Throw Me Thursday

Update: July 12, 11 I have been messing around with Flash Fiction. Don’t trust Fridays to memoir. I will try to remember to tag flash as such to make it a little easier, if you go for that sort of thing.

Note: Throw Me Thursday posts are now located on the main page. Basically, it makes it easier to comment.

What Throw Me Thursday is:

One Thursday I had this idea to write a weekly post using your writing prompt suggestions.

I’ve been trying to work out a few kinks in the system and this is what I came up with:

  • On Thursdays I’ll send out a tweet calling for “Throw me Thursday” suggestions using the hashtag #Throwme
  • I’ll also post on the Penny Jar Facebook page
  • You can either @ me with the #Throwme hashtag or comment on the fan page with your suggestions.
  • Your response could be a word, link, poem, video, or whatever you think would make for an interesting post.
  • I’ll choose one winner also linking back to your Twitter page and URL
  • To make it a win for all I’ll also send out a “Throw me Thursday” #Follow tweet with everyone who sent in suggestions.
  • And though I probably don’t have to say it, keep it clean please.
  • Creativity will be rewarded

Throw me Thursday 12 November 2010

@karriehiggins (Karrie’s blog) took a play on words from a conversation we’d been having about an old Twilight Zone episode that still haunts me from way back, Talking Tina. Karrie said, “@EVictoriaF Keep “whiskey money doll” in mind for your #throwme on Thursday because that seriously kind of rocks.” And “@EVictoriaF whiskey, money, doll / whiskey money, doll / whiskey-money doll / whiskey money-doll / #throwme”

I see the appeal, but I did not expect what I got.

Also, if I could before you go on–last week I forgot to give the address for Julie Jeff’s Blog. Please do stop by and chat her up. She’s a lovely woman with a lot of heart.

I can’t help but think of Dad–whiskey sour, NRA lifetime member, the original Old Spice man on a trail-riding horse singing, On Top of the World in a dusty, gravel road voice. He wore a mustache always. Now, it’s shock white.

He drove the truck down highways taking photographs of straight, tall churches on weekends when I turned fourteen. He had a dog named Butch. Remarried a good woman who smokes.

When I was a kid and believed in everything, Dad came home on his lunch breaks between jobs, Ma cooked, and I slid up on his lap waiting for him to take a quarter from my ear. We ate spinach warmed from the freezer–a great green lump thumped in a pan melting into summer lawns shaded by trees he planted years before me.

I hid cars in his boots.

Just right now, these thoughts lighten me–old memories replayed like worn vinyl records skipping popcorn skips on the B-side. I can see into the kitchen, hear water splash in the copper-bottom pan.

Later, I slept in a double bed next to Sherry. She hated how I rolled and took the covers. I sucked the index finger on my left hand. When I fell asleep, it tipped out, and I slurped. The sound drove her nuts. She wanted me to just shut up.

I didn’t know what they were, the sounds. The light was on in the hall. In the dining room, too. Doors slammed. Ma’s voice. Then Dad’s.

Louder. I took the covers. Kicked my feet. I hate wearing socks to bed, so I didn’t.

It was like somebody was having a tantrum in the house, but it wasn’t somebody, it was my parents, together, having a tantrum. I would have been sent to my room. I’d have kicked my feet on the wall hard, harder, hardest, but they’d have ignore me. They’d have waited it out. They had heard it all before. It’s called extinction.

But me, I hadn’t heard it all before. On that night, I was tiny and five years old. I got a puppy for my birthday. His name was Bear and he was a golden retriever. He was also an outside dog most of the time. We didn’t have that kid/dog relationship because he didn’t sleep on my feet. He would have been better than socks, I’m sure.

I tried not to, but I cried. I tried not to, because the night Dad came home and I was crying for Ma to let me do something and she wouldn’t, he looked at me in the eyes and said, “What are you crying for?” And I huffed, and I sobbed, and I told him with words that were hardly words at all and he said, “Well crying ain’t going to change anything. You might as well stop that.” And I tried to stop, not knowing how anybody stops crying, certain as anything that crying did fix everything.

