Tag Archives: Scintilla

Scintilla Project – The Buddy System

Well after a good run, I am sporadic, but I will not waste a perfectly good and inspiring prompt!

FRIDAY, 22ND MARCH
A: Sometimes we wish that we could hit the rewind button. Talk about an experience that you would do over if you could.
B: Write about spending time with a baby/child under age 2. If you’re a parent, do NOT write about your own child.

I JUST make it to the age threshold for this one.

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It was the weekend of his 2nd birthday. A big moment for kids, and a point of worrying for parents, as it means the Terrible Twos are like dark clouds on the horizon.

We are not related, but we relate to each other well. Or maybe it’s that I use him as an excuse to play with Hot Wheels, and draw in chalk on the driveway (which is perfect for drawing roads and stuff for the Hot Wheels. Yes I use that college education to the fullest).

He wasn’t feeling well at all for his birthday, and among his symptoms was conjunctivitis in one of his eyes. That meant eye drops were needed several times a day, and apparently they burned (you know how medicine is sometimes worse than the illness). His mom admitted that she was having trouble getting him to sit still – I mean really what kid would stay put for that?! So I volunteered to help keep him calm and still for the next dose.

“Ok so let’s do it now- he’s due for the next ones.”

Wow, volunteer for duty and they put you right in the battlefield huh?

Sure he was only two, but that is enough life experience to know that even if it’s your birthday, when adults start heading to you, it’s not for a hug fest. He toddles away, we snatch him up and bring him to the couch. After trying to make him comfortable and not feel constricted, some wayward flailing arms and legs called for desperate measures. I shifted over and pinned his arms down with my elbows, and cradling his chin and forehead, attempted to get his head steady and eye open.

By now he knew it was inevitable and with nothing to lose, he channeled the Superman strength kids seem to have, in several ways.

First, by bucking like a steer.

Second, by shutting his eyes as tight as a drum.

He saved the best for last- the lungs.

So there I was, pinning down a 2 year old, pulling his eye open and having his little purple face (like a California Raisin) bellowing at the top of his lungs at a volume that made my eardrums compress.

Oh and that was BEFORE the drops went in.

*drop drop*

Even at that previous volume, he was apparently holding back. Yow.

So the meds were in, coating the eye, the worst of it was over. I relaxed my grip, fully expecting a vicious uppercut for my efforts. At the very least I thought he would hate me forever.

He opened his eyes still sobbing, and reached for me. I scooped him up and he embraced me, sobbing on my neck as I soothed him for a moment. All was forgiven, and we were still friends.

So this is what being a parent might be like?

Hmmm.

Ok, I could do this.

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Filed under Better Late Than Never, Kids, Life, Scintilla Project, Writing, Writing Challenges

Scintilla Project: Heads Up!

<a href=”http://www.scintillaproject.com/”><img title=”scintilla_badge_002″ alt=”” src=”https://braintomahawk.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/scintilla_badge_002.png&#8221; width=”140″ height=”140″ /></a>Well I missed the weekend, but I do have ideas for doing them – so they will be done, even if I have to save them for a rainy day.

Today’s prompts are:

A: Describe a time when the content of your character was tested.

B: Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

As all do, this one happened a while back (geez was I more interesting back then?!) and has stayed with me ever since.

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I was walking down 42nd street towards Times Square, in my suit and tie (which took 20 million tries to get knotted right), staring at the gum-stained sidewalk as I shuffled along aimlessly. It was late morning on a weekday. Most everyone else (who wasn’t a tourist) was in their offices, working. Except me, it seemed. Actually I had gone on a job interview. Those were fewer and far betweener than I would have liked. I was still in that hellish post undergraduate grace period of “can’t get the job without the experience/ can’t get the experience without the job”, and this interview was on par with that. To be fair, the job seemed like a scam; the ad said they were looking for an administrative assistant, but when I got there, the manager led the conversation to phone sales/cold calling. He lauded the commissions that other employees would make during their job, and of course gave me the zinger of “besides your degree, what else make you qualified?” Cue the job/experience revolving door. Right this way, sir.

