I’ll Take Two of Everything

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I hadn’t planned on getting two degrees when I decided to go to community college for my Health Information Technology degree, but with the Allied Health classes being hard to get into, to make up for what I thought at the time was wasted time (time spent learning something worthwhile is never wasted), I started taking writing and literature classes so I would still qualify as a full-time student and be eligible for all the scholarships I had already applied for.

I hate to say that such classes boost my G.P.A., and it’s not that they’re easy, they’re just fun for me.  They require work, sometimes a lot of work, but it’s fun work.  I try not to inwardly roll my eyes when people talk about their 3.9999999 G.P.A.s when they majored in English or History, because I might have much closer to that if I hadn’t had to take Pathophysiology and harder math classes (okay, hard for me).

But maybe I’m just whining.

So would I go back and change my major if I could?  No, because I need job security, and the healthcare field is where it’s at, but the journey has taken a lot longer than I thought it would, and a lot longer than it should have.  I won’t say that I’m a professional college student (a la Diane Chambers), but rather, a lifelong learner.  (I will graduate no later than spring of next year, one healthcare class, of course, being the hold-up).

Life is funny in ways.  It was because I could only get into one class in my major one semester that I ended up taking Creative Writing.

It was because I was one credit hour short of being a full-time student (the medical internships/practicums being only two credit hours) that I ended up in the one-credit hour College Publications course, which turned out to be the The Corsair student newspaper class.

And taking those classes led me to taking other classes, some of which led to scholarship awards, which enabled me to take even more classes, so I was building toward an A.A. before I realized I wanted one.

So circumstance kept pulling me in a direction that I knew wasn’t the most profitable, but led to the richest experiences. I didn’t become something else, I became more me. It was a creating as much as it was an uncovering.  I could write, but I needed focus and polish, and my college experience has given that tremendous gift to me.

I am incredibly blessed.

*

When I took two maths this last semester, it made me realize that I had no desire to build onto my A.S., but an A.A. Life was too short to spend in the math lab (clocked in 80 hours last semester, btw).  I will never be a scientist or a mathematician, but simply, a writer.  Creative writing won’t pay the bills (at least not anytime soon), but technical writing will (or working for myself as a writing tutor).

Sure, women in STEM is a Thing now–it’s all about breaking glass ceilings, but I don’t care about breaking class ceilings, only my own records. That’s what makes me happy.  That’s what some women who broke glass ceilings fought for–for women to have a choice in what they wanted to do with their lives, and writing is what I want to do with mine.

*

This semester, I am preparing to be the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper (promoted from copy editor), as well as a student editor of the college’s annual literary journal, Hurricane Review (which I did last year).  I’ve been prepping stories and materials for the fall paper, as well coming up with posts for the Review’s Facebook page and designing the website (https://pschurricanereview.wordpress.com/).  It’s still in its infancy stages, but I’m hoping to learn some graphic design skills in the meantime.

I was reticent about becoming the EIC, but a part of me wanted to give back what I knew I could bring to it.  I really am Sarah Eagle-Eye when it comes to proofreading other people’s work, and, to a certain degree, my own.

What a way to end my community college journey, doing what I love.

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#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Temples made of sugar cubes, rag rugs out of old BYU T-shirts, & skirts of out of careworn missionary ties—that was the crafty Mormon life.

Caitlin worked on a tote made of gum wrappers for a contest she’d seen in Tween magazine, enlisting all her friends as chewers.

According to Leann, women were the homemakers because her dad didn’t see the value in anything he couldn’t eat, drink, wear, or watch.

Leann had a different flavor of the month when it came to the elders, though Kath would joke that they were all just different kinds of vanilla.

Elder Roberts had had a promise in me, yet he had given me up, giving me away to another man to take to wife.

The Sweeneys were pizza & paper plates; we were haute cuisine on china. The more time I spent away from my family, the less like them I became.

The angel Moroni—a prophet who hadn’t made it to the highest level of heaven—stood with his bugle atop every temple, issuing a clarion call to the worthy masses.

