Do You Have To Let it Linger?

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Word Sprints for Writer’s Block, With Apologies to the Cranberries

My word of the day is linger. This word was given to me by the good folks at RandomWordGenerator.com, a place I visit when I need to do a word-based workout.

Like running sprints or doing calisthenics, allowing the fates to give me a word then writing something around the 750-word mark is how I keep the literary muscles supple and smooth. (This as my post-holiday actual muscles are quite lumpy and stiff)

Today I was in the bath, where I do all my best thinking, and realized that I hadn’t written anything in days. And days. It’s fine, I have plenty of good reasons for this, but wanting to get back in the saddle and bereft of any really good ideas, I got out, dried off, and hit the random word site.


Screenshot from RandomWordGenerator.com

The rules of my game are: I have to take the word given to me, or in the parlance of golf (a game I know nothing about) I have to play it as it lays. No repeatedly hitting the “Generate Random Words” button to find a word I like. Nope. Get the word and get to work.

So linger it is. As in…don’t linger, get to writing. Boom, done.

Well not really.

The first thing I do is Google the word to see what’s what. Read a definition, see where the word shows up, find some sort of context or concepts around the word that provide a creative spark.

Of course, one of the top hits for linger was that angsty song from the Cranberries that was everywhere and all the time in 1993. A song I once liked but was ruined for me by a coworker who told me the story of her boyfriend standing outside the bathroom singing it loudly while she was doing a number two.

Do you have to let it linger? Well, when it comes to a poo, sorry, it can’t be helped. I can light a match?

Now I can’t think of that song without that memory. So let’s not linger on that to write about, eh?

Next I navigated my way over to Unsplash to see what they had to offer under the heading of linger. The pickings were, surprisingly, slim. Same with Pexels.

Pixabay didn’t have much that I thought fit my own interpretation of linger, but did offer up this very cool photo:


From Pixabay, and the license states no attribution required

I have no idea what’s going on there, but I have never seen a Zen stack made with ice, so there’s something new I learned as I lingered over the Pixabay site (a stretch there, stay with me).

Though as I look at the photo, I wonder why the photographer didn’t get behind the ice to try to get the low golden sun lighting up the slices. It’s a beautiful photo but I feel a missed opportunity.

Unsplash did offer up this one under the tag linger, which, uh…that’s not lingering. That’s walking very fast.


Photo by Chiến Phạm on Unsplash

Lovely photo, nice composition, just not my idea of a good ol’ fashioned linger. So that’s irksome.

Back to the Google, this time I navigate to Wikipedia and try my luck. It’s there I learned that there is a city in Luxembourg named Linger. The population of 577 means the Wiki entry is quite brief, in fact just a stub. So I had to linger over this idea for a moment.

I’ve always really loved towns with weird names like Hell, Michigan or Sandwich, Massachusetts. I mean, I could write a whole story on the weird town names in New Mexico, where I grew up. Actually, that’s not a bad idea, I think I will tuck that story idea away.

See, lingering over Linger, Luxembourg got the ol’ juices flowing.

This random word thing is an almost no-fail writing exercise for me. There are plenty of things that the word linger can introduce into the post-bath, post-holiday brain.

Granted, linger is a pretty good word, lots of ways to go with that. I do occasionally get words that are clunkers and try to make the best of them.

Well, if you have made it this far, I thank you for reading through my writing exercise to ease my writer’s block. Maybe this is helpful in some way? Perhaps if you also have writer’s block, you will stumble across this lingering little story and linger over your own ideas, hit the random word generator and then linger over some fresh, piping hot ideas of your own.

I’ll have you know that the word “own” was word 758.

See? Knocking out 750 words is just as easy, or rather just as difficult, as that.

The Gift of the White Elephant

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The Holiday Game that Highlights the Best and the Worst

 

Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash, and slightly modified by the author

“Okay, everybody take a number!” she chirps while walking around the room holding a small jute bag containing blue slips of paper with numbers ranging from 1 to 25 written in black Sharpie marker.

25 slips. 25 people. 25 gifts that range from boring, to gag, to “oh that’s sort of nice.”

I draw my folded slip and put it in my pocket. I’m in the middle of telling some nonsense story that gets a laugh from my coworkers, spinning a yarn in between sips of good red wine.

It’s the annual holiday party. It’s the boss of my boss. We are at her house and enjoying catered appetizers. Two weeks ago we were commanded to attend and to bring a $15 gift. Pay for play. “Remember, $15 is a ceiling and not a floor!”

