Assessing Time

Assessing Time
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/sky817/

Back when I was in high school writing short [very short] stories and poems in a spiral notebook while sitting on my bed Indian style, I wrote until I had nothing more to say or until I heard my mom yell for help in fixing the evening meal. I didn’t give one inkling of thought to how many minutes equaled a “good session of writing”.

Most of my poems were free verse with three parts to them. Sometimes I’d write at feverish speed as if I might forget the complete thought before I got it all down. There were instances when this only took five minutes at the most, and then I was done. I’d open the bedroom door and go spend time watching TV with my brother or go offer a hand in the kitchen.

Other times, I’d painfully struggle to get those poems out of me. I’d have to write the first stanza, stare out the window for I don’t know how long, and try for the next one. Those poems could take me days to write.

The short stories were done much the same way, though I always had some idea of where I was going with them. I knew where I wanted to start and end.

No place during those years did I worry about what constituted a “good writing session”. I just wrote. When did all of this change?

Life got busy and complicated until I was in my late forties. At that time, I decided to take a correspondence course through Writer’s Digest. The class was based on the assumption that I knew grammar up past the level of high school, which I did. It was designed to get the creative juices flowing and teach me how to submit my work.

Within all those pages and lessons, there wasn’t one indication, tip, or hint about how long a “good writing session” should be. I can only surmise that I should write until I was done for that day, that morning, that afternoon, or whatever.

It was in 2013 that I felt the urge to get serious about writing again and hopefully stick with it for more that three or four years. I subscribed to a hoard of blogs owned by writers in the hopes of learning the finer points of the craft/art.

Most of the blogs I followed talked about the writing process, writer’s block, and gave prompts and exercises. A little over a year ago though, I’ve seen a shift in a few of these blogs. I’m not sure I agree with the switch. I’ve come to know these bloggers and think of them as reliable for information, yet I’m reading something, not every time of course, about what establishes a “good writing session”.

Although good habits are bound to make life easier in many ways, when it comes to most activity requiring creativity, some of these habits can be too restrictive, making it almost, if not completely, impossible for a person to be imaginative or resourceful.

I tried taking the advice I was reading, but found myself getting stuck as if I was thrown into a bin of glue. I’d sit myself down at the time I had deemed to start my session and begin to write. Within twenty minutes at the most, I’d find my muse refusing to cooperate and flying off into space. The damn thing wouldn’t come back until the following day, and that was only if I was lucky.

Should writers have a strict schedule? Maybe some need it. Maybe some were raised with rigorous rules set down by their parents and have kept up the habit. However, I don’t see how this should apply to every writer. Many writers are the free spirit type. They may not start a project until three in the morning, work frantically for a half hour, and go to bed and sleep until noon. This does not mean they’re lazy. It means they have an unconventional life style.

I consider the above example a little extreme, but I’m certain some writers work that way. I was brought up with rigid rules: set meal times, set bedtimes, laundry day, meatloaf on Tuesdays, and so forth. I only make meat loaf about four times each year now so I think I’ve moved away from the do-or-die schedule.

Most days I want to write as soon as the house is quiet in the morning. I sleep regular hours when I can sleep so morning is when I have the most brain energy. However, while husband watches sports channels in the evening, I’m known to sit my butt in the chair to pound on the keys furiously for a couple of hours. Still, I don’t have a set number of minutes I gauge.

I write until I feel done.

§

How do you feel about writing sessions?

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” ― Red Haircrow

 

My Best Friend, Glenda

I’m writing this post from two different prompts and I found at Writing.Com.

 

My Best Friend Glenda
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Wonderland @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/

Sometimes it’s so inconceivable how friendships are formed. The way I became friends with Linda was typical. Girl moves into neighborhood. Girl up the street notices her. Girl from up the street walks down to the new girl’s house. They become friends. Definitely run of the mill stuff. And she was my best friend for the entire time I was in elementary school.

I didn’t have a best friend again until I was a junior in high school. I wasn’t friendless all those years in between. I just couldn’t get that special connection going with anyone. The friends I entertained during those between years didn’t know the way I felt about anything in my life. I kept all of that hidden.

Something So Strong
Tell us the origin story of your best friend. How did you become friends? What is it that keeps your friendship rockin’ after all these years?

Careless Whisper
It happens: sometimes that filter in our head bursts and we say too much of what we’re thinking and someone gets hurt. Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.

I met Glenda at the home of a guy I knew from the pool at Eisenhower Park. It was late September of my junior year in high school. Often I would go see one or more of the kids from the pool after the last class of the day if I wasn’t working at the insurance company where I had a part -time job. You see, most of those kids lived in the next school district from mine.

