Friday, June 28, 2013

Laughter Defines Me

Dec. 17, 2008

Laughter defines me. I love to laugh. I know most of us enjoy laughing, but I really put myself into it, heart and soul. Looking back at my youth, I know we laughed a lot. My mother's family likes to tell jokes and be silly, something many people don't do. Of course, I didn't realize this until later. I look at events around me and find humor in everyday life - even things that aren't supposed to be funny.

For example, I went with my son to the Peabody Auditorium a few years ago, for a young peoples' concert. I was sitting with one of the other mothers. We always have a good time together, but today we were really behaving worse than the students. During one of the pieces, a little girl across the aisle saw a bug on the stairs of the balcony. We couldn't see it, but a woman a row ahead of us did. She took off her shoe and smacked the bug. Unfortunately, it was during a lull in the music, so there was a loud thump in the quiet.

People looked over trying to figure out where the sound originated. My friend and I, of course, were nearly paralyzed with suppressed laughter. Snorting and giggling, we covered our faces, but it didn't do much good. It didn't help that every time there was a lull after that, she would bring her hands together and say, "thump".

We'd start laughing all over again. I finally decided I had to be the adult here (ironic) and said, "You're going to get us thrown out! Stop that!" 

She leaned over and whispered, "That's because I'm an instigator."

Which got us laughing again! We managed to enjoy the concert, and eventually calmed down, but we were getting mean looks from the teacher. We thought we were in trouble, until she came up to us and said, very quietly, "If you don't tell me what you were laughing at, I'm going to fuss at you."

My friend brought her hands together and said, "Thump."

* * *

Awhile ago I was standing in a long, slow moving line at the Panera Bread Company. Ahead of me was a very tall, thin man in his twenties. Quite good looking and broad shouldered, he was wearing a black leather jacket. Across his broad expanse of shoulder, stitched in pale yellow letters was the word "Pantera". However, because there was a white skull behind the "T", it looked like it said "Panera"

The elderly lady behind me was staring at the jacket with a puzzled expression. She leaned over to her husband, speaking in what she probably considered a confidential tone. "Why do you suppose he's standing in line if he's wearing a Panera jacket? Surely if he works here, he doesn't have to stand in line."

I couldn't let the poor old girl suffer under that misconception, could I? No. I had to set it right.

I turned around, smiling pleasantly at her. (So I was eavesdropping, so what!) "It doesn't say Panera," I explained patiently. "It says Pantera. There's a 'T' in the middle, see?"

They both squinted at the jacket as we took a couple small steps forward.

"Oh," she said with a grin. "So it does! Well, what's that? I've never heard of that. Have you heard of that?" She asked her husband.

"It's a band," I explained, feeling like I was conversing with Miss Emily Lotilla.

"Oh, what kind of music do they play?"

"Heavy metal."

"Heavy what?"

"Metal. Very hard rock, loud, lots of screaming."

"Well, fancy you knowing something like that," she looked very impressed.

"I have teenagers," I told her with a smile.

I didn't tell the old girl I had a CD in my car with a couple of Pantera songs on it that I'd been listening to on the way over. I probably would have given her an aneurysm.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Fantasy

This is something I wrote for my Fun in Writing group on Wednesday.

I was walking down the street the other day, when a glint of metal caught my eye. I spied a battered, metal, oil lamp. I picked it up and carried it home, intending to recycle it. However, when I examined it, it looked like it was very old – perhaps antique. I thought I might clean it up and try to sell it on E-bay.
I got out the brass polish and gave the ancient metal a gentle bath in warm, sudsy water. I lifted it from the water, intent upon applying the polish. My fingers brushed it and I felt a raised place. On closer inspection, it looked like an inscription. I rubbed away some grime, staring at the words I found there.
With a whoosh and a puff of fragrant, purple smoke, I found myself face to face with a handsome man dressed in a tuxedo. He had a muscular physique, black hair and the bluest eyes I've ever seen. He smiled, taking my soapy hand in his.
My name is Ax and I'm the genie of his lamp.” His voice was deep, sexy – like melted, dark chocolate. “I'm here to fulfill your every wish and desire. You need only think of what you want and it shall be done.”
I blushed as I gazed into those limpid, sapphire pools. “Yes,” I whispered. “Oh, yes!”
Suddenly, I found myself in a beautiful gown, drenched in diamonds. My hair was beautifully coiffed and I stood on the deck of a yacht in the middle of the ocean. I was surrounded by handsome men and beautiful women, enjoying a lavish party. Afterward, I went to sleep in the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in, with Ax by my side.
When I woke, he held me close, gazing deeply into my eyes. “I can fulfill every wish,” he murmured huskily.
Really?” I replied, holding him close.
I need only read your mind.”
What does my mind say now, Ax?”
In a flash, I found myself at home. My floors were washed and waxed. The drip under the sink was fixed, the bathrooms were scrubbed to a dazzling shine and there wasn't a speck of dust to be seen. Not only that, my book marketing was done and my manuscripts were typed and edited.
Ax had my feet in his lap, massaging them gently and I held a glass of fine wine in one hand, a book in another.
This truly is bliss,” I sighed. “Kiss me, Ax!” I closed my eyes and felt his lips brush mine.
Funny,” I thought. “He smells like bacon.”
I opened my eyes to find my Labrador Retriever standing over me, licking my face. I clutched the soapy lamp in one hand, a sponge in the other. A pool of water surrounded me. The leak in the sink had finally become a full on flood.
I struggled to sit up, still holding the lamp. Determined to see what was written on it, I rubbed diligently. No puff of purple smoke came, but I did see the words – Made in Taiwan.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Heart of Fiction: Dellani Oakes: Under the Western Sky

