Monday January 9th, 2012

The exercise:

And we're back in business with: small town blues.

A bit much for what I just went through, but I figured it was a more inspiring prompt than 'The Saga of The New Laptop Adapter'.

I see I have a lot of comments to catch up on. Thank you!


The problem: a fraying laptop adapter cord which must be held in just the right spot in order to charge the laptop battery. It is progressively getting more and more finicky and less willing to be placed in said right spot.

The only local option to find a replacement (Osoyoos): closed, because it is Sunday.

Next nearest option (Oliver): their one possible solution won't work with my laptop. It is now too late in the day to try the next nearest option, so that will have to wait until Monday.

Next nearest option (Penticton): the first of many possible locations to stock what I need has six or seven adapters. The helpful and knowledgeable staff help me to find the one that will work with my laptop. I return home relieved and victorious.

Thankfully there were several other things I wanted to do in Penticton, but I hadn't been planning on making the drive any time soon. The utter lack of options nearby kind of forced my hand though.

For the vast majority of the time, I quite enjoy living in a small town. It's just on rare occasions like this one, where a somewhat specialized item is needed, that the lack of selection around here makes me miss Vancouver.

But only just a little bit.


Inez said...

Glad to hear things are up and running again. Sorry I'm dipping in and out Marc. Am terrible at discipline so I'm putting it out there now - unfortunately with witnesses - my first babystep goal is 3 times a week ;) Anyway, the small town prompt translated quite darkly for me it seems. (Even though I'd definitely trade my inner city madness for Penticton and surrounds anyday!)

Small Town Blues

You see, I’ve always known the world is full of two types ov’ people. You’ve got your water people and then you got your fire people. Water people will go wherever the earth tells em. They’ll happily tumble down whatever crevice crosses their path, they’ll jump of cliffs to follow the drips in front, they’ll puddle into whatever dank hole life chooses to throw their way.

Then there’s the fire people. They’ll go wherever the thrive is right, they’ll feed until they frenzy, they’ll move on their whims delight. No mountain, no wall, no lonesome road has the will to stop a growing flame.

Mama always said she saw embers round the pupils ov my eyes. She said I trailed destruction wherever I went and that our town was too small for the angry hot likes of me.

Our town was a steady dampening of the spirit. A stagnation that smelt like rot and fart. A slur on the forgotten side of any map. Monday weeped into Wednesday and Thursday dissolved into Sunday and then you did it all over again. Main Street was a dying eel watched by sodden souls on their shipwrecked verandahs, waiting for its death to rattle.

Under melting skies I’d use a lonely spyglass to burn leaves and ants and anyone who’d come too close. They’d curl at the edges and fold in on themselves. If you magnify one thing for long enough it’ll easily blister.

Mama always said I was too torrid for this town.

I told her one day I’d huff and puff and blow my way out.

David said...

@Marc perhaps it was divine intervention to get you to Penticon lol

What should she do tonight? Get wasted? Get high? Get knocked up? She sat on her front porch watching her father manicuring the lawn as perfectly as her mother’s nails. It was Tuesday, so Mom was at her Junior League meeting. Dad would finish his yard work, then open a beer and fall asleep in his chair. Her sister was out with Jimmy Standish, unbeknownst to her parents. They were probably swimming at the lake, perhaps in bathing suits, or perhaps not. Her brother was dead, so he wasn’t doing anything. If he wasn’t, maybe she would have taken him to get some ice cream at the Dairy Queen. But he was, so she just sat on the porch. She slapped a mosquito away and scratched three bites from the night before. What should she do? She drank alcohol once, but it made her sick, and she hated being sick. She would never do drugs, not after what happened to her brother. And she was a virgin, and very happy about that. So she sat on the porch and listened to the whirring of the lawn mower as her shoulders drooped from the weight of the evening sun.

David said...

@Inez I love this line:

Under melting skies I’d use a lonely spyglass to burn leaves and ants and anyone who’d come too close.

morganna said...

I realized within five minutes of stepping out of the car that I would never fit in here.