The guy I was visiting that day was Skeeter. He had good reason to be called that, as silly as it was. It fit him better than Carroll. During that era, which was before the TV show, In the Heat of the Night starring Carroll O’Connell, to be called Carroll meant you were probably labeled as a sissy. Only girls had the name Carol (notice the difference in spelling). Skeeter was eighteen and out of high school. He, actually, was a low scum bum. His mom worked two jobs while Skeeter worked none. In my book, he was worthless trash.

So why did I hang around him at all? I was dating one of his closest friends, Danny. Danny wasn’t anything like Skeeter. He was a senior in high school, had a part-time job working for a mechanic and was always there to help his mom and dad. I hadn’t a clue as to why he considered Skeeter a friend at all, but that’s the way it was.

Skeeter’s new girlfriend was there that day, Glenda. She was only fourteen, a freshman attending the junior high just minutes away from the high school. She was a skinny little thing. At least that’s the way I thought of her despite the fact that she stood a little taller than me. Her body development was minimal, which caused me to wonder why someone eighteen would be interested in her. Maybe Skeeter thought he could dominate over her easier. Anyway, I felt some fear for this girl. I thought, for sure, that she was in way over her head in that relationship. I had known Skeeter for a couple of years already, and I had a pretty good idea of what he was all about.

After Danny and I left Skeeter’s house, we headed over to his house. On the ride there, I told Danny about my misgivings about Glenda being with his friend. Being the friend that he was to the scumbag, he told me that there was nothing we could do because it was their business and not ours. I left the matter closed after that unknowing that Danny told Skeeter about my concern. Danny didn’t know it would get back to Glenda just as I didn’t know either.

Glenda was not happy about what I had said. She cornered me a couple of days later and asked me to take a walk with her. As we walked, she told me how she felt about what I had said to Danny, keeping a level head and not even raising her voice. The girl was older than her years. I ended up apologizing to her. Believe it or not, she accepted my output of regret and we became friends right then and there.

It didn’t take long for us to become best friends. It got so that when we weren’t in school or doing homework, we were together doing something. Often there would be four of us, which would also include Chris and Charley.

Our friendship did finally fizzle seven years later. She was divorced from her husband who was another friend of the scumbag. She decided she needed to get away from Colorado and moved to Florida. Somehow writing each other never took place.

High School Suitors – Part 4

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50732422@N06/

I probably should be telling you about Chris and Charley separate from the boyfriends I had in high school. Yet, these two young men meant and still mean so much to me. Sure, I kissed both of them, but they weren’t the kisses I’d give a boyfriend.

 

High School Suitors - Part 4
Image provided by
WikiPaintings @ http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/lyubov-popova/the-pianist

Chris was in my band class. He played clarinet. He wasn’t terrific at it but he wasn’t a failure either. I think he took it as a fill-in class. His passion was visual arts. He was seventeen and a senior back then while I was sixteen and a junior. It stared out with both of us having lunch at the same time. Both of us smoked so we’d trot outside at that time to have a cigarette. One of us (can’t remember if it was Chris or me) asked the other one for a light. We sat on the dead grass of last January, eating our sack lunches, smoking a second cigarette, and talked about our band teacher, Rolie.

This exchange went on until May when Chris came over to my house for the first time. He didn’t come alone. He had his soon to be college roommate with him, Charley. These two guys were different in so many way. Chris was the tall, dark and handsome one. Charley, although tall and had brown hair, was, I’m sorry to say, not handsome. Chris’s hair was dark brown, almost black. It was thick, wavy and went down to his shoulders, just barely that is. Charley’s hair was so thin, curled in just the wrong places, and his hair was as long as Chris’s was. Chris had a choirboy face where Charley had the face of Fagan in the musical, Oliver.

Charley had a few good points about himself that Chris didn’t have though. Charley was smart, way smarter than he would ever need to be. He was a wiz at math and could play the piano as if he were a professional pianist. Moreover, he could play jazz and rock as well as classical. He seemed to have no problems with his grades because of his high level of intelligence. He could carry on a conversation with anyone no matter what his or her age or the subject. He was an amazing young man.

Chris was nice enough and was fun to be with, but he was naive. His life had been sheltered quite a bit more that Charley’s had. He also had a tendency to see things in only black and white. This made him feel terribly guilty when the three of us would go out to the foothills to smoke a couple of joints. For Charley and me, we felt that marijuana should be legalized and we figured we were just getting the jump on it.

