Writing Exercises

Prompt #1: I was born white, pristine, perfect. Then I grew older and learned how to run and swim. I jumped off cliffs and pedestals and ruined my skin with cuts and bruises and burns and tattoos. When my mother screamed at me again the other day I could see in her eyes that she would never forgive me for taking away the porcelain child she had and replacing it with this brown and broken body. But I’m not entirely sorry because on good days I see gold when I look in the mirror.

Prompt #2: When I was five, I noticed a black heart embedded into the wood of the bannister. Every few weeks since then, I would check to see if it was still there. I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, I just wanted to be sure. 

The hours I spent wondering where it came from and the theories I came up with are countless. A fairy put it there to protect me. It was a sign of love between a star-crossed two who painted the heart in blood before running away together. I sleepwalked and put it there myself.

I’m not five anymore and we’ve long since left, but I remember that heart like a landmark when I’m afraid I’m getting lost or something to humble me when there is something I cannot know. Because at twenty, when the world seems like an oyster, there are still countless things I cannot know.

Prompt #3: My mother’s father came to me in a dream one night. I had been napping when I woke up leaning against a pew in a candlelit church and he was beside me. I don’t remember what he said except for his trademark, “Oh, hija.” And in that moment, I felt so much peace.

I was his favorite and he would write me letters and call me every Sunday, always managing to establish contact no matter where I was or what I was doing. When he passed, it was something I knew I’d miss. But when I heard his voice again when I thought I would never, every foundation of my adamant disbelief in Heaven creaked in elation. From then on, I knew Heaven was watching me. 

Prompt #4: My dad’s favorite word is “prudence”. My favorite is word is “wild”. But my favorite person is dad.

Stolen Love

I could tell a story about my unique and beautiful relationship with each of these cover boys, but I’ll tell just one.

When I was 11, the fantastically white trash neighbours who lived next door moved out and a new family moved in. We adored the family that lived there because our family was also WT, but just a little less trash, so our bonkers front yard filled with broken cars, a barely functioning above-ground pool and cats (so many cats!) was largely ignored by the neighbourhood while the boy next door pulled shenanigans.

Luckily, when he and his dreamy brother moved away, an even more fantastically dysfunctional family moved in. They were glorious! The family consisted of two cranky smoking parents, twin blonde daughters whose names began with the same letter and three boys whose names began with a different same letter. The youngest boy was rambunctious and everyone said he looked like a real-life Bart Simpson, because it was the late-80s, you see. The middle boy was quiet and polite. I wrote my first poem about him. Its title was Love. The eldest boy was a half-brother, the result of some teenage romp the smoking mother had before she settled down with the smoking father. This boy was magnificent: slim and tall and plump lipped. A blonde, cruelly beautiful girlfriend had shaved one side of his head; the unshaved side covered one eye that I never saw. Maybe it didn’t exist!

I was obsessed with this boy from the moment I got over my brief crush on middle-brother until I discovered the Internet when I was 16 and also discovered it was totally cool to love ladies. He did not care for my bod, but was always very sweet to me, which actually led to more humiliation than would have resulted if he had simply ignored me. During my obsession I wrote my tender mono-eyed love many poems, one titled True Love, because my feelings had deepened. I also composed a many-paged love letter that I foolishly asked my brother to deliver. Instead of the confession being passed along, it was instantly opened, read, and laughed at by our siblings. When I peeked out my bedroom window like an awkward princess in a tower and witnessed my shame, my brothers and his youngest brother huddled around my painstaking verse, guffawing with wicked joy, my Gallant Knight’s eye caught mine and he silently snatched the letter out of the giggling boys’ hands and returned to his house alone, while I slid down the wall of my bedroom and pushed play on my Paula Abdul cassette. I can’t remember one word contained in that precious document, but a part of me still hopes he read it, and still remembers that at one time, a sweet eager girl adored him.

Read More

Looking at old log files of Su & I chatting in the early aughts.

Cheeeeezzzzzeeeeee would like to send you the file “Halle_Berry_-_Swordfish_-_Topless.mpg” (1581 Kb). Transfer time is less than 14 minutes with a 28.8 modem. Do you want to Accept (Alt+T) or Decline (Alt+D) the invitation?

I love us.