The message she found

Today’s Daily Writing Prompt is:

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The night had been amazing, perfect even.  This was her first big party with him, his entrance into her world.   Everyone’s eyes were on her & the new man at her side.  They danced the night away. Any reservations that she had about him drifted away as his arms wrapped around her.  Now they were sitting at the bar, tucked away in a quiet corner.  He excused himself for a moment, looking back over his shoulder as he walked away.

The phone on the bar vibrated .  She looked around for him, but he was nowhere in sight.  It vibrated again.  There was no reason why she shouldn’t pick it up.  Isn’t that what couples did?  And they were a couple, that much was obvious after tonight.  Her had stretched out toward the phone.  The phone vibrated for a third time as her fingers closed around it.  She flipped it over just as another text message appeared on the screen.  Too bad I couldn’t be there with you tonight.  Can’t wait to see you later!

We must stop blaming the victims

In case you haven’t heard, a Montana teacher was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended & credit for 1 day served, for the rape of a 14 year old student.  In short, Stacey Rambold spent 30 days in jail for the rape of a 14 year old girl.  The State is appealing the sentence as unlawful, but Rambold is free pending that appeal.

The case began in 2008, when Rambold was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent.  Rambold had originally admitted to one charge of rape, but the case was dismissed and Rambold was to undergo sex-offender treatment.  Charges were re-filed in December 2012 when prosecutors learned that he was kicked out of the treatment program for having unsupervised visits with minors. However, the victim had committed suicide on February 6, 2010. She was almost 17.

Not surprisingly, the judge has been heavily criticized for the light sentence and for commenting that the student was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold, her teacher.  Judge Baugh stated that he believed the girl was a troubled youth after reviewing statements made before her death.  Of course she was troubled before her death, she had been raped by a teacher.  After apologizing for his inappropriate comments, he went on to say that “I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape.… It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”  Rambold’s attorney argues that his client has already suffered enough, having lost his career & reputation.

What appalls me the most about this case is that those words came from a judge.  Someone who has been elected or appointed to serve their community and uphold justice.  But the ‘blame the victim’ attitude is, unfortunately, all too common.

I was already fired up by Judge Baugh’s statements when I learned that an LSU law student was arrested for rape.  Of course I went to The Advocate’s website to investigate.  According to the article, the victim was at the home of her attacker.  She told him no & he became aggressive, eventually raping her.  He was later recorded apologizing to her.  Now, I know better than to read the comments on a local newspaper’s website, but I couldn’t help myself here.  I’m an LSU Law alum & wanted to see what people are saying.  Here’s a glimpse:

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I don’t know if this man is innocent or guilty, but the comments are infuriating!  When are we going to start holding these men accountable?  It does not matter if she was friends with him or met him that night, she had the right to say NO at any time.  It was the duty of her attacker to maintain some self-control & not force himself on an unwilling woman, regardless of whether she was in his apartment or on the street.  But the victim is blamed and will probably undergo as much, if not more, scrutiny than her attacker.  It is the above type of comments & attitude that make it so difficult for victims to speak out.

Five Minute Friday: She

20130823-155504.jpg  Five Minute Fridays were created by Lisa Jo Baker as a way for writers to get together every Friday & share their ideas on a single prompt.  Today’s prompt is: She.

Go.

It was cold in the living room when I awoke with a start.  I sat up and listened carefully to the sound of the wind howling and the crackling of the fire’s dying embers.  A tree branch scrapped across the window behind me and I paused.  After a few more moments of listening and a few deep breaths, I settled back into the couch.  There was nothing in my family home to be afraid of.

It had been years since I slept in this house.  As I stood up, I tried to recall the last time.  It must have been the Christmas holidays just after mother died, five years earlier.  I had rarely been home since her death, only for the occasional holiday to appease my sister.  I walked down the familiar hallway toward my mother’s study.

I enter the room slowly, careful not to disturb the sanctity I have always associated with the study.  This was her temple, her church, her sanctuary.  This was the only place she could truly escape to.  I can see my mother curled up in her leather club chair, blanket spread over her legs, so immersed in another world that you could stand in the doorway and go unnoticed for hours.

The musty scent of old paper permeates the air.  I circle the room, running my hands along the books stacked haphazardly on shelves.  A thin layer of dust over the mahogany desk is the only indication that the room is now vacant.

