Friday, October 22, 2004

The Plot of My New Book

This is my plot for my book, titled “Undecided”. I wrote up my characters earlier this month, fascinated by their financial success which was over shadowed by their alieanation and loneliness. My favorite play of all time is Tennessee Williams “The Glass Menagerie”. I am writing an updated version with my own characters. My version has a different outcome, instead of poverty the family has wealth but remained estranged and guilt ridden. The young woman, Lydia, withdraws in humiliation and scorn came when she was outed as a lesbian then rejected by both her mother and her half-brother for her 'perversion'.

Undecided

Scenes 1 & 2
The story takes place in the factory of the Law family, which is in a spacious, non-descript industrial-warehouse complex in Memphis. On the factory floor is a collection of workers at their workbenches. A photograph of the founder hangs on the wall.

Albert, dressed as a farm worker, settles into his office and reminisces about the history of his family’s business. He turns back time to the 1960s, to when America was still recovering from the war protests, and there were violent race disputes. There was also a war in Viet Nam.

Albert, the main character, offers the reader his memories. The others are his first black worker named Rachel, his niece/sister Lydia, and her lesbian lover who appears in the final chapters. Another character, who does not appear in the book, is his and Lydia’s father, who died from a heart attack at his job deserting his family a long time ago. Lydia and her mother were both much younger than their respective siblings Julia and Arnold.

As the book begins, Paula and Lydia are seated at a table. Arnold joins them, but he and his mother soon fall to arguing since Paula is critical of him. Paula alludes to a gentleman caller that she expects that afternoon for Lydia. Then she reminisces about her own past in Hernando, Mississippi, when she once had seventeen gentlemen callers in one afternoon. Arnold, who has heard this story many times, indulges her, and Paula tells of how she was able to entertain them all because she knew the art of conversation. Many of these men went on to become wealthy, although many are now dead.

Paula tells Lydia to go and take her medications. She must stay fresh and pretty because her gentleman caller will be arriving shortly. Lydia points out that she is not expecting anyone, but Paula does not want to believe it. She fears that Lydia may become an “old maid”.

In scene 2, an agitated Paula returns from what would usually have been a U.D.C. (United Daughters of the Confederacy) meeting. But it transpires that she did not go to the meeting. Instead, she visited University of Tennessee Medical College's Gaston Psychiatric Clinic to speak to Lydia’s Doctor about the progress she was making. The nurse told her that Lydia did not return for her group therapy meetings. The nurse then recalled that Lydia was the shy girl who dropped out after only attending a few meetings. Paula had assumed that Lydia had been attending therapy every week for six months. She is devastated by the news, and tells Lydia that all her hopes and ambitions for her have been destroyed. She asks Lydia where she has been going when she pretended to be attending group therapy. Lydia replies that she went out walking, usually visiting Mary Jane, or going to the movie theater.

Paula is in despair. Because Lydia has dropped out of her therapy, she sees nothing in her future except the return of the psychotic episodes. She then turns the subject to marriage, asking Lydia if she has ever liked a boy.

Lydia replies that there was one boy, named Charlie, whom she liked in high school. She shows her mother the school yearbook, which has a picture of Charlie. She remembers how he used to call her “Blue Roses,” having misheard her tell him that she had had an attack of asthma. The yearbook stated that Charlie was engaged to be married, so Lydia assumes that he is now married, since the yearbook is six years old.

Paula resolves to marry Lydia off to a nice man, but Lydia does not believe she will ever marry because she is psycho. Paula reproaches her for using that word, and insists that all she has to do is try harder to cultivate vivacity and charm.

Analysis
The social background that is emphasized several times in the book is important. It is the macrocosmic reflection of the microcosm of the Law family. In scene 1, Arnold mentions the war protests of the 1960s, and this mirrors the racial relations and worries of the Law family.

Scene 1 is dominated by Paula, who reveals how difficult she is to live with. She lectures Arnold all the time, telling him what to do and how he should live. It is no wonder that he, who is the musician, imaginative member of the family, wants to escape.

It is clear that Paula lives in an illusory world of her own. She is really living in the past, looking back to an ideal South of her youth that probably never really existed. She is surely exaggerating when she recalls her seventeen gentlemen callers on just one afternoon—a story she has told many times before.

If Paula lives in the past and nourishes illusions regarding the present, Lydia has extreme difficulties of her own, as scene 2 shows. She is shown polishing her glass animals, which seem to be all she has in life. Self-conscious about being lame, she retreats inward and cannot face the world. It is clear that both Paula and Lydia, in their different ways, are trapped in their small worlds. There seems to be no future for them.

Scene 3
Arnold remembers the fiasco at the doctor’s office, and Paula became obsessed with finding a “gentleman caller” for Lydia.

The audience then sees Paula. Realizing that some extra money will be required to spend on the apartment to make it look nice, she makes telephone calls selling Avon makeup to other women.

After the chapter ends, the voices of Arnold and Paula are heard quarreling again. Arnold is angry with his mom’s control over his life. The day before, she returned one of his books to the library because she did not approve of its contents.