Everyone else and their families have lived here so long they all look alike. Different faces with the same nose, same shape, and same cheekbones. Two colors of eyes and hair, though. Dark brown for both, or blue eyes and straw-color hair.

The odd thing is they don't seem to notice they all look alike. But as soon as they see me, they know I don't belong.

They still smile and act nice, but I can never quite break into the cliques. I thought I would be able to make some friends in a year or two, but three years in, I am as alone as ever. Some days I want to scream.
We did travel through a small town in Iowa a couple years ago where everyone did look alike like this. Thought I would imagine what it would be like to move there.

Cathryn Leigh said...

Ahhh the small town...Ofteninvaded by the city folk when you klive in torist country. How we hated them tourist on Cape Cod... Ahem anyway to the prompt and another episode taken from my life. :}

Small Town Blues

At the Cotouit Star Market, summer time was making the registras ring. No scanning beeps and boops, but the pressing of keys by cashiers as they look for the price tag on the jars and cans of staple foods; mustard, mayo, hot dogs, hamburgers.

Produce comes and you got to look up the code and waigh the thing. that was probably the only time this Market ever resembled the Star Markets up in Boston. Summer customers pull out their coupons and the cashiers iterate, for the thousanth time, "I'm sorry we're an independant Star Market, not a coporate one, we have our own coupons." Or worse yet the, "that's not on sale here."

The manger's called to say the same thing and void the item formerly thought to be on sale. Sure the tourists bring in the money to support the town, but we could all do without thier, 'why isn't this like the big city,' attitude. Isn't that what you came here to get away from?

Greg said...

@Cathryn: I like your take on the prompt. I really like the weariness you have running through it, accepting that people are going to be like that, but wishing that maybe once in a while they'd think a little first before acting. Definitely gets to the title of the piece!

@Morganna: Your town sounds a little creepy, as in Stepford-wives creepy! I think it would probably freak me out a little to see such a town. You've described it beautifully for me though.

@David: more beautiful description, picking up a mood wonderfully and conveying it. The last line, where her shoulders droop under the weight of the evening sun is tailor-made for the ending and really great. The almost-stream-of-consciousness before it introduces the girl very neatly.

@Inez: you luxuriate in language, don't you! The earthy, gritty feel you present is really well framed by the choice of words, and I can't read it without finding myself standing there, staring around me at your fire and water people, wondering which one I am. Fantastic writing, and I hope you treat us to more this year :)

@Marc: You know I like your little editorial pieces, and this one's no exception. I know that buying a laptop cord is hardly an adventure, but you present it so persuasively that I want to read about it and find out where you take me. And it's always a pleasure arriving.

Small town blues
... well yes, it's the Smurf village. What were you expecting, boss?

[I know it's short, but I used up all my energy commenting on everyone else's post. Sorry :/ ]

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Greg thanks for the compliment. It's pretty much how I felt working at that supermarket as a cashier. It was my first job and I walked to it from home. I didn't even get to mention the old lady who slapped on of my coworkers... maybe Marc will bring that up with another prompt. :}

As to your Smurf reference. I giggled. :}

Audey said...

It's a sheltered little town, and You can't throw a dead cat without hitting a christian reform church.
Where just about everyone is blond with blue eyes, tall and skinny, with nearly the same face. It makes sense when everyone's dutch. It's a place where even the cheerleaders take the day off of school when deer season starts. Though I can't say that my home town will be the first thing I tell people when I move and try to make it big, I'll never deny this place was a true home.
~Oddly enough this fits into the story I'm writing perfectly. It's the blog called "How did it happen here?"

Nita said...

People in small towns don't give directions like other people do. Roads have names that will never appear on a map, and that's if they even give you a street name. Usually, you get a landmark, which is fine if the landmark is something like a bridge. After all, rivers don't normally move on their own. But when you're getting directions from someone who's lived in the town their entire life, things can get a bit wonky. Everyone knows everyone—mostly because they're all related to each other, so even though that old Thompson place hasn't seen a Thompson in it since before I was born, it will forever be “that old Thompson place.” And stores that went out of business 25 years ago are still mentioned, even if there's an entirely new building on the site. Small towns have history in a way that no city will ever approach, and the people who live there have long memories.


