Short Story Sunday 153: Welcome Baby (Dear Diary)

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            Lisa wasn’t due to have her baby until March 7, 2016. It was a leap year and she prayed and prayed that the baby would stay in her belly until after February 29. She wanted her son to have a birthday every year as opposed to every four years.

So, around 12:45 in the morning on March 1, the telephone rang. I didn’t have a phone in my bedroom, but I could hear it ringing from my office across the hall. I laid in bed with my eyes open, suddenly wide awake, but too afraid to move. Whenever the phone rang in the middle of the night something bad had happened. My uncle has Lifeline so my mind immediately wandered to him.

Then I heard the caller ID’s robotic female voice announce my sister’s name.

“Kris?” I whispered hoping she was awake.

She grunted.

“Why is Lisa calling?”

“I don’t know…”

“Is this it?”

“Maybe,”

We both remained in bed for a few minutes. I don’t know what was going on in Kris’s head, but I was trying to process everything. Why else would our older sister be calling in the middle of the night if the baby wasn’t on his way?

After a few moments, and realizing that the phone had stopped ringing, Kris and I both leaped out of our beds. We ran downstairs where Mom was standing the kitchen talking to Lisa. Dad stood in the hallway outside of the bathroom staring at Mom waiting.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Lisa’s in labor.” Dad said.

Kris and I smiled at each other and I remember jumping a little, but it was only about one o’clock in the morning. We were all still pretty tired and out of it.

Mom hung up the phone and grinned from ear to ear. “They’re on their way to the hospital!”

We all cheered and stood around in the kitchen for a couple minutes not knowing what to do next.

“Well, I’m going back to bed.” Dad turned around and left the kitchen.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“We’ll visit them in the morning. There’s not much we can do.” Mom had said, which made perfect. We all needed our sleep for a big day ahead.

Luckily, it just happened to work out, that I had the day off from work that day. Dad still had to go to work, but Kris and Mom called out and we all went to the hospital together.

I don’t like hospitals. I felt on edge as we drove there, telling myself that we would be in the maternity ward. It wouldn’t be that bad.

I started tearing up in the car and Mom stared at me through the rear-view mirror.

“Are you okay?” she had asked.

“I’m an aunt!” I exclaimed through blurry eyes. Mom and Kris started laughing at me because I cry at a lot of things, good or bad.

We made it to the hospital and entered Lisa’s room and I immediately burst into tears again. I didn’t like seeing her hooked up to a machine with wires and needles coming out of her, even though I knew there was nothing wrong with her or the baby. This is one of the reasons as to why I don’t like hospitals and get nervous.

We spent most of the day waiting around. Kris and I decided to go home around 1:30 in the afternoon. Mom said they’d call if anything was to happen. So, of course, as soon as we got home, we both got a text message from our brother-in-law stating that Lisa was going to start pushing soon.

I looked up at Kris. “So… Does this mean we go back?”

“We should probably be there when the baby comes, right?” She responded with a question.

“I want to be one of the first people to see our nephew, yes.” I replied.

“Alright, let’s head back out then.”

Kris and I hopped back into the car and we were on our way. She drove while I the GPS on my phone. We have never driven to the hospital on our own before and have never been to that part of the town, so we had no idea where we were going. Neither one of us paid much attention when Mom drove us back and forth earlier that day.

Kris was pretty calm behind the wheel as I freaked out in the passenger seat.

“Holy crap, we’re aunts. Kris, we have a baby. We have a nephew. There’s a baby coming. Lisa’s a mom! A mom, Kristen!”

“I know!” Kris exclaimed excitedly. “Now tell me where to turn next so we can actually be there when the kid comes.”

As I directed her from the GPS, Mom kept texting me.

“Are you guys coming?”

“Lisa is beginning to push.”

“The baby is coming!”

“Hurry!!”

With each new text message, I freaked out more and more causing Kris to freak out.

“We’re going to miss it!” I shouted.

“We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine!” Kris pulled into the parking lot. Except there were no spots. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me…” she muttered.

After three floors down in the parking garage, I pointed to a spot right by the stairs. “There! Go there!”

She pulled in and we both jumped out of the car racing through the parking garage. We were both giggling like mad as we were both nervous and too excited at the same time for our own good.

We raced up the spiral stairs in the garage. I nearly knocked into a man who had to be at least two feet taller than me as I shouted, “Auntie’s coming!”

Kris burst out laughing as I almost took out the fully grown man and we dashed through the lobby of the hospital. We ran into the elevator. As it rose to the third floor, Kris and I leaned against the wall trying to catch our breaths.

An older woman was in the elevator with us and gave us a strange look.

“Our older sister is having a baby.” Kris explained.

The woman smiled. “First one?”

“Yeah, we’re aunts now!” I grinned.

“How could you tell?” Kris said sarcastically.

The woman chuckled. “Congratulations.”

We said our thanks to her and ran out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened. We jogged down the hall only to run into Mom.

