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I  started this writing prompt a week ago but did not get the chance to finish it. Now, wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket fending off the freezing cold, I figured it’s time to get back at it.

I can tell you what I wasn’t thinking about Monday morning as I was sitting impatiently in my car, waiting for it to melt: writing. I can mention a few colorful words in between shivers that may have floated across my brain, but nothing I’d be comfortable putting down in writing. But now, safe and warm inside, I’m ready to write. Inspired by Marilyn Armstrong’s “Odd Ball Photo Challenge,” I’m going to take this cold, brutal winter and turn it into my muse. 


What is it about icicles that makes them so beautiful? It’s just frozen water–we don’t take the time to just stop and stare at or photograph ice cubes, but why are we inclined to do so with icicles? Is it the way they hang there, seemingly suspended in mid-air, dangling before us like naturally-occurring wind chimes? Or is it because they’re dangerous? Gaze long enough to appreciate their beauty, gaze too long and you’ll never gaze at anything again.

Winter isn’t beautiful because it’s picturesque, winter is beautiful because it’s deadly.

Time seems to stand still in the cold months. Stagnation settles in and there’s nothing but whistling wind to cut the eerie silence as the night creeps in early to take over the day. We grow tired, weary, exhausted from being tired and weary and hibernate from friends, family, obligations and life–awakened only by some form of tragedy. We rear our heads from our long winter’s nap only to say goodbye, never to start anew like the false promises of New Year’s bring. Funerals seem to happen more often in the cold months between fall and winter. Maybe it’s because black attracts the sun and no one wants to be sweating while they’re grieving–even God knows a thing or two about fashion faux-pas. We pile layer upon layer of black on ourselves and shiver through the tears. We impatiently wait for spring to bring with it the good news.

But why does that make winter beautiful?

Because of the temporal nature of the shortest season of the year, because it’s a constant reminder of how life is fleeting, because it’s the time of the year when you most often want to cry and give up, the stillness of the season is simultaneously frightening and comforting. To take the time to stop and survey the beauty around you can be the only calming thing the world has to offer–drink in those sheets of white covering every surface before they melt or deteriorate into gross mixes of earth and dirt and street debris. Appreciate everything as it’s frozen in time, because it won’t be for long.

Stare directly at those icicles hanging above you. They might kill you, but they’re reminding you that you’re still here, now.

SNL40

February 16, 2015

Tonight the only TV event I care about aired–the 40th Anniversary Saturday Night Live Special. Overall it was a fun tribute to the series. There were a lot of missteps and things wrong with it, sure, and there are and have been a lot of things behind-the-scenes wrong with SNL throughout it’s history.

But it’s a huge part of MY history.

For as long as I can remember, Saturday Night Live has been a staple of my life, and a constant source of happiness. There are skits that I distinctly remember watching in the early ’90s when they first aired and laughing my ass off at them, and laughing at them the same way when I see them in syndication. There are skits and episodes I only ever saw in syndication because they were way before my time, but I shared laughter with my family because they remember watching them in real time and cracking up at them. It’s a show that brings my family together and one that’s always been a source of comfort for me and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I recall purchasing the Best of Eddie Murphy special on VHS and forcing my family members to watch it at least once a day—thankfully, they didn’t seem to mind too much.

When Comedy Central started airing reruns I’d build my schedule around that and the reruns of Kids in the Hall. I would quote Wayne’s World ad-nauseum to whoever would listen. I was inspired by “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” and built joke websites with my friends based solely one series of funny and absurdist one-liners. I might not have been the most popular kid in school by any means—but I made my little group of friends laugh (or at least hoped I made my friends laugh)—and that was all that mattered to me.

At one point in my early teen years I got really into the history of the show and would carry around that huge, hardcover 25th anniversary book with me everywhere, reading passages from it like it was the Bible. I’d get weird looks from other students who thought the sight of anyone reading a book of that size not for school was weird, regardless of the subject matter. I devoured every bit of information about the show and the craft of sketch comedy and aspired to one day find myself in one of those SNL writers rooms—I even took a stand up class and entertained the idea of becoming a stand up comedienne. The show also taught me that women can be and most definitely are funny. From Gilda Radner to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jan Hooks, Julia Sweeney or Cheri Oteri, I found a woman I could relate to in some way that gave me hope that I could fill people’s lives with as much joy as they did to mine.