Where the heck was this walk of shame leading to anyway? The subway home to commiserate?— an afternoon full of talk shows and injury attorney commercials wouldn’t help. How about a coffee shop or somewhere for lunch? – I was almost broke. I looked up, ready to cross the street onto Broadway.

What the – is that Mark? One of my close friends from high school, we also went to the same college and graduated in the same class. He was walking to the corner diagonally from me, in his suit, head down, expression serious. At that moment though, he looked up, we made eye contact and grinned at the same time. I crossed to him and held out my hand for a greeting and high five (or handshake, still trying to play the professional).

He spoke first. “Pete, don’t even talk to me, I just left the worst interview ever!” He stood by puzzled as I proceeded to crack up laughing. After a moment, I explained about my own situation, which gave him a laugh as well. We stood there, still defeated and miserable, but having a friend who understood right when they needed them most. We walked around for a while, got some cheap eats and took the train home, early enough to miss rush hour, but late enough to miss Maury and Jerry.

I guess, no matter what, always keep your head up.

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Filed under Friends, Job Interviews, Jobs, Life, Scintilla Project, Writing, Writing Challenges

Scintilla Project: A Lesson Not Soon Forgotten

Yes I have signed up for Scintilla ’13! Three days in a row, officially a streak.

A: Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Write about a time when you taught someone a lesson you didn’t want to teach.
B: Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?

I’ll take on prompt A.

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There are times, education degree or not, when you have to take someone aside for some schoolin’. You don’t get paid extra for it, but they will remember you like a favorite (or hated) teacher.

I got a call from the head of another department. Apparently he was upset that a condition was not being waived for him, and it was based on someone in my area’s decision.

“Well it’s his personal preference. No exceptions. My dept. head feels it is a reasonable one, and many others feel that way.”

“I’ve been here 25 years. He’s…what?” Ah yes, the ol’ seniority rule.

“Like I said, it’s  an individual decision; you have probably been in this situation as well.“

“Well then I am going speak with someone in the (even higher up office).“

And then the click. You know – *click*

That’s the sound of a phone hanging up on me.

Wait, what? Oh no he didn’t! Apparently, he did!

It comes out before I can stop it. I scramble at the buttons and put the phone on the cradle. (I think I was trying to reach through to the phone to strangle him) “You mofo (yes, yes, you know I said the whole thing)! Hanging up on me?!” I am enraged but also mad with glee at this point. I settled myself down for a moment, calmly told my assistant to leave the office, and picked up the phone.

Oh yes, my phone has caller ID on it, and a keyboard. Seeing as he proudly announced his name and department (and quarter century of schmuckery, it was no issue to call him back. “Hello?” He sounded a little wary, unsure as to who was calling. Obviously he’s not a detective.

“Hello this is Peter, we just spoke?! I don’t know how you speak with the people in your department, but where we are, we don’t tolerate hangups. It’s rude, it’s unprofessional and I do not tolerate it. And it’s not something we would expect it from someone who has been here 25 years.” Yes, in one uninterrupted breath.

I could tell his flustering and attempting to interrupt, but when you are dealing with an undiluted arrogance, it bounces back quickly. “Oh! Well I didn’t realize I hung up without saying goodbye.”

“Well that’s what you did.”

“Well, I’m sorry if you were offended by that.” Ah the official half-apology of The Asshole.

“Ok well I trust this will not happen again. If you have anything else to say on the situation, speak with my supervisor. Goodbye.”

I had my finger on the cradle for my own hang-up, we tied.

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Like Socrates said, “You can’t fix stupid.”

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Filed under Creative Writing, Day In the Life, Life, Scintilla Project, Working

Scintilla Project: The Size of Lies

Yes I have signed up for Scintilla ’13! I will try to get every one of them in, and hey I might even work a little Zombie Bunnies into the mix.

The prompts to choose from for today:

A: What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? Why? Would you tell the truth now, if you could?

B: Tell the story about something interesting (anything!) that happened to you, but tell it in the form of an instruction manual (Step 1, Step 2, Step 3….)

