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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

High Desert Scholarship Contest/Writing Prompt 10/07/10

by Marilyn Friedman

We raised enough money for the Writing Pad High Desert Retreat Scholarship Fund! Thank you SO much to everyone who donated and volunteered!

Now you are wondering: how will we decide who will be the lucky recipient of a full scholarship ($800 value) to our luxurious retreat on Oct. 22-24? Through a writing contest! All rules and the topic are described below. Are you a broke writer who wants a mini-vacation, a weekend of fantastic classes, delicious food, and focused writing in Joshua Tree? Please apply!Rules
These are the rules you must follow to apply for the scholarship spot. Note: Anyone can respond to this writing prompt and be entered into the Oct./Nov. contest for a free writing class and receive likes and remembers from Marilyn!

1. Post your writing sample in the comments of this blog AND email a copy to NO LATER than Friday morning at 9 a.m., October 15. It should be a maximum of 5 paragraphs (the shorter, the better).

2. Also email proof of current or long-term economic hardship to NO LATER than Friday morning at 9 a.m., October 15. Ex. Unemployment check, bank statements, letter demonstrating that you have been laid off from your job, etc. Feel free to also summarize your situation in a few sentences in the email. Economic hardship could also mean that you can't afford to spend $800 now--we will review everyone's situation on a case by case basis. This will be kept completely confidential.

3. Writing submissions can be in any form (poetry, short story, dialogue, fiction, non-fiction, a rant, etc.) but must apply to the prompt about the economy below.

4. The contest will be judged by the following esteemed writers (see the next blog entry for their bios): Joe Donnelly, Judy Reeves, Ron Koertge, Michael Kramer, and Maggie Malone. The contest winner will be announced by Tuesday, October 19.

Good luck! Please don't be intimidated--apply for this scholarship. I want you to write (for at least 10 minutes). You can do it! :)

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 5 things that come to mind when I say the words, "the economy." Pick one and write for 10 minutes about it. Feel free to write something funny, angry, sad, or whatever feels right. Just have fun with it!

Then post your 10 minute write in the comments of this blog for free likes and remembers from Marilyn. For extra credit (and a chance at the scholarship spot), also email your writing sample and proof of current or long-term economic hardship to, following the instructions above.

Here are some phrases to start your write (these are optional, just to help you get started). Feel free to pick one or none of them. There is no wrong way to do this--just write! :)
"There's nothing glamorous about being a starving artist"
"I'm so broke, I can't pay attention"
"In this economy. . ."
"I'm overdrawn and underpaid"
"Maxed out credit cards and too many shoes"
"I don't own anything, really (OR: Nobody owns anything, really)"

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when I say, "the economy?" Even if you are not applying for the scholarship, comment! You could win a free class at Writing Pad, and all comments will receive likes and remembers from Marilyn!


Writing Pad said...

Let the games begin! Happy writing everyone, best of luck.



H.M.R. said...

I’m at lunch with my father. We’re at Duke’s eating hamburgers and drinking Stella on draft. When I was little my dad used to take me here and I would pretend we were on a special father/daughter vacation in Hawaii. Now we sit at the long wooden bar and vacantly stare out at the ocean, not talking. The glare coming off the ocean is so blinding I’m afraid it will give me a migraine. Far out to sea a dolphin jumps, no one but me seems to notice.

I thought my father had asked me to lunch so we could talk about what was happening in his and Sophie’s case, but we have been eating in total silence. I try to make conversation but my dad barely responds. I know not to bring up whatever is going on with the studio. Any random question I ask he answers with a quick one word answer. Suddenly it feels more like I am out on a terrible first date instead of a meal with the man that created me.

After our 3rd beer my dad starts to open up about what is going on. He and Sophie have been accused of making business deals that profit them personally. He says that it’s all bullshit, part of the witch-hunt that is going on in every part of our country’s corporate infrastructure right now. Of course I believe him but part of me wonders if it’s true. I wonder if he is innocent but was pulled into this whole thing because of Sophie and her spectacular tits. I feel guilty about these thoughts and ask the bartender who’s on his cell phone, to give me a refill.

At the end of the meal my dad asks for the check. For the first time in my life I have the urge to offer to pay for my share then realize that the only money I have ever had in my life has come from him. It’s a strange helpless feeling that I have never really experienced before. At the valet stand,he hugs me and tells me everything is going to be ok. This sentence makes me feel uneasy, no one ever says things are going to be ok, unless they aren't. But then I realize things can’t be that bad because we still are valet-ing the car.

Stinky Junior said...

I used my 10 minutes to write 2 poems:

1. Preference-

Preference sits
on the bathroom counter
mocking my cancelled
salon appointment.

Because, I’m worth it.

2. Mongoose -

I think about things
that I never thought of, before
the economy turned into a
broken donkey, failing
at it’s high-diving fall
into an empty tank

Whenever I say
“I have to pay the COBRA”
(which is $750 monthly
and unemployment sends me
$400 a week)
I think of being young,
watching Rikki Tikki Tavi.
It seems odd to
pay the COBRA.
Where is my heroic mongoose?

Then there are the cats.
They are neurotic
what would become of them
if we should suddenly
succumb to homelessness?

Numbers have taken on
dramatic new importance.
Math, and debt, are
the same in all languages
I don’t like Math.
I am an Artist.

Writing Pad said...

I love this story! You have described it so well that I feel like I am there with the narrator in the scene. I like the history of Duke's in the relationship with the father and daughter--that's a great detail. I love the "quick one word answers" and how that makes the narrator feel like she is on a bad first date. I love how she says that no one says that things are going to be OK unless they aren't. Fabulous!


Writing Pad said...


What wonderful poems! The preference one is very clever! I love the specifcity of the economic troubles that the narrator is going through in the Mongoose poem (the COBRA vs. unemployment, worrying about what will happen to her cats if she becomes homeless). I also like the language of math and debt at the end, especially, these last lines: "I don't like Math, I am an Artist." Fabulous!


Lisa Beth said...

My dad has a stable job. Now, at least. When the economy was booming, however, he couldn't have had worse luck. But is it really bad luck when you throw your Masters in Education out the window and decide to go into life insurance? As an insurance underwriter, the 90's were good for my father. Unfortunately, my mother's cancer diagnosis wasn't.

Firing Number 1: He was "let go"-who doesn't love euphemisms -from Humana because of his time spent away from work and in the hospital during my mother's chemo, radiation, and surgeries. They consulted with a lawyer, but never filed suit against Humana for the unlawful firing.

Firing Number 2: On the heels of the stinging Humana firing, my dad was given another pink slip from UniCare while my mother was still sick. My dad came home and sighed. He would put his suitcase down at the door, lay his suit jacket over a chair at the kitchen table, and kiss us hello. Long day at the office. Three months earlier, he had been fired, but rather than worry us/tell the truth, he decided to feign employment. His office supplies were stored in a friend's garage temporarily. To this day, I don't know what he did all day when he wasn't at work.

Firing Number 3: After my mother died, rather than sticking with a career that was getting him nowhere, Dad decided to try his hand at sales at the local high quality appliance store, Lorenz Appliances. The commute couldn't be beat. He could have walked to work had that been more socially acceptable in the suburbs. The store would have been amazing if I were three. Rows and rows of ovens, dryers, and refrigerators towered over customers in sterling silvers, whites, and reds. Soon after congratulating one of his potential customers on her pregnancy, he was "let go" based on low sales. His customer was not with child.

