Thoughts with my younger me

If I could transport back in time and speak to my younger self, my seven-year-old self, I’d tell her how beautiful she is and to never lose that imagination. She loved pretending to be Pocahontas and run on the front lawn barefoot as if dashing through the forest. She played in a kiddie pool with her neighborhood friend. She loved dancing in her backyard to her boom box that played Britney Spears CD’s.

I would travel back to middle school and whisper to thirteen-year-old me that I shouldn’t insist that dad buy those boots that I’d never wear to the school dance.

To my seventeen-year-old self, I would tell her that her boyfriend would not be the man she’d spend the rest of her life with and to thank the heavens for that. I’d tell her that she will spend the next ten years of her life with all of the wrong boys.

“The man you’re going to spend the rest of your life with,” I’d say, “is with the wrong ones, too. Be patient, and continue on. He’ll find you when God knows you’re both ready.”

If I could check in with the woman I was five years ago, I’d tell her to be prepared for her life to take a giant turn.

I’d tell her, “The storm will come in and it will be fierce. But like everything, it will die down and you will find an even greater strength within you. You will be braver than you have ever been.”

Checking in with the woman I am now, I am telling her not to crumple up this page and throw it away. I am telling her to keep writing and believing in herself, because I know my seven-year-old self would tell twenty-six-year-old me to do what I love and get my feet dirty.

Seven-year-old Amanda is my guide as much as I am hers. She reminds me to embrace the imagination within me, dance when I think no one is watching, and stay in touch with old friends. Thirteen-year-old me whispers, “Dad will always have your back.” She tells me that in his eyes, though, I don’t need boots in order to be beautiful. Seventeen-year-old Amanda is on the verge of finding love and tells me to never give up on it when I have found the right one. I reassure her that I have indeed found him.  Twenty-one-year-old me reminds me that every day is a gift. Live it as though tomorrow won’t come.

Time collapses upon itself to reveal an untold story: the one I am living now and the one I will continue to live. I honor what me at seven, at thirteen, at seventeen, at twenty-one went through to get here.

This is where I am meant to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Screenplay Writing

I am super excited I self-published my memoir and I am incredibly thankful for the help from my friends and family, especially Terrill Thomas who designed the cover, and Tony Brucks and Renee Christopher who helped to edit the book from start to finish.

What a huge freaking milestone and I cannot emphasize how much I appreciate their support. I’m in the process of gathering, revising and adding short stories to compose a collection for my next book.

It’s a lot of fun, and it’s coming along.

My brother, Daniel, inspired me to take on a different project. Dan is a composer and producing music. He said half-jokingly recently that he was waiting for me to write a screenplay that could be turned into a film, so that he could compose for it!
I said with determination and wholeheartedly, “Hell yeah! Let’s do it!”
I’m hungry to challenge myself to write for film and theater. I’m eager to write something that could go somewhere, with something that could be a contribution to another line of artists, with something that could potentially be seen and heard from a wider audience.
I’ve never attempted to write a screenplay before. I honestly had to Google ‘screenplay templates’ because I’m so new to this style of writing. What I’m starting to do is turn my short stories into scenes that could be filmed.
A screenplay, from what I researched, is at least 90 pages long… looks like I have quite a ways to go, but nine pages of an intro is a good start.
It may be something, may be nothing.
People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.
-Steven Spielberg

Glue

The vibrant leaves glowed as they sprinkled to the ground beneath Jasmine’s small white Velcro tennis shoes. She felt the crisp cool breeze on her cheeks as it carried the sound of children laughing and playing in the crunchy, messy piles on their first day at Houghton Academy, School for the Gifted Youth.

She was dressed in a matching white dress with a fluffy purple coat that reached below her knees. Her long, chestnut and wavy hair, framing her inquisitive sapphire eyes, fell loosely down her back.

Her mother held her hand across the street, then let go once they reached the sidewalk. Jasmine loathed the idea of meeting new people, and going to a new place.

“I don’t want to go to school!” she cried.

Her mother laughed and scooped her up in her arms.

“You’ll be alright,” she soothed. “Your teacher is really excited to meet you, and you’re going to make a lot of new friends.”

Jasmine peeked worriedly over her shoulder toward the kids lining along the wall, and felt a twinge in her belly.

“I will be back here to pick you up after school,” she said sadly, lowering her to the ground. She helped Jasmine’s arms through the straps of her backpack.

Jasmine walked away without saying a word, preoccupied with figuring out which classroom she was supposed to enter.

The morning drifted by with teachers filing students into their classrooms, and introducing them to their desks and assignments. Among the first grade Foreseers, Jasmine had already learned to write the entire alphabet and words in cursive, impressing their homeroom teacher, Mr. Zarek.

She was already way ahead of the game, and sat back in her seat and smiled at the sentences she wrote on the flimsy piece of paper in front of her. The red-headed boy next to her struggled with his cursive and kept erasing every letter.

Seated across from them, one girl with pigtails and a jean jacket and her friend with streaked black hair laughed at him. Their snickers made his pale face turn tomato red.  

“Leave him alone,” Jasmine piped angrily.

The red-headed boy’s emerald eyes peered up from his crumpled sheet of paper, too afraid to speak. The girls stared at her silently. The one with pigtails raised an eyebrow.

“Make me,” she said.  

Jasmine looked down at the table, defenseless, until she saw a bottle of glue.

