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September 16th, 2006

Today was a Prompt Writing Workshop day.

I arrived at Market Street Books in Southern Village with little time to spare, but we didn't start right on time, so I stepped next door to get a discounted cup of coffee, which they offer to the writing group. Or so I thought. Or, they used to.

A guy who seemed to be the owner, or at least a manager, was there, and when the cashier called him over to ask him about the discount, which she didn't know about, he mumbled something about it "used to being on the schedule, blah, blah, blah."

I said, "Well, I think we might be on an off week this month, due to rescheduling," and he stammered so more, and I said, "I don't care, just charge me full price; I need to get back to the group"

They have free wireless access in this little coffee shop, which evidently, is too popular, as a sign is now posted near the cash register:  Due to limited seating space, and slow table turnover, we are having to suspend our free wireless service during lunch hours."



We had about a dozen people participating today.  A nice sized group. Yes, Helen, sometimes size does matter.



The first prompt today was: 'Write a letter to yourself from your house."

This is what I wrote, but did not read to the group.

Dear John, ["Oh, not another Dear John letter," I think.]

I'd like to congratulate you on your decision to finally have that moldy spot on the ceiling of my master bedroom closet looked at. Though I haven't said anything, your ignoring of it for about a year-and-a-half now has felt like watching a mole on my neck go from light to dark to black, and not being able to do a thing about it.

I had to laugh at your face yesterday when you came up to me from the uphill side of our front yard, and finally noticed that half of my siding was in various states of disrepair — some slats crashed to the ground, others still hanging precariously with an edge caught on a nail here, and part of one resting on another one there — with nothing but, what you're not sure is particle board or drywall, fully exposed to the elements. Well, you're not the only one who hopes it doesn't rain until the homeowners association can get to the repairs.

Though I got a chuckle out of your face at that moment, it wasn't nearly as funny as the moment when your neighbor said to you, "You're just now noticing it? It's been like that for two days now." In fact, that made me "LOL," as you're so fond of typing in our guest room on that plasma screen all hours of the day and night, while totally ignoring me. And, no, I'm not bitter.

Perhaps next, you'll call in a professional to take care of that master bathroom ever-so-slow toilet leak. I mean, it was an heroic try — your taking it all apart like you did, putting in that $4.95 replacement nut-and-bolt set from Lowe's — but you know as well as I do that it didn't do the trick.

And quite frankly, I get the distinct impression that your gloating in having saved the cost of a plumber is what's now keeping you from admitting that it just "ain't-a-workin'." I mean really. Your mortgage payment is $379 a month. Surely that's allowed you to put some money away for a rainy day? Think of the dripping as tiny little raindrops and reach into the slush fund to fix the flush drum.

I didn't read this, because I'm not at all crazy about it.

Nancy hit a nerve with this one, though. Peoples' houses had a lot to say, and their emotions ranged from happy to sad to angry to grateful. Quite an interesting prompt.



The second prompt was around a photograph, a photograph of a painting in fact. The assignment was to write either about what's going on in the painting, or write a letter to the artist of the painting, who you are dating, and who has just invited you to his gallery to see his work. This is the first of his pieces that you see.

Unfortunately I didn't ask to take the picture home to scan, because I thought I'd be able to find an image of it on the web. However, it was by this artist, and similar to this picture, except that there was only one woman in it, and only three geese.


But in the painting I had, the sole woman was obese, sitting on a tiny stool, which she "overhung," and she was looking at the three geese, which were right in front of her. Two of the three geese were looking at each other. The name of the painting was "Autumn."

This is what I wrote, and later read, about what was going on in the painting:

I could eat all three of you in one sitting. Though I shudder to think where you'd go. Look at these thighs. It's disgusting. What do I mean by where you would go? I mean in what part of my body would the fat you'd turn into manifest itself? I know those carrots I ate the other day went right to my hips.

I saw that. They way you two over there — on the right — just looked at each other and rolled your eyes.

I know about rolls. This big one, right here — the one being supported by my thigh and holding the weight of my flabby breast — it's really not so much a roll as it is a pocket.

In fact, you can't see it, but I have a cell phone stuck up in there. Which reminds me, I've got two calls to make. I'm going to call a carpenter, and order a new stool. You know it's time for a new stool when you can no longer see it when you're sitting on it.

The second call will be to the butcher's shop. Was that a nervous laughter I sensed? I'm going to see if they have a nice plump goose, or two, or three!

Maybe on Monday I'll start a diet; but then again, I might wait until Autumn.

I finished with some time still on the clock, so I started a story from the other angle — as if I were dating "Paul," the artist:

Paul, is that really a woman in that painting? Those thighs, they're huge and muscular, and they look a little bit like Dave's. We've been through this a hundred times — this trying to keep your exes alive in oil...

When I read this piece, I had to pause after reading the first sentence about eating the geese, because people were laughing hard and long, and it continued throughout the piece, really. Very rewarding.



I really, really, really hated this last piece, and include it both reluctantly, and in its messy original form, which wasn't supposed to be edited.

The prompt was, "Write about your memories of first grade. Begin."

I have no memory of the first grade, so I'll write about leaving stuff and getting stuff. I don't like stuff. I don't want stuff. Please, if you're considering me as an heir-apparent, just can it.

Wait. Check that. I like digital stuff. You can leave me digital stuff. I'll take your entire iTunes directory from your laptop — preferably on a flash drive that I can give right back to you. Please, no piles of CDs or DVDs. Please.

My take on stuff is that "stuff = dust." And I hate to dust. Stuff also equals "lugging stuff around." And stuff deteriorates.



I have no idea what goes on in first grade, how old first graders are, or even where I attended first grade. I started my life in seventh grade. Now, that, I remember. Brewster Middle School. The year after I came out woke up one morning thinking yesterday was three years ago was yesterday — to people I barely knew screaming praises, simultaneously, to Allah God, and to a man I was to later learn had been my phys neurosurgeon over the last few years.

And, evidently, I not only "came back," but I came back with a vengeance. Within one year, I'd managed my brain in sponge mode, managed to soak up all it needed to in order to permit my 7th grade debut as just another middle-schooler.

Needless to say I did not read either of these messes aloud.



Dancing was fairly festive tonight. It was "Underwear Night," so I danced in my "boots & boxers."

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