Is This The Right Write Prompt?

Warning: Stream of consciousness follows. Expect random train deviation from mental track.

When given a question as a writing prompt at a workshop, how should one proceed? Remember words of advice and proceed. I wasn’t really interested in their question, but I was there to write so I did. The best way to get the words flying is to move the pen or tap the button. I repeated words from the question until meanings lined up into thought. Next time, I might re-frame toward a goal of dialogue, poem, etc…. But this time I just didn’t want intimidation to have the upper hand. I would write, darn it! Perhaps, as a guide, I share this. Maybe it’s inspirational, and maybe I just wanted to have another post under my name 🙂 with the potential for discussion.

Here is the process that led to the content of my previous post:

Conversation with the world. Conversation, world. Questions. I’d like to ask questions and see the variety of answers.

Dear World,

Do we really need another? Have you seen the variety outside your front porch? The foods, the fashion. Are we really bored with what we’ve seen? Then maybe we’ve been stuck in one place or one mindset for far too long. The internet opens up the world and yet is limited by the words we place in the search engine but also the cookies that decide what suits you best during previous searches. It would be best then to pick a search at a new computer, ask a stranger for a word, after a warm greeting, of course. Hugs for everyone like the man hugging police at protests.

What conversation do you want to have with the world? I wonder how many would wish to lecture; try to turn others to their point of view. I hope fewer than I think. However, that could backfire and make me sound very dark. I’ve had my own exploration to do in regards to how I’ve grown this cynical side of myself. I do not want to call it a side. It is inter-tangled with all the other roots of my being because the thoughts are there among the others and I push back, comb through with positive and Devil’s Advocate.

Yes, I think I would like to ask the questions that would get the discussion flowing among people and sit back, hear their responses. I hope they’d allow me to moderate in never allowing one voice to be the only view in the room.

An open floor, equal, yet how do we engage the introverts? I guess we’ll put them in a darkened closet with a computer and mannequin translator to do their talking into the room. I smirk during this sentence, because the mannequin would be poor representation of the person, but then is it fair to judge a person by appearance? Appearance says a lot, though, but could be altered for a diverting affect. Either they tanned from hard work in a garden or lying still in a booth. Where did that scar come from? I can see where they shop, what colors they prefer, and hair styles…. These can be limited financially and we must remember the things they had no choice over such as . . . well, I would say skin color, eye color, and hair color but those can be altered, even height and weight.

How do we want to portray ourselves versus how we really look? I guess to ask, how much would you want to change of yourself if you could in your history, personality, appearance, and ability?

Prose, letter, dialogue, short story….

“Hey, there. What conversation do you want to have with the world?”

Which part of the world? What sort of conversation?

I would like to walk through the evergreen forests of the mountains. Climb with each step to a more magnificent view. Have the land rise and fall at steep angles with consistently sturdy rocks, boulders to climb over. Granite under my skin, never smooth for interior design but hardened, rough, and coarse. The smell of clean mineral, arid landscape, sagebrush and juniper. The brush of bark, clingy with sap. A wind sighing through the trees, combing the needles with fingers, long and fine. My breath rushing in and out of my lungs with each struggling step higher, less oxygen, more effort, cleaner result. A sun-filled sky where clouds play tag and the light travels across the land as a result, illuminating peaks, shadowing valleys. Cool, no cold, ice-melt streams running along the trail, bubbling, dripping. Climbing higher, standing near the edge, clinging to rock. Quiet, grey, mountain.

 

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What conversation do you want to have with the world?

I would like to walk through the evergreen forests of the mountains. Climb with each step to a more magnificent view. Have the land rise and fall at steep angles with consistently sturdy rocks, boulders over which to climb. Granite under my skin, never smooth for interior design but hardened, rough, and coarse. The smell of clean mineral, arid landscape, sagebrush and juniper. The brush of bark, clingy with sap. A wind sighing through the trees, combing the needles with fingers, long and fine. My breath rushing in and out of my lungs with each struggling step higher, less oxygen, more effort, cleaner result. A sun-filled sky where clouds play tag and the light travels across the land, illuminating peaks, shadowing valleys. Cool, no, cold, ice-melt streams running along the trail, bubbling, dripping. Climbing higher, standing near the edge, clinging to rock. Quiet, grey, mountain.