Now my step-mom is out of a job and has to rely on my father for stability. I almost hope the economy doesn't get better. At least for my dad's sake.

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

He grimaced at the last shot in the bottle of Johnny Walker Black. Gawddamn. I been a dutiful, registered Republican all my life and this is all I got to show for it? Well. He had been until ’08 anyway. But he hadn’t left the party. The party done left him. Even still, he’d snuck into that booth, with equal parts shame and hope, and ticked that box for the other side. But he hadn’t told nobody, not even his wife.

He took a swig and savored the burn, lingering over the dark pepper kerosene trip. Every sip was a wistful wish for the smooth Blue label he used to drink. A Friday night ritual, two fingers. A gift for a solid week of work.

But then there was no work. So he switched to the Black. A gift every other week for working to find work. And now the Black had emptied too, and still nothing. Unemployed. The label burned more than bad whiskey.

He shut off the tube, sick of the yammering politicians who talked and talked but never got a goddamn thing. He got up, with an ache and a groan. Back giving him grief again. He glanced at the empty bottle. Better switch to Red.

Writing Pad said...

Lisa Beth and Jade! Thank you so much for commenting! I will give you some likes and remembers this week. Lisa Beth--don't forget to email me this story and the economic need proof before Friday a.m. at I haven't received that yet. :)


laurenne said...

Dear Dollar,

You’re a treacherous whore.
You slip from one pocket to the next as if mine meant nothing to you.
You fill me up with promises one moment just to disappear the next.
You allow me so much power one day when you let me say,
‘Guys, I got this.’
Then you break me down as you leave me with no choice but to exclaim,
‘Fuck. Overdraft fees.’

You allow me sweet arrogance when you invite your friends to my bank account.
Then you leave just as quickly and blame it on the economy.
You can’t keep playing the economy card, Dollar.
This is about you and me and our tumultuous relationship.

I want to end it. I need this to be over.
I don’t care how long we’ve been together.
It’s not working.

I want to say I don’t need you.
I want to say I can do it alone. I can survive without you.
But you’ve trapped me here.
Here in this courtship marred with emotional abuse.
I’m calling it quits. I’m calling the cops.
Get out.

But before you go... Can you buy me a coffee?

Kate W. said...

Some lumberish beast breathes and treads along the same street we do, on its thick leathery legs behind its slow-swinging head. Side to side, tongue flapping round its dry mouth. It's dull-eyed, stupid, hungry. We scurry, as we do, as we work to live while wanting so much to live to write, under its giant wrinkled belly, back and forth along the sidewalks, ordering receipts in our wallets, fantasizing about our next Zappos order, managing our little debts with increasing anxiety as lawmakers make up fresh facts about our money and feed them to the beast.

It would be easier in the sun, it would be easier to think if online banking didn't offer constant consolidation (no consolation), rates and loans and denials and warnings, convenient reminders by text message, all the happy ordinary people in the ads free to take the vacation, buy the house, lean back in their sunny kitchens and stretch.

We are the economy, but we forget it. We worry about that clumsy animal, about the littlest flick of its sticky tail sending us up against the wall. A tiny crash that echoes the disgusting falls on Wall Street, our small impossibilities so distracting we forget out fast little feet, our Lilliputian power to sort out our own directions. Politicians rely on our vivid imaginations (why don't we?), describe the beast with wry apologetic language, ask us to be patient. What warrants patience when choice is possible? We tangle ourselves up in our own fearful dependencies and make up needs that eclipse the easy ones. The creature smirks; its shadow moves along over us, between the buildings where we leave our guitars and our pens, a wandering smelly sinister gray thing. Let its stale breath suggest a change. Remember something else, something simple: remember a want that's not an object; remember a debt that's repaid without money. Think of something to share.

Writing Pad said...

Laurenne and Kate!

I am so excited that you posted your stories. I promise to give you praise later. Don't forget to send me the financial part (and a word doc of your story) via email at by Friday a.m. if you want to enter the contesto. Thanks!


LTP said...

As We Hoard

It was one of those sales. I felt like Nero fiddling while Rome was burning. I was afraid I would yell out “Let the dancing begin.” I had ventured forth to buy because it was one of those great one day Christmas sales. One of the many sales that had began to whirl around all of us during the frenzy of possible global economic disaster. I had no choice; I had to go, because it is deeply ingrained in my DNA to buy. It was a calling that started long ago; in cavewoman days, women needed to gather (nuts, berries, etc.) I am sure somewhere along the line, pleasure came into the gathering process. Women were oohed and aahed for their discoveries. Status probably started to emerge based on who found the prettiest feather, the biggest shell or the shiniest rock. Trinkets started to be traded, soon all hell broke loose, buying had begun and women became quite skilled at it.

I rationalized in my mind that I would just go look. I would only buy if it was a super deal. But I was secretly intent on getting every one of the discounts possible (a sign of a good gatherer). My goal was to use my ten dollar off coupon plus get the forty percent off for the “one day” sale and if I could just make those next few lights before they turned red I might be able to get there before one o’clock which meant fifty percent off on some items. Who could argue with that? I needed to help the economy. I needed to buy. Like Pavlov’s dogs I had seen the Christmas trees and lights. I was simply responding to my training, ‘’Look! Pretty twinkling things! Now buy, buy, buy!”. Tis the season.

The daily house foreclosures, bank failings, corporate meltdowns, huge job losses had no power over the possibility of an unbelievable bargain. They were shouting from the roof tops, “door busters, liquidations, only a few items left, get them while you can”.
No one at the store, including me wanted to think about how we were going to pay off our overloaded credit cards. We didn’t want to think, what will happen next year? Will we be able to pay our mortgages? Will we have health insurance? Will we have jobs? Whatever was in the future was not going to happen to us.

In front of my eyes dangled a pearl necklace going for that unbelievable price. I tore out the coupon as the woman next to me peered at my flyer, her eyes wild, as if she was going to snatch the paper away from me. I took a deep breath, its okay. People inside the store seem pushy,greedy. The pearl necklace is a gift. I feel justified in my purchase. But then I see a peachy, cream colored cashmere sweater. Who can get cashmere for that price? I feel an overwhelming desire. I snatch it up. Around my feet clothes have fallen. I am at a major department store and I feel like I am at a fire sale. The desperation is thick in the air. I suddenly want out. Suddenly everything looks like junk, not a bargain. I feel scared; it has become scary out here. Why do I need a two ply cashmere sweater? The sweater’s probably not even worth the original price and now the price that it’s going for is still more than what its really worth.

It suddenly became clear that I was not gathering(buying), I was hoarding, for survival. The panicked mass-thought in the air was clear. How will we continue to buy(gather) with the stock market falling daily? It doesn’t matter if you can’t eat cashmere, fifty percent off made your ancient brain remember, scarcity. I know my great, great, great, grandfather came to this country from Ireland, escaping the potato famine. So it seems to me my hard wired genetics told me to hoard (buy) to survive. Only maybe in this society we see survival as our status level. So we frantically started buying the big screen televisions, the cashmere and the pearls. We were afraid, afraid of a materialistic famine.

Barry Jude said...

