Monday, May 24, 2010

Barataria Bay

Barataria Bay

It’s a surprise that hearing from a particular man has had such an effect on me. Nothing like this has happened during these quiet years and I don’t think I ever wondered if it would. Oh, I must have. I haven’t been dead after all. How like me to pretend, even here, that I haven’t minded about being alone. I’ve ridden awesome, foaming, reckless waves of minding. Soon enough, I’ve found my feet again. There’s been no time to flail. Until now.

There are black pelicans in the Louisiana wetlands. They don’t like to be handled, so their rescuers tie their beaks closed as they try to clean them. But I wish these wild birds could attack with their long, efficient beaks, so perfectly evolved to do what they want to do. The oil has taken, will continue to take, their birdhood. They hobble and die on the beaches of Barataria Bay . There is no stopping it now. No, I don’t think so. Don’t even want to listen to the men and women at the microphones. Today I have heavy arms and sluggish legs. Tomorrow will be worse.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Punched in the Heart

Punched in the Heart

Whoosh! Right there in the Target parking lot. Unlocked my car trunk and saw a plastic basket filled with clothes and a bag with toothpaste, lotion… stuff my dad used at the nursing home. My brother put them there over two months ago, on the day Dad died.

I haven’t opened my trunk in that long. Something, huh? My brother took over grocery shopping, because of my angina, and, well, I’ve barely needed my car, let alone had a reason to load it up. But yesterday I checked to see if my yoga mat was where I left it the last time I took classes, a couple of years ago. Because it’s about time I did something, you know? I have the time now, don’t I? Doesn’t matter when I leave the house. So, yoga. Why not?

And there was Dad’s stuff. Really, really his stuff. A favorite pair of brown sweatpants, an olive-green vest that one of us kids gave him. Warm, and rugged-looking, you know? That’s the kind of thing Dad liked to wear, even though he hadn’t hiked in the mountains for twenty years. Maybe thirty.

It’s true that knees get weak when you’re hit like that. Mine did.  That damn nursing home. I didn’t want him to die there! He was supposed to depart from home, like Mom did.

The stuff is still in the trunk. My brother will get it.

I took the yoga class this morning. Wasn’t sure I’d go through with it until I actually left the house. I was late, but I took it. Dad would be pleased. Hell, I’m pleased. That’s all right, then, I guess.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Novel Begins...

A Novel Begins

By Nonnie Augustine

She was washing the dishes in the sink, (you’re not going to start with a pronoun, are you? Give her a name, for God’s sake!)
Kate was washing dishes in the sink, (where the hell else is she going to wash dishes? In a creek?)
Kate was washing dishes (was washing-great! Now you’ve got a boring verb and a gerund.)
Kate washed dishes (so? How exciting can you get?)
Kate washed dishes and Zach (trendy name, there, but, okay) did his homework at the kitchen table (we know Kate’s in the kitchen, don’t we? And where else would a kid, big kid, little kid? do their homework but at a table? Oh, okay, he could be doing it at a computer. So, I guess you’re going with “poor” since the mom doesn’t have a dishwasher and he doesn’t have a computer. Or he’s young. Okay, but jazz it up fast, for Pete’s sake!)
Kate washed dishes while Zach did his second grade homework (sentence finally works, but where’s the jazz?)
Suddenly, (oh, God! An adverb, and the dreaded “suddenly” yet!)
The peace in the room was broken (no way are you going to use passive voice.)
A loud knock broke the peace in the room (one knock? Who knocks once?)
Loud knocking broke the peace in the room (no, don’t like peace in the room. It’s awkward and we’re writing about people here, not rooms.)
Loud knocking startled them both (both?)
Loud knoking startled them. (mispelled knocking.)
Loud knocking startled them and Kate (put Kate, and now's the time for a pronoun, in a new sentence-vary the sentence length and besides you’ve lost the peace thing. Are you going to use a whole new sentence to get it in? I don’t think you need to do that.)
Loud knocking shattered their peace. (think I like that better-maybe not.)
She dried her hands, patted her son’s shoulder, and slowly unlocked the door. (Okay. But they’re in a city, aren’t they? Why not put a bunch of locks on the door? Give it some setting, why don’t you?)
She dried her hands, patted her son’s shoulder, and slowly unlocked the door’s three locks (unlocked the locks?)
She dried her hands, patted her son’s shoulder, and slowly (watch your adverbs. You know you love them-they’ll be all over the place and puleeze stop re-writing the whole sentence. You’re just doing that to fill your “goal” time and you know it!)
undid the door’s three locks (of course the locks are on the door. Jeez!)
undid three locks (better.)
Two (you’ve got to decide what city, finally)
Miami (good. Know a lot about Florida. Miami? Not so much.)
police officers stood at the door (how about some tone, here? Wouldn’t Kate call them cops? Going to use third-limited, right? Or go with third omniscient? Oh, right. A novel. Change voices later maybe, for narrative.)
cops (plain clothes? Uniforms?)
uniformed cops (good-gets you out of explaining how she knew plain clothes guys were police)
stood at the door.(weak verb, and where else would they be?)
confronted her (thank God, a paragraph! Turn this damn thing off. It’s early, but go cook dinner. Revise later. Or delete. Not yet. Don’t delete it yet!)