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Sure there are ‘small’, ‘white’ lies, but can you really keep them that way?

I was in 8th grade and we had to fill out our High School application forms. I was zoned for school ‘A’, which had a well-earned rep as being a rough school, to which I had no intention of going. I wanted school ’B’ which my sister was currently attending- though it was assured she would have no real intentions of socializing with me, it had a good reputation (more on this soon!). Still, the guidance counselor convinced me to apply for school ‘C’, which had higher academic standards and a lower percent of acceptances, and I did so reluctantly. I told my best friend at the time that I had applied, and he was ecstatic – he had applied as well; he was following in the footsteps of HIS own sister. He already had the school jacket!

About a month or so later, we started getting the letters with the assigned schools. Yep, I got into school C. Only 9 applicants from our school got in. Regardless of this, I was committing myself to B. Knowing that everyone got their letters at the same time, I wondered what I would say in the almost certain chance he got in.

Sure enough, the next day when we met to walk to school, his excitement was the giveaway.

“I got my letter, I’m in! Did they take you too?!”

“Naw man, they didn’t.”

His jaw dropped, joy turning to frustration as he unleashed expletives and tirades about the unfairness of it all. Yeah I felt like crap. I assured him it was ok, since I had a good ‘fallback’ plan, but that didn’t work, of course.

I felt like a rift had opened up at that time. The summer came and went, we started our schools, stayed close and hung out some afternoons. From time to time though he would still mention how much the situation sucked. Would I eventually tell the truth? Time heals all wounds right?

In order: Yes, and Nope.

What made me finally confess that I had been accepted, late into that freshman year? Maybe I figured it was water under the bridge. When I did tell him though, the look of shock on his face was enough to prove me wrong. He shrugged it off somewhat, but the rest of that time we spent hanging out (very likely playing video games) was spent with the tension fogging up the place. By that summer he had started hanging out with other guys (not mutual friends at all) and our friendship faded. By the time high school ended we had no contact with each other at all.

What would it have changed for us? Would we have had each other to lean on, rather than work to make a new set of friends? Would I have been able to stand up for him when he was robbed on the bus? My own time at School B grew more precarious, as it became a rough school as well; having been robbed in the hallway, that experience would not have transferred to the other one, and my academic path may or may have been affected, as I stopped really caring about grades, over personal safety, especially after another student was stabbed/killed in the staircase a year later.

So after many, many years and social network fads later I eventually found him on Facebook. I sent a friend request and it was immediately accepted. We caught up on backstories, and life events that I think we both would have liked to be around for. There is no animosity, and we concentrate on the good memories we had (getting pizza, renting movies, going to Yankee Stadium, collecting baseball cards, playing and beating Zak McKracken & the Alien Mindbenders [the best game ever created, IMO]), and though he doesn’t live in the country, if he happened to be around, we agreed to meet up, even entertaining the idea of hitting up the old pizza place.

Maybe time does heal all wounds, you just might need a lot more of it.

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Filed under Life, Scintilla Project, Writing, Writing Challenges

Self-Aware: Scintilla Project

Welll just a few hours to go until the next topic, but hey it still meets the deadline 😉

Talk about the ways in which your body is awesome.

–It’s an attractive soul-holder. I mean let’s face it- we’ve all been persuaded to try a product or service based solely on the advertising/packaging.

–A dinner of cabbage or beans provides hours of free entertainment. Perfectly timed, it can also give me some much needed ‘alone’ time.

–It lets me know when I see a gorgeous woman. Sometimes it lets her know too.

–My legs can take me anywhere I need to go; at times towards something, on other occasions- away. They have a great relationship with my brain, so I let them decide and go along with it. Collectively they know better than I do.

–My hands and fingers help me express how I see the world around me (and galaxies far far away when I am talking about Star Wars). Whether tapping a keyboard, holding a pen(cil), or pushing the shutter on a camera, they are the tool that help describe my creativity. They are not good at drawing (BUT when playing ‘Draw Something’ or Pictionary, not knowing how to draw makes the game much more entertaining!), but I can at least describe what my 5 senses are telling ME.