A whole hell of a lot of nail biting, which I would think should alleviate my anxiety, often makes me feel much worse. I don’t have health insurance, so it’s a lucky break that I’m still of good health. My girlfriend tells me she doesn’t want to be so poor, but that’s like telling the rain she doesn’t want to be wet. My student loans, with interest, now amount to more than I’ve made in the last three years combined. Because I’m considered an “independent contractor,” I don’t qualify for unemployment, but I recently received a notice from the IRS telling me I owe taxes from two years ago — the last time I made any substantial income. I wish I could drink a beer and celebrate like Bukowski, but I need to save my change for the bus — in case a job interview pops up. I’ve given up the rat race, but it’s been replaced by the madness of solitude. Now I check emails to see if I have any new subscribers to my blog, and new hope that someone might be listening.

But I do have my writing, which is rapidly expanding to include the subtleties of misery, failure, and ineptness. Merciful words that allow me to live in imaginary worlds outside of my little cubby hole of computer, printer, coffee cup, and fading inspirational postings on the walls. Feelings of desolation and anger are replaced with through-lines of family, friends, happiness, joy, courage, and the most essential of human endeavors — perseverance in the face of opposition. St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and he figures prominently in the characters I find in my prose.

When the question of value seems without answer, the simplest of propositions become a quandary. In an economy founded on trade and barter, risk and reward, and trust and honesty, the system is as broken as the people who still believe it. My characters are in search of something, like Pirandello’s in search of an author, but they don’t know what. They seek solace in family, but families are divided across the lines of sex, religion, and politics. My characters search the natural world for an outlet from their convoluted and complicated lives and find global warming, oil spills, and toxic air. Some of my characters have begun to question what Faulkner described as the resolute determination of man to survive in his Nobel speech.

But there has to be a sunny side to each of these dark recesses. As the adage goes, even a dog’s ass gets a little sun sometimes. There’s the constant search for love and all of its accoutrements. The meaning of such a word — four-lettered and imbued with more subtext than a Hughes poem describing Sylvia’s misery — is much like the idea that it’s about the journey not the destination. Which is an interesting proposition, given that I struggle with my supposed destiny as much as my potential destination.

When my characters complain, I tend to hit them even harder. I’m a seeker, and I think my muse knows the answers. Somewhere in the ethereal between my ears there exists some answers, and I have to believe that the harder I hit the keyboard, the longer I persist in my folly, the more chance I have of discovering the truth. Isn’t that what I ultimately seek? That and a paycheck. But that gets me back to the original proposition — the economy. Proust had a notion that the best of his writing came from his unhappiness. I guess I have to thank the economy for this opportunity, and it’s up to me to take advantage of my woeful existence. Muse, please don’t leave me now. St. Jude, brew me up some more coffee.

Writing Pad said...

LTP and Barry Jude!

I am clapping that you wrote these great stories! I promise to give you praise later. LTP--Don't forget to send me the financial part (and a word doc of your story) via email at by Friday a.m. if you want to enter the contesto.



Alix Sharkey said...

South Beach DOGS

Dogs barking somewhere out there in the dark. Big dogs. The Art Deco district ain’t what it was. Back then we had money or plastic, mortgages ripe for the plucking. Three year lease, Yes Sir, new Benz, no money down, no problem.
Now there’s garbage in the streets, people sleeping in beat up Volvos. Condos boarded up or squatted. Foreclosures mean empty properties, management companies make cuts. They start with the gardening. The jungle fingers its first love. Palms sag, untrimmed branches looming over the sidewalks. You can’t walk without ducking every ten seconds.
Look around. Creepers climb up drainpipes, along windowsills. Where is the love? Sun, rain and wind peel the doors and walls, bleaching the colors. Strips of burst tire lie in the gutter by pizza boxes, paper cups, handbills and scum. South Beach is being sucked back into the 80s, when dealers and hookers owned these streets, and you could get rolled any second.
Remember those little dogs, cute yappy pets like calling cards? My little dog sniffs your little dog, they play, we talk. About dogs, or going back to somebody’s place. Back then when the streets were clean.
Not anymore. Now all dogs are big dogs, guard dogs, attack dogs, the kind you should muzzle. Dogs you don’t take out for walkies. Fighting dogs with wrist-breaking jaws and tiny eyes. And the little dogs? Hey, it’s a dog eat dog world.


Hips Like Cinderella said...

Even before all this we didn’t really have much: a shotgun-style house just off the fire road, five pieces of corrugated metal Dad called a tool shed, a duck pond in the backyard. I remember Gran visiting us before she died. She looked around and said how lucky we all were. She did her recession as a young girl and how much of hardship is merely point of view?

Nights Dad would take the rattan chairs from the sleeping porch and bring them to the pond, right to the edge where the water wrinkled against the bank. Just look at them stars he’d tell us. And sure enough it was like someone had poked a million holes in the lid of the sky. The night giving everything it had, as if trying to make up for all our daytime lacked. When she was little my sister always thought she saw shooting stars, but then mom would correct her as her “star” winked red. We had never been to an airport.

Lit by a million distant kliegs, and fueled by a couple of longnecks, Dad would perform his nightly speech. Each one of those lights is a place he’d say. A place without greedy, shortsighted executives who were able to design a car people actually wanted to buy. Where vacant dealerships didn’t close their doors and lay off their mechanics in the process. A place where “bailout” included everyone. Take your pick; find your spot he’d say. Know there are places where things like this don’t happen. When he’d pause to take a sip we could hear the cicadas sing and our mother sigh.

It was decided that my sister would be the one they’d send to college. They took me out to breakfast to blunt the news and I should have guessed something was up. There used to be a time when the extravagance of diner eggs wasn’t suspect. It’s okay though. She was always the more diligent student, more promising I guess. A wise investment for people who no longer had any real investments.

After that first semester she came home for Christmas break. She told me about her classes and how she’d been taking “Introduction to Astronomy.” She learned that our stars were a collection of gases. As they released their energy, as they died, they lit up. Because of the distance and the way light travels our duck pond lightshow was nothing more than the siren song for places that didn’t even exist. Dad’s places. That’s when I learned that promises and hopes are sometimes based around and built upon things that aren’t even there. And maybe we’re all learning that.

louis said...

I thought I was done with this -- the abrupt sound of gunshots in the night, the daily sight of police in front of my house, sharp-eyed drug dealers patrolling street corners like prison guards on the lookout for customers or snitches. I thought this part of my life was over. You can’t help where you come from or whom you were born to, but you can change things. That’s the core part of the American dream, isn’t it? That we can all become more than what we are, that anything is possible? It’s why people cross shark-infested waters on homemade rafts and march through scorching deserts on foot to get here.

We bought a house in the ‘hood. We didn’t realize it at the time, or maybe we did. Maybe the idea of owning a piece of this country was too appealing for us to pass up. Owning property in Southern California, a dream of mine since I was little. The real estate agent sold us on the up-and-coming area. The nearby ocean. All the new development being planned. She didn’t tell us about the taggers or the gangs. She didn’t tell us about the homeless people being pushed out of downtown and into our new neighborhood on a nightly basis. She didn’t tell us that we’d be underwater in a year and be unable to sell or that we’d have a healthy baby girl within that time whose father’s only hope for her after she was born was that she wouldn’t have to be raised in a place like he was.

