Influenced Concepts

Influenced Concepts

…the first step in creativity is not focusing on goals but letting go of them. Being open and aimless. Forgetting preconceived notions.

Jill Jepson

Are any of my ideas original thought? Or have I been deluding myself?

Some time ago, I was receiving Jill Jepson’s newsletter in my email inbox twice a month. I unsubscribed from her letters after a while because I was so busy trying to make some sort of progress on my WiP. Her emails were still valid for where I was in my writing, but the time with so many emails had to stop.

Anyway, I have a list of possible blog post topics that sit in one of my notebooks in my OneNote app. I add to it as I see potential phrases and sentences that spark topic ideas for me. When I came across this one written by Jill, I thought maybe getting back to the simplest of basics might be good.

Jill’s lines got me reflecting about times when I let my mind wander randomly. It was difficult to find those old times at first. So much of what I do is planned, deliberate, intentional, methodical. If I do this one thing, then such and such will be next. So much of my everyday life is like this. It’s rare for me to follow the flight of a fleeting thought. Most of my life is far from being original.

Long ago I used to play the flute. It took four years of doing exactly what the teacher told me to do before I let my imagination have a say in what I played. With the flute, I did forget about those preconceived notions and aimlessly made up melodies once I was done with my hour of rigid practice. It was also back then that I wrote stories, letting my young imagination take me wherever it felt like going at that particular moment.

Yes, there was a time when I was utterly and completely creative.

Then life got in the way as it has the bad habit of doing. Jill’s email got me questioning whether I could bring all that originality back or had I lost it forever.

Of course, that question lead to other ones like is writing the right path for me. I can’t play the flute anymore. Still, writing isn’t my only option. I’ve done needlepoint, Native American crafts, web graphics, and even dabbled in painting. Did I choose the right craft to pursue seriously?

I know that one of the reasons I chose writing is that it’s so extremely accessible to me. I didn’t have to buy a thing to get started either. Everything needed was already with me.

Those other options would require me finding stores where I could buy the supplies. There aren’t any art craft supply stores in this town. Even if there were, how was I suppose to get to them and what would I use for money?

Now, accessibility wasn’t the only reason for taking up writing. I’m so much more comfortable writing than I am talking. I think it’s because I can change what I say before anyone sees it. The chances of me being misunderstood are much less.

Jill also mentioned goals as something that might squash the creative pulse. Yes, I most certainly agree. I have a nasty habit of letting my thoughts jump to the end of what I’m trying to do. Often, it’s just for a transit moment but it still stops me from having my attention solely on what I’m doing at the time.

Goal watching can definitely ruin creative flow. This makes me wonder why personal coaches keep stressing the aspect of looking at goals, keep an eye on the big picture, and keep on shooting for what’s in the future. How can anyone get anything done that way? Or does it just put money into the coach’s pocket?

Are your ideas and dreams influenced, or are they more of the created kind?

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

 

#weekendcoffeeshare: Comfortable Spaces

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

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If we were to have coffee, I’d want it to be at a quaint coffee shop. It would be one of those places off the main drag that probably only has about ten to fifteen tables scattered around within its four walls.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)

§

Somehow we arrive at the same time. The last time this happened was months ago. The table we usually sit at is taken. I glance at the other side of the shop seeing a table in the corner against the windows that go along the front of the establishment.

The name on the waitress’s breast pocket is Laci. She’s a slender young woman I would guess to be about twenty-three to twenty-five years old.

May I take your order?

We’re just having coffee.

Laci gives me a questioning look. I nod and smile.

Will be back with them in just a jiffy.

I wonder if she’ll bring a goodie basket. So how are you?

Image provided by Glamour Caprices https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilviaggiointornoalsole/
Image provided by Glamour Caprices
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilviaggiointornoalsole/

I can’t figure out why we’re getting the special treatment in the first place. My daughter, you know, Rachelle, thinks she should be able to wear whatever makeup she wants. I can’t believe how hideous she looks. She’s a beautiful girl and then there’s that dark green gunk all around her eyes. And she thinks she looks gorgeous.

Remember the black eyeliner we used to wear?

