Monday, June 26, 2006

Free Writing and Candles Galore!

So I'm pumped about the whole online writing class I am taking when one of my first assignments is to free-write for five minutes. I thought this would be pretty easy, and it is not too bad. My biggest problem is that during a free-writing session, there is no room for editing.

How can I possibly work through that obstacle? I write, and then re-write and then re-write a few more times before I can possibly consider letting anyone else ever take a look at it. What kind of sadist is this professor... telling me only to capture my thoughts and NOT to edit for either grammar or content.

I've gotten a little better at the entire free-writing process though. In this last lesson we were challenged to take four items in whatever room we were writing in and free-write a description or two about them. This is what I came up with (remember, I was not allowed to go back and edit, these are off the top of my head thoughts):

Mom & Janelle w/Tinkerbell photo

My mother and her sister went to Disney World in 2004 on their very first “sisters only” vacation. They are so excited to have been able to begin this tradition, and I wonder if their increasing age was the spur of it. I think that since there have been so many years spent apart from each other, both having lived with military men, they are seeking to re-establish their relationships. This picture is priceless to me because it is silliness personified. They are standing on Main Street before Cinderella’s castle and they have their hands cupped before them, as if they are holding something priceless. Their faces are that of excited children who never want to grow up and the fact that these women (70 and late 50) are hamming it up for the camera is pretty priceless. The Walt Disney people superimposed a “Tinkerbell” in their cupped hands and it just makes me realize that perhaps there is that part of us that never wishes to grow old.

50th Anniversary letter to my parents from the President

I don’t care how my father goes on about whining about our current government administration, I know one of his most prized possessions is framed and right over the light switch to this room. The President and Mrs. Bush were kind enough to send their congratulations to my parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. I did some online research and found that this was a normal occurrence for the President and was glad that it arrived in plenty of time for it to be matted and framed before their big party at the church. My father claims that he is a life-long democrat, but I am sure that Bill Clinton’s moral failures led him to secretly push the button for George W at the next election. He won’t admit that though, because he is nothing, if not loyal, and his father raised him to be a democrat, so that is what he is going to be, dadgumit. It doesn’t really matter that my grandfather passed away in the early 70s, but there was a time that his job was dependent upon a certain democrat keeping office, and my father has been a democrat ever since he was a young boy. This probably explains some of the reasons we don’t talk politics around here much!

Hope for Haiti box
The beautiful green box with the bird painted on it sits just to the right of my father’s desk. My friend Brent Gambrell gave me that box after his first mission trip to Haiti. It came with a specific purpose, and that was to place leftover change in it so that we would be able to contribute to his quarterly trip to Haiti. The box was originally given to me, but after his third Haitian trip, I was given a bigger box and “encouraged” to give a greater amount. I asked what I was supposed to do with the smaller box, and Brent decided that my parents needed to give to Haiti as well. Therefore, they now have their own box, and they are happy to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause. Brent continues to want me to make a trip with him, but once I saw that picture of the tarantula, I decided that Haiti was really the last place on earth that I needed to be!

Smokeless ashtray

My father loves to smoke cigars. I have no idea when he started this habit, but I am certain that it began sometime during his military career. There are plenty of old pictures of him with a cigar dangling from his lips as he tries to make an impressive picture for the camera. I don’t really care for the cigar, but it is one of his few vices and who am I to stop him from enjoying it? One of my family members gave him a smokeless ashtray as a gift. He has used it on occasion, but not all the time. I can always tell when he is not using it, as I can smell the cigar smoke from the back door of the house, regardless of where he has been puffing away. I wish he would use it more, but this is his place, and if he chooses to stink it up, who am I to call him on it?

Then... we were given our assignment for the week, which was to light a candle and describe it. I knew instantly just what candle I was going to light and describe... and here is the result:

Citrus Candle

As I stare at the flame burning in my citrus candle, I am whisked away in time and place to Panama City Beach, Florida. It is August 2003 and I have retreated from my life for just a few days. I purchased the candle at the local Wal-Mart there because I needed a fragrant light to help overcome the hysteria that my life had become. My closest friends had left the same day to relocate to another part of the country, taking three of the most precious children with them. There was a hole left in my heart. That logical part of me knew this was the best for their family but it continued to war with my emotions that screamed for their swift return to my everyday life. I needed a light to fill that solemn darkness. The candle worked wonders. Its sweet fragrance lifted my spirits. It glowed for me every evening during that retreat; whether it was on the dining room table or out on the balcony next to my journal. It gave off just enough light for my heart to pour itself out onto those pages, and it continues to illuminate my thoughts to this day. It is no longer a symbol of my desperation, but a sweet reminder of friendships never lost or forgotten.

I'm getting the hang of this here writing gig! Who knew it could be this much fun?

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