Friday, September 25, 2020

Week 5 Story: Emergency

It was a typical day for Lottie. Wake up and get ready for work. Avoid the wandering eyes and hands on the subway. Decide between the potentially empty stairwell or the crowded elevator. Either way, there could be danger, but that is just life for Lottie. 

Finally, make it to the office, dodge the nosy person from accounting. Avoid the water cooler at all costs. Everyone congregates there - talk and touch become unavoidable. By timing it just right, Lottie can slide into her office and have the door shut before her assistant is back from gathering the morning's mail. 

No open door policy at this office. That could lead to small talk, and then people would touch things in her office, and they wouldn't leave. Better if they just emailed. When lunch rolled around, Lottie was afraid she forgot her thermos of tomato soup. If she had to leave the office during the day, she'd run into to someone. Then she'd have to talk, maybe go out to eat. Other people would touch her plate, her silverware. What if they wanted to go somewhere with salads? She might choke on a raisin or a piece of lettuce. Thankfully the soup turned up. She was able to drink her lunch—no choking or dropping food on herself today. 

The rest of the workday passed. Lottie stayed in her office well past five. The timing was just as important as in the morning - leave too early, and someone may still be working. Leave too late, and she'd run into housekeeping and be on the night trains with the talkative bar crowd. 

Disaster. The accounting team was meeting late with another office. So many greetings and handshakes and offers of lunch to turn down. What an awful end to the day. Lottie walks quickly to the elevator before the accountants can gather their things. Blessed silence on the way down. Lottie closes her eyes and just breathes for a moment. She tries to calm her racing heart, slow her breathing.

Wait. It's very silent. Lottie opens her eyes. It's dark. Why is it so dark? The emergency lights come on. The elevator is dimly lit, the panel dark, the doors closed tight. Trapped, just dangling in the elevator shaft. 

Of all the luck. She picks up the emergency phone. Of course, there is no text option. She takes a shuddering breath and prepares herself to speak to another person. A voice comes over the line, "We are experiencing heavy call volume, please leave a message." Lottie sighs in relief and speaks calmly and clearly, "Hello, I am alone. The panel says this is elevator number 3 in the west shaft. I was coming down from the 42nd floor. Thank you so much!"



Lottie sits back and smiles as she is utterly alone for the first time since she left her house that morning. Empty elevators are actually quite serene. The distant shouting of the accounting team does disturb the peace just a bit. Perhaps she'll luck out, and they'll rescue that elevator first. A woman can dream.



(Image information: "Emergency Phone" by haven't the slightest is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)

Author's Note: This story was inspired by Fear from the Turkish Fairy Tales unit. In the original story a young man doesn't know fear and sets out to find it. He is faced with a variety of unusual situations - fighting a sea monster, hands rising from a grave, almost being strangled. None of these cause him fear. He is finally startled and briefly experiences fear when a bird flies out of a soup pot. I felt like turning the story around and having a character who was afraid or felt anxiety about just about everything in their day. People in the subway, crowded elevator, choking on a raisin, small talk at work. Only to be headed home, end up in what most people would consider a situation to actually fear and just be like "Actually, this is fantastic."

Story source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales by Ignacz Kunos, with illustrations by Willy Pogany (1913).

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reading Notes: Turkish Fairy Tales Part A

The story Fear stuck with me the most from this reading. 

The main character in this story seems to be stuck in a horror movie. Progressively more strange, shocking and some just outright scary things keep occurring.  And this guy is walking around going "But where is fear?" I can only imagine his everyday life is so wild that these occurrences are actually not at all unusual. 

(Image information: "Fear of the Dark" by stuant63 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

 He is sent to cook in a cemetary and a hand rises from a grave. No big deal. 

He then goes to a house, is almost strangled but again - that's fine, happens all the time!

At that house, he gets a bracelet, is accused of thievery, but that's fine too. Then he gets on a boat and beats up a sea monster. That's just your normal Tuesday night, right? 