“Do we have a baby?” I asked.

“We have a baby!” Mom exclaimed.

We group hugged each other and jumped up and down in the middle of the hall.

“We don’t know anything as we’re not allowed in yet. But a nurse came out and told us that he’s here and everyone is doing great.” Mom had explained.

We waited in a small waiting room with Lisa’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law. We waited for about another half hour and our friend came in the meantime. We all sat and chatted with one another as though nothing was going on. We were just trying to pass the time.

Finally, Nick, my brother-in-law, came into the room. He explained what had happened to all of us. Everyone was doing well. The baby was born at 4:49 in the afternoon, and he was 12 inches, 6 ounces.

The grandparents went in first. My poor father wasn’t able to leave work, but he visited them later that night before visiting hours ended.

I remained in the waiting room with Lisa’s sister-in-law, Kris, and our friend. The four of us chatted about random things trying to pass the time some more. We knew it wasn’t going to be too much longer since the grandparents were having their turn. The nurses just didn’t want too many people to go in right at once right away.

Before too long, however, the nurse came in giving us permission to go into Lisa’s room. There, I held my nephew for the first time of many. I fell in love with him immediately as I looked down at him through my blurry, happy tears.

Words: 1,343

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole

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Title: Gatecrashing Europe
Author: Kris Mole
Published: 
August 2015 by Valley Press
Genre: Nonfiction travel
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

In 2007, Kris Mole flew one-way to Stockholm with a vow not to return home to England until he had visited every capital city in the mainland European Union. He set himself eight simple rules, most importantly A) that no money would be spent or handled during the journey, and B) no credit cards would be used either. Thus, the great Euro Freebie Challenge began: twenty-three cities to be visited, 6000 miles to be covered, without spending a single penny on the journey – to raise money, in fact, for Cancer Research UK.

The colourful story of this six-month trip was first told by charismatic, wise-cracking, semi-anti-hero Kris via a series of blogs, and followed by readers of The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and the BBC website. Readers found Kris drawing on his formidable resourcefulness to acquire all of life’s necessities for free, resting wherever he could find a place, and travelling by foot, hitch-hiking, or stowing away on trains – experiencing, as you might expect, a wild emotional ride in the process.

August 2015 marks the first appearance of this epic journey in book form, with the author donating 10% of his royalties to Cancer Research UK.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I don’t typically read books about travel, but I do enjoy a good memoir from time to time. What the author did was pretty inspiring so I was intrigued on how his travels went for such a good cause. I couldn’t say no when he reached out to me about reviewing the book.

This won’t be a typical review as it’s non-fiction, so bear with me.

rp-plot

The major “plot” of this is that the author, the protagonist, Kris, was attempting to explore the EU by visiting every capital without spending a penny. There are 23 capitals and well over 6,000 miles to travel.

You think, “How can he possibly do that without spending any money?” Well, he did it. And at the age of 24, no doubt.

It was interesting to see how he managed to get from one place to another whether it was from a kind citizen hearing of his cause and buying him a bus ticket, he hitch-hiked, or he simply walked.

It’s a good challenge, an exciting one, and as difficult as it is, it’s a simple one as well.

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Kris himself was ambitious and determined that made him a great fit for the challenge. He began the challenge for Cancer research as his grandmother was sick. While on the journey, he received word that she had passed on.

He continued on the journey for his grandmother and everyone else who battles Cancer.

I can’t even begin to explain all the various people Kris met on his journey, but I’ll just say that he met some really nice people and then some pretty interesting characters.

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Kris’s writing made the book easy to read as the pace was steady and each chapter flowed nicely right into the next. Every time he crossed another capital off his list, he laid it all out at the beginning of the chapter. How many capitals he had left to visit and which ones they were, how many miles he had traveled, and how many days he had been on the journey.

His writing was also humorous as he wrote exactly what he was thinking at all times. It definitely catches your attention.

rp-overall

I can’t stress enough how inspiring this book is. It’s hard to believe that anyone was able to achieve such a feat and make it all the way back home. If you’re interested in a feel-good kind of read, then this is the way to go. Plus, you get a little geography lesson in the mix.

Gatecrashing Europe by Kris Mole gets…
5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“How could you hate so many things about a place you had never seen with your own eyes.” –Kris Mole, Gatecrashing Europe

Buy the book:

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Short Story Sunday 145: Wedding Adventures (Dear Diary)

Short Story Sunday

When you’re at the tender age of being somewhere in your twenties, it’s weird to think that your friends are getting married, buying houses, having children… You know, stuff that adults do.

When Kris told me that her childhood best friend was engaged, I was surprised because I thought they were too young. She was 25 or so when she got engaged, so no. That’s not too young at all. That’s a good age to get engaged, especially when you’ve been with your significant other for a few years.

Kris was in the bridal party as a bridesmaid. She was able to get a plus-one and chose to bring me along on account my parents were invited on their own since they were the parents of a bridal party member.

