I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
-- Maya Angelou
Monday, February 27, 2012
Good Morning! I thought I would share with you a short story I came up with based on a Writer's Digest writing contest. The challenge: In 750 words or fewer, write a story based on the following prompt: You return to the house where you grew up, only to learn it has been condemned. Below is my fictious story:
I turned onto the driveway lined with wild Queen Anne’s Lace and Black-eyed Susan, and listened to the familiar crunch of gravel beneath my wheels. The sound reminded me of the State’s welfare checks on myself and the three other children fostered in this home. I found myself wondering if that very noise was the previous inhabitants’ first alarm that the enemy was approaching. Because just as this house comforted me during my childhood years, it was also a safe house many generations ago for the Underground Railroad.
Once out of my car, I walked up the creaky old steps and approached the front door until the black print on the orange paper came into view. CONDEMED it read. I gasped. Not this house. I jiggled the handle on the front door, but it would not release, so I went around to the back door to try my luck there. It was already opened a crack. Cautiously letting myself in, I found myself standing in the mudroom, formerly the butler’s pantry, staring at the markings on the doorframe indicating the various children’s heights. A smile graced my saddened face as I pictured my foster siblings and me sitting at the kitchen table waiting our turn to be measured. I was the tallest until Bobby shot up in the seventh grade. He overtook me by a foot that year.
Moving on, I first peered into the cellar, the musty odor both strong and familiar. Continuing, I walked into the dining room where floor to ceiling panels of red fabric still framed the windows. Torn and holed, I reached out to stroke the curtains. A puff of dust billowed forward at my touch enticing a cough, to which I quickly retracted my hand. The ornate built-ins still remained, albeit covered with a thick layer of dust.
Unable to resist, I bent down and grasped a corner of the hideous brown shag carpet and pulled it away to reveal the servant call button in the middle of the floor. I remembered my foster parents explaining this fascinating button to all of us kids as we scrambled to see who could push it first. Those past generations had seemed like a different world to me – maids and butlers a thing of southern storybooks. But now, I found myself standing here, feeling the roots of this old house in quite a different way. The foundation supporting much more than four walls of stone and mortar, but holding instead the history of our forefathers to be discovered and learned by those who chose to cross its threshold. I instinctively knew what I must do.
I quickly walked through the remainder of the house gazing at the old bluestone fireplace and small upstairs bedrooms, taking note of every detail I could.
Now I found myself almost running to my car. The high school reunion wasn’t for a couple of hours and it could certainly wait. This couldn’t. I hoped that my schoolmate’s mother still worked there as I fumbled around the inside of my purse feeling for my cell phone. Once located, I quickly dialed information and gained the number I sought.
I hopped in my car and dialed the phone. Now dust and gravel flew from beneath my wheels as I headed out the driveway and pointed my car towards town and in the direction of the county’s historical society. I was going to save this house.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Did you watch the Grammys last night? If not, you missed everything from soup to nuts – some parts of which you might be sorry you missed, and others, well . . . .
This year’s Grammys started off with a thoughtful prayer from LL Cool J in honor of the late Whitney Houston who passed away on Saturday, and ended with an exorcism performance by Nicki Minaj that is sure to have had many people talking long after the backlight dimmed on their TV screens. What on earth was that? I wholeheartedly embrace artistic freedom, but good grief Nicki. Many are claiming her performance was an attempt to outdo Lady Gaga. Others are just plain horrified.
The funny thing is it immediately took me back to 1989 when Madonna made a highly controversial music video to her song, “Like a Prayer”. She too was surrounded by both fans who loved it and critics who hated it. Comprised of a story about an African Amercian man who is unjustly arrested for a crime he didn’t commit and is then later released, Madonna’s video shows her being kissed by the African American man who is then portrayed as a saint, cutting her hands and bleeding, and dancing in front of burning crosses resembling the likes of an act by the KKK. It’s easy to see how this video struck a nerve with many. Religious communities were outraged by what they perceived as blasphemy, while some viewed it as racism, and others yet hailed her as a creative genius.
Fast-forward 23 years and Nicki Minaj’s performance seems to have induced similar results. Viewers watched dumbfounded as a mock exorcism was being portrayed while Nicki flailed around restrained as if possessed, and a scantily dressed female dancer bent over backward in front of a kneeling altar boy. If it was attention she was looking for, she certainly is receiving it now. The Catholic League apparently is already speaking out against not only Nicki Minaj but The Recording Academy which approves all performances stating, “Never would they allow an artist to insult Judaism or Islam”.Fortunately with freedom of expression comes the freedom to grab the remote control and turn the thing off if you don’t like it. As for the comparison to Lady Gaga, Steve Helling, staff writer for People magazine summed it all up when he Tweeted, “Suddenly, Lady Gaga seems really, really normal.”
P.S. Oh, by the way, did you catch the green neon trimmed mouse ears sported by the audience during one particular performance? You know you’re getting old when Deadmau5 (pronounced “Dead Mouse”), has replaced Micky Mouse. (Sigh.)