writing

The Story of the Stale Bagel

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The first sentence popped into my mind then slowly formed into a story. I may write more creative stories in the future. 

The stale bagel rested on the counter. Two days ago it was a perfectly perfect bagel with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds, hint of garlic, and Parmesan cheese. A typical ‘everything bagel’. Sadly now nobody wants this ‘everything’ bagel and it sits forgotten on the counter waiting to be put into the trash. Our story begins two days ago when the stale bagel was a perfectly perfect bagel.

Callie hated bagels. True, hate is a strong word but Callie truly hated bagels. She had an acceptable reason to hate these round hard dough ‘pastries’ often slathered with creams and jellies. It all began ten years ago. (It’s funny how two days suddenly becomes 10 years.)

Every day her mother packed a bagel into Callie’s lunch and every day Callie threw the bagel away. When she returned home, Callie’s mother always asked about her day and if she enjoyed today’s bagel choice. Her mother gained great pleasure packing a different bagel every day. Every day Callie would reply that her day was ‘just fine’. At first, Callie loved the bagel surprise each day: blueberry, cheddar, cranberry, honey nut, and of course the ‘everything’ bagel. However, too soon these bagel ‘surprises’ were more annoying and predictable than a delight each day. Callie just didn’t have the heart to tell her mother to stop packing a bagel in her lunch each day. Ironically, Callie’s mother grew to dislike packing a bagel each day and didn’t have the heart to tell Callie. Due to the miscommunication, Callie’s lunch could have contained items besides bagels: pb&j, tuna fish, ham & cheese, turkey & swiss, and perhaps an egg salad sandwich. Sadly, Callie’s lunch contained a bagel for ten years.

Callie sighed and shrugged her shoulders as she stepped inside the ‘Bagels R Us’ door. Years of bagel resentment rushed through her head as she put on her bagel apron to begin her day. Her experience made Callie a ‘bagel expert’ although there really wasn’t a ‘bagel expert’ instead it was just the person who took orders and replenished the bagel supply. Everyone always asked the same stupid questions: ‘What’s the most popular bagel? Which bagel goes best with coffee? Are these bagels gluten free? Are these bagels low fat? Are these today’s or yesterday’s bagel batch?’ Callie tried her best to smile and kindly reply to each question, but inside she often had other thoughts.

Callie noticed the ‘everything’ bagels needed to be replenished and she carefully placed a dozen fresh everything bagels inside the glass display case. Yes, our stale ‘everything’ bagel was indeed one of these fresh bagels. It was the last bagel in the display, so it’s chance of being eaten was slightly slimmer. The perfectly perfect everything bagel was ready to be sold, but you dear reader know that it never sold and is now stale.

Callie was your typical college student who worked part-time to pay for books. Due to her past ‘experience’ she knew she’d be great as the local bagel shop girl. Of course, Callie was hired on the spot when it was discovered her bagel knowledge. (The positive references and strong work ethics may have been a factor too.) Callie shook hands and took her ‘Bagels R Us’ apron. She was due to start next week.

Callie was average. This sounds completely harsh and unfair, but it’s true that Callie was average. She was always somewhere in the middle with grades. Her hair was neither straight, curly, wavy, or fizzy. It was just standard ash brown hair that hung below her shoulders and Callie constantly pushed back behind her ears. Yes, she could have cut her hair or styled, but again Callie was average and didn’t really bother with any of that. You may call her a ‘wallflower’ but she was neither loud nor quiet. Callie was just there. Callie’s ‘averageness’ made her blend into crowds, classrooms, parties, and sometimes at family functions. Callie knew she was average, because most people who are average are highly aware that they are indeed average. Callie was just an average college student who was average in every way, except bagels. She was not average at all when it came to bagels.

The funny thing is this ‘average-girl-who-wasn’t-average when- it-came-to-bagels-girl’ hadn’t eaten a single bagel bite since she began working at ‘Bagels R Us’. Callie’s last bagel bite was ten years ago when she was a simple average eight year old who disliked the bagels her mother packed every day. However, even though her last bagel bite was ten years ago Callie was still considered a ‘bagel expert’, even though the term didn’t exist.

This ‘bagel expert’ knew which bagels were most popular, which beverage worked best, differences between a breakfast and lunch bagel, and most importantly when to replenish the bagels. Customers knew the best time to buy a fresh, warm bagel. Callie simply smiled and handed the fresh bagel to eager customers. She never took a bite of a fresh bagel. When asked what was her favorite bagel Callie’s response was always the same: “Oh I just can’t pick one. I love them all”.

Everyone has a ‘Callie friend’. Someone who’s always there, but you can’t seem to remember when you exactly met. This ‘Callie friend’ will help with homework, tell a joke, and lend you spare change. However, this ‘Callie friend’ isn’t normally the friend you first go to when faced with an emotional dilemma. Everyone enjoys the ‘Callie friend’ but she or he is just ‘there’. The ‘Callie friend’ is everyone’s friend, yet nobody’s best friend. Oh don’t take petty on the ‘Callie friend’, because they often think they have dozens of friends since everyone surrounds themselves around a ‘Callie friend’. You’re already aware that Callie is average, so it makes perfect since that Callie herself is indeed the ‘Callie friend’. However, this ‘Callie friend’ is a bagel expert.

