Friday, August 14, 2009

Draft: Dive's latest assignment

Why Mr. Bloom hadn’t experienced luck in what seemed decades is an unrelated, circuitous story. Suffice to say his past two months, riddled with blood clots in his left foot and an outburst of warts on his nose, were, indeed, unpleasant ones. That he felt persecuted by fate and believed he had earned the right to self-pity was reasonably justified. But in no way was his current state of absolute mourning for his decrepit, physical self warranted. After all, he had the use of his mind and limbs, though admittedly, he now walked with a limp.

Leaning against the dock railing, Mr. Bloom considered how he should spend his day as an invalid. Had he access to other invalids, he might have considered himself fortunate by comparison; but instead he picked up a round, grey stone and threw it into the shallow waves, never considering he was able to throw further than most young girls.

Presently, he turned to an approaching shadow, that of Mr. Oberdimer, a man of considerable fortune. To say Bloom was envious was to say little, since Bloom’s jealousy sprung from a recess deeper than the most bilious bladder.

“Hey ho,” the young Englishman, in fashionable cap and tweed, called. “And there is Sir Bloom. My word, but I haven’t seen you in numberless years, it seems. What are you up to now, old man?”

Bloom believed his best recourse might be to pretend deafness, and so he stared further out to sea, contemplating the way stronger fish consumed the weaker, and whether he was to become one of those victims of nature.

There was no escape, however, as became apparent when Oberdimer came closer.

“Hallo, Bloom,” said Oberdimer, louder, thumping a polished walking stick on the damp boards. “You seem in bad spirits. Anything wrong?”

Resigning himself to his current social fate, Bloom looked up with a countenance as pitiful as a floating sea bass. “Hallo, Oberdimer. No, I suppose we have not run into one another.”

“Well, then, how is business progressing? Met your goals, as you put it last time?”

“I’ve fallen upon a bit of bad luck.”

“Oh? How is that?”

Surely, Bloom thought, the man needed a new pince nez.

He decided to end the conversation (or at least attempt to) by shock, thrusting his warty face directly into the young man's.

If Bloom were deaf, then Oberdimer was most certainly blind.

“So sorry to hear that,” said the young man, oblivious to Bloom's blights, and now in obvious haste to relay his own social news.

“Say, do you recall meeting Francois that time in Paris? Well, he wrote me, and….”

At this intelligence, in which he seemingly evinced little interest, Mr. Bloom gazed abstractedly for the space of a half a second or so in the direction of a bucketdredger, rejoicing in the farfamed name of Eblana, moored alongside Customhouse quay and quite possibly out of repair, whereupon he observed evasively:

"Everybody gets their own ration of luck, they say."

Fun with the word of the day

My bbf Sandra Kay mentioned signing up for Dictionary.com's "Word of the Day." Since I love words (but often lose them in my overpopulated mind), I thought it would be fun to write a sentence or two using these words when they appear in my mailbox. I also thought some of these entries might turn into fiction, which dear Dive and his friends have been nurturing.

I won't vow to do this every day (because I don't wish to make promises I can't fulfil which always makes me feel bad about myself), but I will do it when I have time and ambition.

Today's word is "celerity."

----------------------------------------

With unexpected celerity, she rose from the wheelchair, piled her full weight on her flat feet and declared, "Enough!"

Abrupt silence. Flabbergasted eyes. Pinking faces. Gaping mouths.

"Now get out of here! All of you!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Statement from AARP on Obama's Health Care Plan

I received this via John Horejsi of SALT. Thanks, John, for the excellent information!


