Dale Angel: Salable Skills

 

story author

Salable Skills

by

Dale Angel

I was wading in a river of economic crisis, the kind that visits periodically in the form of a deluge. I was drowning when I received a phone call that I qualified for a government program that teaches you how to acquire salable skills to compete in the marketplace.

I met many…interesting…seasoned women there. Our bifocals, plastic teeth, and puffy ankles and conversation on World War Two and our intimate knowledge of the names of classic cars may have given us a competitive edge, but we all agreed, it was the inability to afford breast implants that put us at our most…disadvantage.

My first day in class, they asked us to write a résumé citing our accomplishments and degrees. I wrote in mine that I had graduated from the dish pan to the bed pan, and my most recent job had been terminated by death. His.

They sent me to update my computer skills. I walked in to find the class in progress. I had to interrupt to ask how to turn it on.

They were so inspiring. I was told we had earning and leadership skills. I couldn’t think of any I might own. They insisted we couldn’t have lived this long without learning something. They asked us to name one. I raised my hand and said “Survival?”

I offered my experience of marching a small army through rain, sleet, and tantrums in house wars and mutiny among my recruits…with no fatalities. I thought I had leadership and was in command until I realized I was in charge of rations, latrine duty, and transportation. These are not salable skills.

I was placed in a job under the supervision of a hardened retailer. As I worked, I hummed along with The Beatles. She arched and flared and hissed “Never would those degenerates be found in my house.”

I quit humming.

 


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events. 8.) Short fiction 9.) Poetry

IN MEMORIUM: CHLOE RYAN WINSTON

Chloe Winston signing a book

The Writers Forum Board has learned of the recent passing of our long-time member, Chloe Winston, who would have celebrated her ninetieth birthday this December. Her family indicates she requested no memorial service; however, we are pleased to have this opportunity to honor her memory.

Many of us remember her enthusiasm for life and for writing, and for her generous help in critique groups. Until recently, she attended our regular monthly meetings and sometimes participated as a presenter. Always willing to lend a hand, she volunteered at the Redding Library and at All Saints Episcopal Church. Before moving to Redding from Ashland, she was a regular volunteer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Never one to let age stand in her way, Chloe dedicated the past few years of her writing life to her mystery/espionage series featuring Briana Fraser, a former courier for a US spy agency. Each book took place in a different exotic location, all of them places where Chloe had actually traveled. She enjoyed having the satisfaction of seeing her series published.

Chloe was born on a ranch in eastern Oregon, graduated from Marylhurst University, and earned a master’s degree at Idaho State University. She had lived in Ashland, Oregon, which is featured in her writing, as well as Mexico, and had traveled extensively to fifty-eight countries. As a travel writer, Chloe contributed to several publications including The Los Angeles Times, International Travel News, and Mature Lifestyles. She had been a cruise destination lecturer as well as a high school teacher, counselor, and administrator.

Toward the end of her life, this lovely-hearted person continued to regularly put to use not only her degree in Guidance and Counselling, but also her natural gift in that area, and would counsel people in the residence where she lived and others who were a regular part of her life.

You can remember Chloe by clicking on one of these links, to see her writing legacy.

Chloe’s Facebook author page

Chloe’s Amazon author page

Chloe’s author page with her publisher


Writers Forum is open to submissions for the blog or the newsletter. Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Editor or Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

Simon Wood Offers Workshops

If you have been attending Writers Forum meetings for a while, you might recall a couple of our most popular programs were offered by award-winning novelist Simon Wood. At one, he taught us how to build suspense in our work. In another, he taught us how writers can effectively use social media.

Simon Wood designed several workshops for limited offer to members of the Sisters in Crime crime writer group. He is now offering them to the public through his website.

The start dates for the classes are as follows (just click the links for course details):
KILLER SUSPENSE: May 18th
PLOT THICKENERS: June 8th
MANAGING POINTS OF VIEW (POV): July 6th
SHORT STORIES: August 3rd
AUTHOR PROFESSIONALISM: September 7th

According to the Simon Sez newsletter:

The nitty gritty:

  • The format of classes is a mix of videos and handouts as part of an online classroom.
  • The classes run for two weeks with 6 to 7 lessons in each workshop, except for the plotting workshop, which is three weeks.
  • With every lesson, there’s an assignment and feedback.  You aren’t obliged to do the homework or send it to me for feedback. It’s entirely up to you.
  • The class is conducted via groups.io. People are expected to join in and comment on everybody’s work.
  • Lessons will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. That is subject to change. If people need more time then I will slow the lessons down.