“Times are hard” is a well-worn cliché that I’ve used all my life to describe everything from a lack of girls at a club on any given night to the slate of bad TV shows in the new fall season. Times are hard has never been as real as this. Baby formula or gas to get to work? Daycare or the mortgage?

I sit at work wondering if my family is okay. I have to be there to provide for them. My wife walks through our neighborhood with my daughter. I pray that they are safe. We can’t afford to move. We can’t afford a lot of things. I can’t afford to lose them. So, I’m back to where I started, living in another ghetto thousands of miles and many years away from the one I was born in. My piece of the American dream is dirty, litter-filled and drug-infested. It is ornamented in several languages, none of which I understand. It is decorated in pictures of domestic violence and robbery. It is wrapped in fear and held together by a civility that we can’t see but our president assures us exists and helps define us as Americans.

Brian Freia said...

I have no email. It’s not something you get used to and despite what everyone says, it’s hard not to take it personally.

I have no email. Although I must have sent at least thirty eight in the last few days. Emails with resumes attached, copied and pasted ‘til I was blue in the wrist.

My inbox, at this point, is merely just a box, and a box with nothing in it is really one of the most depressing images one can conjure. The last time my box was an inbox Tuesday morning: an invitation from my old gym to rejoin at a discounted rate and a reminder from Chase that I had insufficient funds in my account. Insufficient pretty much describes my whole life right now.

I have no email.

Abby said...

He talks about the economy
A lot
How he can’t get a job
in Littleton where he lives
He talks about his dream job
opening up
an end of the earth
where you sell supplies
if everything goes kaput
He talks about the economy
because it weighs heavy on his
Or maybe it’s the THC
swirled in
He seems to smoke a lot of it
(I should know, I’ve partaken)
You can see it in his eyes
that he’s defeated
like some of the old school
hobos you see on the street
and he’s afraid that
one day maybe he’ll
hold a stick with a bandana
He talks about the economy
heavy on his shoulders
as if he’s been
sleeping in doorways
an everpresent hunch
(not as in a “wise” or “timely” thought
as those are weed induced)
but more of a 60 degree angle
The weight of the world on his
He talks about the economy
as his ex wife
tells his girls
to learn french
to get good grades
to mind their manners
because it pays off in today’s “society”
but mostly, he talks about it
with his brother, who understands,
and felt destined for the same
but who lucked out
in the “business”
and doesn’t have
to worry for awhile
They have private, late night discussions
Hushed whispers full of shame
about paying the mortage
about buying the house
And his older brother, the actor,
has the cash to spare
and the love to give
As the oldest of 6 children,
no longer a boy
he wants
to provide for his
youngest, an adult in his own right, a father,
to give him a roof over his
head and a semblance
of home for him and his children
He talks about the economy
stoned with a heavy heart
An over saturated, under nourished brain
Puffing away
the fact
that resumes are nothing
but scraps of paper
Experience is nothing
but a dream
And one day
(in an ideal situation)
when the world truly
comes to an end
maybe there’ll be a little store
in Littleton
for all your
end of the world

Writing Pad said...

Oh my goodness! I am floored by all of these wonderful submissions. Darlings, don't forget to send you proof of "economic hardship" and to also email me your story. If you do not have email (and this is not something fictional that your narrator claims), we will arrange a fax or something. I can be reached at 323-333-2954 before 11 p.m.

PaL said...

I really only care about the number twenty-nine right now. The twenty-nine dollars my “good” bank charged me when my credit card bill came out a day earlier than expected.

Payday is tomorrow. The payment was scheduled for tomorrow. I am sure of this because I have spent the past three months calling all of my banks and credit card companies, rescheduling payments, signing up for debt consolidation programs, and sharing all my embarrassing details with complete strangers, many of whom I learn are also in the same programs. Tomorrow there will be plenty of money.

Today, however, I arrive late to work as usual. I sneak out for coffee to cure my caffeine headache, which I pay for in quarters from my laundry money. Then I check my personal e-mail at work, only to find that twenty-nine making himself comfy in my inbox. I should just bury my nose in my daily tasks. Still, I hide out in the ratty restroom and call my mom at work.

I have never really given much thought to the economy. I mostly concern myself with my own finances, and I’m sure this makes me part of the problem. We're all drivers just focused on keeping our own cars within the lanes of the highway. The gravel underneath is cracking from our weight, and there are bound to be more tolls.

Voxy said...

There’s a crash on Pacific Coast Highway. A horrible crash. Car bits and glass everywhere. I’m on my way to a job interview, my first one in months and I cannot afford to blow it. I’m tired, I’m bitchy, I’m late. I’m glaring at the car in front of me. He’s not slow because of congestion; he’s just an idiot who can’t mind his own business. I’m on this guy’s ass hoping he’ll get the hint. He doesn’t.

A stray thought crosses my mind. Someone had better have died. Now I start thinking what if someone had died. Where was this person going? Did he cause the accident? Was he late for the same interview I was racing off to? Before I know it a story starts to form in my mind.

The driver is a wanted terrorist careening down the road. FBI undercover agents are chasing him and the only way for the FBI to stop him is to crash into his car before he hits the city.

Now I have an excuse that has an epicness that’s worthy of being late.

The car behind me honks. I look in the rearview mirror and I turn out to be the idiot that’s going ten miles an hour. I’m screwed.

Zoe said...

"The Burning of the Dollar" When I was in 5th grade, Mrs. Warner, our beloved classroom teacher announced that the Los Angeles Unified School District had an arrangement with the Shrine Auditorium for students to come and see a production of "La Cenerentola" for only $1 per student. Mrs. Warner went on to explain that this meant each of us had to bring one dollar from home to go. I asked my father if I could have one dollar for the opera. My father became very angry with me for asking, and said I should know we didn't have money for such things. And to prove his point, he took one dollar out of his wallet, took a matchbook out of his other pocket, and lit the dollar on fire. As I watched it burn, he said again "You see ...We don't have the money for such things". As the dollar bill dissolved into grey ashes I felt no anger towards my dad, at ten years of age, I only felt pity for him, that he felt he had to express himself to his child this way. But I was determined not to miss out on "La Cenerentola" so I got busy. I rounded up babysitting jobs in the neighborhood, and I earned my dollar, and I went on the field trip to see "Cinderella". Many years later, I recalled this incident to my Dad, and he was genuinely shocked and horrified that he had done such a thing. Tears filled his eyes, and he apologized and asked me to forgive him. "Forgive you? Dad" I said, "You taught me a valuable lesson, not to ask, but to have pride and work for what I want". "Yes", he said sadly, "but I didn't have to be so harsh about it".

DC said...

I have nothing to say about the economy

I am too consumed by the look in my husband’s eyes
Trying hard to hide the mantra
That repeats over and over, a beat underneath everything
“What went wrong?”

At parties, leggy blondes with cherry lips & wedge heels query:
“What happened to you?”

He looks down. He gets mad. He calls them shallow. Immature.
His arguments are so convincing.
He’s smart. You might even believe he believes what he’s saying.

“I’m great. My life is amazing. I am the luckiest man alive.”

Years ago, when he was just 18, full of every promise, and no thought of failure, he pronounced: “if you marry me, I’ll be the happiest man on earth.” I did marry him.

But a man without a job is no good. Happiness eludes him, and luck is just another four letter word that happens to everybody you know who has a job.

