Archive of ‘writing workshop’ category


Marla unwound one last golden lock from the steaming curler. Then she ran her hands carefully through her hair, fluffing it out into the perfect mockery of natural curls.

Next she turned to her makeup – the armor she’d been shielding herself with since Mama first taught her how to use it at age ten.

“Now that you’re almost grown, Marla, you need to learn how to make yourself up,” she’d said. “Cosmetics can make even a plain face like yours into something special.”


“Mama dabbed a little bit of perfume on my neck
And she kissed my cheek
Then I saw the tears wellin’ up in her troubled eyes
When she started to speak
She looked at a pitiful shack
And then she looked at me and took a ragged breath…”

“Promise me you’ll never go out in public bare-faced.”

Looking at her mother’s fierce expression, Marla promised. She would have agreed to almost anything to keep Mama with her just a little bit longer.

Over the next few months, Mama did her best. She taught her how to play up her still non-existant curves to maximum advantage. When to look a man in the eyes, and when to look away. How to act just seductive enough, without ever giving anything away.

She handed me a heart shaped locket that said
“To thine own self be true”
And I shivered as I watched a roach crawl across
The toe of my high heel shoe
It sounded like somebody else that was talkin’
Askin’ Mama what do I do
She said just be nice to the gentlemen Fancy
And they’ll be nice to you…

Mama grew weaker with every word. As soon as she had given up her last weapons, she faded away.

Marla was just twelve. Alone. Without a single relative who cared to claim her.

Through all the years that followed, through every cold night and unwanted touch, Marla remembered what her mama had told her.

“Just be nice to the gentlemen, Marla,” she’d whisper as she went to sleep. “And they’ll be nice to you.”

And now she was about to move uptown.

But as she looked at her reflection  drowning inside yards of white silk, her soul yearned for just one thing.

“I did it, mama,” she whispered, clasping her tarnished locket. “I only wish you could be here to see it.”

Then, squaring her shoulders, she put on her best smile and turned to face her destiny.




Cold. In Five Senses.

I forgot what real cold is like. I always do.

In the humid heat of July, as sweat drips down my back and off my toes, I try to remember what being cold feels like. I try to re-create the chill, to feel it in my bones.

But I can’t. It’s just not possible.

I think I do. I think about how the wind whips across your face and snakes down the back of your neck. How your feet crunch wetly in the snow. How your skin cools and your nose brightens. And I’m sure I’ve captured it.

But that’s not what real cold is.

Real cold is that first gasp of air when you emerge in the morning. The one that tastes metallic and slightly tangy in your mouth. The one that burns down into your lungs, freezing the invisible little hairs in your nose.

Real cold is the shiver that remains in the meat of your thighs and the small of your back, even after hours and hours huddled under warm blankets.

Real cold is the blood shining through the new cracks in your hands and lips. The pink and white tightness of the scales on your knuckles.

Real cold is the smell of ice, salt and burnt tire rubber mixing sourly in parking lots gray with slush.

Real cold sparkles brightly, rejoicing in its cruelty.

It can’t be remembered. Only endured.

But that’s not all real cold is about.

It’s the earthy smell of fireplaces crackling merrily.

It’s the liquid velvet taste of hot chocolate on your tongue and the salty goodness of chicken soup in your throat.

It’s the sound of popcorn crunching and pillow fort building.

It’s evenings snuggled on the couch and  afternoons lazing about.

Once the frenetic pace of summer returns, it’s impossible to re-create those quiet moments.

So as much as I hate this weather, as much as I want to scream and stomp my feet and beg for winter to retreat, I’m going to try to enjoy the gifts it brings us.

I’m going to turn on my fireplace, watch Tangled a few more times with my daughter and sneak in a few snuggles with my husband. Summer will return in its own sweet time. Watching the clock instead of enjoying my life won’t make it go any faster.

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself today. Check back in mid-February. There may well be some foot stomping going on.

10 Things I Forget I Love About Being a Mom.

This motherhood thing? It’s a lot of work. And a lot of the time, it can feel like a pretty thankless task. Especially when it’s been, oh I don’t know, approximately 5,000 years since you got a solid eight hours of sleep.

Mama’s Losin’ It

When I’m that tired, and stressed, and cranky, it can be hard to remember what’s good about this whole mom thing. When all I want to do is sit on the dang couch and drool, it can be tough to stay cheerful through another round of “On Top of Old Smoky.”

But Mom is a pretty awesome thing to be (especially when the kid’s finally asleep). Here are 10 things I love:

  1. Those two or three minutes, right after I pull her out of the crib in the morning, when she throws her arms around my neck and hugs me with all her might.
  2. The way she says, out of nowhere, “mommy, you’re so beautiful.” Or, “I like your shirt.” Or, “I love your hair.”
  3. The moment after a temper tantrum when she looks at me and says, “mommy, I don’t like to be grumpy.”
  4. The way she spins, grinning wildly, when a song comes on that she loves.
  5. Watching her swing, throwing her head back to stare at the sky and shrieking, “I flllyyyying!”
  6. The heavy weight of her sleepy body curled against me during a midnight snuggle.
  7. The way her eyes light up when we reunite after a long day of work and daycare.
  8. Listening to her spin stories as she plays with her toys by herself.
  9. Her laugh. Oh how I love her gleeful little laugh.
  10. The way she looks snuggled in her daddy’s lap as she shares his breakfast in the morning.

Huh. As it turns out, there are more than 10 things I love about being a mom. I could keep going and going and going…

But instead, I’m going to shut down this computer and enjoy the one hour (the only hour) I have to enjoy being plain old me before bedtime.

Night night.

1 2 3 4 5 6 19