Week 11-Day 5-Old Swimming Hole

Old Swimming Hole -> Temptation -> Diamonds in an Unlocked Jewelry Case
The water sparkles invitingly. You reach out tentatively to touch the icy reflection. A million bright lights cut out in angles on the horizon. You squint and blink, pain cutting your eyeballs ever so lightly. Noises! Behind you! You swivel as a thief in rubber-soled shoes, freezing in place. Your eyes scan the scenery for any movement. Only the sound of rippling water greets you. Slowly you reposition yourself and slip your toes in. Pause. No alarms. You put both feet in. Water shimmers around your ankles. No other customers around to dive in. No lifeguard to protect the old swimming hole from intruders. You dive in, the thrill of the chase buoys and propels you. You’re in now. The point of no return. You’re in deep. You rise up for air, gasping. No one’s around to hear you rooting around the place. Yes! You backflip under water. You breaststroke quickly to shore. The place is all yours! No finger prints. You can turn over each piece in the case. Shells, rocks, seaweed, an old boot. It feels good to be bad! No one can catch you now. You fill your heart full of these shiny memories that glitter. Temptation. Fascination. Admiration. You scrabbled out of the pond of liquid jewels, each one dropping off you in a million tiny pieces. You dry off. Water on your skin disappears. Watery fool’s gold. You escape the shop without being seen. No video surveillance to catch your raid. Just dark foot-shaped shadows on the dirt.

Unlocked diamonds in a jewelry case are an old swimming hole 
The pool of glitter temps you. You squint, looking from the corner of your eye. Looking at the shimmer head on? Daggers of pain hit your cornea. Laugher peals out of the swimming hole, temping you to take a dip in its forbidden treasure. Other kids splash and play. They flaunt their watery wealth on their necks. Heads emerge from the black velvety depths. Sun radiates their pearly necks laced with water droplets. The peer pressure bears down on you. You join your partners in crime, digging into the fresh-water case. Joy. Freedom. No parents are around. No lifeguards. Just you, the others, and your wet playground. Water games enrich your day. The unrecorded activities whet your confidence that you will all pull  off the swimming hole heist. Your swimming suit pockets fill with abundance, seep out, then refill. Each fill brings a bigger cache of memories. Adult footsteps crack on sticks. Oh, no. You scramble unevenly to escape your summery den. Hurry! You wave to the others.  Arms and legs brush off the proof of your crime. Towels soak up the blame. Squeals reveal your location. Caught! Your parents see you quickly trying to hide your tracks. Stop! Your father stares. Your mother crosses arms. Feet tap impatience. Come! You hang your head in shame. I’m guilty! Guilty as charged! You lift your head defiantly. Your ear is turned. Ouch! You are dragged away. Your escaped partners watch  from behind bushes as you are dragged away to your punishment: No dinner!


Week 11-Day 4-Western Movie

In this penultimate week to my BerkleeMusic course called, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice’, we are continuing our work with metaphor. We are given an object (Western Movie); we are charged with picking a linking quality (Adventurous) and a comparison object (Team of Arctic Explorers). We are asked to write for 10 minutes about our topic (Western Movie) but using words from our other object (Team of Arctic Explorers) to describe it. Finally, we are asked to flip it around and describe the comparison object (Team of  Arctic Explorers) with words that you might use to describe the given object (Western Movie).

My challenge has been that I slip confusingly back and forth from one to the other. Or I find the given object (Western Movie) uninspiring.  I read some about Western and Western Movie history, pondered on the qualities associated with Western Movies, and chose one.  It bothers me that they seem to sound similar. I was hoping for something more interesting. Oh, well.  Here’s another link in the chain to building better writing skills!

Western Movie -> Adventurous -> Team of Arctic Explorers
The group decided on their basecamp: Ashtonville, Texas. Two mountain ranges of deserted storefronts formed a central, barren corridor. The harsh landscape warned them from further entry. Winds whistled around solitary cacti in cloud bursts, burn-freezing the inside of the cowboys’ ears with icy fury. The men shouted to each other, signaling with their gloved hands where to drive the the stakes of their spurs. The men took out their pickaxes and started to chip away at the desert sands. They sweated inside their Texas uniforms, bandana’s wrapped around their faces to keep out the dust flying into their skin.  With their backs straining under a dark, ominous sky, the cowboys raised their tents. Standing in a single line, the men passed their tent supplies from one to the next.  When their covered wagon was unpacked, the men retreated to their canvas cave in the middle of their Nowheresville. Mark struggled to zip up the door. The others nailed down the edge of the canvas sides that met the dirt where it was not already held down by their supplies. The men sat around in a circle on their sleeping bags, each one silently unwrapping his protective uniform off his wiry, Texan frame. A small leather waterbag was passed around; each man took the smallest sip possible. A coyote howled. Dust balls hit the side of the tent. The men listened.