The church was about an hour or so away from our house. Kris had gone up the night before which left Mom, Dad, and me to our own devices to get ourselves there.

Kris’s friend and her fiancé had met at college. They attended a Catholic school together and the school had a church. That’s where they were getting married. You would think it’d be easy to find a church when it’s among a huge campus, but that’s just the thing. It’s in the middle of the huge campus.

The ceremony started at three in the afternoon. I assumed we would leave our house around 1:30 to be there by 2:30. We’d be on time with plenty of it left to spare and we’d be able to get a good seat at the church.

1:30 came and went as my parents still tried to get themselves ready to go. It was around two o’clock when we finally left our house. I had been texting Kristen back and forth.

“Are you guys here yet?” she had asked.

I replied, “We just left.”

Apparently, just about everyone was already at the church.

“Don’t worry, the GPS says it’ll take about 45 minutes to get there.” Mom had explained to me as soon as we got into the car.

But what about traffic? I didn’t say anything though. I couldn’t complain about not leaving earlier since we couldn’t go back in time and leave earlier. Plus, I had no major part in the wedding, so it wasn’t going to affect the ceremony if we weren’t there.

Sure enough, we hit traffic. It was a Saturday afternoon so you wouldn’t think there would be many people out on the road, but accidents do happen. Once we got past that, about a half hour or so, we were smooth sailing.

It was about 2:50 when we arrived at the campus. There were many entrances to the college campus as there are so many different buildings plus the church. We passed by a big sign that said the church’s name.

“There it is!” I pointed out the window, but Dad kept driving.

“The GPS says we have another quarter mile.” Mom said.

“Mom, the GPS is taking us to the college, not the church. The church was right back there.” I explained.

“Where am I going?” Dad asked.

“But this is what the GPS says.” Mom said.

“I saw the limo back there. That’s where the church is. We missed the turn.” I said exasperated. Sure, listen to the GPS over a human being.

“Hello? Where am I going?” Dad asked again.

“Turn here.” Mom pointed to the next right. Dad turned in and Mom smiled. “See? Look at all the cars parked here!”

“Look at everyone in football attire out on that field…” Dad stated driving slowly by the parked cars.

“It’s a college and a Saturday. I’m sure there are other events going on… Such as a football game,” I sighed.

Mom stared at the GPS with furrowed brows. “Oh.”

“So where do I park?” Dad asked.

“Where the church is,” Mom replied.

“Where’s the church?”

“I don’t know…”

“It was way back there!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, there’s a guy. Roll down your window and ask him.” Mom poked Dad on the arm which resulted in him growling at her, but he rolled down his window anyway.

The man took out his headphones and looked at us with confusion as soon as Dad asked where the church was.

“Um, go back the way you came and it should be your last left. There’s a huge sign, you can’t miss it.”

I smirked in the back seat as Dad said thank you and rolled up his window. Mom chuckled and looked over her shoulder at me.

“But the GPS said…”

“It’s just about three o’clock now. Can we please stop talking about the GPS? Turn it off.” Dad muttered.

I muttered an “I told you so” but we remained silent until Dad pulled into the church.

“There’s the limo!” Mom pointed out the window as though we were sight-seeing Christmas lights.

“I told you that.” I said.

“Oh, there’s the church!” Mom unbuckled her seatbelt and was just about to open the car door, but stopped herself. I burst out laughing.

“What are you doing? I need to park first!” Dad shouted.

Mom laughed. “Sorry, I got excited.”

Dad pulled into a parking spot, though he wasn’t sure if he was able to park there or not. We all shrugged our shoulders not caring. It was 2:58 and we needed to get into that church.

We walked along the sidewalk trying to find the entrance to the church when Dad pushed Mom and me forward. “There she is! She’s getting out of the limo now!”

The bride was stepping out of the limo and the three of us broke into a run as our time was running out. I decided to wear heels to this wedding. I never wear heels. I’m sure watching me attempt to run was certainly a sight to see to any people passing by.

We stopped short right outside the entrance as the bride disappeared inside, her bridal party following behind her. Kris walked right by us without speaking a word. She shook her head with a disgusted face and that was it.

“What, we made it, didn’t we?” Dad called to her with an attitude.

We followed them inside, gave Kris and the bride a quick hug, and then entered to find our seats.

We attend church regularly every Sunday, but we have a small church with a small parish. For a college, one would think the church wouldn’t be too fancy, but I was wrong. The church was much bigger and beautiful that I originally pictured it.

“Holy shit,” I whispered and then flinched. I looked up at the ceiling. “Sorry…”

“Really?” Dad raised an eyebrow. I shrugged.

“Oh, look!” Mom pointed to some friends of Kris’s from school. They were in the back and the other seats were mostly filled, so we figured we’d sit with them.

We said hello and gave them hugs before sitting down. Mom walked into the pew, sat down, and then immediately stood back up to walk out of the pew. She pushed me aside, as I was coming into the pew next to her making me back out into the aisle.