Ceaseless effort without reward. Your friends succeeding. Your dreams denied and deferred while you wait, nail biting, heart broken, dragging yourself to each new day.

If you want to see the economy, look into his eyes.

Laura Ferguson said...

Rain Delay on Silverlake

I’ve got at least another half an hour to kill before I can pick up the car. Definitely done with the LA Weekly and the tongue-in-cheek Recession Issue. Damned if I’m going to buy another six dollar cup of coffee at the bar of this pretentious LA Mill, if that’s still what you call it when they screw around with the letters, stack them backwards over the door.
Watching the rain come down, wondering if I’ve got time to walk to the library and pick up something else to read and knowing I won’t, not in this. I hear voices behind me, soft Spanish, Guatemala or further south, punctuated by sounds of loading cutlery.
“Si, man, yo te digo. It’s all done, man. Two years in and I’ve got it – I can get the kids up here man, catch that AA degree.”
I can’t quite follow the answer, it’s going too fast, but I hear “-fuckin’ Iraq, vato.”
“Shit, ese.” Laughter. “Nobody fucks with me, man.”
They walk past me then, each man carrying a plastic box full of coffee cups, delicate in their steps, and sure. I only see them from behind, and they are so small and so square, Mayans lined up, tough and agile, alongside the ball court ~ and the one closest has that Marine cut, the shaved sides and the brush up top.
I want to stand up, want to say something, at least – twenty bucks a year to Peace Action isn’t going to come through for me here, though. What, I’m going to rattle the bars of this coffee shitbox, be some fucked up Anglo who just doesn’t get it, and know all along I’ve got nothing to add in either language? I open my wallet to seek information, find the tip; look for one that’s going to swing the deal.
It’s the Economy, Stupid.

CR said...

Unemployment's seamy underside

He keeps playing this Aimee Mann song over and over. It helps him feel better about losing his job. Somehow, Aimee understands. I want to be more sympathetic, but I'm so glad he's home. After months of eleven hour days, six days a week, not seeing his children or me, he's finally home—a lot. The children have almost recovered from his long absence. They enjoy being tickled by Daddy, or stomping about the house in a good game of “Daddy monster.” He cooks for them, helps groom them, and sings them lullabies at night. They still come to me for owie kisses, warm milk, bedtime, nap-time, nose-wipes or help on the potty. My five year old daughter's anxiety has started to subside. For weeks, during his work “deployment,” she wanted me to accompany her to the potty. She was afraid to be alone. If I happened to walk into another part of the house without her trailing me and knowing exactly where I was, she'd wail. Her howls were pitiful. She began this behavior right after the start of her father's long disappearances. She simply needed more attention from me since she was getting less “daddy time.” I couldn't give her as much time as she needed. Her two-and-a-half year old brother also required assistance on the potty. The three of us spent a long time in there as he learned how to control himself. Surrounded by girls and women, he usually sat, just like us, until he had the opportunity to watch a friend's son who'd come over to visit. And then the eureka! moment occurred: he could stand! Too bad his father missed it.

I spent my evenings in the bathroom, sitting next to the grunting child while trying to reassure the clingy child. My husband spent his evenings at work, doing what ultimately wouldn't be appreciated enough, at least, not enough for them to keep him. The job loss was a shock. He'd been with this company for 6 years, had consistently gotten good reviews, volunteered to teach classes, ran a weekly painting workshop for coworkers, and had planned to stay there for the long haul. The company hired a number of young kids straight out of school, kids who he, by the way, took under his wing. He'd often come home with stories about this or that new young employee. He looked for common ground: talked about food and cooking with them, movies, music, etc. When he was given notice that his job would end, he spent a lot of time gathering feedback from supervisors and others, trying to deduce what he'd done wrong. He was told the company was looking for a “fresh, clean and simple” approach. I told him that was code for “you're too old and you make too much money.”

Now he doesn't miss our children's accomplishments, and Mommy gets to hang out somewhere other than the bathroom. (Not that I don't occasionally sit for long periods of time between the grunter and clinger, but Daddy often joins us.) He takes art classes, paints, draws, cooks, listens to music, watches cooking shows, reads Slate, plays with the kids, shops and does housework. Next week, he plans to work on his resume and reel. He worries about money—in my heart of hearts, I hope opportunity holds off knocking just a bit longer.

Michael K said...

As an actor and nonprofiteer, I never thought that the fluctuations of the economy could affect me. I had no money in economic boom times. Bust times were no different. When you sit at the bottom of the ocean, the waves don't bother you. So I thought.

Now I'm sitting across from my friend Gina at a bar as she cries into her beer. Guns 'n Roses' Paradise City thrums from the jukebox. Snot dribbles from her nose. I'm not sure why, but I find it sexy. I want brush her hair back and kiss her. Maybe I will, “friend don't kiss friends in emotional distress rules” be damned. “It's just not fair,” she says. “I know,” I respond driving all thoughts of snot and kissing from my mind. I curse the warped male instinct that drives me to such depraved mind wanderings. I'm not sure what else to say, so I hand her a napkin to wipe her nose. She's just been laid off due to budget cuts at the nonprofit where she worked as a social worker for homeless youth and it's kind of my fault.

Earlier that day, I sat across from Gina in a conference room. The organization's Executive Director, a flamboyant man dressed in an inappropriately festive shirt, sits beside me spewing platitudes. “Economic downturn blah blah grateful commitment blah professional reference blurgh severance.” Gina holds remarkably steady. I can see glimmers of anger starting to smolder in her eyes as she looks at the man tossing her into the ranks of the unemployed. Then she flicks her eyes towards me and I see it: Betrayal. She covers it quickly, but I know what I've seen. And she's right.

I'm the second in command and, more importantly, in charge of raising the organization's operating funds. All of them. The agency rises and falls based on how well I do my job. That job is to connect with people, tell stories, make them cry, and give them the chance to be part of something greater than themselves, part of a community of support, by donating a few, or many, dollars. The problem is that when people, even wealthy people, live in uncertainty about their own money, they're far less likely to donate to those less fortunate than themselves. Sure, they'll still give, but the gifts will come in the form of clothes or used toys instead of checks. I'd been exceptionally successful in raising jeans and sweatshirts. Not so much in raising Gina's salary.

I want to apologize, but it won't help. It's not about me, it's about her. About what she needs. And what she needs right now is not my apolo—But as I'm thinking these selfless thoughts, I hear the words dropping from my lips of their own volition: “I'm sorry, I screwed up. I'm an asshole.” I feel on the verge of tears. Gina looks up.

“You're not an asshole,” she says, “The economy is.”

Snot starts running from my nose to as if to complement hers. We stare at each other, two people on the bottom being buffeted by waves we've never felt before.

DC said...

Out there-
a collective commiseration of how very very bad things are.


Everyday people: sad, angry, reeling from loss, coming to peace, letting go, rebuilding.

I close my eyes and imagine the Roaring Eighties, when I was a kid, and my godmother was the most magical person I knew.

Once, we found a shoebox full of money under a floorboard in her bedroom closet.

“Do you think its real?” she asked as we inhaled the scent of new bills, and stared, in awe, at the sheer thrill of holding so much cash. I paused.

“Who cares?” I replied, my mouth revealing an inner mischief. She thought about it for less than a breath before shouting: “Beverly Hills!” Into the car we leapt, me in my proper patent leathers, and her in 3 inch Guccis that seemed taller than her entire tiny person.

