Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#62 Killer Samovar (Poem)

Write about a nonsense, anything you heard or read or came up with yourself. (May Doctor Seuss help you!)
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

The Killer Samovar 

Based on true story

I went to the kitchen
The house was asleep
But I wasn’t sleepy -
I fancied something to eat.

I know! 
I should wait till next morning
When all are awake,
But I was so fortunate
To find me some cake.

I opened the fridge,
And there was my beauty.
Jump into my shoes -
What’d be your duty?

“Stop! Do not move!”
I heard a voice from the sky.
And before my response
Something heavy did fly.

It fell on me once,
It fell on me twice,
It fell on me head 
The whole three times.

I could not believe it,
Once I was back on my feet.
You, the pot from my land!
How you dare to contradict?

I rubbed the knob on my head,
Put that heavy thing where it belong,
And stretched arms to my sweetie -
I could not wait for so long!

The vicious attacker 
Flew and struck me once more.
"There’s nothing in the fridge,
Not for you, you moron!"

It fell on me twice,
It fell on me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole four times.

I stayed down on the floor
Right there on my knees.
The house was asleep,
Not aware of my caprice.

"I want the darn cake!"
I cried (it was loud).
The Samovar stroke me again,
For crying outloud!

It fell on me twice,
It fell one me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole five times.

Here in my coffin
I’m peacefully now.
In a pretty make up
And my favorite dress with a bow.

“She died for a cake,”
My obituary states.
I’m peaceful… I’m speechless…
The killer escapes.

It fell on me twice,
It fell on me thrice,
It fell on me head
The whole six times.

The moral of this story
Is simple as hell.
Don’t put heavy items of metal
On the upper shelf.

* * *

Monday, October 12, 2015

#59. Doctor

Write about a doctor – a real one, a fictional one, a good one, a bad or spooky one.

When I was in 4th grade, I was constantly playing doctors and hospitals and thought that I wanted to become a doctor when I grow up. I played doctors and hospitals because doctors and hospitals played a significant role in my early years - I spent a month in a hospital in 3rd grade, and another month in 4th grade, and for a few years I would be under doctor's constant care - once a month I had to get up early in the morning, rain, shine or snow, and before breakfast, when it's still dark outside and most people are still in their bed, go to a hospital to have a blood test. Was it fun? Nope. It never was fun. There is very little that I felt positive about those experiences. But I did have a couple of heroes, or rather she-roes. One was my pediatrician whom I thought was one of the most beautiful women in the world. She always looked beautiful with make-up and manicure, and her hair cut and colored in a fashionable manner. She was what we call these days a curvy woman, nobody would dare to call her fat. When she left (we had many house calls), she always left a trace of feminine perfume behind. She was kind to me. She probably was one of my first girl-crushes, in the most innocent ways - I wanted to be just like her. I remember that there was a very kind and friendly woman doctor in one of my prolonged stays in a hospital in Krasnoyarsk too. I remember her much less, not in all those little details, but she was very nice and made my stay much better. There was also a nurse who'd come to give me shots when bed rest was required. She had the kindest face and the gentlest hands - I never even felt the needle which many children (and some adults) are scared of. Her shots were light and unnoticeable. Three times a day, every day for weeks in a row, Natalya Aleksandrovna would visit me at home. Always with a kind smile, always with a kind word, and with a needle which I don't remember.

#58 Apples

Write about an apple. Do you love eating apples or apple deserts? Do you find apples symbolic for school, fall or anything else?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I have to open my dark secret - I don't like apples, and never really liked them. There is one vivid memory from my childhood. I think I was not older than 6 - my father brought home an enormous red apple, which was fragrant, juicy and sweet. I was stunned - never before had I tried an apple that had such characteristics, and I have to say I still did not find another one quite like that. I also remember that when I spent a month in a hospital (if not longer), when I was 9 or 10, my parents would bring me home food and some treats (hospital food is never good, is it?), and there were apples which I did not like. But I guess at some point I tried to bite both apple and a cookie, a simple 
biscuit, and I really liked the taste. Only now I am aware of many apple deserts that are popular in different cuisines around the world - back then I did not know about then, and sort of by accident, or from lack of variety, I invented one. These days, I sometimes make apple deserts. Our family latest favorite desert is English Flapjack - which is not at all a pancake as Americans might think. Flapjack is made with oats, butter and brown sugar, sort of  an oat bar really. In my recipe, it is made with apples, and I also add honey to it. It's one of my most favorite ways to eat apples.

