Category Archives: creative writing

Put A Stake In It.

 

The last of the tomatoes were done.

Unlike squash, they wouldn’t have survived creeping across the garden soil; their vines required staking, this year by aluminum wire cages. Stepping into the collapsing mess of metal, I reached down and plucked the final fruit from its stem, inhaling for the last time that distinctive, acidic scent.

This season, everyone seemed to have had a stake in something.

I was a professional musician. Roughly half of my colleagues either’d had contracts with an established organization, or hoped for hire; the rest were investing in a newer venture, because it served them in familial ways.

After having taken a tally of all concerned I’d discovered that, just as my beloved would suggest, none of those involved had wanted to risk their own potential benefit by standing against anything – least of all, it seemed, any moral component in actions taken. None of them, that is, but me.

And, so, I’d been left facing my remaining options. They were few.

1.) Take whatever I could get, which would likely be a rare to never hire by the established organization’s newly created collective of contracted members;

2.) Join the new venture, which clearly served first those already attached – by either employ, or enrollment – to a local institution.

In short, both actions sidelined me. The possible motives had emerged, and none of them were attractive: a.) I was perceived as aging out? b.) I was not accepted, because I did not submit to those who sought authority over me?

The third option only became clear after I had confronted the initial two and found them both undesirable:

3.) Walk away.

Facing the reality that my net income would only be marginally affected, seeing as that generated by both options had never, in the past, even remotely covered the number of uncompensated hours, the likelihood of garnering more creative time had begun to feel more like a reward than a punishment.

And, so, the decision was actually easy.

The outcome, however, I could not have predicted.

First, there’d been the sheer relief. Had there really been that much pressure, and stress? Being locked into a work schedule, occupying weeknights and weekends, pre-determined by those outside of myself. Yes; yes, there had. The release of this weight was euphoric in its effect; I felt as if I’d just been granted an unlimited vacation!

But, secondly, I’d begun to note a silence. Nobody seemed interested in remaining in touch, even those I’d thought were friends.

My declaration of intent was never challenged, no attempts made to persuade a re-consideration, only two polite assurances of future, independent collaborations from among dozens. Stock replies, and more silence.

The stakes were just too high.

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A favorite metaphor among Biblical apologists is the fruit of the vine. Believers, so called, are to bear it; if they do not, they are cut off from the host.

I love tomatoes. I eat them, nearly every day when they are in season. But, maybe I am more like a squash, or a pumpkin. Meant to grow on another vine, close to the soil.

I’ll stake my life on that, instead.

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© 9/24/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material, however unimportant.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published!

 

She did it.

After God knows how many months, years, painstakingly crafting, artfully arranging, she completed her novel.

It had to happen. I wrote a children’s book; she wrote one. I performed on a Steinway; she bought one. I wrote a screenplay; she got a Master’s in Creative Writing.

And, wrote a novel.

We’re supposed to celebrate each other’s triumphs. It sends positive energy into the universe, or something like that. I’d just tired of being her Applause! sign, every time we met for dinner. I mean, really tired.

For one, I am afraid to open the first chapter for fear I see myself or a member of my own family, illustrated in my blog, now characterized in official print. We all do it, as a sort of emotional release, when relationships break our hearts or sour on the vine. But, there is no law requiring me to read that book, just like there’s no law preventing her from lifting, along with a few, choice turns of the old phrase and an essential rhythm, somebody else’s nationality, personality, or family story and calling it fiction.

Power; influence; prestige; status; and, marketing savvy. The best connections an established, multiply credentialed, white collar professional can gather, just by entering the room. It’s been the way of the world, for awhile now.

Jealous? To use her favorite exclamation: “Naah.”  Jealousy is about wishing you were the other person. No desire for that; grateful for everything God gave me, thank you mum and dad. Envy? Perhaps. Being published is enviable. It means that your novel will garner reviews, and sit in a bookstore with all the others. Sometimes people buy books in bookstores. Sometimes they sit, and read them there. Others flip through, looking for the best gift for that relative who doesn’t get out much.

