Fight or flight

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

From Morguefile.com by user Modnar.

From Morguefile.com by user Modnar.

The strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness? That’s easy.

I love playing my piano. Over the years I’ve played in various venues: recitals, juries, weddings, church. I was never a good public piano player. Talk about gut wrenching. My other failure, besides fear of playing in public, is that I never learned to play through my mistakes, which makes it all the worse.

My first memorial lapse, as a teenager, was in front of a small group of people – including my parents – in the middle of Rhapsody in Blue. I loved that tune, and I practiced it for hours every day. Hours. Yet put me in front of a number of people, and I’ll stumble through it. It was my unfortunate luck that my mouth wasn’t duct taped, because during one stumble I muttered the word “F**k” – a word that was heard by everyone in the small room. As I was still a teenager, my parents didn’t let that slide by.

Then I went to a small university – a university with a world-renowned music school. As an added benefit, I could take music lessons at the music college. The drawback? I had to perform in front of a jury of music professors at the end of each school year. Boy, did I dread this! Whatever I’d learned that year quickly flew out of my fingers and head when I sat down at the piano. Why did we have to go through with this?

Later, I was asked to perform at a wedding. Hours and hours of practice. And to top it off, it was hot out. I sweat a lot anyways – talk about sweating it out! Everything went smoothly – except for one note. Does anyone remember the remainder of my perfect playing? To be honest, probably no one except the bride and groom’s parents remember. It was a favor to the groom’s family that I was playing – and I still couldn’t get it right!

Once in a while, I play at church services. And you know what? The congregation doesn’t care if I make a mistake! It’s no wonder I don’t mind playing for them. I do get nervous, but when you know people appreciate you whether or not you hit every note, what a difference it makes.

Cut off

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?

From Morguefile.com by user DodgertonSkillhause.

From Morguefile.com by user DodgertonSkillhause.

Loneliness.

I have always felt lonely to some extent. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because I’m a middle child. Perhaps it’s because I’m the only girl child in a family with three children. Perhaps it’s because our family experienced a tragedy when I was young. Perhaps it has nothing to do with those things.

I often felt “left out” growing up with my brothers, as if they shared something (gender) that I didn’t have. I’m sure it’s why I was such a tomboy as a kid.

Loneliness isn’t always bad. I’m introverted, so I do need some time to myself to “recoup.” I have a lot going on inside my head – stories, anxiety, an insatiable desire to learn. I also have a lot going on outside of my head – knitting, playing the piano, writing, running. These multiple voices all yearn to be heard.

Loneliness isn’t always bad. What’s bad is too much loneliness.

A plot of earth

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?

I love animals. I would build a large barn and have a couple of horses. I used to ride when I was a child, and I took lessons into my adult years, but I’ve been unable to do that for some time now. The barn would not be just for the horses; I would love to be able to house cats there as well. I would take in unwanted cats (spayed and neutered, of course), up to 20 or 25.

My next project would be a chicken coop. This structure would have to be fenced in due to the aforementioned cats. A garden would also be a necessity – actually, several, since I’d have an herb garden (filled with thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and lavender), a vegetable garden (tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, lettuce, peppers, to name a few), and a flower garden. I would hope that the land had firs on it – I love pine trees.

There would be dogs as well – one cannot live without at least one dog – and maybe a few other creatures.

There would be a lake in which the dogs and I could swim. I would try to make the land as lush and green as possible, along with a home that could hold any friends that would visit. This is my dream.

Image by user  quicksandala from Morguefile.com.

Image by user
quicksandala from Morguefile.com.

Use it or lose it

In response to The Daily Post’s daily prompt, Write about anything you’d like, but make sure the post includes this sentence: “I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

We thought we’d never come back from that one.

It was the summer of 1978, and my family was on a three-week trip to the western United States. We were at Yellowstone National Park, and had just visited the Mammoth Hot Springs. My father loves photography, and whipped out his camera whenever possible, which was a lot on this trip. In fact, sometimes we groaned at the prospect of a family photo. In 1978, we had no digital shots – you had to insert the 35mm film, make sure the film attached itself to the cog (see picture, below), close the back, and advance the film to the first photo.

35mm film

35mm film

We were having a wonderful picnic next to a stream. It was very green and beautiful, when suddenly a curse broke out by the picnic table. It was my dad, and he had just discovered that his film hadn’t advanced. You see, with the old-fashioned cameras, if the film didn’t advance to the first picture frame, then even if you pressed the picture-taking button, no images had actually imprinted onto the film.