Team of Arctic Explorers is a Western movie
The men hustled their animals, their tent, and their supplies down the narrow trail between the two Arctic mountain ranges. The band of five brothers roped themselves together in a straight line. The wilderness called around them. Howls. Cries. A scream cut off. The brothers stopped, swore loyalty to one another, and continued on. The eldest, John, led the way. Nothing would stop them. The sheriff promised the research team a reward: bring home the thief. Get paid. Watch as they hang ’em high! Riches. Feeding their families. Telegrams by covered wagons led by Huskies back East. Warm thoughts of money spurred them on. Gold coin. A hot bath. A hot meal, better than these survival granola-flax-peanut butter snack bars. Roar! A bear stood in their way. On the other side, a frozen lake with an opening. The men huddled under their hats and broke away with shots in the air. Pumped! Full of internal fire, hunger, and need, the men circled around the bear. ROAR! The white bear got down on all fours, ready to pounce. From all directions, the men fired down on the white bear. Red covered white in drips and streaks. Hearts raced. John stepped slowly toward the bear, poking it with the end of his rifle. Dead. They removed their hats, held them over their hearts, and thanked God for their good fortune. The men heaved the bear onto the portable cot, and dragged it back to their basecamp. Yes!

Week 11 Day 3-Cobwebs


Today’s writing asked us to take the word cobweb, pick a linking quality, find another thing that shared that quality, and then write for 10 minutes about cobwebs in words that illuminate the linking quality with nouns, adjectives, and verbs from the other shared item. Whew! That’s a confusing summary. Here’s what I did — this will make it clearer. Sort of. Sometimes I start writing things that sound better if I was writing in the other direction. That’s the thing I’m learning this week. I can tell – I’m gonna need a looooooooooot of practice.

Cobwebs -> Capture -> Armies
The threads of the cobwebs spread out from one corner of the doorway. In camouflaged, semi-invisible lines, cobwebs hide their numbers from their enemy  flies. They shimmer in the light of the desert day, blending in harmoniously with the oases that tease from a distance. The approaching fly troops mark a straight line, hoping to penetrate the interior by sheer force and numbers. The flies underestimate the threads that belie the power in their ultimate weapon of choice. The stickiness binds the flies legs and abdomens like rope lines suddenly pulled to fell the enemies’ legs. The troops subdue the body of the flies after a few minutes of struggle. The cobweb’s commanding officer drops a line down to where the enemy is being held. He wants to see for himself that the enemy is captured.  The black widow spider pulls out his hands, hold his enemy in his hands, and then pierces the fly with the knife on his machine gun and empties his poison into the fly.  A few seconds later, still and stiff as a wooden plank, the spider binds up the fly, carries him to up to the corner, and leaves him for the troops to snack on. The spider returns to his desk and waits for the call from his troops to parachute in for the final kill once again.

Armies are cobwebs
The troops last assignment: fan out in straight lines to hide their numbers; go from corner to corner and stick together so that no enemy can break through the lines; hold your positions and do not move unless ordered to do so. The men dutifully walked single file until they hit a wall. They turned direction approximately 20 degrees to the right and kept on walking. Meanwhile, the commanding officer sent a second division up towards the top of the hill. One by one, they parachuted on silk threads down until they reached the other division at a second spot along the wooden wall, through which they could not go.  Meeting up, the troops walked inwards, two by two for a brief time, then walked or flew in the opposite direction, until they met back at base camp. All through the night, they worked tirelessly to build their camp. Animals called to each other eerily. The hair on the arms and legs of the troops stood up but they kept going. Towards dawn, their camp complete, the men slept. One kept watch over their camp, on the lookout for any invaders. Finally! An alarm rang out. The men looked up — space invaders! Flies darkened the skies. Legs trembled and hearts raced. How can we tame the incoming beast? Working together the men folded in on the alien more strongly when there was struggle. The men wrapped around the alien and delivered the stunning blow to the gut. All was quiet. A breeze blew. Men wafted gently and then broke away from the camp. The site of the beast overcome sickened them. Some men regrouped, going over their plan. The commander arrived. He surveyed their capture. He pierced its armor and ate quietly, under the hungry eyes of his submission troops.

