and what a story it is

When people around me start to complain about it being cold, I usually nod and smile, ask if I can grab them a sweater or scarf, or turn on a heater, and then offer up the following story:

The cold no longer bothers me.

Two days into a week long backpacking trip from North Lake to South Lake in the Sierra, near Bishop, it started to hail on us.  We reached our destination for the night and realized we had to break up the surface ice on the lake we were camping next to in order to pump water for dinner and to refill our canteens.  Night brought a thunder storm that kept us all awake and kept the hail coming.  Morning brought more hail, and the day brought a snow covered pass we had to trudge to the top of, the trail buried so thoroughly we had to forge our own, more hail, three icy river fords and a campsite for that night that brought with it, you guessed it, more hail.  The following day it decided to be different and hail some more.

Three days of the most miserable conditions I have ever experienced in the Sierra.  Three days of cursing the mountains and the clouds and the trail and the hail.  I hated every step of it.  I couldn’t wait to be dry and warm.  I couldn’t wait to be out of the mountains and safely home where I could jump in a warm shower, where there was a roof to keep the elements off my head, where I had a bed that was off the frozen ground.

A strange thing happened, though, as the following summer approached, I found that I was looking forward to venturing back into the mountains.  I couldn’t wait to see what the new trip would have in store for me.  I know, there was definitely something wrong with me, and yet when I looked back on the disaster trip from the year before the experience had taken on a new light, a new warmth.  It no longer sent shivers down my spine thinking about how miserably cold I had been.  It no longer made me grimace.  I had a story…

The beauty of the mountains I love, the wonderment of getting lost in the wilderness for a week, the triumph of having accomplished something so few every even attempt was made that much more special, that much more beautiful, because of the extra struggles, because the trip was hard, because it was broken.

And now, the cold no longer bothers me.

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Queen Creative have prompted me yet again:

pftpep-s3ep11

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Kintsukuroi is a Japanese noun meaning “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Idea by Braith an’ Lithe

Suggested Prompts:

  • Share a story about something that is more beautiful for having been broken
  • Write a poem about something that is more beautiful for having been broken
  • Show us a picture of something repaired
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

don’t forget the soap

Anton looking through the contents he had piled on the counter and frowned.  He knew he was missing something but he couldn’t immediately see what he had forgotten.  He pulled his shopping list out of one of the pockets deep within the recesses of his robes and consulted it.

“Filament, check.”

“Spring, check.”

“Mortar and pestle, check.”

“Mixing tub, check.”

“Soap…”

How could he have forgotten the soap?  It was only the most important ingrediant in what he was making.  With a slight shake of his head and the raising of the forefinger on his right hand, he indicated to the clerk that he would be right back and then disappeared into the depths of the store again.

He didn’t just need soap.  He needed a lot of soap.  Usually, he liked to make his own, but that took time and when a rush job came in Anton was forced to buy it along with the rest of the items that could only be used once per project.  Luckily, he was paid well enough for those rush jobs that it didn’t impact his revenue stream.

Still, without making it himself, he couldn’t always predict how potent the purchased soap would be.  It was more unstable.  It was more dangerous to work with.  Anton knew what he was doing, knew that he was in a perilous profession, but he didn’t like taking unnecessary risks all the same.

As he carried an armload of soap boxes back to the front of the store he weighed the pros and cons of telling the professor that he was no longer going to be able to do these rush jobs.  She and her cohort would just have to plan further in advance if they wanted to enlist his services.  The idea of having that much more control over his creations was very appealing, but the idea of her turning him into a newt or torturing him through some curse or hex outweighed all his counter arguments.

He would just have to continue to be careful.

After one last scan over his shopping list to make sure he had gathered all the necessary supplies, Anton let the clerk ring him up, then handed over the necessary coins to pay for the transaction, loaded everything into a satchel and headed home.

Despite the danger he was about to face, Anton thoroughly enjoyed the creation process.  He loved putting together his bombs almost as much as he loved watching them go boom.

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It’s Wednesday.  It’s early.  It must be another Queen Creative Prompts for the Promptless:

 pftpep-s3ep10-shoppinglist
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

A shopping list (noun) is a list of items needed to be purchased by a shopper, a grocery list is a the most popular type of shopping list– including items that need to be procured on the next visit to the grocery store.

Idea by NotAPunkRocker.

Suggested Prompts:

  • It’s time to get extremely personal.  Share your grocery list with us! Scan it, snap a photo, or write it out.
  • Make an unusual shopping list.
  • Tell us a story where a shopping list plays an important role.
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

second date

“Give me your heart.”

“What?”

“Hand.  Give me your hand.”

“Where are we going?”

“There’s this cute new restaurant a block over I want to try.”

“Is it spicy?”

“No, it’s savory.”

“That’s what you said last time.”

“Don’t even pretend like you didn’t have a good time.”

“Can’t we just order a pizza?”

“I know you are just trying to get under my skin.”

“Always.  I’m a stickler for consistency.”

“You’re something.”

“You wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Sometimes I just want to kiss you.”

“Kiss me?”

“Kill you!”

“I think I’d prefer the kiss.”