The internet is flooded with emails spreading crazy rumors about health reform so I wanted to share some facts from AARP about what's really going on. Please join me in forwarding these facts to everyone you know. Print them out and pass them around at your social gatherings and other places where people are discussing the issues of the day.
FACT #1: Medicare will not be ended, and no benefits or services will be cut.
Your services will not be ended, nor will your benefits be cut. AARP's position on this could not be clearer. And we have sent this message loud and clear to Congress. While the current proposals include savings in Medicare by cutting out fraud, abuse, waste, and inefficiency, we're standing up and making sure benefits for Medicare recipients are not only fully protected, but are improved.1
FACT #2: No legislation currently in Congress would mandate the rationing of care. Period.
Our staff has read all of the legislation circulating in Congress and there are no provisions in these bills that would ration care for our members. None. If any ever did, we would vigorously fight to stop that legislation.2
FACT #3: There is no provision of any piece of legislation that would promote euthanasia of any kind.
The rumors out there are flat out lies. Right now Medicare does not cover counseling for end-of-life care. The portion of the bill in question would simply provide coverage for optional end-of-life consultations with doctors, so that the patient can be aware of all of the treatment options on the table. It is not mandatory and it has nothing to do with euthanasia.3
FACT #4: We have not endorsed President Obama's plan.
In fact, we haven't endorsed any plan. We are supporting reform of our health care system, something that AARP has pushed for many years. We're working closely with Republican and Democratic members of Congress to lower health care costs and to ensure quality affordable coverage for older Americans – and we want reform legislation passed and signed by the president this year.4
So what is AARP fighting for in health reform?
  1. Stopping insurance companies from charging older Americans unaffordable premiums because of their age.
  2. Ending the practice of excluding people from insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
  3. Holding down health costs and making insurance coverage more affordable for all Americans.
  4. Making prescription drugs more affordable by narrowing the Medicare doughnut hole, bringing generics to market faster, and allowing Medicare to negotiate better drug prices.
Find out more and take action at HealthActionNow.org.
Thanks,
Gene Kelly


1. "AARP to Congress: Don’t Make Medicare More Expensive," AARP, July 30, 2009 http://www.aarp.org/aarp/presscenter/pressrelease/articles/rand_medicare_statement.html
2. "Debunked: Health Reform Means Rationed Care For Seniors," AARP, August 4, 2009 http://blog.aarp.org/shaarpsession/2009/08/debunked_health_reform_means_r.html
3. "AARP Responds to Health Reform Scare Tactics," AARP, July 24, 2009 http://www.aarp.org/aarp/presscenter/pressrelease/articles/mccaughey_statement.html

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dive's Latest Assignment

Dear Dive:

Here is my response to your writing prompt. This exercise is exactly 500 words, per your request. Thank you for considering my submission.

Sincerely,

The Tenacious Poodle

p.s. Happy Birthday

--------------------------------------------------


--But with the passage of the years Lucho Abril Marroquin was to tell himself that of all the instructive experiences of that morning the most unforgettable had not been either the first or the second accident but what happened afterwards.--

He had learned getting over the thing was often worse than the thing itself.

Tripping Vanessa, causing her to slam her head against the filing cabinet, was one thing.

Crushing her hand in three places as he rushed to assist her was another.

But visiting her in the hospital….

“I’m…um…can’t…here.” He handed her daisies, six of the twelve browning at the edges, stems bent from his grip.

“Thanks,” she said, straining to take them with her good hand.

“Oh sorry,” he said, leaning closer to help.

He sniffed. She didn’t smell like her normal self.

And then, he felt his foot slip.

His morning streaked across his mind like an embarrassing crowd-mooner. No, please. Not the chin, his cleft chin. He would not fall and hit his chin on the hospital bed bar.

Lucho ground the heel of his Armani shoe into the polished floor. Hopped. Whew. Okay.

Now act natural.

He hopped from foot to foot, dancing and opening his arms wide, ending with “ta dah!”

“So…how are ‘ya?”

All right,” her puffy, purple mouth whispered. Her eyes were bloodshot, her blond hair stringy. The bruised lump hung on her forehead like an overly ripe plum. “They won’t let me sleep.”

“Yes,” he nodded knowingly without actually knowing anything.

“Because I have a concussion,” she said.

“Oh. Right. I head that. I mean, I heard that.”

She closed her eyes. He could see the veins through her thin lids. She dropped the flowers.

He uh-hummed.

“Well, um, I guess I should get going then, huh?”

She nodded.

“Um, sure, then…bye.”

He turned and walked into the antiseptic hallway.

“Okay…that went well."

The nurse at the station raised an eyebrow at him. He waved at her on his way into the elevator.

______________________________________________

Lucho Abril Marroquin dreaded the day Vanessa was due back at work. Yet, that day arrived in spite of his dread and his fervent prayers to a God he always imagined looked like mayonnaise.

He heard her shoes. He jerked his feet under his desk.

He looked at her feet passing his desk. Good God, no!

She was wearing those cream-colored pumps, the same ones she wore the day of the accidents.