In the next chapter, a computer and a pile of manuscripts appear on his desk at work. It appears that the quarrel was sparked by Paula’s interruption of Arnold’s creative work.
The quarrel continues. Arnold says he is going out, and Paula responds by saying she does not believe he goes to works every night. She thinks he must be doing something he is ashamed of. He comes home late and gets only a few hours sleep. Paula is certain that he is jeopardizing his job, and their security. Arnold replies that he hates his job at the warehouse and working there means he has to give up all his dreams. He says that if he was really as selfish as she thinks he is, he would already have left home, like his father did.

When he starts to go out, Paula says she still doesn’t believe he is going to the work. He replies with some wild exaggerations about what he is really going to do, including going to a crack house and gambling casinos. He says he is a hired assassin and carries an assault weapon in his truck. Carried away by his anger and frustration, he calls Paula a witch. He hurls his coat across the room where it smashes against Lydia’s collection of glass animals. Lydia is horrified. Paula is stunned by Arnold’s calling her a witch and says she will not speak to him until he apologizes. Paula exits, leaving Arnold and Lydia together. Arnold collects the broken glass.

Analysis
If the previous chapter showed how Paula and Lydia were each trapped in their own ways, this chapter shows how Arnold is trapped too. He is by nature a rock guitarist and a song-writer (as the pile of manuscripts on the table shows), and he cannot bear to fritter his life away working at the daddy’s factory. He knows he has to escape.

The difference between Arnold and his mother can be seen in their tastes in literature. Paula likes romantic, escapist fiction of the sort published in People magazine, which suits her old-fashioned view of the world. Arnold prefers Neil Guiman, who lauds the sensual, instinctive, earthy dimension to life. But Paula regards Guiman books as “sacrilegious and blasphemous.”

It is obvious that the glass menagerie is a symbol of the fragility of Lydia’s life. When some of the animals are accidentally broken, she cries out “as if wounded.”

Scene 4
Arnold does not return until five o’clock in the morning, and Lydia tells him to be careful not to wake Paula. Arnold does not care, and he tells his sister about the problems at the factory. He says their father left the business near bankruptcy. He knows he has to recover the business. He compares his own life to a drunk in the gutter and asks how he will ever get out of such a thing where the cost of the goods is less than the sales. As he speaks, the photograph of the father (who did manage to escape) lights up.

After that chapter dims about, a clock strikes six. Paula, who is not speaking to Arnold, tries to get Lydia to summon Arnold for his coffee. Lydia urges Arnold to apologize to his mother for his earlier outburst.

Lydia goes out to buy butter. Arnold enters, and for some moments, he and Paula do not speak. She stands with her back to him. Then Arnold apologizes to her. She cries, and says she worries so much that she cannot sleep. She urges him not to fail in running the company too. He must try, and then he will succeed. Arnold speaks gently to her, with understanding. She asks him to promise her he will never be a drunkard, which he does, grinning.

Paula then tries to tell him what he should have for breakfast, and he politely insists that all he will have is a cup of coffee. She then says that she sent Lydia out so she could discuss her with Arnold. She starts by saying that Lydia has told her that he is unhappy living in their apartment and working in the warehouse. Arnold denies that he goes out at night just to get away, and Paula again asks him where he goes. He gives the same answer that he gave in the previous chapter. He goes to the factory a lot because he doesn’t want to be a failure.

After their discussion about what Arnold wants in life goes nowhere, Paula turns to the subject of Lydia. She says it frightens her that Lydia is just drifting along, and they must make some provisions for her. She tells Arnold that as soon as Lydia has a husband and a home of her own, he will be free to pursue his own dreams. But up until then he must look out for her, since none of Paula’s efforts have worked out, and all Lydia does is stay at home, play CD’s and fool around with her glass animal collection.

As Arnold is about to go to work, Paula asks if any nice young men work there. She wants Arnold to ask a suitable young man back to their apartment, so he can become acquainted with Lydia. Arnold is impatient and unsympathetic, but he agrees to do what his mother wants.

Paula starts to make more phone calls in connection with selling Avon makeup.

Analysis
Paula seems oblivious to the fact that her controlling, critical nature is certain to drive Arnold away. But she cannot bear the thought that Arnold is going to take after his father, and she sees the warning signs already. Their dialog shows that not only are they trapped as far as their external situation is concerned, they are also unable to communicate their feelings fully. There is an entire emotional world that exists somewhere beyond the grasp of words. Paula says, for example, that “There’s so many things in my heart that I cannot describe to you!”, and Arnold replies, “There’s so much in my heart that I won’t describe to you!” Arnold’s solution is that they should just accept this and respect each other’s privacy, but this is not something that Paula would ever be able to do.

When Arnold tells his mother that “Man is by instinct a lover, a hunter, a fighter,” he is probably influenced by his reading of Steven King, since that sounds like something from the King creed. Paula, on the other hand, aspires, or convinces herself she aspires, to a higher realm of being, beyond instinct, which is something humans share with the animals. She wants “superior things! Things of the mind and spirit!” and she mentions Christianity. There is obviously going to be no meeting of minds between these two, however long they talk. But they do have a common concern for Lydia.

