Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

She Told Him That She Only Loved Him

Posted: October 15, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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tea and biscuits

Post #6 of the “She told him that she loved him” series. So when is love not enough? When someone wants more than the other person can give, or wants to give… or when said someone won’t give that much themselves.

“I love you. Of course I love you, John. That’s just not enough.”

“What are you saying?”

“I have a career. I have a family. An entire life. You’re asking me to move across the ocean to the other side of the world to leave everything I’ve ever known.”

“I’m offering you true love.”

“John, please. This is reality.”

“This is the age of the internet. You’ll be in touch with your family, all your friends…”

“Not my clients, not my home. Los Angeles isn’t Lancashire.”

“What’s so great about Lancashire?”

Amelia folded her arms. “It’s my home.”

John saw that he’d touched a nerve. How to fix this? He thought about different values he could approach. Family. Friends. Not money. Not travel. Amelia liked being her own boss. She’d already seen the world during her army days and was happy to be home. Adventure?

“I just meant that there’s so much more to the world that you haven’t seen. That we could see together.”

Amelia looked like a chill breeze passed through her. Rollerbladers wearing sunscreen and tanning oil were what really passed by, along with dog walkers and joggers.

“Dearie, ‘A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.’”

John tried not to make a face. That was her quoting Zen again. John respected philosophy, but not when people let it make their decisions for them. “I don’t understand. We met when we were traveling.”

“It means to be patient. I like my world. I’ll see the rest of it when it’s time.”

“You’re asking me to come with you. I want our relationship to move forward.”

Amelia sighed. “I didn’t ask you anything. But I think I need to say something. I love you, but not enough to leave my life. I’m sorry.”

John turned and looked at the ocean. Amelia gently put her fingers on his arm. There had been a time when that touch had comforted him, but this was just… stupid!

“Let’s not say goodbye like this, okay?”

John chuckled. Not looking at her, he said, “I love you, too.”

They hugged. It wasn’t as nice of hug as he had hoped for, but it was better than nothing. He’d imagined hugging her with a glass of wine in her hand, walking off a red carpet. Instead, her hair smelled like tea and fresh-baked biscuits. Maybe she never would have fit in.

Photo credit: “Three cups of tea and biscuits” by Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay at Flickr
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A Million What?

Posted: June 7, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, My two cents
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

girl on bike tourToday’s Daily Post prompt is, “You just inherited $1,000,000 from an aunt you didn’t even know existed. What’s the first thing you buy (or otherwise use the money for)?” Realistically, I would invest it all and live off the interest, turning my energies toward writing full-time and teaching yoga part-time. I might even work toward teaching writing.

If not that, I would keep half and donate the rest to:

Greenpeace – Because they’re trying to save the world.

Amnesty International – Because they’re trying to save people who can’t save themselves.

World Wildlife Federation – Because they’re trying to save animals, who can’t save themselves.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California – People helping animals, animals helping people. I volunteered in their riding therapy department a long time ago, and was blown away by the good that they do.

The Stuttering Foundation of America – This one’s personal to me because I had a horrible stutter growing up. Have you ever seen A Fish Called Wanda, or The King’s Speech? Stuttering can cripple a child’s social skills. The good news is that it’s eminently treatable, and speech therapists can work wonders. To me they’re life savers.

Here’s what someone else might do:


The bank manager smiled at Anna. She said, “Look at all those zeroes. I’ve never seen so many on a personal account.”

“I’m shaking.” Anna held out her hand. The manager handed Anna a new debit card. “I can use this anywhere in the world?”

“Anywhere. If you need help, you have my personal number.”

Anna stood up. They shook hands. “Thank you so much.”

“Best of luck to you.”

Anna picked up her backpack. Her dog Rags wagged his tail as he got up. “Are you ready, big guy? Are you ready?” He barked. “Let’s go.”

Anna walked outside. Around her, busy businesspeople and their customers wove up and down the sidewalk, most of them oblivious to what a beautiful day it was. Anna noticed the people who did. She smiled at them. She had sold everything she owned except for what she could fit in her pack and on her body. The plan was to see the world on foot where she could, by boat or plane where she had to, until the money ran out, and write about the experience. Her heart felt like the sun beating in her chest.

Rags hopped into the cart that she towed behind her bike. He knew the drill. Anna took a long look at all 45 pounds of him. She was going to have thunder thighs before her walkabout was over. “Where should we go first, honey?” she asked him. He barked again.

“West? I think you’re right.” She scratched his ears. He lay down in the cart. Time to go.

