Micro-Monday Flash Fiction: {Window}

Yay! I'm trying to be consistent. I really am. :)

This week's prompt is "window." (If you're curious as to how I choose my prompts, it's a very complex and laborious process. Basically I look through my stock image folder and pick a photo that strikes me that day.)

So. Window. What images does this conjure up in your mind? What kind of window? Are you looking out? Or looking in? Let the word sink in, and then write the first 300 words that come together in your mind.

If you feel like sharing, post here in the comments or post on your own blog/site and link up on twitter with #mmflashfic. 

Have fun!

{Note: I COULDN'T DO IT. I couldn't keep it to under 300 words. My initial writing frenzy produced 441 words! I tried so hard to edit it down, and I only got it down to 366. So that is where it is. I will forgive any overages up to 500 words, I think.} ;)

She pulled back the lace curtain and peeked out the front window. They would be here soon. She sighed and let the curtain slip from her fingertips, closing her eyes and remembering the day her mother gave it to her 58 years ago as a wedding gift. It had hung in her front window ever since, no matter what house or apartment they'd lived in.

She shuffled away from the window and began a slow walk around the house, conjuring up memories of her life here. They'd only been in this house for the past 26 years, but it had been 26 good years. Full of life and love. 

And sadness.

It was in this house she had watched her husband transform from the strong, handsome man she had married long ago to a feeble shell of the person he had been. She had promised to love him in sickness and in health, and that is exactly what she had done. She always smiled at him, no matter what. And he always looked at her with stars in his eyes, like he was the luckiest guy in the world to have her on his arm.

Until the sparkle died and he became confused and angry, because somewhere in his mind, he knew he had lost himself. She tried to calm him. But the day he pushed her away angrily--the day she fell and broke her hip--she knew it was time to let stronger people care for him.

He died in the nursing home, three years ago.

And now she was going there, because her hip had gotten so bad she couldn't care for herself well anymore. The only reason she walked around the house now, in this last attempt to grasp fast-fading memories, was because she wanted to leave with as much independence as she'd had when she first walked through this door.

When she heard the van pull up in front of the house, and the subsequent knock, she hobbled to the door, opened it, and walked out with as much dignity as she could muster.

But she couldn't stop the tears that escaped her eyes as she left her old life behind.

{Words: 366}

Micro-Monday Flash Fiction: {Little}

Alrighty. Let's try this Flash Fiction thing again, shall we? I have fun with it, it gets my writing muscles warmed up for the week, and I know at least a few other people have enjoyed it in the past. So, here we go.

Remember: 300 words or fewer. Post in the comments, or link up on Twitter with #mmflashfic. Today's prompt is "little." Write whatever that sparks for you.

They were so little. So tiny. And every time she looked at them, her heart broke all over again.

Shoes. 

They sat on the dresser in the freshly painted nursery, next to the rocking chair in the corner and the crib against the wall. Above the crib hung a Noah's Ark mobile, miniature fuzzy animals dangling beneath a boat that had never turned 'round and never played its lullaby. Maybe it never would.

She sighed and fingered the shoes, just looking around the room. What would they do now? Was it worth another try? She sat in the rocking chair and began rocking, subconsciously rubbing her belly that had once held life. She couldn't trust her body. it was a malicious thing, a thing that killed, and she didn't know if she could ever trust it to care for a life again.

She kicked off her own shoes and slowly rubbed her feet across the Noah's Ark plush rug as she rocked, her feet sliding back and forth, toes wriggling into the thick pile. 

And she cried.

The blue walls wavered and blurred as she looked up at the wooden letters that spelled "Emerson." They'd have to take it down, she thought. They'd have to take it all down. Maybe they should just sell the furniture, paint the walls white, and turn it back into a guest bedroom. Put some fluttery white curtains on the windows, and a vase of bright, cheery flowers on the nightstand. Yes, that might do. That might help them to forget.

They did repaint the room, and sell the furniture.

But she kept the little pair of shoes right next to the vase of flowers. And a single letter, "E," on the wall above the nightstand.