Rise and Write 57-63. Week 9

#57. Gait

Write about a gait. Maybe you watched one particularly unusual stride from a street café recently, or write about your own gait.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

It's a little difficult to come back to daily writings after a long-ish period of silence. I compare our daily writings with the daily exercise routine before participating in a marathon. If you decide to run a long distance and all you've done before is exercising from time to time, almost randomly, you know that you need to work on your stamina first - you need to build up your strength little by little. This is what it is about - building a writer's stamina. Not about being perfect or genius in your every piece. It's all about work and about honesty with yourself. 

Write about a gait, eh? The first thing that comes to my mind is a line from a popular 1980s Russian song which goes something like this... "With your flying gait, you came out of May, and disappear into the whiteness of January..." Yes, it's a love song, and it's about a short passionate affair, and it is sad, though disco music does not suggest sadness - it just never does. I always, as a little girl, imagined a beautiful young woman in a flying white dress and high heels, probably silver ones, her face not visible, but more beautiful than one can describe, disappearing into smoke and light. And it's all because of one phrase - "your flying gait". The power of word!

Rise and Write 57-63. Week 9

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rise and Write! Prompts 57-63. Week 9

Hello writers,

Well, I have managed to complete all the week 8 prompts and am ready for the new challenges, and I think so are you. Her you go - write! 

Prompts 57-63. Week 9

Write about a gait. Maybe you watched one particularly unusual stride from a street café recently, or write about your own gait.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about an apple. Do you love eating apples or apple deserts? Do you find apples symbolic for school, fall or anything else?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about a doctor – a real one, a fictional one, a good one, a bad or spooky one.
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about a puddle. Did you enjoy jumping in them as a kid? What? You still do?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about a charming person – a real one that you’ve met or a character. Of  what does their charm consist or of what is it made?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about a nonsense, anything you heard or read or came up with yourself. (May Doctor Seuss help you!)
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Write about feeling great! What’s the sensation in your head, chest, knees, etc.? Does it make you jump or sit quietly and savor the feeling?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

#56 Sorry

Write about feeling sorry for something you have done or something you have not done. Remember that you can always use your character!

OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Maybe there is something. Back then, I felt hurt that my understanding of love did not meet with his. I felt hurt, I felt devastated. I thought it was all his fault. But it was not his fault that our understanding did not match. He did not know back then. And I also did not know. Nobody's fault. And I am sorry. I only hope that he will find someone whose understanding of love will match his, so they can live and love one another happily ever after.

And maybe there is something else. Back then, I felt hurt that my understanding of friendship did not meet with hers. I felt hurt, I felt devastated. I thought it was all her fault. But it was not her fault that our understanding did not match. She did not know back then. And I also did not know. Nobody's fault. And I am sorry. I only hope that she will find someone whose understanding of friendship will match hers, so they can live and be friends with one another happily ever after.