Anna started pedaling.

Photo credit: “Birthday Girl” by Amsterdamized at Flickr
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Checking Out the Patient

Posted: January 19, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, The New Nurse
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poached eggsThey went through the kitchen to an elevator upstairs. Mr. Keyhull showed Jonathan to his room, a suite which Keyhull said had been the room where the first son of the house had lived when the mansion had first been built. The furniture was all cutting edge contemporary, black mahogany with soft white cushions. Jonathan thought it would have looked stylish in a high roller’s room in Las Vegas. His bathroom was done up in black tile, with a heated floor, with a grand white bowl for a sink and an even bigger one for a tub. Breakfast would be at nine, and they could discuss their arrangement then.

Jonathan woke to brilliant light streaming in the doors to his balcony. He’d forgotten to close the blackout curtains last night. He opened them and was greeted to a spectacular view of the Atlantic. The sun was only an inch of two above the horizon. Jonathan ran back in and checked his phone: eight o’clock. Whew.

He came back to the window. Waves crashed below at the bottom of the cliffs, shooting spray up the thirty-foot faces of beaten, crumbled rock. He was definitely glad he hadn’t taken the wrong way around the house. He would have wound up with beaten, crumbled legs.

Jonathan took a deep breath of the salt air. He imagined the merchants who had first settled here, vying with each other to stake out the best view. The original owners of this house had won.

Time to get ready.

Jonathan meant to get to the kitchen ahead of Mr. Keyhull and impress him with his preparedness, but he was greeted with the sizzle and meaty smell of bacon cooking as he got off the elevator. Mr. Keyhull leaned on crutches as he made eggs. “Ah, good morning. Have a seat. I’m making us eggs.”

“Thank you very much! May I have two over easy, then?”

Mr. Keyhull looked over his shoulder. “Some other time. I prefer poached.”

Ugh. “Poached would be delicious. Can I help?”

“No, I’ve got it.”

Jonathan studied him as he moved about the kitchen. Mr. Keyhull had good dexterity and good awareness of his surroundings. He also practiced safety with the stove, keeping the pots and pans on it to a minimum. If he could get him to work as diligently with his physical therapy, he should be walking again in no time. He refused to put weight on his knee at all. It was understandable, but he was at the stage when he should be testing his weight.

I liked the characters from yesterday’s post so much that I want to keep it going into a larger story. We’ll see where this relationship goes.

The story came from another roll of Rory’s Story Cubes. Usually I would break them up into chunks that represented beginning, middle and end, but I really felt like I was suffocating yesterday. Instead I took the whole roll — all nine cubes — as source material and started picking them up one at a time as a I felt inspired. I called it doodling. Oh, it felt so much better.

The rolls were Plane (Jonathan’s from abroad), Alien (ditto), Castle (there’s a mansion), House (he’s living there), Lock with Keyhole (his client’s name), Key (ditto), Flower (he walks through the garden). As usual, I had a hard time finding a use for the Abacus. I’m thinking that Mr. Keyhull is a retired investment banker, so maybe that’ll count for him 🙂

The New Nurse

Posted: January 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, Writing
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old mansion at night

“Old Mansion at Night” by thimic at DeviantArt

Jonathan arrived at the estate in the middle of the night. He waved at the limo driver as he pulled out of the wide turnout in front of the mansion. Gravel skittered away under the wheels. Jonathan could barely see the far side of the curved driveway. Who lived in this place? “Someone who needed a live-in nurse,” he said aloud. And had been willing to hire a someone from abroad for the job.

He knocked on the door. He checked his phone. It said 9:36 p.m. Eastern US time, which meant it was 2:36 a.m. back home. Jonathan had slept on the plane and in the limousine, but he still felt exhausted. He looked to his left –- gardens –- and to his right –- more gardens, and a walking path that led out toward the ocean. Cliffs, judging by the sound of the ocean, and the way the path turned into blackness.

Jonathan remembered that it was the 21st century and rang the doorbell. He heard large, angry dogs barking. Jonathan chuckled. He liked dogs. They always got along with him sooner or later. He hoped these would feel the same way.

Still nothing. Jonathan dialed the number of the estate’s guardian, a Mr. Keyhull. It rang, but no answer.

He heard a buzzing sound. Jonathan looked around. He saw a security camera turn towards him and stop. A red light clicked on, like a cigarette lit below a single unblinking eye. “Good evening, Mr. Miller. Welcome to Newport.”