We bought out Neiman Marcus and ate at their famous among ladies who lunch café (I devoured popovers with strawberry butter and warm consommé) We drove up and down Rodeo Drive in her fancy car, laughing and loving the marvelousness of chance.

When times are tough, I remember my godmother, now passed away: she is the archetypal Auntie Mame; the zany, wonderful presence who tragedy cannot touch, and who defies Black Tuesday in every era.

Facing today’s challenges, I shut my eyes and go within. To find the treasure, the unexpected box of money, the abundant love, the new idea, the kindness of strangers, the boon that is inherent in all experiences, no matter how strident.

The economy is not bigger than me.

Anonymous said...

Losing it all. I could lose it all. I’m making a choice, it turns out: I’m choosing to go on this writer’s retreat instead of paying my mortgage. Not that I’m a pious artist, though. I didn’t actually know I was making that choice. My wife, the family accountant, said “You’re going on that retreat, no matter what the cost.” Tonight she told me that meant we hadn’t paid the mortgage for October.

I could lose it all. I could lose my house. I’m in the second month of a three month probation on a new job. I’m on edge all the time these days, thinking if I don’t get that done, if I don’t get there on time, if I dot that “t” or cross that “i,” I could lose my job.

What would it mean to lose house and job? Then where would marriage go? Tumbling right after? So would I lose that while I’m at it? Job, house, marriage. What have I got left? Fingers. Mind. I can write. I can read. I can breathe.

I’d start over. Without credit cards. Without portfolio. With seven years to remake myself before I popped up again on the credit screen. In seven years every cell of my body would swap out for a new one. What could I do with every cell made new?

I would hike out into the forest and dig in the ground for roots. And maybe those roots would make something new of the new cells they would specifically nourish. Something I would barely recognize. I’d come out with a beard, and dirty fingernails, and scars, and maybe broken bones, and remade neurons sprung loose bed springs, like waving antennae, like dangling wire humming bird wings.

What would it be like to truly lose it all? I couldn’t really lose it all. I have family and friends that I believe I will never lose. I have thoughts in my brain that are carved there, permanent. I have feelings that will haunt me down the halls of loss and gain and re-loss and regain, and through the corridors of the forest and into the ground of the roots and into the coils of the gray beard and into the springs of the neurons.

I fantasize about finding a patron. I wouldn’t have to flatter my patron. My patron would spot my talent. My patron would crave the truths I would tell straight into the face of her power. She would come to depend on those truths. She would pay for the privilege of the time I would take to cook them up until they boiled over.

I fantasize about solitary confinement. To me the perfect crime is the one that I could commit that would get me thrown into jail, tossed into solitary, but allowed books, pens and paper.

If only I could lose it all, I fantasize, then at last I could figure it all out. Only by losing it could I figure it, once and for all. Lose all that’s worldly to gain the world of terminal, wild wisdom.

But to lose it all in this real time and place when I look at it looks like ending up down on skid row, dirty, soiled, stinking and mumbling, living in a cardboard box. That I fear. So back to work I go. I will skip this one mortgage. Then I will claw my way back into it back up the echoing back staircase of the ivory tower.

Joanna said...

The first week in March, 2009, was a doozy. On Wednesday, I got fired from a job I loved. Three days prior I had moved out of my boyfriend Craig’s house, signaling the end of our 3-year relationship. I wasn’t sure I loved him anymore, so it was just as well, though the doubt didn’t make the break any easier.

My boss, Lisa, called me into a windowless conference room with fluorescent lights flickering overhead, which made her moon face look even waxier. A terse “It’s just not working out”, a mechanical handshake, and I was thrust into the ranks of the unemployed during one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. She hightailed it out of there immediately – what else was there to say – leaving Amy, the sweet but impotent HR lady, to lob well-meaning “It’s not your fault”s at my sobbing, hunched-over figure while I shook and shook. Getting fired was not something that happened to me. Doing well, no, excelling, was something that happened to me. Making National Honor’s Society in high school. Winning a national 10-minute play contest in college. Getting accepted into one of the country’s best film schools. These things happened to me. I couldn’t be fired. People liked me. A lot. If I’d had to list my primary qualities, right below capable at the top of the list would be likeable. I took pride in that. Everyone in this damn company liked me, except for Lisa, a dragon lady who had become my boss early into my time there. And because she hadn’t given me any concrete reason as to why I was being let go, the only possible conclusion to be drawn was that she just didn’t like me. The fact that I couldn’t stand her felt irrelevant.

I hurriedly signed whatever papers Amy pushed in front of me. Back at my desk, I did my best impression of a functioning human being as I cleaned out my possessions, tears streaming down my face, neighbors sneaking inquiring looks at me. She’d done it during lunchtime, so I was able to leave without encountering too many gawkers.

I headed in the direction of home, but passed by my apartment. I drove up into the hills, to his tiny, cozy house. When Craig opened the door I said simply, “I got fired,” and without a word he let me in. I’d known I’d end up here as soon as it had happened. I needed to be here, because even though I had moved out, it was home. And more important, while I wasn’t sure he loved me, I knew Craig liked me.

Anonymous said...

The economy hates love. I know this because it has forced me out of a job in the advertising industry and now conspires to destroy my first healthy relationship with a woman in years. The correlation between love and money is, of course, not new. This seasick economy has just brought it into sharp focus.

Here is my case. I'm about to turn 42 and, due to the incompetence of the people who turn the knobs of our banking system, I do not have a pot to piss in.

How could this be so? I managed to hold on to a job during the worst of it (unless the worst has yet to come) and went to work in what I'd have to admit was a relatively posh cubicle farm. Money accrued in my bank account. I met a girl at work who was attractive and appreciated my humor. We had dinner at restaurants that were probably more expensive than they should have been. She's a foodie. I'm happy with Trader Joe's. Anyway, I wooed her. The world seemed just as it should be except for the fact that I wasn't making a real wage and the whole edifice was unsustainable.

And then I lost my job. And I noticed just the faintest glimmer of doubt in my girlfriend's eyes. Now, don't get me wrong. She's not a material girl. She comes from good Polish stock, a people familiar with hardship and destitution. It's just that she had a vision of our life together and it was clear that the economy (my economy) was beginning to tarnish it.

SCK said...

