Rediscovered

Prompt: Grow Up


Dear Wednesday,

No one grows up voluntarily.

Most of us are dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood— we resist and rebel, until we discover that it’s probably in our best interest to behave in a way that doesn’t completely alienate us, since we need jobs and roofs and sandwiches and fleece jackets and someone to warm our bed.

We learn to like power in whatever form we can wield it, the breathlessness of intimacy, and the indescribable joy when a challenge is met and overcome. We learn the contentment of ceding to biology and brushing our hair until it shines, throwing our body over our child to protect it, and lusting with purpose and deliberation.

Our young selves never disappear though, do they? They hang around inside us like a dinner guest that has outstayed their welcome, maybe wanting one more coffee or a glass of wine and another piece of cake. Needy, sometimes. Reckless, other times. And sometimes, our inner young self is the guest who brings up that humiliating moment we’d rather stayed hidden and suppressed.

While our young inner self lives in hope of having long unfulfilled needs met, our adult self lives in hope that everything will make sense someday; that insight slowly creeping into our consciousness like liquid spilling through floorboards, that the purpose of life is not success, children, power, love, god— but to somehow, sometime, make sense of it all.

Related to the theme of growing up, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons?

cartoon good or slut

cartoon spoil presidency

cartoon rediscovered


Love, peace and bon temps,

~~FP

One More

Prompt: Toys

cartoonj-b-handelsman-toy-store-is-called-childcrap-new-yorker-cartoon_a-l-9181666-8419447

Hello Wednesday,

There was a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine a while back showing bunches of parents with children flooding into a big store called “Childcrap”. If you’ve ever been to those big box toy stores, or even the big toy department of any shop then you know how accurate that captionless cartoon is. Plastic everything, the worst of the Made in Chinas, gaudy colours, cheap and disposable trendy doodads.

But we adults are no less susceptible to crap toys. Our digital picture frames, our Instant Pots, our mp3 players, our golf club mitts, our milk foamers, our Moroccan hash pipes, our battery-powered thingamajigs, our air fryers, our expensive sneakers, our $50 corkscrews… bits and bobs that are fun but mysteriously transient. Every summer at our house we bring out a chips and salsa platter that plays the Mexican Hat Dance every time someone dips a tortilla chip. Well, maybe the latter example is less crap than a valuable family heirloom. Yeah, that.

In any case, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons relating to today’s casual prompt, “toys”?

cartoon two-cowboys-sitting-outside-a-saloon-with-remote-controls-watch-toy-robot-new-yorker-cartoon_u-l-pgrzy10

cartoon tom-cheney-so-many-toys-so-little-unstructured-time-new-yorker-cartoon_u-l-pgspqy0 2

cartoon paul-noth-a-bobbing-duck-toy-is-dipping-its-beak-into-a-glass-of-water-new-yorker-cartoon


Peace, love, and “adult” toys,

~~FP

Think of the Ways [Repost]

Prompt: School

child poster pollution

Yes, children: Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.

Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Taught to fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.

Why so much pressure on the kids, when the greater reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who enable and bless them?

Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.

But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.

Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.

Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.


Original Prompt: Atmospheric, November 18, 2017

Fairy Tale Ending [Repost]

ice cream sprinkles

We sat on the sunporch, though it was after midnight. They usually didn’t arrive until after two am, but it was impossible to rest, knowing they were coming. So we didn’t rest. We gathered in skimpy clothing, because it was so very hot overnight. The men were bare chested, shiny with sweat and the women wore tank tops glued by the heat to their bodies.

We played Yahtzee. It was the only game that did not incite physical fights. It was the perfect blend of luck and skill… you could not justifiably kill a person because of the random numbers on the dice.

The children ate ice cream in the kitchen. We didn’t force them to bed at the children’s time because it could be their last hour, too. They had sprinkles to put on their ice cream, if they wanted, and chocolate milk. It would be their best last night, if that’s the way it turned out.

I went to the doorway and looked out at the night. It was so beautiful it made me miss a heartbeat; deep, intense and fragrant, with moonlight shining through the lush and tiny leaves of the trees, shimmering like light upon the water.