Scene 5
It is a spring evening in 1969. The family has just finished supper, and Paula, as usual, is telling Arnold what to do. He should comb his hair more frequently. When Arnold, irritated, goes out for a smoke, she tells him that he smokes too much. He should save the money instead.

Arnold returns to his office. He describes what the Club Paradise, which is just across the alley, was like on spring evenings. He explains that world events (the coming of Desert Storm) would soon produce adventure and change for all the young people in the area. But until that happened, there was only Rap music, beer, NASCAR, bars, movies and sex.

Paula joins him on the fire-escape, and they make a wish on the moon. Arnold keeps his a secret, but Paula says she wished for the success and happiness of her children.
Arnold tells her that he has arranged for a gentleman caller for Lydia. Paula is first excited and then flustered when Arnold tells her that the young man is coming for dinner tomorrow. She says she needs more time to make preparations, but Arnold chides her for making a fuss. Paula wants to know whether the young man, whose name is O’Connor, drinks. Arnold says he is not aware of any drinking problem; he is impatient with his mother’s fears about men who drink.

As Paula questions Arnold further about his friend, it transpires that he is the supervisor of the warehouse, and he earns more than most young men. Paula says that his salary is not enough for a family man, but Arnold points out that O’Connor is not a family man. But he might be in the future, is Paula’s reply.

She hopes O’Connor is not too good-looking, and Arnold confirms that he is rather homely. He goes to night school, studying nano engineering, and public speaking, which pleases Paula, since she thinks that shows ambition. Arnold explains that he did not tell Charlie anything about Lydia, and warns his mother not to expect too much of her. Lydia is crippled, shy, and lives in a world of her own; she is not like other girls. Arnold tells his mother she must face the facts.

Arnold then exits, saying he is going to back to work Paula calls Lydia over and tells her to make a wish on the moon. Lydia asks what she should wish for, and Paula tells her to wish for happiness and good fortune.

Analysis
The chapter begins and ends with dreaming, as first Arnold and Paula, and then Paula and Lydia make wishes on the moon. For Paula, this kind of thinking is all she has left. It highlights the gap between the harsh and unpromising world she lives in and her efforts, some practical and others based on romantic illusions, to break out of it and make her life bearable.

In this chapter Arnold makes another attempt to paint the wider social background, when he mentions John Kerry’s cowardice in Viet Nam then his betrayal of his fellow soldiers at the Senate hearing. Kerry’s later plans for peace in the Middle East and Iraq appeased the muslims by turning our back on Israel. The muslims had initiated terror attacks against the United States. They high jacked two planes and flew them into the two World Trade Center Towers. The two towers crashed and over 3000 innocent people died.

Scene 6
Arnold speaks, looking back on the past. He says he knew that Lydia and Charlie O’Connor had been acquainted in high school, but he did not know whether Charlie remembered her.

On a Friday evening, at about five, everything is ready for Charlie’s arrival. Lydia is so nervous she trembles. Paula stuffs a couple of pads down Lydia’s dress, because she is flat-chested. Lydia says she will not wear them. Paula disappears and then re-emerges wearing girlish dress, one that she wore when she was young. She wore it for her gentleman callers, and was wearing it the day she met her husband. Then she lets slip that the young man’s name is Charlie O’Connor. Lydia fears that it may be the boy she knew in high school, whom she liked. If it is the same boy, she says she will not come to the dinner table. Paula tries to reassure her that it will not be the same person.

The doorbell rings, and Paula tells Lydia to answer it. Lydia pleads with her mother, and says she is sick. But Paula insists the she open the door. Arnold introduces Charlie to Lydia and she manages to get out a few anxious words before excusing herself. Arnold explains to Charlie that she is terribly shy.

After glancing at the newspaper, Charlie and Arnold go out on to the fire-escape. Charlie talks about how his public speaking course has helped him. He says the most important thing in life is social poise, being able to hold your own on many levels. He also tells Arnold that one of the supervisors, a Mr. Mendoza, has indicated that Arnold will be out of a job soon if he doesn’t wake up. Arnold says he is waking up, but the signs of it are interior. He is ready to go to sea. He is tired of going to the movies all the time, and wants some adventure of his own. He shows Charlie his membership card of the Union of Merchant Seamen. He paid his dues instead of paying the electricity bill. When the lights go off, he says, he won’t be there.

They go inside, where Paula greets them. She turns on the excessive charm. Charlie is taken aback at first, but quickly adjusts. She chatters on, hardly letting Charlie get a word in edgewise.

Supper is on the table, but Lydia has not appeared. After Paula calls her, she comes in but walks unsteadily. She is obviously terrified. She stumbles and catches at a chair. Paula realizes she really is sick, and tells Arnold to help her to the living room, where she rests on the sofa.

The chapter ends as Arnold says grace before the meal, and Lydia holds her hand to her mouth to hold back a sob.

Analysis
Paula’s frantic preparations, and the dress she wears, are out of all proportion to the event. Once more shows how she is still living in an idealized southern past, in which invitations for young ladies keep pouring in and there were parties all over the Delta: “Evenings, dances!—Afternoons, long, long rides! Picnics—lovely!—So lovely, that country in May.—All lacy, with dogwood, literally flooded with jonquils!”