The ‘Bagels R Us’ doors close for the day and Callie checks which bagels still remain. As she tallies the bagel counts, Callie holds a secret. She wants to eat a bagel. Yes the ‘bagel expert’ who hasn’t taken a bagel bite in ten years wants to eat a bagel. She doesn’t know why, but something holds her back from eating a bagel. This is ironic because every day Callie could have eaten any delicious and fresh bagel of her choice. Every time she smiles and hands the bagel to customers, a small part of Callie wishes she could eat the bagel. Of course, she knows it’s silly and she can eat a bagel anytime she desires. Yet, Callie still hasn’t eaten a bagel. That all changes today.

Callie is almost finished for the day as she begins to toss old bagels into the trash. The last bagel on the counter is our lonely, stale bagel. Callie picks it up and carefully examines the bagel as though it’s her first time looking at a bagel. Remember Callie is a ‘bagel expert’ who hasn’t tasted a bagel in ten years. Although, Callie herself views herself as just an average person and never an expert about anything. Callie knows she’s been silly these past ten years to never bite into a bagel. She cracks a smile and makes a decision.

The stale ‘eveything’ bagel’s fate has suddenly changed as it doesn’t end in the trash. Callie slowly opens her mouth and takes a small bite. She waits for something profound to happen, but nothing does. Ten years without bagels suddenly disappear as Callie finishes the stale bagel. However, it isn’t a stale bagel to Callie, instead it is a perfectly perfect bagel that finally made her an official ‘bagel expert’.

It’s Another Cloudy Dress Day

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The alarm clock greets me in the morning to wake up. I look out my window to see grey skies with maybe a patch of blue. My phone says the weather should only reach 56°F. I decide to make it a dress day. I’m not going anywhere special or have big plans. Nope. I just wanted to wear a dress to brighten the grey sky day. I love how my dress makes me smile as I twirl and spin. I even add a necklace, just because.

We don’t need a reason to get dressed up or wear something you love. If it brightens your day then wear that dress, necklace, jersey, jacket, or even a certain pair of underwear. (However, you may want a set of eyes to ensure your ‘happy’ outfit is fit for others to see.) You never know, grey skies may turn blue with the right attitude.

What item always makes you happy to wear?

Writing 101 Challenge: How Many Words Does it Take to Make a PB&J?

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Today’s challenge is to simply free write 400 words or more. I won’t know exactly until I type it, since I’m using paper and pen. (Well, I could count but that’s just too much trouble.) I think this is a help, because my eyes won’t constantly be looking at the word count. I’ve actually thought about this before – Is there a word minimum or maximum a post should be?

I often have so many thoughts running through my head about potential ideas to write about. There are always the same questions. Where do I start? Is this idea good enough? How can I get all my thoughts organized without being too stressful? Of course, the best thing to do is just pick up your pen or pencil and begin writing and hopefully it will all come together. Fingers on a keyboard while glazing at the screen also works. I think all writers fear the blank page or screen. However, this blankness is also a fresh start to anything. The connection you make with paper or computer may begin slowly like pouring molasses or pour  out quickly like salad dressing. Sooner or later these ideas will take shape, but you just need to start.

That brings me back to the word count dilemma. Perhaps it’s not really a dilemma at all. I love to post photos and everyone knows the phrase, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. One photo is a thousand words – amazing. A photo or visual is very powerful. With the correct photo, few or no words are needed to express the feeling or explain the photo. Many bloggers, including myself, participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge. Others post photos on particular days, ‘Wordless Wednesday’ or my new ‘Foto Friday’. Everyone loves to share and view these photos that say so much with little or no words.

Posts can have a few words and still be powerful. A beautiful poem evokes emotions unique to each reader. A simple recipe can introduce readers to a delicious new dish. Readers learn the best ways to start a herb garden, basic daily exercises, or how to knit socks. Many words aren’t required to convey the message. Is there a maximum word count for a post? No there isn’t.

Some thoughts, ideas, concepts, and instructions require deeper information. It reminds me of dating profiles when I used online dating. Some individuals wrote a small paragraph to tell the world who they are. The last sentence was usually, ‘Send an email if you have questions’. Well, I really didn’t have enough information to ask. Sometimes more words are needed to fully communicate our thoughts to the world.

Try this idea with someone. One person tells another exactly how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Go ahead, it takes more words than you think. Remember to follow only the words they tell you. This activity should provoke many laughs.

In conclusion, a word count truly shouldn’t matter when writing a post. I always believe quality over quantity. Make every word count. I’m now going to type this and discover if in fact I wrote 400 words or more. If you try the PB&J activity let me know!

Word count: 538

Writing 101 Challenge: Fears & Worries

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Prompt: ‘We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.’

Decisions, decisions, decisions. If you know the true Caroline in real life then you know I have difficulty making decisions – any decision. What should I order at the restaurant? What nail polish color should I pick? Do I really like this shirt or just the price? What will people think about me when I’m wearing/doing/acting a certain way? Should I say this or that? Maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all. What’s the best way to teach this lesson? How should I handle a student behavior? Which street should I drive? Am I making the right decision?