P.S. This came about after I asked further questions, typing whatever in order to initiate my fingers hopping on keyboard buttons: Which part of the world? What sort of conversation? What do I want?

 

Mechanic Outtakes

What’s it like to be an accident-prone–but somehow lucky–perfectionist while working for the service department of a car dealership? Well, I believe it’s time I tell you:

  • Let’s start with the least shrinking-into-the-corner event when I filled the position of Lube Technician i.e. performing oil changes, wiper, filter and bulb replacements at the express service facility of my employing dealership. Talk about a busy Saturday. We were rolling; cars were lined up in double rows out to the street; we implemented a reliable system of getting these cars out ASAP. If we busted out another awesome month, maybe our head, Mrs. Honcha would take us to that fancy Fresh Fish Company for an amazing dinner again or monetary bonuses. The lifts we used were four posts meaning we drive the car onto two long runners and up it goes. There is room for standing on the runners, narrowly. As one vehicle ascended, I remained near its fender checking fluids as someone else would begin breaking the drain bolt and cracking the filter below. I don’t know what had my perfectionist side so focused, but I’d forgotten the ground was some feet beneath me now. I stepped off the runner and didn’t touch ground in a few inches as expected. My leg took the brunt of it. I can’t recall much of the pain just mostly the stupidity and how it could have been worse. There were few witnesses, fortunately. I was driven to get back to work and in the process discovered one of those many uses for duct tape. Grabbing an ice pack, I taped it near the sorest part and moved on to the next car in line.
  • This one, I very much wanted to huddle up into myself, shoulders rounded behind the steering wheel as they chose me to pick up the owner of the vehicle I had just mangled. This, also, was back in my lube tech days and the air compressor had failed at our facility so we were running cars back and forth to the big, intimidating, real-life service department where they tear down transmissions and engines for Pete’s sake! (It was one of the coolest experiences when I tore down my first manual transmission–with the shop foreman’s supervision of course-and replaced the worn parts in the process of re-build before installing it back in the vehicle. But that was later-on during my one-year stint as main service tech-in-training.) The clearances for driving customers’ vehicles were different in the main building; we didn’t have a long, straight shot to line up the car with the lift. There was a trick to it, but I hadn’t been aware it existed at the time. Turning into the slot for another four-post lift (this one an alignment rack), I decided it wasn’t looking too good, so I reversed in order to try again. The front fender hooked on the post and brought its predicament to my attention when the sound of destruction ensued. Oh, man, that customer was upset. Thankfully, maybe, he was the silent, angry type, leaving the quiet very uncomfortable as I drove him to the main dealership in a loaner. He sat in the passenger seat arms crossed, very stiff posture. Far from eloquent in my young age, I managed a weak but sincere, “I’m sorry.” His arms loosened slightly and he said something to the effect of “It’s okay.” That was the extent of our exchange. Phew! The body shop then got me out of the rest of that mess.
  • Okay, this one still causes me to squinch my face in a true wince any time I think upon it. Hardly for the pain but for the many witnesses of my truly idiotic behavior. Man, should I have known better. Obviously, if I hadn’t been driving myself again to prove how capable I was to serve the customer during another busy Saturday, I might have slowed down and engaged a brain cell or two. This instance occurred during one of my many years in the parts department. (I had finally found the area of automotive service that seemed to suit me ‘just fine.’) We had the part, and I asked the customer to pull onto the service drive where I could install it for them because it was such a simple piece especially for one so familiar with it during my tech years. I went in pursuit of a tool. I was friendly with a few techs during my training days and hurried over to one tool box in particular. I just wasn’t as friendly with the box to know exactly in which drawer the tool resided. Some veteran techs might already see where this is headed. More so when I say that I had left drawers open. I still swear it was hardly more than a few and I think I had some co-worker support when they advised the box’s owner to wedge up the front, but the box owner insisted it had to be more drawers than that. Anyway, the weight of those drawers hanging open caused the whole thing to tip toward me and at least I wasn’t stupid enough to try to cease the fall with my minuscule mass against all that metallic weight. I got dinged in the face as I attempted to bail from the behemoth’s angle and acceleration of descent. Drawers spilled tools across the concrete floor–a disaster of a mess from which I was dismissed from attending to because technicians can be very specific about where every last tool goes. I had pain in my face, felt fearful of how bad, but in the end I only ended up with a black-eye (never had one of those before). That didn’t sting as much as having to go through the rest of the day with techs coming in for their parts and witnessing me holding a cold pack to my face and them knowing my intelligence-absent choice of action because the cacophony of hundreds of tools clanging had brought all the eye-witnesses running. Therefore, why let someone else have the fun of telling you when I can do it myself? 🙂