(Words: 291)

On Public Education.

Know what happened today? This:

Pink. Of course. 

Pink. Of course. 

That's right. FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN.

My little baby girl is growing up. *sniff sniff*

4 years, 360 days ago...

4 years, 360 days ago...

For a long time, despite the fact that I was never homeschooled a day in my life, I was adamant that I would homeschool my children. There were too many things wrong with the public school system; teachers are forced to teach to standardized tests; many teachers get burnt out from working so many hours and not getting paid what they're worth... I saw so many problems with the system as it is, and I wanted to give my children the best opportunity to explore the world--I wanted them to learn to love nature, to ignite their curiosity, to throw themselves in the arts, to study what they love instead of being forced to memorize facts and equations.

But as my health declined more over the last several years (which I just recently found out has been due to chronic Lyme disease), I began realizing that I am just not cut out to educate young children. I do have aspirations to eventually someday teach literature classes to college students. But I have never felt called to teach young children.

And the thought of teaching my own children, at this age, freaked me out.

When we were first house shopping a few years ago, I kept looking in this neighborhood (where we actually ended up), partly because there is a good school here. Even though I planned on homeschooling, I thought that there might come a day when I have to go back to work, or something might happen that would require my children to utilize the public education system. And here was this school known for character education, and I thought, well, just in case...

So we bought a house literally right across the street from the school.

And here we are, with my health a big issue, not to mention the intense writing schedule I'm trying to maintain while also raising my two young children. And my socialite daughter, who thrives on interaction, would not thrive at home all day with me, an extreme introvert.

So we registered her for school.

I was rather surprised by my decision to put her in public school. But it was actually thanks to another friend of mine that I started seeing the benefits of public school. She told me that it only takes a handful of committed, caring parents and teachers to help turn a school around, that you can actually model for your child believing in something so much that you work hard for it for the benefit of many people. 

I've always understood that not everyone can homeschool. (I mean, come on, look at me.) Some would like to but can't because of work or other issues. Some just have no interest. And here in the United States we have this public education. Free education available for every child. We're giving education to people for free. Sure, maybe it's not perfect. But many children come out of the public education system relatively unscathed by the experience, and nearly 100% of the time, much better off because of it.

So we're going to do our part, in our little corner of the country, to participate in and maybe improve (even a little bit) the public school system. Right here where we are. I have come to a deep appreciation of the teachers, faculty, staff, and administrators who work so hard, day and night. Who follow up with their students. Who check in on them even when school is not in session just to make sure they're okay. These people are heroes in their own right. They care. They show these kids they love them, that the students are intelligent and worthy of education. And I'm so grateful for people who answer that call.

I'm grateful not just for those who will be teaching my daughter this year, caring for her, looking after her during the day while she is away from me. But I am also grateful for all the teachers in the public school system that had a deep influence on my own life. There are several teachers I had throughout the years that I could still name for you and explain just why I remember them so well. Teachers who encouraged me to pursue my writing, who even went so far as to nominate me as a school representative to a young writers' conference without my knowledge. Even remembering some of these teachers makes me a little teary-eyed. 

And my daughter will have teachers like that, too. Teachers who will see her talent in art and encourage her to pursue it, to enter contests, to deepen her understanding of technique. Teachers who will see her interest in and curiosity about science and nature, about different kinds of animals, and how things are made up. And they will encourage her to read more, to study more, to explore more. And for this, I am grateful

So today, on this first day of kindergarten, I want to say thank you to the teachers, the school staff, the faculty, the administration--anyone who influences children at school at all, whether you serve them a dollop of mashed potatoes or clean up the vomit in the hallway or teach them how to spell their own name or listen to their questions about life--you are so significant and important to the formation of the next generation of citizens here. You have power in your hands to do mighty things, to help form and shape curiosity and encourage exploration of the world, of children's own abilities and limits. You have the power to shape the future for the good of humanity.

Thank you.

New Micro Monday Flash Fiction! {Blue}

Well, it's been a long time since I've blogged on a regular basis. I'm going to make a heroic attempt to keep with it this time.

