Archive for October, 2011

Parents as Kids

Friday, October 28th, 2011

by Samantha Prust

Photographs were the least responsible for my realization that my parents are human, even though the pictures of them in various stages of their separate lives would seem to provide the most evidence for this fact. I had the realization as a kid, and it was a big deal because it meant that, yes, my mom and dad had been children, just like me. Finally, we had something in common. Those photos were to me rare and almost impossible images: Mom in grade school, standing on a small hill outside a white schoolhouse, pouting, wearing a lace bonnet and holding a small, white purse; Dad in a tight-fitting suit, not pouting, but not smiling, either, standing in front of a garage door. Older, they stood on beaches, in parks, grasped hands, let them go, beat up or got beat up by siblings, rode the bus, drove a car, went to prom, graduated from high school, and went to college where they met and thus ended their lives as human beings in the eyes of the children they had. The photographs were mere props to me, planted in drawers for me to find; it was my parents' stories about their childhoods that really made me understand that they're human.

Next Time, Just Ask

When my mother was 5 years old, one of her brother's friends had a used bike that was her size for sale for five dollars. Her dad said she could buy it if she saved up the money. So she worked and slaved, put a down payment on it, and finally, was able to buy it. She had a "new" bike and couldn't wait to ride it.

Her family lived in a big house that they could get to by going down a dirt path through a field. She walked her new bike down the dirt path—because she didn't have any idea how to ride it. She said that she didn't know where her parents were during this time. She would sit on the bike propped up by a white picket fence, trying to get up the nerve to make it go. Finally, after about a week, she did make it go, and she pedaled like crazy down the road toward another friend's house. Stopping hadn't occurred to her before, but now it was an issue; she just looked for something to hit that was fairly soft. It worked.

That whole summer, she would run the bike into big bushes to stop. When crossing intersections, she remembers praying that no cars would come down the street, and somehow, she survived those first few weeks. One good method she remembers doing was to just wipe out so that she wouldn't hit something really hard. She wanted to ride the bike, but she hated being scared and having to run into things. Sometimes, before she wanted to stop, she would just slow way down and then jump off before it fell over.

She had a lot of bloody knees and noses, and gravel pitted palms, until finally, her mom asked her why she was getting hurt so much when riding her bike. Mom confessed her bike-stopping methods and her mother showed her that you push the pedals backwards to engage the brakes. My mother thought it was a miracle. She still suspects that her brother Lance knew all about how she was her crashing her bike to stop, but didn't tell her how to use the brakes. She says that her parents seemed to feel that their kids would figure everything out if they wanted to badly enough; they didn't hover or offer much advice unless directly asked.

A Lesson on Revenge

My father, age 10, and his friend Keith Kilmer were riding their bikes back from the woods one day. As they rode past the house where the bad seed kid lived, he came out and blew a bunch of beans at them through a blowgun.

So they went to the mom and pop grocery store right next to their house and bought a bag of navy beans and a cane fishing pole. When they went back home, they cut the cane pole into pieces and it made handy dandy blowguns. Grabbing their bean ammo and weapons, they hopped on their bikes and headed back up the street toward the bad seed's house.

As they rode up the street, there came the bad seed, running at them full blast with his blowgun in his mouth. My father and his friend pedaled their bikes, sporting their blowguns, mouths bulging like crazed chipmunks, and brrrraaaatttt, brrraaaatttt, pttttewwww—a barrage of beans completely pulverized the bad seed.

Later that evening my grandfather called my father into the kitchen. It seems the bad seed had a bean stuck in his ear and had to go to the hospital to have it removed. Crack! and Splinter! went the blowguns and my dad had to endure an hour-long lecture about the riskiness of propelling legumes at bodily orifices. Maybe the lesson should have been about revenge, although I'm not sure that "be careful when you get revenge because you might hurt someone" is at the top of every revenge-getter's list.

Going up that stairway ...

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I've always liked the Led Zeppelin logo, the font some combination of Kashmir, Desdemona and/or Dyer or whatever. I like it because it is easy to read yet still interesting. But most of all, it brings to mind the drum beat, the music, the sounds behind my growing up.

There is an image their lyrics conjured up for me ages ago. Once I even calligraphied the lyrics for a client. The double mat framing included the stair-step sawtooth on one side. In my head the song elicits upward spiraling staircases, climbing on the melody as it rises. A bit of Escher's Relativity and a bit of the Grand Staircase in Harry Potter mixed in.

When "Get The Led Out" visited the renewed Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, they said they did not want to be Zeppelin imitators, but rather remain true to the music as written. Robert Plant's vocals are sung by Paul Sinclair. Without apology Sinclair told us  they don't do all the famous Led Zeppelin songs at every concert - they mix it up purposely to showcase the music and its evolution.