“Thank you. Mr. Keyhull?”

“That’s correct. I’m afraid the first floor of the house is closed. You’ll need to come around to the back, where I’ll let you in.”

Why couldn’t he meet him out here, in person? Mr. Keyhull had been far more charming in the interview. “Very good.” Jonathan pointed toward the walking path. “This way, then?”

“No, the other way.”

“There’s no path.”

“I don’t want you falling into the ocean. The way’s very clear. You’ll be fine.”

The red light clicked off before Jonathan could protest. What the hell?

Jonathan hefted his backpack and duffel bag. He started walking. His joints ached. Jonathan imagined which muscles hurt, which tendons were overstretched, and what kinds of work he could do to help himself feel better.

The garden had a decorative path that was meant for appearance, not for actually walking. Jonathan tripped over a sprinkler head and nearly fell into a forest of sunflowers. Their brilliant yellow cheer smiled at him in bitter irony. Jonathan was tired, the night was gray, his host was being a douchebag, and he was over three thousand miles from a pint of beer and his friends. He remembered that his phone had a flashlight app. His phone was low on juice but it was better than nothing, so he turned it on and kept walking.

He came around the side of the house. A man in a wheelchair sat waiting for him by a utilitarian-looking door, maybe a maintenance entrance. Mr. Keyhull had bushy, steel-gray hair and sharp eyebrows, with deep lines in his forehead and a deep, stony voice. He had a blanket over his knees.

“There! Well done, and welcome.” They shook hands. Mr. Keyhull’s hand was cold, his grip firm. “It’s good to finally meet you in person. You’ll forgive me for not standing up. My knee is acting up and I frankly didn’t feel like walking.”

“We’ll see what we can do about that,” Jonathan said brightly.

“The hell with that. You’re here to help me with physical therapy, not fix every ache as they come up.”

Mr. Keyhull turned away and rolled into the house. Jonathan waited to sigh until Mr. Keyhull was across the threshold, and out of earshot. Oh, joy.

book pickings

From Brain Pickings blog!

“The Best Books on Writing, NYC, Animals, and More: A Collaboration with the New York Public Library” by Maria Popova

This post at Brain Pickings combines writing, books, libraries, great design, creativity, dogs, cats, adventure, travel, children’s literacy, and the list goes on.

Ojai morning

Ojai is a small town (pop. ~8,000) a little less than half an hour north of Ventura. The distance is only 11 miles, but they’re winding miles through picturesque valley roads, so it takes longer to get there than you might think. Ojai is adorable. It has San Diego’s perfect weather without the big city hassle. It doesn’t have San Diego’s beaches, but San Diego doesn’t have Ojai’s small town charm. I know that I want to come back. In three days, I’ve already come up with a top five list of things I want to do every time I come to Ojai.

  1. Stay at the Blue Iguana. My supervisor recommended this place, and she earned major points with me for it. The Blue Iguana feels more like a bed and breakfast than a hotel. The rooms have a simple southwestern décor, with Mission style furniture, hardwood floors, and paintings by local artists. I also have a full kitchen with pay-as-you-go snack basket. Get one of the rooms in the back of the property; they’re quieter, and have mini patios in front and back for sitting. The rooms have air conditioning. You need it during the day, but at night the temperature drops low enough that you really don’t.
  2. Have dinner at Suzanne’s Cuisine. Worth driving out of your way and a change in plans. Get one of the seats on the back deck, facing the garden. That way you can watch hummingbirds taking a drink from the flowers while you enjoy your meal. I had two specials, a spinach salad followed by tilapia with orange and mango salsa. For dessert, I had the crispy chocolate tart. All of the above: to. Die. For.
  3. Have lunch at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. Again, delicious food with a great view, this time of the Inn’s golf course. You’ve never had a grilled cheese sandwich until you’ve had one with fresh homebread bread and heirloom tomatoes.
  4. Check out Bart’s Books. If you like quirky book stores, you’ll love Bart’s Books. I’ve been told that Bart’s is a local institution. All I know is it’s an open-air bookstore, meaning I can walk around in the sunshine and look at books at the same time. Did they know I was coming? And what do they do when it rains?
  5. Take a yoga class at Lulu Bandha’s. I have to admit I’m taking this one on faith. Lulu Bandha’s came up in a Yelp search on “Ojai yoga.” They have a class called “Stiff White Guys.” At age 44 and with the flexibility of a brick, I resemble that remark. Any yogi that would have the sense of humor to come up with a class named Stiff White Guys has to be cool. My work schedule has been too busy to get over to Lulu Bandha’s, but I’ll get there next time.