 After that he wants to have a bit of a rest. So he's going to try to nap in this garden but instead there are pigeons turning into women. And those women are the strangler, the sea monster and maybe the owner of the hand in the grave. And they want him to move in! This is not at all shocking and totally what he expected to happen at this point in his life. But alas - he still hasn't found fear so he can't move in. Sorry ladies. 

Logically he goes to town - birds land on him so now he is king. Except the king usually ends up dead in the morning. Obviously if you just burn the coffin you won't be dead. That problem solved, he finally gets a good nap. His new wife the queen is like dang, I did not expected to be married this morning, let's have soup. 

What finally scares this guy? A bird coming out of the soup was so surprising he was startled. But it's good, he moved his mom into the palace and lived happily ever after. And maybe smashed all the soup pot lids. 

Story source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales by Ignacz Kunos, with illustrations by Willy Pogany (1913).

Turkish fairytales unit



Monday, September 21, 2020

Famous Last Words: The Week with ALL the Practicum

This was the week I felt like I spent every waking moment at my practicum site or doing something related to practicum. I ended up with half the reading done, again, and haven't found the time to finish off part B as extra credit. But I read The Iliad, which I first read decades ago, so do I have some idea of what I missed.

From now on I need to try to stack all the reading on Mondays again. I am not sure how that will work this week with my afternoon class having a group paper due next week, but we'll see. Maybe I can run through it all after class is over around 7pm.

Practicum looks like it is going to continue to be a little wild, maybe through October. In the words of Dory - Just Keep Swimming. Hopefully by that point some things will have settled back out, hours won't be quite as wonky (I hope) and everyone will be back at the agency. 

This is not Dory. Maybe Dory's cousin?

This week I feel like I wrote SO MANY THINGS, but many of those things were in social work speak. For my writing in this class I did try to use the first-person perspective in my story. I am not sure how I feel about the outcome. I don't think the story would have worked well in another perspective, but I also don't know if I was committed to that style as I was writing.

My social work writing seemed to come out pretty well, but so far, everything this year has been relatively short. In previous semesters we were going through so many pages that these small one to two-page papers feel like practice. While that is good, it also leads to putting things off longer than I should. Plus the whole haven't been to campus since March thing really just throws everything out of whack.

(Image information: "Palette Surgeon Fish" by Stefan David, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

Storybook Plan

The main theme of my story book is going to be the end of the world - as someone knows it. This means my stories will not necessarily be about the end of the entire planet or universe. It could be the end of a civilization, community or even just way of life. Most of what I find and am interested in seems to be the destruction of some sort of island community. But even if an island is almost completely removed from the map, stories about the island or the people live on. I'm reminded of a quote and a whole idea from Terry Pratchett's book Going Postal:  "Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?" (web source here)

This page is information about earthquakes/eruptions in New Zealand and Māori tradition. Also of interest is the mythology of Whakaari.

Another story to potentially use is the eruption of Laki in Iceland in 1783. For Iceland, this eruption was a bit like the comet that killed off the dinosaurs - plants died. The animals that ate the plants died. Then the people that ate those plants and animals started to die. This more than decimated the population.

The 1902 eruption of Mount Pelee is another one that was basically world ending for the folks on that island. This took place on Martinique and while the deadliest portions of the eruption took place over a few days, this eruption actually last for about 3 and a half years. 

 A third item of interest is Krakatoa. This is another one that is on an island, and really ended things in the surrounding area but, not everywhere. And volcanoes rebuild themselves.  

There is also Pompeii and Herculaneum. Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD and buried them in ash. They're now living history and many thousands of people still live in the shadow of Vesuvius. Naples is far bigger than Pompeii could ever imagine. 

Finally there is the Minoan Eruption on Thera, now Santorini and the possible basis for the Atlantis myths. I again have people on an island, but here I have an entire culture that is buried by this eruption. 