Heart of Fiction: Dellani Oakes: Under the Western Sky: Welcome, welcome, Dellani Oakes. Or should I say, welcome back? Dellani was with us last September with the release of her first book with...

Sound and Fury

Sound and Fury
March 25, 2009

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. ~Macbeth

I saw this quote this morning and got to thinking about 'sound and fury'. What could embody that more than the sounds of a hurricane beating at your front door? I've had friends and family members ask me to describe a hurricane and I came up short on words. How do you describe a hurricane to someone who's never been through one? There aren't words forceful enough to depict the screaming of the wind as it pummels the house or the rain and debris as they beat against the windows and rattle the backdoor.
Anyone who has lived through a hurricane immediately conjures up pictures and sounds in their minds of wave surges, howling winds, driving rain, flying debris, traffic lights swinging erratically as the fingers of the storm strive to pluck them from the wires.
Only someone who has survived such a storm knows how it feels to walk outside when the storm is finally over. To feel the sun on your face and the calmness afterwards that is in direct counterpoint to the chaos you feel inside when you look at your home and start to judge the damage. Who but a survivor can possibly understand how it feels to come back to your neighborhood after a storm and see the devastation. Perhaps your home or your neighbor's home nothing but rubble.
Despite the 'sound and fury' of a storm, there is relief in its wake and the rebuilding begins. Preparation for the next storm takes up where the last left off, hoping next time we'll protect ourselves better, we'll find sturdier wood to cover our windows. Maybe next time, the storm surge won't come so far up the beach. Maybe next time, the storm will bypass us completely. We satisfy ourselves with these small hopes as the rest of the world watches in horror and awe, unaware of the real, unrelenting power of a hurricane.

Monday, June 03, 2013


Fun in Writing 2/16/11

Parents know excuses. We've all heard them. "It's not me. I didn't do it. You always think it's me. He did it! It's her fault!" I always loved the Family Circus cartoons with the little invisible child running around named "Not Me". It seemed so perfect for parents.

Teachers hear excuses too. "I wasn't talking, it was him. She hit me! The dog ate my homework."
I remember once when I was teaching, one of my students brought in a mangled piece of paper in a ziploc bag with a note from his mother.

"The dog really did eat my son's homework. We have a new puppy who chews anything and the paper fell on the floor. We thought it was so funny, we decided to show you." He'd done the homework over again, but brought the chewed up page as evidence that it really does happen. He offered to let me keep it, but I thought that was a souvenir I could live without.

My eldest son, has a propensity for smacking himself in the head and requiring stitches. Once when we were visiting my in-laws in Mississippi, he was rolling around in the family room getting dangerously close to furniture. I told him to stop and admonished his older sister and much older cousin to keep an eye on him.

Five minutes later, pandemonium ensued. My nephew ran out of the family room with my daughter and son behind him.

My nephew was yelling, "It's not my fault! It's not my fault!"

Daughter was screaming, "He poked his eye out! He poked his eye out!"

All my son said, with his hands plastered over his bleeding face, was "Blood! Blood!"

My husband says I got hysterical and he had to slap me. NOT! I did get somewhat hysterical, but there was no slapping involved. The fact he's still breathing gives testament to that.

Anyway, we finally got it sorted out and my father-in-law and I took him to the Urgent Care for stitches. Of course, none of the kids wanted to take responsibility for that one. I never did get a clear picture of what happened.

I've always disliked finding the Dreaded Broken Object. You know the scenario: semi-precious, somewhat expensive item, possibly one with great sentimental value, is found (generally by Mom) broken in at least three pieces. It looks like it's been hit with a baseball, maybe knocked off the shelf with a tennis racket—neither item is allowed inside the house, but it's happened anyway.

