Member Monday: Becoming A “Real” Boy by Terry O’ Connell

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today we conclude our theme “A Lesson Learned” with a compelling piece from Writers Forum member and first time contributor, Terry O’Connell.  Welcome, Terry!

Becoming A “Real” Boy

by Terry O’ Connell

I grew up an only child, raised mostly by a single, working mom. I was a quiet, gentle boy who preferred to read and stay home rather than go out and play with other kids on the streets and in the playgrounds. I didn’t like sports, wasn’t very coordinated, and I’d much rather avoid a flying ball than try to catch one. I have horrible memories of musical chairs – the pushing, the aggression, chairs toppling, people falling down. I would usually just remain standing and be eliminated. I was not a “typical” boy, and I fell far short of the playground standards of my working-class neighborhood.

In my fourth grade year, there was a big contest at my school – with prizes! I don’t remember the details, but somehow I managed to win first place. As the grand winner, I could choose one of two prizes. One was a bright red Radio Flyer wagon, and the other was a well-made Raggedy Andy rag doll. The wagon was the clear choice, and I started to imagine having it at home to play with and haul my toys around. Then I looked at the doll and thought to myself, “Everyone wants the wagon. Nobody is going to choose the doll.” And I started to picture the doll being ignored and left behind, and something in me shifted.

When the time came for me to make my selection, I chose the doll.

For the rest of the day, the kids chided me mercilessly. They called me names. They made up little rhymes about me and my doll. Boys and girls, friends and strangers, it made no difference. I had crossed a line and they weren’t going to let it go.

Finally, school let out and I was able to go home and get away from the taunting and disapproval. On the walk home, I kept replaying the day’s events over and over again, trying to bring the whole thing into focus and make sense of how I felt and what had happened.

A block before I reached home, I threw the doll away.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

 
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Member Monday: Revenge Cup by Dale Angel

Welcome back to Member Monday.  We continue our September theme ” A Lesson Learned” with a piece by member Dale Angel.

Revenge Cup

by Dale Angel

On a cold rainy morning in the city there opened a new fast food place with the smell of coffee permeating the frosty air. It invited you inside with clean tiled walls and shiny new windows. It looked like a good place to work, if I could get a job there.

Applications were across town. The long bus ride was uncomfortable because of the overwhelming smell of diesel, I was glad to get off and walk the next few blocks locating the address. It was up a flight of outside stairs that needed repair. Opening the door, at the end of the room was a large man behind a large desk that almost touched wall to wall.

Our conversation was brief he informed me they didn’t hire old people. Their labor would be only young high school kids, I was all of forty but could pass for thirty-nine some days…at early evening.

It left me wounded, too emotional to ride back and let anyone see me crying. I walked miles in the rain with my hot tears mingling with cold rain.

I got a job cleaning an apartment overlooking the river. It was completely walled in glass with a large glass table, large glass lamps, large glass covered pictures, a glass coffee table, glass fronted furniture, huge mirrors, and a glass coffee pot.

The lady of the house always left as soon as I arrived explaining she was out to her afternoon delight. She shared with me she was a former prostitute, her husband was a Fireplace tools manufacturer.

One day as she pulled on her coat, that looked just like Pat Nixon’s before they were asked to leave the Whitehouse, she again explained she was out to for her Afternoon Delight. I had in my mind a mocha souffle or pineapple sunday. I asked what “Afternoon Delight” was. She looked over her mod glasses, her white manufactured hair framing her face, and explained it was her lover.

She made it to the elevator when the earthquake hit. I looked out the windows and saw the river hit the glass windows. Shards of glass whirled at me and I floated on the table as the lamps and glass cupboards shattered and the glass chandelier swung. It sounded like a bomb went off. I was wet. I thought it was blood. It was my thumb frozen on the glass cleaner container spraying and as the building rolled and whirled my legs became weak but my mind returned, I realized I didn’t get hazardous pay.

I revisited that fast food place, they gave out coffee cups with their logo on it drumming up business the promise was…. always a cup of free coffee if you use their advertising cup.

Thirty and more years have passed, but I don’t keep account of injuries or hold grudges.

Recently, out of spite, I pulled mine out of the cupboard and asked for my free coffee. One local establishment refused, the one across town honors me with fresh coffee with real cream served by a gracious manager. It’s my revenge cup although small in comparison to the large man and large desk the cup is now bigger than the both of us.

There’s something comforting in revenge.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Writers Forum Scholarship Winner: Kayla Mitchel

We’re taking a break from the typical Member Monday to introduce you to Kayla Mitchel, our 2013 Writers Forum scholarship winner.  Here’s Kayla on school and her writing life.  Congratulations, Kayla! 

Kayla Mitchell-web“I am currently taking chemistry, calculus, philosophy, roots of contemporary issues, and a physics seminar. My favorite by far is philosophy; I love thinking and questioning, and that is exactly what that class is for. I am also excited for my physics seminar. Even though it is only once a week, we get to hear from many of the professors about their research. Every week it reminds me why I am so excited to go into astrophysics. There are actually a surprising number of astrophysics students at this school, so for once I am not the only one. The campus is beautiful, and while it may be one big hill, it sure has a great view from the top. The people here are very kind and open, as it is a fairly small town. All in all, I am glad I chose to come to Washington State University.
As far as my writing, the new environment has given me a lot of inspiration. Being outside has always made me content and thoughtful, and being here gives me more opportunities to simply go outside, sit under a tree in the shade, and write. I still attempt some poems, as I would love to improve on them, but mostly, as always, I write whatever is in my heart. With so many new faces, writing is familiar, and I can write anything I cannot yet say to the people I have met. I am hopeful that  I will form some long-lasting friendships here, perhaps some among the many aspiring astrophysicists I mentioned. But most of all, I am hopeful for the future in general. I believe I will learn a lot from not only my professors and classes but also from my friends, my surroundings, and maybe even myself. I know I want to be an astrophysicist, study the stars and how the universe works, and I really believe that this school is my next step. Who knows? I may even find myself among the stars. At this point, it feels like I can make my life whatever I want it to be.”