“What are you doing?” Dad grunted.

“I want to sit on the end so I can take pictures.” Mom said.

“Oh, Jesus Christ…” Dad groaned.

“Really?” I mocked him laughing.

“Shut up,” he gave me a gentle push into the pew.

We waited another five minutes or so and then the ceremony started.

For the most part, the rest of the day went smoothly. Well, other than the fact that we left the church immediately after the ceremony and went to the reception hall when most people stayed back at the church for another hour or so. We had to wait around in the lobby of the resort for a while before they could let us in.

Kris had texted me wondering where we went. We had completely ditched her and she had to get a ride to the resort from the bride’s father.

Overall, the wedding was a good time. But it just goes to show that you really can’t take us anywhere.

Words: 1,363

I hope you enjoyed this short story. Let me know in the comments below!

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Two Book Reviews #2

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

They all thought he was gone. But he was alive and trapped inside his own body for ten years.

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.

Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

Martin was an ordinary boy up until the age of 12 when his body shut down. He couldn’t eat, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t walk or use his arms. He couldn’t do anything. To the naked eye he was lifeless.

However, there was much more going on that only Martin himself knew. He was very much alive mentally, but for some reason his body betrayed him.

This novel, written by Martin Pistorius himself, is his journey through dealing with his sickness, overcoming his fears, finding love, and learning how to be alive again.

Martin tells his story from beginning to end showing us the confusion and frustration that he and his family felt when his body shut down. Everyone was confused as to what happened to him and why and Martin was frustrated to the point of rage when his body stopped working. Trying to tell people you’re still alive and conscious when you can’t move or speak is anyone’s worst nightmare.

Even though the story is through Martin’s point of view, I felt as though I learned a lot about the other characters as well; his parents, his siblings, and his wife. Both of his parents–especially his mom–developed quite a bit when coming to terms and understanding their son’s illness.

Martin is great storyteller and to see the world through the eyes of a mute and paralyzed man was both inspiring and amazing.

Ghost Boy gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Dreams can be any size you want them to be. But the important thing is that you have one that is yours.” –Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Not everything you see on your favorite crime show is accurate. In fact, a lot of it is flat out wrong. “Police Procedure & Investigation” helps you get your facts straight about the inner workings of law enforcement.

With a career in law enforcement that spanned nearly two decades, author Lee Lofland is a nationally acclaimed expert on police procedures and crime scene investigations who consults regularly with best-selling authors and television producers. Now you can benefit from his years of experience with “Police Procedure & Investigation.”

I started this book in January and didn’t finish it until March because this book is not a novel, but I read it like one.

This book is a reference guide for writers written by Lee Lofland who has over 20 years experience in the law enforcement field.

The book covers a variety of topics such as the court system, detectives, fingerprinting, different kinds of crimes, police officers and the academy, drugs, a look inside prison, and so much more.

There are some real life case explanations to give the reader a good feel of what it’s really like to work in the law enforcement field. Also, if I had a dime for every time Lofland mentioned that TV police officers are nothing like real life ones, I would be rich. At the end of the guide, there are quotes from real police officers comparing real life to TV show crime dramas.

As a mystery writer, this book definitely comes in handy. I learned a lot reading it. However, there is so much information that I don’t intend to remember it all. Whenever I get stuck in my own writing, I know I’ll always be able to go back to that book for reference.

Police Procedure and Investigation gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Police officers don’t fire warning shots! For goodness’ sake, what goes up must come down!” –Lee Lofland, Police Procedure and Investigation

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!

Critiques Are Hard

We started workshops this week in my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. This is what I’ve been looking forward to all semester and it’s finally here. I’ll be critiquing nonfiction stories by my classmates and they’ll critique one of mine.

Four people were due to post their stories this week so everyone else is due to critique these four stories.

Only read and give feedback to four stories… not bad homework, huh? Of course it can be tedious depending on how long and how well written the story is.

Hence, critiquing is hard.

I’ve never written an actual critique to anyone before. I don’t even know what I’m doing when I edit my own novels half the time.

This is my second class doing a workshop. So I’ve gotten feedback from professors and classmates before. However, there are some classmates who see it as what it is: homework. In other words, you may or may not be getting the most out of your classmates because in the end, it is homework.

With my first real life critique group coming up at the end of the month, I really want to nail my critiques for my classmates. I see it as more than homework and I’m sure some, if not all, of my classmates do as well. I want to help them by giving structured feedback and I want them to do the same for me when I share my story.

I’ve done two of the four so far and both took me at least an hour to do.

Last night I pulled Kris away from whatever she was doing and asked her to read my critique. I wanted to make sure it made sense, I didn’t sound mean, and that they were valuable points to mention.

The thing is you can’t critique a critique.

Everyone has their own preferences. Everyone reads differently and understands what they read differently. What I liked about the story, another classmate might have thought it didn’t work. What I didn’t enjoy about the story, another classmate might absolutely love.