"Who broke this? Mom asks.

Nearest child makes himself scarce. This isn't an admission of guilt, it's just the smart move. Mom's temper is now nearing the boiling point and being in grabbing distance is a sure fire way to get smacked.

"I said, Who broke this?" Mom is getting louder and a little shrill.

"I think it just broke," the bravest of the children, usually the middle child, replies.

"Just broke? This belonged to my grandmother! It's over a hundred years old. It didn't just break!"

"It might, Mom," the brave one argues. "It's old. Things like that just fall apart sometimes."

"No, they don't! This got hit with a baseball! (soccer ball, tennis racket, air gun) It didn't break by itself! Where's your father?"

Dad has, by this time, vacated the premises leaving the children to fend for themselves. Because even though he didn't break it, he knows he's going to take the heat. He hides at his favorite bar until the heat is off.

While Mom is looking for Dad, the kids run to the nearest neighbor's house, all of them denying that they were responsible for the damage. Eventually, Mom sits down and has a good cry, followed by a hot shower and another cry as she bags up the remains and disposes of them. She might never know who broke the precious item, but the children are much more careful—for a time.

Then, one day, the boys forget. The neighbor's son is over and they're tussling in the living room, tackling one another within two feet of another precious object.

Suddenly, a roar from the dining room doorway gets their attention. "What do you think you're doing? Stop that right now!"

"We weren't doing anything," the guilty parties say in unison.

The neighbor child, thinking that the Wrath of God is about to descend, tries to leave. Mom holds them spellbound with her voice.

"If you every do that in my house again, I will personally break you in half! Get out! Get—OUT!"
With a bunch of mumbled, "It wasn't my faults" and "It's not mes", she herds the children out the door to wrestle in the front yard. After all, they can't break anything but themselves out there. Once more content, Mom puts up her feet, sips her latte, knowing her work defending priceless objects is done—at least for now.

Dellani Oakes is a sometimes angry author who hates broken objects nearly as much as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

If Music Be the Food of Love

My Son's Shobro Guitar

Fun in Writing June 3, 2009
"If music be the food of love, play on!" ~Shakespeare

Ever hear a song that makes you cry? Or maybe one that makes you jump for joy, whistle happily in the shower or hum on your way to the grocery store? Music in one form or another surrounds us daily. Often, we don't even notice it unless it isn't to our liking. The muzak they play in elevators or on hold springs to mind.

Sometimes, if the music isn't to our liking, or is a little too loud, it's like an assault on the eardrums. How often have you had a car pass you in a parking lot with the bass thumping uncomfortably? I was in the Winn-Dixie one day when the windows started to shake. I thought a space shuttle was going up. Instead, I saw a car passing with huge speakers in the rear window, turned up so loudly, it made the windows vibrate.

When I work or drive, I have music playing. The only time I'm not listening to something is when I'm asleep. Partly this is because I want to put a barrier between me and my boys (or husband) making noise while I try to write. I also do it because I have a continuous ringing in my ears. The music provides a damper. The main reason I always have music playing is because it is as much a part of me as breathing. I have to have music to live.

For some people, that's probably hard to believe. Music isn't that big a deal for them. They can take it or leave it alone. Honestly, I don't understand that attitude anymore than they understand mine. Or people who like only one kind of music and won't listen to anything else. I've had friends who listened only to country or never wanted anything but heavy metal. Strange people! I like everything from classical to industrial heavy metal. The only thing I won't listen to much is rap, but there are a few songs I can tolerate, even like. Mostly, I'm a child of the 70's, loving my classic rock. I'm also a product of the 80's heavy metal crowd. Don't be surprised if I'm listening to Metallica in my car along with Tchaikovsky or Jimi Hendrix. I listen to it all.

What's my favorite band? I can't give you a definitive answer to save my life. I don't have a favorite song, but I do have some I like more than others. My play list is so long, I could listen to it for over three days before it ran out. It's divided into sections, softer songs, heavier songs, instrumentals, jazz, rock, metal.... Depending on my mood depends upon which section I listen to. Right now, it's a mix of mellow rock with some instrumental guitar rock for flavor.

Later, it will probably be German industrial metal. Or maybe funk metal, post grunge or alt/ punk. I might even throw in some hard rock and heavy metal. What's the difference between black metal, heavy metal, industrial metal, thrash metal, death metal and glam metal? Mostly the amount of screaming and hair swinging.

Dellani's books are available at all on-line retailers. For easy access, check out the publishers: Second Wind Publishing and Tirgearr Publishing

Books & Entertainment Radio Presents Dellani's Tea Time with Jenny, Jon and Karen!

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