These are just a few decisions I’ve made. There are both small and big choices. Trust me, I could ramble off many more decisions I’ve faced. I think my fear or worry is making the wrong decision then getting negative attention. Are my situations life or death? No, but I stress and worry so much that the decisions seem so important. I’ve often been called a ‘Worry Wart’ or ‘Debbie Downer’. Of course, these comments just make matters worse.

I really don’t like this part of Caroline. It’s very frustrating as I debate with myself about which decision to pick. Overall, I know it often doesn’t matter. Some decisions are important, such as relationships, jobs, and family. I need to remind myself that normally nothing negative will occur after making a decision. More importantly, I need to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people say or think. The next time I’m faced with a decision I’ll listen to my gut feeling and first response. Hey, you never know a gut decision could lead to my new favorite dish, a friend, or great book.

Writing 101 Challenge: The Lost Room

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Prompt: ‘Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar or interesting you find in a pile.’

Lost Room

You must have a valid invitation to enter.

Emma looked at the somewhat ordinary piece of paper in her hands. It was plain white with a typed message:

You lost something important. Go to the listed location open weekly 8AM-6PM. Please remember that there is no attendant or anyone to assist you. It is your responsibility to locate your lost item. This invitation is for only your eyes. You may not mention this experience to anyone. Enter code 1X2R5BW9

Good luck on your search!

Emma stood at the entrance to the lost room and laughed. She didn’t even know what she exactly lost, but was curious after receiving the ‘official invitation’ in the mail. It was actually stupid to be here, since there could be a murderer behind the door. She pushed in the code and waked inside the lost room.

The room was extremely organized. There were endless shelves with labeled boxes of numerous sizes. She scanned a few shelves and boxes. Emma was at a complete loss, because she didn’t know what she lost. She started to scan a few shelves and boxes.

An entire shelf was dedicated to lost keys with boxes labeled: house, car, locker, jewelry box, and even ‘keys to success’. Another shelf was organized by photos with boxes labeled: wedding, class pictures, reunion, summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc with a year and location. Another shelf was dedicated to kitchen items with boxes labeled: spoons, teacups, grandma’s gravy boat, wine glasses, etc. The rows of shelves of lost items continued until she reached the last shelf. The last shelf was slightly different, because it didn’t contain lost items that an individual could hold in your hand. This shelf had boxes labeled lost: humor, love, adventure, confidence, life, etc.

Emma stood still and confused. What exactly was lost in her life? She had all her keys, family heirlooms, and even kept photo books. Why did she receive this special invitation to this unique room? Did others receive a similar invitation? She would never know, since she couldn’t talk about this experience. Emma walked again down the last row.

She opened the box labeled ‘lost humor’ and heard laughter and saw many paper slips with jokes, photos, funny moments, and even weird objects. It made her smile and laugh. No, she didn’t lose her sense of humor.

She opened the box labeled ‘lost adventure’. There were photos of sail boats, mountains, bikes, animals, hot air balloons, parachutes, a movie set, her hometown at night, a farm, delicious foods, and even a photo of Earth. Emma paused and thought. She knew her life had too much routine and she never tried anything new. She decided that she lost her sense of adventure. Emma closed her eyes and picked a photo. She decided this would be her next adventure in life.

She picked a photo of the pyramids. It wasn’t the first place she thought about, but it would sure be an adventure. She was off to Egypt. Emma found her lost adventure.

What would you find in the lost room?

 

 

Do You Doodle?

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Do you pick your pen/pencil/marker/crayon then grab any nearby paper to just quickly doodle? I know I do. It might be on ‘junk’ mail, receipts, newspapers, post-its, envelopes, or even personal stationery. What exactly do your doodles look like? (I’m talking about drawing people.)

I’m half way between thinking and not thinking as my hand glides across the page creating different doodles. My doodles usually look like shapes or flowers. Perhaps I just write my name in different scrolls or prints.

Can you doodle without a pen? I think it’s a little different, but the mindless action can still take place. You can add lines, shapes, colors, and different fonts to doodle on your computer.

Everyone’s mindless doodles are slightly different. What do you do during a mental break between thinking and not thinking? Those ‘doodle moments’ can spark your next project or interest. So go ahead and grab that pen and paper to doodle away!

Writing 101 Challenge: To Whom it Concerns

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Prompt: ‘Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. Pick a word and write. For an extra twist, write the post in the form of a letter.’

I used the book China Dolls by Lisa See. (I just finished, so a review may soon follow.) The word I picked was ‘street’.

Dear Street,

Thank-you for the mostly pleasurable bike ride this morning. I can tell you need to freshen up a bit, since the holes weren’t fun. I know it’s not your fault. You take the stress and demands from cars, construction sites, and even teens skateboarding every day. I also know that it’s the city who needs to shape up and help keep you looking beautiful. When my bike coasted on your smooth pavement it was such a delight! I’ll try to remember that feeling the next time a street is bumpy. I never know what the next street may look like.

Keep Strong & Beautiful!

Caroline