A critique is a matter of opinion. After much consideration and looking through all the critiques, in the end the only opinion that matters is the writer’s.

Body Portrait Exercise

This is yet another exercise from my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. You’re supposed to draw a self-portrait of yourself (whole body; no head-shots). Add in every single detail about yourself such as the color of your hair/eyes/skin, birthmarks/scars, anything and everything.

I’ll admit I did not actually draw the picture. I have a scar under my chin and I decided to write about that right away.

Enjoy.

         I have a lot of scratches and bruises on my body. There’s a bruise on my right wrist where one of my Autistic children at work bit me, there’s a bruise on my right knee where I fell on a patch of ice, and there’s a paper cut on the tip of my left index finger from one of my textbooks. There are more marks on me from various things and overall clumsiness.

However, those marks will only stay for a little while and soon the story behind them will be no more. But there is one mark in particular on my body that will never go away. It’s a mark that only I know about unless I willingly tell people about it because no one can see it.

Seven years ago, I was at my cousin’s aunt’s house for my cousin’s birthday. She had a lovely house. It was large, big enough to be a mansion (according to my 14-year-old self). My sister and I were in awe at the large kitchen, spacious living room, and beautiful dining room.

The backyard was just as fantastic. There was a wide wooden deck leading to a large area of luscious green grass big enough to run a few laps. A large volleyball net covered most of the yard, but the biggest attraction was the in-ground pool complete with a Jacuzzi and waterfall. It was the beginning of July so naturally we spent the whole day in the pool.

While the adults were setting up the tables on the deck for presents and cake, all the kids were playing in the pool. My sister, cousins, and I repeatedly jumped in the pool all at once trying to make as many waves as we could.

My older sister, younger cousin, and I stood at the edge of the pool ready to jump. My sister counted down and when she got to three, all three of us jumped into the pool; except my foot slipped on the wet concrete and I face-planted onto the ground landing on my chin.

“Rachel!” My sister screamed mid-air in a panic right before she landed in the water.

I sat up on the ground in a daze. I didn’t cry and I didn’t think anything too serious happened. I was just confused. I can’t describe the pain because I don’t remember how much pain I was in. I don’t know if there was no pain at all or if it hurt so much that it just felt numb.

My sister immediately hopped out of the pool and rushed to my aid. She stared at me in horror informing me that I was bleeding a lot. I told her I was fine, but when I touched the bottom of my chin with my index finger, my finger was covered in blood. Then I started to panic.

My heart beat faster, I started to get light-headed, and I wondered if I was going to somehow die from the loss of blood. I had never been hurt that bad before.

I walked over to my mom to show her my chin and before I knew it, all my cousin’s aunts were swarmed around me tending to my chin. They cleaned it up for me and put some cotton balls over it taping it on with a band-aid or two. It wasn’t a large cut, but it was deep.

“She’ll most likely need to get stitches.” One of cousin’s aunts’s stated to my mom.

I stared at my mom panic-stricken. There was no way I was going to be getting stitches. My mom shook her head trying to reassure me. However, when we got home my cut still wouldn’t stop bleeding. My mom called the doctor just to get it checked out, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.

Needless to say, I ended up having to get stitches. That was when I cried.

The doctor put in about five or six stitches under my chin. He talked to me while he stitched up my chin in an attempt to distract me. He asked me questions like how my summer was going, what grade I was going to be in the following school year, the type of questions you get asked when people don’t know you personally. It was hard to talk to him while he was working on my chin, but I was just thankful he was trying.

I was also thankful the cut was under my chin where I didn’t have to see the stitches or the needle; then my anxiety would have really spiked. Due to the Novocain, I didn’t feel anything, except for the occasional tug of the thread going into my chin. Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience.

After a week with a band-aid on my chin, I went back to the doctor to get the stitches removed. After that, it was as though nothing had ever happened.

I have a small scar underneath my chin. No one can notice it unless I tilt my chin up and point it out to them. Even then, they have to look really close to see it.

I don’t mind having a scar on my chin. It doesn’t bother me and it’s just another reason that makes me unique from everyone else. It gives me a good story to tell.

Map Exercise

Here is yet another writing prompt from my nonfiction class. We had to “map out” a place we’re familiar with whether it’s our favorite place, a place we go to all the time, or a past place that we no longer go to. The prompt was geared more towards describing the physical place than actually telling a story of that place.

Enjoy.

            One of my favorite places is inside Trinity church, which I have attended since I was very young. It’s two buildings in one connected by a large hall that is usually rented out. It has two addresses because of this and one area of the building was used for community outreach. It was called Hammond Square Preschool.

One of the two classrooms used to be called the blue room. It was set up into four large quarters making it rather large for a preschool classroom; most people assumed it to be two rooms in one. That was a major reason why the parents loved it so much; it was spacious. I can’t explain the room too much because it’s hard to remember what it looked like. Once the director was fired, the new director turned it into the yellow room. She repainted the walls to a pale yellow and worked with myself and the other teacher to rearrange the entire classroom.

