While it wasn’t intentional, it seems fitting; yesterday’s prompt started with the words “I’m thinking, today, of endings.”
I think that prompt - 20 out of a goal of 30 - will end my NiProWriMo. I may sneak in another by Wednesday, but, if I don’t, I’m okay with it.
That said, my friend Lauren had an idea: #MakingMay. I’m down. I may only get 20 things made, but it’ll be 20 more than I have now.
I am thinking, today, of endings. When will the last time my child asks me to kiss an ache be? What forgettable night was the last time my dad made me pancakes?
I am thinking, too, of beginnings. I remember holding each of my children for the first time.
Today, let us structure our memories using this format:
The first time
The last time
It may take a line or a stanza to complete those thoughts. You may cycle through them once or ten times. The goal is not to arrive at a conclusion, but to witness the span of the thing.
There are some things that people assume we are – or should be good at – for reasons that are beyond our control. For example, how am I supposed to know how to stop my kid from crying? I’m a person, not a trained child psychologist. Oh, because I’m a mom? Write down a few of the things people (and/or you) have assumed you’re good at.
Now, who might actually be good at those things?
Write to them.
You can ask them for advice (How can you be better at those things?), you can complain (“Everyone treats me like I’m you.”), or both or neither.
There is a running joke in my house. It starts as my partner and I are driving. I say, “Oh I used to work there.” My partner says, “When you were in that barbershop quarter in Skoke, Illinos” and laughs.
I have had a lot of jobs. I have had a lot of apartments. I have had a lot. After a number of years, you may expect to know what there is to know about a person – a friend, a lover, a child – but, I am most pleased by the small unexpected truths that my loved ones pull from themselves like doves or unending handkerchiefs.
Today, surprise someone.
You ghost line (or refrain) is: Did I ever tell you about the time…?
Start small: with a job you once had or a corner you once lived near.
Get bigger: the prank you once pulled or the random contest you once one.
Get bigger: the nun you once saved.
Get bigger: the tiger you once tamed.
Get unimaginably huge.
The challenge here is, once again, what narrative or truth you are hiding beneath the exaggeration and bluster.
I’ve always hated those bumper stickers that read: My money and my child go to [insert college name here.]
And, I could never quite figure out why they bothered me. I think I’ve figured it out. Until today.
I work at a community college. I went to a community college. I worked (and, god help me, borrowed) my way through college. So now, these bumper stickers which are well-meaning humblebrags, read to me like a declaration of privilege. “Hear ye, hear ye: I can afford to send my child to college, thereby saving them from years of loan repayment.*”
Today, write a narrative (poem, prose, microfiction, you decide) in which everyone wears a declaration of their particular privilege.**
* I can also afford (own) this horseless chariot which I have defaced with a sticker.”
**Including you, if you inhabit the poem.
- 3 months ago
This prompt is the fraternal twin of the previous one.
I organize a slam. It’s almost 10 years old. Last week, our feature pointed me out to the audience. I sit in the back of the room, at a table with a computer, a printed list of our rules, merch, and other organizers. The room turned and looked at me as if I had not been there for(what seems like)ever. I wanted to say that in my past life, I was a poet.
Today’s ghost line is “In a past life, I…”
What were you? What did you do? How did that part of you die? Did you grieve it? What did you “come back as”?
List a few of your proudest moments. These can small or large victories – tying your shoelaces or finishing 8th grade.
List a few of your lowest moments. This could be the time you ran out of toilet paper and defiled that towel or when you betrayed someone who loved you.
Choose one incident from each of those lists and flesh it out with sensory detail words (or snippets*). Air conditioner in the background, cotton, it was hot. Revisit each of those lists and choose
I’m a mom now. And yet, I’m still me. They say - in commercials, in soft tones, while trying to sell baby products – that parenthood changes everything. It does. But, I’m still me.
Today, I’d like to think about the humanity of our parents (blood, chosen, or fated).
Write a letter from one of your caregivers or parents to you. What do they sound like? What phrases are particular to them? Is it an open letter or is it just for you? What was their experience of your triumphant moment? What was their experience of your failure?
Those last two will be the tricky parts. I’m not sure if my children will remember last weekend – how I barely saw them – and blame me for my negligence, but from my point of view (working 10+ hours on my days off to finish my work and by the yogurt they so covet) I was doing the best I could. Similarly, at your dance recital, you were on stage, but they were surrounded by a sea of parents – could they even see you or were you just a blur? Did it even matter to either of you? If your caregiver, from your perspective, failed you, how does s/he justify it? Does s/he bother to?
*I make no apologies for this grandmotherly word choice.
- 3 months ago
So it’s weird how even if I write prompts on my yellow legal pad they don’t magically appear online. I’m going to transcribe the past few day’s worth of prompts in the next few hours (ironically, I’m actually ahead now.)
Make the following lists as fast as you can:
- 5 famous people (dead or alive)
- 5 exes (ex-lovers, ex-partners, ex-teammates, etc.)
- 5 cartoon characters (that you know relatively well)
- 5 religious or spiritual characters
- 5 ideas you hate (Could be racism. Could also be sporks. Could be student loans. Could also be decorative soap.)
Have you ever thought about marrying? Today, I want you to marry. Not in the sense of getting married, but instead I want you to officiate at the marriage of any two (or more!) people/things from the list above.
As you write, consider both practical and philosophical concerns. Where is this wedding taking place? What senses does the place stimulate? Who are the guests? What do they wear? Is this a religious or secular ceremony? Is there dancing? Is this a marriage of convenience? Love? Celebration? A business agreement? What is your role beyond officiant? Are you friends with the groom? Family of the other groom? College roommates with the bride?
If a wedding is essentially the public signing of a contract, what does the contract include?