“Good morning, Lucho,” she nodded, seating herself at her desk immediately behind his.

“Morning,” he mumbled.

And that’s how it remained—Vanessa gracefully clicking into the office every morning, alerting Lucho it was time to yank his feet in. Lucho murmuring “morning,” typing gibberish for an excuse to not look up. Lucho forgetting he used to ask Vanessa to lunch (she always turned him down, but so what—at least he had asked). Lucho wanting to bring his knees to his chin and suck his thumb.

Why in hells bells had he never apologized?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hot day, cool change

I'm unmotivated.

I started off motivated. I spent three or four hours formatting my book so I could save big money on a printer. Then I got a migraine and had to put it away. Then I got hueva--because I have to go to Costco and it's so damn hot out there! The thought of fighting crowds and carrying boxes in the heat appeals to me about as much as an enema does. At least I don't have to have an enema in Costco.

Dive has posted another assignment, but I'm too brain dead to do it. I want to, but I just can't right now, which is a drag, because I feel like writing, but I'm too brain dead because I had to format all morning long. Like that long sentence?

I wonder if I should give up on writing stylistic fragments. I do it sometimes and know I am doing it and decide at the moment that they give a nice, clipped feel to the piece. But then I go back a day later or so and it irks me to have a fragment on a blog or in my fiction. It has even started to irk me when I read fragments in my Agatha Christie books. I wish I wouldn't be like that. I mean, I really am not someone who picks up on every comma or spelling error (goodness knows, I make so many typos, my English teachers would have convulsions).

Never mind. My sister-in-law just called with a fun activity for us tonight. Yippeeeee!

Now I'm motivated. Gotta leave in an hour.

How's that for a mood swing? Heh heh.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The award goes to....

You know, it's hard for women to find good role models.

We have some women who claim to be leaders, but they are not role models, and most of them aren't real leaders, either. They are posers or sycophants or egotists. They are hypocritical or dishonest or demeaning. Many of them use their gender as a tool. I don't look up to them. They irritate me. Hillary Clinton, Sara Palin and at least one local official come to mind. Then I dismiss them from my mind. I have better things to do than extensively contemplate people I do not admire.

I once blogged that I believed Lucy Beuchamp was a great female role model, but since then, I haven't really thought about it much. I guess I've just been busy. But it's a new year, and I need some inspiration, so I want a new woman role model for the year.

It's not that I want to go out looking for female role models. I don't. Women role models who are true leaders should just kind of appear in your life, I think.

How am I defining a role model?

1. Someone who makes a positive impact within her family and her community.

2. Someone who has overcome challenges and has used those experiences to better herself and the world.

3. Someone who isn't afraid to openly love and treat people fairly.

4. Someone who is knowledgeable, smart, strong, gentle, wise and secure.

5. Someone who, in spite of having all these qualities, is humble.

So my woman role model of the year--a new award being presented by the Poodle--is Jeanette Rishell.

Jeannete happens to be running for the VA House of Delegates, 50th District--which isn't my district, by the way. I'm not a party member, either, so please don't mistake this post for a party endorsement. It's not one. It's a "Thank you, Jeanette, for giving women a role model and for providing inspiration to act through civic engagement and leadership."

I met Jeanette at church before I knew she was "a politician." That's a good thing, because if you read this blog, you know how I feel about politicians. I heard she was running for office and I thought, "Is this the same person?" I mean, she is so NICE!

I then saw Jeanette at organization meetings that I also started to attend. Weird! We like some of the same stuff. That means she CAN'T be a politician.

Jeanette has this even, calming, warm personality and a genuine smile that doesn't say, "I'm a politician." I guess that's because she ISN'T a politician. She's a leader and a role model.

Whenever I hear Jeanette speak at these meetings, it is always with that same tone of reason, fairness, forethought, calm, logic and inner strength. Wow. That's not a combination I encounter regularly.