Sure, I’ve gotten cynical towards the show over the past few years. And, admittedly, I haven’t really watched it regularly for the better part of a decade, but the place it holds within my heart will always remain. Re-watching classic episodes non-stop this past week has been a blissful, cathartic affair. So many of those skits transport me back to my youth and not only make me laugh, but fill me with a sense of nostalgia and happiness. Watching again also make me realize that, deep down, being in that writers room is still a dream of mine. Maybe my dream is to get in a time machine and be a writer/cast member from the ’70s-’90s, but I’d settle for the former, too.

It might seem pathetic to babble on for this long about a TV show, but, I mean it, it’s truly more than just that to me. SNL and TV in general in many way has been both a best friend and therapist of sorts throughout my life—maybe that’s fucked up and wrong, but if it made me happy then who’s to say?

Thank you, Lorne Michaels. Thank you, Saturday Night Live, even if being a part of it is an unattainable dream, it’s given me a goal I never want to stop striving for—and that’s making people laugh and smile through my work. Here’s to 40 more years to come!

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

I promise I didn’t skip/forget a week of prompts! It’s just that the fiction prompt I chose to work on last week actually turned out to be a bigger undertaking than I had anticipated. Usually, I’ll post a piece even if it’s unfinished, but for that one I’d really like to flesh it out even more and see where it goes before I throw it up on the old ‘Press. So I’m continuing on with this week’s prompt instead. This time I chose poetry—which is pretty odd for me. I’ll come right out and say it: I hate poetry. Ok, that’s not entirely true; I just don’t consider myself to be the strongest “poet” or poetry writer. It’s a form I struggle with, and even if I sit down and write out an ok one, I’m still never “satisfied” with it. I mean, I’m usually never super satisfied with most things I write, but sometimes my blood just curls when I look back at poetry I’ve written. It always feels so forced and overly formulaic. And no matter what form or rules I follow, it just feels wrong if I don’t make it rhyme. So I figured I’d give myself a little challenge and try out this week’s poetry prompt. And the end result: I’m not too thrilled. Maybe I’m being too harsh because it’s poetry, but I feel like I really can never get the hang of it. Maybe it’s just this prompt, or the word and definitions I chose, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m still posting it because there’s always going to be not-so-awesome stuff: a truth that needs to be realized for any writer. And any writing exercise is good, even if it yields less than stellar results. So here’s my poem: I’m more than willing to accept any and all criticism—it will actually be more than appreciated!

…………………………………………

Choose any word from the dictionary and read its definitions. Write a poem using only the language of these definitions. Try repeating them in different combinations and using line breaks to create unexpected phrases. Experiment with how far you can push the limits of the language you’re working with. Use the word you’ve chosen as the title of the poem.

in·teg·u·ment

n.

1. A natural outer covering or coat, such as the skin of an animal or the membrane enclosing an organ.

2. Something that covers or encloses; especially : an enveloping layer (as a skin, membrane, or cuticle) of an organism or one of its parts.

3. The protective layer around an ovule that becomes the seed coat.

4. The outer protective layer or covering of an animal, such as skin or a cuticle.

……………………………

Integument

Skin is natural, enveloping animals and their kin,

Are we really more than breathing organisms?

Or just layers of membranes and skin,

Divided, cut, broken into different schisms

How different are we from seeds?

Our coats provide warmth from weather

What varies us from weeds?

Ovules protected by skin, cows enveloped in leather.

Kill the cuticle on the nail

Prick, prod, stab, cut, pull

Make them luscious, make them frail

Cut the leaves before they’re full.

Coat the skin, enclose the membrane

Cover the organism, the cuticle of its parts

Protective seed, surrounds the brain

Pistons, stamens, grunts, yelps and farts

We’re all fragments, mechanisms working in rhythm

Layers upon layers to peel away

What does it mean to be in a kingdom?

What difference does it make?