Lifeink

The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Writing Prompt March 22, 2010

Filed under: Journaling,Writing — ashleybarrett @ 11:04 am
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Hi everyone!

I’m still doing the Spring Cleaning Challenge at Nourishing Gourmet but for me, the challenge this week did not merit a post.

So here’s a new writing prompt. This prompt is somewhat adapted from From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write excellent fiction.

Take some brief anecdote from your life and write it the exact way you would narrate it to a friend. Let it sit for two weeks. Then pick it up again and try to make everything as concrete as possible, don’t name emotions, show them. Ruthlessly edit generalizations. Wait another two weeks, do it again.

Here’s my first-time results:

I didn’t learn to drive until I was 18 and I probably still wouldn’t have a driver’s license if  various members hadn’t taught/forced me to drive. One night in the summer, I was hanging out with a two of my cousins and a group of family friends around midnight, everyone decided that I needed a driving lesson and we went to the parking lot of a nearby middle school. My cousin, Amber* had her car, a Chevy Impala and her friend Lucy, had a blue Saturn. I started off with Amber in the Impala. She showed me stuff like how to change gears and how to put my foot on the pedals and stuff. I was puttering around the parking lot at about ten miles an hour, things were going pretty well, but I was still terrified. My other cousin Tim*, was driving Lucy’s Saturn. He was two years younger than me and had just gotten his license. He was showing off by driving circles around me, honking and flashing the lights.

Amber yelled at him out her window, “Stop it, jerkface, you’re scaring her!”

After a few more minutes of puttering, Amber thought I might do better if we switched cars, the Saturn was a lot smaller.

Riding in the Saturn felt much safer. The car was smaller and less powerful, so I felt less likely to crash into something. I could even accelerate to twenty miles an hour. After puttering around for a little bit Lucy said, “Ok let’s graduate from the parking lot. Turn onto this dirt road up here.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what she was talking about, but I turned onto what looked like a dirt road.

Suddenly, the car thudded and the front end dropped several inches. I thought Lucy was going to yell at me but she didn’t. Her and our other friend, Sarah just busted out laughing at the same time.

Kelly said, “Lesson Three: How to back out of a ditch.”

So I got out of the ditch and drove around a little more, I did eventually venture onto the road. As I was confidently circling the middle school, we passed Amber and Tim who were stopped and standing beside the Impala.

The Impala was stuck. It had been a long, wet summer and the car sat up to it’s bumper in mud.

At first we all cheerily tried to help. Some pushed from the back, others pulled from the front and visa versa. The mud was slick and thick. It sucked out shoes off our feet as we tried to push the car. Then we tried digging it out, it took forever and our moods turned sour. We were all covered in mud, except for Amber who wouldn’t help us dig because she had worn her flip-flops with the big red flower. I wasn’t allowed to help dig, my cousins said if I came home with filthy clothes my mom might not ever let me see my cousins again. So I stood by a tree and tried to boost morale by commenting on the irony of the two licensed drivers getting the car stuck. Few were amused and Tim threw mud at me.

We called multiple people for back up. Amber’s brother came with a pull chain but no one had a hitch on the back of their vehicle. Sarah went back to her parents house and got a van which had a hitch, but the Impala was in too deep. Finally, it was like two in the morning by now, Amber called her friend Chelsea who had a big yellow F150 and rescued the Impala.

We were relieved, but tired and dirty. Amber took her car to an automated car wash. One of the ones with the hoses and washed her car again and again. Underneath and everything. Tim and I were quiet while we helped her. Then we went back to the apartment and everyone cleaned up. Stephanie’s bathroom was filthy by the time we were done, but no one cared. We were all happy to be clean and dry and we fell asleep eating Cheez-It’s and watching infomercials.

*Names changed to protect the guilty, but you know who you are. 🙂

Your turn, feel free to share your early drafts and how they progress!

