Thursday, March 22, 2012

The House in Highland Park

Of the weekly one page homework archives...

Prompt: use description.

I remember the clocks the most. The ding and dong that caught me off guard every hour that it would proclaim had arrived within the four walls of the house. Even from depths of the basement, those grandfather clocks would reach my young ears. For the rest of my life, I would associate the sounds of a tick and a tock and bong with the house in Highland Park. The house that my mother cleaned for four days a week till 2 in the afternoon, the house that my mother noted in my school’s transcripts under my current address, the house that took one hour on the train to get to from the city where we really lived. That house felt like home at the same time it didn’t, this mixed emotion would confuse me as a child as I try to both play in the house as well as respect it, as other rooms were mine to play and roam free in while two rooms were strictly forbidden to even linger near.

The Highland Park house was the biggest house I’ve ever seen at age nine. Light brown with black window shutters, the roof a perfect point, and a driveway so steep and windy that it felt like every time I walked up it to the front door, the house was telling me I had to put in some effort in order to be worthy.

Walking through the front door, the foyer was simple. A coffee table to the right beneath an ornate mirror where I could see the top of my dark brown hair and my mother’s worried face that the kitchen counter hadn’t been clean off enough from her last visit. My mother would take me through the hallway towards the kitchen and I take a peak at the bathroom under the stairs to admire and giggle at how small it was: it was my favorite bathroom to use. In the wide and open kitchen, I stare up at all the different pots and pans, some gold and large, others small and black, a few the color of copper and altogether they made me think that cooking was a special occasion.

As my mother fussed over not understanding how to retrieve messages from the answering machine, I open drawers to see what I could find. I was always wondering when I was young, I needed to see something, touch something, to understand it. I hated the drawer that had all the pills and its boxes that kept all the pills. Looking like a bunch of pebbles to me, I wonder why Mr. Taxman needed all these smelly, stinky things in his body. More often than not, I open the worse one of them all, the one that had the yellow label in an amber see-through bottle, I turn the ridged cap and pull out the cotton swab and hold it between my fingers as I dared myself to take a whiff just cause: youthful curiosity knows no bounds.

The kitchen was only the first stop before my mother let me go to my room in the house while she cleaned and took care of the dogs. Up three flights of stairs to the very top of the perfect pointed roof, I find myself in my room; the one Karla and I would sleep in when mom had to watch the house during their vacations. It was right across the gym room where the only purpose it served for me then was just another room to watch TV, a change of scenery when I needed it during the latest episode of Days of Our Lives.

In my room there was a large bed, like when Karla and I would push our beds together to make the big bed but without worrying about falling in the middle. Two windows were on either side of the walls, one overlooking the garden in the backyard, and the other facing the front out into the street. Under each window was a desk: a large treasure chest of pens, papers, staplers, and more fun things to play “office” with my sister. I sit in my wooden chair and wrap my fingers around the tiny golden horseshoes that pull each drawer open. I write and highlight, pile up my papers, and tap them on my desk, put them in folders and continue on my important business of the afternoon.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Series of One-Pagers: "How To"

***Preface: I've decided to make good use of my one pagers from my writing class. Every week as homework, on top of my book project, I write a one page essay based a numerous prompts my teacher gives me. I feel like they should have a home, and hopefully, an audience here until they are published elsewhere. Happy reading!

Much love,


Prompt: write a "how to..." piece

How To: Read While Eating.

There comes a point in every person’s life when eating alone is no longer a problem or a “weird” thing to do. It could happen at anytime, 20’s, 30’s, or the late bloomers in their 40’s. But nevertheless, it occurs: you do not need social interaction in order to enjoy your meal. Congratulations, you’re one step along in our lesson.

Step Two:

Once you’ve embraced your love for yourself and food, another suitable companion in your newfound love for solitude is your book. Literature is a lonely pursuit, whether you decide to read it or write, the printed word is no group activity. Do not mention book clubs to me. Continuing on, a good book with your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, is as important as the meal itself and whether you decided to go for soup or salad. (I will briefly mention here that soups and salads are friendly options for the reading while eating activity. Later in the steps we will cover other manageable and efficient food options). The book that you chose to read should be something of great interest to you, but remember; others can see what you’re reading. Whether they want to admit or not, if you’re eating alone and reading, people are going to watch you because they envy your independence, intelligence, and you’re crispy chicken wrap with the house salad. So, keep it mind that the book you chose to bring along to your dining outing is essential to the type of image you want to project to your neighbors. I will list a few examples to give you a clearer idea of what I mean.

Books that say you love vampires no matter how badly written they are:

· Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, or Breaking Dawn

Books that say you want to be in a book club without the whole club part:

· Any new addition to Oprah’s Book Club

-Disclaimer: if you do chose an Oprah Book Club be prepared that the shiny sticker proclaiming such news could get one of your neighbors to be bold enough to start a conversation with you. If such an incident occurs, promptly answer in Spanish that you rather be eating your hair then to interrupt your solo lunch to talk about a book you haven’t finished and do not want be spoiled. Smile and return to your eating and reading. The Spanish can be substituted for any other foreign language.

Books that say you want to be taken seriously despite your chilli cheese dog and jumbo fries with chilli and cheese

· Tale of Two Cities, Crime and Punishment, Swann’s Way, Jane Eyre, etc. etc.

Once the book is selected the meal is the next decision. While looking over the menu consider the following:

· It is messy?

· Do I need both hands?

· Can I use silverware?

· Is it going to get on the book?

· Is it so good am I going to get distracted from reading?

This last point is especially important to consider. You do want to neglect your book for your meal or vice versus. Most meals, however, can be worked around the book. Take for instance, something that needs hands versus silverware to be consumed: a burger or a wrap, even a sandwich. When you cannot hold the page down to read your third paragraph implement a paper weight of some kind: the iPhone is an exceptional paper weight from many personal experiences, but other cell phones can be useful. The salt or peppershaker, the fork, or the knife at your table can also get the job done.

Undoubtedly food will find its way to the page or even more so, the spine of the book that works like a perfect catcher to all your crumbs. When you decided to read and eat you must understand the risk. Dirty books, in my opinion, give character and memory to your ownership of that particular book, but by no means do you want to bring your first edition of anything to your table. Keep all eating books under the price of $20 to make you okay and at ease if balsamic vinaigrette smudges over “you” and “can” on the fourth paragraph.

Overall, enjoy eating and reading, and most especially, your undivided attention to – you. Join me next time when we discuss how to put on your make-up while watching your favorite television show.