Swimming Upstream

We worked out our whole trip while sitting at this table in a coffee shop.  This was going to bring us the adventure of a lifetime.  We found out that we both enjoyed nature and we could not wait to get things started.  We were going to the Amazon jungle, more specifically the rainforest and we soaked our tent in lacquer to make it waterproof and it would still remain pliable.  We had no idea what we would find there, but Joe was a dentist and last year we went to the Pacific Northwest together and had a great time fishing for salmon while they were swimming upstream.  Joe likes to drink and sometimes he becomes three sheets to the wind, and that always makes me giggle when he gets that way.  I will take a shot every now and then, but I tend to watch my consumption, so Joe can count on me to be the responsible one.

This was my first trip out of the country, so I had to get a passport which caused me some problems.  I had just burned my fingers on my grill and when they took my fingerprints, they came out all smudged and the guy said, “Hey who is the thumbprint thief”, because he had to keep trying to get a readable image.  I told him that I was not part of any terrorist cell and that I wouldn’t have the gumption to try and pull any tricks on him.  He finally got something that was readable although he did say it was not ideal.  I guess I was there so long that maybe a layer of my skin had finally grown back in.

We both kept hearing the news about global warming and we figured that we should go before the rainforest up and disappeared altogether.  Glaciers were melting and the state of the environment was a real concern for both of us.  Joe held the view that the world was going to hell in a hand basket, but I was not sure what the deal was, although I knew it was bad.  After an exciting taxi adventure we made it to the airport and we boarded our plane for the 10 hour flight.  I will tell you all about the rest of our trip when we get back, that is if we ever do make it back.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Pliable, for Roger Shipp’s Daily Addictions prompt – Find, for Mathew’s Daily Inkling prompt – Taxi adventure, for the Daily Spur prompt – Ideal, for FOWC with Fandango – Layer, for August Monthly Writing Prompts – The thumbprint thief, for Nova’s Daily Random Word prompt – Lacquer, for Ragtag Community – Gumption, for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Donna Photo from Morguefile, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 416 prompts – sheets shot wait bring found watch cell deal state held news count, for Paula’s Three Things Challenge prompt words – Dentist Salmon Rainforest and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Giggle.

Raccoon Face

Mercy me, what a surprise I got walking into this cement building.  It put a song in my heart and hope back into my life.  I used to come here when I was in High School and I remember sitting in that very booth when Betty Lou first kissed me.  It was a soft kiss that caught me off guard, as I had gum in my mouth.  I tried to keep the gum in the back of my mouth, but that did not work so well as I almost choked, so I wedged it into the side of my cheek.  My good friend Durango saw me and he made this raccoon face bulging his cheeks out which made me laugh.  Disaster as I spit my gum out on Betty Lou, however the waitress just happened to pass by and she handed her a napkin.  Betty Lou smiled at the waitress, but she said that she would need a washcloth to get the gum off of her blouse.

Betty Lou excused herself to go to the washroom and I told her that I was sorry, but I also said that she should hurry back. Durango came and sat in my booth and it was good to see him as he had just gotten back from a foreign excursion where had been studying the sex lives of mosquitoes abroad in Beliz.  I asked Durango how long he had been back and he went on with this lengthy narrative about all the trials he had been through being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  He said that he slept under a net, but still those pesky buggers continued to stalk him.  He said that he was happy to be back and that his parents had just put in a brand new swimming pool.  He said that I could stop by any time that I wanted to go swimming, but I had to make sure that I closed the gate, as he did not want his dog getting loose.

Written for Sheryl’s Daily Word Prompt – Narrative, for the Daily Spur prompt – Hurry, for FOWC with Fandango – Abroad, for Ragtag Community – Stalk, for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan and the Photo Credit goes to Terri Smeigh, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 404 prompts – Mercy surprise walking cement gate trials song heart soft booth hope back, for Swimmers the New Community Pool prompt – Brand, for Paula’s Three Things Challenge – gum, washcloth, raccoon, and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Foreign.

I Used To Drink

I was more than a social drinker, but I was not a problem drinker, so I would probably be best described as a habitual drinker.  I never considered myself to be an alcoholic, as I only drank heavy on weekends, but I did not refrain completely during the week.  I drank beer and I did not suffer many hangovers, but I did have some mornings where I did not want to get out of bed after a prolonged night of drinking.  I ran a tab at a local bar, which made it easy for me to get drinks and since at this time in my life, I did not have a checking account, I went to the bar to cash my paycheck and pay off my tab.  I was a regular and I knew all the bartenders and most of the patrons.