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Whatever happened to December?? December 17, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 10:37 pm
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If you’ve been avidly following my December journaling adventures (hah!), you may have noticed that they suddenly ceased. Well, there’s a reason for that. But I’m not telling. I will, however, provide you with the missing Day 5. 🙂

Dec. 5th

Practicing for the church Christmas musical today helped restore a little of my elusive Christmas spirit. Although “practice” may not be the right word for Josh, Cai, and I did: entered the stage when told, sat on a bench, and accepted gifts from the four wise men and women (didn’t know there were four, huh? Guess you’ll have to come see Bertrand Bible Church’s Christmas play on December 13 to hear the story!). Then we exited stage right. I think. No, it was our left, so stage left. Right? Good thing I’m not an actor, that always confused me. Cai had a blast crawling up and down the stage risers when he wasn’t sitting (not) quietly on my lap, and I think the whole musical will turn out great. Tim Blake always does an awesome job of writing and directing!

After practice and a quick emergency stop at Wal-mart to find a shirt to wear for family pictures later, I checked out Brandywine High school’s Christmas bazaar. Actually they called it a holiday bazaar, but that’s a personal pet peeve of mine. Although I didn’t find any Christmas gifts, I did connect with a couple area writers who are forming a Niles-area writer’s club! What perfect timing! God truly works in mysterious ways—I’m so glad I followed His prompting to go scope out the bazaar!

Due to my serendipitous meeting, we barely squeaked into our appointment at Picture People, which was absolutely swamped. Everybody and their mother-in-law came for family Christmas pictures today! Cai didn’t cooperate all that well—he either raced away the minute we posed him or wailed. I’m very impressed with our photographer, who still managed to capture some adorable shots. She has a very quick trigger finger.

And speaking of mothers-in-law, we met up with her and my sister-in-law after the photo shoot, and she helped with the monumental task of choosing just a couple of pictures from all the amazing ones. I dread that part. I just want them all! We had a great visit with them and Josh’s grandma that evening. Cai sure enjoyed all the attention! I wonder if he’s getting spoiled. When he doesn’t get his way, he screams and growls. Which, of course, everyone finds hilarious and laughs at him, which doesn’t really reinforce the “no.” Oh well. We’ve got time. Did I mention it’s his first Christmas? Nothing better for Christmas spirit than watching a child experience Christmas lights, trees, ornaments, Santa, Christmas cookies, and presents for the first time! I’m loving it!

 

December Dealings Day 11 December 11, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 8:45 pm
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Dec. 11th

After a very rough night with Cai and fighting with Josh to help out a little (he’s a different person at 2 a.m.), I decided that mommy needed a break. Fridays are Josh’s day off so I nursed Cai a little before noon and left him, sending up a little prayer that everyone and everything would be in one piece when I returned. I spent the afternoon at my mom’s working on the Christmas calendars. Picked up some ink at Wal-Mart and had my dad get the matte photo paper at Best Buy (evidently that’s too specialized for Wal-Mart to carry??). Mom and I even managed to slip in the Top Chef season finale!! It was remarkably peaceful. I went back to get Cai around 5, and amazingly, he had been fed, changed, put down for a nap, and seemed no worse for wear. The house, on the other hand… well, houses can be cleaned. It appeared that Josh had tried to build a play-yard of sorts to contain from all the available items in the living room.

Tonight I might stay with Cai at my parents, it’s so freezing cold and icky outside. I hate packing everything up and going home then trying to settle Cai down again to sleep. We’ll see. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished today – got the first mini calendar all printed. Tomorrow hopefully I’ll cut out the pages and assemble it. I dread the final step—adding physical embellishments—because it requires me to dive into the deep dark hole of my parents’ basement to find the supplies. Pray for my safe return…

 

December Days 9 and 10

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 8:11 pm
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Dec. 9th

Winter set in with an attitude today. I think we’d all become a bit complacent with our nice fall weather (remember that 8″ snow deficit in November?), and Winter had to remind us that we do, in fact, live in Michigan! Now it’s making up for lost time with extra nastiness. Fifty-mile-plus winds today, plus a few inches of snow and cold temps equals icy roads and a noisy mobile home. Cai and I took refuge from the things banging on our house and visited my parents. Real houses are much quieter. He’s still feeling icky, but hopefully is on the mend. Seemed a little better today than yesterday. Last night was very rough, he finally ended up in bed with me after mommy got tired of getting up and down. So neither of us slept well.