And, a segment of the population actually spends quite a bit of time reading. Prisoners, for example.

Do I attempt to minimize this accomplishment? Nothing likely could, if its inherent value is deemed worthy by the National Association of Writers. Oh, wait. She’s a member. There it is. Nothing I could possibly say or do would depreciate this product of no doubt arduous hours of research, rewrites and edits. It’s hers, after all. Here’s hoping she gets everything she deserves.

I, myself, don’t just love to write. I need to write. Writing may be the very last thing I do before drawing my final breath. Whether anybody reads, well, that’s up to Providence.

Meantime, there are several drafts awaiting completion. Inhale; exhale. Mindful awareness. Plod along. The purpose emerges.

Just keep on.

You can do.

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© 9/14/18   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.  Please respect original material, however unimportant. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Missing Earring.

It happened so fast.

One final page flip, at the piano, in the midst of the soprano duo. Up went the right hand, catching the hoop and flicking it out of the piercing in my earlobe.

At a momentary break in the service, I stepped over to my pew and set the earring in my gig bag. Two Sundays and a Tuesday hence, I searched for the pair to complete a casual outfit. Only one hoop appeared.

Yesterday, the purge began.

I’d been keeping a whole lifetime of outfits, with matching accessories, for years. Probably a symptom of a life deferred. How was the daughter of strict fundamentalists to know that a career scrambled after would render an artificial social milieu which would leave her starving for the nourishment which living out her true identity would have provided? She could only manifest this subconscious realization by regularly purchasing clothes and jewelry from mail order catalogs, like shut ins who live in the country. Her world, perpetually professional, draped in black, would rarely afford her the creative pleasure of wearing any of it.

So, now seemed to be the time to dig through all the jewelry. Two hours in, and my bedsheet was gritty with dust and residue from any number of bracelets, rings, necklaces, pins and earrings.

The last wrangle of particularly intractable chains was the most resistant. A rhinestone bordered cut out heart, silver mounted, reminded me of its original owner. My first sister in law would last 13 years as a member of our family, but bequeathing to her skinny pre-adolescent equivalent this piece. I remembered wearing it, every summer at the annual Bible conference and its subsequent winter retreats, through any number of hopeful crushes and handholding in the dark. The tiny silver “R”, on its even more delicate chain, was a throwback to the lumpy fonts of the 1970s. But, the shiny heart locket, gold in color. What was this?

I opened the heart.

Inside, a tiny photo of mum, smiling into the sun she loved so much. Given to me, only now recalling, by my cousin’s wife ( the daughter of mum’s first crush ) at the time of mum’s death.

Stroking the miniature photo with my thumb, I sat, its context returning. The locket, back then in 1995, had seemed gaudy, shiny next to my usual wardrobe. I’d been teaching elementary music, dressing most days in full theatrical costume to illustrate concepts as a human object lesson, a tactic keen student observers would take back to their methods college classes and hand off to their instructor’s eager doctoral candidate’s thesis. When out of such get up, I dressed for comfort; sweats, and flat shoes, were the order of my hopelessly nocturnal brain and interrupted sleep each morning. The locket had been relegated, with mum’s watch and the opals inherited from her Aunt Mary.

Now, twenty three years hence I sat, and remembered only my mother.

Our singular Mum, speaking to me yet again, and always during a cleaning run. Mum, always sorting everything, keeping busy, pushing down all the unrealized dreams by organizing the small but vital world over which she had domain. Mum, always with me whenever I’d “finally get around to it.” I closed the locket, and wrapped its chain around my throat, attaching the clasp.

The lost earring would take its place among the sundry and unimportant. Better to get busy and spend my remaining energy in the joy of living authentically.

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© 9/12/18  Ruth Ann Scanzillo   All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Please respect the original stories of their narrators. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com