Walking into the room and looking to the right was a rectangular table holding eight to ten kids for snack as well as the puzzles and coloring. Against the wall were two smaller rectangular tables holding about three kids with a shelf in the middle connecting the two. One table was the math center and the other was the science center. Each table had a bulletin board on the wall next to it and each was changed monthly to a different math and science theme. Two tall white cabinets were added in two corners of the room in order to give the teachers more room for supplies as well as shelves built in underneath the counter to store the table choices for the kids to get at their leisure.

To the first left was the book corner, except it was a raised platform. We took six cubbies and laid them flat draping a green rug over to make it more comfortable. We added pillows, stuffed animals, and a white canopy to hang over the area. We added a larger bookshelf so the kids had more variety. Next to that was dramatic play, but it was bigger with a rack to hang dress-up clothes and also a small nook was built under the counter for the kids to play in.

To the second right after walking into the room was the cubby area with a large blue rug for circle time. More shelf space was added underneath the counter in order to store more blocks for the kids. To the second left was the art area with a circular table holding about four kids. Two sinks were added into the room as well as a brand new blue padded easel attached to the wall for two kids at a time to use. Shelves were added in the wall as a drying rack and shelves were added under the counter for white and construction paper for the kids to use. Another white cabinet was added in the corner for the teachers.

Myself and the other teachers were excited for these changes. It looked so much better than the original blue room. It was as though we were starting fresh, which was something we all needed after having a falling out with the old director of the school. The children loved it and the parents were very pleased; especially with the yellow color because they thought the room looked a lot brighter between the paleness of the yellow and also the natural sunlight coming in from the windows.

However, while the building is still there and the church still carries on, Hammond Square Preschool does not exist anymore. I worked there for only two and a half years because back in December 2013 the school closed. The enrollment was too low to keep the school open. It was a devastating time for the current families as well as the teachers. The parents had to find a new school for their children in the middle of the school year and the teachers had to find new jobs. It also hurt the church to have to close its doors since the church owned the preschool and it had been open for a long time. The preschool was a huge part of the church, so it was as though a huge chunk of the church was missing.

The church has a Sunday school program and the classes are always held in the preschool’s classroom. Now since the yellow room is vacant, the church decided it was best to use it as the Sunday school’s official classroom. I am a teacher and the director of the Sunday school program at Trinity church, so it was odd to be rearranging the yellow room yet again to turn it into a Christian classroom; especially since I changed the room only three months prior. It also hurt because I miss Hammond Square—the teachers, the kids, the parents—but I was also glad the Sunday school children were finally going to have a place to call their own. I was excited to be changing the classroom over again. It was as though the space was getting a second chance.

I made subtle changes because I still wanted it to look like a classroom. I also didn’t want to forget how the original classroom looked like because I want to remember playing with the kids, prepping and doing art activities with them, and watching them play and grow. So, instead of the snack, math, and science centers in the first quarter of the room, there are two circular tables creating an eight. The kids sit there when we read the story and also to do a few worksheets. I changed one bulletin board to an interactive Christian activity for the kids and the other one with information and facts about what we’re learning.

In the second quarter, the book corner is still the same, only it has Christian stories and Bibles on the shelves. The dramatic play area is more or less the same as well. The blocks were moved over there and I kept a few pieces from the preschool for the Sunday school kids. I also added in some Christian games as well.

The third quarter now has two rectangular tables. This is where the kids do their craft project after the lesson. The easel and drying rack is still the same as well as the two sinks in case we do a messy project. I rearranged all the art supplies on the shelves for easy access for the teachers and the kids. This is also where they have snack when the lesson is over. The other side of the room, where the cubbies and original block area was, is extra space for the Thrift Shop. The Sunday school is small, so we decided to only have three quarters of the room instead of all four. I bought posters to hang on the walls and the kids will also be able to display their own artwork on the walls since we don’t share the room with anyone anymore.

I loved Hammond Square and it broke my heart when I lost my job. However, the church itself is in a much better spot now that the Sunday school has its own space. The kids from the Sunday school are much happier. They are excited to have the opportunity to hang their projects on the wall and have a special place to play and show off to their parents without having to clean it up precisely for the preschool. Between meeting many families, learning from the teachers, enjoying the company of the children, and that it was my first teaching job, I have gone through a lot in that place. It has changed so much, but I’ve changed because of that. It may change again and again, but it’s a place I hope to never lose.

Photo Exercise

A little while ago I posted an Object Exercise which was a writing prompt from my Nonfiction class. I thought I would share the prompt with all of you in case you wanted to do it yourselves. Well, here’s another prompt from my class.

The rules are easy enough: pick a picture from your past (childhood, recent, whenever) and tell a story based on that picture. Now, this is nonfiction so that would mean telling the real story behind the picture, which is what I had to do. Of course, you could always modify the rules and write a fiction story based on a real picture. Maybe start off nonfiction and then make a slight change and see what could have happened. Play around with it.