Test tomorrow; bed now.

Anonymous said...

(Oops, spotted something in the original that sounded off, probably wouldn't be a big deal but can't delete my delete now.)

Marc, I almost attempted to write for "The Saga of The New Laptop Adapter" but something so specific felt it might need more time to set up, which I did not have today. Haha! Also, before I post my prompt, it was curious to remember that I was actually in Osoyoos about 8 yrs ago. My mom and I were going to her 40 yr high school reunion in Tonasket, WA and drove up over the border one afternoon. I can't say I remember much about specific landmarks or anything but it seemed a very nice little town.


The sun hung motionless in the August sky, almost on purpose as if it were trying to escape it's own feverish heat. The streets of the tiny town in south central Montana, usually alive with the shouts of children clinging to the last two weeks of glorious summer, were still. If you looked closely, you could see a few scattered here and there under the feeble, half-hearted shade of the trees. Perhaps they were rebels intent on thumbing their noses at the sultry oppression or perhaps just caught too late in it's thrall and now unable to escape indoors. Occasionally, small conversations rose and drifted between them but mostly it was too much effort and they simply waited for the relief of sunset which, even then, would be a long way from 'cool'.

Krystin Scott said...

Writing Prompt: Small Town Blues

The wind whistled and blew small tornados of dust off the lime rock road blanketing my clothes in white grit but I walked on. Crickets chirped and as I passed the deserted playground the rusty chains of the swings creaked as they hauntingly swung back and forth and acorns fell on the faded steel slide adding a metallic ping to the eerie melody.

As the sun fell deeper and deeper beneath the trees the darkness grew and the shadows came. A cat yowled and I unconsciously quickened my pace. It wasn’t long before the light faded into nothingness. The houses on either side of the street were dark but I knew their inhabitants stood watching anonymously, tucked safely behind the shields of various colors of curtains and blinds.

Minutes later I picked my way through the brambles down an overgrown path that served as a long drive toward the rustic farmhouse that I now called home. I stopped for a moment to pull the evil weeds from my socks and stared up at the house and it stared back, its curious face spilling soft yellow light from its eye like windows.

An owl screeched and something I couldn’t quite make out scurried through the grass toward me. Startled I broke for the house, leaped onto the porch and jerked open the door. Stepping inside I removed my jacket, gave it a good shake and then hurriedly closed the door.

As I leaned against the wall, I sighed and thought to myself, “Why did I ever leave New York?”

Marc said...

Inez - no worries at all. I think it's very reasonable to start with a goal that's reachable!

That's an incredible piece of writing. Way too many excellent lines for me to pick a favorite.

David - that's great work, you painted such a clear picture of your character and her situation. I find myself feeling genuinely sorry for her!

Morganna - creepy as hell. Your third paragraph is definitely my favorite, such a great observation.

Elor - yeah, the population of Osoyoos quadruples in the summer. Winter is nice and quiet :)

Love those final two lines. Really sums it up nicely.

Greg - well, I reckon you picked a good day to go all out on the comments because that's some solid gold stuff today :D

And... you still made me laugh with only two lines.

Audey - "It's a place where even the cheerleaders take the day off of school when deer season starts."

What a great line! :)

Nita - wonderful observations. Hope you had a good sleep :)

H.N. - no worries, I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist myself :)

Haha, I was wondering if anyone would take that challenge on :D

That's very cool - it is a really beautiful place to live. I'll have to get some new pictures up sometime soon.

Great descriptions; love the idea of the sun trying to avoid its own heat!

Krystin - you really brought that scene to life. Almost had me looking over my own shoulder to see what might be watching me from the shadows.

To all - seriously, that has to be my favorite collection of responses to any prompt I've posted. Thank you for your awesomeness! :)