Workshop cost: $50 each (exception for the Plot Thickeners – that’s $65)

FYI, there’s discount if you sign up for multiple classes.  Also, if you have any fellow writers you think would be interested, there’s a $5 discount for each student you refer who signs up.

If you’d like to sign up, please send me an email at simonwoodwrites@comcast.net 

Having been in two of Simon’s workshops, I can guarantee that any of his workshops will be worth your time.

 

Geo.

 

Another Quarantine Edition

We have another piece by our President and Queen, Laura Hernandez, this week!

If social distancing has you writing a little more than usual and you would like to share a piece or two with the wider world, we would be glad to help you share it. Submission guidelines will follow Laura’s piece.

laura-h1v

I’m not one of those people who believe dreams Mean Something.  I studied this when I got older, and it confirmed what I’d always believed: Dreams are what you are afraid of, come to get you when you are laying down with your eyes closed.

I got to thinking about this again when I heard CNN journalist Chris Cuomo talking to his brother, Andrew (you know, the Governor of NY). During his first night of Chingonavirus, Chris had fever-dreams about his brother. In the dream, Andrew was coming at Chris, dressed in a “ballet outfit” which I assumed was a new costume.  (For Andrew, not Chris. Not that I think Chris wears a ballet outfit, but I’m just trying to make a copy-editor-clearness point.) Andrew came at his brother in his ballet outfit, with a wand in his hand (Andrew not Chris) and told Chris he was going to take this (Chingonavirus) away with a wave of his wand.  Chris is still sick, so Andrew can’t do everything.

This whole episode got my Favorite Sister, Patty and me talking/texting about our fever dreams. When we were kids, all six of us, passed around colds/flu, measles (both kinds), chicken pox, mumps and the poops and vomits round and round, so there were fever dreams.

My recurring fever dream (which I still get when I have a bad fever) is that Patty is 5 and I am 6 and I am driving us to the beach in the large family station wagon with the wood on the sides. We lived near the beach, Malibu when it was still a swamp, and so that part was believable.  The part that is not believable, is of course, I couldn’t see over the steering wheel. That did not, would not stop me. I did what I could do, what I could reach, and that was working the pedals on the floorboard. Steering was not necessary. It was a dream, not a documentary. Patty was very encouraging, but she wasn’t steering either. She was even shorter than me at 5 years old. But as in all my Big Ideas and Adventures, Patty was right there with me, cheering.  We never crash and we do get to the beach. Sometimes we drove to the Clover Leaf burger stand that was at the perilous left hand turn from Mulholland to Las Virgenes Road, on the way to the beach.  LV Road was the only road to the beach unless you took Topanga Canyon, but we didn’t have to do that. The point is, it was an easy drive.

The first time I had that dream, at 6, I marveled, when I woke up, that I knew there were pedals on the floorboards of a car. I mean, how did I know that when I couldn’t see that in real life?  My dad was not a good Explainer Guy. He was Angry Daddy most of the time, so he would not have patiently explained how a car worked to his 6 year-old girl child.  I had been riding horses for a couple of years by then, and he had taught me, but I got that bunch of skills mostly by having a feel for it, not because he shouted orders from the ground. Although he certainly did that. He had books about horses, but not about cars. I could read by then, mostly, and also looked at the horse pictures and the rider pictures to see how to hold my body and where my hands and feet should be.  But I didn’t know that about a car driving. My dad or mom had their hands at 10 and two, but I couldn’t see their feet if I was looking at their hands.

So, what were Patty and I afraid of in the dream?  What we (I) were always afraid of: getting caught by our parents. Not that we’d (she’d) always get spanked. That would be me. But we were more afraid that they would stop us from getting to the beach.  Patty and I had two little sisters and a baby brother by that time, and although we liked the new baby, the twins were opera-loud, constantly crabby, irrationally needy and no fun at all. We wanted, needed, to escape and not be stopped.

One of Patty’s dreams, when we were older, was on the night before her wedding. She was 17.  In her dream she asked me to take her to the beach, instead of going to her wedding. And I did. If she would have told me about that dream the next day, we would have done it. And our lives would have been so different.

I also had a truly fearful fever dream when I was a kid (that I still get).  I am about 7 (taller and more able to drive a car), and I’m running down a creek near my house (which, natch, I’m not supposed to play in).  I’m running along the flat stones, trying not to get too wet. And someone is chasing me, calling my name.  It’s my dad and I know to keep running. He’s mad, really mad, but he doesn’t sound like he is. He’s calling my name, wanting me to stop and let him catch up, but I know better. I keep running. And running. And he never catches me. Ever.

And that’s the thing about dreams: you have to keep doing what you’re doing, driving to the beach or running to not get caught, and stay alive.

