Thursday, January 17, 2008

what do YOU want to be when you grow up?

Think back: can you remember the first time anyone ever asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember your answer? I was about four years old when my mom first asked me that question and all I could imagine in my mind were images: policeman, fireman, cowboy. I wanted to be the village people, basically. And anyway let's ignore the fact that I just imagined boy-jobs. Maybe I didn't understand yet what girls were, or that they could have jobs.

I asked the folks in group tonight to think about their first memories of being interested in work, or their most interesting work stories, and here's what they came up with:

The Worst Job in the World, by Anonymous Man

Sometimes people bitch and whine about thier jobs like they've go thte wort job in the world or something. They don't. I did.

At the end of my freshman year of college, I saw a flyer offering summer jobs for college students, working for the Chicago Park District. "Cool," I thought. "I can be outside all summer, trimming trees or whatever." I applied.

A few days later they called and asked if I had any experience around boats. "Sure," I told them, because I had been sailing my uncle's sloop out on Lake Michigan since I was eleven or so.

The address they gave me for reporting to work was unfamiliar, but I found it, and walked down a rickety, swinging plank to the bank of the Chicago River, and there, right in front of me, was a huge, stinking garbage scow.

After being given a hook and a net, both on long poles, I was told that my summer job was to scrape all the crap off the surface of the river as we floated through industrial areas north of downtown, then heave the garbage into the center of the boat, making a pile that grew bigger and smellier as the day wore on.

On that first day it was 95 degrees with 95% humidity, and the smell only caused me to vomit three times. "You'll get used to it," assured the Captain, an older black man who'd been doing this forever.

One of the most common forms of debris floating on the river was the used condom, which the scow's crew called "whitefish," as in, "You, man, net them two whitefish off the port bow!"

On my third day the guy working alongside me netted a human hand. I was absolutely freaked at the sight of it. "That's nothin'" the Captain tried to assure me once again, "wait 'til you hook a baby!"

"I'm outta here," I told him.

"Whaddya mean?" He asked.

"I said, I'm outta here."

Dream Job, by anonymous woman

Once upon a time I was a little girl and all I wanted to be when I grew up was a doctor or a teacher. But instead I have worked in several fast food joints and day cares. I was a teacher's aid at one day care and I learned that kids are funny people. One time, this one little boy stuck a pea up his nose and his mom was picking him up. Everyone wanted her to suck it out. Thinking that was nasty, she turned him over and gave him a few whacks and the pea came popping out. I'm really burnt out on working with little kids and fast food. I wish something different would come along.

In the Army, by anonymous woman

My mom was a lifeguard. I remember once she showed me her pith helmet and lifeguard patches. I wanted to be a lifeguard too. In the army I worked in administration, one of my jobs was finding occupational specialties for soldiers. Once I interviewed a soldier who was a recreation specialist. He told me the code for his specialty was 71G, so I looked it up. I, too, was qualified for that position so I assigned that specialty to myself and finally got an interview with senior personnel in that specialty. It turned out they needed lifeguards at the swimming pool at the post where I was stationed, so I signed up for training. The training was brutal and I was afraid I'd freeze to death before it was over, but I passed and became a lifeguard in Korea. It was wonderful that summer, but the fall was a little strange, using nets to catch the snakes in the water. In the winter they sent me to the gym to issue baseketballs and towels. That was sort of boring and eventually I was needed back in administration, but I'll never forget that summer, wearing my pith helmet and showing off my lifeguard badges, sitting in the tower chair telling people when to get in and out of the pool, yelling at people for running or horseplaying. I had a great tan too.

All the Jobs I Could've Had, by Dilly Scott

I thought about being a nurse when I was about eight, but I am still squeamish. I love animals. I should've become a marine biologist or a disc jockey. I have a second class broadcast license. I sent the renewal money to the FCC. We worked on KPCC at Sylvania Campus. It was fun. I called Dave at KISN and he gave me advice, that was a long time ago. I loved exercise music, I still do. I used to exercise after walking Gram's four and a half miles.

I still want to kiss a dolphin's snout and ask the Lord's blessing, but the first time a spider comes down the wall like in the Brady Bunch I'm out of there. I think I need some more training. I crave that sometimes. I love things with powerful motors too. Maybe it reminds me of a cat purring.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

a stranger in the night

Sometimes I run out of cool ideas of things for people to write about. Tonight I had to consult the mighty internet for ideas and I found this one. (I elaborated on it a little.) I asked everybody to picture their home. Maybe the home they have now, maybe a home they've had in the past, maybe a home they wish to have. Either way, I wanted them to picture a place they liked and felt safe in. Then I asked them to imagine themselves in this home: it's nighttime, almost 11:30, and they're getting ready for bed. They're in their pajamas, they've brushed their teeth, and just as they're about to turn out the lights, there's a knock at the door. They don't have a peep-hole, they can't tell who it is. They go to the door, open it up, and they're face to face with... what? Who? Tell the story of what happens next. Here are the results.

