Archive for the ‘Yikes!’ Category

A fellow slicer posted on Monday about the busy-ness of her day, and one of the entries in her post mentioned walking to the corner health food store … and I was reminded of a health food store near an old job of mine.

In the early 90s I taught at an adult education program in the South Bronx.  I was already living in Brooklyn, so my commute was a long one.  Sometimes I had to rush for the train before having time to throw together something to pack for lunch, and there weren’t a ton of good options for quick and inexpensive lunches near the school.

On one of those rush-out-without-lunch days, I noticed an option I hadn’t seen before.  On my walk from the train to work I saw a small health food store, and decided to head back there at lunch time.

I walked in and immediately started to doubt my choice. There were hardly any products on the shelves, and the few items in view were old and sun bleached and none of them made sense for a health food store: cans of condensed milk, a box or two of corn flakes, chips, soda.

But I was undeterred.  I walked toward the window at the back of the shop.  There were a couple of men ahead of me, but they stepped aside and let me take their places at the window.  Okay, weird, but maybe also just absurdly courteous, right?  I ordered the veggie sandwich.  The man behind the counter looked at me a long time, looked at the men who were waiting off to the side, looked back at me and nodded, told me it would be a minute.

The men and I stood around waiting.  None of us spoke, I studied the shelves a little more — a dusty box of saltines, some canned chicken noodle soup — and wondered how serious my sandwich must be to take so much time.

Finally the man came back to the window, took my money and handed me a brown paper bag.

When I started in on my perfectly yummy sandwich, everyone wanted to know where I’d gotten it.  I told them, and they all looked at me as if I’d said something outrageous.

“Stacie, that’s a drug store.” This from my co-teacher.

“No it’s a health food place.  Middle of the block.”

“Stacie,” — my supervisor, ” it’s a drug store.”

“No really, it’s not.”

“Stacie,” — still my supervisor.  “Did you notice that they don’t have much to sell?”

I laughed.  “Sure, their stock is pretty pathetic, but this sandwich is great.  It did take him an awfully long time to make it, though.”

“Because he probably went out the back to another shop and bought it for you.” This from the writing tutor.

“And I’ll bet they were surprised to see you.”  My supervisor again.

“I guess they were a bit surprised.” … and the light bulb of my brain began to come on slowly, still very much on the bottom end of the dimmer switch … “Wait.  when you say it’s a drug store, you mean –”

“That it’s a drug store.” (At this point, surely my supervisor was wondering how she could have hired someone so dense.) ” A place to buy drugs. Not medicine, not prescriptions. Drugs.  You should never go there.”

I looked at my lunch.  “But this sandwich –”

“Is an interesting outcome.”

Yeah.  I kept my next thoughts to myself: how could it be a shop where you just walk in and buy drugs?  That wasn’t actually possible, was it?

But that sandwich … was delicious.  Pollyanna signing off now.


You can find more worldly and intelligent slices over at Two Writing Teachers.

SOL image 2014

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It’s not a thing I say often. It doesn’t occur to me, even when I have the feelings I associate with the phrase.

But tonight. Tonight I took a cab home from work. I had a big package to carry, and it would have been hard to manage the subway, the bus, and the walk to my door.  So I took a cab.  And I was lucky enough to have a driver who seemed never to have learned the purpose of side mirrors, who seemed to think that switching on his blinker magically opened a path for him. I stopped counting near misses after the tenth one and just closed my eyes and decided to trust — in fate, in divine intervention, in the thing my sister used to say whenever we found ourselves in dicey situations: “Mommy didn’t have us to die like this.”

As for my heart, I much prefer wearing it on my sleeve.

It’s  almost time!  Almost time for the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! Not only does this mean I’ll actually be paying attention to my blog for a change, it means there will be dozens of wonderful bloggers sharing their slices every day for the month of March.  You should join in!  This year, I’m contributing a couple of prizes, so slice every day and you could win one of them!
SOL image 2014

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Auld Lang Syne

“You were always so unsure of yourself.  It drove me crazy.”