Nowadays, I write in dreams in my stories sometimes. Since I’m writing about law school while I’m doing murder cases at the Public Defenders Office, it would be easy to write about being in front of others in class, not dressed properly. I don’t do the easy way. What my Big Fear was then, was talking in front of these people, that professor, and saying Something Stupid. Which never actually happened, but it didn’t stop me from having that dream. Fever optional.

As much as I was afraid in law school, (everyone there was previously The Smartest Person in The Room), I had to keep studying, keep answering Smug Professor Whoever, take tests, write motions for court, pay a mortgage, get food, go to work, go to the jail to see my guys, keep going to save a life, save my life. And not let my teenage boy die from All the Stuff in The World. There was no one to save me but me. So, I did it.  I just kept going. A no-option shark who also kept a boy alive.

During these scary times, and I am scared, we have to keep going. We have to get food, pay bills, write some kind of stuff, try not to say Something Stupid, and keep going whether we are wearing a ballet outfit or not.


Please submit copy to the editor at writersforumeditor@gmail.com . Electronic submissions only. Microsoft Word format, with the .docx file extension, is preferred but any compatible format is acceptable. The staff reserves the right to perform minor copy editing in the interest of the website’s style and space.

Type of Material and Guidelines for e-newsletter and Website Submission: 1.) Your articles on the art or craft of writing. 2.) Essays on subjects of interest to writers. (200 words can be quoted without permission but with attribution.) 3.) Book or author reviews. 4.) Letters to the Webmaster. 5.) Information on upcoming events, local or not. 6.) Photos of events. 7.) Advertise your classes or private events.

Letter from Your Queen During the Time of Chingonavirus

Here is an open letter from our Writers Forum President and Queen, Laura Hernandez. It is a strongly worded letter because times like these demand strong words. That’s what we do as writers. We give words that help those around us get through hard times. Trying times. Laura shares from the heart and digs deep into her heritage to find those words.

If you have written to help get through our time of isolation and would like to share your writing with Writers Forum readers, we would love to help you. Please send them to me, George Parker, the WF newsletter editor and webmaster. You can reach me at:

writersforumeditor@gmail.com

And now for Laura…

 

First of all, my title of the virus is not Asian, it’s a slang on the F Word in Spanish.  It is an inside joke of sorts that I will share with you, because I’m a smart ass, as well as a writer, and I think you ought to know.  In modern Mexican urban and traditional culture, we think we are at the bottom of Fate’s Priorities. We think that is funny because that’s how we cope with a country full of riches as well as generational, historical, perpetual corruption that is Mexico. If you can’t laugh, you are truly doomed. So, we laugh. We sing, we dance, we cook things that take a long time, we eat. We are The People Who Are ‘Effed. And now we all are ‘effed. Chingona.

Just in case you wonder where I am: I’m at work.  The courthouse is deemed “essential” so here the ‘eff I am. In the basement law li-berry. Don’t come and visit because the Marshals will tell you if you don’t have a current case on the desk of a judge right now, go the ‘eff home. Or they tell you something like that.  The first thing the courts did two weeks ago ahead of the Governor, was to ask the California Judicial Council to make it okay for jury trials to be suspended. If you were in one or on one, go ahead, but no new ones.

I thought that would promote a “sale” on criminal cases, you know “door busters,” a get-out-of-jail-sale promotional that came with “ankle jewelry” to free-up the current cases that had to be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest and send them the ‘eff home. Hard to tell about that yet.

Your traffic ticket hearing is also cancelled. Your divorce is put on hold. Your criminal appeal is on hold. The governor has stayed any evictions for 90 days. Your rent isn’t on hold but your “get the hell out” is on hold. Your ability to protest is on hold. Your butt is on legal hold.  Law in the Time of Chingonavirus.

The judges are still here, hearing cases and are nervous and jarred and yet, sit on the bench to do their sworn duty. They have families and need to get home eventually every day to try and get stuff done. The clerks, a skeleton crew, are here processing papers, and like me, dealing with phone calls, business invoices and making deposits to keep county and courts going behind the scenes. Scenes of people and process, trying not to scream outside of their heads.

Judges like the guy who lost his home in the Carr fire (and his piano) and had to sentence one of the looters during that catastrophe, the judge whose husband has diabetes and is home scared, the Family Law Facilitator who comes to work every day in her play clothes and behind her locked office door is answering frantic e-mails from worried people with only one staff member to help her. She hasn’t slept in two days. My heroes, all.