Charlie is a sharp contrast to the other three characters. Just as he arrives, Paula says in frustration to Lydia, “Why can’t you and your brother be normal people?” Charlie is one of those normal people. He has found that real life is much harder than being in high school, where he was outstanding, and in six years he has not advanced very far in life. But he is ambitious, and ready to take his place in the American mainstream (unlike any of the marginalized Law family). His chosen interest is radio engineering and television—the industries of the future, and his evening classes in public speaking make it clear that he believes in the American Dream. He believes that if you work hard and study, you can get ahead, which is an ethos that Paula has earlier tried to instill in Arnold, without any success. Charlie is therefore attuned to the society in which he lives, but Paula, Lydia and Arnold are all, in their different ways, people who do not fit in.

Scene 7
Half an hour later, dinner is just being finished. Lydia is still huddled on the sofa.
The lights go out. Paula lights candles while Charlie checks on the fuses, which are all intact. Paula asks Arnold about the bill, and it soon transpires that he did not pay it.
Paula tells Charlie to go and keep Lydia company while she and Arnold wash the dishes. Charlie takes the candelabra and some wine with him, and talks to Lydia in a gentle, humorous way, to help her overcome her shyness. He tells her about the Rolling Stones Concert he saw in Columbia, South Carolina the previous summer. He is excited about their new album.

Lydia asks him whether he has kept up with his singing. Charlie is surprised at her inquiry, and Lydia supposes he does not remember her. He replies that he remembers her from somewhere, and when she responds with the nickname he gave her, Blue Roses, he remembers who she is. Charlie wonders why she didn’t say something when he arrived, but she says she was too surprised.

They recall a choral singing class they took together, and Charlie remembers that she always came in late. She explains that that was because of the leg brace she wore, but Charlie says he never noticed it. When Lydia confesses that she never had much luck making friends, Charlie tries to help her overcome her shyness, telling her that people are not so dreadful when you get to know them.

He recalls how in high school there was a write-up about him in the yearbook that said he was bound to succeed in anything he went into. Lydia produces the book, and points to a photo of Charlie performing in an operetta. She tells him she went to all three performances and wanted to ask him to autograph her program, but his own friends always surrounded him. Charlie signs the yearbook for her with a flourish. Lydia then finds out from him that he never married the girl the yearbook says he was engaged to.

Charlie inquires about what she has been doing since high school, and she confesses to dropping out of the University of Memphis and going to work for her older brother. She doesn’t do much else, she says, and tells him about her collection of glass animals.

Charlie says that her problem is that she has an inferiority complex. She lacks confidence in herself as a person. He advises her to think of herself as superior in some way. Everyone excels in something, he says; you just have to discover what it is. Then he talks about his interest in nano-engineering and how he believes in the future of micro-technology. He is already making the right connections so he can get into this new industry.

After he asks her whether there is something, she takes more interest in than anything else, she shows him her glass collection, and gives him a glass unicorn to hold.
Charlie invites her to dance, and overcomes her objection that she has never danced in her life. As he swings her around the floor, they bump into the table, and the unicorn falls off and breaks. Charlie is very apologetic, but Lydia says it doesn’t matter.

Charlie tells her that she is different from anyone else he knows. He asks her whether anyone has ever told her she is pretty, and says he wishes she were his sister; he would teach her to have confidence in herself. He then takes her hand and kisses her on the mouth.

Realizing his mistake, Charlie backs off, lights a cigarette, and says he shouldn’t have kissed her. She confesses that she has a regular girlfriend called Mary Jane, with whom she is in love.

Lydia is devastated by her sudden confession, but she tries to recover. She offers him the broken unicorn, as a souvenir.

At that moment, Paula comes into the room, chattering gaily. She anticipates Charlie coming often to call on them. Charlie says he must be going, and mentions Mary Jane’s name, saying she is Lydia’s lover.

Paula is stunned, but she puts a brave face on this unwelcome news, wishing Charlie luck, happiness, and success.

After Charlie has left, Paula confronts Arnold. She finds it hard to believe his protests that he had no idea Lydia was gay. Arnold says he is going to the movies. He smashes his glass on the floor and rushes out. Lydia screams.

In Arnold’s final speech, he looks back from his later viewpoint. He was works all the time at his job, and left him mom and sister, growing the company year after year. But no matter how much money he makes, he cannot forget that Lydia is a lesbian. Whenever he sees some transparent glass, or a familiar piece of music, he thinks of her. He tries to distract himself from the memory by telling Paula to shoot Lydia because she is gay.

Lydia, who has been acting out a soundless scene with her aunt; guns Paula down with Arnold’s assault weapon ending the book.

Analysis
This is the longest chapter in the book, and takes up about one-third of the action. It is dramatically effective, in part, because it focuses on the meeting between the heterosexual Charlie and the homosexual Lydia. He succeeds in drawing out her secret to the shock of her brother and her aunt. Will he be the Prince Charming to her Cinderella, her cure from homosexuality? But the audience senses that this cannot be.