You roll your eyes and frown at me. Yes, you remember but I’m not so sure you wanted to heard that or think my comment is relevant. Sometimes it’s hard to admit your mistakes, I guess

Our coffee is served and Laci did include a basket of mini muffins.

I’ve been informed that you two get a bonus with your coffees.

These look good. Thank you.

We don’t ask why but exchange names with Laci before she get a wave from the boss to get her butt back to the serving window.

If you don’t want Rachelle to wear it, tell her not to. Or did she get sneaky and ask permission before showing you the makeup?

You heave a sign and dump the three sugars in your mug.

She has my permission. I know I can take it back but I’m hoping one of her friends tell her how awful it looks. I have to give her a little space to grow up, you know.

Yes, I do know. Change of subject–well, kind of anyway. It’s still about personal space. I’m finally going to do something about my work space at home. It’s okay the way it is but I always feel as if it’s shared space.

I can see the imaginary question mark on your face as you nibble on a poppy-seed muffin. I peer into the basket looking for something good to catch my eye. Oh ah! I pick one of the cranberry ones and take a miniature bite.

You feel as if you’re sharing the space? You ARE sharing it with your husband.

Yes, but he isn’t there when I’m working on the book. He’s at work. If I could have one of those dividers or even a curtain, I think it would be better. However, that would mean rearranging the entire room, including the shelves attached to the wall. That would mean repainting the walls on to of it all.

All of that could be done within one weekend.

I guess, but I’ve decided not to do any of that in order to keep the marriage boat on gentle waters, if you know what I mean. Instead, I’m going to re-stain my desk so it looks more like drift wood and not so orangey. It’s getting pitted and needs the staining done anyway. I’m going to have dear husband put a shelf up above my PC screen for all that cable garbage so it’s off my desk. And I’m going to swivel the TV stand I use for the printer around so that it kind of acts like a mini peninsula between my space and his.

I watch you as you take all of this in. You looking someplace where there’s a wall for everyone else. I can only assume your picturing what I’ve described. We take nibbles of our second muffins simultaneously.

You don’t want to divide that window between you, do you?

I smile with mouth closed as I chew.

You need your own space, you know. Yet, I know what your money situation is so… it’ll help a little–maybe.

What’s that suppose to mean?

You look at me with soulful eyes. I’m baffled by the expression I see.

Okay, spill it.

You didn’t sign up for all the heartache you’ve taken on. Why do you keep on trying so hard?

Everyone has heartaches. You, of all people, know that. I try because if I don’t, I’m giving up. I’ve tried that many times. I don’t do that well at all. I scrutinize my options, sometimes have to play meeny, miney moe with them, and keep on trying to forge on forward. Welcome to real life.

You shake your head and drink the little bit of coffee still in your mug. I hale Laci to get a refill. You place your cup next to mine.

So do you really think I should let Rach keep her hideous look?

Sure. She’s a good kid. She’ll see herself eventually and change it. I have a niece who put blue streaks in her hair last summer. This summer she gone two-tone, platinum blonde and carrot red. She looks ridiculous but she’s still my niece. I figure she’s creating space between herself and her mom.

More coffee arrives. We go through our routine with the add-ons and take careful sips of the burning hot liquid. The French vanilla is hidden by the burning sensation.

I suppose the carrot red is on one side and the blond on the other?

No. She has that white blond in front, which looks out of place with her skin tone, and the carrot stuff on the back side.

Neither of us can hold it in. We laugh hardily out loud.

§

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I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism have brought me to my ideas. Albert Einstein

 

Ruth’s Secret – part 3

Did you miss the previous parts of this story?

part 1 | part 2

Ruth's Secret
Image provided by
Eva Mostraum @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/evamos/

Shelly called the number Ruth left in her voice message. It took Ruth five complete rings to answer. “This is Shelly. You left me a message?”

There was rustling sounds in the background at Ruth’s end. “Yes. Shelly, does anyone else know about the envelope being in your drawer?” A man asked if there was ice in the freezer.

“Did I catch you at a bad time, Ruth?”

“No — no worse than any other. Does anyone else know?” Shelly heard clanging.