Leann was like a grown-up version of Caitlin, even as I saw in my mother, what I feared I would become.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #436: Comprehensive

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Assembly Line Blues

For a time,
they’d known how to put all the pieces together,
until it became more profitable for the Conglomerates
for them to know how to make only one piece.
Then came the day that none of them knew how to make anything,
for the robots did everything.
And so they built the robots–
until the robots were taught how to recreate their own kind.
And the Conglomerates owned the robots,
until the robots owned them,
turning them into what they had been,
even as these bots became what Pinocchio had always dreamed of becoming.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-436

Sweet Little Nothings

Ride with the top down

Bikini tops & flip flops
replaced bras & high heels.
It was the season for hair up
& windows down,
of ice cream melting,
crawfish steaming,
of long, lemonade days
& twilight walks;
of eating on back patios,
& drinking sweet tea on front porches.
It was gardenias releasing their perfume,
of honey suckling & berry picking,
& small, plump hands stained purple.
It was running barefoot in the backyard,
& laying below a spinning ceiling fan,
cutting through summer’s rhapsody.

Thinking of Mom on Mother’s Day

1987

My mom with me (I was about six here) and my brother, Kelly “Kel” Morgan. I never lacked for books, as you can see from the stack of Little Golden Books on the nightstand (Rota, Spain, 1987).

What would’ve been my mother’s sixty-fifth birthday passed on the twenty-third of April–a day when we would’ve gone to all the different Firehouse Subs and gotten (or haggled) for her free sandwich (I still remember her precise order and how she would flip her you-know-what if there was cheese on it because “they slop cheese on everything now”), with me buying a brownie or two so we wouldn’t look like greedy a-holes trolling for handouts.

Since then, I’ve been to her marker, now headstone, twice, my grandmother relieved that Ann was included on the stone (all the other military headstones we saw only included the middle initial).  Bernadean (my grandmother) was the only person who ever called my mom by her first and middle name (which is customary in some parts of the South): Betty Ann (as she was named her paternal aunts, Betty Lee and Carmen Ann).

Mom was so sick for so long (her stomach and back always given her trouble), it never occurred to me that she was dying–that all it would take was a slight thing to trigger a chain reaction that her body was defenseless to stave off.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” my dad still says, echoing my thoughts, echoing his previous words.  Isn’t it strange (and perhaps it’s own kind of wonderful) that wonderful things seem more real than terrible ones?

For good things have happened since “Grandma went bye-bye to Heaven” (as my daughter says), never doubting that they were meant to happen.

I wish (two words I find myself thinking more often) that I had more pictures of my mom and me in our later years, but, like the Bible says about a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving unto his wife, well, I guess the same goes for wives.  I became the adult in the family portraits, and my favorite subject to photograph became my daughter (still is).  I became one of those annoying moms I loathed who think everything their kid does is cute. (Okay, maybe not everything, but I love to share what is.)  I will never be a “Caroline Appleby” (Lucy Ricardo’s frenemy from I Love Lucy) about how adorable her “Stevie” is.

My mom wasn’t the type to open up to other women (I am too much the other way), so even though she wasn’t a Caroline Appleby, I always knew how she felt.

I was hesitant about sharing this eulogy I wrote and read at her visitation, but then, what is a eulogy but a type of poem?  I wanted to make this available for the family members who didn’t get to be there due to distance and circumstance, or for those who came later.

The post I published before was about her death–this is about her life, who she was, and still is, in what I think of as a “galaxy far, far away.”

(as read March 12, 2018)

I’ve always said that no one loves you like your mom loves you. I never understood that till I had a child of my own.

I remember when I knew I was going to have a girl, I put Hannah’s ultrasound picture in a book as a surprise. I remember Mom was as excited as if she was going to have the baby herself, and doubly excited that I was going to name her Hannah, for she’d always loved that name.

From that moment on, she started calling her Hannah Banana. Hannah eventually became Hannah B (for Hannah Beth). Mom was always so excited to see her. When Hannah got old enough to understand the concept of Grandma, the feeling was mutual.

