Shaken Baby Syndrome?

February 26, 2010

Do I have Shaken Baby Syndrome from sneezing?

I’ve sneezed my way through an entire box of  Kleenex during the last two days.  That does not include the sneezes I’ve smothered into the bent of my elbow.  Each sneeze initiates a violent head snap  like whiplash.  With all that Sudden Head Movement, I think I’ve loosened my brain from its natural moorings.  I’m sure I’ve killed off enough brain cells to have shrunk my brain size by way of age and natural atrophication.*  During a sneeze session, why wouldn’t my now loosened brain bounce around inside my skull like a ping-pong ball in a class five hurricane?  Wouldn’t that violent movement effect the functionality of my brain?

Why do I think I have Adult Onset Shaken Baby Syndrome?  I cannot remember anything.  Nothing.  Nada  Zilch.  Where is my purse?  Every day I spend time searching the bedroom, my office, the family room, the kitchen, and, yes, the car for its current hiding place.  The solution would be simple:  always keep my purse in the same place.  But, I’d have to remember to do that.  See the problem?  Did I turn on the drier?  Is there anything in the drier? What’s the name of the fingernail polish I’ve worn for the last two months?  I don’t know, but it goes with everything I wear.  Where on earth is the remote control?  Is this the right one for this TV?

I shudder when I drive any where near blooming Accursed Acacias.  I know I am in for a session of rapid fire sneezes while I am at the wheel.  Yes, Acacias are currently laden with yellow blooms, or are those plumes of pure pollen?  Haven’t you noticed the light yellow dusting on your car?

I’ve been treated for allergies for 34 years.  Yes, I take allergy shots, swallow Allegra, and use prescribed steroid nose spray.  If I didn’t do all that, I would have to lug around an oxygen canister so I could breathe – that is, if I could remember where I put it.

Maybe I’ll make medical history as the first diagnosed case of Adult Onset of Shaken Baby Syndrome as a Result of Violent Sneezing.    Then, I could write a book about it.

Now.  What was I talking about?  I can’t remember.

*Atrophication – new medical term – what the end result of atrophy looks like.

Watch Out Mean Barbara

February 20, 2010

I own a pistol. It’s true. My dear friend Susan gave it to me as a gift. Granted it’s plastic and I don’t have bullets for it, but I’ve learned how to use it.

Truth be told, I have only ever aimed my gun at one person, and she’s not even real. Mean Barbara is actually only a voice. She sits on my shoulder and says awful things like “That’s the lamest sentence you’ve ever written,” or “Are you kidding? You call that prose? My dog could write better dialogue than you and his vocabulary consists of one word: woof.”

Every writer knows Mean Barbara or someone like her, though they might call that voice something else. I don’t think anyone would mind if her “kind” went the way of the dodo bird or the mastodon. As far as I can tell, she serves no useful purpose.

When Mean Barbara’s jabbering gets too loud, I pick up my weapon. It is surprisingly weighty. The barrel and bullet chamber is a flashy faux silver and the handle is tree-trunk brown replete with bark-like grooves. The tip of the barrel is encapsulated in crimson plastic, no yawning hole where a bullet might escape. Still, Mean Barbara must be intimidated by the bold,Valentine’s red — either that or it’s the satisfying click that escapes when I pull the trigger — because somehow when I point my pistol over my shoulder, that niggling voice grows still. I suspect someday she’s going to figure out that my gun’s a fake. Until she does, watch out Mean Barbara. I have a gun and I know how to use it.

Writer’s Rap

February 13, 2010

Check out this fun “Writer’s Rap” by author Erin Dealey!

Is the Love Letter Dead?

February 10, 2010

While cleaning out closets, my father stumbled across a stack of letters that he had written my mother during his brief tour of duty in the Korean War. He had saved a similar bundle of letters from my mother. When compiled together, their wartime correspondence provided a rare glimpse into life in the 1950’s, basic training, and my parents’ courtship. 

Of course, these letters were of interest to me as a matter of family history. But they also reminded me of the letters and cards I’ve kept from my own courtship days. My husband’s missives to me, tied with a red ribbon, are hidden away in the bottom of a drawer. My husband has a similar stack (perhaps less well organized) buried somewhere among his possessions. One day, when I am gone, I imagine my children will find these letters and wonder at the strange glimpse of their parents that they reveal.  And I can’t help but wonder what the next generation will leave behind.

My kids live in an electronic age of texts and tweets. Even e-mail seems a bit old school. Yet I can’t imagine saving electronic messages from your lover. Is that an iPhone under your pillow? A memory stick tied with a red ribbon? Will you be able to decipher that cryptic text message twenty years from now? Will you be able to retrieve it when today’s hardware becomes as antiquated as the 8-track tape? 

One glance at the top of my file cabinet reveals a collection of old floppies, hard disks, and even a tape reel. My not-so-distant electronic past is inaccessible, stored in a stack of obsolete technology.  Paper may yellow and ink may fade, but old letters are still legible after all these years.

And so, my young friends, this question seems particularly relevant as Valentine’s Day approaches.  What’s your verdict? Is the love letter dead?

First Publication

February 8, 2010

My first published story has just appeared in print.  “Growing Feathers” has been published in the February 2010 issue of Stories for Children Magazine

I first drafted this children’s story way back in 2005 in a writer’s workshop.  It’s been through many rewrites since then, as I learned more about writing craft (in general) and the children’s market (in particular).  I even tried it as a picture book manuscript once, before deciding that it was better suited to the children’s magazine market. 

You can read it here at the Stories for Children Magazine website during the month of February. Scroll down and click on “Growing Feathers.”  Be sure to check out the amazing artwork by Ginger Nielson.