The Grammar Girl Returns

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Today is the day I start my Baccalaureate program as a Creative Writing major.  I was fortunate to be able to take two months off from work to read, write, and spend time with my family; I even got to catch up with friends.  I got back into the habit of strength training (as weightlifting doesn’t sound very feminine) and took up water aerobics; I’ve also focused on updating all my online presences (including my portfolio), professionalizing them for potential employers as well as uploading my resumes to all the usual suspects (e.g. Indeed, Glassdoor, etc.).  The university I am attending also provided invaluable feedback on my resume and cover letters.  

After refreshing my Upwork account, I was hired as an independent contractor to proofread documents submitted by Grammarly clients.  Even though I work from home, the job has a very Silicon Valley startup feel, which I love.  I am learning so much already; it’s a great gig.  Though there is nothing quite like being able to set your own hours, walk into the next room to go to work, and never answer a telephone, I will always be the type of person who has to have an outside job where I communicate face-to-face.  I’m a people person who also happens to be an introvert.

In addition to my jobs as an office assistant at uni and as a professional writing tutor, my plate will be full, but it will be full of things I enjoy, and that makes all the difference.  

Writerly and Grammarly,
Sarah Richards, Class of 2022

She’d graduated a Titan
before The New Millennium,
watching her training grounds
as a gladiator
in the public school arena
disappear.
Loosely prepared
to become a Pirate,
she laid down
her educational armor,
only to pick it up again
with eyes wide open,
diving head first
into the land of magnolias,
with their spinach green leaves
& mascarpone white petals.
Now, well-prepared
to become an Argonaut,
her armor fortified
with precious mettle,
she dove once more,
under graying canopies
of Spanish moss.
As a Titan,
she had brought home
the bronze medallion;
as a Pirate,
the silver chest;
but as an Argonaut,
she would put upon herself
the Golden Fleece
& battle with her wits
that had no end.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #475: By (mode of transportation)

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By Car:  Before We Loved Lucy

Before we loved Lucy, we loved Lila—
a 1992 Cadillac DeVille, owned only by the aging Poppies.

Lila was our first car together—$500 and pristine as the sugar white sands
of the Emerald Coast
with red-leather seats and curves of shiny chrome.

She took us to Heaven and back—
Heaven being the surf and sound sides of Pensacola Beach.

We never pierced her with cigarette ashes or tattooed her with bumper stickers,
however strategically placed.

Come morning, her top would be sprinkled with the crepe myrtle
and moist with the dew.
Lila’s character became more dear with every ding and scratch,
the chip in her windshield like the dimple of Shirley Temple.
Sometimes her perfume was Chick-Fil-A;
at others, the darkest roast at Starbucks.

She was there when we found our first home
and when I went back to school.
She was our shelter from the summer thunderstorms,
our cool respite from the oppressive, breathtaking humidity,
and the hearth that kept us warm during the icy, snowless cold of Southern winters.

She was our metal parasol from the golden globe that warped our milk chocolate bars
like the timepieces in Dalí’s, The Persistence of Memory.

She brought us home from our simple little wedding,
her rearshield saying “Just Married” in soapy, green paint,
and carried us away to our honeymoon at home, for home was Paradise.

She shuttled me to the hospital when, after a jalapeno burger with Cajun fries at Five Guys,
I went into labor and gave birth to our baby girl—our Hannah Banana Beth.
She was there to pick me up,
cradling our newborn like a porcelain doll.

The interior panel lights with her emblem were like the tusks of elephants
and added to her beauty;
her functionality was in her large trunk where we often packed fried chicken and potato salad
and glass bottles of RC Cola on ice.

She was the vessel who sailed me over the Three Mile Bridge
to the sparkling town of Gulf Breeze
where I would meet up with my WriteOn! Pensacola group—
a scenic drive during which I would listen to the local radio host
who was like a friend I had yet to meet,
the windows down, tangling my hair.

For my birthdays, she brought me to the boardwalk at the Cactus Flower Café;
for Christmas, she bore gifts only she was large enough to hold.

Like a priest, she heard all our arguments and make-ups and worries about the future.
She knew what we ate, the kind of music we liked, the things that made us happy or sad.

She was independence and the first car I owned who completely belonged to me.

She passed from her second life as an auto,
donating her organs to the local junkyard to be recycled,
though we still have photos of her and some of her jewelry in a shadowbox above our mantel.

Though we’ve moved on in different directions,
we, with another addition to our family and she, with a repurposing of her life,
we will never forget you, Lila, for you were our first.

Love, The Richards family, circa 2014

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https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-475

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

The vapor from my breath in the chill air was like a ghost, haunting the space between us.

When I met Mrs. Hobson, I saw in her the kind of mother I had never known yet yearned for deep inside. She was ordinary in an extraordinary way.

When Elders Roberts & Johnson were transferred out, our friendship with the missionaries ceased. Dinner appointments were no more.

Sister Wiley was the elders’ new “missionary mom,” even as Mother became the mother to us she had never been.

It was a curious feeling, knowing we had interrupted something we could not have possibly understood, for the people involved were all wrong.

The elders called themselves “The Stripling Warriors,” we were “The People of Ammon.” “The Crusaders for Christ” was but one voice in the wilderness.