He took a sip of wine and gave me that annoying not-quite-a-smile I remembered so well.  I refilled my own glass, held my silence.  I was still trying to fathom the coincidence of walking into a wine bar far from any place either of us had ever lived and having some random old man look up and be him, Claude.

“Look, I’m not trying to upset you, but you asked what happened with us, I’m telling you.  I wanted a strong, aware, confident woman.  At that time, you –”

“At that time, I was only twenty years old,” I said.  “A child, living away from home for the first time, certainly not needing some man twice my age coming at me with all of his needs, expecting me to be someone I wasn’t.”

“So it was my fault?”

I looked at him a long moment.  He wasn’t frail, exactly, but was on the way.  With effort, I could still see the man I’d found so dynamic.  He’d called my name when I’d walked into the bar, and it was his accent that had helped me find him in my memory, not his face.  When I’d met him almost thirty years earlier, my first thought about him was that he was so old.  How little I knew.  Then or ever.  “Some of it was your fault,” I said.

He nodded.  “And now?  We can share a bottle in this dark bar and none of that matters, right?”

I hated giving him that, but of course he was right, so what did my reluctance say about me?  I hadn’t thought about him in maybe twenty years, but I was dredging up old hurts to poke at him?  I reached out and took his hand.  “None of that matters.  It’s actually nice to see you.”

He laughed.  “You mean it’s nice to know I’m still alive.”

I smiled.  “That, too.”

(source: Photos.com)


I think I need to decide what I’m doing with these stories.  Yesterday and today have been a little too random for me.  Not that random is bad.  I’m a big fan of random …  Still.  Maybe I want a theme of some kind, a thread I can follow through the month.  Maybe not.  Maybe I just need to get out of my way and write.

30 Stories in 30 Days / Facebook
30 Stories in 30 Days / Tumblr

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Yes, really.  Oh, it’s not my idea.  I stumbled onto the event page on Facebook and then found my way over to the Tumblr site.  Am I pretending to be able to do this?  Maybe.  Anything to get my pen moving, yes?

So here’s my first entry:


“I wanted all of us to have something nice to remember from the trip,” Annabelle said.

Brian laughed.  “You mean other than the yelling and dad’s desperate beer runs down to the hiking lodge?”

Annabelle ignored him and kept working.  She’d spent more than an hour scrabbling through the icy creek searching out five perfect stones.  She’d polished them with oil and had set about carving hearts into each.

“You can’t make us a family with pretty rocks, little sister,” Brian said, turning from her and walking toward the cabin.

He was right, but she kept at her work.  Pretty rocks were what she had.  She couldn’t lift the ones large enough to knock any kind of sense into their hardened skulls.  River-smoothed pretty ones would have to do.

(source: Photos.com)


On to the next!

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(Originally, this post was called, “11:44 and still no post?”  I’m sure if you dig around in a Google cache somewhere you can still find it.)


Isn’t that really all there is to say?

It seems clear that my illness is really only my illness, not me spreading food poisoning around to my friends.  And that makes me happy … except that I’m still sick, and that part doesn’t make me happy at all. 

Left work and put myself to bed and woke up five minutes ago.  I was wondering what made me wake up.  Were the cats making noise?  Did the phone ring?  Was I cold?  No and again no and no … I actually think the SOLS challenge woke me up!  The realization that I hadn’t posted anything.  Crazy, but maybe true.  In any case, I’m awake and it’s not midnight yet, so here I am.

And instead of yammering on about nothing for another couple hundred words, I’m going to share my latest 420-character story and put myself back to bed.  Here’s hoping I’m less sick tomorrow.


The train’s white-noise rumble eased Jess’ head back, coaxed her eyes closed.  She had at least four hours before she’d need to think.  Richard understood, had stopped trying to reach her, even as her husband’s calls achieved panic status. What did she owe him, she thought as she shut off the phone. Let him worry. He’d feel vindicated when whoever was first on her trail rang the bell. Her brain shut down in sleep.

This one comes from the same “they all turn dark” place that the earlier ones came from, but with a twist.  A 420-character opening moment of a mystery film?  That’s kind of what this one sounds like to me.

Check out the rest of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers.

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