A worn volume rests on the table next to her chair.  I pick it up and run my hand over the frayed cover; Rebecca, her favorite.  I open the book to where the bookmark still notes her place.

A cream paper floats to the floor at my feet.  I stoop to pick it, unfolding it as a I straighten.  I immediately note the flowing curve of the letters, the perfect alignment of words.  I would know that handwriting anywhere.  Cora, it begins.  My hands begin to shake and I sink into her chair.

End.

Nature in the Bedroom

I have a cat.  His name is Cat.  He is also lovingly known as the Orange Ball of Terror in tribute to his destructive capabilities.  When I first brought Cat home I lived in an apartment.  He was an indoor cat by necessity, though he tried to escape into the wild whenever possible.  We moved into a house in April & Cat soon began venturing into the backyard.  First he went onto the patio, then into the grass, then into the flowerbeds & now he’s jumping fences.  I’m glad that Cat is enjoying the outdoors.  However, as he spends more time out there, some previously dormant instincts have begun to emerge.

It all started when we installed the dog door.  It took Cat a few days to figure it out, but now he is constantly in and out at night.  A few weeks ago we were awakened in the middle of the night to some very strange Cat noises.  He jumped onto the bed & laid down, as he usually does.  However, he brought a friend with him.  After some screaming & jumping around at the realization that there was something else alive in our bed, we turned the lights on.  There, on the pillow, sat a small mouse.  He looked at us & proceeded to run under the bed to hide.  All the while, Cat sat looking very pleased with himself.  Half an hour later I managed to catch the mouse & release him into the wild.  We began mandatory mouth checks before Cat is allowed into the bedroom at night.

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Later on in the week, we were again awakened by strange noises.  This time the animals were in the kitchen.  Cat and Cassie, the dog, had cornered a mouse.  Neither seemed quite sure what to do with it.  Attempts to capture & release the mouse failed.  He managed to wedge himself into a hole underneath the cabinets.  I went back to bed, assuming that the mouse would fend for himself.  Unfortunately he did not & we had our first mouse death by the next day.

I was awakened last night by Cassie frantically trying to fit her head underneath the treadmill.  I mustered up the courage to investigate & was met by a pair of beady, reptile eyes.  Sure that it was a snake, I did what any rational person would do – screamed, jumped onto the bed & called my significant other (who was in New Mexico) for help. Cassie got tired & abandoned me to go outside. Fortunately the reptile emerged & turned out to be a small frog.  I was able to capture him & release him into the wild.  I shut my door & went back to sleep.  Cat was locked out of the bedroom.

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Cat, being the sensitive creature that he is, was hurt by the fact that I did not appreciate his live gift.  This morning, when I opened my door I was greeted by another gift.  This time, a dead mouse.  Again, Cat sat nearby looking very pleased.  All outdoor, nighttime privileges have been revoked until further notice.  The dog door will remain shut & locked.  There has been way too much nature in the house recently.

To be a writer, you must write

Nicholas Sparks says that “You can’t be a writer if you don’t write, it’s just that simple.” To write well, you must write often. He writes 5-6 days per week, averaging 2,000 words per day. That amount is intimidating to me, who struggles with every word. How am I supposed to come up with 2,000 words in one day when I can barely get 100 out?!?

I write two posts per week for another blog, Lynn’s Place. They are commentary on reality TV shows. Not hard hitting stuff, but I get to put pen to paper & write something that people read.  You can check out my latest on the Real Housewives of Miami here.  It’s been an amazing opportunity to spend time writing each week and it’s much easier to write when the topic is provided.  Plus, I’m becoming part of a community that encourages & supports each other’s writing.

Five Minute Friday: Red

Every Friday Lisa-Jo Baker posts a writing prompt & invites anyone to spend 5 minutes writing on it. You can find full details here. Im late, but this week’s prompt was: Red.

Go.

Red is the color of blood. I am scared to death of needles & pass out at the first sign of pain. So I am the most surprised that a single drop blood should so fascinate me, excite me,
pleasure me.

When I started, it was like candy. Forbidden. I’m not even sure that it had to with pain, which is what is most associated with. Though I look back & if was about release. And release from pain is what it’s really about. Or that’s what the studies say.

Now, it’s more about punishment. I’ve done something wrong. Or if I haven’t, or don’t know about it, I will have done something. And I deserve it.

