1 jump line.
90 seconds to write.
Ready, set, go!
Update: Congratulations to the 2013 Writers Forum Officers. We look forward to another great year!
Below is the slate for the 2013 Writers Forum Board of Directors.
Elections to be held at the April 13th meeting.
As recommended by the Nominating Committee. We will take nominations from the floor.
Welcome back to Member Monday! It’s a delight to feature beloved Writers Forum President Larry Watters. Today he shares with us a two-part piece on the evil of vending machines.
Vending machines are evil. When you have severe food addictions like I do, they should put the vending machines out of reach. Maybe up a ladder would work, since I can’t do ladders.
I don’t care how fancy my salad is, how many carrot and celery sticks I bring in (I store them in my shirt pocket, poking up like pens and pencils), or how weird some of my seaweed rice cakes are to other people (I like them), I still find myself drawn to the vending machines here at work. We have a whole wall of evil.
But our machines are not only evil, they are tricky. The ones that take paper money are the ones that don’t have any items over a buck, most being 60 cents or so. We have one that has sandwiches, etc, and they run you over 2 bucks. But that machine doesn’t take dollar bills!
We have another that if it repeatedly refuses your bills, you can reverse your dollar and it works. That one continually surprises people when I tell them to try flipping it around. They have a look of doubt about my sanity, looking as if they decided to humor me (which most do, since I am the favored idiot). But that goes away when it accepts it.
I am the ruler of the vending machines here, a fitting title for my “Life without Clots” style.
I have been managing to avoid the vending machines at work, so I have no thoughts about them.
But today I succumbed. And naturally, it generated a thought.
Wouldn’t it be nice if one could read the nutrition label before plunking in the quarters? Our Wall of Evil recently added Sconza’s Yogurt Pretzels to the mix. Hoping against all odds, I decided to buy a bag on the premise of, “Pretzels are good, yogurt is good,” knowing all along that yogurt as a sweet is not all that good for you, no matter how fancy the wrap, nor the claims of the company (Sconza has organic, kosher and other products).
Well, the bag proved me correct in my inner thoughts: The first ingredient was sugar and no fiber. Sigh. But they still tasted good, and hopefully, my “Life without Clots” will forgive my slip.
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Cocoa hopped on his bed and quietly stepped around his sleeping form with cat-like agility, something that came very naturally to her. She stepped her paws on portions of the mattress she knew wouldn’t stir or rustle him to consciousness and slowly, patiently worked her way to his face. After carefully setting her rump down on the bed next to him, she slowly pulled from his nightstand the small black bottle, the one with the skull and cross-bones on the side.
“What are you doing?”
Cocoa dropped the bottle which clanged on the floor, and began purring loud.
“No, no, none of that,” he said. “What were you doing in my night stand?”
Scratching her chin with her extended claw, Cocoa looked all around the room before finally saying, “I, uh, thought I smelled some catnip in there.”
He wasn’t buying it. “Yeah, you know I go nuts when I smell that.” Cocoa needed to find a new tactic. “It was the coyotes, they were chasing me again so I needed to get something to drink.” She smiled nervously. “You know, regain my strength.”
“That’s a bottle of poison, Cocoa. If you drink it you’ll die.”
“Really?! Boy, then it’s a darn good thing you woke up, ‘ey buddy? Woo-ee.”
“You were trying to poison me again.”
“No, no, nothing like that. I was just worried you might accidentally grab the bottle thinking it was a bottle of water and–”
He leaned on one elbow and said, “I’m tired of you trying to poison me in my sleep. Don’t you have something better to do than try to kill your master?”
“Oh I’m not trying to kill you…”
“The guy who took you home…”
“…you know, just give you massive stomach cramps and diarrhea.”
“…who nursed you with a bottle when you were too young and sick to drink on your own.”
“…and, well, death, it would be nice, but it’s not a requirement.”