Wolves at the Door, by Anonymous Man

It was more like a scratching than a knocking and seemed to sound through me, or to a place in me I don't go very often. I hesitated, but curiosity won out. My curiosity always wins out.

I opened the door and looked right over them at first: two wolves -- but somehow I wasn't afraid. Not knowing exactly what to say, I just said what came to mind.

"Yes. May I help you?"

"Actually, we're here to help you," the one replied.

"Actually, I think you're beyond help," said the other.

"You're going to help me?" I asked.

"No," the sarcastic wolf said, rolling his eyes. "We just stopped by to observe a human in his native habitat. By the way, you should take out your garbage."

"Now you're frightening me a little," I tried tossing some of his sarcasm right back. "Do you think you could cover your fangs a bit when you talk?"

The friendlier wolf intervened. "My cousin's got some anti-human attitudes," he explained.

"Well, I can't say as I'd blame him. We humans have been hard on you. But I'm not one of those types of people."

"We know who you are," he said calmingly. "You're the one who dreams there's wolves at your door."

Knocked Up, by Greatness

Made it to the big time, living it up in sunny Las Vegas. Nice clothes, cars and a bevy of delicious damsels. The penthouse suite inside the Luxor Hotel and Casino Resort is plushed to expressed satisfaction with a ten year lease.

Everything is going great from day to day or without concern. The City of Roses cannot be missed except for the additional chance to win the mega bucks powerball again.

On a fine and sunny day here in Vegas my retreat is disturbed by a loud knock. Upon opening my door, there stood a police captain. Appropriately inviting the captain inside and offering her a drink, I was duly notified that my great fortune was to end due to an alleged cyber scam that produce a bogus powerball ticket that I was to have collected.

To have lived for a day is better than to have not lived at all.

The Trunk, by 1752

I opened the door and I couldn't believe it! There he was! After 17 years! I thought I got away safely -- new state, new city to hide in -- but no... I couldn't slam the door fast enough. He grabbed my arm and yanked me out of what I thought was a safe place. I had plastic surgery, died my hair -- which had grown out considerably -- my weight had changed -- everything about me was different! I left no trace, or so I thought. I left no track with credit histories -- jobs were all under the table -- I shared no truth about who I really was with anyone!

He carried me to the trunk of his car, blindfolded. We drove for what seemed like hours. Finally we stopped. He left me in there while who knows what he was doing. I heard strange noises -- it sounded like the heavy screeching sounds of the door opening to a dungeon! I felt like I was on fire! It was so dark, I was so scared.

Eventually the trunk opened...

... to be continued!

Untitled, by Anonymous Woman

I was in Sector A in my pajamas. It is mandatory to wear PJs in Sector A because Sector A is a decontamination zone. There isn't much to do in Sector A cause there isn't much there to make decontamination easier. I heard a gentle knocking on my door. The door to my apartment is in the commons. To get to the commons I have to go through Sector C, to do that, I must wrap my feet in plastic and tuck my PJ pants into the plastic bags and not touch anything in Sector C. I jumped up, wrapped my feet and left Sector A, crossed Sector C without touching anything, changed the annoyed expression on my face to cheerful smile and opened the door. To my surprise, it was an alien from another planet. The first thing I noticed was his trouser pant legs tucked into his boots. His trousers were not unlike my PJs. Actually, he was wearing a jump suit. His head was oval shaped and he had large black eyes. He smiled at me with his thin lips and telepathed to me, "I think you are ready to come with us now." I smiled back at him, spun around to grab my e-bag and followed him down the hall.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

halloween transformations

Halloween is just around the corner. Are you excited? I'm excited. I'm THRILLED!!! I love Halloween. One of my favorite things about Halloween is the opportunity to dress up and transform into something new and exciting. I like to use Halloween as an chance to let some of my hidden, inner-self shine through in cool, creative ways.

That was the basic theme underlying tonight's writing suggestion. First I asked everyone to think back and remember their very favorite costumes. I asked them to think about why they chose it, what it felt like to wear, what it looked like. Then I asked them to imagine what would have happened if they'd gone home at the end of the night and found that they couldn't take the costume off! What would have happened if they had actually transformed into the object of their costume? Here's what they wrote.