There’s nothing like drinking a cold, frosty beer after a day of work.  Although beer can taste incredibly refreshing, technically it dehydrates you, forcing your kidneys to expel much more water than they would normally do without alcohol in your system.  All of my friends drank and I was actually good at drinking.  There are all kinds of drunks, some are loud and boisterous, some are argumentative, sometimes they can be quiet and contemplative, sometimes sad and depressed, along with almost every shade and combination in between these and other emotions.  Drinking always gave me an ego boost, making me feel better about myself.

I drank to excess indulging to the point of intoxication, never really passing out, but I do remember feeling shame for falling down a few times, as that was awkward.  We were not allowed to drink till we were 21 in my State, so we drove to the next State where they served you at the age of 18.  The tavern that we went to did not actually abide by the rules, as they never checked anyone’s ID, as I guess that they were just happy to get business.  We usually went to this tavern in two different carloads of guys (six guys in each car) and we sat at different tables, challenging ourselves to see which table could drink more beer than the other table and the losing table would have to pay for all of the beer.

We paired off and each group had to stay within one pitcher of beer with the other group and once a table got a whole pitcher ahead, that ended the contest, so there was a lot of chugging going on to stay in contention.  This Irish guy named Munley could drink a lot and I was always trying to keep up with him and hoping that the others at my table would hold their weight.  I guess that I developed a reputation because we won more times than we lost, but either way this always made for an interesting ride back home, especially when someone started passing around the bones.  Most of the time I was the driver, as I had a station wagon which made it easier to fit everyone in.  One night I had trouble navigating this bend and I ended up running down a stop sign.

Eventually my State changed the drinking age law and we did not have to drive a long distance to get our beer.  From my drinking escapades in the other State I had build an identity as someone who could hold my liquor, a skein of persuasion that let people know that I was able to drink others under the table.  One night my friends challenged me that I would not be able to drink a four ounce glass of beer every minute for a whole hour.  I felt pretty good about drinking large amounts of alcohol, and I had no problem with it having to be consumed rapidly.  They told all the other people in the bar what I was going to do, and they came up with a $30 pot as encouragement me to drink.  I accepted the dare to drink all the beer which had to be done within the first 15 seconds of each minute.  This meant a lot of chugging, but it also gave me 45 seconds of rest between each glass.  The beer was ordered in pitchers and my friends paid for all of it.

A 4-ounce glass of beer was nothing to me, but 60 of them adds up to 240 ounces or 1.875 gallons of beer.  Putting this in another perspective, this is like drinking 20 12-ounce bottles of beer in an hour.  With the time restriction, there was no chance for me to make a trip to the bathroom and that is a lot of fluid to have to hold in.  I drank all 60 glasses of beer and rushed to the bathroom to relieve myself, feeling proud of my consumption.  I don’t remember much after that and I hoped that any damage that I did to my kidneys and liver would be reversible, but sadly this was not the end of my drinking.

I went out to a club in Brazil one night where they had this great group that was playing some real old rock and roll like Steppenwolf ‘Born To Be Wild’, Frankie Ford ‘Sea Cruise’ and other goodies like the Rolling Stones.  The beer in Brazil comes in these gigantic bottles, which I shared with my friends and we drank out of small glasses.  The waitress would mark your ticket everytime you purchased a round of drinks and the odd thing was that you kept the ticket in your pocket.  The part of Brazil that I was in was called gaucho country, which is like a North American cowboy, but they dressed more like Pancho Villa.  The Brazilian girls all wore skin tight leather pants, that were so thin that it allowed your mind to detect everything.  Many of these girls had red hair, but most of them were probably wearing a wig.  I am not much of a dancer, but my table was very close to the stage and all the girls were rocking it out next to the band, so I got a real good look at what was shaking.  Watching them dance made me feel like my heartstrings were made out of a ball of twine.  I drank a lot of beer that night as my tab said that I owed for 18 bottles and when I left I was plastered and there was no way that I would have been able to say any kind of tongue twister about anyone selling shells at the seashore.  Eventually I toned down my drinking.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt Week #31 – Detect, for FOWC with Fandango – Ego, for August Writing Prompts – Pancho Villa, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Reversible, for Ragtag Community – Abide, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Thin, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 363 prompts – Skein Bones Refrain Twine Shade Weight Wig Sea Shells Bend Shame Stones and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Awkward.