Charlie does his best with Lydia, using what he has learned in his night school classes about how to have self-confidence in dealing with others. The “pop” psychology has been good enough for him in his quest to improve himself, but poor Lydia is in need of much more than a pep talk to accept her gayness. Charlie is well-meaning, but he allows his enthusiasm to run away with him. His clumsy breaking of the glass unicorn is an obvious piece of symbolism, foreshadowing his unintentional shattering of Lydia a few moments later.

Lydia is broken completely by this sudden coming out. The coming out scene with Lydia and Charlie “is the climax of her secret life.” The truth is she did not forgive Charlie for triggering her coming out, because they were barely acquainted with each other. For Lydia to live without hope is one thing, but to have hope and guilt suddenly erupt so unexpectedly, followed by the loss of home and a continuing simmering of guilt for being different, is an even more devastating experience than mere hopelessness. The look on Lydia’s face is one of “almost infinite desolation.”

After Charlie’s departure, the book draws to a close with the predictable pattern reasserting itself, as Paula accuses Arnold of selfishness and he goes out to the back to work. Nothing much has changed in these difficult, restricted lives.

At the end, Arnold describes his life since he escaped from this stifling home environment and buried himself in his work. Lydia acts out a soundless pantomime; it is as if the character is behind transparent, soundproof glass. She has become like a member of a glass menagerie, cut off in an unfulfilled, desperate and fragile world of her own.

Character Profiles

Charlie O’Connor
Charlie O’Connor is a friend of Arnold’s from the warehouse where they both work. Charlie is the “gentleman caller” who is invited to dinner by Arnold, and in whom Paula places her hopes for finding a husband for Lydia.

Charlie was an outstanding success in high school, and everyone thought he would succeed in life. However, in the six years that have elapsed since he graduated, he has found life much tougher than he might have expected. At the warehouse, he is the warehouse supervisor, which is only a slightly better position than Rachel’s. However, Charlie is a cheerful, optimistic young man, who is determined to get on in life. He is studying public speaking and nano-molecular engineering at night school, and wants to go into the fledgling nano-technology industry. When he visits the Law family, Charlie does his best to draw Lydia out of her shell, but his enthusiasm runs away with him and he makes the mistake of kissing her. She then has to explain that she must disappoint him because she has a steady girlfriend named Mary Jane.

Mary Jane
Mary Jane is Lydia’s “friend”. They have been friends since the first grade. Mary Jane is a failed writer and a nice ordinary looking young woman.

Paula Law
Paula Law is the mother of Arnold and aunt of Lydia. Paula spent her youth in the south, and in a way, she continues to live there, endlessly telling her children stories of her life back in those days. Her desire to live in the past is perhaps not surprising, given that it was so much more enjoyable than the life she has in the present—living on limited means in an apartment in a middle-class area of Memphis.

Paula’s husband died and deserted her sixteen years ago, and she is scared that Arnold will turn out like his father. But she does not realize that by her constant attempts to control his life, she is driving him away. Paula is resourceful and energetic, and her sole ambition is that her son and daughter should be successful and happy. But her attempts to marry off Lydia to Charlie are a terrible failure and leave her desolate, although she still manages to put a brave face on things.

Lydia Law
Lydia Law is Paula’s niece. Paula and Arnold share the same father who had children by Lydia, Arnold’s mother, and Julia, Lydia’s sister. She is an extremely shy young woman in her early twenties. Following a childhood illness she is crippled, and wears a leg brace. Lydia is so withdrawn, so unable to make contact with reality, that she spends her time playing with her collection of glass animals and listening to gramophone records. The failure of her encounter with Charlie makes her even more withdrawn. The same character in Tennessee Williams’ “Glass Menagerie”, who wrote of her, “she is like a piece of her own glass collection, too exquisitely fragile to move from the shelf.”

Arnold Law
Arnold Law is the main character of the book. He is Paula’s son and Lydia’s half-brother. Arnold is a rock musician, he feels stifled by his unrewarding role at the warehouse and the tense situation at home, and the permanent scars from his abusive father who he always belittled him. After his father’s death, the memories of his father continued their toil. He wants to escape his situation, just as his father managed to escape many years before. His goal is to become a successful businessman, and he is prepared to be ruthless in accomplishing his goal—for example, hiring a black woman instead of following his father’s orders to keep the jobs for whites only. But even though he does manage to become successful, he does not find happiness. As he moves through the years increasing sales and profits, he regrets he could never get his half-sister to marry. Andnow she is only someone who works for him at a workbench with whom he is permanently estranged.

Father Law
Not developed.

Symbols
The Glass Menagerie
The collection of little glass animals that Lydia keeps and fusses over are symbols of her own fragility and the unreal life she lives. Her favorite ornament is the unicorn, and this takes the symbolism further, since the unicorn is a creature of myth, not of reality. The unicorn in fact represents Lydia herself. The unicorn is like a horse but it is not a horse; it has a peculiarity (its horn) that sets it apart from other horses. So too Lydia is not like other girls. In scene 7, the symbolism becomes important for the meaning of the book. Charlie accidentally breaks the unicorn, and without its distinguishing horn, it looks more like a horse. This symbolizes how Charlie is trying to draw Lydia out of herself, to make her more normal. But his strategy does not work. Instead of a normal horse and a normal girl, there is just a broken ornament (given to Charlie as a souvenir) that used to be a unicorn, and a girl whose dreams have been shattered and is now even less normal than ever.