Life Is a Little Different Now, by Anonymous Man

Life is a little different now that I'm a gorilla. First thing was I had to redecorate my apartment: heavy ropes hold up a tire swing now -- the couch is gone. I tossed my bed out, too. I just sleep on the floor. Damn mattress had bedbugs anyway, and the Orkin man is afraid to come into my space now. I heard him say to my building manager, "Hey man, my contract is just for insects. I don't do apes."

I kept my tv, but since my IQ is much lower now, I had to switch to Fox News.

I'm going to register to vote.

I like Mr. Bush.

Of course, I'm a vegetarian. All those cans of Chile Con Carne I got from the food bank I use as dumbells to keep up my strength. Today I learned how to open cartons of soymilk. I can peel bananas like you wouldn't believe.

I can still write but I need a fatter pen for my fingers. Did I tell you I like Mr. Bush?

Halloween Costume, by Anonymous Woman

I painted my face like a "day of the dead" mask I'd seen on a wall. It was black with sharp, white teeth from ear to ear. After the party, I tried to wash it off, but it didn't seem to be coming off. Weary, I went to bed, figured I'd work on it when I woke up the next morning.

The next morning I woke up, psyched myself up for what I'd have to face in the mirror, and proceeded to the bathroom. I was unprepared for what stared back at me. I didn't have black make-up on my skin, my skin was black. Those weren't painted teeth on my face, that was my huge, frightening mouth with shark-like teeth. I had been transformed.

I gazed down at my large, closed hands. I had actually become a monster. I could never fit into society again, I'd have to eke out some kind of living in the darkness, shadows. My life as a human was over. I'd have to rethink everything I knew about living in this world while hardly being a part of it. I had some camping gear, I'd move out of my apartment and set up a camp deep in the forest, no doubt become a legend like sasquatch. Slowly I raised my eyes back to the mirror, hoping it was just a bad dream. It wasn't.

Fairy Godmother, By Anonymous Woman #2

One of the Halloween's I cam remember, I dressed up like a fairy godmother. My mom made the costume and used a piece of wire for the wand and it had sparkling silver and pink strings. I had a long dress with a big slip under it. All I can remember is a lot of sparkles and colors.

As a Fairy Godmother I would visit all the children of the world who needed good parents and safe-secure homes. I would turn all the homeless, abusive and plain bad parents into the kind of parents every child needs. Loving, secure, happy of course, and put them all in homes with big yards and pets that they can love and take care of.

I would make sure they had plenty of food in their homes. Then I would look for all the children who are real sick and in hospitals and homes and make them all well and healthy and happy. I'd make a world of all happy, healthy, smiling, laughing children.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

passing away

Recently, we lost a member of our staff here at the Oasis. She worked on-call here and had only been here a few times, but enough for us to get to know her and like her. And suddenly, out of the blue, she passed away.

It's always a shock when someone relatively young, who seems relatively healthy passes away like that. That's been on our minds here at the Oasis, so tonight in group I suggested that we write about death. I was a little nervous suggesting this topic because I was afraid it would seem like a downer or possibly upset people. But I did it anyway, and people had some really great things to share. Hope you enjoy it.

My Mom, by Anonymous Woman

My mom died three and a half years ago. She had emphysema and in 1997 had half of her lung removed. She told us after the surgery that she would probably have only five years left. No one wanted to believe that, of course, but five and a half years later she passed away. Myself and my husband were on one side of the bed and my little brother and his wife were on the other side. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath and passed on. I held her hand for about five minutes, then I let go. After I walked out of her room, I fainted and ended up in the the E.R. The doctor said this kind of thing happens when you're close to a person. I like to think that she is in heaven looking down on us and smiling sometimes, and shaking her head at other times. I also believe that spirits can come and visit us in our sleep.

Grief and Eagles, by Anonymous Man

My brother didn't make it out to the canyon with me the last two times I invited him; things just have a way of coming-up, of surfacing, and we postpone our pleasures until next time. I finally brought him out there, but only in the form of ashes. My brother who had always seemed so alive, who'd always dreamed of flying; who, in fact, had just begun pilot lessons but hadn't yet got his wings.

The canyon I've retreated to so many times sits in a central Oregon and is eight miles long, a quarter-mile wide and three hundred feet deep. The Crooked River snakes its way through the canyon's floor. It's the home of lizards, coyotes, redband trout, and lots of birds: magpie, ravens, cliffswallows and especially golden eagles.