A Purple Shrub Set in a Marble Vase

Doctor Rappaccini has a daughter named Beatrice, whose beauty has caused all the young men of Padua to fall in love with her.  Beatrice rarely leaves home, she likes to pass much of her time doing work in her father’s garden tending a beautiful plant.  Rappaccini has a great devotion to science, a greater devotion to science than to people, and he is willing to sacrifice people, including himself, for what he considers the greater good of the advance of knowledge.  All of his plants are a kind of experiment, as he looks for cures for diseases and adds to the body of scientific information.  Beatrice becomes resistant to the poisons, but in the process she herself becomes poisonous to others.  Giovanni a handsome student at the University of Padua, watches Beatrice from his window and soon falls in love with her.

She wore a red dress and embraced the flowers, picking one up and attempts to pin it on her dress, and accidentally lets some of the liquid drip on to a lizard, which immediately contorts and dies.  Giovanni shudders watching this and then he witnesses an insect dying from Beatrice’s breath.  Beatrice spots Giovanni who throws her a bouquet of healthy flowers.  As Beatrice rushes inside, Giovanni thinks he sees the bouquet wither in her hands.  One day, Giovanni finds a secret entrance to Rappaccini’s garden.  He went in and watched Beatrice in the garden moving quickly among the flowers until she reached him.  Giovanni apologized for coming into the garden without an invitation, but Beatrice smiled at him and made him feel welcome.  “I see you love flowers,” she said.  “And so you have come to take a closer look at my father’s rare collection.”  Giovanni becomes aware of an ominous mixture of beauty emanating from purple shrub set in a marble vase.  He is literally burned when Beatrice touches his arm, leaving “a burning and tingling agony in his hand and a purple print line that of her four small fingers”, but he soon forgets the pain while thinking about Beatrice.  “Blessed are all simple emotions, be they dark or bright!  It is the lurid intermixture of the two that produces the illuminating blaze of the infernal regions.”  Hawthorne was arguing that women should not be defined according to a binary of good and evil, or purity and impurity.  People, regardless of their gender, have something of the “infernal” in them, because we naturally experience a mixture of both dark and bright emotions.

Giovanni smells a fragrance like that which moments before had come from Beatrice and he makes a move toward the cynosure shrub as if to pluck a flower.  She grasps his hand and forces it back, saying, “Touch it not!  Not for thy life!  It is fatal!”  Giovanni has Beatrice in his heart and he meets her in the garden every day, skipping out on his classes.  One day he runs into his professor who is worried about him and he warns Giovanni to stay away from Rappaccini and his daughter, because she has poison in her blood and on her breath.  The professor gives Giovanni a little silver bottle which he says can destroy even the most powerful poison.  Giovanni realizes that he has become poisoned and he calls Beatrice a monster.
Beatrice confronts her father saying, “Why did you do this terrible thing to your own child?”  Rappaccini looked surprised and asked, “What do you mean, my daughter?  You have power no other woman has.  You can defeat your strongest enemy with only your breath.  Would you rather be a weak woman?”  Beatrice replied, “I want to be loved, not feared.  But now, it does not matter.  I am leaving you, father.  I am going where the poison you have given me will do no harm.  Good bye to you, Giovanni.”  Beatrice dropped to the ground and died at the feet of her father and Giovanni.  The poison had been too much a part of the young woman.  The medicine that destroyed the poison, destroyed her, as well.
Giovanni should have realized that the time he spent with Beatrice was not meant to be infinite, it was a gift and he would no longer be able to whisper nothings into her ear or sing a lullaby to her.  He could travel back to his place and climb the staircase to the window where he first saw her.  Maybe he could take a trip up to the lake that was surrounded with pines to try and find a sign that would help him forget her, or he could make a quilt from the picture that he had of her in his mind, before she disappeared and became unknown.

Actually the dress was purple, but that did not fit the prompt.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt Week #30 – Infinite, for FOWC with Fandango –Unknown, for July Writing Prompts – She wore a red dress, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Cynosure, for Ragtag Community – Whisper, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Work, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 358 prompts – Heart Pass Time Lake Sign Pines Quilt Travel Picture Staircase Trip Gift, for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt “Nathaniel Hawthorne Quote”, for Swimmers the New Community Pool prompt – Day and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Lullaby.

Standing Up To Putin

I don’t have high hopes that Trump will say anything derogatory to scorn his Russian friend at the upcoming summit meeting.  That little old ant thought that he could move that rubber tree plant, while that silly old ram kept butting that dam, but Trump is just a toy balloon and I am hoping that he will burst soon, as he is being complicit in the exploitation of the Russian people by indulging Putin and chances are they’re bound to go pop.  Many people feel that Trump should abandon the talks altogether after the 12 indictments that special counsel Robert S. Mueller has handed down to members of the Russian military intelligence branch on charges of hacking American computers.  Woebegone as Trump is not focused on protecting elections and he will try to avoid a kerfuffle at any cost.  Normally I would cheer for any chance that leaders could get together and sit down to hash out their problems, but I don’t see any reform coming out of these meetings, if Trump is not willing to call out Putin for interfering with the American government.