“Well, you are getting spicy food instead.”

“I thought you said it was savory.”

“Can’t I be both?”

“Hah!  What?”

“Can’t it be both.”
“The food.”
“The restaurant.”
“That’s it.  No more talking until after we eat!”

“How are we going to place our orders then?”

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I was promptless, and then I was prompted!  Queen Creative are at it again:

pftpep-s3ep9
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

A noun that refers to a “slip of the tongue”.  Malapropisms and spoonerisms are two examples.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Write a story based around a slip of the tongue
  • Tell us about the time you let a secret slip
  • List your top 3 television/movie “lapsus linguae” moments
  • Share your favorite spoonerism or malapropism
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

two attractive offers

“So, to paraphrase, you are telling me I can continue to have my yearly pool party for my birthday after school lets out for the summer, or I can have a stack of cash money, dollars, greenbacks, placed in my outstretched hand if I don’t have the party?”

…..

I honestly don’t remember how old I was when my parents gave me this choice.  But I do know that they were tired of the expense and the mess of having lots of children running around their house and backyard for a day.  The cake, gift bags, games, food – it all adds up and adds up quickly.  And, did I mention the mess?  All those dripping little bodies jumping out of the pool and running through the house…  One year we even accidentally tracked some blood through the house when one of the partyers cut their foot on the bottom of the pool and didn’t realize it.

Whoops.

So, they presented me with a different option.  If I gave up the pool party (and a party of any kind other than the one my immediate family would always throw on the occasion of my birth), they would pay me close to what it would cost them to buy the supplies, prizes, cake, etc…  Money to do with as I pleased: put it in savings, buy some new gizmo or gadget or action figure, put it in savings, spend it at the arcade, put it in savings, buy comic books, and, yes, put it in savings.

They may have strongly encouraged me to save, save, save from a very young, age, age, age…  Perhaps.

Anyway, I was presented with quite the dilemma.  Should I continue to have my pool parties?  They were something I looked forward to all year long.  Should I, as they say, take the money and run?  I did enjoy having money in my wallet (and bank account).

What to do, what to do?  I wanted both.  I even tried to angle for less money and only a small party, but my parents were wise to my game and they held firm on their one or the other stance.  (Rude, right?  Yeah, well, parents… so, what can you do?)  What to do, what to do?  It was a definite approach-approach conflict.  Perhaps the first such conflict of my life.

What would you have done?

Me?  I opted for the cash, after much deliberation and hand wringing…

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I was promptless, and then Queen Creative showed up and I was prompted again:

 pftpep-s3ep7
Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Approach-approach conflict is the psychological conflict that results when a choice must be made between two desirable alternatives

Suggested Prompts:

  • Give us an example of a time when you chose between two desirable alternatives
  • Write a poem about the psychological struggle of choice
  • Show us a picture about resolution, or decision-making, or approach-approach conflict
  • Tell us about your own decision making process
  • … or make up your own related prompt!

we are all Gemini

During the day, dressed business casual, he spoke the words that were expected of him at board meetings.  He fought for the company.  More importantly, he fought for the company’s share holders.  He asked “How high?” when his bosses told him to jump.  He knew what he needed to do to climb the corporate ladder.  He knew the game, and he was good at it.  He hated it.

At night, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, his bare feet resting on the coffee table, he sat with his friends, his true peers, his companions, his ka-tet, and solved the real problems of the world.  Everyone was on equal footing, every voice mattered, and they went round and round until they had talked through wealth and religion, politics and global warming.  He was truly happiest in those moments because he could say what he felt, he could argue passionately for the causes he believed in, and while he friends may have disagreed, they still respected him for his opinions.

…..

At home, she played the dutiful wife.  She had breakfast on the table ready for the small hands of her two children to shovel into their mouths on the way out the door to catch the bus.  She made sure her husband was dressed well for work.  She kept the place spotless.  She had dinner ready on time every night and made sure it was both tasty and nutritious.  She kept the peace.  She kept her calm.  She was the perfect picture of the suburban house wife, poised, refined.  She controlled her wild soul.

When she went out with her friends every Friday night, while the kids stayed home with their father, she dressed in slinky outfits, high heels, glittery jewelry.  The drank and danced, laughed and swapped stories from their homes.  She cursed with the best of them.  She spilled her drinks and didn’t care what kind of mess she was making.  She unchained herself and let her spirit run free.  The nights became the swirling chaos of noise and colors that she so desperately craved.

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My first thought upon reading this week’s Queen Creative Prompts for the Promptless was of Billy Joel’s song “Uptown Girl” – the dual life a person can lead depending on where they are and who they are with.  That seemed to fit perfectly for “honne,” so I ran with it:

 pftpep-s3ep6-honne
Wednesday, September11th, 2013

Honne is a Japanese noun referring to the behavior and opinions someone truly believes in– often displayed with one’s closest confidants.

Suggested Prompts:

  • Tell us about your closest friend
  • Write a poem or story about the honne we share with our closest friends
  • Share a honne with us
  • Introduce us to a picture concept, story, or song that represents a honne
  • … or make up your own related prompt!