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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writing Prompt 8/26/2010: Best Vacation

By Marilyn Friedman

Want to have the best mini-vacation of your life? Go to the Writing Pad High Desert Retreat on the weekend of Oct. 22-24! It's 2 nights/2 days of relaxation, top notch writing classes and one-on-one consultations, gourmet food, and fun!

Make some significant progress on a writing project or get your writing practice going. Call 323-333-2954 before the retreat is full! Only 2 spots left! The deadline to RSVP is September 5th.

Writing Prompt:
Make a list of your 5 best/most memorable vacations. Pick one of the vacations and add two sensory details to it (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight). Write for 10 minutes about that vacation. What specifically made it so wonderful? Make sure to include at least one of your sensory details and then post your results in comments of this blog!

Comment on this blog! Write about your best vacation. The best mini-story of August/September will win a free class!


Julie said...

I was staring at the tweedy blue gray walls of my cubicle when my phone rang. I knew immediately that it was Josie. We’d met a year ago when I’d hired her as the receptionist at the company I worked for, a fact she never let me forget. The CEO, to whom I was serving time as personal assistant, was an egomaniac who threw chairs. The president was a former Miss Something with a beauty queen attitude and a rock on her finger that announced that she was also ‘the wife.’ There was a head shot of her wearing her tiara on their mantel. We worked out of their garage.

When I left, Josie made me promise to get her out of Hell and I made good. She now worked down the street. I thought she was calling about lunch. Instead, she announced that she’d found $600 round trip tickets to London. We could catch some shows, see the Jewels, check out a pub....did I want to go? Without thinking twice, I said, “Book ‘em Dano,” hung up and marched myself down the hall to the credit union to take out a loan. We left the day after Christmas.

We arrived at Heathrow with Youth Hostel passes in our pockets and no plan whatsoever. Just by looking at a map, we managed to find places to stay and eat. We saw a show the night we arrived, and 6 more over the course of four days. We went to the train station to buy tickets to Stratford Upon Avon and found out that the tracks were flooded, so we traded Shakespeare for Jane Austen and went to Bath. We drank hard cider in a smoky pub, ate mushy peas in an even smokier hotel cafe and went to tea in the Pump House. We bought frilly knickers and I found the perfect pair of Doc Martens, on sale.

On New Year’s Eve, we treated ourselves to the fanciest, most traditional English dinner we could afford and rang in the New Year at the foot of Big Ben. We made our way back to the Tube, drenched in champagne. A drunken young Englishman dipped me down and kissed me on the lips, smelling of beer and cigarettes and celebration. I woke up early the next morning and walked the hushed, empty streets of London, wishing I didn’t have to go home just yet. Little did I know that my boyfriend was waiting at the other end of the world with a ring. And that I would get engaged wearing a brand, spanking new pair of Doc Martens.

Writing Pad said...

It was one of the best summer trips of my life. I had been accepted to the Squaw Valley writers retreat near Lake Tahoe. I didn’t know anyone, and I had never been to a writing retreat before, but I was ready for an adventure.

My housemate and I became close friends. Liza was a cute, short haired brunette in her early thirties from Silicon Valley. She and I went shopping for comfy pants and homemade chocolate. Every night for the next five nights, Liza and I indulged in some chocolate, changed into our “poetry pants,” and camped out on the squishy sofas in the living room of our bungalow. We tried to eek out new poems as the unstable ceiling fan clicka clicked over our heads. By 11:00 p.m., we plunked our flash drives in a wicker basket outside our door, ready for them to be picked up and printed out for class and collapsed into our beds, exhausted.

It wasn’t easy to write a new poem every day, but I found being immersed in the creative environment, surrounded by other writers, far away from the stresses and obligations of my daily life to be very inspiring. I wrote some of my best, most scandalous poetry that week. The retreat had helped to unleash my playful spirit. My poetry idol, Sharon Olds, noticed my poems and wanted to talk to me at the closing party. I was thrilled. I left the retreat feeling relaxed and energized about my writing. I will never forget that trip.


Writing Pad said...

Julie--great piece! I love that you show us in the first paragraph what the narrator is escaping which makes the trip more meaningful. I love that the Doc Martens come back at the end of the piece, and I love the specific descriptions of all the things the narrator did on the trip!