According to legend, King Solomon had this ring which was given to him by God, and it allowed him control demons, but I don’t think that Trump has a ring like this to control the demon Vladimir Putin.  Ownership of all major Russian enterprises is now tight in the grip of Putin and his cronies, who rather than investing in their nation’s development, stash their money outside the country (some of it in Trump-branded luxury condominiums).  This is a new form of low, as all the wealth of all the Russians apart from the Putin mafia barely equals the amount that Russia’s leaders have spirited out of the country.  The Russian people have a long climb ahead of them as long as Putin is their ruler.  Trump said that does not expect to have a Perry Mason moment when he meets with Putin, but if Trump would only call out Putin for all of the lies that he has spread, the Russians citizens might begin to wake up, look around and notice the pattern that is leading them down a path to destruction.

It seems so simple to me, but it is not because the Russian government has spent years getting control of the media and now reporters are picked by the Kremlin, as Putin has forced all the major TV channels to submit to his will.  This is the real fake news and any story that is thought to be unreasonable would not be published, or it might have to go through some type of trim to take the edge off of it.  It does not take a firefighter to know that Moscow is tired of being manipulated by the Kremlin’s non news items that does nothing to uncover the unethical behavior and social injustice that is taking place in Russia today.  My great aunt told me that when she ran out of toilet paper while living in Russia, that she would wipe her ass with pictures of Putin from the newspapers, because she thought he deserved that.

The Kremlin keeps trying to promote the pop-culture fame that their leader has achieved, and this is done by publishing a shirtless image of Putin strolling along the gravel banks of a Siberian river in army boots and camouflage pants, wearing a cross around his neck.  In March of this year, a group of Russian activists spent the night in jail after they spray painted a giant slogan against President Vladimir Putin on the frozen surface of a major river in the center of his hometown.  During the World Cup this year, Russians on social media were tying themselves up in knots trying to guess why Vladimir Putin was a no show at the event.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Abandon, for FOWC with Fandango – Legend, for July Writing Prompts – Chances are, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Scorn, for Ragtag Community – Kerfuffle, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Firefighter, for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt “Reform”, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 358 prompts – climb simple low tight trim gravel pattern path spread spray knots edge, for Swimmers the New Community Pool prompt – demon, for Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Three Things Challenge prompts – great aunt, ant, plant and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Woebegone.

Haven’t Got a Clue

Every post needs a title and since I am making this up as I go along, or you might say winging it, this is as good as any.  I looked over all of the prompts for today and I will decide on a course of action as i go along, using my own initiative and perceptions, so please bear with me while I am flying by the seat of my pants.  I will be using my instincts and going without a flight plan, hoping that I can come up with a scintillating post filled with lust, or at least one that is not too long, that you won’t read and just pass by it, or as Dango says TLDR, ‘too long didn’t read’.

I don’t have all day to write this post and that is a good thing, as I feel that deadlines actually drive creativity and they can help you to do your best work.  I don’t perform my best under stressful conditions, but the big idea behind being driven by a deadline is that it makes you prioritize your ideas and not sweat the small stuff and this allows your writing to be powerful and not persnickety. I  have enough ambition to finish what I start and getting to the finish line always makes me happy.  Sometimes I am not comfortable with the prompts, but I accept them for what they are, as without them, I would not have much of a story.  If I was comfortable with all of the prompts, my posts would probably end up being boring and that would make me unhappy.  We are all seeking comfort and happiness, but sometimes they tend to work against one another, much in the same way that writer’s block works against creativity.

That awful fear of not knowing where to start or where you are headed, or that what you will write is not going to be good enough is something that most writers face.  Writer’s block will hinder your creative spark, take away your prolific ideas, remove that drive that allows you to be innovative, so you won’t be able to explore, express, and make your own unique contribution to the world, even when you are given ingenious prompts.  To get your creativity back, you must build up resistance by fighting back.  Try to defeat your writer’s block, and push it out of your way, while you still have enough energy leftover for creative writing.

To get rid of writer’s block, you could go for a walk in a canyon, or take your boat out of the shed and head toward the river, especially if it is a hot day.  Hopefully the river won’t be too turbulent, or else you might want to bring along a pillow for your bottom.  I find it peaceful just being out on my lawn, as long as my neighbors are not cutting their grass with their electric lawn mower.  It is good when you don’t have to watch the clock or keep track of time observing the minute hand as it passes by.