At the end of this, do I toot my own horn and declare how many co-workers lamented the loss of my presence when I finally moved on to writing and family-rearing so as to make sure you’re aware I was quite proficient in my various positions? These were the odd instances but still seem to consume so much of my past because they left me with intense emotion like being so da–uh, darned–embarrassed. I was good, though. Why else would they have kept me? 🙂 [No, it wasn’t just because of equal opportunity. They had several other female lube techs to keep besides myself.] And I still have real winning memories, numerous in fact, with strong senses of satisfaction like that manual transmission I mentioned. They just don’t make as juicy a tale. Finally, you want to guess the tech whose box I tipped? Yeah, he’s my husband. Wow, huh? :O

IMG_2589
The behemoth I mentioned

It’s not the biggest out there, but it packs a wallop.

‘I don’t have back problems.’ Read This

Huh! What do you know? The docs were right. My tendinitis did resolve itself over time. It healed so gradually I didn’t really think about it until today when I felt the first pulls along my forearms as I supported my swaddled 7-week old. Right now, I’m shaking it off because now I know it will go away and I’ll just endure. Considering the crippling back pain of last year, I’ll take the tendinitis. This is part update for my previous post, Tilt, Swivel, and Pop: Wrist Malady Gone Serial, and a decision to encourage healthy individuals to increased self-awareness.

My oldest son cried, having hurt himself, and I knelt to pick him up like always because of the immediate soothing effect as some would kiss a ‘boo-boo,’ or place a bandage over the nose no matter where the injury occurred (true from another mom’s experience). I shifted to stand and debilitating is the most encompassing description of the pain. My body refused to cooperate for the intense shock of piercing discomfort. How many adjectives and the like might convince you how it left me crawling toward the dining table for my phone? I stammered across the connection to my significant other who was at work, couldn’t explain what was going on. I had no frigging idea! Finally, I got out, “There’s something wrong with my back.” He left work, intent on hopping the next bus. Now what was I to do?

Finding some way to distract and occupy aforementioned child, I decide my condition wasn’t life-threatening and considered urgent care, however, chose to attempt my primary care physician (PCP) first, because that budget-conscious lobe of my brain continued to operate, as long as I didn’t move. And as an aside, if you do plan on having a never before, ever, ever, back injury, make sure you wear a better outfit. I was in grungy sweats and some baggy shirt with paint stains, probably. Later, I’d attempt a joke with the nurse about how I’d have dressed for the occasion if I knew I’d be going out.

Anyway, I ended up on steroids and had physical therapy scheduled for the following days. In the meantime, they assigned me homework in the form of stretches slash exercises.

Image reproduced from: The Best Exercises for Herniated Discs that Relieve Pain Quickly

What I want to express here is I’ll never be the same, never have unknown, unacknowledged confidence in the capabilities of my back. The number one thing I would like to emphasize to those who lift is to think one word when you do it–Brace. Think about engaging those abdominal muscles right before you take the weight. Is your back straight and lifted? That’s one helluva start. Will it prevent herniated discs? Perhaps, I’d like to think so or else why am I writing this?