Here’s mine. Enjoy.

Kris (left), Peter Pan (middle), and me (right)
Kris (left), Peter Pan (middle), and me (right)

            Every time I look at this photo, I get butterflies in my stomach. My sister (left) and I (right) met Peter Pan for the first time in our lives and it was without a doubt one of the best moments in my life.

Peter Pan is a celebrity, a hero, a figment of the imagination. He lives in a place called Neverland which is located on the second star to the right and straight on until morning. I have never been to Neverland, but it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit since I was a child.

In August 2014, my sister and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World with our cousins. We had gone to Disney two years before, but I never got the chance to meet Peter Pan because we couldn’t find him. When we decided to go again I told my sister, “I have to meet Peter Pan.”

After a few hours walking around Magic Kingdom and asking quite a few workers where Peter Pan usually stood, we finally came across him by accident.

“Kristen, there he is!” I stopped short and grabbed onto my sister’s arm, staring in awe at my favorite celebrity 20 feet away.

She pressed her hand up against my back and pushed me towards the continuously growing line to meet the man in green. “Then get in line!” she panicked, knowing the workers only allowed a certain number of people in at a time before Peter Pan would have to go on break.

We hopped in line just before the line was closed; we only had three people standing behind us. We were under a wooden tarp with wooden fences around us keeping us in line. Trees surrounded us making us feel as though we were inside Peter Pan’s tree house in Neverland.

As the line inched farther along, I started to shake. I began to get hot flashes. I didn’t know if that was from the 85-degree Florida heat or just nerves. My guess was the latter.

When there were just a couple people left ahead of us in line, I urged to tell Kristen that I didn’t want to meet Peter Pan anymore. I was panicking too much inside my head and he was fun to watch from afar. However, I clamped my mouth shut and stuck it out until we were next.

I nearly had a panic attack.

Peter Pan flagged us over with a wide grin on his face. He was animated; bouncing up and down, constantly shifting his weight with quick movements, and his facial expressions contorted like a cartoon character. He sounded just like the Peter Pan I know from the movie and he looked like him, too; not just from the clothes, but his hair and face as well. Of course, that could have just been me being star struck.

“You should come to Neverland with me. I’ve never had girls there before… well, besides Wendy. You two can be my lost girls! I’ve never had any lost girls before. You’ll be the first ones!”

Peter Pan rambled on and on, Kristen giggling at his mannerisms and me smiling and nodding trying to take everything in.

“Hey, you wanna crow with me? You look like you’re good crowers!” Peter Pan stood up straight, cupping his hands to his mouth and then bellowed. Kristen mimicked him playing along while I gawked at him like an idiot.

We then took our picture with him where he put his arms around our shoulders. I smiled at the worker taking our picture with my camera beaming. I couldn’t believe Peter Pan was touching me.

“You’re shaking.”

I continued to smile at the camera even though the woman wasn’t taking pictures anymore. I didn’t know who was speaking, but it sounded like a man so it must have been Peter Pan. I ignored him, not knowing how to respond. I didn’t even know what he was talking about.

I gave him one last hug before retrieving my camera from the park employee and Kristen and I exited the outdoor tree house. I turned on my camera again and started going through the pictures to find the ones of Peter Pan.

“You know, his face was practically kissing yours when he noticed how much you were shaking… and you didn’t even answer him.” Kristen informed me laughing at how nervous I had been.

My mouth gaped open. I couldn’t believe Peter Pan had been that close to me. I couldn’t believe I didn’t talk to him. I couldn’t believe I didn’t crow with him. I finally met my favorite Disney character and I was scared stiff the entire time. I was so embarrassed, but I was laughing at myself at the same time.

Then I started to cry.

Kristen stopped walking and stood in front of me. She stared at me in horror wondering what was wrong.

I smiled through the tears and shouted, “I met Peter Pan!” finally letting it all sink in.

Object Exercise

I had my first assignment in my Creative Writing: Non-Fiction class. It was a writing prompt and we had to write a true (hence non-fiction) 2-page story about an object that reminds us of someone or something; some sort of memory.

I thought I would share the exercise with all of you in case any of you writers want to give it a go. I enjoyed doing it and the writing came very easy to me. Here’s mine at 690 words. Enjoy.

image

I love jewelry. I really do, but I don’t wear it as often as I would like. Being a preschool teacher, it’s hard to wear jewelry to work just in case a child decides to play with a necklace around my neck or even to tug at an earring and rip it out. So I don’t even bother.

I do have a lot of jewelry, though. I have many dangling earrings; a few necklaces are that dear to me, and a lot of bracelets that I can’t wear because my wrists are too small. I wear them on special occasions and certain holidays when I get dolled up every once in a while, but there’s one bracelet in particular that I never wear.

Despite my wrists being too small I can actually wear this bracelet and I used to—all the time. It was a pretty bracelet and went with just about any of my clothes despite the blue gems. It was small—my size, with alternating round silver and blue gems. Blue is my favorite color and I always liked silver more than gold. Of course, it’s so old that the silver has tarnished and doesn’t sparkle like it used to.