Yeah. Right.

But ... as we knew it would ... their encore delivered.

And I climbed that stairway to heaven once again.

Oh yeah.

Go ahead. Give it a listen yourself.

The Good Die Young

Friday, October 21st, 2011

The Good Die Young

By Fay Ulanoff

Ulysses wobbled and tilted towards a blank area but would
not be pushed off.

Well at least not yet. He was not ready.

Being the biggest one of the cluster, he stood his ground.

As the day became shorter he tried to force himself to stay
on course and last as long as he could while being attached to a strong branch.

Ulysses watched and pushed a corner of his body towards the
smaller leaves that fell almost as soon as a breeze took them. He’d call out their
names. “Lillian, I just met you this spring. Don’t you recall the simple
pleasures of watching the sun rise and set, and then when the long days of
summer were upon us we were moist and pliable. Why I would not have broken a
sweat trying to grab one end of you while you still grew.

I had hoped that we
would always be friends and that we would be able to jump our last jump
together, but alas it might not work out that way.”

“Don’t worry about me. Save yourself and perhaps you should
try to break the fall of the small ones like me.”

Ulysses stood and watched as the smaller leaves, than the
medium ones were slowly unhinged from their branches and drifted to the ground.
He held back Lillian with the bottom of his body, but she was almost detached
when the sun faded and the wind picked up.

“Here Lill, jump on my back and as soon as I feel I’m on the
move to the ground we will go together.”

All right Ulysses, I’ll try,” she said while giving it her

The wind swept through the yard and became stronger while
both leaves drifted into an already pile of fall leaves.

Ulysses, with all his red, brown and green color lay on top
of Lillian’s small still green body and he smiled, while she did the same
because they knew they would be together forever.

The End

Passionate Authors

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

On October 8th, I had the pleasure of attending the AAUW Conversation with Authors event. ThreeColorado authors, Sandi Ault, John Shors, and Helen Thorpe each spoke for about 45 minutes and then answered some audience questions.

            Sandi Ault has written a series of “Wild” mysteries, Wild Penance, Wild Sorrow, Wild Inferno, and Wild Indigo. Her character,Jamaica, is a protection agent with the Bureau of Land Management, working in the Southwest nearTaosMountain. She interacts with Indians in the Tonoah Pueblo and has a wolf for a pet.

            Ault talked about her love of the Indians. She has been adopted into a tribe, but knows little of their language. Words are sacred and shared very sparingly. They refuse to let anyone write anything down. Ault also has a wolf as a pet. If a male wolf is orphaned, no pack will accept him. Her love for wolves shone through as she talked about her devotion to these animals.

            John Shors, a former English teacher and newspaper reporter, has traveled widely in Asiaand other parts of the world avoiding the cities and tourist attractions to spend time with native peoples. His books, Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, and Dragon House, feature exotic events in remote cultures. His goal in writing is for readers to feel like they have visited the places of the settings.

            Helen Thorpe, a journalist and wife of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, has written a book, Just Like Us, about four Mexican teenagers attending a high school inDenver and beginning college. One girl was born in theU.S., one is here legally with a green card, and two were brought here as young children by their parents. This factual book describes the challenges they have faced and continue to deal with. Thorpe emphasized that the book is not intended as an editorial. Her mission is to deepen readers’ understanding of the complexity of the issue.

            These three authors all spoke from their hearts about issues of vital concern to them. I was reminded, once again, of the power of the word. Writing does touch the core of the being of both the writer and the reader.


Finishing A Novel, Plus Forgiveness

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

With or without writing, I probably would have reached the same final emotion when I finished my novel: forgiveness.

This feeling arrived as if instant messaging me the day I completed my sixth edit. On that Sunday morning two weeks ago, I saw that I was finally done with “One April Day”– I had conducted enough repair work on the manuscript that I felt ready to start looking for an agent.

As I wrote, I didn’t expect to forgive, but the feeling came anyway. I wrote a fictionalized account of what had happened to me out of anger and curiosity – I wanted to tell the story of my layoff from a newspaper, a falling out with friends and my search for meaning in the upheaval.

I knew I needed to forgive, not for the sake of those who I should have let go, but for my own placidity. When this unsought for feeling hit me, I saw that the repair work had been on me.

I’m not sure how, but writing the story started my process of self-exploration. When I edited and reread the story, I found nuances both in my words and what I was trying to say. My loss entered the paper, like water needing to be wiped away, and became no longer mine.

The loss became a memory, something to stop holding onto after analyzing it from the angles of art and thought.

With that release, I didn’t have to drag along the past, like tin cans attached to a tailpipe. I could start the day and the next with a completed manuscript and a sewed up heart without the entanglements of what-ifs or I-should-have’s.