That night, he took me with him to Walgreen’s and let me pick out a book with a soft cover in the shape of a little golden retriever puppy with its tongue hanging out. It was almost as good as Dunkin’ Donuts, but not quite.

So I tried in that bed with the covers pulled up around me and my sister lying next to me quiet as anything, I tried not to cry, but I did. I cried and my body shook. My pillow got wet with spit and tears. My feet pulled in and I shrunk down as tight as I could fit inside myself. Then Sherry rolled over and curled herself around.

Throw me Thursday 5 November 2010

I nearly forgot Throw me Thursday this week what with the tizzy of NaNoWriMo biting away at my soft little heals. I took this suggestion out of context, as usual, and went with what I was most strongly reminded of. @JulesJeffs said, “@PennyJars When I read my child’s diary entry about today it said…” And that reminded me of my mom, who probably read every word I ever wrote when I wasn’t looking.

Ma wouldn’t talk when I came home, just sat there in her rocking chair with her jumbo words search and a grunt.

Shit, I thought, she knows were I was. But she didn’t, not really. She never called to check out my stories.

I went to my room, dropped off my bag, went to the fridge.

She didn’t look up.

“What’s going on?” I asked. She stared at me. Shit.

“I found your pills,” she said in The Voice.

“What?” I said, “What pills?”

The Voice said, “Your birth control pills.”

Oh.

Before I could accuse her of sneaking around she covered with, “I was putting your clothes away and they fell out of the closest.”

I just stood there waiting for the bricks to come tumbling down, knowing nothing just fell out of my closest.

Knowing her delight in finding things out.

This thing, though, needed time for finding.  Like an overnight at the boyfriend’s house, that kind of time.

The Voice said, “I don’t know why you have to be so stupid.”

“Stupid?  I’m taking care of myself. You should be happy for that!”

This woman pushed me from her body feet first with no drugs, no C-section, no husband holding her hand.  She gave me a name, raised me up, fed and clothed me and never, not ever mentioned anything close to relating to womanhood, sexuality, or even how to shave my legs.

I had to figure it out, talk to friends, learn in school.

1+1= 2.

And that’s what I was avoiding.

One week before my 18th birthday and she still thought she could get by on ignoring the fact that she had a daughter in the house with a boyfriend who might, just maybe, possibly could, be doing a little more than holding hands.

I ran to my room.

The Voice said, “And your grounded!”

Grounded.

Ma just strapped on a verbal chastity belt with no lock. Who’s to say I wouldn’t just take off anyway?

But I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I stayed in that apartment until I turned 18. I stayed until I graduated from high school four months later. I stayed two days after that. She knew I’d be gone. I’d come out running.

Throw me Thursday 28 October 2010

I want to take this week off.  I want, so, want to take this week off.  I am tired.  I’ve been running all day after staying up too late again.  It’s nearly too late again.  But it’s also Thurday and I made a pact with you.  On Thursdays, no matter what, I write.  What I write is up to you.

It’s nearly Halloween and that is what today’s post is about–Halloween.  Thanks to my friend Tiffany via the Facebook fan page and Rebecca Rasmussen who tag-teamed this week and tapped into my current obsession–Halloween costumes.

Besides, to be quite honest, I really wanted a chance to post this video for All Hallows Eve.

Five years ago we moved into this house on a little residential street in Tinyville, Wisconsin.  Trees and grass and wooden floors.  A breakfast nook.  Art Deco light fixtures and all the trimmings.  The whole time, we never saw a soul.

Come the day we’re half asleep with packing and driving, a car pulls in next door.  I stand awkwardly in our driveway looking at my husband, the box I’m holding, the person opening the car door.  There’s a stupid weird grin on my face.