“Haven’t you noticed?” Mari asked ominously. She was draped over my couch, subconsciously mimicking the cat. Lately she’d admitted she’d been cooking vegetables just so she could drink the melted butter from the pan.
“99-cent store butter isn’t cow-friendly,” I’d warn. I was bitter a Japanese girl could get away with that behavior and still weigh 100 pounds.
“All the shops on Sunset are going out of business. It’s filled with empty storefronts. And it’s only going to get worse.” She shook her head, a solemn expression on her outrageous baby face, her voice sounding as if she’d sucked a bouquet of helium balloons in addition to her butter. “Much, much worse. This is nothing compared to the depression we’re about to enter. The country has no idea.”
Mari was constantly reading financial blogs and predicting total economic disaster. “Save your money,” she’d warn. “Buy gold, lots of gold. Take your money out before the banks crash.” I imagined hiding it in a slit in my mattress like a paranoid drug dealer or hillbilly. There wasn’t much to hide. Mari had also been reading books on the stock market and began investing late at night after exhausting eBay for used JCrew and surf gear. I imagined her books having titles like “Stock Market for Dummies.” I was wary of Mari’s financial expertise.
Growing up one of four broke children of two broke 70’s artists, I had spitefully relished crashes in the economy. Good, I’d thought. Let’s level the playing field. I don’t want to be the only one stealing toilet paper rolls from restaurant bathrooms. But things were different these days. Visions of desperate parents and exhausted children squatting in bank owned foreclosures, sharing leftover fish sandwiches from minimum wage jobs made my stomach fold in on itself. Go to a shelter and volunteer, I’d roar! But then LA traffic and time would beat me down and I’d find myself making a lazy donation online before tuning in to the latest episode of Sister Wives. Shelters forgotten.
Mari on the other hand, believed in another kind of economic collapse. She was preparing for an apocalypse. Freeze dried food. Outlaws and squatters. Flares exploding over abandoned downtowns. “We’re lucky we both own motorcycles” she’d sagely squeak. “We can siphon gas from cars abandoned on the freeway.” Just last week she’d mentioned she was buying a gun! I tried to imagine Mari in her pink dress and flats with bows, languidly cocking the hammer on a Glock.
She appealed to the part of me that believed I too, was like the dude from the Terminator, harboring a secret talent to lead during catastrophic times. I’d assemble a rag-tag army of local Silver Lake hipsters, American Apparel rags clinging to their emaciated and tattooed limbs, shag cuts dreading for reals. We’d take over Griffith Observatory; scour the burning streets for abandoned children and makeshift weapons. Things that previously tortured me, like Facebook, career or tabloid culture would melt away. All worries of accomplishments and the future would be replaced with the immediate clarity of survival. It’d be like the Road, except sunny with vegetation. No baby eating. No dead oceans. An eventual return to wooden shacks and candles, little huts springing up all over LA, chickens in the front yard, a vegetable patch.
Mari sighed gravely. “I think ‘garden full of chickens’ is highly unrealistic.” Then she dispensed her next piece of advice. “Start selling everything you own. Now.” She drifted into my kitchen, no doubt scouring the fridge for butter. “In a few months nobody will be buying!” she warned from the other room. I frowned, turned back to my tall boy. Then I picked up a pen, wrote down on the back of a bill: Charge camera for Craigslist postings.

victoria said...

Trickle Down Economics

By Victoria Pearson

While the sporadic ticker of stock market prices jerk an investment broker’s head over his sixth cup of coffee, and a small business owner sits up late Saturday night dreaming up ways to meet payroll and still order the inventory for her second quarter push, its easy to forget the eleven year old who suffers from a decision that was made five states away by a middle manager trying to get out of the office to meet his latest girlfriend who is promising him at least one night of blissful denial that he is fat and balding.

The eleven year old has spent every Saturday since he can remember lacing up his cleats, filling up his water bottle and carrying his bag to the mini van where his mom first delivers his little sister to her dance class, and then drops him to the field to play soccer. This is something that happens as a matter of course and except for those few weeks when he is eating leftover turkey from Thursday’s feast, or dying eggs for tomorrows hunt, every Saturday is the same. There is sign up day, getting your equipment day, picture day and of course the big tournament day, and finally award day. These too all come and go without much thought as to who organizes, pays and insures he can spend two hours every Saturday kicking a black and white ball to his friends in hopes of slipping past the kid standing at the goal.

So imagine to his surprise the Friday…one of those Friday’s when normally the family goes down to Sonny’s for pizza and salad and stops for ice cream on the way home…the phone rings. And in that split moment Fridays and Saturdays, and every other day of the week are never the same because on this Friday, this eleven year old learns that his father has blown his head off. The note. “I put fourteen years of my life into this company. Sacrificed countless days with my family. Insured customers were taken care of and employees were watched after. And today, some manager in the middle of Ohio put my name on the list of those the company could live without. I have failed and cannot face having no future. Please forgive me my family.”

And with that both Sonny’s and soccer were no more. Somehow this story never hit even the back pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Writing Pad said...

Wow! I am so impressed with all of these fantastic contest entries. Honies, it is going to take me a little time to get back to you with likes and remembers, but please know that you all wrote such amazing things! Bravo!

Thank you so much and stay tuned for the contest winner announcement tomorrow (Tuesday).


Elizabeth said...

"We would like you to take on a supervisory position which would increase your weekly hours by ten," my boss says, smiling expectantly at me. Mere reflex provokes my lips swoopingly upwards while my eyes remain downcast focusing on the empty starbucks cups I nervously toy with in front of me. I wonder if it had been appropriate to put the cup on her desk in the first place. I should have left it in my office...
" I just want to clarify your position one more time, you are to work 20-25 hours as we do not have the workload to justify a full-time regulatory coordinator." I closed out of the email while mentally calculating the hours I had already worked that week. I giddily gathered my things and realized that now I have time to ...
"Elizabeth!", My boss's Serbian (" I'm from serbia, former Yugoslavia" she always says by way of introduction) accent tends to rough up my eardrums, but that day I willed myself not to flinch. "I take it you read my email, please do not be upset as it it not personal, but business." I knew this was her attempt to soften what we at the office dubbed her "European bluntness", and so I adjusted my attitude to match her gracious attempt to lessen the expected somberness reduced working hours nee' pay check warrants. "oh, I completely understand" I replied wishing I had already left.

I raced home, intrinsically knowing that the days happenings were one of those coveted signs from the Universe that we creative folks benevoletly await. I knew that it was now time to write! I spoke incessantly about my "project" to anyone who would listen. I spoke. I thought about how chapter construction. Indeed, I thought. I even went out and bought a corkboard on which I planned to attach my genius brainstorms inked on neon pink, green, and orange flashcards. I spoke, Thought, bought, and planned. Now the only thing left to was...have a drink?

Two weeks later, after having spent two gloriously rare commitment-free weekends speaking, thinking, buying, and planning, my boss calls me into her office.
"We would like you to take on a supervisory position..."

It's either time or money, but thats only significant if you utilize one in lieu of the other in terms of action. I see another sign from the the universe, it reads: Piss or get off the pot. I drive home, come across a blog and finally write, FINALLY!

Elizabeth said...

I know its too late too to enter, but I misread the date and decided to post what I wrote anyway. :)

Writing Pad said...

That's great, Elizabeth! Thanks for posting!

Everyone--likes and remembers will come next week. Thank you, again, to everyone who participated. Your writing was amazing! I wish that I could take all of you with me! :(

Stay tuned for a literary variety show on the economy that will include more of you. :)


Writing Pad said...

Lisa Beth (from your comment posted on 10/10)

What an amazing journey in your story! I love that the narrator questions if it is "Luck" when the father throws" your Masters in Education out the window and decide to go into life insurance". I also love the image of the fathers office supplies in the friends garage and the description of the appliances from the viewpoint of an awe-filled 3 yr old.

Thanks for commenting!


Writing Pad said...

Jade @ Tasting Grace -

Love how you captured this moment in time and this man's thoughts. I love the through line of the whiskey, and how the labels went with his status from blue to black to the wonderful closing line "Better switch to Red." Love the description of the taste of the whiskey "savored the burn, lingering over the dark pepper kerosene trip." I could taste it!

Thank you for commenting!


Writing Pad said...