These two men were my close friends for two years and our relationship with one other would have gone on longer if it is could. They taught me how to play the card games Hearts and Spades. I learned about the different strategies in the game of Risk. I learned how to do the waltz and the Foxtrot.

Chris and Charley weren’t this versatile by accident. Chris’s family had money. No, he wasn’t filthy rich, but there was enough so that his parents could make sure he was primed to be a successful adult. Charley’s family wasn’t quite as influential with money but did have some. Charley’s family lived in the Netherlands. They were an American family with the father’s career being in Europe. To say it in a few words, Charley got an intentional education.

 

I will always be grateful to these two for how they helped me discover the world that was outside my “backyard”. What I had to endure after high school is something I don’t think I could have handled with out what I learned from Chris and Charley.

High School Suitors – Part 3

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50732422@N06/

If this is your first time reading a post in this series, you might be interested in reading part 1 and part 2 as well.

This series only reflects the romance I took part in during my three years in high school.

Most high schools in the Denver area during the 1960s and 1970s taught from the sophomore year to the senior year. Freshmen were still part of the junior high school (middle school) crowd.

 

High School Suitors - Part 3
Image provided by
Adrian Price @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/ninefish/

After I refused Dave’s bracelet, there was a brief time when I wasn’t dating anyone. Because some of that time was during the Christmas season, it didn’t seem to affect me. I was busy helping Mom with the cookie baking, putting out the decorations throughout the house and practicing my flute piece for the Children’s Christmas Pageant at church.

A few boys called me for dates during the second semester of my sophomore year. Most were one-night stands. A couple I dated a few more times but the romance just wasn’t there for me. I was probably better off not dating very much because I was struggling to keep a B average in Biology. The subject was definitely not a favorite of mine. I actually did more studying to keep my averages as high as possible.

On Memorial Day weekend that year, the public swimming pool at Mamie G. Eisenhower Park opened. I walked the three miles to get there. I wasn’t shy about jumping into the cold chlorinated water. I had been waiting for the pool fun all school year. Many of the kids I had met the previous year were already in the pool splashing and dunking each other. This was what we did most of the summer.

There were usually about eight or nine in our group ranging from the age of ten up to nineteen. Most of them were my age though. This year, however, there was a new guy in our group, Brad. He was over 6 feet tall, large-boned and lean with muscle. Yes, he was good looking, no doubt about it.

I did what I always did around guys I liked. I did everything in my power to be his friend. And we did become friends. Nothing else happened between us that summer though. As with most things, it was probably for the best because in August I had a chance to go to New York City with a group of kids from around Denver who were the same denomination of religion as I was. Parents weren’t going. Instead, there was a chaperon from each church that was involved in the project. Our mission was to learn how religion still plays a part in our society.

When school started that fall and I was a junior, I was boy friendless except for the ones who were platonic friends. However, the last Tuesday of September, after I got home from school, I received a telephone call from Brad. (He wasn’t going to my school. He ended up in the next high school south of mine.) He asked me to go to a party with him. Some of the other kids from the pool would be there so I felt safe about saying yes.

I had a good time at the party. Because Brad was a gentleman and didn’t make any crude moves on me, I was very comfortable with him through the entire evening. We started going out every weekend after that, on either Friday night or Saturday night.

Sometime right before Christmas that year, we went to a Christmas party somewhere over in him neighborhood. At first, it was just the normal teenage party. Some were drinking beer but back then, anyone eighteen could drink it legally so it wasn’t a big deal. We were offered some but neither Brad nor I liked the taste of beer so we declined.

About 10pm, couples started heading for bedrooms. Of course, we knew what was going on behind those doors. I knew I wasn’t ready for something like that yet, and Brad wasn’t pushing me to be intimate yet. We decided to leave and go over to McDonald’s.

A guy that Brad knew (but wasn’t a friend really), Doug, was outside standing next to Brad’s car smoking a cigarette. Brad got me into the car, said hello to Doug and suggested he move away from the car so that there wasn’t any chance of Brad hurting him when driving off. Doug must have been drinking because he picked a fight with Brad. They were evenly matched and the fight lasted over ten minutes. Brad’s right eye was swollen, his jaw was bruised and he had a cut lip. He was a mess.

Yes, he took me straight home and then he went home.

The following day, my friend, Glenda and I walked over three miles to Brad’s home in the snow that had fallen during the night. I needed to make sure he was okay. I bought a get-well card and a Snickers bar on the way to give to him. That’s what girlfriends do, right?

