Tag Archives: Observation

Writing Challenge: Happy As A Clam At High Tide…

Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.” John Harrigan

Writing Challenge: Happy As A Clam At High Tide... Happy man

Writing Challenge: Happy As A Clam At High Tide… Happy man

Have you ever seen a happy clam at high tide? Seriously, have you looked at any clams lately? If not, I can assure you they don’t look ecstatic. As I was putting this post together, I realized I had no idea about the origin of the popular, oft abbreviated  saying; “Happy as a Clam.” A little digging produced an explanation: Clams are harder to catch at high-tide. To live is to be happy.

My uncle Jaja was always upbeat and full of life; even at 65  he stayed active and interested in life. He was a farmer and palm wine tapper who made friends easily. Whenever he left the village to visit his two grown sons in the big city, it seemed like a set of megawatt bulbs had burned out. Invariably, he would return and regale us with stories of the people he met in the city. He liked to call them “Characters.”  Two stories came to mind for this exercise, and I’ll let the late Uncle Jaja speak for himself.

Uncle Jaja: Thank you my child! So, Last Easter when I went to the city, my sons and their wives fed me well. The food was so good, I had to take a stroll to the bar beach to work it off. As I walked on the beach, I noticed a very old man, with a basket of clams, hawking his wares while laughing and chatting with people walking by. He had a few teeth, wrinkly weathered skin, and grey hair, but with an ancient warrior’s gait.  His eye caught mine and he called me over.  I’m always happy to make a new friend so I went. After saying a traditional greeting, I called him Uncle.

“No, no man, call me Tabu!  You hear me!? Anyway what brings you here?” he shouted as he shook my hand.  ” The children.” I said.  “Good. Buy them some clams!”  He replied. Then he started laughing and cracking dirty jokes. I can’t even tell you.  He was full of life and knew a lot about seafood. We had a great chat and after some time,  he persuaded me to busy a few. I did and saying goodbye, headed back to my son, Oge’s, house.

Writing Challenge: Happy As A Clam At High Tide... Happy clams?

Writing Challenge: Happy As A Clam At High Tide… Happy clams?

Next day, I went to bar beach again and there he was, old man Tabu, carrying his basket of clams and dancing and laughing. This time I was curious to find out more. I went over, greeted him warmly and asked,  “Uncle Tabu, you look so happy today. What’s your secret? ”  He burst out laughing, even bending over to catch his breath.  “Me?, he said, “I’m a happy man. I smoke  five packs of cigarettes daily, drink 3 cases of whiskey and palm wine every week, eat meat 3 times a day and I don’t waste time with exercise. Instead, I hang out at the beach and make new friends like you! “

I was shocked! I’m 65 and can’t eat like that… How could this old man consume all that and still be standing?  Unbelievable! I had to ask Uncle how he does it and advice him…   I followed him to  the edge of the water where he stood rinsing out a metal teacup.  Tabu looked at me and said nothing.  He seemed subdued, even a little reflective.

I pulled myself together and in a bold voice, said, “Uncle, why the mission to self-destruction? I’m 65 and hope to see more grand children. I’m sure you already have a few.”   Uncle smiled  and said nothing.  So, I continued, “By the way, how old are you? I want to remember to be this happy when I’m older.” He looked at me and laughed. “No, I’m serious Uncle, please.” I said.  Uncle Tabu looked me in the eye and said, ” Man,  I’m twenty-six!”   I was flabbergasted, but you know what? We can’t speculate without having all the facts … and he was living his version of happy. -UJ.  Was he? More below

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Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

“Eager souls, mystics and revolutionaries, may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams; but evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart, utopia is only the shadow of a dream.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Synopsis: A young museum curator lapses into a coma after a horrific accident. 100 years later, Maya wakes up to a changed world – Dystopia. Dystopia is a world characterized by human carnage, oppression, squalor, disease, mounting misery, water shortages and overcrowding.  A meteor crash in 2101 decimated the earth and unleashed 7 demons who battle for control of the continents. Earth is now dominated and ruled by the seven deadly sins embodied in the giant demons; each demon is the manifested form of one of the deadly sins. Maya has been assigned to Group Pride ruled by Lucifer and must learn to find her way in a new world order.

Each of us arrived on earth by agreement. We also agreed to a departure time, which, as earthly time goes, is short…  But, from time to time,  a few souls fall through the gap, straddling two worlds; the earthly world, and the spirit world which is separated from earth by a thin veil.  Behind the thin, opaque veil, effused with shimmering crystal light, is  the realm of divine spirit; some would reference it as the ancestral abode or the doorstep to heaven.

On January 12, 2013, Maya Stroll, 35, museum curator, tall, pretty with emerald colored eyes and long, jet black hair, and of Mediterranean extraction, stepped out the front door of her Park slope brownstone.  It was a cold, gray, dreary day; perfect for staying indoors unless one had no choice in the matter. Distracted by the loud noise of the construction site across the street, Maya didn’t see the black sedan, a gypsy cab, hurtling in her direction. “Those bastards never take a day off; they must be running a racket!” she muttered under her breath as she stepped off the curb, eager to get to her beige mini cooper across the street and head for work.  Seconds before the gypsy cab hit her, Maya looked up, braced herself, “Oh God!”