I just realized that we leave for Christmas traveling in a little over ONE WEEK!! EEEEK!! I’m trying to kick my calendar-gifts production into overdrive, which meant I got three pages done today. Woo-hoo. I figure I have at least 36 different pages to do, more if you count just switching out photos. Then go buy the paper and ink. Then print. Then embellish. Then assemble. Then wrap. Then stick on these cute little photo gift tags that Picture People gave us for free in the hopes we would buy more but we didn’t because we’re cheap and besides I won’t use more than 20 or so anyway.

I have a long ways to go. It would help if I’d ban myself from Facebook, but the problem with banning yourself is that it’s been historically proven to be a bad governmental model. If the same person is judge, jury, and executioner they’re not likely to pass or enforce the death penalty (read: no FB) on themselves. When’s the last time you read about some old-time king finding himself guilty of treason and ordering himself executed? Not in my history books. So, since it won’t work anyway there’s no point.

This week when you see me on Facebook give me a shout and tell me to get back to Christmas presents, because I don’t have the self-discipline to tell myself. 🙂

Dec. 10th

Today, for the first time in weeks I think, Cai and I stayed home all day. We didn’t shrivel  and die or turn into shy, maladjusted human beings from the lack of contact with other people. It was actually rather nice. We snuggled and played, and Cai napped (yay!). I finished several more calendar pages, and made sure to keep up on cleaning “maintenance.” Of course, we kept Christmas music playing! That is, when Cai wasn’t changing the station, turning the radio off, or switching to CD (he loves the stereo). Josh came home early from work, unfortunately, because they didn’t have enough to keep him busy. He finished sealing our door to keep out the bitter cold sub-zero-wind-chill temperatures, and braved the cold to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store for me. I need to embark on a serious grocery shopping excursion this week, but not sure the budget will allow me to. I hate money, especially around Christmas time. Such a spoilsport.

In case you’re curious about how the calendars are coming, here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages ready to be printed:

 

December Drama Days 6 and 7 December 7, 2009

Regurgitated directly from my brain for your reading … uh … pleasure. I hope.

Dec. 6th

After church and an amazing lunch at my mom’s (we’re all enjoying the fruits of her being home instead of working all day!), we spent the day with Josh’s family. I always enjoy that time, because they take over Cai and let me chill out with my computer or TV or whatever! “Nana” insists on feeding, changing, playing with, and cuddling him—which gives me a much-needed break! I wish they could see him more often, but once a week or every other week is the most we can afford to get down to Mishawaka. Gas is expensive. L

I spent most the afternoon shopping for and poring over Christmas calendar gift ideas. Everyone seemed to like them last year, but I don’t want to do the same exact thing (digital-scrap 4×6 size pages, insert into photo flip books, paper-scrap-decorate front cover). So I FINALLY settled on some cute CD and mini (smaller than 4×6) calendar templates. I had no clue how many options were out there! Wish I had time to design my own from scrap, but unfortunately using templates and choosing my own paper/embellies is as good as it’s gonna get this year. I mean, with a new baby, something’s gotta go, right? I still haven’t decided on a Christmas card. Too many options. I really don’t do well with an overabundance of choices. Entrepreneurs have oversaturated the market (any market) with waaaay too many options. Hazardous for decision-challenged shoppers like me!

Dec. 7th

Can it possibly be one whole week into December?! Where did the days go?? Oh yeah, I have a documented record of where they went, so no funny business possible. Today I furthered my Christmas spirit by playing Cat Country 99.9 (all-Christmas music all the time in December!) while madly cleaning. Finally eked out a place for stockings on the wall behind our midget tree. My immediate family never did the stocking thing, but my Lewis grandparents always hung a stocking for each grandchild, and it’s a family tradition to get a picture of all the kids in front of the “stocking wall” every Christmas. Over the years, there has been some discussion of changing walls, since we really don’t fit anymore. One line of grandkids has become about three rows! There’s now 12 “full-blooded” grandkids, but usually there’s extra every year—foreign exchange students, foster kids of my aunt’s, step-grandkids, boyfriends, etc. All that to say, I’ve always loved opening my stocking, stuffed full of fun and useful little goodies, candy, gum, and so on. So the Huegel household is going to open stockings this year :). A new tradition we’re going to start is writing letters to each other to stick in the stockings, which will hopefully become a sweet keepsake. Or that’s the plan. Maybe it’ll be really lame. But every great tradition must start sometime, right?