After my Cesarean, I returned to core-strengthening exercises ASAP by doc’s permission. Consider the bird-dog, standard plank, side plank, bridge, knee-lift, and prone press. The prone press is key for getting the padding between your vertebrae squished back into place so it stops pinging your spinal nerves. Can I say ouch?

We could work it from the other angle and say keep up on good posture, but that is too darn (parent cussing is so weak. :/) difficult, feels strenuous. Think brace and that’ll straighten you out briefly, but those core exercises will leave you standing and sitting a bit taller with hardly any awareness from you. Please keep it up though, at least every other day with 10-15 reps of each exercise at 2 sets per session. Good example for the ever active toddler as well who wishes to emulate his parents with every move.

Any exercise, I’ve learned, can leave you feeling energized. If your another parent with a toddler, you sure as heck could use the boost. 😉 I’d been in automotive parts for years and never had back issues. I’d never lifted anything like a toddler fifteen times a day every day either. Plus, I had weekends and nights off when working parts.

Please take from this what you will, if only a comical anecdote of how life can tilt on its axis in a moment. At least I’ve got another post on my blog after months! Yay. High five, fist bump, and handshake. I’m getting my toddler accustomed to all, but I wonder what will be the next celebratory gesture for his generation. Hey, the mom brain is always in action if sometimes the thought train jumps the rails.

My arms still feel funky and will do so for months but at least it will pass. Just brace yourself when lifting, trust me, so you can always trust your back.

Memory Written Stands Longer, Stronger

I don’t need any convincing right now that I’ll not overly desire being in this condition again anytime soon. However, I do know in the future I will observe others in similar situations and perhaps longing will sweep over me.

Therefore, I do this for my future self and seek to get the lighting of this present day grass as accurate as possible so not to be skewed by being seen from the other side of the fence.

Rewind to the first weeks when it was a guessing and counting game, taking tests and wondering if the negative would stick or if it was just too soon. Finally, the awaited answer and new questions begin. How long before the new arrival gets here? Can we confirm general health yet?

The first few months involved terrible tasting experiences. Gulping or sipping, either way, I could not quench my thirst with plain water. I turned to juices and carbonated water, always over heavy ice. Avoided heated beverages for the upheaval they caused. Once, I desperately hit the walking path to keep from nausea taking the worst turn. Green veggies turned excessively bitter. Some spices seemed to lose my appreciation forever, and my sweet tooth seemed the only saving device.

As I rounded that hump of diet shifts, I finally received more than what sound radar could detect, and it was wonderful. I lay there, semi-reclined, watching the real-life version of Beauty and The Beast, and in a relaxed state by one of its many songs, a part of me sought inwardly, body awareness at half attention. Flutter, flutter. This wasn’t digestion framing my abdomen, but directly in the center, a new life breaking from my own and making itself known. Water welled in my eyes with the delighted laugh escaping my lips. Yes, it was real, true. My little miracle indeed exist and was growing inside me.

The second trimester moved on gratifyingly well, and eventually rounded the corner into the third. A month or so in, I could definitely admit I felt pregnant. The bulkiness had finally begun to hinder movements, made some motions cumbersome. I even waddle at times. Pizza had become a four-letter word but food commercials accompanying football games continued to make it look delicious, especially with my knowing how forbidden it was. Because in order to consume some, I must sacrifice an evening’s sleep to wrenching, burbling heartburn. My toddler would happily address the other ingesting woes as any good lover of gas jokes might.

Others might see my hand at my belly, stroking its roundness and think I’m marveling my condition. If I’m settled in that mindset, it can be true. Presently, I am verifying location of his head in the continued breech position as I ponder the experience and after-effects of the ECV for which I have scheduled later in the week.

Pillows multiply on my bed as the midsection weight requires more support. Otherwise my back muscles belt out complaints halfway through the night. Throughout the day, pressure and nerve jolts rattle involuntary gasps from me as I am prodded from the inside.

Seeing live images on ultrasound restore my knowledge of the tiny human beyond the unbelievably hard to identify bulges and curves that sometimes press out from under my skin and thinned abdominal muscles. He is the baby I know him to be.