“No, no one knows but me.” Shelly had more questions racing through her mind now than there had been earlier at work. How do I slip in these questions without her flipping out on me? She’s never mentioned a boyfriend at work. Sure it’s possible, but from the way she talks, she doesn’t have time for a social life.

“Shelly, can I trust you?”

“Yes, why?”

“Can I trust you to keep this to yourself?”

Shelley wrinkled her brow. “Yes, Ruth. What do you want to tell me?”

Ruth sighed audibly and begins to tell her story. It was all because she had assumed she was receiving more from her grandmother’s estate. Before the money was sent to her, she had bought a condo and a new car thinking she’d find both easy to pay off with the trust fund she’d be getting. When she did start receiving the money, it was only enough to contribute to the cost of the condo. “I was a fool, Shelly. I can’t get rid of the car either. How would I get to work, the grocery store, wherever I need to go? This is not a town with a subway system, you know.”

Shelly agreed with her. “I like our town, Ruth, but public transportation isn’t one of its qualities.” She shifted her weight on the stool she was using at the peninsula that separated her kitchen and dining area.

Ruth continued with her saga. She did the sensible thing and started looking for a second job that would enable her to keep the car. “I looked into a couple of the fast-food places thinking I could work as the evening manager. I quickly dismissed this when I found out everyone has to start at the bottom. Minimum wage was not going to help me. I thought about doing some kind of work through the Internet. Shelly, with all my education, I’m not qualified for any of those positions.”

Shelly heard the same man as before but couldn’t make out what he was saying. Ruth interrupted her tale to say goodbye to whomever he was.

“Sorry about that. Uhmm… where was I? Oh… after realizing my limitations, I decided to give the newspaper a try. Under photography, there was a want ad for models. Believe it or not, I was qualified according to the specifics listed. And I got the job. They were willing to work around my schedule.”

Shelly’s eyes got as big a saucers. The only type of photographers she knew about who would work nights and not demand days were the ones into porno. Is Ruth really doing porn modeling?

Ruth had gotten the hint from the silence on the phone. “Shelly, this isn’t porno.” There’s still silence. “Shelly, I couldn’t ever do ultimate nude pictures despite the fact that I still wear a size four.”

Shelly finally spoke. “Ruth, what does this photographer do during the day?”

“He runs his studio. Listen, what I’m doing is a little shady. It’s in that gray area between right and wrong, okay?” No words coming from Shelly. “I’m a pin-up model.”

“Augh! So if you’re not nude, what are you wearing?”

“Sexy lingerie. And yes, some of it is so shear that I might as well be nude — but I’m not.” Silence. “And I get paid $260 under the table for three hours of posing.”

“Okay… and?”

“The shootings are done here at my condo. The photographer just left. Can you keep my secret?”

Shelly pondered a moment before answering. “Sure, but why was the envelope of money in my desk drawer?”

Part 4 is here.

Ruth’s Secret – part 2

Did you miss part 1? You can find it here.

Ruth's Secret
Image provided by
Will Abson @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/wabson/

Shelly wanted to show her what she found in the bottom drawer, but with Aaron right there, she thought better of the idea. Besides, she wasn’t chummy with Ruth. The woman of thirty-three was her supervisor, nothing more.

She continued through her tasks for the day. At four, she found herself sitting in the cubicle with nothing to do. Truth be known, she’d been trying to keep herself busy for over a half hour. She even scanned documents that she had completed earlier to make sure, for the fourth time, there weren’t any errors. Her thoughts went back to the money in the drawer. This is silly. If I don’t do something, I won’t sleep tonight. That’s become obvious.

She smoothed out her should-length hair and walked around the two other rows of cubicles where Ruth’s office was. The door wasn’t closed but she knocked anyway. “Ruth, can I talk to you for a moment?”

Ruth waved Shelly inside and motioned to one of the chairs while she finished what she was writing on a legal pad. Once done, she asked, “What do you need, Shelly?”

Shelly fidgeted with her hands that laid in her lap. Her feet wouldn’t stay still on the floor. “Uhmm… Ruth… When I came in this morning, I was going to put my purse in the bottom drawer just like I always do. Yet this morning, the drawer wasn’t empty. It had an envelope laying in it.”