End.

PS. I recently finished Gillian Flynn’s sharp objects. So please don’t worry or stage an intervention. I saw “Red” & followed the protagonist.

Five Minute Friday: Last

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One of the greatest ways to hone writing skills is to write! Sounds so simple, but it’s hard for me to find (or make) the time. Five-Minute Fridays by Lisa-Jo Baker makes it a little easier. Every Friday she posts a writing prompt & invites anyone to spend 5 minutes writing on it. You can find full details here. This week’s prompt is: Last.

Go.

For many years I struggled with the idea of being last, the one not chosen, the one not good enough. But last also calls to mind endurance. Lasting friendships, lasting love, lasting dreams. I’ve been the one left behind because something didn’t last, but I’ve always been blessed by things that do endure. I have had a group of friends who have loved me unconditionally for 20 years. I have found a man who supports me in everything I do & makes me confident that his love will last.

Now that I have become to overcome those fears of being last, of being not chosen, I have begun to wonder – what will I leave behind? What of me will last? Maybe that is why I’ve felt a calling to write again after many years of not. I want my words, my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences to endure.

End.

To be a writer, you must read

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Right now I’m reading Carol Goodman’s The Seduction of Water. It’s made me think about what it really means to be a writer. I have always loved books & the way in which an author can transport you to another time or place, can make you understand & empathize with a character wholly unfamiliar to you. I credit my mother, also an avid reader, and my grandmother, a librarian, with my love of reading.

The first book that made me want to be a writer was Rebecca, by Daphne de Maurier. It was an assigned summer reading book in middle school & I was immediately enthralled by the language, the characters, the suspense. I was in awe. After Rebecca, I thought ‘I want to do this, I want to create stories like this.’

In his Advice for Writers Nicholas Sparks says “you must read, and read a lot.” I was once told that you should always read with a pen in your hand. I tend to read with a pen & notepad so I can jot down my thoughts or ideas without being limited to the margins of a book. Plus, I just can’t bring myself to write in most books. I know that notes, markings, and dog-eared pages are the sign of a loved book, but I just can’t do it.

Stephen King’s On Writing & Kate Chopin’s The Awakening are two books I own that are full of highlights & notes. I also own both in paperback & eBook, but my struggle between the need to posses physical books & my desire to access them anytime is another story for another day.

Another great piece of advice from Mr. Sparks is to read in all genres. If you can’t tell from my Book Challenge list or Goodreads profile, this is something I strive to do. Within the last month I’ve read historical fiction, young adult/fantasy, and mystery. My stories & ideas tend towards realistic fiction/mystery, but I’ve found that you can pick up useful techniques in any genre so I will give almost any novel a shot.

14 books that will be movies soon

I’m a huge believer in reading the book before I see the movie. There’s just something about the detail & insight that a novel can provide that doesn’t always translate to film. Sometimes the filmmaker just doesn’t get it, think My Sister’s Keeper, & sometimes they’re spot on, think Hunger Games or anything by Nicholas Sparks.

Buzzfeed recently published a listing of 14 books that you should read before the movies comes out. There are a few that just don’t seem like my cup of tea. Here’s what I’ll be reading:

I’ve heard that The Mortal Instruments series is kind of slow. I’ll probably make an exception & see that movie first.

The Fault in Our Stars was already on my list courtesy of a friend who loves John Green.

I’ve already read Gone Girl & am super stoked that they’ll be filming soon.

If I Stay sounds like it may follow the format of The Lovely Bones. I love the idea of looking in on your family & friends.

I love a good John Hughes film & The Spectacular Now is being compared to Say Anything, so of course I’ll be seeing it.

I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery, hence my shelf full of Mary Higgins Clark, and Reconstructing Amelia appears to combine that with the family drama I love in Jodi Piccoult’s writing.

Official Blogger!

I am a Real Housewives junkie.  I watch every franchise (except New Jersey b/c those ladies are a little too crazy for me).  I’m not going to spend time on the shows here, because there are other (much better) blogs dedicated to the Housewives.  However, I’ve been given the opportunity to share my thoughts on the blogs written by the ladies during the new season of Miami.  I’m excited to join the wonderful group of bloggers whom I’ve been following for the last year.  You can check out my take on the Episode One cast blogs here.