words with friends as prompt

My cousin and I have been occasionally writing stories using the boards we create with our words with friends games.  This is a story written in the style of “the onion” (which won’t take my unsolicited manuscript according to their website…..such a bummer). If you want to try it and have your story posted, send it to me.  I’m happy to take unsolicited work.

Here are the words and the story follows:

An, Azine, Dazed, Ne, Oi, Crumby, Glum, Creel, Ego, Club, Bedded, Hardies, Hi, Meta, Ayin, Tag, Ti, An, Aa, Poots, Fools, Ska, Haven, Retro, Pox, To, Tort, Sox, Er, Sees, Heth, Haji, Wife, El, Liven, Hip, Qis, Quit, Sup, Ahi, Wet, She, aw

Study Shows that Poots End More Marriages Than Originally Thought

While many relationships may survive smelly sox, the crumby mess left by cracker eating spouses, and the wet spot, it has been determined by an international study of marriage that an abundance of poots may serve to end more than 50% of marriages.  The study, conducted by El Ne, an internationally acclaimed group of marital scientists, updated earlier statistics that said a mere 30% of marriages ended due to excessive pooting.

Said one wife, “my house smelled like the old creel my pa used for carrying his ahi home.  I couldn’t take it no more.  And it was even worse when he bedded me!” she continued, “he thinks he fools me with his moans but I heard the poots and smelled them even more.”

El Ne scientists studying the chemical nature of poots have determined that they are a meta-azine compound that often leaves the nearby non-pooter dazed and unable to focus.  One local Retro-Ska Club had to be closed down after a group of men who were celebrating a bachelor party arrived from a nearby chili feed.  Health department officials called to the scene put a red tag on the club until further notice.  When asked for comment the men had no understanding of the problem they’d caused and continued with the alphabet drinking game they were playing.  “Give me an ayin…AYIN…give me a heth…HETH.”  This writer does not have high hopes for the longevity of the groom’s marriage.

According to statistics provided, it is not always the man who brings this pox to the marriage.  Occasionally, and only very occasionally, it is the woman.  Because the female ego does not seem to celebrate the poot in the same way that the male ego does, this information was more difficult to obtain.  Said one husband who asked to remain anonymous, “Er, my home was meant to be a haven, but I had to quit it.  Oi.  I love my wife but I couldn’t bear to sup with her even.   I was forced to become a Haji so my wife wouldn’t know the real reason I stayed away so long.”  This sort of glum response was common among men.  All of the men interviewed were among the 50% who remained in their marriages, trying anything, including wrapping their wives hips in ti leaves to muffle the smell.

Scientists studying the problem have determined that meditation can mitigate the issue to a degree.  Managing qis through meditation will liven the digestive system and eliminate much of the ‘over’ pooting.  This allows for an ‘aa’ reaction rather than the typical ‘aw-wwwwww’ that leads to marital demise.  

Due to the frequent incidence of these marriages ending in civil court, many jurisdictions have enacted tort law to handle their disposition.  While the occurrence of pooting seems to be unintentional, some spouses are accusing their partners of negligent acts resulting from ingestion of inappropriate foods.  “Hi,” said one anonymous wronged woman, “he was downstairs in his basement building something and I could hear the hardies hit the anvil.  Then there was an explosion that shook the house.  I went downstairs to see to things and was knocked clean out by the smell.  When I came to he was standing over me smiling like he’d just accomplished a great act.  He was proud and I know’d he’d eaten those beans again.  I just cain’t take it anymore and I need out of this marriage.”

While the seriousness of this situation is undeniable, many court clerks are struggling to remain calm.  Particularly the male clerks, which only exacerbates the situation.


To grow dark, gloomy. It’s really a word. But it does sound like something my children made up. Like ‘snory’…a boring story (Benjamin’s word) or ‘lasterday’….anytime before now (Emily’s word). Your assignment for this labor day weekend is to use these words, all 3 of them, in a story, not a snory, and get it published. Anywhere. Here counts. I’ll publish it on my blog. Have a great weekend!

just a little brag

If you are interested, I’ve had a piece published on The Jewish Writing Project by Bruce Black.  It’s a wonderful site with writings about all things Jewish.  Check it out when you have a moment.

Thanks Bruce!

New Orleans….sigh….