Week 11-Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities

Hello! Last week? Well, last week I got thrown off by needing to take two of my three cats to the vet two times each. I only got to one daily writing and then the weekly assignment.

Week 11 is more of the same. We are given an object and asked to think of a linking quality and another object that links the two. We are to write about Object A using terms from Object B and then reverse the order and write again; 10 minutes timed writing each direction.  This is hard work. The class has one more week and I can see this work continuing afterwards.

Day 2 – Hatred

Hatred -> Filter -> Camera Lens
The camera lens of your anger filters the way you see the world. Innocent behaviors cast with a red overtone menace at you with intensity. The hot breath of conversation fogs up your ability to focus; you cannot see clearly through the haze of your hatred. People glare at you across the crowded room, eyes bearing down at you through the lens. You try to make adjustments. You pull back from the viewfinder, shake your head, close your eyes, furrow your brow, and bring the eye back to the viewer. You try to switch your mind into manual instead of the automatic setting of your amygdala, which rises in your chest the way the rising heat of sun causes an intense ray to focus onto a dry leaf, setting it on fire. Your emotions have dried up, burnt into the crisp of hatred focused on what little was left of your heart. You take lessons, you meditate. You ask random strangers to pose for you in desperate attempts to shake off the screaming-red colored filter of anger. The wind carries away what’s left of you. You replace the lens. Trying to clean it, you scratch the surface. You wince in pain at the thought of the cost of getting a new lens. You visit the store, try on various  models, and pick one that seems clear. Yet when you leave and try to take a new picture of the world around you, the red remains. Ants look pissed off carrying their crumbs to the hill. People walk by, gesticulating heatedly into their handsets. You catch them from the side; a permanent mark of anger stains their faces. Blue jays scream at each other. Grilled cheese becomes burnt cheese. You throw it out. You pang with hunger. Someone breezes by and fans your anger flames into a roaring fire, into a blaze strong enough to burn down ten thousand acres of ancient forest in a few hours’ time. You capture it, frame by frame, a vast swarth of destruction across the vista of your life. It e

Camera lens is hatred
The camera lens seethes and projects its red-hot anger onto the subjects as they mingle over white wine spritzers at the bar. Watching the people intensely, waiting for an argument to break out, so that it can catch its subjects in the act of duking it out, fists battering each others’ faces, like a scene out of a movie about white trash bar fights. The camera lens pauses, lingers in anger, over its lack of control. Under someone else’s command, the camera lens focuses on plants, bugs, animals with the smell of burnt tires on pavement. It refuses to cooperate, staying out of focus. The photographer growls in frustration at the lens, blaming old age and rusty interchanging parts as the cause of fuzzy photos, streaking colors across keyboards and cats running across the room. The camera lens celebrates its victory over the dictator photographer who insists on shooting the happy moments in people’s lives. How rude. The one wish in the camera lens’ eye is to see others crush in submission to its mean ways. Children will cry and run away in fear. Women will weep. Men will comfort their women, wrap a protective arm around the women’s shoulders, and attempt to lead them away from the funeral crematorium. The lens aches to capture the moments of people at their miserable worst: the owner sobbing over having to euthanize her pet; the dizzying loss of the athlete to another by mere milliseconds; the public pain of a fifteen year-hold high school student by her bullies. The lens imagines frights and rises in proud anger at its imagined magnificence. The photographer gingerly handles the lens, as if it were on fire, and puts it away into the cold, dark bag, where it sits and waits, biding its time, for the next moment when light and air will shine on the lens and fan the flames of its hatred for humanity, for life. Crisp memories of burning fingertips fill the dreams of the camera lens. The exhilaration of a consuming hating desire.

