What Have I Done?

We’ve reached that time of year when we reflect on the past twelve months and make plans for the coming ones. Gingerly Me is a few months old now and a routine has mostly worked itself out. Here’s what’s been done and what’s left to do.

2015 Accomplishments

  • Began writing stories (September)
  • Researched the business of writing
  • Created website (November, went live 12/1)
  • Created 9 blog posts (plus 3 unfinished drafts)
  • Submitted 4 stories for publication

2016 Goals

  • Build readership
    • Arrange for guest post(s)
    • Spread the word about the blog
  • Build professional network
    • Find writing blogs/businesses to associate with
    • Join a local writer’s group
  • Submit a piece for publication each month

January Goals

  • Let Facebook friends know about Gingerly Me (not sure why I’ve been keeping it secret)
  • Create tracking system for submissions
  • Consider ideas for a book
  • Submit something for publication

Friends

Hers was a whirlwind romance ending in elopement. He was quiet, solidly built, kind of bookish, and charmingly gullible. Growing up in his parent’s bakery, he had developed impressive skills in the kitchen. Those skills are what eventually attracted his wife, who has no cooking skills to speak of, but has always been a sucker for pastries. Together, they love to entertain. She flits around filling wine glasses and cleaning up after guests, while he creates the meal.

My husband and I shared many meals with them over the first few years of their marriage. They also became our favorite traveling companions. We’ve enjoyed chocolate croissants in Switzerland, Lamingtons in Australia, steins of beer in Germany, and s’mores on the beach in Hawaii. Life was pretty sweet for all of us.

Several years into their marriage, the trouble began. It started with a seemingly innocent 30 day challenge for avoiding alcohol. Next came challenges for sweets, or fitness, or whatever food was being demonized in the news that month. She could take or leave the fads, but he tried them all. Then he came across a book that changed everything. Sadly, my husband and I didn’t pick up on the warning signs right away. Even if we had known how serious this would eventually become, I don’t know for sure that we could have headed it off. His own wife couldn’t stop him.

My best friend, who had cleverly married the son of a baker, has suddenly found herself in a gluten-free marriage. There are currently no signs that this situation will improve. I know how hard this must be for her, so I remain supportive by providing cake on our birthdays and sending her boxed, shelf-stable bread, when I can find it.

But secretly I giggle at the irony. Because really, that’s what friends are for.

Author’s Note:

This one may look familiar if you’ve been following along. I had just entered a story in the 12th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest by Geist magazine, so I had short, short stories on the brain. Flipping through some of the stories on this website, I found What Friends Are For and realized that all the background information I had provided in the opening paragraphs was superfluous. I hacked and chopped until this story was half of its original size, then entered it in the postcard contest as well. It reads much better with this edit and I’m beginning to wonder if including too much background information is a quirk of mine that I’ll have to watch out for. Time will tell.

Grand Canyon

Stepping off the plane in Flagstaff, I’m greeted by thirsty air. It takes what it needs from me, knowing I have no defense. It’s my first time visiting. Probably my last, too. I enter the comically tiny space that somehow serves as an airport and I am finally able to put into words what I must have known all along; I have come here to die.
My traveling companions are here on vacation, celebrating a milestone birthday at Grand Canyon. While this wasn’t on the top of my list of places to visit, it does seem like a very American thing to do. Also, it’s a cheap vacation. As our plans fill in, though, in the weeks before the trip, my unease begins to grow.
Birthday boy wants to ride a mule along the edge of the canyon. Who wants to spend a bunch of money and join him? I’m amazed to hear that everyone is on board with this. I was on board, myself, until I read the myriad requirements. Then I began to have some concerns. Why would anyone put themselves at the mercy of frustrated slave labor, for hours, along the edge of the biggest pit in the world? The plan was to rise before the sun, then travel to certain death on the backs of smelly beasts our very first (and last) morning there. We would take our first glimpses of the canyon as we plunged to our deaths, a mile below.
The next morning, disclaimers signed, sufficiently oriented and mounted on our respective beasts, we began lumbering toward the crumbling edge of the canyon. After a few minutes travel along a dusty path worthy of that old western, Bananza, our fearless guide indicated that we should rest. The mules pulled up neatly parallel to each other, overlooking our grave. I sat for a moment in contemplation. This was it. One more step and off we would tumble. No guardrail. No pavement. No respectable trees, even, to break the fall.
I carefully unwrapped the canteen’s cord from my saddle horn and took a drink of the plastic flavored tap water. I took a deep breath, noticing all the details of my surroundings. This vast canyon really was a remarkable landscape feature. I replaced the canteen, careful not to accidentally nudge my mount forward, over the edge. Other riders were taking pictures and chatting about the landscape, in denial of their imminent deaths.
Suddenly, the guide directed us to move on and before I knew what was happening, my mule, of his own accord, had backed away from the treacherous cliff and fallen in line with the rest of the mules on the trail. Our ride continued without incident. My mule showed mercy that day. He must have sensed my desire to live and decided against throwing me off the cliff after all. No one knows how close we came to tragedy that day.

Author’s Note:

I was interested in The 12th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest held by Geist magazine, which required an image and a 500 word or less short story. Having recently returned from Grand Canyon, I looked through the photos for inspiration. I chose the image above and decided to write about my fear and how it turned out to be unfounded.

Happy Birthday!

My baby blog finally made its way onto the big wide web today!
It all began about two months ago, when I decided to write a story. Times have changed since a paper and pencil were all you needed. Now, in order to share my story with you I must have a platform. Part of that platform is this webpage. According to the powers that be, the minimum for this platform would be to provide you with my photo and contact information. How fun would that be?
Instead, to make it a little more interesting, I will be sharing short stories and documenting my experiences as I learn to navigate the modern world of writing on my journey to fame and fortune.
Please join me on this journey, its bound to be interesting. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions along the way.
Thanks for stopping by!