, How do I stop this thing? Not even thinking of covering it up with one of the millions of diapers that surrounded us. Which makes me remember how I thought back then, There is NO WAY we’re going to use all these things. WRONG, so very WRONG.

And speaking of sleep-deprived, Jack has a bunch of mottoes he lives by. One is “Sleep whenever the opportunity presents itself because you never know when you’re going to get the chance again.” I would like to see him try to make a fussy baby lie down and go to bed, when all you yourself want to do is sleep. Barb has written about selling her soul for some sleep as a new mom. At least I'll be in good company when I spend my time in hell. I'll bring the marshmallows, Barb.

So these days, I don’t really need a Reacher adventure story. If I want adventure all I have to do is listen to my son while he’s playing with his trains. God bless you Reverend W Awdry. I would like to see Jack try to answer a four-and-a-half-year-old’s barrage of questions like…

Why does Thomas have a face and real trains don't?

Where is the Island Of Sodor on our globe?

Or my personal favorite— Do trains poop and if so where does it come out and does it smell?

Good luck with that, Jack.

You see, my son taught me that I don’t need to be constantly moving like a shark. Now I know that all those years I was really just trying to run away from myself…

Even though, before I left Washington back in ’97, my sister Barb looked at me and gave it to me straight, "No matter where you go, there you are."

But I wasn't listening. I was too self-absorbed in what I had flowing through my brain and veins.

I can say now with all honesty that I am SO happy with where I am, who I am, and who I have in my life. So on this Father’s Day I give thanks to my son for helping me be the man I am today —

A guy who outreaches Reacher every day of the week…

Luke’s Dad.

By the way, trains do poop — it comes out the bottom, and it does not stink.

PROMPT: Be the best you can be.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just What the Doctor Ordered

This week I’m working on a piece about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from medical school (Geneva College, 1849).

Well, my research has got me thinking about all of those “crazy” medical practices of the 19th century —

Narcotics for cranky babies

A little dab of mercury to heal those nasty cuts

And of course, leeches…

Lots and lots of leeches.

What could possibly go wrong?

We've certainly come a long way.

We’re so much more sophisticated these days…

Botox to banish those nasty wrinkles!

Yeah, BO as in botulism — a sometimes-fatal foodborne illness.

What could possibly go wrong?

Here’s a tip —

If a word has the letters T-O-X in it, in precisely that order, it’s probably not good for you.

Just sayin’.

And now I’m seeing all of those nifty ads for the new male Fountain of Youth Testosterone!

Yeah, what the world needs now is a bunch of 70-year-old men hopped up on the big T like 15-year-old boys.

What could possibly go wrong?

PROMPT: Every character probably consults a physician at one time or another. Go ahead and prescribe one of  the latest medical “crazes.” What could possibly

Write on!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

It Ain’t Over ‘til Somebody Sings

I recently read an article about Cindi Lauper —

You know, the girl who just wanted to have fun in the ‘80s?

Trust me, even the XYs wanted to have fun in the ‘80s…

It was the pre-Nirvana-angst age, after all.

Anyway, back in the day, Cindi rocketed to the top of the universal charts and sold over 50 million albums.

However, within the decade her career began to sputter and she came down in a fiery fame crash that demolished nearly everything in her life —

Her relationships, her health, her sanity.

Sad ending, right?

Not so fast.

She picked herself up.

She picked all the crash debris out of her teased-up pink hair.

And then she picked up her pen.

She wrote the score for a musical called Kinky Boots.

Well, apparently those Boots were made for walking…

all the way to Broadway.

And last Sunday night Kinky Boots took home 6 Tony Awards!

Including one for Cindi Lauper’s Best Musical Score.

So you see, there are no sad endings.

And yes, if you've got a particular bend, you could argue that there are no happy ones either…

It all depends

on where you end

the story.

PROMPT: Where do you end your stories? Just for kicks, give your character a phoenix moment today. What are the ashes he or she rises from? And what exactly is that victory’s flavor the second time around?

I’m thinking roasted marshmallows, but maybe that’s just me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Tuesday…

On Tuesday, when it hails and snows,
The feeling on me grows and grows
That hardly anybody knows
If those are these or these are those.
~ Winnie-the-Pooh

Here’s a delicious find that I uncovered in the Hundred Acre Wood this week—

A 1929 recording of A.A. Milne reading a chapter “In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.”

Check it out here.

Ah, there is something about an author’s own voice reading his or her own work.

It’s just the right sort of something that starts a writing day right.

PROMPT: Do a quick search for the voice of one of your favorite authors. Listen, then write whatever comes to mind. Or perhaps you’d rather be a bit Pooh-ish and spend the day enjoying a smackerel of the impossible —

“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
~ Winnie-the-Pooh

Well, I know what I’m going to do…

Tut, tut, it looks like rain.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Take It Outside

Look deep into nature, 
and then you will understand everything better.
~Albert Einstein

I spent a glorious weekend outside with my hands in the dirt and my head in the clouds.

And while I’m not sure if I actually understand anything better, I certainly feel good!

Of course I do.

Scientists have found that time spent in nature cuts anxiety and makes us happier.

They also say it also makes us more creative, so it’s the perfect activity for artistic types.

But you don’t need scientists to tell you all this.

You just need to get out there where the tweets are real…

and find out for yourself.

PROMPT: Take that writing notebook of yours (the real kind — you know, made of that white stuff called paper), and get outside today. Listen to the birds, the earwigs, the trees... Trust me, they have stories to tell.