“Cocoa.” He picked her slender, furry form up as he climbed out of bed and carried her down the hall to her kitty-house. “I’m going back to sleep now. I suggest you do the same. Stay in your little claw-house, get some sleep and your murderous impulses should be gone by breakfast.”
“All right, all right,” Cocoa replied as he set her down on the house. She slipped into the hole in the top and her voice projected from the inside: “What is for breakfast anyway?”
He disappeared into his room, shut the door and locked it. Inside the kitty-house, though, within the darkness through the main entryway two cat eyes popped open and one eyebrow rose. Cocoa silently exited the kitty-house and began working her way toward the knife collection, grinning from ear to ear. She hopped up on the counter and pulled the longest knife from the wood-block, which triggered the net which snatched her from the counter and forced her to drop the knife as it quickly shot her four feet above the counter. She dangled in the net, trapped, and growled in frustration.
“Good night, Cocoa,” he called from his room.
“Good night.” She sighed and maneuvered herself into a comfortable position within the net.
Aaron Steinmetz is the ‘word-renowned’ author of Sleepy P.I. and Highland High, two quirky comedies about a private investigator who doesn’t sleep until he closes his case. He also has a book of short stories out called Anomalous Confessions which, despite the pretentious title, is actually quite wacky. He is currently working on a third book in the Sandy Mantle Series, and a little something about a cat.
A few years ago I happened upon a thought-provoking quote by e.e. cummings in which he said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
Writing has often been the medium through which I’ve made that leap toward courage and it can be a profoundly powerful tool used to separate the wheat from the chaff of our identity, allowing us to discover who it is we are intended to become.
My personal passion for writing began when I first picked up a pencil. As a child, I kept a diary and recognized early the comfort and insight writing brought me. Much later, my writing became more infrequent: consistent when I was under stress, less so when life was running smoothly.
Regardless of frequency, having a non-judgmental page upon which we can explore our thoughts and feelings can be deeply relieving. In fact, for the past twenty-five years both academic and clinical researchers have been investigating the relationship between expressive writing and wellness and have established the case for a clear link between the two.
While early research focused on the benefits of expressive narrative as applied to unresolved trauma, in more recent years scientists have considered the benefits of such writing as applied to many of life’s complexities. We are all confronted at some point with an unexpected ‘Big Lump’ that we wonder how we will get through, around, over or past. Demonstrably, writing is one such vehicle to help transport us to the other side.
Whether our upheaval is separation or divorce, death of a loved one, interpersonal conflict, our own or another’s health crisis, caregiving, financial hardship, spiritual alienation, work adjustments or some other loss that has us concerned—we can effectively use expressive narrative to give structure and containment to our experience as we move through it.
Fiction writers and poets especially will be interested to know the tools used in expressive writing are familiar ones. We tell stories, whether fictional or autobiographical, to convey complex ideas and emotions in an organized way. Building a coherent narrative—including one around an aspect of our own life story—requires attention to the characters involved, the setting, plot (in short, the event/experience + consequences + meaning) and point of view.
The operative word is “build;” If we already have an explanation, we’re not likely to receive the health benefits of writing. When we write about troubling, unresolved experiences, we exorcise on paper some of their emotional power and in so doing begin to re-write the self-dialogue that replays in our minds. If we’re stuck retelling the same story again and again from the same perspective, we might question whether it has truly been resolved.
While expressive writing is NOT a cure-all (nothing is), there is a solid body of research supporting its efficacy in producing measurable changes in physical and mental health.
On Saturday, March 16 from 9-1 p.m. at Unity in Redding (1852 Buenaventura Blvd. #6), Claudia Mosby will be facilitating a workshop using these methods. Participants will be introduced to the research behind expressive writing, its key biological and psychological benefits, and the suggested guidelines for a beneficial writing experience as they engage in hands-on writing practice. Using “left brain” logical and “right brain” imaginative, as well as sensory and intuitive writing techniques, participants will use writing for greater personal insight and growth. Pre-registration is requested but not required. For more information, please visit the Writing InsideOut website, Facebook page or contact Claudia Mosby at 355-6827.