The White Elephant is among us.

Some people love the White Elephant. Some people loathe the White Elephant. One thing is for sure, there are no set rules for playing the White Elephant’s dangerous game.

How many steals, how many rounds, what value, and what is proper etiquette depends on who is running the game. The Ring Master controls the Elephant.

My favorite annual White Elephant game is played with a group of salty network engineers. Instead of using slips of paper with numbers, they use two decks of playing cards. It lends a little gambler’s air to the proceedings.

Today it is slips of paper and when my story is told and the laughs die down, I head to the kitchen to refill my cup. Only then, alone with bottle and corkscrew, I allow myself a peek at the blue slip in my pocket.

I groan. There on a background of robin’s egg blue is the number I least wanted to see. A single dark slash on a pristine paper background.

My number is 1.

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

(I’d have shown you a photo of the actual slip if I hadn’t washed it in the pocket of my jeans in the weekend’s laundry run.)

I have been chosen to start the game. Fate has determined that I select the first gift. How the game opens sets the tone for the entire White Elephant event, and that responsibility now lies with me.

I nervously gulp red wine from the plastic cup, tannins bitter on my dry tongue.

I recalled a day several years ago when I — a confused, jet lagged, and nervous American — rode a busy commuter train between Reading, UK and London. No seats available, I stood in the packed rail car near one of two doors. At each train stop the other door provided egress onto the platform, so I felt safe by the door across the aisle.

But as the train slowed, making its approach and then stop into Paddington Station, a train car filled with intense British commuters turned to look at me. I was unprepared for my moment, which demanded that I quickly and without delay lower the window, reach outside, turn the handle to open the door and usher these good people on their way.

It was a terrifying yet exhilarating event. I’m glad to say that day in London I executed the door as well as any foreign traveler could be expected to.

I drew from that memory to find my confidence on a rainy holiday evening in Northern California. My coworkers now turned to me to open the door to a successful White Elephant gift exchange.

I doubted myself in that moment just as I had doubted myself in Paddington Station. I knew I needed to stay grounded. I needed to visualize my way through the process. I needed to control the speed of the game.

And I needed to smile genially and do my best.

When the time was right and all were seated around the tree, my number was called. I raised my hand, saying “right here” and the crowd roared “oooooooooooh! Karen has number one! This should be good.”

I slugged back the last of my cup of wine and allowed the game’s host to refill it with champagne. The bubbles were too festive for such a solemn task, and I carefully set the newly full cup down on a coaster and stepped up to the tree.

Its genuine pine boughs welcomed me under its skirts. Salt and flour dough ornaments with a child’s paint job gave me a true horizon to focus on while I got my sea legs. I paced the half circle around the tree, side to side, like a caged panther scanning my holiday wrapped prey.

“Let’s see, what present looks good?” I said aloud, encouraging suggestions from the audience in the style of Price is Right.

Finally, when I felt I’d eyeballed every present under the tree, I made my selection. A long narrow box tightly wrapped in red and gold paper. It was crisp, clean, and inviting.

Quickly I skinned the paper from the gift and found an Amazon box. Cue a round of jokes about “Does anyone shop in the stores anymore?” and “Why would we? Amazon has everything!”

I pulled at the clear packing tape sealing the box and with no small amount of trepidation parted the flaps and peered inside. Would a pearl lay inside the cardboard oyster? Or only rotten sand?

My eyes landed on the treasure that lay within and my shoulders fell. Hope died when I saw clearly the item that began our game of chance.

I withdrew it from the box and said:

“I believe I have found the gift that will be coming home with me.”

With left hand firmly on hip, I took a solid stance and raised my right hand high above my head in the style of Lady Liberty, then announced to the overhyped crowd:

“It is a Donald Trump toilet brush.”

The crowd roared and the White Elephant smiled, for it was the perfect holiday gag gift.

“And with that,” I say,

“We are game on.”

 

 

Well Knock Me Over

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I’ve been a San Francisco Giants baseball fan for a long time.

And in my many years, I’ve learned this: Nothing is ever easy with this team.

Nothing.

My gut was in a clinch all day as my Giants faced a Game 5, do or die, win or go home game against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series.

When Buster Posey hit a grand slam in the 5th inning against the very tough Mat Latos I jumped up and down in my office and clapped and shouted and whooped and hollered.

Then I remembered that I sit next door to the Vice President and he was on a con call being all VP-ish and important at that same moment.