“Hi,” she says.  She seems about our age.  “Hi!” I grin.  Stupid grin.  “I’m Connie,” she says.  “I live here with the weird guy who’s my step dad.”

“Nice to meet you,”  I say and she goes inside.

I wonder how weird her step dad is.

But I don’t see him.

“Maybe he’s housebound,” I say to my husband.  “Maybe he just never goes out.”  Connie’s car is gone, lights are on in the house, a television flashes.

The grass grows long.  One day Connie mows it.

“Maybe he was married, but he fell in love with his step daughter,” I say to my husband.

“He isn’t Woody Allen,” he says back to me.

“That was his adopted daughter,” I say back.

It was.  And I still like Woody Allen.  I separate him from his whacked-out life.  They’re all crazy, I think, all the famous people.

Mostly, because I’m not one of them.

One day, Connie changes her car battery.  She wears a jump suit from a local garage.  It has an embroidered name tag over her left breast. Connie it says.  She leaves the battery out by the curb.  Thursday is trash day.

“Maybe he’s a horder,” I say to my husband.  “Maybe he has stacks of newspapers all over the house.  Maybe she makes him TV dinners and reads Reader’s Digest out loud to keep him company.”

A lot of days the house is quiet.

My husband goes out to the garage, messes with the lawn mower, walks around the yard.  He comes back inside.  “I met the neighbor,” he says.  “His name is Steve.”

“What?”  I say.

“I met the neighbor.  He seems like a nice guy.”

“What neighbor?”  I say.  The house on the other side of us is being remodeled by the guy across the street.  We already met them.  He’s a fireman.  His wife has large hair.  I don’t think they like art.

“The neighbor, next door. His name’s Steve.” my husband says.  He grabs a beer from the fridge.

“Really?”  I say.  I don’t know if I believe this.  “How old is he?”  He’s really, really old, I think.

“Older than us, maybe in his 40’s.” he says.

“Huh,” I say.  I organize the counter tops.  They’re small counter tops.  We put a lot of things on them.

“What did he say?”  I always want to know exactly what people say.

“He introduced me to his friend, and we talked about Halloween.” he says.

“What about Halloween?” I say.  I can’t deduce this guy’s sanity on this little bit of information.  I need more.

“I don’t know.  I guess he likes Halloween,” he says and drinks his beer.  “I need to mow the lawn.”

“Oh,” I say and sweep toast crumbs into my hand.

I guess I’ll have to meet him myself.

Throw me Thursday 21 October 2010

Today Rebecca Rasmussen of The Bird Sisters sent this suggestion:

“I do not remember who said to me not everything is possible…and took my hand kindly and let me back from wherever I was.” –Mary Oliver

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My sister bags groceries at the supermarket where we shop 20 minutes away.  Sometimes I see her.  Others I don’t. Our difference in age is 20 years.  I’m the youngest.  She’s the oldest.

What we don’t know about each other is everything.  That would be a strange thing to say to someone you’ve only just met, “Hello, nice to meet you. What I don’t know about you is everything.”  I think I would like that, were someone to say that to me.

To not know one’s sister seems so fractured, so distant and yet so familiar I can’t imagine knowing.  That’s my family, anyway, the way we work, or rather, don’t.

This sister was a writer, a poet in high school.  She’d once won an award.  She was married at twenty. Or was it twenty-one?  She’s never had kids.  I think Ma is still hoping.

I think it’s time to let it go.

Not everything is possible.

Then I go busting in the side door of the mega-supermarket-from-hell, all “mom and two kids” of me, and rustle around for an hour and a half filling my big red cart to the brim with broccoli and yogurt and the right kind of cereals. I pick up a pregnancy test.  I pick up a 40 pound box of Tidy Cats scoopable litter. I pick up chocolate. I put the chocolate down.

Ivy holds a pack of preschool “Brain Quest” cards–300 questions, 300 answers– and makes me stop every few feet to ask another question.  She wants to know if there are windows in a blimp.  I tell her there are, though I’ve never actually seen one.