The Marshals at the door ask everyone what they have come to the courthouse for, and send them away to consult the many white papers stuck on the glass doors of the courthouse entrance referring to phone numbers and the court website (www.shastacourts.com. ) You have to type in the stupid “w”s because they set it up old school and you won’t get anywhere without them). This has discouraged the hobby-ists who wander around looking for cases and inspiration for their too-early retirement and the Homeless who lie about “having a case” in order to access a warm spot inside any public building for the day.  The public libraries are closed, closed early on, so Homeless are wandering around in neighborhoods new to them. They know something’s up, but they aren’t too sure what it is.

Lawyers come into the law li-berry to check out books and leave quickly. Lawyers are the only people who can check out books because I keep a copy of their bar cards and actually call the bar if books aren’t returned on time. Civilians can stay in here and read all day.  Not today because you have no case before the court now. Every time the door opens here in the basement, I jump. It is the entrance of disease, germs and infection coming in behind me. I have hand sanitizer here that I have brought from home because my work stash has run dry and there is none to be had in Redding online or in a store.

There is construction going on across the street with noise and swinging steel girders (A Moving Monument to Future Personal Injury) for a big new courthouse. I walk past it every day from where I park. It’s proving to be an attractive nuisance as of Monday when a young man (not homeless) decided to climb to the second story rails. He was arrested by about 6 Marshals. He did not go quietly. He was wearing shorts and a clean t-shirt and I suspect he was bored in confinement. Now he will have a court case to occupy his time. Maybe ankle jewelry.

People are not staying the ‘eff at home.  They go out every day for toilet paper. Raley’s clerks told me they get an early morning delivery Every Freakin’ Day of toilet paper and within MINUTES during the Senior Hours, it’s GONE.  Stop doing that. Stop imagining that the U.S. gets toilet paper from China and the supply chain is broken. The U.S. has made toilet paper for American markets since 1890 and we know how to do it without sending out for Asian parts. You will always have toilet paper if you just calm the ‘eff down.

My second, necessary job dried up completely, but I still have firewood and propane. We will all get a Stimulus Check in a couple weeks, magically deposited if that’s how you filed your taxes. Treasury Dept of the U.S. just said that seniors who don’t file taxes will still get a check without having to file a claim or additional tax form.  Paper checks if you didn’t file electronically will be another 4 weeks coming, but they are coming. Calm the ‘eff down. I say this to myself, too.

Yes, go on walks. But choose your time well. Today I got gas before work and there were 5 different cars and trucks going off in different directions with ATVs and Toy Haulers attached. If they were gassing up that early in the morning, they are going somewhere far, taking their germs with them because they don’t have symptoms yet. They’ll go to other gas stations and stores in other places. And they don’t give a caca they are spreading Chingonavirus around.

There are people coming from other geographical areas to walk/bike on our trails, too. They are bored, cabin-fevered, and don’t have to be at work during the week. I pass 12-15 cars on the Quartz Hill Trailhead parking lot every day at 4:30, different ones every day, and there isn’t a real spot in the dirt for all of them. This trail is narrow and not wide enough for two people to walk past each other without stepping off into the brush. If I showed you the five-feet projection models of forcible breathing that extends droplets from your mouth outward, like the kind you spit out when you walk for a while, you would never leave the house until June. And wearing a mask only protects people from your germs. It doesn’t keep you from getting theirs. It also keeps masks from health service personnel, and they need them more than you do now. Just know that walking crowded trails is not making you healthier.  If the parking lot is too full, go the ‘eff home. Hokey Pokey in your driveway. Pretend no one is looking.

Get just the essentials. I’m going out for toilet paper tomorrow.  Cover me. But know I’m packing, too.

Don’t listen to the Daily Briefing live, because of the Too-Many Distortions and False Optimism that have to be corrected later. Do listen to Dr. Fauci. Experts have been saying for months that infected people without symptoms can spread this to you. One person with a microphone says he didn’t know that. And he’s not telling you the truth. He knew.

Correct wrong information by your friends on Facebook for a few minutes. Block the other people. Then go do something else off-line.

And writing? How you doin’?  You’d think that writing a story about a serial killer case I worked on in the dead river city and realized I kind of knew him before he was my client and my ex-boyfriend became his attorney; would be exciting enough to keep my interest.  But I find it very hard to concentrate in the Time of Chingonavirus. Reading is hard, too. I look at news websites like an ADHD info junkie. Which I think I am. Now.

I have a Master’s Degree in Medical Anthropology and have studied epidemiology cross-culturally and historically over time. This is all different. It’s a new virus, not known to man before. Vaccination is a year away. The only way to kill it is to let it die a lonely death. We can only do that by staying the ‘eff home.