My parents and grandparents were dead. It was pointless to lay blame with them. They thought everything would work out. They had the optimism of deniers. They chose not to see what covered them like a blanket. They chose to be blind. They dreamed of a lush and welcoming world for their children, and lived on faith.

They were criminally wrong.

When the things came, a little earlier than 2 am, the screens held for a long time. They had no evil intent; they were trying to survive, just as we were.

It was breathlessly frightening, listening to them trying to breach the screens. At those moments I thought of my parents and grandparents who could have laid out a different path for us. They knew about beauty and caring and value and wisdom, but not about survival, not about reality.

I want to say they were misled, or lied to, or simply not aware.

But they knew. And now our children put sprinkles on their ice cream, before they died.


  • Original prompt: Screen, March 6, 2016

 

The Right Person

Prompt: Broken


Hello Wednesday,

When I was a child of nine, I broke the big mirror on the bedroom dresser I shared with my sister– a mirror which partly covered a window– when I tried to open that sticky window. It shattered into a thousand pieces and took me and my mother a long time to clean it up.

My mother knew it was an accident and wasn’t angry, though every extra expense was problematic for my family in those days.

I wasn’t worried about the expense or my mother’s reaction. I was nine: I knew for sure that breaking a mirror meant seven years of bad luck. I did the math: my life would be a living hell until I was sixteen.

What happened was that I did think about it for seven more years. I fretted a little. I thought I recognized catastrophes related to the broken mirror. But mostly, I realized that superstitions are stupid AF.

I understand that this is not a brilliantly intelligent revelation, but it was to me as a child. I didn’t have to believe things. I could be critical. I could make up my own mind. After years of avoiding cracks on sidewalks, being repulsed by the thought of walking under a ladder, and touching wood with great solemnity, I was finally free!

Well, I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it, don’t know which shoulder it should be but I do it anyway. And if it rains, I blame my partner for washing the car.

In the spirit of Wednesday’s prompt, broken, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons, only the first of which is related to the theme?

cartoon 10 commandments

cartoon broken refrigerator

cartoon eye contact


See you tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. Have a wonderful week!

~~FP

Surrender [Repost]

Promtp: Guilty

thomsons-gazelle-2

Leep couldn’t believe it. He used the remote to turn up the volume.

He was sitting in his lounger, the comfortable one, with a pad of art paper in his lap, sketching ideas for his latest book, The Fog Monster. It was challenging, trying to illustrate fog, especially since he was not a trained artist. Did he give the fog a face? Did he give it a form? In his head the Fog Monster was unseeable, but children might need a monster they could recognize, a human-style monster that they could understand and relate to. After all, the Fog Monster wasn’t all bad. Leep didn’t want to scare his potential readers to death. But kids should know that life wasn’t all a bed of roses. That wouldn’t help them in later life.

He had the evening news on the television. He liked the news readers: Hal and Denise, and the pretty weather person, and the sports reporter who made all the jokes. He felt almost like he would be comfortable with them, you know, going out to dinner or something. They seemed like they would be easy to talk to.

He only half-paid attention to the broadcast as he contemplated his drawings, his mechanical pencil in hand. But he heard something that made him stop cold, as he was erasing the Fog Monster’s eyebrows, on the grounds that they were a bit too much.

Something terrible had happened. Denise was announcing that a man had been arrested for the murder of Vincent Demarco.

Leep could not feel his heartbeat, nor that he was breathing, nor his toes. He only felt a cold finger of sweat creep up his his spine, as he watched the police spokesperson speak in front of a gathering of news reporters.

He tried to concentrate, to really listen, but it was hard.

We have a suspect in custody, said the spokesperson. He has confessed to the crime. His name is Anthony Gizmodo, of no fixed address.

They showed a picture of him they’d taken after he was arrested. He was unshaven and unkempt, his eyes open a little too wide. Leep leaned in a little closer to the screen. Oh no. It was Tony, the homeless guy he passed every morning on the way to work.

Leep used to drop change, a few coins, in Tony’s hand or his hat as he passed, but he had to admit, Tony wasn’t the friendliest homeless man on the block. But, Leep guessed, he had no reason to be friendly. He was homeless, and neither Leep nor any other person with a home understood what his life was like. He regarded the passers-by, with their homes and lives, with a palpable resentment.

