Dream Job

Those who read posts other than Friday Fictioneers know the job search process that consumes my every waking (sometimes sleeping) moment. It’s been an odd year since I graduated. Come to think of it, my entire work life has been odd. So, there’s no reason to believe what lies ahead will be much different. Until then, there’s the writing.

Friday Fictioneers is one of the bright spots, in addition to my garden, that keeps me sane. Sort of. My story this week is one of frustration and reality. Thanks to Rochelle and Roger and all of the other writers. You can read their stories here.

inside-the-diner
Copyright Roger Bultot

Service Without A Smile

They could have just paid their server and left, never to return, but NOOOO! Gerard always caught the wrong end of the customer service stick. How did the kitchen seem to know to make a major screw up when he was in the middle of running payroll or doing the grocery order? If only he’d gone to college, he’d be an up-market gentleman with clients worth millions. Instead his days were spent consoling white collar foodies whose eggs were over cooked, directing tourists to the lady’s room, or shooing divers from the dumpster. Damn his loyalty to the family business!

Not Your Mama’s Fiction

We live in a world of confusing messages about what it means to be a woman. Are we supposed to be diamonds, daisies, or snowflakes? Tinsel on a tree? Chasing rainbows?

Then there’s the question, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Women in the workplace, beholden to benevolent counterparts for their willingness to allow us onto an equal playing field, just without equal pay, are not a thing of the past. This remains an unfortunate truth.

Now our daughters and sons are out there on their own. The days of ramen noodles and cold pizza are behind us, and yet, we still feel it, that uncertainty that makes us ask what the hell is going on here? This week I experienced one of those moments when I watched a young professional deliver one of the worst presentations I’ve ever had the misfortune to endure. Five minutes into the talk it hit me, I could do a better job than this guy. I felt sick. Why? Because I inquired about the job a year ago and wasn’t even considered.

Throughout my life, it has been necessary for me to be highly flexible and adaptive to change for the benefit of my family. I’ve done double duty and made the best of bad situations. I’m not ungrateful. I just feel cheated. I am not that girl. I’m that other one.

dale-rogerson-pizza
Copyright Dale Rogerson

Women’s Work

Every guy she had encountered eventually became someone she wished she’d never met. Long days, proving herself on the job, enduring endless mansplaining and indecent proposals bled into even longer nights. Instead of waiting by the phone, she studied. A choice she knew would pay off one day. A thousand broken promises had left her with only one to keep, one she made to herself. Then he came along and everything changed. The guy who made her life worth living and gave her a reason to work harder. The one she would love forever. The one who called her Mom.

*****

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I realize my mixing fiction with reality is difficult for some readers. I make no apologies. If you want to read something better, check out the Friday Fictioneers. Thanks, Dale, for another inspiring photo. As always, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields brings it to life with her own take on this week’s prompt.

One more thing. Elinor Burkett’s article, “What Makes A Woman?” in the New York Times is brilliant, articulate, and every single thing I think about the difficulties of presenting a united front for gender equality. Thanks for reading.

The Rusted Bucket List

Among the list of things I never want to experience again, getting stuck in an airport overnight is damn near the top. It’s right below pregnancy, which is just above having my brain surrounded by a fortress of mucus. This is what happened a couple of weeks ago when I was stranded at the airport due to inclement weather.

Weather wasn’t the reason I had to spend the night sick in the airport. It was American Airlines’ poor customer service. You see, when flights are delayed due to weather, it’s considered an “act of God” and therefore not the airline’s problem. However, when the gate attendant updates the departure in increments of an hour at a time until the flight crew is no longer viable, “timed-out” as they called it, the flight must then be cancelled. That certainly is not an act of God but one of poor planning. The Devil’s in the details, don’t ya know.

Pushing back the departure time for hours then cancelling the flight altogether at 2a.m. when there are no rental cars and no hotel rooms is ludicrous. Of course, they “know we have a choice when flying” and so thanked us for our business with an invitation to take a spot on the floor next to any stranger and make ourselves comfortable.

All that to say, I missed the last few Friday Fictioneers because it seems there is no end to the number of people who have no problem wasting my time, but I’ll save that rant for another day. Suffice to say incompetence abounds through space and time in workplaces everywhere.

jennifer-pendergast5
Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Another Never Ending Story

In the vast expanse of the universe, there are large pockets of time. In one of them, there was once an enormous pocket watch. One day, or was it night? Yes, night, a dark and stormy night, and on that treacherous night, lightning streaked and thunder rolled for what seemed like an eternity. Then CRACK! The chain snapped and the pocket watch fell to earth. A thousand days and nights had come and gone without so much as a tic toc, but ever since that epic moment of impact, time wasters have roamed the earth without a minute to spare.

*****

Thanks for reading. More Friday Fictioneers are here. Thanks to Jennifer Pendergast for this week’s prompt and Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who has a thing or two to say about time.