His mom was nice and gracious, letting us in, and taking our coats and mittens. Brad came out to the living room. His face was so swollen. I gave him the card and the candy bar. He gave me a kiss even though his lower lip was hurting.

We dated until January. It turned out that he did want to get intimate and, as I said, I just wasn’t ready. He went on to someone else who was ready. There weren’t any tears. This was high school stuff. I knew I wasn’t ready to get involved seriously so there was nothing to be upset about as far as I could figure.

 

I guess I was lucky. I never felt that I had to give into the pressures of sex and intimacy that are so prevalent in high school.

High School Suitors – Part 2

High School Suitors
Image provided by
Ariadna Bruna @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/50732422@N06/

As I had said in the first part of this series, I was hurt by Gary’s words. I put on a brave face the next day and went to school. I saw him in the hall in front of the library. I looked straight at him, smiled, and said, “Hi Gary.” He didn’t say anything back to me. Was he surprised by the way I handled the situation? Maybe. At the time, that’s exactly the reaction I wanted from him.

 

High School Suitors – Part 2
Image provided by
glee wiki @ http://glee.wikia.com/wiki/Sadie_Hawkins

That very afternoon in my band class (I played the flute.), I ask Dave to the Sadie Hawkins Dance that would be happening a week from that Saturday. Dave was sixteen but still a sophomore. He was still in the process of getting his driver’s license and only had a permit. His reason for not having his license was that he had a hard time getting his mom to take him to the motor vehicle department to take the written test. It sounded probable to me.

Dave was attentive, a little too attentive for my liking really. Because I still considered myself new to having a boyfriend in real life despite the three months with Gary, I along with most of his affection and only pushed him away gently when I thought he might be getting too wrapped up in it.

To get to the Sadie Hawkins Dance at our school, Dave, with his mom in tow picked me up. Yes, it was a strange situation. Because of the laws for drivers with permits in Colorado, I had to sit in the backseat of Dave’s VW. Yes, the car was his. He had mowed lawns for three years to come up with one-third of the cost for the car. His parents had said that they would pay the rest. Why didn’t we walk? It was December and the school was three miles away.

Gary was at that dance with someone I had known in elementary school. I avoided him. Showing him that I had a date for the dance seemed rather childish to me. I stayed close by Dave’s side and danced only with him.

There was a little diner across the street kitty corner from the school. Dave treated me to a hot fudge sundae and we talked a while. He told me about being held back a year in school when he was thirteen and how much trouble he had gotten into the year before. He felt that he had changed a lot since then, but as I saw him smoke his cigarette, I was pretty sure that he still had some growing up to do.

The Thursday after the dance, he called me asking me to a movie that next night. When I asked Mom, I found out that his grandmother knew Gary’s grandmother. Of course, because everyone involved went to the same denomination of church, Dave received the stamp of approval. How often does this happen in a city as large as the one I grew up in, namely Denver? Probably it has happened somewhere else but it’s got to be a rarity.

The movie he took me to is one that I truly believe all teenage couples were seeing over the span of about five years, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. This time the pick-up was a little different. Dave had gotten his license. It was just him and me in his baby blue VW. After the movie, he took me to the restaurant next door. Again, I had the hot fudge sundae while he had a parfait. When we got to my house, he wanted to neck for a while. I let it go on for about five minutes; then told him I had to get inside before one of my parents showed up at the door.

At school, we hung out together when we had classes in the same hall. (The school was three stories with three halls per level.) That Wednesday he came to my house to see me. He had a definite purpose for his visit. He asked me to go steady with him.

(Is anyone jumping up and down with joy out there? If you are, please stop.)

Going steady was not what I wanted. I thought the notion was a silly teenage tradition. I didn’t need a ring or bracelet to keep me loyal to someone I was dating and I didn’t think the guy needed it either. I asked Dave if we could just agree not to go out with anyone else. He was hurt, of course. He liked the stupid tradition.

When he got to his house, he called up my friend, Debbie, and asked her out. How did I know? Debbie called and told me right after her conversation with Dave. Debbie had accepted the date. I was a little miffed because I thought she should have checked with me about Dave’s and my status before accepting. Although Debbie and I remained friends, the closeness had been broken between us.

The odd thing about Dave and I was that after approximately three weeks, we were friends. Moreover, we became close friends by the time school ended at the beginning of that next summer. There were things that I discussed with him that I didn’t dare discuss with my girlfriends.

Although I haven’t seen him for decades, I still treasure his friendship.

 

Have you ever had a friendship like this?