Story telling styles I am most likely to use are 3rd person, with dialogue. I write that way a lot already when writing a story. I am interested to maybe try and do at least one story as a sort of diary entry/first person sort of thing - I find it harder to do that unless I really have an idea I can run with.  I can't imagine having a central story teller at this time, I feel this would be an anthology of stories that are connected because they are about volcanoes. I could change my mind and have some sort of narrator type character but I'm not sure what would look like for me yet. 


Ruins on Santorini

(Image information: Archaeological site in Akrotiri, Santorini (ancient Thera), by F. Eveleens, September 1991)

Comment Wall

This will be the comment wall for my Storybook - The End of the World

"Kamokuna lava flow" by AdeRussell is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Friday, September 18, 2020

Week 4 Story: I, Agamemnon

I listened to this prophet tell me to send the girl back to her father. Then he had the gall to say I should also send back the money and the animals I had won as well? Who did this fool think he was talking to - philosophers drunk on wine? If there really was a curse on the girl, then we should get rid of her, but the money, the coins, and jewels, those are mine. 

"You expect me to return what I have gained? Who are any of you to tell me, Agamemnon, what to do? I rule over all Greeks. I have earned these things by my name and status. None of you are above me."

The assembled Greeks looked at me, most in fear of my rage. They were right to be afraid. Others looked on in awe at my might. Everyone seemed appropriately cowed, except for Achilles. He spent too much time fighting to use his brain and know his place.


Achilles spoke, "Why do you always claim so much? You sit here, cozy in your tent while we fight and die. You don't risk yourself, you don't lead from the front. Why should we even listen to you anymore if you won't risk what others do and won't share with those who take the risks?"

This Achilles brought men to fight, it's true. But he is far too outspoken. People are listening and watching. I cannot let this stand. 

"You are not king here, Achilles. Since I cannot keep this cursed girl, I'll just take the one you have. It is my right as king to take what I like when I like. If you don't like that, I'll come take her, your life and your money."

Achilles stormed out of my tent after that. But everyone else seemed impressed with how I handled him. I'll send someone to collect that woman of his a little later. I hope he fights me about it. It will give me a great excuse to end him and take his gold and take over his ships. This turned out to be a pretty good day after all. 





Image information: "Mosaic depicting Achilles confronting Agamemnon from the House of Apollo in Pompeii Roman 1st century BCE-1st century CE" by mharrsch is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Reading Notes - Homer's Iliad Part A

Notes on The Quarrel.

 Agamemnon was head of Greek kings. Achilles had many warriors. 

Agamemnon didn't go out and fight like other people did - he waited for fighting to happen and then claimed victory and prizes because he was in charge. Money, land, people. One of his captives was the daughter of a priest of Apollo. He wanted his kid back, Agamemnon said no. Apollo cursed everyone it was a bad scene. 

The Greeks knew the kid needed to go back, Agamemnon was a stubborn fool. Achilles argued with him and said forget this, I'm out. You all can keep dying while he sits up in his tent with his head in the sand. Obviously that went over like a lead balloon. Everyone is mad, no one knows how to share or talk or compromise. (Presumably because all the ladies were left at home or held captive or only showing up as visions/goddesses to talk a bit of sense into people.)

Anyway. Everyone is mad, Achilles went back to his camp to be mad, Agamemnon stayed mad in his tent. Then Aga. sent messengers to take back Achilles captured woman. Achilles did not shoot the messengers and let her go, although the text notes she wasn't happy about it. Meanwhile the priest's daughter is being taken back home so Apollo let up on the cursing. 

But Achilles called up his mom, who was Thetis a water goddess/sea nymph. And so the cursing will resume in another fashion once she can convince Zeus to do her a favor. 

Achilles' surrender of Briseis to Agamemnon, from the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii, fresco, 1st century AD, now in the Naples National Archaeological Museum

Story source: The Iliad retold by Alfred J. Church (1907)


Week 5 Story: Emergency

It was a typical day for Lottie. Wake up and get ready for work. Avoid the wandering eyes and hands on the subway. Decide between the potent...