New Orleans is a town that has a remarkable ability to capture your heart.  It did mine in a visit of only one week in April this year.  The same way that San Francisco announced itself to my heart as home two decades ago, New Orleans has also claimed me.

When I left New Orleans to board my flight back to San Francisco on April 17, I did as I always do:  stopped at a bookstore.  Gumbo Tales, by Sara Roahen, caught my eye and I’ve been reading it ever since.  If you know me, you’ll know that it never takes me two months to read a book that I’m enjoying.  But in this case, I read it slowly.  Very slowly.  And today I finished the last page.  I was tempted to read the entire bibliography as if it were prose so that the book would last longer.

But it’s over now, and I’ve had to leave New Orleans again.  Along with Sara, who left New Orleans at the end of her story to follow her husband.  With great regret, my connection to New Orleans is severed.

Then I read the back cover.  Sara and her husband moved back to New Orleans the year after they left.  Sara, who I don’t even know and will likely never know, is in New Orleans.  Somehow that makes me really happy.

Gumbo Tales, Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, by Sara Roahen.  It’s not just about the food, it’s actually only very little about the food but rather more about the table and the people around the table.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  I hope that one day I will have the chance to write about New Orleans.

a new torah friend

Sue Swartz is reading Torah and blogging as well.  She’s very well spoken and you can find her words at awkward offerings.  Sue is also listed to the right in my favorite places.  Tell her I sent you.

interfaith relationships

I’m going to write an essay about being in an interfaith marriage.  By making a public statement, to all three of you reading, I’m now committed.  There is a woman who is building an anthology and she needs essays by July 1.  I have two months.  So I’m writing an essay.  Feel free to be my cheerleader….

the Torah project

Jews all over the world read the same Torah portion every week all year long.  It takes one year to read the whole Torah (the 5 books of Moses).  The Torah is read on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays (Shabbat).

So I have a plan.  Not a vow because it’s not a good idea to make a vow.  Just a plan.  I’m going to read the Torah following this year’s cycle.  We’ve just begun the year 5770, and Simchat Torah marks the end of last year’s reading and the beginning of this year’s.  October 10, 2009/23 Tishrei, 5770.

There’s a reason for my plan.  I love being a Jew.  But sometimes I feel like I just don’t get it.  And the Torah is the center of the Jewish world, so that seems like a logical place to start.  I’ve read Genesis lots of times.  It’s a good story, easy to read, kind of crazy.  And I’ve seen Evan Almighty.  But it must be much more than a story, and I want to find out, if it is more than a story, what exactly it is.  And what it might mean to me, or how it might connect to me.

So I’ll read and I’ll write.  Not great drashes or deeply religious insight probably.  I hope this isn’t offensive, but I’m going to use the Torah as a writing prompt and see what comes of it.  Maybe I’ll learn something about being a Jew, or something about myself, or maybe something about life.  Or maybe nothing at all.  I’m certainly no bible scholar (duh) and not on the rabbinic path.  But I do love to read and I do love to write….

…and I just turned 50.  So this is my mid-life crisis.  Better than a little hottie with six pack abs and better than a shiny little sports car, right?

In Madagascar

I’ve been in mourning for 2 weeks, 3 days, 6 hours and 40 minutes.  I’m going to take a mini-vacation now.  I’ll be

In Madagascar

Early eve

She slid quietly into her slip

Gazed fondly through the sheer

At her bellybutton

Thoughtlessness gone

Now hearing the chirp of each cicada

In the pungent pre-night air.

I hope you enjoy my trip.

you dropped it

The writing prompt is “you dropped it“.  Now sit for ten minutes, use a timer, and see what comes up.  If you’re going to use the prompt, don’t read mine first.  It will be distracting.

This is what I got: 

You dropped it and it rolled across the floor. Living in an old house has its idiosyncrasies.  Things rarely stay in one place. At first you smiled. Then you began to giggle.  It hit the wall on the far side of the living room and bounced into the dog.  He jumped. And you laughed out loud mouth wide open teeth, if you’d had any, glistening, chest heaving snorting from your nose laughed.  Your laughter began my laughter until finally everyone in the house was laughing and snorting and pointing at the dog then jumping.  The dog just watched us.  He’s always been kind of a lazy keen observer watch before you act kind of dog.  So he watched for a while and then he twisted around behind himself and took the ball in his mouth and stretched himself up into a lazy kind of dog standing position then took several slow lumbering I’m not in any hurry kind of steps out of the living room through the dining room past the kitchen and out the back door. You stopped laughing.  You didn’t giggle.  Your lip began to tremble then shake then you wailed one of your big open mouth show your teeth (if you had any) tongue straining cries.  We all stopped laughing.  You threw your head back and cried to the birds in the trees and the clouds in the sky through the roof until there was no roof and everyone even God could hear your cry.  And finally the dog came lumbering slowly up the back steps one by one through the kitchen past the dining room into the living room and gently placed the slimy dog licked smarmy ball in your tight little fist and then we had.  Silence.

