My writing craft group and I agreed that during the holiday break we would jot notes about the holiday. At least 100 words or phrases to capture the essence of the season.
I’ve resisted the list concept for most of my writing years: all those “list my life” books at Barnes and Noble. Listographies for couples, for singles, for mothers and daughters. Barf. Like a list matters. Plus, is listography a word? (Not in my 1979 edition of the New World Dictionary! Oh, I feel so vindicated!) Regardless: making a list is just too easy! One must *suffer* for enlightenment!
You’d think I’d have learned by now that when my instinct is to sniff haughtily, a great Lesson is lurking. But no. I sniff away and it is only under duress — duress I PAY for in the form of a workshop or a book, or duress that is unavoidable (yes, I consider the holidays a time of duress) — that I grudgingly push open the creaky door of my Self to possibilities.
My writing group adapted a Priscilla Long list exercise from her book The Writer’s Portable Mentor, and here’s mine. Not only was it a valuable exercise that I’m Officially Adding to my Writerly Toolbox, it tells a wee story. Happy New Year!
- 12 y.o. has two teeth pulled after last day of school.
- 12 y.o. vomiting, 2 AM.
- 12 y.o. sick first day of vacation.
- Amazon shopping.
- 16 y.o.’s girlfriend over for supper, to make treats for neighbors.
- 12 y.o. rallies to deliver treats to neighbors.
- Xmas tree purchased day after mini ice storm.
- Ice inside heated home = water. Duh.
- Entire first floor washed by melted ice.
- Kids dub ice “christmas juice.”
- Xmas tree trunk too big for 70’s-era metal stand.
- Engineer hubby drags tree to deck for trunk detailing.
- Engineer hubby shaving trunk with pathetic little saw.
- Engineer hubby borrows Real Tools, updates Xmas wish list to include Real Tools.
- Tree tilts 15 degrees to the left
- To the right.
- More trunk shaving.
- Tree tilts 5 degrees to the right.
- Engineer hubby: I’m done. Kids: but the tree …
- CVS has one tree stand left.
- Tree top breaks off. No one cares
- Tree is vertical!
- Burned out Xmas lights.
- Xmas eve shopping at Dicks Sporting Goods: all Medium sized fleeces gone. Panicked call to Engineer Hubby re: 16 y.o.’s preferred basketball clothing. Does it matter so long as it’s in school colors of blue and yellow? Engineer hubby: you know there are different shades of blue. Me: Seriously?
- Two hours later: new fleeces acquired for all the men in the family. Restorative hot chocolate purchased for frazzled mama on way home.
- My dad and brother arrive; my brother tallest person in the house @ 6’2″.
- Tissue paper for wrapping.
- Cat on tissue paper.
- Curling ribbon.
- Cat claw stuck in my thigh after “playing” catch the ribbon
- Can only find one batch of gift tags. All gifts labeled with the same green disc.
- Dog treats laid out with Santa gifts on coffee table.
- Dog treats all gone.
- Dog barf Xmas eve at midnight.
- Six hours sleep.
- New bird feeders: one with copper roof glinting in the sun. Birds confused, pecking forlornly at deck railing.
- 16 y.o.: “This is great!” re: coupon book for movies, dinners out, “Dates” with parents.
- Bag of gluttony and regret: chocolates & electric toothbrushes
- Kids give me hot tea/cocoa coupons 🙂 I redeem immediately.
- Settlers of Catan.
- Multi-handed solitaire.
- Mini Poppers: pig, monster, penguin, monster.
- Dogs eating popper balls. You’d think they’d had enough stomach upset. You’d think wrong.
- 16 y.o. visits girlfriend on Xmas day: a first
- Holiday-blend coffee from Milwaukee’s Colectivo Coffee.
- Turkey breast.
- Turkey breast with spine intact.
- Turkey breast deboning YouTube video.
- Dull knives.
- Brining on back deck.
- Cold sunshine.
- Walking dogs.
- New scarf.
- Stuffing with sausage.
- Cranberry sauce by my dad.
- 16 y.o.: mashed taters.
- Toasted pecans.
- Frozen crust.
- Cook’s Illustrated cookbook: brand new. Corn syrup on page 720 by 3 PM
- Dessert wine.
- Sauerkraut crock.
- Nine cabbages.
- Dill borrowed from neighbor.
- Virgnia Tech pillowcase over sauerkraut crock.
- About Time with 12 y.o. & Engineer Hubby. 12 y.o.: “That makes you think about life.”
- The Dark Knight Rises: surprisingly good.
- Sherlock Holmes, season 1 marathon
- The Full Monty: even my dad laughs
- The Last Emperor: like taking vitamins
- The Santa Clause
- All is Lost. Yikes
- Listing all colors for brown with writer pal Andrea Badgley day after Xmas.
- Basketball tournament in Roanoke for 16 y.o. Massive losses ’til very last game.
- Sauerkraut smells a bit funky.
- Old friend visits after New Year’s
- Old friend’s dog encounters skunk in backyard.
- Friend’s dog rolls on rug, runs through house.
- Friend to PetSmart for enzymatic skunk cleaner
- Friend’s dog washed on back deck with skunk cleaner.
- Temperatures dropping.
- Friend’s dog confined to crate.
- Friend’s dog depressed. Our dogs confused.
- Entire house smells of skunk; food tastes like skunk.
- Apple-cider scented candle lit.
- Sauerkraut smell obliterated.
- Rug removed to patio.
- Clothing washed with de-skunker.
- Friend’s dog washed repeatedly next day.
- Dog smelling better. Released from crate confinement.
- Joyful frolicking.
- Friend returns home.
- 16 y.o. to youth orchestra. Cello, case and music all smell like skunk.
- Xmas tree to fire pit, rug to dumpster.
- Sauerkraut funk again discernible.
- Carpool buddy to 12 y.o. on first day back to school: your hair smells like skunk.
Wonderful! Totally agree on sniffing haughtily=lesson to be learned. The first week of January, I took lines from W B Yeats poems as free writing prompts. Got in touch with my inner mystic. You just never know.
It is the “you never know” bits that lure me back to my writing desk, every time. Yeats poem lines as prompts sounds very promising!
hahaha! This totally tells a story. My favorite is number 14. And the skunks around here – I’ve never seen or smelled so many in my life. Your poor son.
And the skunks were at it again last night. I suspect the utter demise of my compost bin, which has made my compost into, basically, a smorgasbord of rotting veggies, has a lot to do with their presence in my yard ….
This is hilarious. What a great writing exercise. I love the tree and dog mishaps.
This is hilarious. What a great writing exercise. Love the tree and dog mishaps.
I find that often those things that go “wrong” in real life are also the ones that, after 24 hours in my writerly brain turn into the laughter/leavening of posts …
Ha…great story. I can relate to it ALL. It doesn’t read as a list so you are absolved.