Pretty Much Did That!

Ballerina Fireman Astronaut Movie Star

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?


At age ten I remember wanting to be a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. Back then, I thought I’d be a poet.  That’s not going to happen.  My poetry is mostly sappy and awkward.  However, I do love to write.

I became a wife at 21; a mom at 22, 24, 27, and 30. I was a substitute teacher during all those years, and a full- time teacher in my late 30’s and 40’s, subbed again in my early 50’s until I went back to school for a master’s degree so I could do private practice counseling–something else I thought about in college, years ago, but put on hold.

While I’m not a professional or acknowledged writer—yet  🙂  –that dream still lives.  So yes, I’d say what I wanted back then has come true.

How cool is that?



In non-response to the daily prompt, which held no interest for me today, here’s a story I’ve been thinking about developing.


“Write about what you know,” came the sage wisdom of experienced writers.

Well, good grief.  What did Ellie know?  Growing up in a preacher’s family wasn’t all that unique.  Being poor wasn’t, either.  Having parents who learned how to scratch and scrimp was pretty common for the baby-boomer generation. Some of those boomers, like Ellie herself, had applied a lot of what she learned from her Depression-era parents, and she and Trevor had managed to make a pretty good life for their family without ever becoming well-to-do.

There were lots of nevers in Ellie’s life.  Never been divorced.  Never had an affair. Never even been unfaithful in her thoughts. Never lost a child to illness or accident.  Never had a miscarriage. Never touched alcohol, never smoked a cigarette. Never watched porn, even after the computer era brought it right to her fingertips. Never ran away from home, never touched illegal drugs or got addicted to legal ones. Never had sex before marriage.

So what  was there about her life, and her experiences, that would make an interesting read for people who were used to watching the most horrifying violence in movies and on TV?  What could she write about love and romance that would appeal to people  who treated sex like  a casual event, and indoor sport?  What could she write about childrearing when her own kids had all turned out to be  normal, law-abiding citizens rearing their own families the same way she and Trev had done it?

Who wanted to read about people she knew?  People who went to church, believed in God, loved their country, and lived their lives the old-fashioned way—God, home, and country?

Wouldn’t they rather read about horrific murders, the evil minds of sociopaths who had no conscience, the sexual escapades of men and women who were physically beautiful but had no moral compass?  Look at the popularity of those Fifty Shades books!  Why, even some of her own friends claimed to enjoy the books and get all hot and bothered by the sexual violence they portrayed.

As Ellie sat quietly in her living room, hands busy with the afghan she was knitting, quiet music filling the room, she wondered why she had this strong urge to write when it seemed to her that she really had nothing to write about.   Nothing new, nothing sensational, nothing that hadn’t already been written to death by hundreds of other wannabe authors.

Write about what you know.  Hmph. “I know about being a normal girl, with hopes and dreams; making dumb choices, making embarrassing mistakes, floundering through the process of falling in and out of love; learning to curb my impulses, tame my tart tongue, train my temper.  I knew abour rearing normal kids.  Well, they’d all been amazingly smart. I never had the homework struggle that a lot of my friends did, because my own brood just didn’t need much help.  That had been a blessing, especially during the years I’d been a teacher in their school. “

She knew about hard work. Plenty about that. She was grateful for these senior years of relative peace, calm, and quiet. These years weren’t nearly as labor-intensive as her forties and even fifties had been.

She knew about going back to school at the advanced age of 50, competing with students half her age.  She knew about being a psychotherapist, and she knew about being thankful for how normal her own life had been compared to that of a lot of her clients.

She knew about pain, both physical and emotional. She understood suffering.  She was glad she’d started the counseling career after she’d been around the block a few times.

Still, was there really an interesting story in all of that?  In any of it?

Ellie’s eyelids slid cosed, her head nodding off to one side and her hands going still.  Her thoughts had opened lots of windows on memories long past, and her afternoon dream took her through one of those windows. Transported back in time, she found herself riding in the back seat of her dad’s 1955 Chevy, legs and feet pushing and shoving against her sister’s to keep a few inches of leg room as they drove through what seemed like endless miles of nothing.

Oh, yes, now there was a story.



Dinner Party Rerun

Seat Guru

You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?


When I saw the title for this one, my first though was, “What on earth is a seat guru? Someone who goes around helping people improve their glutes?”

Then I read the prompt and remembered writing it before. You can find it here.

I don’t think I’d change anything.

Read, Baby, Read!

Literate for a Day

Someone or something you can’t communicate with through writing (a baby, a pet, an object) can understand every single word you write today, for one day only. What do you tell them?


“I love you.  I will always love you.

“Read everything today that you can get your hands on.  Read the Bible. Read the newspaper. Read every book on the shelves in our house. Read labels on cans and boxes. Read the funnies. Read the back of the cereal box.

“Read every bit of print I put in front of you today, and memorize this:

“To read is to grow. It is to understand. It is to learn. It is to travel around the world and into outer space. It is the key that unlocks everything.

“Always enjoy the gift of knowing how to read. Not everyone is so blessed.”



It Builds Character

Tell us about a favorite character from film, theater, or literature, with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?

There were many, many Elizas in London and other British towns and cities. They were poor girls from poor families who worked at all sorts of jobs to try to supplement the famly income.  Eliza happened to be a flower seller, and she had dreams of owning her own flower shop one day.

What I loved about this character was that she was an opportunist.  Once she realized what was being offered to her, she began to throw herself into the project–and of course, fell in love with the detestable Henry Higgins  in the process.

She was indomitable.  She became the lady that Pickering and Higgins created, and once she had made that metamorphosis, they didn’t know what to do with her. I loved her strength, her dedication to the work, and her determination that she could go ahead and make it on her own without any more help from Professor Higgins, if that was what he wanted.