To help you get a better idea of the kinds of organizations Jeanette belongs to, here is her full list of her affiliations (which is longer than mine, of course):

  • Prince William County/Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce, member
  • Prince William Regional Chamber of Commerce, member
  • Committee of 100, twice served as their Director from Manassas Park
  • League of Women Voters, member
  • Unity in the Community, former Secretary/Recorder and Vice Chair
  • NAACP, member
  • American Association of University Women, member
  • “Yes You Can! Young Lady-Young Man” youth mentoring foundation, Board Member
  • Manassas Park Electoral Board, former Vice Chair
  • Bull Run Unitarian Universalists Congregation, member and Board Liaison
  • Leadership Prince William, Class of 2009
In addition, Jeanette was the 2006 recipient of the “Voices of Women” award presented by the Prince William County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
But it's not the memberships that make the role model. It's the things Jeanette does as part of her memberships and as part of her life. She is an amazingly giving person.
It's hard being a woman leader of any kind, whether it's of a family, a group or organization. In politics, I imagine it must be particularly hard. I mean, political women are expected to be mean but wear skirts and pantyhose, aren't they? What's up with THAT? Jeanette doesn't seem to get into the gender thing, though. She is obviously a woman, and she is a lovely woman. But she doesn't play into the girly-girl or macho-lady role. She's balanced. And she is kind.
I like balance. I like kindness. And I like good role models.
So thanks, Jeanette, for being someone women can look up to without feeling put down.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

500 words

Here is another Dive-mandated 500-word special assignment based on the following quote: "And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze."


I kind of cheated because I had most of the text--I just mushed and merged it for the purpose of this assignment. Long ago, when I was enrolled in a pathetic excuse for a Ph.D. program (a story in itself), I wrote a crazy book about a completely dysfunctional family and a young woman whose life had gone to hell. The plot ended up being like an acid-trip-mix of my experiences with friends' experiences and tales, with other things I've read, with just bizarre perceptions. But I guess that's where most fiction comes from then, eh? Nothing is ever totally rooted in unique, unreality.

This book, like one other, has been in my computer forever. If I had more tenacity, I would seek out publishers because hello....I now have a poetry book, a kids' book, two novels and at least one other poetry book sitting here going nowhere.

Have I mentioned I would much rather write than market?

In any event, here it is, Dive! 500 words. (Dive's quote doesn't factor in.)
---------------------------------------------------------------

The sun beat us, like slave-holders. I swiped at the wet strands of hair sticking to my sunglass lens.

"It's like the beach without the water," I said. Lo gave me a strange look. "Well, kind of. No sun-bathers though. Or shells."

"Maybe fossils," she said absently.

"And definitely rocks. I've never seen so many rocks. Have you ever seen so many rocks?"

"Are you nervous?" she asked.

"About what?"

"This trip. Seeing Mom," she answered.

"Not really," I lied.

"I am," she said.

I watched the cliffs whip by.

"Will we see the Grand Canyon?" I asked.

"Wrong state," she said. "When was the last time you studied geography?"

I shrugged.

I had left Damon a note. "Going with Lo to visit my mother," was all it said. "I'll call you." That was three days ago. So far, I hadn't. Most of my things were with me. It's sad when you can pack all your belongings into a single suitcase and not even have to sit on it to close it.

…………………………………………………

We stopped at a gas station. The people had accents, and I knew when I asked the man behind the counter for "regula" coffee, I sounded weird to them. I knew I smelled, and my dyed-black hair was on the verge of growing out, so light roots showed through at the top. The new hair was fine and shiny, real. The dyed part had turned brittle and coarse, a head full of greasy pubic hair layered over baby hair.

I bought the coffee and sweet roll and wondered how long my fifteen dollars would last. I had never had a lot of money, but I had never starved either. I couldn’t depend on Lo for too much. Besides, something in me wanted her to believe I was good at taking care of myself and didn't need anyone. So I kept my poverty to myself.

………………………………………………….

The southwest was a weird place, as far as I was concerned. I was used to old mill buildings, traffic, swearing and fast talk. Everyone here seemed to be in some kind of fugue, a no-hurry state. We got stuck behind a tractor for thirty miles, and I thought I would die. I begged Lo to get back on a highway, away from these hillbillies.

"You need to stop being so judgmental," she said. "Just because someone drives a tractor doesn’t mean he's a hillbilly.

"Yeah well, let me tell you what not being judgmental has gotten me," I said. I hadn't meant to sound so bitter. It just came out.

"What did he do to you, Victoria?" Lo asked.

"He didn't do anything," I said. "I just got into some fucked up stuff is all. I let him lead me into it. He didn't 'do' anything."

"Oh and I suppose the marks on your face were just you 'getting into some fucked up stuff' right?’"

"Well, not that time. That was something different."

"And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze."