Friday, May 28, 2010

Local wonder

A few nights ago I went for a walk around my neighborhood. I like where I live; it's a multi-cultural, multi-class kind of place, largely residential with a small downtown. Kids play on my street. I smile at my neighbors. But I don't go walking as often as I might. My life is busy, so I usually drive. Just like most of you.

I decided to walk because it was a beautiful night; because I am achingly aware of oil consumption these days; because I wanted to stretch my legs; because I wanted to feel alive and in my body. I decided I'd take myself out to dinner in our little downtown, about a mile-and-a-half away, and I would walk.

In that walk, I met wonders.

I walked by houses where people were cooking dinner. I smelled curry, hamburgers, pasta, rich spices I couldn't identify. I walked by homes where dinner was a communal event around a table, others where dinner was eaten by flickering tv-light. I heard a ringing hammer, a late night project coming to completion in the warm night. The air was thick on my skin, encouraging me not to hurry.

A dad and his kid were hitting a ball. The kid missed and the ball rolled out into the street, then towards me. I picked it up and tossed it back; the dad thanked me and commented on the beauty of the evening in a Boston-accent so thick he could have been sent from Central Casting. His hand ruffled his son's hair.

A little farther on and I met another neighbor who collects vintage neon. We talked about passionate collecting, art, kids, politics, family, life, all in the span of ten minutes. Her hospitality and kindness reminded me of another time, then made me think that no, she was of this time, this moment, just not what we are taught to expect. Hospitality and kindness surround us in our own neighborhoods if we look for it.

At the restaurant, after chatting in my walk with other neighbors in the long light of evening, I settled in expecting a peaceful meal at the bar. Soon I was accompanied by a funny man, telling me stories, jokes, and speaking with tremendous pride of his son. We gave each other tastes of luscious morself from our own plates. In the hour of our meal we became old friends. And when I stepped outside to walk home, a full moon accompanied me turning the world quiet, silver.

I tell stories of worlds populated with unexpected marvels - a debt collector who accompanies us after death or Eve speaking in her own voice - but truly, we live in a world of wonder. For all that the breadth of the human imagination is astonishing, when we open ourselves to the gifts of the world we have endless opportunity to be amazed at its generosity.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer

image courtesy of Ridwan Chandra

Creative Commons License

Friday Fiction: Same street, different lives


Jesus that was close! Fucking buses, you’d think I was invisible. God and the stink they leave behind...

Of course, that’s how it feels sometimes. all the time. Invisible. No one sees me. Not anymore anyway. I could be naked and no one would see me. Why should they anyway, I’m just another middle-aged middle-class nobody.

Look at them. All of those people rushing to wherever the hell they’re going, god, who cares, but look at them, so fast, they don’t have the time, they don’t care about anyone but themselves. They certainly don’t see me, they just push on by. It would be so easy to just let them nudge me a little to far, just drift into traffic.

I wonder if it would hurt.

That’s the problem with suicide by traffic. What if it didn’t work? I don’t want to end up being a cripple in some chair somewhere, god that would be worse, then I couldn’t even do this and this is all I really can do now. I can’t work now, they don’t want me, it would be worse then.

No one wants me.

It would be so easy. The traffic is so fast, there should be better laws. Some one could get hurt. Ha.

All it takes is one deep breath. Close my eyes and step. One. Two. Three.

Shit, I’m even too chicken for that. Can’t do anything fucking right. Not like anyone noticed, not me, not now. Ok. One more time. Don’t think just step. And -


Oh, YES! oh my god, I can’t believe he finally asked, oh yes and yes and yes and look at all these people they are all so beautiful. They’re smiling at me. The air is so fresh and cool on my face and I feel so alive and oh god YES! The cars rushing by are full of people listening to their radios and all I want to do is run out into the street and shout out my news - I’m getting married! I could stop traffic just for the pleasure of hearing the brakes squeal out his name.

I need to call my mother and Sally but right now, right now I just want to hold onto this feeling inside of me hold it tight within me and I could burst with joy. I feel like I’m in a musical, as if I could spread out my arms and start dancing, everyone here on this crowded sidewalk waiting for the light to change would accompany me and it would be like a scene from a 1940s movie. All the sorrow of the world can’t withstand this much joy.

I could dance on the roofs of all the cars, waiting for the light to change, tap across the bus that just stopped over there and no one would yell or scream, they would just all smile at me. I know it because he finally asked and I said yes.

Even the sirens sound like a song to me.

I wonder what’s happening over there? Why is everyone running?

I’ll check the news later. I need to get someplace quiet so I can make those calls. Oh god, what a day. I will never forget this street, this moment, these faces.

(c) 2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back... 30 years later

I know. Every other blogger on the planet (alright, maybe every other blogger in at least the US) is writing about 30 years of The Empire Strikes Back. Can you blame us? It was the best of the Star Wars series, the one with the most dramatic momentum, where George Lucas showed us in no uncertain terms that the hero's journey was alive and well. He offered us the chance to dream big and imagine ourselves in those heroic roles; through Star Wars we could save the universe. Some of us took it pretty seriously - not the people who married Storm Troopers or have spent their lives examining the Star Wars films for Greater Meaning, but those who answered the call to fight the evil empires around them, to follow their own Jedi paths, to be their own heroic selves.

Those of us who saw it back then in the theater knew it mattered, even if we thought it mattered only because it was the second Star Wars movie (or was it the fifth? at 12 I didn't understand or care). We knew it mattered because the story mattered. What happened mattered. Knowing good would prevail mattered. And boy, did I ever want to pilot a TIE fighter with a light saber by my side.