Tony was angry and sad, but he was no killer.

Why had he confessed? Was he coerced? Did he need attention? Was he hungry? Was he crazy? Leep knew only one thing: Tony was innocent of the crime.

He spent the rest of that Friday night, and all of Saturday, trying to figure it out. He was frustrated and confused. But he really knew what he had to do all along, the second he heard about Tony’s arrest.

On Sunday night, after dark, Leep put on his black ski jacket. He got the gun out from its hiding place. He felt numb. Once he’d seen a film of a gazelle, on the National Geographic channel, stare down a leopard. They’d locked eyes, and, Leep thought, reached a cosmic truth. The gazelle had no escape. It surrendered, and was chased down easily by the leopard.

Leep knew he was not the leopard. He was the gazelle.

He pulled up the collar of his jacket, opened the front door, and headed out into the night. There was a light mist, a fog, that lay as light as a baby’s breath on the streets and homes and businesses and pedestrians. By the end of the night, they would know that Tony was innocent.


  • Original Prompt: Fog, April 20, 2016.

The Forest

Prompt: Forest

forest mushroom

Our mother said, don’t touch the walls of the tent. So we all touched the walls of the tent. It was canvas, so water started saturating the little finger spots, droplets formed, and the inside of the tent became wet and cold.

So our mother gave us each a plastic bucket, which we hadn’t been able to use on the sandy beach all week because of the rain, and sent us out to the forest across the road to forage for dinner. No mushrooms though, she said. And: “If you don’t find food, you don’t eat.”

She tied on makeshift rain bonnets though gave up on the boots and we wore rubber thongs and our feet got wet.

The rain in the forest sounded like a waterfall; a continuous ruuuussssh of drips and drops, and the forest floor was muddy and our flip-flops kept sucking into the ground and we walked with great effort, looking for berries. Or maybe a dead rabbit? We weren’t certain what edibles were to be found in the forest.

We came across a man, sleeping on his side under a plastic sheet attached to branches secured into the ground. His hands joined in a fist and nestled between his thighs. He wore dark clothes and sunglasses and had a straggly beard. It occurred to us that he might be dead.

We saw a battered wallet peeking out from under a damp grey pillow, and pulled that out. There was ten dollars in it; we took five and put the wallet back.

Drops fell on our faces and stuck to our eyelashes.

We found some deer scat, which we’d learned about in science class. It didn’t gross us out. We didn’t see any deer, though. Perhaps they were taking shelter from the rain, or perhaps the hunters had taken them all down. My mother once fed us venison pretending it was beef, but we knew it wasn’t beef, and wouldn’t eat it.

There was a clearing ahead where the road curved around the woods, and a small grey stucco building stood in a level gravel lot dotted with tufts of grass and moss. The windows were opaque with condensation, rivulets running down and pooling on the soggy ground beneath the eaves. Letters hammered to the frame over the door said “Store”, so we went in to forage for dinner.

There was a wooden bucket of worms, and a glass jar of brass bullets, and a stack of felt cowboy hats, and a counter behind glass with tubs of ice cream underneath it, and we all had a single scoop cone. We all had chocolate. After we ate the ice cream we examined each others’ faces for traces of chocolate, and cleaned off any smears with damp kleenex.

We had enough money left from the five dollars we stole from the sleeping man to buy two boxes of macaroni and cheese, a bag of liquorice whips, which our mother liked, and a coke.

We put the macaroni and cheese, liquorice whips, and pop into the buckets along with one shiny brass bullet which the store owner gave us for free, because he said he was proud of us for not staying inside just because it was raining.

We started to head back to the tent through the forest, but we saw the sleeping man in the distance through some dripping white spruce. He was awake and packing up the shelter, folding the plastic sheeting into an irregular square and stuffing it into a nylon bag.

The rain had subsided to a drizzle, the spit of god.

So instead of going through the forest, we traced the road skirting around it back to the tent, and mother didn’t ask us where we got the money for the macaroni and cheese. She was pleased with the liquorice and said she would share it with us later.

But she didn’t.