Once I had a mystical experience there. In the hottest part of the afternoon, I peered over the edge of the very highest part of the canyon wall, and watched eagles ride the thermals, but watched them from above, looking down at their backs as they slowly circled. It might not sound like much, but it was one of those moments where the world cracks open, or, our normal way of percieving cracks open, and one sees a world of near-indescribable perfection and beauty. Call it a kind of grace. Then, after a time, the world reassembles itself and appears the way it always has. But something has changed. Something deep on the inside.

I hiked up the switchback trail to this place of grace, my backpack holding my brother's ashes, a knife, and a big piece of native salmon. I headed for the eagle's perch, a ledge about two feet wide and five feet across, marked only by their droppings and the bones of animals they've eaten. I cut the salmon into bite-sized pieces and placed them on the ledge, but only after rubbing some of my brother's ashes on the underside of each piece. Then I hiked back a couple hundred yards and waited to see if the eagles would accept this offering, this sacrament.

It didn't take them long. They see everything. Yes, I fed my brother to the eagles. It was hard for me to watch. But he has his wings now, and good ones. Real good ones.

My Brother, by The Captain

My brother died in 2001. He was 20 years old. Seems surprising when someone dies so young. His death wasn't a surprise, though. He'd been sick all his life really, one thing after another, and then there was the last thing and the doctors said "there's nothing we can do" and my dad and stepmother took him home and that was that. We waited. We didn't know how long he had or how exactly his death would look, all we knew was it was coming.

Turned out he had two full months. And he was surprisingly healthy all the way up to the last week. Then he couldn't eat anymoe. In the last two days he couldn't even drink. He'd swallow a thimble full of water and then vomit up a litre of fluid, we didn't even know where it was coming from.

The day before he died, he wanted to go out on the front porch. I sat out there with him awhile -- someone was always with him by then, we never left him alone -- and I watched him. I tried to talk to him some, but it was like he couldn't hear me, like I wasn't even there. I watched his eyes as he stared out across the valley and realized he wasn't looking out at all -- he was looking in, turning slowly inward, like what was outside was inside him as well, like the things inside were all that mattered. It was really amazing, watching his slow exit through a door deep inside himself.

I was not surprised to hear at 6 o'clock the next morning that he was gone. "We lost him," is what my grandmother said to wake me. And I'm no longer afraid to approach that final exit myself, knowing that I'll simply sink inside myself until there's nothing left of me in this world but my empty shell.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

at long last!

Writing group has been on a summer hiatus of sorts. It wasn't exactly planned, it just happened. But now we're back in effect and ready to update this here blog. Today I suggested that everyone write about a meaningful experience they had in nature. Here's what they wrote. Enjoy!

Fuzzy -- by Dilly Scott

Teddy and I walked out one morning. It was fully daylight and there was a little orange and white kitty that really did not belong at the Lambert's. It was the last nice weekend at the coast that October and I know they were anxious to go. We had two kitties but I was platonically in love and I asked him and he handed me the kitten. It was about four months old, maybe a little more, but not much. I just prayed it would be ok because sometimes Teddy pulled very hard on his leash, but he was a furry shepherd and thought we all belonged to him. Anyway, I snuggled him and put him on my dad's chest because he was still sacked out and he could not resist the little guy and there was no question about our keeping him. We wrangled a little about the name and then settled on Fuzzy.

Naturalism, by: Greatness

Many aspects of life will contrast with the artificial. Growing and learning will have been a hand in hand experience. It is not so available that a specific or unique situation should be recollected. Yet, I will share of an instance that is to allow for one to recognize of a simplistic fashion I have utilized to perceive of a non-artifical interpretation of life on an even and consistent flow necessary to maintain relevance and purpose.

The physical instance of being of healthy and functioning society or expecting to remain of such has required that any rogue opposition will have little effect to counter your goals or expectations at large when you know that simply it was not meant that your being should be subjected to trespass or harm only to satisfy the idle interloper who is not capable of meeting or exceeding your own interpretation of naturalist advantage.

Nature, by Anonymous Woman

One time when I was camping, I was like 21, and a group of us from job corps went to camp. They all started to yell for me to get my flashlight out, they were saying we were being attacked by big bobcats. I was like "no we're not" so I got my flashlight and it was a bunch of racoons! So we got up and fed them hot dogs and marshmallows. They enjoyed the hot dogs but the marshmallows were a different story. They were getting all sticky and didn't know what to do. We eventually went to sleep and the next day there was a mess with what the racoons were originally getting into.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

long time, no see

Sorry for the super-long lapse. I have no good excuses, I guess I've just been so busy around the Oasis playing skip-bo and cleaning the kitchen, I haven't had time to sit down at the old computer and update this thing.

Last night was the fourth of July and we here at the Oasis had a blast. Lots of folks went down to the waterfront to watch the fireworks, while some of us snuck up to the third floor and watched them out the window. It was pretty cool.

