Mar 01 2015

Mister Rogers

Published by at 2:01 pm under Audio,Work & Jobs,Writing

I got tears in my little ole eyes while watching this. He was such an amazing man. The idea that he wanted to give a farewell message to all his fans is classic Mister Rogers. An excerpt: “I know how tough it is, some days, to look with hope and confidence on the months and years ahead.” This was just a couple months before he died.

Do you want to hear one of my programs that has him in it? How about this one; it’s called Memories of Home, from my series about childhood:

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I’m still unemployed. It’s been five weeks. I’ve gotten tired of the fruitless attempt to find a job by applying to things online. In all the dozens of applications I’ve sent out, I got only two nibbles and both of those were unlandable. On Solano Avenue there is the occasional sign in the window—dishwasher, herbal supplement specialist—but nothing even for a regular old retail job. I tell everyone I know that I’m looking for a job, just in case I stumble upon someone who has a connection to something for me. Jess, with whom I went to SIT and with whom I had lunch last week, suggested I sub for ESL classes for the agency she works for, so I’ve followed up on that but no word back yet. Sarah, with whom I went to SIT and with whom I had lunch last week, sent me the name of someone who’s looking for an English teacher for his employees, so I’ve followed up on that but no word back yet. You get the picture. I am scared and demoralized, but confident that I did the right thing in leaving my other job. The difference between making no money and what I made there is negligible. The freelance writing isn’t panning out either, though I did earn a couple hundred dollars doing that before it went kaput.

Speaking of writing, I should be using this unemployed time to get something going with my writing. I still want to be a writer when I grow up. With Genevieve I’ve been doing some writing prompts out of a book called The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante. This is one:

“I Don’t Know Why I Remember…”

Goal: Pinpoint some previously unexplored material that remains “hot” for you in some important emotional way.

What to do: “Scan” back over your life and think of things that have stuck in your mind, but for no obvious reason. Render them precisely on the page using concrete details, beginning with the phrase, “I don’t know why I remember.” Don’t try to explain why they stuck with you, or interpret the meaning of them. Just put your reader there.

Here’s an edited version of one that I did:

The Diamond Doll

I don’t know why I remember saying “Oh, Mommy! She’s beautiful!” when my mother gave me that leggy doll with too much makeup.

It was summer and I didn’t have much to do so I was orbiting around Mommy as she went about her household chores. I often did that, and it was always a gamble: at any moment she could shoo me away with some task. “Why don’t you go dump the trashcans?” or “Clean your gerbil cage.” But this time she let me tailgate her. We were standing in the dark little hallway at the foot of the stairs to the attic, near the guest bathroom. Mommy was folding sheets, smoothing them carefully as though she relished the work. Each sheet had its place in the linen cabinet, with shelves labeled: “full fitted,” “full flat” and so on.

I don’t know where the doll came from. Was it stowed away among the linens, waiting for the right occasion? At any rate, Mommy suddenly produced it and I’ll never forget my breathless excitement. It wasn’t my birthday, and I hadn’t done anything good, so I still don’t know why she gave it to me. The doll, with long golden hair, was wearing an evening dress with a single glowing rhinestone at the neck. I thought it was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. I turned the doll over and over in my hands, stunned by this unexpected bounty.

“You go play with that now,” Mommy told me.

Oh, what the heck. Here’s another:

A Bad Joke

I don’t know why I remember the night I played that dumb trick on Daddy. I was supposed to be asleep by the time he came upstairs, but I wasn’t. I never was. It always took me hours of tossing before my eight-year-old brain would finally give up and let me rest.

That night, I could hear Daddy clicking off lights and climbing the stairs. He had to walk past my room to get to his. I rolled over to face the door, my antiquated four-poster bed groaning with the shift in weight. I knew better than to call out for any kind of attention. Such an indiscretion had negative consequences. Bedtime was bedtime and there was no disputing that.

But just before he reached my door, I had a brilliant idea. I flopped my upper body, from the waist up, over the side of my bed. My head was upside-down, my arms draped lifelessly over the edge. Because my bed was tall, my knuckles just barely grazed the floor. I was pretty convincing as a dead body.

Daddy glanced in as he passed by. He dropped his glass of ice water as he yelled my name and ran to my bed. I popped upright, giggling.

That’s how I learned that, for adults, relief from intense fear can look like anger.

 

 

 

One response so far

One Response to “Mister Rogers”

  1. Eleni says:

    Do more prompts, please-if not for you than for us! I am-as you can probably tell-making a point to respond to your recent posts, and am finding that these are still so layered and profound on the second pass.

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