Archive of ‘writing workshop’ category

The Blue Recliner.

I am drifting in an uneasy darkness, asleep and yet on alert. A wail breaks the nighttime silence. My eyes pop open, dragging my brain into wakefulness.

Groaning, I reach for my phone. What time is it? 4:34 a.m. Only two hours since the last time I was up. Next to me, Brian groans and puts the pillow over his head. I send a sleepy glare in his direction before trudging to Tori’s room.

The warm yellow light that seemed so dim at bedtime now has me squinting as I peer into her room. She’s standing at the end of her crib, cheeks flushed with fever, eyes running with tears.

“What’s the matter, baby,” I say as I lift her sleep-heavy body into my arms.

“I sick, mommy. I sick,” she whimpers.

I shift so I can touch my hand to her forehead. The heat blazes back at me, sending little streaks of panic into my soul. She’s burning up again. When will this fever break?

“It’s okay, sunshine. You’re going to be alright. Let’s just take a little more Tylenol, okay?”

“NO! I don’t like it!”

“I know, honey. But it’ll  make you feel better.”

I collapse into the worn blue recliner, snuggling her against my chest as I clumsily fill the dropper with one hand, bracing the bottle between my knees. Please work, I think to myself. I don’t want to go to the emergency room tonight.

“Okay. Open up. Remember, the faster you swallow, the faster we’ll be done…”

Still whimpering, she opens her mouth. One pump, two pumps, three pumps…Slowly, I squirt the liquid into her mouth. She swallows and coughs, choking on its sweetness.

“No, mommy, NO!” she cries as she swats the dropper away.

“Alright, alright. We’re done. You want to snuggle for a while?”

She nods and I bend down to pick up the blue afghan from the floor where I dropped it such a short time before. Then I lean back, bringing the footrest up as I tuck it in around us.

She wiggles restlessly, squirming until she finds her favorite spot. Then, head nestled on my shoulder, body sprawled across my lap, she dives down into sleep.

I look down at her and a pang  hits my gut. We’ve spent so many nights like this—starting during the first weeks after we brought her home. Her face, although much bigger now, still looks like that of the infant I snuggled, especially in sleep. How much longer will it be until she loses the last of her babyness? How soon will these nights be gone forever?

I know I should take the time to appreciate it while it lasts. I know I’m going to kick myself later for not cherishing every second of snuggle time I get.

But right now? All I want to do is sleep.

Eight p.m.

“Come on, Tori. It’s time for bed.”

“I don’t want tooooo.”

“You can either walk up stairs or I can carry you. Oooone, twoooooo…”

“No, mommy!”

Her little feet patter across the fake wood floor and she throws herself down on the stairs. She’s pretending to pout, but I see her grinning under her tangled blonde hair.

“Do you want me to carry you?”

“No. I going!”

She slithers up one step, still in fake tantrum position. I see her watching me from under one flung-out arm.

Trying to hide my smile, I step over her and pretend to start running up the stairs.

“I’m going to beat you! You better hurry up!”

“NO! I go first,” she giggles, pulling back on my legs with all her strength.

“You better go faster if you want to beat me!”

She pushes past me on all fours and gallops up the remaining steps. Then, reaching the top, she jumps up and grins down at me.

“I did it! I beat you! Yaaaay,” she claps, hopping up and down at the same time.

“You sure did! Now. Do you want to put on your jammies or brush your teeth first?”

“I go POTTY!”

“Okay. Let’s go in the bathroom.”

“I go potty downstairs!”

“No, Victoria, let’s use your purple…”

Too late, I realize she’s already quick stepping her way down the stairs.

And so it begins again.

 

 

 

Tales From Journalism School: The Tattoo.

If you went to college, chances are you waited too long to do a paper or two (hundred). Maybe you even had to pull an all-nighter on occasion. But did you ever have to mutilate your body just to make the grade?

I did.

I was taking a feature writing class, which was ostensibly designed to teach us how to write for magazines. In reality, though, the professor spent most of his time telling us that we’d never get magazine jobs. In fact, he told us that we should just give up and go get English Literature degrees instead.

I wanted badly to impress this man. To prove to him that I was good enough to write for any publication I pleased, thankyouverymuch.

So when it came time to write an essay about a personal experience, I was stumped. As far as I could tell, nothing I’d done in my quiet little life would seem newsworthy to him.

I considered bungee jumping, skydiving…even hitchhiking to Canada. But none of those seemed right. I had less than 24 hours to go when inspiration finally struck.

Before I knew it, I was in my car, heading to an address in Pontiac. I told no one where I was going, what I was doing, or why.

I felt very rebellious.

Still, when I arrived at my destination and saw the long-haired, tatt-covered metalhead who manned the front desk, I almost turned tail and ran. But I pictured my blank computer screen, took a deep breath and walked in.

“Hi. I’d like to get a tattoo, please.”

He took in my fresh-faced, trying-for-grunge-and-failing exterior and raised an eyebrow.

“Really. Oooookay. What did you have in mind?”

I told him, and before long, I was trying not to hyperventilate as a stranger swabbed alcohol on my back. Then he put a cool hand on my shoulder and said, “You ready?”

I nodded silently, not trusting my voice.

“Okay, just raise your hand if you need a break.” And he fired up the tattoo gun.

At first it wasn’t too bad. Just a mild pinching. Then my nerve endings realized what was going on. Suddenly, it felt as if an army angry bees had landed on my back hell-bent on revenge. It was all I could do to keep from hollering, “stop!”

But I pictured my empty computer screen and stayed quiet.

After an eternity (or, you know, 20 minutes), it was over. Winnie the Pooh had taken up residence on my back.

Back home, I fired off what I thought was a genius essay in the wee hours of the morning. One worthy of Rolling Stone—or at least an A.

Instead, I got a B minus. He said it didn’t feel authentic. Asshole.

But, oh well.  It was the 90s. It could have been worse. At least I didn’t get a tramp stamp.

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