Azy sucks her thumb, wraps her crescent dog pillow around her neck and asks to hold the frozen blueberries.  They’re out of season now and just as good in yogurt.

When we stand in line forever and a day behind a woman with just three things in her cart, another woman smooshes in line behind us.  “I should use the self checkout,” She tells me, “But I feel like I’m putting someone out of a job.”  She misses that the self checkouts are additions, not subtractions.  She misses that she’s taking up a lot of space.  She misses that I’m not interested and that everybody screws up at the self checkouts. My hands are bees swarming around my daughters’ heads, kissing, and tickling their necks.

We’ve had a very good day.

It’s our turn at the checkout and my sister is working.  We’re happy to see eachother. We chat, her distracted with putting my groceries into my green bags, me with watching kids touch and poke and play peek-a-boo with the cashier who can’t seem to get enough of them.

We’re done and out in the sun again.  We’re thinking of lunch.  Cereal, Ivy says, always cereal.

I unload the cart and pack the trunk.  Broccoli. Yogurt. Cat litter. Pregnancy test in its own little plastic bag.  Why did it need its own little plastic bag?

I think of my sister.  I wonder, what’s her story?  I wonder, has anyone ever asked?

Throw me Thursday 14 October 2010

@karriehiggins said: @EVictoriaF Oh, oh! It’s Thursday! How about …. “wrecking ball” for a #throwme prompt?

And it’s strange the way these thoughts take shape.

We used to pee behind the arborvitaes clustered at the corner of the house, me and the neighbor kids.  We took turns, or peed in tandem as long as someone had our backs.

Boy parts and girl parts were secondary to the personness of us.  Everybody had a body, didn’t much matter what swung and what tucked as long as you had two strong legs could chase and two strong hands could tag.

We’d practically all seen eachother nude or half nude at some point.

No big.

Adults, though.  Adults attach meaning and shame to the natural world for sport.

Cover up. Pull down. Keep to yourself.  Don’t peak.  Just wonder.  Just wonder.

Once they got you all pit-pat and understanding the natural world ain’t really natural, they settle you in your own private room, let you shut the door, let you be free.

Wait!

Peak-a-boo.

Ha. Ha.  There’s a little girl sitting in her room naked as a jay, let’s see if we can make her blush–bring a funny stranger over just for a second. Peak-a-boo.  Isn’t she cute the way she pulls up her legs to hide?

Close the door.  It ain’t nothin’.  Big sisters like to tease.

Funny how 3 is as clear as 33 and I’m the only one who remembers.

Adults.  They’re like wrecking balls come crashing in.

Throw me Thursday 7 October 2010

Today’s writing prompt comes from @clownfysh (visit him on here as well)  who wrote, “@EVictoriaF how ’bout “the scar she loved” .. or .. a scar that someone couldn’t live without.”  He then proceeded to challenge me into writing, to which I respond–Ha ha! Take that! KA-POW!

My mother stopped dressing in front of me when I was four. She would have been in her early 40’s, her body stretched and reshaped from giving birth so many times I wonder if she ever found her real self between the dotted lines.

There are pictures of her: sugar-plum smile, age 2; house dress and black shoes, age 17; married, age 18; round and sequestered inside a pink jumpsuit, short, slicked-down hair and cat glasses, age 42.

In the last picture, she is no longer the subject, but a background image bent over a kitchen counter top, a 1970’s housewife fixing dinner.

I must have embarrassed her when I was 4, in her room, watching her peel off her house coat, her night gown, expose her belly and it’s folds. “What is that?” I asked, pointing at a line crossing her midsection, connecting the dots—right to left.

I’d come up from beneath the pillows on her bed, an easy mess I was allowed to make if only to appease the wildness five minutes longer, and saw that fading, pink streak smiling on her belly.