One aspect of my blog I really enjoyed, and that I think would be a lot of fun to keep up with, was the Micro Monday Flash Fiction (#mmflashfic). Every Monday, I'll pick a random word and write 300 words of fiction incorporating that word. You're welcome and encouraged to join in. Post your flash fiction here, in the comments, or link up to your own blog via Twitter with #mmflashfic. 

Today's word prompt: blue.

Read More

New and Improved!

It was time for an overhaul of the website. I realized last year that I wasn't very fond of the website service I was using. So I moved. I've been under construction for a while, but now, the new site is here!

A breakdown of my new sections:

*Cartographie: This is my blog. Here you'll find all my old posts (I moved them all with me--maybe smart, maybe not, but they're a part of me, so they come with me). I plan to try to focus on observations of faith, spirituality, fiction, writing technique, writing (including my #micromonday flash fiction section), and more.

*Imaginographie: A listing of my books and other works. This section might be in progress for a bit as I figure out what format works best.

*Biographie: Self-explanatory. ;)

*Epistolographie: My contact page. Also, the name of my upcoming newsletter. I want to connect with people, so if you want to connect with me, be sure to fill out the form and let me know!

I will be starting up my normal posts in two weeks. (Next week is my wedding anniversary and we will be observing the 7th anniversary of the birth and loss of our first daughter, Genna. So I'm going to be up front and not even try to post next week.)

If you have any questions, let me know through the contact form. I look forward to adventuring together in my new space!

Have a great week!

Writing and Holidays and Tears and Goodbyes

Whew! It feels like it has been ages since I last updated this blog. I try to be a good little blogger, but I'm just terrible at it (as is evidenced by my posting history...).

It's been an eventful few months. I got to spend Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family, and we threw a surprise Sound of Music themed 90th birthday party for my grandma, which was a huge success and I'm sure I'll be hearing teary-eyed reminiscences about it for years to come. I spent November and December working on my first round of revisions on the book, and then sent it to my editor for a first round light edit over the holidays. Christmas found us spending time with my mom her side of the family. It was beautiful, laid back, and relaxing. I played Yahtzee and card games with my Grandma Norma (mom's mom) and got to hang out with my sister and her family who just moved back to the states from Peru.

I'm so thankful for that time at Christmas, because on January 10th, my Grandma Norma passed away.

Grandma Norma and me at my baby shower in 2009.

The last 2.5 weeks have been full of nerves and tension and tears. We scrambled to get out to my mom's house in time to see Grammy one last time, but we just missed that opportunity by a small window of less than an hour. It will probably grieve me for a long time to come that I didn't get to say one last goodbye, one last I Love You. But I know I can't dwell in the past. So I will try to breathe and continue to be present as I live out my own life. She would have wanted that.

We ended up in New Jersey for the funeral, and while it was difficult (financially and emotionally), I got to see extended family I hand't seen in years. Under the circumstances, I realized that I want to make every effort possible to visit with them as much as I can. Saying goodbye to a loved one is hard, but so much harder when you haven't talked to them recently.

The funeral was beautiful, and my husband and I were humbled by the opportunity to sing Grandma's favorite song, "How Great Thou Art," during the service. Somehow, miraculously, we made it through the song without falling into tears.

In the midst of this flurry of activity and grief and introspection, I am trying my best to get my book into shape. (It's my book's New Year's resolution.) Currently, I'm working on cover design, and I plan to commission a map for the book in the coming weeks.

Due to the very eventful past few months, and the fact that I am grieving (and prone to depression and anxiety), I'm trying to give myself some space to breathe. I need to make sure that I remain healthy through this process of self-publishing. And because of that, I've decided to push my release date back a few months. I want to make sure every detail is taken care of and every loose end is tied up before sending this baby out into the world. I want it to be perfect for you, the reader. I want it to pull at your heart in all the right ways. And so, I'm now looking at the Summer Solstice--June 21st--as the new release date for the book.

And from now on I will try to be a better blogger. :)