The gypsy cab driver, Salim Hayes, lost control of his car when the brakes failed and watched in horror as the 2.25 ton car slammed into Maya.  Salim remembered the look of sickened horror on her face as the impact of 4,500Ibs of metal against flesh ripped a huge gash in her left thigh, snapped her left fibula in half and tossed her 50 feet in the air before flinging her like a rag doll against the concrete wall of the construction site where part of her scalp was torn off. The cab slammed into two parked cars before coming to rest halfway up the hood of a minivan; leaving a trail of glass and twisted metal everywhere.  Salim passed out. Maya lost consciousness.

“Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”  John Adams

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

“Oh my God, Oh God! Call 911” someone yelled.  A few site crew members ran to check on Salim. Fortunately, he had a concussion and some bruises but would recover.  The site foreman and another worker, a structural engineer, grabbed a hand towel and a jacket and ran to assist Maya. They covered Maya’s bleeding leg with her fibula bones exposed. “She’s dead.” The foreman said solemnly as the distant sirens drew closer and closer. The first ambulance stopped right in front of Maya’s home and the first responders jumped into action.

“Come, come, she’s over here!”  The engineer shouted.  The responder moved quickly to help Maya.  Minutes later, a second Ambulance arrived to help Salim. On the way to St Bart’s Hospital, Maya went into cardiac arrest twice. The doctors did everything to save her. Maya soon lapsed into a coma leaving behind a chaotic world in deep economic recession, wars raging, food and water shortages, and growing concerns about the environment.

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

Writing Challenge: The Demons Of Dystopia…

100 Years Hence: Cut to Dystopia

100 years later, it’s 2113, Maya stirs, slowly coming out of her coma. Attached to tubes and machines, she tries to move an arm but can’t. The machines come to life printing data and announcing, seemingly to no one in particular, Pride- Maya SSS754449 is awake. Pride- Maya SSS754449 is awake. Soon, her room is teeming with medical staff checking her vitals and gathering more data. Maya is identified as Pride- Maya SSS754449 for a reason. She is in Deadly Sins Dystopia; specifically in Lucifer’s territory.

After the last meteor attack on earth in 2101, seven giant demons rose from the dust, each representing one of the seven deadly sins. They battled each other for territories and, soon, divvied up the earth into seven barren hellholes, dominating all remaining life forms. The Seven Deadly sins and corresponding giant demons are:  Lucifer: pride,  Mammon: greed , Asmodeus: lust,  Leviathan: envy, Beelzebub: gluttony, Amon: wrath  and Belphegor: sloth.

Over the next twelve weeks, Maya comes in and out of consciousness. She is monitored and encouraged to respond to music, words, and touch.  Speech and physical therapists are on board.  Specialists run tests and stop by to update her chart. At first, she is confused, unable to say more than one word. The  bright fluorescent lights burn her eyes and the face of medical staff are unfamiliar, but something within drives her; an inner resolve goads her on. Her recovery is gradual, slow, as is expected with her type of injury.  In week 12, as Maya opens and closes her eyes, she notices how brightly lit her room is, and how grey and wet it looks outside her window. For a moment, she wonders, “Where am I? What’s going on?” Then Maya remembers she’s in a hospital; her treatment and therapy are going well. More below!

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Writing Challenge: How To Keep Love In Your Heart…

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” Oscar Wilde

Writing Challenge: How To Keep Love In Your Heart...

Writing Challenge: How To Keep Love In Your Heart…

I. Have An Intention to Love More
When I read this week’s writing challenge,  I knew it was time to go back to StripGenerator and create some strips as part of my How To project for this post.  As I mulled over a number of topic choices,  I was reminded again that the subject of love never gets tired or old.  We recently celebrated Valentine’s Day and while some of us enjoyed the festivities with the usual; chocolates and jewelry, others sat home reliving old hurts or reminiscing about loved ones who’d passed away. I feel that even a small shift  in our intention to love more, would be a great way to help us all move forward.

“Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Writing Challenge: How To Keep Love In Your Heart...

Writing Challenge: How To Keep Love In Your Heart…

II. Practice The Action Steps Listed
If you read the strips, you’d see that  the group  learned about the concept of love and developed a list on how to keep love in our hearts. What I loved about creating the strips is that I had to give the characters clear and specific roles, and then make sure that the words they spoke and ideas shared were consistent.  How do we keep love in our hearts? The  following actions; forgiveness, compassion, helping and sharing, and self love, will not only open our hearts to love fully again but they are important tools for life. We can start with forgiving ourselves and those who have hurt us. A while ago, I had an unpleasant exchange with  someone and every time I saw them, I would feel a twinge of  hurt and anger. When it be came unbearable, I knew I had to let it go by forgiving the person,  letting the event go, and forgiving myself. We must honor both sides.   More below!

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