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

#55 Suitcase

Write about a suitcase. Is it a brand new thing from a department store, a charming vintage or a ragged old thing that saw the world? Describe its smell, shape, feel…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Two suitcases, not pretty ones, not even plain traditional ones, rather two duffle bags - one enormous bag and one reasonably medium sized, were my luggage on my way to a new continent. How to explain to someone whose furthermost move was from one house to another house, or even from one city to another city? How to explain that you have to fit your whole life, short or long one, or a reasonably medium sized one like mine was, in a couple of suitcases, not necessarily pretty ones or traditional ones, or two duffle bags, such as mine? How to explain that whatever you chose to bring with you, you'd better truly love and cherish, if it fits your bag, and whatever does not fit, will stay out of your life from now on? A few items of clothing, a few most beloved books, a few photographs of your childhood and people you love... A few items that won't mean anything to anybody else, but mean so much to you, as those items you won't be able to buy in Walmart where you'll be taken on the second day of your new life to replenish a few practical things that you left behind - a hair dryer, a nail polish remover, those important little things that you won't bring with you to cross the ocean, but can't live without when you're in your 20s. The duffle bags looked enormous and weighed enormously when you were in the first airport where your father saw you off and you both tried very hard to not shed a tear, and in the second airport, a bigger one, where they still spoke your mother tongue, and in the third airport where everything looked like out of the movie and people spoke a language you've never heard before, and in the forth airport, after the longest flight of your life, where people had a skin color that you've never seen before. The duffle bags, looking so enormous in all those airports, suddenly looked tiny at home, in a small room where the one with whom you chose to continue your life journey brought you. In the little room where you unpacked all the things carefully chosen to stay with you on the new continent, the duffle bags were emptied, folded and tucked away, and all you had left were those few items of clothing, few most beloved books and few photographs of your previous life. The enormous duffle bags rapidly became a little pile of familiar things which traveled with you from your childhood home to a new world. Everything else in the tiny room and beyond it, in the house, on the street, in the town and the whole new continent, was unknown.

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

Write, Rewrite (Poem)

You wrote a story,
But did not get it right.
What a trifle - rewrite!
It does not work again, nonetheless,
But you will not write any less.
If not the third one, then sure the thirtieth rewrite
Will get your story just right,
If not the thirties, then three hundredth will do.
Keep writing, without further ado.

If only we learned to write
Before we learned to love,
We'd know then!

In Russian here.

#54 Changing Season

Write about changing seasons, that very particular time in the year cycle when it is not Autumn yet, but already passed Summer…
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

Such times are the dearest to my heart. There is something touching, real, transparent in between the seasons. The air is clearer and crisper, the temperatures are milder and more comfortable, and the feelings such in between times evoke in me are of ending something old and tired and beginning something new and fresh. Changes are both exciting, inspiring, full of hope, and at the same time a little intimidating, or perhaps vulnerable. Times in between seasons are like times in between periods of one's life. Those who have ever had an aspiration to change their life, sure know how vulnerable those periods are - half of the time we just want to hide from the world, as it is not what it used to be any more, though not what we want it to be yet. 

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

Monday, October 5, 2015

#53. Countryside (Excerpt)

Write about a village, real rural countryside. Do you idealize it as many writers and poets have done? Or, as Agatha Christie, see its dark side?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

In the Village

Marusya felt a little bit alien in this world. Everything looked differently, sounded differently, smelled differently here. There was no traffic noise, as if automobiles were not invented yet - though it was 1980s if you trusted the calendar. There were a few motorbikes here and there, but they did not make a huge difference, not what traffic did even in such a small town as hers, let alone big city traffic. This strange silence was filled with birds chirping, the sound of wind playing with trees, dogs barking, and everyone, even people she'd never met before, saying this long heavy Russian hello - zdravstvuite. The way to her grandparents' home was filled with this silence - it was a wide bumpy country road, a dirt road which was dry and dusty in summer, wet and mushy in fall and spring, and white in winter, with tall snowdrifts on each side of the road - as tall as Marusya and even taller. The thick forest surrounded the few old wooden houses, restrooms outside - small wooden buildings with a terrifying hole in the ground, no matter what's the season, the only place to pee, unless it was dark at night, then it was okay to do it just outside of the house door. Everything in the house smelled differently from Marusya's familiar apartment smell. Towels, bed sheets, blankets - it all smelled somehow a little wet, and when she encountered this smell somewhere else, it would brings her back to the grandma's home. Only later in life she realized it was the smell of mold which was hard to get rid of in a wooden house, covering its people and stuff from rain and snow the huge chunk of the year. That was probably the main reason why babushka painted the house once a year - to get rid of the smell and darkening corners. The paint was typically light blue on the walls and white on the ceiling.

about 10 min or so

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

#52 Door

Write about a door – wooden, glass, heavy, tall, Dutch door, garage door or a magic door (Open, Sesame)…

OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I am opening the heavy door, part wood, part glass. I am letting someone out, they hold it back for me in exchange, we smile and thank each other. This door has so much potential to let me in the new world - the world of "real writers" as I call it. I don't have to be a "real writer" as I walk through the door. I don't even have to be a "real writer" once I'm in. What I do have to decide for myself, whether or not I want to become a real writer once I leave this space through the same heavy door, part wood, part glass, holding it for someone else, perhaps another writer, and most probably reader. I don't have to decide it forever. Perhaps I'm not ready yet to leave this door as a real writer. Perhaps all I can handle now is to be an aspiring writer, a writer who mostly dreams and reads books about writing, and goes to writer's conferences. It really is all totally up to me whether I decide to stay a writer who goes to writer's conferences and feels pretty good about herself for a week or two after the conferences, okay, maybe a month or two after the conference and meeting real writers ... or to become a real writer, the one who writes, not just writes, but who writes every day, who writes from her heart, who is not afraid to write with mistakes, and who is not afraid to set a goal, a writing goal, and reach it, the best she can. Only one door to the writer's world, one door in and the same one out - no, not this heavy one, part wood and part glass, but the one inside of me. No matter how much praise, how much criticism, how much ignoring there is on my way once I passed this door - it is up to me, always and only, to leave through this door or to stay. 

about 5 min 

Friday, October 2, 2015

#51 Queen

Write about a queen. Is she a real figure in history or a fantasy character from your favorite fairy tale? Is there some thing about her you find admirable or enviable? Is there something that you dislike about her or her status?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I grew up in times when, in my part of the world at least, kings and queens were either historical figures, often interpreted negatively, or fictional figures, also very often negative or at least ambiguous, or folklore figures, often comical. There were of course some queens, like the one in Alexandre Dumas' books about musketeers and the wonderful Soviet musical movie D'Artagnan and Three Musketeers, the Queen Anna, played by a very talented and feminine Russian actress Alisa Freindlich, whom we adored. But even Queen Anna-Alisa seemed just too far from our ordinary life, and her romance with Lord Buckingham seemed to me as a kid far less real and interesting than the romance between her faithful servant Constance and my childhood hero d'Artagnan.
Queen Anna: "I did not say yes, my lord."
Lord Buckingham: "You did not say no."

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8

#50 Grandpa's Fingers

Write about fingers (or toes). Do they belong to your character? Are they lean and long “artistic” fingers, or short and chubby? All of them in place? What are they good at?
OPTIONAL: Work on your fiction and share.

I remember as a child, I was struck by the fingers of my grandfather, to be precise, by the lack of them. I can't even remember how many of them were missing - quite a few. It always creeped me out just a bit - a bit because I adored my dedushka! He was a very gentle, kind man, and even though suffered, as many men in Russia, from alcoholism, was not aggressive or cruel at all. He would do his day job (when I knew him, he was taking care of horses in the local collective farm), spent lots of time on the steep rocky bank of the Angara River where he'd watch boats, big and little, ships, ferries and tugboats - he became almost a part of the scenery, so much that grandma, his wife said that Angara became an orphan when dedushka died. When I grew up, I thought about what happened to dedushka's fingers, and many village men's fingers which were missing. And one thing I came up with was they chopped them when were tipsy because they never stopped doing the traditional countryside work, such as chopping firewood or building and rebuilding houses, barns and banyas, and they were almost always tipsy. I am a city kid, so the men who I grew up with in cities did not have such a problem. The other guess is they lost their fingers at the field of war or, in my dedushka's case, in the years spent in prison - no, he wasn't a criminal, though the Soviet government liked to make their citizens criminals for the most innocent things they have done (helping out a poor family, feeding them in hungry years, would be such a crime; you did not have to do any crime at all, just to born in a "wrong" family - you were a criminal by birth). Grandpa's missing fingers are like many of Russian history's missing pages - pages about which the truth we will never know because those who experienced them are mostly gone by now, and even when they were alive, their destiny taught them to keep their mouth shot.

12 min

Rise and Write 50-56. Week 8