–Speaking of those, everything can be experienced using at least one and up to all 5 of the senses. Though the sixth sense- which can help you see dead people, pick winning lotto numbers or know when Dr. Octopus is behind you – can technically be useful, we seem to get along without it. Depending on how many arch enemies you have.

–I do wonder how with all the efficient, wonderful attributes our bodies are capable of, we can ingest the most wonderful delicious and nutritious foods ever, and turn it all into something terrible. Trying reverse psychology on ourselves, that is, eating junk food doesn’t result in us “leaving” a bunch of flowers, or -during those White Castle binges – a unicorn that grants realistic wishes, and compensates us with gold coins (it is wearing a backpack full) for ones that it cannot grant.

–All kidding aside, I am thankful for each day when I can open my eyes, wiggle my toes, feed myself and my cats, and go to my job. Even on the days when I dread it all.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Scintilla Project, Uncategorized

Lost & Found – Scintilla Project

Of all the things I have lost, I miss my mind the most. –Albert Einstein (often wrongly attributed to Ghandi)
One of today’s themes is : Show a part of your nature that you feel you’ve lost. Can you get it back? Would it be worth it?
So what have I had that I no longer have.

All things in general (including virginity – 3:28 or so)—well I’ll let George Carlin explain all that.

Hairline – once I had a full head of hair that got the daily treatment of gel/mousse. I would never think of wearing a hat to undo that work. Even in winter. I mean, it was my HAIR, man! Damn that scientific theory that most of your body heat left through your head. Theories can’t be proven right, right? Or is it wrong? Whatever! As years went by I would notice the changes, but interestingly enough, I cared less about it. At this point, I am receding, though it doesn’t seem to be progressing. Also I keep it trimmed with a part, so it’s really low maintenance – maybe a few seconds with a brush and I am good to go. I will, for special occasions (high profile assassinations, peace treaties, annual evil overlord alumni meetings) put a little mousse in there, but that is just to keep it in place. Hats? Oh yes! I have ones for every season, and for sunny days. The way I see it, a hat keeps me warm. Giving a rat’s ass about how it looks or what it will do to my stylin’, doesn’t.

So, even though I am a bit more ‘reflective’ (I don’t have to buy that special day-glow tape that runners stick to their asses, so cars don’t run them down during midnight runs – but then again I don’t run), the FAA hasn’t had me arrested for distracting pilots, and they can’t see me from space in the ISS. I have no interest in any hair restoration treatments; sewing hair up there sounds painful, and Rogaine costs $ and I think you have to use it all the time. If I tried to get my insurance to cover it, I might set off a chain of events that causes an up-to-now-unheard-of polarity between political parties, and Obama dropping a dime to tell me I’m his hero.

Hey Cueball, just wanted to let you know, you are the wind beneath my wings.

My sense of humor – well it has always been based on sarcasm, anecdotes, obscure references, and repeating any of those subjects in a joke (stopping while it is still funny, not creating that awkward moment). I still haven’t lost a step; I can pull out a Star Wars or Simpsons quote on que.

My childlike sense of wonderment– Huh? Oh you mean that idea of how everything is lovely, innocent, and pureeeeeeeeeeeeeee…oh sorry, that was just so boring that I fell asleep typing it. I grew up with Star Wars, GI Joe, and Transformers. I knew that there was conflict in the world (and a long time ago, in galaxies far, far away), and since the United Nations never made a playset, well I put other stuff on my list to Santa, or worked with what I had.

COBRA's forces always invaded and occupied the Street with minimal losses.

Also I had video games that emphasized the ideas of hunter vs. hunted, running from/confronting my personal demons, and of course gluttony , with the realization that completing a task and getting to the next level of responsibilities just means having to do the same thing, only faster and with more difficult over and over again.

Hey Sisyphus.

Rather than look at what I have lost, I think about what I have gained (which is, I don’t know…the wisdom to know the difference. Or something). Besides, I wouldn’t have space for all that stuff anyway.

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Filed under Creative Writing, General Nerdliness, Humor, Life, Scintilla Project, Uncategorized