Writing Wall: An Untenable Situation

This is a short story I wrote a few years ago based a friend’s elderly mother.  Enjoy.


It’s not true I hate everything.

Sure, I don’t like this dinner with the overcooked turkey, dry stuffing, and mushy potato salad.  I hate the ugly knit pantsuit picked for me and despise the way Elise styled my hair into a ratty bun.  The pumps pinch my bunions, and I really need to scratch in a delicate place.  I would throw my plate across the room to get the attention of this nattering family if I could raise my bum arm.  Instead, I sit in a wheelchair, scowling into my plate, blinking back tears, and thinking of the last Thanksgiving when I prepared the holiday dinner fit for a queen – or me, at least.

Sigh.  Elise fusses again, hovering around me like a bird around a wilting flower.  She’s my favorite child.  We decided I’d live with her when the time came, but it hasn’t been anything I anticipated; I imagined being independent, living downstairs in the “mother-in-law” apartment, driving to my usual daily walks around the mall, the Wednesday night bridge games, or the occasional night out with the girls.  Instead, I exist in a jerry-rigged bedroom off the kitchen.

Elise’s smothering cheeriness sucks the very breath from me.

I can’t seem to wrap my tongue around words like before, but you’d think I was speaking gibberish the way they repeat outlandish things back to me.  Really, after ninety-two years on this earth, people should know me by now – understand me.  Shouldn’t they?

“Mom, would you like some more green beans?”

Oh, good heavens, no. They taste like Sissy dumped them from a can and cooked them to death to boot. I taught Elise to cook, but obviously she hasn’t passed it down to her daughter.  Surely Elise must remember all the fluffy mashed potatoes, the delectable roasts, and the fresh string beans from our modest garden.  She certainly knew how to cook turkey to perfect, juicy done-ness; Sissy only presented this dry, tasteless excuse for a bird.  And what was with all the mushy food?  Really, I’m not a babbling baby who needs to gum her meals.

“Elaine, did you hear her?  Have some more, you need to eat.”

Yes, I can hear just fine, Stephen.  No, I’m not hungry and don’t need my son-in-law to keep harping on my diet. That’s another thing: the portions are too big.  I eat what I can; the rest they should save.  There’s no reason for me to paw over it so they can throw good food away.  Back when times were hard, we did not waste food like that.

Ah, time for everybody to disperse to different rooms. I see the young ones trooping into the den to play on their video games.  Must be time for Stephen and boys to puff their cigars outside; the smoke isn’t good for me, you know.  Sissy’s cleaning the kitchen.  I’d love to hear the gossip in there but-.

“You look tired, Mom.  Ready for a nap?”

Yes, all that hovering and nattering has tired me out, but I really don’t like being put to bed like some toddler. Well, it’s not so much the naps I hate; it’s the gloom that falls after the door closes. It’s just me, wrapped up in the blankets, the darkness and the quiet, confined to a bed until somebody moves me.  Often I lie awake staring at the walls, the silence so deep that Death could come any second and take me at last. I’ll close my eyes and never wake up; he’ll take my hand and we’ll walk out the front door together.  When I feel ill, I warn Elise I’m waiting to die, but she gives me a vacant look and bustles around as if I hadn’t said a word.  I hate when she does that.

The day nurse doesn’t demand I take naps.  When I’m tired, I can doze off in the comfy winged-back chair with the music of Lawrence Welk on the television. I don’t mind sitting in companionable silence – no nattering, no hovering … just the click of her knitting needles.

Then I can cast my mind back to better days with dear Albert and our times together, to when we first met as children at school, our first date at the local soda shop, our courtship spent jitterbugging the nights away, and the lonely separation during the war.  I think about our modest wedding after the army released him from the hospital.  I relive the births of each of our children, their first hesitant steps, their graduations, their weddings.  I think about life after my Al: the bridge games, the mall walks, and the grandchildren.  I loved those things.

So, it’s not true that I hate everything.


Serene Sunday: Oh Maria

Two of my favorite Whoopi Goldberg comedies are Sister Act and Sister Act 2 made in the early 1990s.  Goldberg plays a lounge singer in 1968 who is placed in protective custody as a convent nun in order to escape a mob boss.  Sister Act was popular, grossing 231 million worldwide.  The soundtrack album debuted at #74 and eventually reached #40 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart where it charted for 54 weeks.  Having attended parochial schools from the 8th grade starting in the early ’70’s (complete with nuns in full habit), this movie struck a chord with me. 

One of the issues facing the Catholic Church today is how to make religion relevant to current times.  In the movie, Whoopi as Delois, demonstrates one way by using music with a modern flair to attract young people to the church.   The resulting choir scene is fun.




Surreal Saturday: New Bibi Hendl

Since you couldn’t get enough of Takeo Ischi last week, I found another YouTube video to satisfy your fascination with this chicken yodeler.  He even has his own wiki page.   Here’s a snippet about this 69 year old wonder:

“Ischi was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan.  In high school, he was a loner, but it was during this time that he first heard yodeling on the radio.  Following his father, Ischi went to university for mechanical engineering. In his spare time he became engrossed with the zither and the hammered dulcimer, and learned to play these instruments. Using Franzl Lang‘s records, he taught himself to yodel, and began performing on Japanese television. During a six-month period where he studied abroad in Germany, Ischi went to Switzerland, where he sang at a beer hall in Zurich. He soon started earning money from this. From there he sang in front of Lang, his idol, and Lang took him under his wing. He performed on television with Maria Hellwig, and after that became known in German language circles as the “Japanese yodeler.”



About This Dude

Courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com

I glanced at my WordPress dashboard and saw that this blog made it over the 500 posts mark at last – not a big deal when considering that it took six years.  Analytics tell me that I posted in concentrated spurts the first few years, ramping up to the wild and crazy time from 2012-2014.  But there were long periods when I didn’t post at all.  

During those silent times, my fangirling evolved.  Let me explain.  Having spent over 25 years in various fandoms,  I’ve experienced them as a process of phases.  The first phase we all have experienced – the giddiness of discovering a new crush with the accompanying squeeing and desire to find like-minded souls.  Then the girlishness progresses to an avid following.  The infatuation stays strong but a bit of the breathlessness tapers off. Finally, there’s the third stage when the ardor wanes and heads down one of two roads.  The first path leads out of fandom and fangirling – full stop – with the crush kicked to the curb.  The second way continues to hold interest in the crush’s work, but the initial passion is gone.

After six years, I’ve hit the third phase.  Mind you, I’ve not been the typical Richard Armitage fan. In fact, the ongoing joke has been me as an anti-fangurl who is the first to scream the emperor has no clothes.  (And I’ve been a pretty fab anti-fangurl I might add).  But alas, I’ve come to that fork in the road where the thrill is gone and I have to decide what happens next.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still like RA and enjoy his work.  And he’s still easy on the eyes.   But the lack of keen interest has made it difficult to blog about him as in the past.   So should I close shop and move on?  Should I direct my focus away from him?  Can I write about him occasionally?  If I stop, will I have any readership left?  Can the blog survive a transition? 

Most importantly, what becomes of The Man?  I’m not being funny here.  I enjoyed writing the series; it exercised my writing muscle and entertained the fan readership at the same time.  However, the inspiration behind the series *cough* may have been a certain actor *cough*.  Can I find the MIA muse and bring it back?  Will the readership stick around for fiction having nothing to do with their crush?  At this point, I have no answer to any of these questions.  There’s just a persistent feeling that something has to give.

I welcome feedback here.  Please let me know what you think or if there’s a happy compromise.