Week 10 Assignment – Pain is a Teacher

Pain is the teacher who carefully lays out the lesson plan to fit every day of our lives. Her tiny cryptic scrawls cover the blackboard in white. As we file into our seats, the smell of chalks fills our nostrils and covers our tongues, and seeps into our skin.

Pain pop-quizzes us Monday mornings when we are slack with sleep at our desks. Do we really have to do this now? Our Trapper Keepers and textbooks slap closed and land on the floor with a satisfying thud.

Pain surprises us with last-minute room changes posted on our classroom door, two hours after the class ended. There is no room 5-B in our two-story building. As we sit in study hall, we sweat and ring our hands. Our stomachs clench and make us dizzy with anticipation. Did we fail?

Pain tests our critical thinking skills. Turn the wrong way and pain stops us with a smack of the ruler on our backsides, bringing our attention back to the beginning of the lesson plan. Extra credit assignments stack high and sway menacingly over us. Panic rips our guts apart. How will get through this? We pass notes when the teacher isn’t looking. The test paper answers change when we aren’t looking.

After high school, birthdays become our only progress chart. Blind to the future, we grope around in the dark, searching for the light switch but sticking our fingers in the sockets and getting shocked. Our hands stick to the plate from an ungrounded outlet. We pull away, only to be drawn back into the electrical center. Zap! Zot! Muscles tense hard. We pull away hard and try again. Nothing deters us. Into the sockets our fingers go. The intensity holds us hostage and we reflexively shout. Our senses are in sharpest focus. Pain courses through our blood and electrifies us into action. Our hearts or legs get broken.

After the power has been shut off, ee close our eyes hard and pretend our lesson isn’t there. Our discipline disintegrates. We pull out hair in frustration at our lack of learning. Don’t you wish it would end and we could get some peace? We cry: No fair! Our only answer is the squeak of a rusted door that is moved slowly back and forth by the wind.

Week 10-Reversing Metaphor Direction

Hello! This is Week 10 of my Berkleemusic.com class, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.’

Like last week, we are working with developing our ability to create interesting metaphors.  Unlike last week, we are writing twice for 10 minutes each from two pieces of information, an object and an essential quality about that object.  We pick the comparison object.  Then we swap the order and write about it for another 10 minutes. I’ll stop explaining – Read below. You’ll get it.

Day 2

Teacher–>Linking Quality: instructs –> Target Idea: –>_Pain_______.

Pain: pain, ache, throb, dull roar, stab, hurt, cry, stomach, heart, head, foot, hand, torture, surgery, accident, fall, crash, smash, broken, limbs, hang, tears, beg, mercy, heartless, cruel, cruelty, Chinese water torture, repetition, infliction, shame, humiliation, rejection, desire, sob, hysterics, desperate, desperation, taboo, victim, perpetrator, villain, criminal, crimes, uncompassionate, bound, gagged, masked, scream, howl, whimper, submission, dominance, S&M

A teacher is pain to her student victims, bound helplessly to their seats. We dread yet another repetitive math lesson, the Chinese water torture of numbers. Algebraic equations twist their ugly point into our stomachs. Geometry proofs its whip against our brains. Trigonometry gags us, our minds reeling, gasping, dreaming of escape. Calculus heartlessly inflicts its symbols into our hands that are cramped, exhausted, and sobbing for mercy. Our teacher oversees the exercises in cruelty over four years’ time, twisting the lessons to suit her own purposes: that we learn enough to pass the PSATs. Our tears go unwiped and our prayers unheard. We cower in unconditional submission to the educational pecking order. When free of our parents, we are indentured in servitude to our teacher’s villainous ways. We scurry from class to class, avoiding our teacher’s punishing eyes. Our teacher hang us in humiliation on High School Hill. We are the example, the strange fruit. We whimper in humiliation under the ruler. Our crimes posted in hallways, declaring our guilt. We have been sentenced to twelve years hard labor. The teacher thrusts the unwanted lessons on us, pinning us down in effigy until we learn the point of it all. The dull roar of submission dies away

Pain –>Linking Quality: instructs –> Target Idea: –>_Teacher_______.