She was spirited, witty, and fun.

And she had the BEST costumes!


The Power of Touch

Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?


They can be cold, warm, dry, damp, trembly, firm, calloused, smooth.  Hands tell so much about the person.

My mom took good care of her hands.  She always clipped her fingernails into points, which I guess was the thing to do when she was young.  She worked hard, but she kept her hands smooth.  I remember the fruity smell of Jergen’s Hand Lotion as she rubbed it into her own hands, and always put a drop or two on mine. I loved the way it made my hands feel, all smooth and soft.

My dad had big hands. They were working hands. There was never anything soft about his hands until he was too sick to do much.  It was always a shock to me, in his final years, to touch his hand and find it soft.  No more callouses.  Fingernails nicely groomed by my mom or a nurse.  I remember, as a little girl, how much I loved it when he would take my hand in his if we were on an icy sidewalk. There was a great deal of strength in his hands.

The hands I love the most, though, are Terry’s.  He has wide-palmed, short-fingered hands that can work absolute magic. They aren’t elegant hands, not manicured or buffed or polished. They’re a workingman’s hands, and they’ve saved us literally thousands of dollars over the years in their ability to repair, replace, remove or redo. He’s amazing.

He’s 72, and his hands show their age. I love the touch of his hands. Always gentle with me, his hands have never been raised or fisted in abuse. His hands have reassured, comforted, supported, and nursed me and our kids through many hurts and difficulties.

I was always amazed at how our two dogs would let him do absolutely anything to them. He would swab out their ears, and they would lie still and never twitch.  He was the only one who could pull pebbles or ice balls out of their paws, or clip the hair between their toenails.  Once, our springer spaniel got into the  garbage and ate a big portion of a plastic bag. He let Terry  give him an enema, and then walked and walked and walked with him, stopping now and then to let Terry pull on the plastic as it emerged.  Sorry to be so graphic, but it just amazed me that the dog was so docile for Terry.

Although he is now retired, those hands are still working.  My kitchen is almost finished.  There has been so much trim work, finishing touches, and he excels at that sort of thing.  Every day when I come home from work, something else has been completed.  Also, he mounted our new flatscreen TV on the wall, drilling holes and installing electrical outlets so that all the cords and cables are behind the wall.

I suspect he will have some kind of project going until he can’t get out of bed any more.

I love his hands. His left-hand pinkie got the tip cut off years ago in a work accident.  Two other fingers on the same hand were damaged in another accident. I could tell his hands from any other man’s hands with no problem. There is a feel, a texture to them that is instantly familiar.

I love his hands.


The Outsiders


Tel us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

(The photo has nothing to do with my story. I just thought it was hilarious)


Sami could never quite get past the feeling that if she disappeared, it would be a very long time before anyone noticed.  Here she was, again,  the new kid on the block.  She’d learned some things over her short fifteen years of life.  She knew how to blend in, how to be pretty nearly invisible, how to be with the other kids without their really noticing.  There wasn’t much to set her apart, no outstanding physical features or handicap, no deformities that would make her the butt of cruel jokes.

She was just new.  Again. She had to learn all the names of her classmates, and she had to figure out how things worked in this new place. She’d come from a big city high school of over 900 students, where it was pretty easy to be invisible.

This new place, though, probably didn’t have 900 people in the whole town!

She was used to dressing the city way, wearing nylons and flats to school every day. The girls here often showed up in thick, rolled-down socks and white sneakers.  It seemed so weird to Sami. She didn’t know if she would ever be able to make that change!

Other than that oddity in dress, the girls were pretty much the same.  They teased up their hair and then smoothed the surface, ending up with perfectly round helmets of hair sprayed to withstand the prairie windstorms.  They used pancake makeup, which Sami’s parents wouldn’t allow.  They used dark eyeliner and mascara, but not much other makeup.

A lot of them lived on farms surrounding the town. They worked on their parents’ farms, doing chores and helping with the canning and freezing.

Sami realized pretty quickly that this new group of girls she was meeting were less sophisticated than the city girls had been, but more down-to-earth.  And they were actually friendly. They included her during lunch, not leaving her to eat by herself at an empty table. They showed her around the school, told her who the cutest guys were, and who the toughest teachers were.

Sami had been used to at least two or three months going by before she stopped feeling like an outsider and became a part of the class.  This time, it was different.  Better.  The girls acted as if they were happy to see her each day, and soon she was walking the mile-and-a-half home after school with a group of girls that grew smaller as each one turned off on her own street, or at her own house.  She walked the last quarter-mile alone, smiling and enjoying the rural  road she lived on.

 One day, she put on her first pair of thick white socks, laced up her new white sneakers,  and left the house feeling as if she really belonged.

She got to graduate from high school there.  Three great years of feeling she was actually a part of things, not the outsider.

Then she went to college.


The Great Pretender

Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.


So many things come rushing to my mind.

The first day of school in kindergarten, third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth grade–twice in that year–when I pretended I was just fine being the new girl.  The only one who didn’t know anyone else. The only one who hadn’t grown up in the neighborhood.

The first time my preacher dad told me I was going to play the piano for church because the regular pianist was sick.  I was twelve. I’d never had a lesson. 

The first time I babysat someone other than my little brother.

The first time I went on a real date.

The first time I met my future in-laws.

The first time a faced a classroom full of kids who didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. 

The first time I went to the hospital to have a baby.  And the second, third and fourth, for that matter.

The first day back to college for a master’s degree.

The first day I sat alone in a room with a new client who expected me to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.

The first time I wrote a blog post.

The first time I went for pain treatment via shots for my wonky back.

There are multitudes of others.  I generally manage to put on an air of confidence, but it’s a sham.

A complete sham.