Positive light to pushing through involves more than holding him in my arms. I wonder what color his eyes will be, and his hair, how tall–long–will he be? Will he settle against me peacefully or squirm about? Because each life is unique and has their own way of accepting the world.

This may be only one small moment in his life, and it shrinks each day, but to me this day is also my whole life, for a second can absorb all of one’s senses, intellect, and emotions, especially when one is excessively focused on it. Looking backward and forward allows expanded perspective and could help me stay grounded. As in, stop freaking out, Mom! There’s more hills and possibly mountains to come beyond this next little hump you’re about to climb. Know that but glance over your shoulder once and a while as you always keep one eye on your feet.

 

 

 

Mechanics Run On Breakfast Burritos

Back in Colorado, I learned the best way to smooth ruffled feathers over a late arrival is to dole out breakfast burritos to your fellow automotive technicians.

In celebration of Release Day for my romantic suspense, A Running Heart, I’m going to step back for a moment from writing the second book in the series, Rocky Mountain High Heels, and share our tried and true burrito recipe, the one to which my main character, Amanda Hudson, refers on more than one occasion. Plus, an eight-month pregnant woman should be allowed her occasional distraction by thoughts, or fantasies, of food. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 16 oz. green chile sauce* (Most mechanics I’ve known request medium or spicy beyond my capacity to ingest.)
  • 1 lb bacon or ground sausage such as chorizo
  • 18 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 12 extra-large tortillas
  • Aluminum foil

*If you are unfamiliar with green chile, please click here for an example of the sauce we’ve most recently used and explore their website for a better idea of green chile peppers.

 Directions:

Thoroughly cook sausage or bacon in your preferred method. Once cooled, crumble into small pieces.

Beat eggs and milk together in a bowl. Pour into large skillet over medium heat and allow to cook until egg batter begins to set.  Sprinkle the meat into the eggs and scramble until done.

Pour chile sauce into a small saucepan and heat over a low setting. This is essential for a creamy sauce inside your burrito.

Warm tortillas either on a griddle (preferred method) or by microwaving briefly.

Tear off sheets of foil about the size of a tortilla, one for each burrito. Place a still warm tortilla on a sheet then add egg and meat mixture (figure 1 1/2 eggs per burrito), sprinkle cheese, and spoon over the hot green chile.

Fold one long side of the tortilla over, bring up the bottom flap, then the top flap, and then fold over the other long side. Bring to one corner of the foil sheet and roll the foil, tucking in the ends once you reach the other corner.

Stack the completed burritos together so they’re ‘spooning’ (I couldn’t resist, being a romance author and all 😉 ). This aids in melting the cheese into the sauce.

Distribute to your favorite mechanics for best results.

 

 

Ode To Jeep, Revisited

48788E79-AC94-4B6B-9928-0525C1A4D16CI couldn’t have related unless I lived it, and from this perch, the trade-off was well worth it. Another few years, give or take a few more, we’ll be rock-climbing. 😉 He’s given me fresh eyes. And I’m still writing.

 

Riding with your top off,

Climbing Colorado’s mountains;

We even drove through

That windy Wyoming.

You were bruised

Leaving Montana,

But were repaired

All the same.

Winter,

You must have favored.

When else

Had we spent such time together?

You powered all four wheels

With muscle to spare.

Up the trail, over the boulders,

Angles could not make you sway

Proved master of the curb;

No median forced our way.

Perhaps we’ll pass

On the road somewhere.

Maybe at first

It won’t seem fair,

But look in the backseat;

Meet him

And you’ll see

That there’s more to this

Than just you and me.

When he’s fifteen,

You two would make the pair,

But he’s a little guy

Growing inside.

Soon to burst forth,

An infant no less,

Who needs gentle warmth

Protection’s caress.

It’s not only to you

We say, “Good-Bye,”

But, through him,

It’s an exchange of Life.

‘Tis a new treasure;

A fresh climb that awaits

Taking patience

And a soft grace.

We will trade you,

Rock-Crawler,

To prepare for

A floor-crawler.

After he walks,

After he hikes,

Maybe we can meet again

To take on new heights.

FinalImage