On the heels of all that fun, I asked the folks in group tonight to write about their most memorable summer experience. Here's what they wrote. Enjoy!

The Fourth, By Andy

Last night was comparatively one of the best fourths I have had. We got to the waterfront early enough to find a good spot on the grass. We were all in a good mood, and all the people around us were as well.

Very relaxing, lots of laughing and joking around. Meeting new people, just all around good times. Lots of people watching.

The Summer Imposition, By Greatness

Summertime is considered one of the most favored times of the year, mainly, this really held true when, being in school, it definitely meant more leisure and personal activity. Since I have been on my own and self-sufficient (or without direct support from my parents) a memorable time or instance has yet to happen.

Indulging some of life's basic and common activities, such as cycling, swimming, or simply maxing and relaxing with the preferred consumption of the bountiful fruits summertime tends to proffer. I cannot complain thus far, given an immediate reflection of the fireworks spectacle held on the waterfront. Many different people and walks of life and more so since all other times I've attended the occasion.

So to all summers to come: may they be heartfelt and fun.

Rafting, By Anonymous Woman

One of my favorite activities during the summer is rafting down the Deschutes River and going through Box Car Canyon. It's one of the wildest parts of the Deschutes River. As you go through the day, it's not uncommon to see bald eagles and other birds of prey. The last trip I took was a couple of years ago with my husband, I think it was summer of 2001.

We took a guided trip that included lunch and in the morning part of the trip there was a place where everyone could jump out and body surf the rapids. I was the last one back in the boat and it was hard to get me in. I started to float underneath the boat and my husband had ahold of my life jacket. The pull of the current and the pull of him started making me freak out and so I said "Let me go!" But he wouldn't. Then the guide came along and started jerking on the other side of my life jacket, telling me to kick and so I did. The next thing I knew, I was in the bottom of the boat and everyone else was in and ready to continue the ride.

One of the best places to ride is in the front, that's where you see the most action and get the wettest. By the end of the day you feel like you've had enough of the water and sunshine, but it makes you want to come back for more. And also about Box Car Canyon, this rapid is so much fun it makes you think your boat is going to flip and there's a photographer that sits on a rock above the area taking pictures of people coming through. You can buy the pictures later. This is one of my favorite places to go during the summer, however it's not uncommon to walk away at the end of the day ready for a restful night of sleep and wearing a sunburn.

Monday, May 28, 2007

joyful joy

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile. Things have been busy at the Oasis. But here are stome stories from last week's group. The suggestion made by one of our participants was for people to write a story about the best thing they could think of. I expanded the suggestion to cover best memories and best fantasies. Here's what they came up with:

The Birth of my First Grandchild, by Anonymous Woman

When I was told about my youngest son's wife being pregnant, I was just thrilled and overcom ewith joy. My first grandchild!

When my son's wife was six months along, I went shopping crazy! I bought over $300.00 worth of baby things. Bassanet, crib, changing table, stroller, car seat, two baby carriers, one for the front and one for the back, over $50.00 in clothes and diapers, lotions, bath soap, baby powder, diaper rash cream, bottles and nipples, powdered milk, juices, bowl and spoons, cereal, blankets and sheets for the crib and bassonet, diaper pail, etc, etc.

Oct 30, 1993, a day before Halloween, she went into labor. I know the people on the labor and delivery floor from working there before. So I was able to be in the delivery room. I got to hold my first grandson and it was awesome!

Memory, by Dilly Scott

One of the sweetest things I remember was that Teddy, Kiki and I went out early one October morning and it was the last nice weekend of the summer in 1990. I loved the kitten at first sight. His tail was short. He was about three and a half months old. I was going to put Teddy back long enough to see about him, but Mr. Lambert handed me Fuzzy saying they wanted him safe so they could go to the beach. He was the third kitty, so I put him on my dad's tummy and he woke up to a sweet, cute, orange and white face. We argued a little, but it was just over his name. My dad was delighted. So we had Fuzzy for two years. I miss him yet. He was cuddly.

The Power of Lonliness, by Andi

My fantasy would be to have someone who cared for me, to hug me and want to be with me. Then we would win the lottory and just enjoy each other for the rest of our lives, with a house full of animals of course.

I am severely tired of being alone. For some reason lately the "S" word has been running through my mind, but I know that would be wrong and extremely selfish. We have to stick it out no matter how bad things get.

Why do we live in such a superficial society? I wonder why "superficial" is an actual, existing word? Why does it exist? I guess it's here to give us something to endure. Some kind of test.