Laurenne - I love that the narrator is breaking up with money! Very funny and great twist.

I love the opening line and the line of "Sweet arrogance when you ivite you friends to my bank account" Great stuff!


Writing Pad said...

Kate W (from Oct. 12) What a great image of the monster.
Love his "thick leathery legs behind its slow-swinging head" and i love the "shodow moves along over us, between the buildings where we leave our guitars and our pens" and "remember a debt that's repaid without money."
What a great reminder!

Writing Pad said...

LTP (on 10/13)

Thanks for a great shopping story!

I love the part with the women oohing and aahing "Status emerge based on who found the prettiest feather, the biggest shell or the shiniest rock"

Love the realization "fifty percent off made your ancient brain remember, scarcity"

Thanks for a great shopping story.


Writing Pad said...

Barry Jude - I really loved the lost feeling of the narrator. Just a couple of my favorite lines include: "I wish I could drink a beer and celebrate like Bukowski, but I need to save my change for the bus"

and "When my characters complain, I tend to hit them even harder.

Great work XoXo


Writing Pad said...

Alix Sharkey - A vivid image of the once affluent neighborhood gone to the dogs!

Love "The Art Deco district ain't what it was...mortages ripe for the plucking" & "fighting dogs with wrist-breaking jaws and tiny eyes." Scary!!

Thanks for the great story!


Writing Pad said...

Hips like Cinderella -

I love this family story. The grandma comparing the poverty now to her poverty. Love the entire paragraph about the stars, the rant and the paragraph about the family choosing to send the sister to college "A wise investment for people who no longer had any real investments." Really great details with the stars and the astronomy lesson.


Writing Pad said...

louis -

You've created a very vivid place in this story. The narrators conflict with the real world is fantastic. I love the hope as the narrator listens to the real estate agent who sells them the home and the list of all the negative things she didn't tell him.
I love the picture painted in the last paragraph "ornamented in several languages...decorated in picture of domestic violence..."

Thank you for posting!


Writing Pad said...


This is a very clever and sad piece! I love the repetition of "I have no email." I love the description of the narrator pasting resumes till he was blue in the wrist.

I love the description of the two items that are in the email box--the invite from the old gym and the notifcation from Chase about the insufficient funds. Nice job!


Writing Pad said...

Hi Abby,

I love this poem! It is so haunting and sad. I love the repetition of the description of the store at the end of the earth. I love the description of the hobos, I love the line "that resumes are nothing but scraps of paper" and the undernourished brain. Beautiful!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Pal,

I love your piece! I love the repetition of the word, "twenty-nine" and all the things that 29 represents. I love this section, "Today, however, I arrive late to work as usual. I sneak out for coffee to cure my caffeine headache, which I pay for in quarters from my laundry money." It really shows the anxiety and economic desperation of the narrator. I also love that the number 29 is getting comfortable in the narrator's email box. Nice job!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Voxy,

I love your piece! I love the opening description, "A horrible crash. Car bits and glass everywhere. I’m on my way to a job interview, my first one in months and I cannot afford to blow it. I’m tired, I’m bitchy, I’m late." I love that you put us inside of the head of the narrator, and I love the whole FBI scene that she imagines. The ending paragraph is also really funny. Nice job!


Writing Pad said...


I love this story. It's really powerful. I feel like I can see the narrator's father pulling the dollar out of his wallet and burning the dollar. Your description of that scene is great. I also love that the narrator did a bunch of babysitting jobs to raise the money and the scene at the end when she recounts the story to her father, and he apologizes and gets teary! Wow!

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...

Hi DC,

What a lovely poem. it is really sad and moving. I love learning the history of the husband! I love the look in the husband's eyes and how that comes back around again at the end. I love how he promised at age 18 (when he was young and full of promise) that he'd be the happiest man on earth, and I love the line, "But a man without a job is no good."

Nice job! Thank you for posting!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Laura,

I really enjoyed your piece. I love the six dollar cup of coffee at LA Mill. I love the pieces of overheard dialogue: "fuckin’ Iraq, vato. Shit, ese. Nobody fucks with me, man.” I also love the description of the Marine haircut.

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...


I loved your piece. It was really moving. I love the description of the daughter wailing and her pitiful howls. That broke my heart. I love the scenes in the bathroom: the baby standing and the one grunting child and one clingy child. I love the game of "Daddy Monster" and that even though the job loss was devastating and scary that it gave the narrator's husband more time for self-exploration and family time.

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...


I loved your piece! I love that the narrator finds snot dribbling from his friend's nose sexy, how the snot comes back at the end. I love the lines, "I'd been exceptionally successful in raising jeans and sweatshirts. Not so much in raising Gina's salary." I love that the narrator feels responsible for the friend being laid off and that he is fantasizing about kissing her. It is a really moving story!

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...

Dear DC,

This is a great story! I love "Inflation! Joblessness! Foreclosure!" I love the shoebox full of money and what the narrator and godmother bought with the money--popovers with strawberry butter and warm consomme. I also love the phrase, "the Roaring Eighties!"

Nice job! Thanks for posting!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Anonymous,

This is a very moving story. I love the repetition of "lose it all/losing it all." I love the series of questions that he asks himself about what would happen and what would it mean if he does lose it all. I love the fantasy of hiking into the forest and digging into the ground for new roots. I also love the details that kick this story off--that the wife, the family accountant, has skipped the mortgage payment to pay for a writing retreat. Wow!

Nice job! Thanks for posting!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Joanna,

This is a wonderful piece! I love the waxy moon face of the boss. I love all the specific reasons why the narrator was not the kind of person that got fired--she was a National Honors Society member and a play contest winner. I love the scene of the narrator crying, signing papers, and cleaning out her desk. I love that the narrator goes back to the boyfriend at the end and that she says that his apartment is "home."

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Anonymous (Economy Hates Love Piece),

I love this piece! I love the first line, I love that the economy has forced him out of an advertising job and is destroying is first healthy relationship in years. I love the posh cubicle farm. I also love the description of the girlfriend (good Polish stock, a foodie), and that his economy was beginning to tarnish her vision of their life together. Powerful piece!

Thanks for posting!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Soseh,

I love this piece! I love the description of Mari--her baby face, her helium voice, the fact that she cooks vegetables to drink the butter. I love the rag tag army of Siverlake hipsters and what they'd do. I also love Mari's various sharp pieces of advice like, "sell everything you own. Now. We can siphon gas from cars abandoned on the freeway."

Nice job! Thanks for posting!


Writing Pad said...

Dear Victoria,

Wow! This story is a total jaw dropper. I love that it is from the perspective of the 11 year old. I love the description of his soccer/Saturday routine, that "except for those few weeks when he is eating leftover turkey from Thursday’s feast, or dying eggs for tomorrows hunt, every Saturday is the same. There is sign up day, getting your equipment day, picture day and of course the big tournament day, and finally award day." I love that he normally stops for pizza and ice cream and that now he won't because his father blew his head off and the reasons why the father killed himself.

Nice job!


Writing Pad said...


I really enjoyed your piece! I love the Serbian boss and her "European bluntness." I love the fidgeting with the Starbucks coffee cup and wondering if it was appropriate to put it on the boss's desk. I love the neon pink, green, and orange flashcards. I love that the narrator comes across a blog and writes, "FINALLY." How wonderful!

Thanks for posting!