Flowers

Thursday, October 21, 2004

NaNoWriMo

Check out their link.

You too can write a novel.

Here is my profile over at National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo Blog Spot dot Com

OH, my gosh, it is almost time again!!

Should I or shan't I?

I did it once. Can I do it again?

Who knows beside the shadow?

Even I don't know if I will NaNoWriMo this year.

mmmmmmmmmmm....

Off to think and ponder this unique challenge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Horses, the Saddle Kind

Paula Biddle never road a horse. Maybe never even touched one. She didn't know which side to get up on to ride. In fact, she didn't know how to saddle a horse.

Sometimes when a horse is saddled, the cinch slips and when the cinch slips, the saddle slips. When the saddle slips, the rider falls. The tact is known to slip. The riding risk is characteristerised by or intrinsic to any sport or recreational opportunity. If a person falls, what did you expect to happen?

Ask superman. He'll tell you those darn horses are dangerous as heck and if you aren't super careful, you'll hurt yourself. Even if you know what you are doing, you'll hurt yourself.




Monday, October 18, 2004

Arthur's Office

Arthur left the floor and walked to his office. He walked strong and straight, after all, he was a champion rugby player in his youth. Actually, he was a star rugby player and somewhat of a ladies man. The women could not resist his star power, nor his stunning movie star looks. He was credited with capturing the hearts of several young lasses during his college days.

He wondered what he could do today? The factory and warehouse would run themselves for years before anyone found out he was missing. He liked to think that and the employees felt it was their duty to work. Arthur was smiling when he turned around and headed for the office. He didn't wear a suit anymore, just a white shirt under a pair of overalls. He kept a few ties in his office in case someone showed up in a suit. But he hated wearing ties, suits and white shirts. The only reason he wore white shirts was because he had about 25 of them at home and he wanted to wear them out and not throw them away.

On the way to the office, he spoke to the folks who handled the front. A secretary, whose main job was to answer the phone, sat near the front door. She had been with him since, just before his grandson was born. Her husband had beat her horribly during their last year of marriage. He'd been a drunk and was now a dead drunk. Drinking and driving don't mix. Someone had called and suggested he hire her. She had no skills, no work experience, and no education. When the rest of the corporations hired the skilled, or the educated and trained them, Law hired the misfits. All they had to be was sober, half way articulate, and reasonably intelligent.

Hiring sober people saved him trouble. Now he hired sober people and non-smokers. He found people grateful for their job worked harder, learned faster, and stayed longer. Everyone stayed. One fellow left when his wife graduated from Medical School with a degree in doctoring. All the "top" hospitals wooed her and she eventually left their little town for the lights in the big city. Law hadn't seen that one coming and started asking if the spouse was going to college.

The other business owners and managers of branch offices of the big corporations were puzzled that he hired so many 'down and out' people. Which he didn't, he hired the rejects from the so-called 'star' list. He knew the quality of a person can't be measured by how smart he is, how smooth talking he is, or good looking. What mattered was how the person could be trusted. Could the person be honest with himself. He was puzzled how his peers and competition never saw that measurement in people.

Everyone he hired loved him.

Sitting in his chair, Arthur knew someone would call today and want to waste his time.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Accountant

Paula Biddle knew her numbers. She could add, subtract, multiply and divide. Once she even passed her CPA exam. She worked hard, and played nice.

No one knew what happened to her. She just up and left Memphis one day. She sold most of her stuff. Got in her car and drove off to parts unknown. Even her friend Mary Jane disappeared the next year. The two girls were born in the late 50's. And as best friends stayed close together all during grade school through college.

Paula met a fellow in her first accounting class at the University. He represented all that she dreamed about. Tall, good looking, smart, and from a middle class background; not the background her parents were from and her brothers entered. They were firemen, mechanics and plumbers. Paula wanted a finer life and she found it in her first boyfriend.

She loved him. He made her forget about everyone else. She gave herself to him. He left his wife for her. Then she moved on, leaving him behind, moving out of state.

The lovers stayed together almost two years. They drifted apart or she stopped thinking about trying to get him back. But the boy thought about her every day for the rest of his life. He liked her curley hair and hazel eyes. He liked the fact that she was just 2 inches shorter and they could kiss standing up and look each other in their eyes.

Paula played the guitar for him and sang for him. She gave him a ride in her car when he had to walk.

Cigarettes

Mr. Law banned cigarette smoking inside the factory and in the warehouse over five years ago. The government sponsered quit smoking advertisements. As a social partner promoting healthy lifestyles, he believed that since senior management believed strongly that they should not only set a good example, but they should also implement rules that encouraged healthy lifestyles and reduced the risk of fire. Management could not smoke in the company. The rules said that smokers could smoke in the breakrooms and outside. People caught smoking would be given a warning and after two warnings they would be suspended for two weeks without pay.