I went with a friend from school. We stood in line for what seemed like hours and saw the second showing on opening day. The theater was beautiful, one of the grand old cinemas that don't exist anymore; red velvet curtains parted and the music began.

It was utterly entrancing.
  • Could we trust Yoda? What was with that weird swamp anyway? "Do or do not, there is no try" shaped my life for years.
  • The love triangle that we didn't yet know was a bit incestuous.
  • The utter evil of Darth Vader and his lies - they had to be lies, right?
We sat through two showings. Just before the movie began for the second time my friend met some boys including one she liked and insisted we sit with them; he put his arm around me and she left. I was frozen. I spent the rest of the second showing uncomfortable, thinking I really just wanted to watch the movie instead if having to figure out how I could get away from this guy I wasn't interested in. I was on the cusp of adolescence but not quite ready to leap. I was starting to question who I had been and who I was going to become, but I wasn't yet interested in answering those questions with anything more than a movie that showed me the possibility of heroism.

I ended up seeing The Empire Strikes Back 27 times that summer. "Whaddya wanna do?" "I don't know... Let's go see Empire!"

Even at 12 I recognized the mythic story being spun out with special effects and the smell of popcorn. I understood that this was the call to adventure, the charge to be a hero, that fighting wrong was simply right. The unanswered questions were real to me. It mattered who Luke's father was, even though I knew good would prevail. I just had to wait years for the last chapter.

Looking back on that summer it does feel like a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The call to adventure, the unanswered or unasked questions and the belief that good will prevail are all still deep parts of who I am. I was lucky enough to have a shining cinematic moment to show me myself and the possibilities of what could be when I needed it most.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Fiction: You picked up a hitch-hiker...

...with the most astonishing hair. It isn’t as though you made a practice of picking up hitchhikers, but this one, standing by the side of the road with all of the wind in the world caught in the golden mass, making you remember Rapunzel, it was as though ropes pulled you to him.

He didn’t talk much, just saying he’d go as far as you would take him which of course sent all kind of erotic thoughts tumbling through your mind, but you didn’t voice any of them, just saying you could take him for at least the next fifty miles or so and it must be nice feeling the freedom of the road. He just sighed a reply and you got the sense that maybe the road wasn’t so free after all.

In the confines of the car his hair lay still and quiet around his face and shoulders, but sometimes a strand would rise up, as though it was looking for the wind, trying to taste something, a medusa snake still seeking its freedom. He just looked out the window as the miles unfolded, not sleeping, but resting with his eyes open, hands folded on his pack.

You ached to ask questions, but didn’t want to intrude upon his still privacy, so just drove, hands at 10 and 2, eyes fixed firmly ahead, even though in the hitchhiker you imagined countless possibilities. He could be an angel in disguise, Elijah walking the world. The devil in the form of temptation (the thought of what those hands could do filled you with a longing so deep). An escaped convict, lost soul, errant poet, or just someone trying to get home after a long day’s work. But there is something about those met on the road that commands privacy, so you didn’t ask. You didn't really want to know if he was something ordinary.

You wondered what he thought of you, your middle class car, evidence of your middle class life. Did he wonder why you stopped to pick him up? These days, so few people hitchhiked, it must be hard to even get a ride. And what color were his eyes anyway?

You were getting close to 50 miles now, 50 miles of silence, of the windows open enough for air but not so much that you could hear only noise and you asked where he wanted to be left off. Anywhere he said. Anywhere I can look for my next ride. You wonder why you're dropping him off now, when you have miles to go, but you don't stop stopping.

You pull over to a likely spot, enough shade that he might be comfortable, but clear enough that oncoming drivers will see him, enough dappled light that the sun might catch in his hair. You want to say but wait, I don’t know who you are as the door closes and you faintly thanks.

As you drive away you glance in the rear view mirror to see him walking towards the road’s edge, hand outstretched, his hair fanning out behind him, like wings, and you wonder why he doesn’t just fly.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer
(Note: This prompt and many other wonderful prompts can be found in A Writer's Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life) Creative Commons License

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In spite of everything

It's still a big planet and full of wonder.

Photos: New Critters in New Guinea Creative Commons License

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blog Jog!

Thank you for stopping by True Stories Honest Lies! Please explore all this blog has to offer, then jog on over to, a fun romance writing blog. If you would like to visit a different blog in the jog, go to

If you leave a comment with a link to your own page, one lucky winner will receive a handmade item from me!

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

List: Large shoes

I've lately been dealing with plantar fasciitis. For those who may not know (lucky you!) this is a strain of the plantar fascia that run along the soles of your feet. It typically manifests as heel pain, I have pain along the entire sole of my left foot. I probably strained it exercising. Yay! Aging is fun! Actually, it is fun, far better than the alternative. And this will heal given time, care and shoes with adequate support (so much for strappy sandals) though it's uncomfortable and makes me cranky.

I decided to distract myself by opening up Curious Lists: A Creative Journal for List-Lovers so I could amuse myself and maybe someone else. The universe snickered. This is what I opened to.

Professions that require large shoes

Clown shoe model
Bug squisher
Grape squisher in streamlined factory setting (bigger shoes, more grapes squished)
Nursery rhyme architect, working with old women
Sadistic dance partner
Giant imitator
Large shoe manufacturer industrial spy
Michael Jordan impersonator
Professional butt kicker
Mermaid wanna-be
Misguided boat manufacturer

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License
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