the list

This is today’s list:

  • take a shower
  • keep an eye on son’s temp
  • write
  • update blog
  • think about important stuff like what’s beyond pluto, the meaning of god, why prejudice exists, the middle east
  • write about important stuff

These are today’s accomplishments:

  • take shower
  • keep an eye on son’s temp

I keep trying to write but that leads me to laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, checking email, responding to emails that don’t require response.  It’s not a productive day.  And I’ve been reading such great stuff lately that makes me want to think about important things.  Check out the list of books on my bedside table.  “Finding God” is an amazing book about various Jewish intellectuals’ attempts to define who or what God might be.  Horrible title, though.  It’s off-topic and sounds like a self-help book title.

The phone rang.  Five minutes with a nice voice who was calling someone else.  When wrong numbers get in the way of my list, my day is doomed.  Best to just give in and get on with the stuff that’s not on my list that I’m going to do anyway. 

Tomorrow, when my son’s temp is normal and he goes back to school, I will write something important.

an easter bunny jew

I’m an easter bunny Jew. In my family we didn’t celebrate any of the Jewish holidays because Mom didn’t know what they were. We celebrated birthdays, christmas and easter. On christmas day Mom made chopped chicken livers and lox and cream cheese dip with tiny little bagels then we invited all of our friends over to visit. I realize now that a lot of our friends were Jewish too. On easter we looked for hidden chocolates and eggs that we’d decorated the day before.

We knew that we were Jewish because Mom told us that we were. Every so often she made latkes for dinner, just latkes, and I wonder now if that was at Hanukkah. I don’t remember if there was any consistency to the timing, I just remember loving that she had decided it was time. And we went to my grandmother’s house for Passover sometimes, but we didn’t know that it was Passover. I just couldn’t put butter on my meat. Mom never made spaghetti sauce, she made spaghetti gravy.  Jews make gravy. She made great noodle kugel. When one of us got sick, and sometimes even when we didn’t, she made the best chicken soup ever with carrots squashed with the back of a fork.

In our house we learned to talk about everything and argue about most things. We were allowed to have our own opinions especially if we’d thought enough about them to defend them. I remember asking my best friend one day, after she’d come home from catechism class, why she believed what was written in the bible. How did she even know who’d written the bible? I didn’t realize that was my torah study. Think and question. My best friend looked flustered and angry.

In second grade my sister asked me not to tell anyone that we were Jewish. It embarassed her. We didn’t know any Jews then. At least we didn’t know that we knew any Jews then. It wasn’t cool to be an “out” Jew. Now that I do know something about being a Jew I realize that we were very much Jews even then. We ate the food. We learned to question and wonder and debate. We just didn’t do the holidays or put a mezuzah on our doorpost.

The litmus test for me was always the Hitler question.  Would he have sent me to the gas chamber?  Then yes, I’m definitely a Jew. So I placed my fundamental knowledge of self in the hands of a psychopath.  Somehow I think that’s awfully Jewish. 

Mom never did Jewish stuff because her parents never did Jewish stuff. They were immigrants from Russia where it was dangerous in the late nineteenth century to do Jewish stuff. And my Dad didn’t do Jewish stuff because he grew up in a kosher household on a kosher dairy farm where he learned that being Jewish meant he couldn’t have a cheeseburger and he didn’t get any christmas presents.