If there were words, then I would be glad to tell you what to do, however I am no Dickens, Shelley or Keats.  I will try to make the best out of the bad, because tomorrow nobody will remember what I wrote about.  Alas, I did not create a tale that was full of scintillating lust that could never be satisfied, as this only exists when two people meet for the first time, as they want to see the other person in all their sensual splendor and experience the all of the tastes, scents, sounds, and textures, all while being accepted for who they are, however this does happen in the story of Theseus and Ariadne.

Theseus was a prince of Athens who decided to put a stop to the barbarous practice of sacrificial tribute that was due to an old dispute, where his city was required to send a tribute of young men and women every nine years to Minos, the king of Crete, so he volunteered as one of the selected youths.  The youths were given as an offering to the Minotaur and sent into the labyrinth, a convoluted space designed by the consummate craftsman Daedalus to contain the beast.  Daedalus also had a hand in the creation of the Minotaur because Minos’ wife Pasiphae had become enamored of a particularly handsome bull, and Daedalus constructed a hollow cow that would allow her to mate with the animal.  The result of this union was the Minotaur, a ferocious creature with the body of a man but the head of a bull.   When Ariadne laid her eyes on the prince, she fell madly in love with Theseus and she handed him a clew (ball of thread) to help him find his way out of the Labyrinth.  Her lissome body made Theseus feel welcome while her mellifluous voice flowed like honey and she became music to his ears.  Once Theseus entered the labyrinth, he could not go to a store to get any supplies that he might need, like a copper pipe to bash the Minotaur over the head with and there was no cabinet for him to hide in.  Theseus entered the labyrinth, killed the beast, and emerged victorious, saving the lives of the young Athenians and freeing Athens from further obligation to Crete.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Ambition, for FOWC with Fandango – Scintillating, for July Writing Prompts – Powerful and persnickety, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Mellifluous, for Ragtag Community – Clew, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Copper, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 359 prompts – turbulent cabinet store lawn shed boat minute clock electric lust hand pillow, for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Sunday Writing Prompt “Quote Me” topics are – happiness and comfort, or writer’s block and creativity, for Swimmers the New Community Pool prompt – Big, for Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Three Things Challenge, where the three prompt words are “canyon, river and hot” and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Lissome.

Impossible

The gods are against me today, as I found 9 writing challenges containing prompts with no rhyme or reason, which made me think that maybe the hosts of these challenges were trying to intimidate me.  Can I combine all of these prompts together and create a story without my brain starting to spiral out of control?  I am not trying to be estimable (worthy of great respect), as it is unlikely anyone will compare my writing skills with those of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Geoffrey Chaucer, Homer, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Herman Melville or Charles Dickens and no one will ever name a chewing gum after me.  I guess I am just going through a flitting stage, as every time I sit down to write, I want to be challenged.  I have all day to write my story and there is no word limit tied into any of these prompts, so I am able to scale my story to be as short or as long as I like.  I am not looking to teach any lessons, or right any patriotic wrong or figure out the rights of wrongs, but I do believe that if I write engaging stories, that my readers will stay with me.

Writing is not a vicious cycle for me, it is a place where my spirit takes flight and my passions are released.  While writing multiple prompt posts, I often end up finding a story, when I was actually looking for something else, thanks to what I call serendipity.  Experts say that there are seven critical elements that need to be in every good story, as they constitute the very essence of what makes a story and without them there is no story.  These elements consist of a change of fortune, the problem of the story, the complications, crisis, climax and resolution of the classical structure, and the threat.

I have only just begun, as I suspect that my writing will improve over time, although I might have to fill some big shoes.  Writing can be as comfortable as an old shoe, but sometimes when the shoe is on the other foot, it can taste like old shoe leather.  If the prompt is shoe, there is no need for me to shake in my shoes, I might be required to describe what kind of shoe it is, who owns the shoe, discover what happened to the other shoe, or maybe I need to wait for the other shoe to drop?  One day I plan to write a poem about a cracker who is a hacker and he cracks the security of computer systems in order to access, steal or destroy sensitive information.  It takes blind faith to adequately use all of the prompts and sometimes I can’t find my way home, but I actually made it, proving that anything is possible.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Intimidate, for FOWC with Fandango – Suspect, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Patriotic, for Monthly Writing Prompts July 1 – The rights of wrongs, for Ragtag Community – Scale, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Sit, for the Sunday Whirl Wordle 358 prompts – home, gods ever, flight, cycle, spiral, place, spirit, lessons, flitting, essence, passions, for Teresa’s Haunted Wordsmith Three Things Challenge, where the three prompt words are “cracker, shoe and chewing gum and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Serendipity.