Mary Lorraine said...

I was in the 8th grade, and my sister let me borrow her floor length black coat for the trip. It was finally my turn! My mother's parents took each grandchild when they were thirteen up to the Big Apple with them for a wondrous week during the Christmas season. With or without a teenager accoutrement, my grandparents went to New York City every December, as Christmas time in New York was my grandmothers favorite.
The year I went my cousin and step sister came as well, so we three got our own adjoining room at the Waldorf Astoria. Every morning, room service would come in with shiny silver trays of hot chocolate, orange juice, croissants and other breakfast delicacies. The fanciest breakfast we had at home was a toaster strudel, and I would squeal with delight when the bell boy would roll in the cart. That week I was introduced to Regis, as my grandmother would turn the television on each morning as we got ready for the days Big Apple Adventures. My grandmother, although from nowhere North Carolina, was regal and mesmerizing, looking elegant even in her nightgown. Watching daytime talk shows in my pajamas with someone never felt so classy, and I felt like a princess.
Although I don't remember every last detail of our itinerary, I still can close my eyes and feel it all. I can smell the chestnuts, and hear the music playing in the hotel lobby before the door would open and the cacophony of car horns would welcome us outside. I can still remember the warmth of the heat lamp as we waited for our limousine driver to pick us up each day. My tummy, full of warm hot chocolate and pastries, would do somersaults of excitement as we waited for the shiny black car. They never rode in limousines in Atlanta, but this trip was a special occasion, and that is what I felt: Special. I remember going to Tavern on the Green, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building, and having tea at the Plaza. We went into FAO Schwartz where the famous scene from Big was filmed. My senses went into Christmas overload at every turn. The store windows had elaborate displays in red, silver and gold and there were twinkly lights everywhere, some bulbs even pulsing to the beat of a Christmas Carol. I loved walking alongside my grandmother and can still feel the gusts of New York wind and see them making indentions on her long fur coat as we crossed the street.
Every Christmas season, I try and make it back to New York City for a weekend. Without the glitz of a fancy hotel, limousine, or broadway show, the spirit of the season and the energy of the city still cast a spell. Crashing on friends' couches and only passing by the Radio City Music Hall rather than being a lucky ticketholder, the magical memories of that trip make my eyes well and the corners of my mouth grin in gratefulness. On the day I was to leave on my annual visit last year, I said goodbye to my magnificient grandmother instead. Holding her hand during her last hours, I told her how much fun I had on my first trip to New York with her, and how I would always go back. I promised her I would get an apricot sour at the Plaza in her honor on my next visit. One day I will take my grandchildren to tea at the Plaza, and will tell them why Christmas in New York is so very special to our family.

Writing Pad said...

Mary Lorraine,

What a lovely story! The ending was so moving! I love the sensory details: the sound of the horns, the smell of chestnuts, the warmth of the heat lamp. I love the description of "shiny silver trays of hot chocolate, orange juice, croissants and other breakfast delicacies" and the image of the wind making indentations on the grandmother's coat. Fabulous!


Ashley said...

One of my favorite vacations ever has to be when I went on a cruise with my mother, best friend, her mother, and grandmother. It was a week after my sister’s much anticipated wedding, which included 500 of our closest friends and family. It was slightly chaotic to say the least. So I was more than ready for a little R & R.

So my best friend and I set out to have the best vacation of our lives, and that we did. We were 20 at the time, so drinking was on our to do list. We were at that age where it wasn’t quite right and acceptable, which made it all the more tempting. We did everything on that vacation from innocently making out with boys, to laying topless on the sun deck, to zip lining through the rainforest. We were young and carefree and had the time of our life.

I couldn’t tell you the name of the boy I kissed, the name of the cruise line, or even the town we went zip lining through. But I can tell you the freedom I felt while flying through the trees. The wind in my hair and the smell of the ocean taking over my whole body. And the butterflies I felt when he kissed me somewhere in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. How I felt like I was the only girl he had kissed just like this, and how I would remember it forever. And I cant tell you the joy that still comes to me when I think about how happy my best friend was as well. We thought we had been through so much, but our lives were just beginning. We had not yet felt the pain of losing a parent, abortion, mental hospitalization, break ups, and so much more. But even now, with all I’ve seen, I can’t help but smile when thinking about this vacation.