The Winter Solstice brings together a number of religious and holiday traditions, including welcoming the New Year. These celebrations typically involve families gathering, perhaps some gift giving, a variety of parties (both at work and with friends) and lots of eating. No two people in the world have the same experience of the holidays. I’d like to hear about an odd holiday event from your past. It can be a unique tradition, an unusual memory, or even something best forgotten.
Take us with you into a weird holiday scene. Fiction and nonfiction are both welcome!
You live in a five by eight foot concrete block room with a locked door, one small window above head-height. Meals and clothing are provided for you. You have a cot, commode, sink, a tiny desk, and one metal chair. You get one hour outside per day, with others of your gender, but the guards do not allow you to talk. You will be released in 2030. You can have five personal items. How do you survive?
We all live two lives. One life is the one where we are social creatures, interacting and being around other people. The other life is the one we have where no one is looking. It’s this second life that intrigues me since there is a definite freedom in being unobserved. We needn’t fear embarrassing ourselves or causing other people to raise their eyebrows and turn away.
I once had a very bad day where every single thing I tried to do fell apart. The computer froze up and stayed frozen all day, a disaster since I work online. The fish I cooked for supper tasted like a kid’s rubber boot left out in the sun. My spouse rather mindlessly suggested that I was never likely to have any meaningful success outside the home (and then he went to bed). I stuffed the disposal full of the coleslaw that neither of us had eaten, and the pipe under the sink exploded, shooting stinky cabbage all over the kitchen floor.
All alone, I carefully picked up a wooden kitchen chair and smashed it against the floor over and over and over until it was in pieces. This is quite out of character for me, since I am a fairly cheerful and nice person but then, I was all alone and fuck that shit!
So here you are, anonymous and posting as a lone human. Tell us about a time you took advantage of the freedom of being alone and did something you would never do in front of other people.
I would have picked 1967, but dang, that is such a cliche. So fill us in on your adventures. Where were you in 1970? What were you doing!
Okay, I couldn’t make my Monet Challenge work at all. What seemed like a really elegant and terrific idea, inspired by an Impressionist painter, turned out to be something that didn’t work in words. I am not a big fan of tricks in writing unless they are entertaining, and this one, though intellectually and theoretically intriguing, ended up being boring and a bit like navel gazing. (Me! Me! Me! My stuff! My insights! My cleverness!)
So let’s talk about lousy ideas. I’ve just owned up to one of mine. Let’s hear about a writing idea or piece that you tried that really tanked once you got into it. It might also help to hear what you learned from this kind of dead end. (I have several more, but now it’s your turn.)
Our mothers may be living or dead. Mom, Mama, Mother–she was usually there when we were young. Those distant memories can be captured rather than lost.
This is a creative non-fiction challenge. Remember being a child. Remember your mother (or the one who raised you) as she was with you. Write one memory, not a summary. Show her to us through your young eyes.
Weird title, isn’t it? And yet, this is the title of the last movement of the last symphony Beethoven wrote. He was old and so deaf he could not conduct the orchestra playing his creation. He was on stage, however, though unable to hear the music. One of his soloists had to turn him around to face the audience when the piece was over so he could see the standing ovation he was receiving. If you have ever heard this piece of music (and play it loud!), you’ll find yourself swept away by the hope and glory of the music.
Life is not easy or fair. What a crippling irony that Beethoven—the possessor of one of the finest musical geniuses of all time—had to suffer from deafness. But he did not stop creating, even though he could only hear the symphonic music in his mind.
My challenge to you here is to write about a contrast you’ve experienced where you had to struggle with tragedy and find your own way to survive and then thrive. Can you write an Ode to Joy?