I’m an easter bunny Jew who does the Jewish stuff.  We light shabbat candles, we eat a Passover seder, we sing the songs, we learn Hebrew.  We are part of a great Jewish community and a secular community where it is cool to be an “out” Jew. But I married a Catholic man, so I guess I’ll always be an easter bunny Jew.

goldenhills, an introduction

Mom used to read all the time. Now she occasionally reads the exit sign. Or part of the menu printed on the whiteboard next to the kitchen. She’s forgetting how to read. She’s forgetting how to walk. She’s forgetting how to feed herself. But she still looks at us with the love that is inside of her, at least some of the time. She takes my face in her hands and kisses my cheek. Sometimes. And other times she’s angry and she hits. She’s often loud. She’s more and less of the woman who raised me with saintly devotion.

She lives at Goldenhills now. She needs attention every moment of every day. They have taken us all in, not just Mom, into their family. Our new family grows and shrinks, grows and shrinks. Right now our family is the cowboy and the happy lady (they’re an item), the knitter, the moaner and the opinionated one (they’re an item too, even when his wife is visiting), the one with the big eyes, the bossy teacher/nurse (it depends on the moment), the kissing lady, the runner (they found her in the next town once), the fbi. The spicy one is gone. The conductor is gone. The man who wore his belt backwards is gone. The lady who walked and walked and walked is gone.

One day Mom will go too and I’ll have to deal with that final loss and the loss of my Goldenhills family. In the meantime it’s a very touching, a very funny family. They love me, even though they can’t remember my name. They tell me I should be a movie star. I’m sure each one of them would have wonderful stories to tell if they could remember them. But since they can’t, they create new stories every day. Every moment. They meet one another over and over. They have conversations using sounds that don’t make words and they smile and commiserate. They hug and kiss and they argue.

It’s just like life outside of Goldenhills but magnified and shrunk down all at the same time. It’s more and less of life before alzheimer’s. I like being there and when I’m not there I like thinking about being there and writing about being there. You may hear about it a lot if you choose to.

stop saying I

It’s late and very much time to turn out the lights, but all of your fabulous, and some not so fabulous (like I’m any sort of critic), blogs keep pulling me in.  But if you don’t mind, and maybe you will but that’s okay, can I gripe just a moment?  The blogs that bore are the ones that begin most sentences, and every paragraph anyway, with the word “I”.  Didn’t we all learn in high school english classes not to begin every sentence with “I”?  There’s nearly always a better way.

Gripe over. 

who are those people?

One of my many chores is going through all of the digital photos I’ve downloaded onto my computer, printing them and putting them in some sort of order.  Unfortunately my artistic talent doesn’t always translate into fabulous photos.  I’ve got some amazing foreground pictures with all kinds of weirdness in the background or off to the side of whatever I found interesting.  Very often I get a shot of people I don’t know taking up more of the frame than the ones I do know.  So what to do?  Toss them?  Oh no.  First of all, I toss very little.  It can all be used for something.  I might need it someday.  My favorite thing to do with those odd pictures is to make up stories about whatever I didn’t intend to take.

story writing exercise:  Find a photo or a picture in a magazine or on the internet that includes people that you don’t know.  Write their story….do they know each other?  are they friends or lovers?  enemies maybe?  will they meet?  is one of them a criminal?  are they brothers who’ve never met?  Write in enough detail so that your reader can see the people without ever seeing the photo.

write a birthday letter

I’m not one of those people who sends out birthday cards on time to everyone I care about.  It’s not an indication of my level of caring.  There have been times, lots of them, when I’ve tried to be that person.  I usually make it through about the third week of January.  Then the cards begin to arrive a week or two late.  Then I finally give up and stop sending them all together and just make a phone call.  I don’t think I’ve ever sent out a November birthday card, except to my niece who is a special exception.  And her card is usually late.

 I do have one friend, though, that I send a birthday letter.  We have been friends for many years.  Now we live in different countries.  Her birthday is New Year’s Eve.  I just began her letter today.  It usually takes me a few days to write the whole letter.  It’s long and juicy and does its best to lessen the miles between us.  This is the way she gets to meet my children and my husband.  This is the way she gets to see my home.  And in this incredible technical age, I handwrite this one letter.  It’s a sentimental thing.  This way she gets to touch the same page that I’ve touched.

letter writing exercise:  Choose someone you care about whose birthday is soon and write them a long letter.  You can stick it in a birthday card if you need to.  If this is a literary exercise for you, create two characters and have one of them write a birthday letter to the other.  Maybe two characters that you’ve written about before but in separate stories.  Check out rivertrout.com for some inspiring literary letters.

 I’d like to begin to post your exercises on my blog.  Feel free to send me your write.