It was a scar, she said, a big owie. She turned away and pulled a shirt over her head.

But why? But how? But what? Kids want to know these things of their parents, the stories that make them fallible, real. Without them we make assumptions. We make up stories. Eventually, we just quit asking.

Throw me Thursday 30 September 2010

Throw me Thursday has done its job.  I’m feeling at a loss to get even one straight thought on to virtual paper.  @JulesJeffs of Beginning a Life at 50 sent me this suggestion “In memory of Tony Curtis, how about ‘Some Like it Hot’ #Throwme”.

35 minutes to my self-imposed deadline and still…what?  I thought doing a Google search might offer a few ideas.  If you’ve never typed “hot” into Google I suggest you continue not doing it.

Unless you’re up for pictures of skin and hot dogs.  But I did find a Darth Vader hot air balloon

After giving up on Google, I went fishing through a pile of old journals and folders looking for an excerpt from my first Nanowrimo project.  (No, I am not doing Nano this year, uh-uh, not a chance)  I had written the perfect scene for this prompt where the unreliable character, Joe Schmo, is at Burning Man and a gorgeous half-naked girl offers to give him a straight-razor shave.

It’s very sexy until Joe starts thinking a praying mantis is trying to eat his face.  

Some like it hot, you see?

Instead I came across my first ever first chapter written for my first ever college creative writing class.  The big hooyeah comes at the end where the teacher left this: “Note: Continue to write like your hair’s on fire.”

It seems I’ve forgotten that.  My hair’s gone gray and I don’t think I’d mind too much if it were on fire.  Of course, if I went loopy like Michael Jackson after that Pepsi commercial thing, we might have a problem.

So I leave you with this thought–Write like your hair’s on fire, and if you need to, post pics on Google.

Throw me Thursday 23 September 2010

Today’s Throw me Thursday post suggestion comes from @Christi_Craig.  Follow her on Twitter and read her blog Writing Under Pressure.  She’s a real gem, that one.

Christi chose “One day it happens”.

Moony, you might say, or sappy if you want to be blunt.  Little Me the Romantic sat around in the ’80s believing life was a Molly Ringwald movie.

As if.

I found out there was nothing steamy or even tepid about dating through the puberty years.  The first date I went on was a mid afternoon matinee showing of Betelgeuse with a funny, shy guy who somehow got it in his craw to slide a note inside my locker.  Our fingers didn’t even slip on extra butter.  The only tingles I got were in my rear from trying not to wiggle and look uncomfortable.

I was uncomfortable.

Then there was the week I spent out on the farm my brother was working at.  I’d managed to go all googly-eyed at the one guy there that looked the slightest bit interesting, BJ.

I wore pink lip gloss, black eye liner.  I laced up my high tops. I crimped my hair.

During our big trip to town I bought the new issue of Glamour and read up on the right way to flirt.

At night, I named constellations.

I was a big, old pile of whipping cream trying to stand up straight and chill myself into becoming the hot fudge sundae instead.

Of course, I wouldn’t.  I was meant to be four-eyed and brace-faced, meant to dream all “Love, love” and “Kissy kissy” until one day, an entire lifetime even, it happened–I grew up.

I found myself on the other side of a four year relationship considering change.

Maybe I was a late bloomer, but it took me until I was 22 years old to realize it isn’t a relationship that’s gonna keep me going, it’s me.

And then I think about all the women I know and I wonder and I hope they know it too, that they’re the one’s who need to stand up for themselves every damn day.

And I think about all the men I know and I wonder and I hope they know it too, because I’m an equal opportunity sister, and we’re in a huge heaping pile of humankind and need to act like it.

Life isn’t all “Love love” and “Kissy kissy”, it’s big and ugly and complicated.

It’s a wrong answer.

It’s a “One day it’s gonna happen” sort of thing.

Throw me Thursday 16 September 2010

Today’s TmT prompt “Grape Juice Stain” comes from @spitballarmy. You can also find his blog here, “You don’t need a license to drive a sandwich.”