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

24 Hour Scriptwriting Competition

24 Hour Playwriting Competition FAQs

WHEN IS IT?
Friday, October 11 through Saturday, October 12, 2013
Time schedule as follows:
Friday, October 11
6:00 p.m.:  Reception for all of the writers, directors and actors
6:30 p.m.:  Introduction of writers and announcement of teams.
6:40 p.m.:  Teams will have about 30 minutes to meet with each other, brainstorm ideas, find out actors’ and directors’ talents, discuss available costumes, props etc. in order for the writer to get an  idea of what they have to work with.
7:10 p.m.:  Writers begin to write!
Saturday, October 12
7:00 a.m.:  Writers’ time is up. Directors and actors take script and  put the play together and rehearse.
4:00 p.m.:  Dress rehearsal at venue.
6:30 p.m.:  Doors open to public
7:00 p.m.:  Show time!

For more information and details visit Westside Performing Arts Company.  See their FAQs.

Writers must apply by submitting a 3-page sample of their work, along with a $20 application fee NLT October 1, 2013, to:
Harris Studios/Script Writing Application
PO Box 990911
Redding, CA 96099.

Young Writers Contest Winner: A Lesson Learned by Nate Santi

We’re breaking away from our typical Member Monday to feature a piece by local young writer, Nate Santi, the winner of the first Young Writers Contest, sponsored by Writers Forum and Enjoy Magazine.  Nate is a third grader at Columbia School.  Congratulations, Nate!

A Lesson Learned

by Nate Santi

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne Sunday evening, me and my brother Nick, were playing outside in our backyard.  My mom and dad were inside cooking dinner and playing with my other brother Noah.  I don’t know what we were thinking, but we decided to see how high we could throw rocks.  It was fun until a rock, the size of an orange, came down and hit my brother in the head.  Nick was a mess and crying loudly.  I was freaking out because blood was gushing down his face.  My dad came out to help.  We took Nick inside to clean off the blood.  We drove to the emergency room as fast as we could.  When we got to the hospital, we carried Nick inside.  It was busy and we had to wait for hours!  When it was Nick’s turn, my mom took Noah and I to the car so we could hang out.  It took about 20 minutes for Nick to get his head super-glued back together. My dad and Nick met us at the car.  We went to get burgers and fries from In-N-Out Burger.  We went home to eat dinner, take showers, and go to bed.  The lesson I learned was not to throw rocks because what goes up must come down.

Read Nate’s winning entry along with other submissions by local young authors, Ally Farmer and Ava Kneale, in the current issue of Enjoy Magazine.

A_Lesson_Learned.pdf

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

A Message From the President: September 2013

Early in the Summer I finished a four-week online writing workshop for stroke survivors (with conference calls). For some survivors it was the first time they had communicated, let alone written, about their feelings about what happened, what they experienced, what they expected. For others, while they may have ‘let it all out’ earlier, it was an opportunity to learn to use expressive writing techniques to organize and share personal reflections on their recovery.

I got to know other survivors spread across the states. And will get to know others. There were three day/time option tracks; I chose the one that was best for me. Eventually the three will be linked as the last one finishes.

There was no difference in workshop content for the three tracks other than the schedule. Each week two themes were presented with several suggested topics to write about. As we finished, we posted them on a dedicated page of a website to read and comment. Similar frustrations were the norm, even though we ran the gamut from mild residual disabilities to wheelchair-bound, recent to long-term.

The workshops were made possible by American Heart Association’s off-shoot American Stroke Association’s quarterly magazine, Stroke Connection. Debi McGill, the editor of the magazine, was in charge of the nuts-and-bolts of connecting us. It was facilitated/coached by Carol Keegan, a forty-year survivor, who had the idea of developing an expressive writing group composed of stroke survivors. In her own recovery, she had relied on deep reflective writing practices like journaling and legacy letters to help her make sense of how stroke had changed her life. She had found the simple process of finding words to convey her fears and resentments allayed her need to make sense of the experience. When she sat down to write, the paper answered her nagging questions about “Why,” and “How,” and even, “What if.” The more she wrote, the more inner resources bubbled up.

So she decided that her 40th anniversary celebration would focus on finding ways to share expressive writing techniques with other survivors. She decided to develop a writing workshop that would support them through the process of harvesting their individual experiences of recovering from stroke. By sharing their writing with each other during the workshop, they could find a greater appreciation of their own coping skills and more confidence in their capacity to rebuild their lives.

We were the first to use technology to link wide-spread survivors together (the first classes had been with her local stroke support group).

So…that’s how I started my summer with new hopes for a writing life, getting that needed ‘kick-in-the-ass’ to my in-work-but-stalled “Life without Clots” book that has taken on many shapes and forms over the years. I also started a new blog; http:// alifewithoutclotsblog.com. Hope you had a great start to your summer with lotsa inspirations for a fabulous end.

Larry Watters,

Writers Forum President