One Hundred Words 101

Friday Fictioneers has become a staple on my blog. Creating a story using only 100 words has impacted my writing in ways I did not expect when I first discovered the group of talented writers led by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Now everything I write goes through a rigorous edit to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I’m often knee deep in chaff.

A photo is where the story begins, usually. There are times, however, when an idea that has been percolating in my mind mingles with the prompt in mysterious ways. The result ends up on the keyboard. I don’t question it. I just close my eyes and let it fly. Winging it is what we pantsters, as in fly by the seat of one’s pants, do best. There is no outline or structure, no discernable method to the madness that ensues when I am writing. That is why editing is an indispensable skill. The key most used on my laptop is the backspace, second only to delete.

I had a professor once who tried to instill, or was it impose, rules to be followed when writing anything. I resisted as much as my GPA would allow, but in the end, what she had tried so hard to get me to understand stuck with me. I use it, but probably not often enough. I’ll share it and you can decide for yourself if it is as easy as she made it seem.

Each idea must be supported by a sentence that answers one of three questions about the idea. How is it true? Why is it true? In what way is it true? The simplicity of this practice is deceptive because it can be difficult to admit that you are making a claim that cannot be supported.

I hate when that happens.

Today I did a lot of writing. I published a blog post. I wrote an article that will most likely never be published. I wrote two versions of a cover letter for my ongoing job search. A deluge of ideas caused me to work on several documents simultaneously. I could not separate my ideas fast enough to bother asking how or why or in what way any of them were true. As a consequence, I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening editing. Right in the middle of all of it, I had to stop myself so that I could start this post. It was nagging at me to be let out, like a sneeze that stings so bad it makes your eyes water.

That’s it. Be open to possibilities. Decide for yourself what is good and what isn’t. Let others help you along the way. Know that sometimes you’ll need to let go of one thing in order to accept something better. Know the rules. Know that you can bend the rules. Know that some rules aren’t worth the torment you feel obligated to endure for them. Know that it isn’t a sprint, it’s a summersault sometimes followed by a face plant. Have the courage to stare failure down and make it pay you back with interest. That’s how to write a story using only one hundred words.

Here is my story prompted by the prompt courtesy of Sarah Potter.

january-snowfall-nighttime
Copyright Sarah Potter

Since You’ve Been Gone

My mug is piping hot. I take out the biscotti, leaving one in the jar. “I’ll be back for you later,” I whisper. My heart flutters beneath layers of wool and flannel. The flashes are gone now, but the covers still end up on the floor. For old time’s sake I guess, when lava in my veins forced me to open a window. He hated that. The silence is louder than ever. I won’t miss being stuck in this place. The checklist, still on the kitchen counter, is incomplete. Perhaps I’ll have that last biscotti. Tomorrow might be too late.

*****

Lately my mood, and my writing, has been bluer than blue. I make no apologies. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Thanks for reading. I owe you all a debt of gratitude for the generous comments and thoughtful support.

Measured Response

My creativity was temporarily out of order last week. The constant demand to prove my worth took its toll on my dignity, and in my weakened state, the Friday Fictioneer prompt wrestled me to the ground. I knew where the prompt was leading. I did not want to go there. I tried for a day or so to come up with a positive story, to no avail. The scene was always brutal and crushing. Just like my week was turning out to be.  Finally, I gave up.

A person’s positive outlook can come to an abrupt end with the realization that they must sacrifice more in order to contribute more. What a vicious problem this is to solve. The list of rejections I have received grows longer every day. Months of searching and hundreds of job applications have led me into a deep pit of disappointment. It seems no matter how precise the plan, trial-and-error is how I am destined to explore problems, a method that makes it difficult to see what to do next to get where I want to be.

The thought occurred to me to post an open letter to the organizations whose talent acquisition software has dispositioned me out of hand because my resume doesn’t contain the correct key words. I decided even a well-written rant would give me no pleasure. I suppose we all have a tendency to respond to things that we don’t need to respond to. I am determined to resist the temptation to let frustrating circumstances defeat me.

It turns out that even when we are methodical and deliberate, life can knock us off our feet and steal our lunch money. Luckily, new information can break through the darkness in the wee hours of the morning and give us just what we need to face another day. Below is my response to Liz Young’s formidable prompt.

broken-face-liz
Copyright Liz Young

 

The Sum of My Parts

Blistered feet carry me to the edge where I have fallen to my knees more than once. I’ve lost my way a dozen times, chasing someone else’s dream. My heart beats a mile a minute as I land on my ass with arms outstretched toward a seemingly unattainable goal. Why waste time wringing my hands when there is so much work to be done? This question strengthens my resolve. I ask, if not me, then who? The reply comes quickly. There is always someone else more desirable. The words sting. They ring in my ears. They will not break me.

*****

Thanks for reading. More punctual Friday Fictioneers are here. Thanks to Liz and Rochelle for keeping the light on for me.