But I know my mom loved me, too.

*

It was Mom who made my dad go into the room with me when I had to get a spinal tap for spinal meningitis because she couldn’t bear to see her child in pain.

It was Mom who showed me that a woman could have a career and a family, and still be a good mom. (Cooking skills not required.)

When I lived at home and didn’t come back when expected, it was Mom who would worry and drive around looking for me.

It was Mom who taught me to be observant, so she may have helped me save my own life and I never even knew it.

It was Mom who made my husband promise to take care of me.

It was Mom to whom I always first brought my stories—before they had the credence of publication or awards.

It was Mom who would give me rides every morning to work and pick me up when I didn’t have a car—sometimes when she was sick—because she had faith that I would be successful someday.

It was Mom who taught me how to have a sense of humor, and I understand, in times like these, how important it is to have one. I still laugh when I think of one of her “mom jokes”—funny only because they came from her.

It was Mom who told me that I could always come home, if needed—that there would always be a place for her children.

Mom always made sure her mom was taken care of, and I always figured the day would come when I would have to help take care of her.

I just wish I’d gotten that chance.

*

Just as Mom didn’t know how much I appreciated her—something we so often forget to tell people—I didn’t always know how proud she was of me, but a teacher of mine told me at an event I read at, that she could see how proud she was.

I just hope that Mom knows I’m proud of her, too.

*

Throughout her life, Mom did what the writing experts tell all storytellers to do—to show, and not tell. She did even better than that; she backed up everything she said.

She will be terribly missed, but that only proves how much she meant to all of us. She’s gone, but not lost to us forever.

Almost everything Mom taught me, I would never learn in a classroom, but isn’t that what moms are for? To give you the tools you’ll need for when they are gone?

So, thank you, Mom, for all of that, and everything else.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

At the age of 18, I was finally getting my driver’s license, when I had been content to tag along with David wherever he went.

Food Storage Inventory Exchange was like a cookie exchange, except instead of swapping cake balls for brownie bites, it was rice for beans.

I knew God didn’t care whether I could cook, bake, or sew, for He had given us each different talents, but in the Church, the fluidity of gender roles had frozen in retro time.

I’d accepted Mother just the way she was, even as she had accepted that though I loved her very much, I loved David more.

I’d been given the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism, but perhaps I hadn’t been worthy enough to unwrap it.

Had I a testimony, my heart would’ve been closed to Elder Roberts, & my heart would’ve been opened for another.

My mother’s home style was minimalist, her color, monochrome. It wasn’t till the Mormons came that our lives were infused with vintage color & became a sort of Pleasantville.

Leann & I worked on our sugar cube temple for Relief Society Enrichment Meeting, & I thought how much the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth resembled a glistening piece of Candyland.  A gingerbread house, without the warmth or frills.

Our fridge had never been cluttered with magnets holding up candid pictures or childish artwork or the hundreds of little notes that tiled Leann’s fridge.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #435: Reserved

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The Bookworm in the Big Apple Tree

Pippin Applegate’s reserve of library books numbered the stars
(the kind that danced on reality TV),
but she hadn’t the time to read them,
for though her textbooks didn’t outnumber that stack,
they outweighed it by twenty pounds,
and she,
by significantly more.

Those textbooks–
as dense as her aunt Bobbi Dean’s triple butter buttermilkfat 5-pound cake,
(and Aunt B.D. herself)–
made her feel just as weighted down,
like Mr. Jonathan McIntosh when he was sauced.

Once she’d learned what she needed to know for a semester
(rather than a lifetime),
she returned to a life of wine, men, and poetry,
and,
when she was feeling fat,
spent her sweet tea breaks noshing on the cake pop version of that pound cake,
to which her frenemies referred as “her daily dozen.”

Then came along Little Miss Honeycrisp,
demanding loads of dough from all who craved her,
making Pippin feel even more rotten,
for she–
a wannabe tart who’d been trying to pass as a Granny Smith
(the best for baking)–
was,
sadly,
more suited for mincemeat.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-435