As people will be people, a few broke the rule when they could. Sometimes a person can smell the smoke. The smokers sneaked a puff or two, and they knew the best places in the warehouse. The reasons being was that there were fewer people there and Charlie only checked on Friday's just before he handed out the checks.

Charlie walked down the aisles. He inspected all the aisles every week. He called it the walking inspection. Sometimes he'd smell smoke, sometimes not. When he smelled smoke, he wrote it down on his calendar and wondered if he should walk the aisles every day.

Later that day, he went home and thought of Paula.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Good Morning

Albert looked across the factory floor. He winked at Rachell and she smiled. Lydia looked up from her work bench for less than a second or even a split second. She saw Mr. Law and smiled, but was too embarrassed to look directly at him. She was thinking how much she appreciated her job.

Albert walked toward Lydia and came up to her workstation.

"Good morning, Lydia."

"Morning, sir." Nothing else was said. Lydia was busy organizing her bench. Stacking a supply of 3/8" nuts on the left next to the washers. She adjusted her light. She sipped her water bottle and waited for the assembly line to start up. She thought about how CHarlie made her nervous.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Albert Law

Albert smiled as his workers clocked in. He enjoyed owning his own company and most everyone thought he was a good boss. Most everyone. Everyone but his own Dad.

"You care too much. You can't care and make money at the same time." And Dad sucked on another cigarette, and he blew smoke toward Albert's face.

Albert thought about his dad and the time the EEOC was putting pressure on them to become integrated. His Aunt Julia used the same maid for almost 35 years. Aunt Julia still owned half the company then. But when she died, Albert bought back all the shares, when he should have been enjoying himself as a single man, he mortgaged everything and bought 50% of the company he and his mom didn't own. After the deal was closed, he gave up his apartment and slept at the plant. Not too many girls were impressed with a guy who lived in a factory and didn't even own a car but would drive one of the company trucks if he needed to get groceries.

Albert thought how hard those days were. Every day back then, his dad's voice echoed in his head, about his lack of ability. How he couldn't run a company and make a profit. Many days he thought daddy was right. He struggled 5 years never knowing from one month to the next if he could make the light bill or water bill. The employees stuck with him that one time he couldn't pay them. He paid them back, with interest, but he cried when he told them that Friday afternoon. That was then.

Today was now. There was Lydia, he smiled. The woman produced more than any other worker at the benches. Loyal, never complained. Always on time. Then Charles clocked in. What to do with Charles? Someday, he'd have to deal with it, but in the mean time, he'd wait and see if Charles would work out. The others passed by, a few went into the break room where Rachell smoked one half that Pall Mall red pack cigeratte before some of them had even got out of bed.

Satisfied, and proved right. Albert had fought weeks with his dad to hire her. A black girl who had never worked anywhere for a paycheck. Why, he couldn't answer, but it was the right thing to do. His Aunt Julia had been after him to hire the daughter of her maid for over a year now. Albert was supposed to hire her when no one else wanted her.

He hired her and she started the day his dad had his first heart attack. Albert sent her to Ohio for the Yale lift truck training. When she came back the TYPE E; 1965 Yale Model was hers. Brand new. He told her to drive it and move stuff around. She took the unplugged the wires to the charger, sat in the black cushioned seat and turned the key. No noise at all. A barely noticeable hum. And today, nearly a half century later, she still drove the 'old fellow'.

Over the years she'd read and studied the manual. When the Yale Service man retired, Albert figured it was time to trade it in. Rachell would have none of it. She started servicing it. Started replacing the parts as they wore out.

Best decision he'd ever made. He'd made it over the protests of his dad, the board and even their lawyer. Couldn't they see? How can you run a company and not select the best workers. The ones who were smart, tough and hard working. The ones who knew hard work and hard lives. Besides the fact that Rachell was black, could barely read, too shy to talk, she would work for far less than any white man he could hire. The white guy would most likely call out on Mondays drunk again. If he did show up, he'd be late.

Rachel was his first good decision.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Lydia's Poem

When i get lonely, I look for you.
When I want to love someone, I think of you.
Since you are 90% horizontal, I’m impressed
When I read your letters, I start feeling good again.
When I think about sex, you are there.
When I want to talk, I call you.
When I stroll through the meadow, I wish you were with me
When I remember he is married to a different person,
I pop out of my daydream, am glad that I know you.
Because I want to be like you more than be with you.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Rachel

Rachel drove her fork lift down the center aisle. A big yellow, at least it had been yellow once, thing purred quietly. The yellow had long ago faded and chipped away leaving the dark metal exposed on the corners and a grey primer almost everywhere else. She drove the oldest forklift in the warehouse and treated it as her own. Rachel could have driven any one she wanted, but she kept old fellow, not old yeller like the dog, but old fellow, or sometimes odd fellow when a resister went bad, and drove it because it was the only fellow who stayed. The company hired her back when 'civil rights' was forced on the white people. She got the job because she was a woman and black. No one liked her much then and no one likes her much now, except maybe Lydia. Some said, she and Lydia were seen over at the Library bar once. Others said that wasn't true, they just happened to be there at the same time.