Maybe I will… 

The bullies smirked as Jasmine went back to her writing, feeling untouchable. Jasmine waited a moment before she heard their screams.    

“EWWWWWW!!!!!!” cried the one with pigtails. “MR. ZZZZZZZZZ!!!!”

The red-headed boy laughed to tears as he watched them run to the sink, scrambling to wash the glue out of her hair.

Jasmine giggled quietly and sat her pencil down on the sheet of paper which read the word “Glue” in her delicate writing.   

The scene drifted further away into her subconsciousness, like a hidden secret locked tightly in a treasure chest.

Jasmine’s streaming drool down her hand and on top of the bar woke her.

“Oh, God,” Jasmine said holding onto her head, rolling it around.

Shane, sitting at the windowsill on guard with his arms crossed, glanced over at the Scribe. 

“Good morning, Princess,” he chuckled.

“Is this what a hangover feels like?” she groaned.

“Hell, no,” he said. “You only had one drink.”

She rubbed her red eyes, then pulled out her pen and sheet of paper.

A bottle of Aspirin and a glass of water manifested on the counter.

Pieces of Snow

Nestled on the pastel window seat, Lana rested her chin on her palm and sighed. A storm was yawning loudly outside her window. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.

She was awfully sorry about the snow globe she had accidentally broken. The way the sparkly flakes floated inside the glass dome surrounding the Swedish dancer in the arms of her beloved captivated Lana like the soft raindrops falling outside. Her small hands shook in fear as Lana stared at the shattered pieces spread across her mother’s bedroom floor. She recalled the terror of her mother discovering her hiding behind the chair in the nursery, swiftly yanking her arm and spanking her all the way back to Lana’s room.

Tibbles, her fat black cat, squeezed in between the wooden doorframe and strolled into her room.

“Go away, Tibbs,” she groaned.

He purred as he continued making his way across the room.

“I can’t play with you,” she said. “Mama said I’m in big trouble.”

The cat unleashed a chuckle and shook his head.

“You really did it THIS time,” Tibbles said as he jumped onto the window seat beside her. Lana sighed and dropped her forehead to her arm resting on the sill.

“I know,” she grumbled. “I thought I was being really, really, really careful!”

“Not careful enough, kiddo. Do you know how important that snow globe was to your mother?”

“No….well…kinda,” she said. “I think my grandma got it from far away.”

The cat licked his paws one by one, slowly and meticulously. The rain began to pour down harder on the garden below her second story bedroom. Beyond the house lay endless open fields shadowed by the night sky. Lightning streaks cracked across the heavy clouds as if they were sharp roots clawing into the earth below.

“I think it was Sweden, where my great-grandma was born.”

Tibbles, bored from bathing himself, rolled onto his back exposing a fluffy white blob of belly. The little girl stroked it lightly.

“You can fix it, you know,” said the cat in between purrs. Turning onto his side and all fours, Tibbles leaped to the floor.

“How?” Lana, curious and eager to make amends, turned to the feline strolling to the door.

“By going to Sweden and getting a new one for her, of course!” He hopped out of the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

It seemed so simple to her. No wonder her mother was so furious! She simply wanted her snow globe back. And Lana was determined to get it.

She jumped off of the seat and grabbed her pink sandals. Thinking twice about the rainy weather, she threw them down and took her yellow rain boots. Opening her door and glancing down the hall, Lana made her exit seeing that the area was clear. She had no plan in her mind other than to find this land of Sweden and retrieve a beautiful, whole snow globe.

Lana was so excited that she had forgotten about the jump rope she left on the staircase and slipped on the rope, falling down each solid marble step.

The echoed screams woke her up instantly. She took a moment to remember where she was, and what she was doing on a plane. Lana was coming home to Nebraska from New York on the first flight out to her mother’s funeral. She glanced out of the small oval window, catching the setting sun across the silky, emerald fields. Patches of brown and gold freckled the diverse landscape.

She had changed out of her business suit and into some faded jeans and plaid shirt. Her long brown hair piled high atop her head in a messy bun. Taking a long and deep breath, Lana checked the time on her phone and counted the seven hours since she heard about her mother’s passing. A throbbing in her skull and knife in her chest brought tears to her eyes. She recalled their last conversation over the phone about the snow globe Lana had shipped to her mother while on a business trip in Stockholm; a globe containing a graceful dancer in the arms of her beloved.

Her mother had completely forgotten about that old globe she broke when she was five years-old. It brought a gleaming smile to her soft, wrinkly cheeks.

Something deeper had been preserved that day. A love so strong and enduring restored from an almost untraceable and unconscious past.

Where I’m From

I’m from cartoons

and hair clips,

dog leashes and recycled trash bags.

Crumpled tightly; a bag within a bag.

I am from wide green lawns

where I cartwheeled on.

I come from arguments with

my brother and mother Switzerland.

I’m from hot summers and foot rubs,

smelly and soft.

Books and French vanilla creamer.

I don’t come from a rabbit hole,

only Bugs Bunny and

“What’s up Doc?”

I’m from Oz and ruby slippers,

weird socks and boxing gloves.

jab-jab-jab

I’m from the mailman,

cards and cash,

delivered in a dirty white satchel

from my grandma and her excessive kisses

that smell like cigarettes.

Sent from generations of women

who built me, colored me,

and stayed within the lines.

I come from jump rope competitions,

challenged to cross a line.