This post isn’t at all about grape juice, but an image invoked by the prompt.  Although now, I’m thirsty.

***

The day I didn’t run away Nan came over with her dad’s camera.  “I want to take a picture of you,” she said.  “After we dye your hair.”

That’s where that stain on the carpet came from, a huge gob of Clairol’s Natural Blue Black sunk right there in the middle of my floor, a Rorschach test for the angst-ridden teen.

It was early autumn then too, school barely back in session, hormones set on full.  All it took was a phone call and my bags were packed and stacked and shoved away.

“Tonight,” he said from anywhere.

And I would have gone.

I would have gone but he didn’t call back, and he didn’t know my hair went goth, and he didn’t know that Nan shot up two rolls of black and white film on the melodrama of teenage want.

He was a con.  I was an easy mark.

Ma was pissed.

“Why’d you have to go and do that for?”  She was fed up and forgot her lines.  Instead she just stamped around the apartment making thunder for the tenants below.

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14 Responses to Throw Me Thursday

  1. Pingback: Throw me Thursday: The Lion Sleeps Tonight | Penny Jar

  2. What fun! “The day I didn’t run away” and “She was fed up and forgot her lines:” these left me conjuring up back- and side-stories for Ma and the narrator…terrific touch.

    Thanks for using my prompt!

  3. pennyjars says:

    Thanks for playing along, Fred! The first line was my favorite, I may have gotten too attached to it.

  4. Beth Lowe says:

    Victoria, I’ve been waiting to see what you would come up with today, and it’s a good one. Very evocative, though tinged with sadness. We do make up stories, don’t we? Glad you’re doing this — I love reading your stories.

  5. Oh Victoria this is stunning! I absolutely love it — you are so talented (and pregnant?!)
    I’m sharing this everywhere!

  6. Beth Lowe says:

    Victoria, I love what you’re doing with the Throw Me Thursday prompts. They are so good, even if, like this week, it’s true that you didn’t want to write one this week! You really get at the meat of the thing in your sketches — of what we really say about the weird neighbors (or who or whatever) when no one else is around to hear. The Tom Waits piece is the icing on the cake!

    Also, the two Throw Me pieces before this one — the one about your sister and the one about bodies — have been haunting me. They’re wonderful when read separately, but they somehow take on an added, more urgent nuance when read together as the sisters/siblings/mother/daughters relationships are revealed to a greater extent. Just sayin’. You are very talented, my friend.

  7. pennyjars says:

    Oh Beth, thank you. More than anything, thank you for reading and commenting. Throw me Thursdays are wonderful and painful. At home with the kids I never know what the day is going to turn into and sometimes it’s almost midnight before any writing begins.

    I really appreciate your thoughts. I still don’t have a handle on how this memoir is going to shape up, the reason behind the blog, but I’m going to let it fly now. Just jump, you know? 😉

  8. A retweet leads to another retweet leads to a new follower leads to a blog. I’m just finding out about the”virtual” support for writers, especially memoir and creative nonfiction writers. Thank you for following through with your own idea. I know I’m not always so successful at that. I stopped at “wrecking ball” because it was so intense and beautifully done. I’ve only been venting on my blog lately, and you’ve inspired me to return to more creative pursuits. Many thanks!

  9. pennyjars says:

    Robin, Wonderful in so many ways! I love the tag on your blog “Middle-aged non-athlete turned rollergirl…” There really is a huge amount of support and everyday I find more and it blows me away.

    As for following through, this is the first time I’ve stuck with one of these scheduled ideas for more than a few weeks. I love it, even though sometimes I want to tear my hair out. Thanks so much!

  10. Pingback: Bookmarkable Friday! Free biography, learning to drive, self care, and being alone | Lisa Rivero

  11. Pingback: The Automatic Writer’s Art of Shaking Hands | Penny Jar

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