On the forks, rested a 55 gallon barrel of fatty acid the mixing department needed before the day's run could start. Someone had forgot to pull all the mixing list last night and that made extra work for Rach. Rachell hated being called Rach. Her first husband called her Rach the bitch. And when she heard him say it, he said it as a rhyme. Not the rich bitch, but the Rach Batch. He didn't give her any children; he didn't stay home long enough when he lived there, and then left before the second month was out for some younger girl he'd met at Tucks playing pool. She waited for him to come back and when she heard he found someone new, she cried one time, she cried herselft to sleep just one time then she was glad he'd gone.

Rachell kept right on working and driving her forklift. No one knew she'd even been married to that first man at work. She came to work early most days. She punched her time card and went to the break room to smoke a Pall Mall cigarette. She'd smoke half of it, knock the burn off the end, then save the rest for her morning break. Lydia didn't like smoking and never went into the breakroom because of that. Rachell knew some of the young white boys smoked in the warehouse, but she never said a word.

The warehouse foreman never bothered her. Why would he, she was old enough to be his mom, or in a different time his nurse maid. Her momma worked for $3 a day back when surburbs first started being built. She'd get a ride from the woman who hired her, lunch and $3 for six hours of work at the white family houses. Rachell remembered her mom going off and leaving her to watch the younger two girls. She remembered staying stuck at home. She didn't know what her momma did for a long time except to see her leave during the week and take them to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Lydia

Lydia worked hard every second at her job. The last thing she wanted or needed to happen, happened yesterday. She walked three blocks from her parking lot down on lower Pencil Box Lane to the time clock near the employee bathroom. Her legs felt strong during the walk and she stood in front of the timecards looking up and down the list. She needed this job.

The skinny Lydia stood about 5'4" and weighed maybe 105 pounds with her winter coat and boots still on. Her hair needed washing. She'd forget to bath sometimes. Today she remembered to bath but couldn't find her time card. She started flipping through the cards again, looking behind them all. None of the yellow-tan cards had her name penciled across the top with her #814 employee ID. She fretted.

Charles stood behind her and whined silently to himself. He wondered why Lydia always smelled.

"Hurry up, Lydia."

Lydia shuffled her feet and pulled her timecard from behind Aron's and punched in. She turned and mumbled something then stumbled toward her work-bench. Charles didn't understand her. He pulled his card out and punched in behind her. Charles worked as a supervisor in the warehouse making sure no one smoked inside.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Good Morning

Yes, good morning to you. Someone asked me if it is true what they sing about Dixie.

Is it true what they sing about Dixie?

Yes, mostly.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

OK. No more.

No more politics. Life is all politics, but just no more of that bush keri thingie.

No more discussions, or thoughts, about how in AMerica, everyone has their rights and everything is OK. Fags can do their thing. muff divers can lick the carpet. whites and blacks can marry each other. oh, what else is there that we didn't used to do.

oh, stay in our own fruit-cake cities, towns and countries. hey, all you mexicans, and you folks from asia. dont come over here and say, 'but thats not the way we did it back home'. well go home if you dont like it here, i dont remember inviting you.

Thats my confession.

The next time I blog, i will leave out my lack of acceptance of people different than me. I promise, maybe.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I am feeling real good.

Basically, I am happy the election has been decided. Kerrie scared the heck out of me. I went ahead and voted for Mr. Bush. Did the VP rock last night. I could not believe it, he slapped Quales, I mean Edwards, so blind he now needs a seeing eye dog.

What an idiot, Edwards. Who picked him to run with Kerrie? I have to tell you, I much rather (not Dan) vote for a Democrat than a REpublican. Who does the Republicans represent? The same people who fund the Demo's; fat cats and rich dudes who stand to gain from either. But Kerrie? Yikes, he is someone more liberal than that Teddy Boy Kennedy. Teddy "give me a drink" Kennedy. Teddy "Mary Jo, you want to go swimming?" Kennedy. Teddy "darn, I got caught cheating on the Bar Exam" Kennedy.

FOr the life of me I can't imagine Kerrie even knowing where Tennessee is, nevermind helping us backwood hicks out. No way, he'll want to raise our taxes and give us universal medicare so Doc Rodgers and nurse Ellen can see us for free. Wellllll, that is good and dandy, but I don't think that's gonna free up any of Doc Rodgers schedule. You can't get an appointment now without a 2 week wait. And if you have an accident, you might as well go to the next county over if you want to be seen today.

More taxes and no more services, if you like, then vote for Kerrie. He is a pompous dirtbag, married to one of the richest women in the world. Has he ever, ever done anything for himself.

I promise, not another single word about politics. Im tired of it. I never voted for a Republican President before. Please forgive me.


Oh, Finally!

My oh my. The election is over. Bush has it in the bag. The Kerrie Edwards fans can forget about voting, because it wont do them any good.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Kerry missed his last chance to catch Bush and win.

It's over.

348 Electoral Votes Bush

190 Electoral Votes Kerrie Edwards