On a more depressing note, Cai fussed through most the day. I’m fairly impressed with how much I got done despite his rough day. Spent two hours trying to get him down for a nap, and still ended up letting him cry himself to sleep. Same story for bedtime. As I write this, it’s 10:27, and he just finally quit crying in his crib within the last few minutes. I put him to bed for the first time before 8pm.  We had been doing much better, so I suspect he’s not feeling well. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. It’s easier to feel sorry and “motherly” for him instead of irritated that way. Any mothers out there who’ve done the same thing? Maybe I’m just weird or something. Wait, I already knew that…

So anyone else out there making Christmas gifts? What are you making? Cookies, handmade cards, photo books, calendars, scarves, potholders? I need more ideas! 🙂

 

December, Day Four December 4, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 11:36 pm
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I’m not feeling very “merry and bright” today. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in December before. Journaling today helped to work through some of my feelings, but it’ll be a long time before the Phaeon-sized hole in my heart begins to heal. Read on for the whole story…

Dec 4th

December’s really not looking up. Today I made about 10 phone calls trying to clear up a tax matter, which was depressing enough (apparently sheds on leased land are taxed, which was news to me). Then my husband gets home from the store and delivers the news that my dog Phaeon died. He was hit by a car. The worst part is my little brother watched it happen, tried to get the lady’s attention—the jerk never even slowed down—and then he had to carry Phaeon back to the house. I am thankful that it appeared to be an instant death with no suffering.

But all day we’ve been (or at least I have been) dealing with the question, why now, God? Why him? Yes, Phaeon was annoying at times, and dealing with his allergies was expensive and frustrating. But we loved him! I’ll miss his warm body tucked in the chair with me, fighting a constant battle because he insisted on putting his head on my keyboard. I’ll miss the way he came running whenever someone ran the icemaker in the fridge, and how he loved to lay on the back of the chair like a cat and stare out the window. He loved me through living on my own and moving back home, through several boyfriends and finally finding the right guy, and he helped to welcome my son into the world. He never minded when Cai would pull his fur or poke little fingers in his ears.

Phaeon’s left a little hole in Christmas for us this year. He and Cadbury were in our Christmas card photo last year—he’s family. We buried him behind the pool at my parents’ house where we can visit him and know he’s nearby. It’s been a rough day. Most of my Christmas spirit blew away like so much dry snow when I petted my dog for the last time.

Have you ever lost a pet? This is the first time I’ve buried a dearly loved pet, and I never imagined it would be so hard. They are truly a part of the family, right?

 

December: Day One December 1, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 11:05 pm
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Ever wonder how the holidays seem to creep up then fly by? In an effort to pin them down and get my full month’s worth of Christmas spirit and enjoyment, I’m endeavoring to keep a December daily journal. The plan is to take pictures every day as well, and create a mini-scrapbook. Since this is Cai’s first Christmas, it should make a sweet keepsake for him to look at later! Plus then we’ll have solid proof that December is actually one full month long, not just two and half days of whirlwind relative visiting, present buying/wrapping/opening (sometimes all in the same day), and Christmas story reading. Why don’t you join me? Here’s my entry for day one:

Tussling with tinsel, lassoing lights, and arguing about ornaments: we sure know how to deck the halls in the Lewis/Huegel house! Although we picked out our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, it’s taken three more days to get the tree in the correct position (a large desk, chair, rolling cart, and several boxes of stuff had to be moved and an entire shed cleaned out first), one strand of lights hung, and four ornaments placed just-so.

I’ve also managed to string up some lights and garland between our living room and dining room, unpack and display a nativity set, two angels, a couple bunches of fake greenery, and several silver taper candles left over from our wedding. Despite our best efforts, it’s starting to look festive around here, if a little spotty. I even dusted! Sad that I can’t remember the last time I dusted certain shelves!

I was feeling pretty frustrated tonight with our lack of Christmas-decorating progress, until I turned on some Christmas music and remembered why we do all this crazy stuff—because Jesus came as a sweet baby boy to live among us and then gave his life for us. Kind of puts my pouty mood in its rightful place—out in the trash can with all the strands of dead Christmas lights!