In the middle of these gems were six silver blocked beads, each one baring a letter; R-A-C-H-E-L. I had never had a piece of jewelry that had my name on it, so I was excited when I got it for my 10th birthday. It was personal and I felt as though the bracelet officially belonged to me.

My aunt, Theresa, gave me that bracelet as my birthday present. She gave my two older sisters each a similar bracelet when they turned 10-years-old, so I was kind of expecting something like it; yet, I was still surprised when I opened the small box. Auntie Theresa’s friend made jewelry—whether it was a hobby or it was her job, I don’t recall—but my aunt asked her to make something special for her three nieces for their first double-digit birthday.

I wore the bracelet all the time, even to school. Then, two years later, just two days after my 12th birthday, Auntie Theresa passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. She was only 32-years-old leaving her husband and two daughters (at the time ages 3 and 1) behind. It was a shock for everyone and certainly a tough time to get through. I kept a closer eye on my bracelet since then, but continued to wear it in her memory.

Then, one day at school in art class, I felt my wrist—I was always touching and playing with the bracelet. The bracelet was gone and I could feel my face flush.

“Where is it, where is it?!” I demanded in alarm.

“Where’s what? Where’s what?” My friend jumped up from her seat only panicking because I was. She looked all around the floor because I was on my hands and knees searching for something she didn’t know what to look for.

The bracelet was on the other side of the art room. It must have fallen off when I went to the sink to wash my paint brush and rinse out my paint cups. For the rest of the day I left the bracelet in my pocket. The clasp wasn’t very good and it fell off a lot at home, but I never imagined it would fall off anywhere else. It was that moment I realized if it fell off at school or someplace else, chances were I’d never find it again and it would be gone forever, just like my aunt.

The bracelet has been sitting in my jewelry box ever since. I want to keep it safe with all my other jewelry. I take it out and look at it every once in a while, but I don’t wear it anywhere in fear of losing it; even if it is just around the house.

Maybe one day I’ll get the clasp fixed and get it shined once more. In the meantime, I’ll always know where the bracelet is and I’m able to keep it near and dear.

School Days

Today was the first day back to school for me. It’s my last semester for my Bachelor’s degree, so keep your fingers crossed everything goes well!

This semester I’m taking…

Intro to Developmental Disabilities. It’s a psychology course and I took it for my English degree because I needed two non-English electives. I decided to take psychology because it’s always been an interesting subject for me. Also, I work with special education kids, so I thought it would be helpful to know. Of course, despite the title of the course, it’s not at all what I thought it would be. It’s able living among people with disabilities. How they live and how they fit in around us. I was expecting to have more knowledge on actual disabilities and that’s not what it is. However, after doing the first assignment I kind of got a taste of what the course description actually means. It might turn out to be good after all.

Spanish. Every degree, as far as I know, has a foreign language requirement. So I’m finally on my last Spanish course. It’s accelerated, so it’s only 10-weeks as opposed to my other classes that are 14-weeks. It will be a good class. I’ve had the professor before and she’s great. I enjoy Spanish and wish I was fluent in it… with enough practice, maybe I will be someday. It’s intimidating, though. Since it’s accelerated the homework load is a bit much. It’ll take up a good chunk of my time each week.

American Women Novelists. I have to take a diversity English course and this counted so… I took it. To be honest, it’s not the kind of class I would willingly take, but it seems good. We’ll be reading a lot of novels by women authors. Our first book is by Sylvia Plath. I’ve heard of her, but never read anything from her. There was only one other author I heard from and actually read one of her books and that’s Jacqueline Woodson. I read one of her books back in middle school and enjoyed it, so I’m hoping I enjoy this book as well.

Creative Writing: Non-Fiction. Last semester I took Creative Writing: Fiction I. I was hoping to take Fiction II this semester just to complete it, but it wasn’t offered for some reason. I decided to go along with Non-Fiction I, even though I wouldn’t be able to take Non-Fiction II either because this is my last semester. I’ve always been interested in Non-Fiction, so it’ll be a good class. I’m sure I’ll learn something new.

With that being said, I did a lot of homework today both before and after work. I got a good chunk done–I only have to do a bit of reading for my Novelists class and my Disabilities class. I have to do a writing prompt for my Non-Fiction class, but that won’t take too long and it will be easy. So I think I did a good job with homework today considering I don’t have much left.

Except Spanish. I didn’t touch Spanish yet.

So I didn’t get much editing done on Detective Florence 2 today. I typed up about ten pages of the next draft before my eyes started crossing from the computer screen. Aside from being at work, I’ve been staring at the computer all day long.

That’s how my day went… and how all my days will go now that school has started again. Now I’m off to go get some reading done for my classes. I always try to finish my homework by the weekend so I can relax and also spend my weekend writing. I’m off to a good start so far!