Teacher: Instruct, learn, lesson, lesson plan, students, school, schoolroom, classroom, tutor, repetition, test, quiz, pop quiz, grades, grading, progress chart, EIP, guides, children, discipline, enlighten, inspire, critical thinking, skills, life, relationship

Pain is a teacher, laying out its careful lesson plan. Pain points out our flaws, over and over again, until we learn the lesson. Our growth indicates whether we have passed a test. Pain quizzes us on how well we have learned our lessons, providing us with pop quizzes on a frequent basis. We have no time to study. Pain does not follow a lesson plan, or come to the same place at the same time every day. Pain tests our critical thinking skills. Failure is torture. We are sick with anticipation that we have failed. Turn the wrong way and pain stops us, bringing us back to the beginning. We are students in the classroom of life. Pain disciplines us frequently and we are humbled by its power. Failed relationships guide us towards interpersonal growth. Pain enlightens us on the point of punishment, by bringing our eyes into focus on what hurts us the most. Birthdays are our only progress chart. Blind to the future, we grope around in the dark, searching for the light switch but sticking our fingers in the sockets and getting shocked. Our hands stick to the plate from an ungrounded outlet. We pull away, only to be drawn back into the electrical center. Zap! Zot! Muscles tense hard. With all our might, we pull away and try again. Nothing deters us. Into the sockets our fingers go. The intensity holds us hostage and we scream in agony. Our senses are in sharpest focus now, when the pain courses through our blood, electrifying us into action. We leave relationships or jobs. The pain of grade we receive galvanizes us to try again, to improve. Sometimes, our hearts or legs are broken. We close our eyes, drowning out the buzz of teaching pain that circles us like a flock of vultures. We disintegrate from discipline. We pull out hair in frustration at our lack of learning. We cry at life. No fair.

Week 9 Assignment

I hope you enjoy my assignment submission for the end of Week 9 of the Berkleemusic.com course, ‘Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice.’ This class, especially in this week, has been a boon to my writing in conjunction with a technical editing course. I hope you enjoy this piece.

Week 9 Assignment Requirements

  • Choose one of your collisions: Summer -> Carefree -> Children
  • Choose your own point of view: First person narrative (I, we)
  • Choose your own tense movement:  Present, Future
  • Expand in into 300–500 words and focus with your senses.

Summer  -> Carefree -> Children

Children: kids, young, run, jump, play, potential, growth, education, love, chubby cheeks, sweet, fingers, learning, alphabet, reading, crayons, daycare, happy, play games, hopscotch, jump rope, dodge ball, horseback riding, pool, beach, volleyball, softball, baseball, naps, day camp, campers

Summer jumps into the season, giggling and laughing. Passing sun showers hopscotch over our heads. Summer stamps her hot feet through spring’s last puddles. Water fountains splash us playfully. Rainbows draw their colors on the paper-blue sky. Sunrays tag our faces with rosy love. The summer solstice stretches her potential length to maximum. The last days of school peel off in white flakes. A warm breeze rouses us from our homework chains. Freedom becomes our new fresh skin.

Excited Atlantic waves bounce the ferry S.S. Happy Campers on its knees. We wear orange lifejackets, lean over the ships’ bow, and heave in the salty sea air. After we arrive, we burst down the pier. Shoulder to shoulder as we run, we muscle each other out of the way, yelling and stomping our feet. Yes! I win! Fist pumps greet groans in friendly camaraderie. Next stop? Mad Martha’s Ice Cream! We eat our vanilla sugar cones and dig our feet into burning sand. Beach balls hop back and forth over nets. Sand castles rise. Moats overflow. Turrets tumble into the sea. We dig deep, and find joy under pink seashells. For lunch, we unzip sandwich bags with sandy fingers. Coca Cola pops open in wide smiles. Oreo cookies loosely crumble out of our mouths onto damp bathing suits. We nap on cotton towels under a blue umbrella. Comforting sea breezes caress us while we sleep. Splash! Water on our faces! We noisily chase after seagulls with our hands in the air.

Sunset sneaks up on us. Tag, we’re it!  Fluorescent Crayola colors wrap the sky in brief swathes. Dark hues cool our sandy party. What will we play tomorrow? Will we rent three-speed bicycles in Vineyard Haven and meander down-island to Oak Bluffs? Before bedtime tonight, we will imagine putting on plays about our indigenous island ancestors; victory will be ours. Our parents will tell us to go to sleep, but we will read under bed sheets with flashlights until late. Crickets will sing us to sleep. Peepers will peep. We will dream.