This was a major family catastrophe. After we finished eating, we were all bundled into the car, with my mom giving us strict instructions to be quiet and NOT to act up. Believe me, we all realized that our dad was pissed. Back we went to Mammoth Hot Springs. We even posed AGAIN for some of the photos. The rest of us were rolling our eyes as Dad quickly snapped pictures of the surroundings, which were beautiful.

Now we look back on it and laugh. What could have been a disaster actually wasn’t and has entered the realm of “great family stories.” The funny thing is that my dad later admitted that those are some of the best pictures he ever took.

Once upon a time

In response to The Daily’s Post’s Once Upon a Time.

From Morguefile.com by user deemac1.

From Morguefile.com by user deemac1.

Once upon a time there lived a King and the Queen. The King and Queen were very happy in their small but accommodating palace. The King and Queen resided with a dog, known as the Princess, and a cat, known as His Highness.

His Highness was an unusual cat. He was old (over 21 years), but he loved life. He was a very loud cat – he loved to meow as loud as his vocal chords would let him. All of his needs were taken care of. If he wanted to go outside, he went outside (albeit on a leash). If he wanted catnip, his royal servants would give him catnip. He was fed the priciest food. He had a heating pad just for himself. His Highness especially loved baiting the Princess into barking. His Highness was one of a kind.

One day His Highness wasn’t feeling well. The King called the Queen and said, “My dear, His Highness has stopped eating.” With heavy hearts, the King and Queen knew what had to be done. The Queen made sure that His Highness’s last hours on earth were happy – outside, in the warm sun.

His Highness received a royal funeral, after which the King proclaimed, “There will be no more cats until the start of the new year.” Needless to say, the King was very lonely, and two kittens were adopted the following week – two brothers, His Royal Highness Crazy Eyes and His Royal Highness The Cat of Siam. And life began anew in the kingdom.

Clocks aren’t supposed to stand still like that (Writing Prompt)

In response to A Writer’s Path Writing Prompts: Court Jester – Begin a scene with this line: Clocks aren’t supposed to stand still like that.

From Morguefile.com by user pippalou.

I looked at the clock. The hands weren’t moving. Clocks aren’t supposed to stand still like that, I thought. I examined the grandfather clock carefully.

“What does your watch say?” I asked Dave, who was busy at his desk. He shuffled papers around before checking his watch.

“10:55 a.m.,” he answered. I turned toward him.

“Are you sure?” I gestured toward his watch. “Please check again.”

Dave looked at the watch carefully. “It seems it’s set permanently at 10:55 a.m. I guess I’ll have to change the batteries.”

I walked to the window. Some people had stopped in their tracks and were pointing up. Up where? At the Town Hall, where Big Ben 2 was located? The clock was nicknamed “Big Ben 2,” after London’s clock, when it was revealed how expensive the town clock had cost. What was happening? Was time actually stopping?

The gongs of the grandfather clock jolted me awake. 11 o’clock in the morning. Had I fallen asleep and dreamed this entire, weird event? I looked at the clock.

Two Right Feet, and how life used to be

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Two Right Feet.”

The first two things I do in the morning are brushing my teeth and washing my face. Somehow I don’t feel ready to face the world unless I do those two things.

It’s funny, because over six years ago, I would have added a third item – inserting my contacts. But since I’ve had the laser surgery on my eyes, it’s been a whole new world for me and my morning routine. No more painstakingly putting in my contacts (well, after 20 years of contacts, really I was an old pro). No more saline solution. No more cleaning out my contact case. I could wake up in the morning and look at the clear numbers of the clock from across the room. This is in contrast to my previous life, where I could only see my hand clearly about 6 inches from my eyes without glasses or contacts. I could see well enough to get around my house, but there’s no way I could see driving. It’s silly, but after 20 plus years of contact use, it’s amazing how easily I forgot what having contacts entailed. I thank God that I could afford to have the procedure done. It was more than just being able to open my eyes and see my clock; my contacts were beginning to bother my eyes after several hours of use, and I although I could use my glasses, they gave me headaches. So I very happily had the procedure done, and ever since then, I’ve only had to put reading glasses on occasionally. Thank goodness for modern technology!