I later apologized to him and he grinned. “You must have been listening to the radio because I was watching online and I heard you celebrating about five seconds ahead of seeing it online. You only get away with that for the Giants!”

Rock on.

In the nail tearing bottom of the 9th my boss was in my office drawing something Very Important on my marker board and I was trying desperately to pay attention and answer his questions while checking my phone every two seconds and…good lord how long was that at bat with Romo pitching and Bruce at the plate…? And all the while The Good Man is sending me texts and my boss is blah blah blahing because he’s a damn European and what does he care?

I reminded The Boss that I had to endure the Euro 2012 football championships while I was in the UK in June and he could bloody well deal with this today. Seeing his boss (the VP next door) running into my office shouting “THEY WON THEY WON!” certainly helped pipe him down.

This was a tough day at work because of work stuff. This was a stressful day at work because of those damn Giants and their special brand of delicious torture.

And then I saw an image online from today’s game that just perfectly summed up how it all makes me feel.

A little blown back by it all, really.




Just a leeeeetle inside for Pablo Sandoval. Photo by Michael Macor for The Chronicle



Image by Michael Macor for The Chronicle and published in SFGate.



The Opposite End of the Spectrum

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Yesterday I wrote about my mind bending, artifying, very inspiring trip to the museum. To prove I’m no snobby snobberson, let me tell you about the other thing I did this weekend.

Roller Derby.

Yeah. I know! Roller Derby!!

To be precise, I took in an event featuring the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls, a flat track league comprised of five teams.

On this night, the match was the San Francisco ShEvil Dead versus the Berkeley Resistance.

The event went down at the Herbst Pavilion at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Tamales were served.

It was AWESOME!

Of course I toted along my camera gear so I could catch all the action.

Indoors, crap florescent light, and people moving very fast.

My exposure triangle collapsed under its own weight.

I don’t know much about derby, but what I know is this: there is one lady designated as the jammer. She is the only one who can put points on the board. Her goal is to lap the opposing team. Her teammates assist by keeping the opposing team from blocking her progress and they also help try to hold back the opposing jammer.

It’s a lot of knees and elbows and flying females.

In other words: AWESOME!

You know who the jammer is by the star on her helmet.

Like this:





The jammer for San Francisco goes by the name Trixie Pixie. She must be about 90 pounds soaking wet. There would be a big clump of women duking it out, and then *boop* Trixie would pop out from the mass and go flying around the track.

By the end of the night she was my favorite player by far as the ShEvil Dead soundly beat the Resistance.

I came home with about 150 pretty useless photos. That blurry, noisy, streaky photo above is among the best of what I could get.

It may not look like much to you, but to me it’s a happy reminder of AWESOME!



$2 and a Moment

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Yeah, ok. I caved to the masses.

I’m quite suggestible you know.

I come from a family that enjoys trips to Vegas and the occasional Indian casino. My family loves to gamble (responsibly) and I do too.

So today I threw two one dollar bills into the toilet and bought Mega Millions tickets.

Every news outlet, radio talk show, and coworker is talking about the half billion potential payoff.

Yesterday on All Things Considered, they had some whiz bang mathematician guy who chastised all of us in describing the impossible odds.

I think that’s when I decided to throw my hard won dollars in the ring.

I know the odds are ridiculous. I know it’s a waste of money. I know, I know.

But for a moment, a little moment, it’s fun to think about what if?

I think the concept of what if is a powerful one.

There are those in the ranks of woo-woo and esoteric who would say that what if is a good thing. It’s an order placed to the universe.

I think what if gives you a chance to see what you can accomplish.

When you pull out a road map, you look at where you are today. You look at where you want to go (what if) and then you map the highways, byways and dirt roads that it will take to get there.

Do you get lost sometimes? Sure.

Take a wrong road because it looks interesting? Of course.

Run out of gas? Absolutely.

And then, sometimes, with a little luck and a little diligence, you arrive at your destination.

So for me, the what if daydreaming is simply me being the cartographer of my life.

What if’ing about half a billion dollars might be ridiculous to some. To me, it’s a nice way to end a crazy busy day at work. My mind is too tired to parse this spreadsheet in front of me. Instead I’ll gaze out the window and daydream. For just a few moments.

And then, because it’s the last work day of the month, I’ll collect my regular paycheck, pay my rent and then go home to The Good Man (my odds of finding him were pretty sparse too, but I must have drawn that map pretty gosh darn well).

So ok. That’s worth at least $2





This week’s Theme Thursday is: moment.