All Aboard!

Posted: July 21, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011
Tags: ,

All aboard!

You don't get views like this from a plane (Rolf Hicker Photography)

I love traveling by train. There’s more room to sit down and stretch out; you can walk from one end of the train to the other if you want to stretch your legs; there’s a dining car if you want to go someplace, sit down at a table and spread out; the air is fresher and there’s no risk of getting migraines from altitude changes. Some trains even have Wifi if that’s your thing.

My ideal trip by train would be to travel with friends from Philly to San Diego, Chicago, Key West or Seattle by train. That way you get the sleeper car experience, too.

Where would you go? A work in progress

Posted: July 14, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Writing
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What is sexy?

What is sexy?

If you wanted to go someplace sexy, where would you go? Someplace wild and unbridled, like Mardi Gras? Someplace calm and soothing, like the Maldives? Or do you like remote and exotic, like Tahiti?

Putting myself in Andrew Gottlieb’s shoes, I need to come up with the place where I would send my main character to chill out, soak up the sun, and get laid. I agree with Gottlieb’s approach with sending the m.c. somewhere to just enjoy himself and let the hooking up happen along the way. There’s nothing more pathetic than overtly chasing tail. (Subtly chasing tail is a pastime for single guys.)

Gottlieb chose Thailand for his character’s destination. My first thought was Rio de Janeiro. If it isn’t the sexiest place in the world, it has to be in the top 10. Carneval is the world’s biggest party, and there’s a national obsession with samba and music. With that kind of sensuality, how can you go wrong? They’re also great volleyball players — has to be the beaches — so that scratches another itch of mine, too. The only hangup I have is that Rio’s a major city — might be too vibrant for the chill-out motif.

My next thought was somewhere in the Caribbean. Any region that would invent reggae has to be doing something right. It’s a little close to the States, so it might not seem too exotic. The brainstorming went on, and Australia, Ibiza, Barcelona, Bali, and the Seychelles rolled on through my head, too. How to decide?

If you wanted to spend four months just playing, where would you go? I’ll tell you where I’d go: Las Vegas!

What happens in Vegas...

What happens in Vegas...

In the second part of Drink, Play, F@#k, the main character goes to Vegas to gamble. When he isn’t gambling, he’s recharging his batteries by golfing, and along the way, he starts to pace himself.

Las Vegas is an amusement park for adults. I remember the first time I looked out at the strip from my room at the Bellagio. The fountain show was running. Past that, the huge electronic billboards showed a fizzing bottle of champagne, then flash pictures of sexy people gyrating to a dance beat. I turned to my fiancee and said, “This is good.” Where else can you watch angels get you a bottle of wine, go skydiving indoors, or watch other people fly?

The one difference I would write into the story is volleyball. Golf’s not my game. But volleyball, that’s the closest that I’ve ever felt to flying. Nothing compares to passing a hard driven spike or digging out a hit that you think you’ll never get to. And I’m not even good at it. Hang by the pool in the morning; play volleyball in the afternoon; gamble, see a show or party at night. That’s what fun sounds like to me.

Where would you spend four months getting merrily sauced? My answer: New Orleans.

I recently read a book called “Drink, Play, F@#k” by Andrew Gottlieb, which is a spoof of the book “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. In Gottlieb’s book, Bob Sullivan’s life falls apart, and he tries to find himself again by going on a drinking binge in Ireland, a gambling and golfing spree in Las Vegas, and an immersion in physical pleasure in Thailand. The book is a guy’s beach read, lighthearted and without too much plot to tax the brain. Who wouldn’t want to spend four months gambling and taking it easy in Las Vegas? Who wouldn’t want to soak up life in a tropical rain forest cabana, without a care in the world? Some parts are laugh out loud funny, and it got me thinking a fun question that writers get to ask themselves: if I had written the book, where would I have sent Bob?

Part I: Drink. I would have sent Bob to the Crescent City. It has a fascinating, Cajun, voodoo, bayou, blues vibe that I find enticing. I could live for weeks on a diet of po boys and Cajun food, while soaking myself in the best blues and jazz you can hear in the States. In Bob’s shoes, you could throw back some hurricanes and mint juleps, laugh with the natives and mingle with the tourists, get your face painted every day, learn to play some music, and learn to feel that joie de vivre that the locals feel.

Just another day in Jackson Square

Just another day in Jackson Square