Sister Wiley was the celestial body which the elders of the Green Haven & Pensacola wards revolved around—a thin, aging Ursula Andress.

Sister Wiley was the Mormon Mrs. Robinson, & under her tutelage, confused elders had become confused no more.

I murmured that I was going to tell the Bishop, even though I knew he would never believe me, for I feared he loved her, too.

I knew it not then, but beyond the scope of my understanding, there were things going on that would undo me & the life I was beginning to know.

Drawing from the well

Last night, I was honored to participate in a release party/poetry reading for the “Life in Your Time” edition of The Emerald Coast Review.

The poem I’d entered, I’d written for a rhymezone.com poetry contest on the theme of “Community.”  The original title of my narrative was “The Emerald Coast Community,” but I changed it to “Pensacola, 2016,” for this publication.  Ironically, the one piece I didn’t specifically write for “Emerald” was the one piece that was accepted.

I’ve learned that just because a piece is rejected, that doesn’t mean it won’t find a home.  (Just make sure to re-edit it after every rejection.)

I’ve become comfortable reading my poetry in front of people–we all seem to be accepting of one another and are probably more nervous than we let on.  I was blessed to have my support system–my husband, daughter (okay, she’s four and had to come), parents, and grandmother.  One of the women who is in our WriteOn! Pensacola group was there with her husband, so it was great to see someone I knew.

One thing I learned:  If there’s a microphone, use it!  The book should not have to serve as closed captions unless you are deaf.

We arrived early (catching a glimpse of an albino squirrel) and found out that security had been ordered, as there’s some burly guy in town who shows up at events and crashes them with his “preaching” (as the policeman put it).  I was already thinking that the subject of my next short story was going to show up, but I got a blog post instead.

As a writer, no experience is ever wasted.  I draw from the well that is my life in this time, in this locale, every day; I like to say that I’m an alchemist who mixes fact with fiction, so that each person who reads my words sifts out their own truths.

I have to say, Pensacola gave me the material I needed to bag this one.

~~~

I’ve lived in this town for thirty years, and written about it from many perspectives.  I believe that’s a gift writers have–we can see the same thing in many ways.  I see the beauty of Pensacola, as well as the ugliness, for it’s as extreme as its weather (which range from freezing cold to boiling hot), along with its rednecks and “country club Republicans,” its plethora of churches and homeless.

So I’ve immortalized Pensacola–this city “not quite confidential” several times.  Here are a few:

Our (Quirky) Town:  https://sarahleastories.com/2017/06/15/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-397-land-of-blank/

Do as the Pensacolians do:  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/11/23/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-23-theme-when-blank/

Haunted Pensacola:  https://sarahleastories.com/2017/07/01/saturday-evening-post-honorable-mention/

Local flavor:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/04/10/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-9-theme-work/

My “hit piece” (for which one local writer “questioned my mental health”):  https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/19/daily-prompt-west-end-girls-2/

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#Micropoetry Monday: Nature

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Spring was the baby that grew up green,
Summer, the girl that burned blue,
Autumn, the lady of Calico,
& Winter, the snowy governess
of the spring babe.

Rosemary was a spring chicken,
Dill, a summer squash.
Thyme was a winter memory,
& Basil, a Beat Poet,
falling from the womb
too late.

There was something for everyone—
majestic blue mountains,
beaches of white or brown sugar sand,
the painted deserts of Madeline O’Keefe,
wide open spaces of Andrew Wyeth,
for it was a nation of immigrants–
all of whom could all find a piece
of what they’d left behind.

The stars were like white diamonds,
the water, a liquefied jewel,
the sand, infinitesimal crystal balls,
for in each,
was a world.

She was not homeless,
for her home was Planet Earth.
The clover grass was her bed,
a stone,
like Jacob’s,
her pillow,
the brook,
a cleansing bath.
The moonshine was her lullaby,
the sunshine,
a gentle nudge to wakefulness.
It was a home without walls,
& a ceiling without end.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #401: Repair

Holes

For what is broken
can be mended,
but what is shattered,
would be like trying to gather
all the tar balls from Pensacola Bay;
with cracks,
a pitcher can hold,
with stitches,
a garment can hold together,
but with pieces missing,
too much is revealed,
for the water sloshes,
spilling out what was left
that was still good.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 401

Saturday Evening Post: Honorable Mention

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So I just entered The Saturday Evening Post’s “Great American Short Story” contest, and read on their site that as long as a story was only published on a personal blog, it would qualify for submission.  That led me to inquire if it would be permissible for me to post my story that placed as an Honorable Mention in their contest two years ago (and published in their digital anthology); they said that was fine (and also appreciated the mention).

My short story was based on a cold case (literally and figuratively) of a grave-robber who haunted Pensacola, Florida, in the Fifties.  It’s a mystery that spans generations and ends up answering the question, “Whodunit?”

I just posted the first several lines, and included the story in its entirety as a PDF for those interested in reading the whole thing.

The Ghoul of Whitmire Cemetery

“Grandma,” Ellie Dolan said, holding the birdlike, bluish-white hand of the woman who had raised her after her mother’s passing.  “I have wonderful news.  Mr. Trune loved the stories I sent him, and he’s going to give me my own space.  He really dug the idea of a cold case column.”

She had expected her grandmother to look pleased, but she only looked troubled.

The Ghoul of Whitmire Cemetery