Ruth became rigid for just a second, then placed her forearms on her desk and clasped her hands together. “Do you know what was in the envelope?” she asked calmly.

Shelly looked down at her hands as she answered. “Yes, Ruth. Dollar bills are in it. I haven’t counted how many though. I don’t even know what the denominations are.” She looked up expectantly at her boss.

Ruth kept her pose. “Shelly, where is the envelope now?”

“Still in the drawer.”

“And the content is still there, I presume?”

“Yes,” Shelly answered as confusion swirled through her head.

“Okay. Uhmm… Shelly, bring me the envelope.”

Shelly stood and stopped expecting Ruth to say more.

“Go on. Bring it back in here,” Ruth said with moderate impatience in her tone.

Shelly hastily sprinted to her desk, retrieved the envelope, and rushed to Ruth’s office. Upon reaching the doorway, she said with labored breath, “Here it is,” and held it out to her boss.

Ruth grabbed it and peeked inside. Before she could stop herself, a gasp of relief escaped her lips. Taking the clasp out of her hair and letting the waves of amber tumble over her shoulders, she leaned back and closed her eyes.

“Is everything all right, Ruth?” Shelly asked.

Ruth opened her eyes and looked toward her subordinate. “Yes, yes, I’m fine. It’s almost quitting time. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

To Shelly’s disappointment, Ruth said nothing to shed any light on the reason the envelope was in her desk drawer, yet it seemed obvious to Shelly that Ruth knew all about the entire incident.

When she arrived home forty-five minutes later, she saw the light flashing on her phone. She pressed the button and heard Ruth’s voice.

Part 3 is here. Part 4 is here.

Turning Twelve

Turning Twelve
Image provided by
Will Clayton @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/spool32/

Most of my birthdays come and go without me remembering anything about them. Most of this is due to the lack of want or need I have. Then again, it could be because most of what I want or need is satisfied almost spontaneously these days. For instance, if I say I need a new sweater to go with a pair of pants I have, the next time Hubby and I go to the store, he’s guiding me toward the sweaters and asking me what color I want.

Still, during the years I was growing up, there wasn’t much left over after the monthly bills were paid. I remember playing just outside the kitchen in the living room while Mom was at the kitchen table writing out the monthly checks. My dad would come in through the back door and Mom would tell him that there was twelve dollars left over. Still, I didn’t worry about going without what I needed, and I was under the impression that wants were extras and wasn’t surprised they were scarcely met, even on birthdays or Christmas. It never dawned on me that there were people who lived with more than what we had. I was content with life the way it was.

Birthdays were celebrated within the family back then. What it boiled down to was the parents in the neighborhood, including my own, didn’t want to burden others with the expense of a gift. Incomes were more or less the same no matter which house you visited. At my house, each person would receive three gifts, one from each of the others in the family. (It worked pretty much the same way for Christmas although there were usually an extra few gifts from the grandparents, aunts and uncles.)

Most gifts were practical in nature, ranging from socks/tights to pants/dresses. For a few years, I was giving my brother a Matchbox car or a small box of Lego. My brother gave me color books or books to read.

There was one birthday that sticks out in my mind though. It was the one and only year I received all the things I wanted but didn’t need. I was beside myself with joy as I opened each of the three presents I received for my twelfth birthday

To this day, I still remember what those gifts were: a long blue quilted robe, a transistor radio that had FM as well as AM and a record album of The Beatles, Revolver. I wasn’t just pleased with my gifts. I was ecstatic with happiness.

Although I’m quite sure that it wasn’t quite true, I felt that I must be the luckiest girl in the neighborhood. Even with this feeling bubbling within me, I didn’t make a show of my birthday to my friends. After all, they didn’t parade their gifts in front of me.

Sometimes now, I wonder if I lived in a fantasy world back then. I actually see kids today showing off what they have and even to the point of purposely making other kids feel awful. I see and hear kids whining because they didn’t get what they wanted and refuse to understand that money is often a rare thing in families. Were the kids in that neighborhood from long ago different? Or was it, maybe, the times that were different?