Character Study


I discovered a column called “Character Study” in the Sunday New York Times.  Each week, a New Yorker is profiled:  the Grande Dame of Staten Island; a female funeral director in Brooklyn with purple finger nails who offers wake packages for $1999; a Queens garbage collector who studies the Irish language between pick-ups.

I have always been fascinated by people who are different from me.  I believe that the average, unknown person is where the great stories are–not celebrities and famous people.  I have wanted to write some sort of book with stories about ordinary folks that I crossed paths with; to listen to their story and pull the amazing parts together.  You can learn a lot about yourself by studying the lives of others.  You have more in common with a pierced, blue-haired person than you could ever believe. Continue reading

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My reactions to death are never the same and completely unpredictable


I felt a little foolish posting last night that I cried because Steve Jobs had died.  Actually, I cried when I read what he had written about living life, about letting go of the past, envisioning the future and to not be afraid if you couldn’t see it clearly.  I knew he was a visionary, introducing the masses to things we never knew we even needed.  How much happier are we when we can take a break, put in our earbuds and listen to our favorite tunes?  We can go to iTunes and for a dollar, download Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and be instantly transported back to Junior Prom in 1988.  To watch my Dad’s face when I played “House of the Rising Sun” for him; seeing his expression change as the memories swirled–he was remembering when this song came out.  He said, “1964.  I was 18 years old and I remember listening to this when I worked at the gas station.”  Then he surprised me by singing along. He knew the words.  He was amazed that with a few clicks, I could get any song.  Now.  Steve Jobs made that happen. Continue reading

Steve Jobs has died and surprisingly, I cried.


RIP Steve Jobs. I remember the excitement in the 80s–technologies were going to change our lives. We knew that but really didn’t have to vision to see how it could be. These are quotes for a Commencement speech Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005. Click here to read it in it’s entirety.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked; there is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future,” Steve Jobs told Stanford University graduates during a commencement speech in 2005.

“You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Continue reading

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi


“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. When you read it, it seems big–the change, the world.  You think of people helping the starving in Africa, Mitch Albom building a school for orphans in quake-devasted Haiti.  If you are like me, the closest you will ever get to this is by donating to the Red Cross.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I found a way to make this small, but with huge impact.  I didn’t really think too much about it or plan it–it just happened.  I refuse to raise my son to participate in this racist, xenophobic world.  He is 13 years old and as you know, it is not an easy task.  Since he was very young, when he would hear something or an issue would come up, we would stop and I would take him to a quiet place and explain how a prejudice was wrong.  As he has gotten older it has been more difficult with TV, movies, Middle School, but I still take him in my room for the talk.

He watched “Bad Boys II” at his Daddy’s house and came home with a new word–the N word.  I was so upset I cried trying to explain to him that people have died over that word.  He was confused because Continue reading

We Now Interrupt Your Inspiring Thoughts with Breaking News!


Hurry!  Write it down before it’s gone.  I am learning this the hard way when it comes to writing for this blog.  One day last week my mind was a flowing river of inspiration, thoughts, and ideas; so much so that incoming news and emails would send me off into other directions.  I had multiple pages open in two browsers, notes and links waiting in Notepad.

Since I started this blog, I have wanted to write a post on the many venues that a person can find inspiration.  While I was writing about some current event for my other blog, This Caught My Attention, I received an email notification that an old friend of mine commented on a post from this blog. Continue reading

My First Short Story


I created a page today for my first short fiction, The Long-Reaching Arms of Circumstance. (there is also a link in the header)

I wrote this story in 2008 for a Creative Writing class.  The premise is real, but I filled it with fiction to try to understand what might have happened in the past.  I created a persona for the main character, John, to enhance the story and make it logical. This story deals with suicide and it’s effects on people, even generations later.

This is the only story I have written, but I have spent many hours dreaming up stories in my head.  I plotted this story out in my head first, so I knew where I was going, which made it much easier to write.  I haven’t read it in several years and have worried about it’s historical accurateness.  Please leave comments if you wish.  I would love to read them.

Poem: Bliss


I wrote this quickly a few years ago for a creative writing class.  It made me laugh and still makes me smile when I read it.  I got a “Short and Sweet” comment from my instructor.

Bliss (2008)

Remember our tiny apartment by the river
where we spent my birthday
lying sideways on our bed
alternating between love and slumber.

Oh, how we laughed, while fully engaged
a passing freighter chose that particular moment
to blow it’s foghorn
abruptly breaking our momentum.

© Liza Bennett
All Rights Reserved

Poem: Comfort in the Familiar


Comfort in the Familiar (2009)

The tips of her fingers brushed the spines of her books
standing guard upon sturdy shelving encircling the room.
The iron bed was spread with Battenberg lace
and the requisite matching dust ruffle.

Hearing rumbling outside her door,
she took a peek down the long hallway.
Surely something exciting must be happening,
as there was brightness where once darkness.

With hurried steps, she went to the shelf
opened the lid to the oak box holding the key.
Growing impatient, she clumsily unlocked
the shackle attached to her ankle.

Ignoring the disapproving stares of her people,
she tip-toed into the hallway.
Her fingers calmed her trembling lips as
gilded frames gave way to ebony and glass.

Her pounding heart deafened her ears,
she reached the end, or maybe the beginning.
She found her room decked out in modern design–
it was both shocking and intriguing.

Image By Anthony Zierhut

Shielding her eyes,
she raced back,
slammed the door shut,
clamped on the shackle,
returned the key,
before collapsing into the overstuffed chair.

© Liza Bennett
All Rights Reserved

Life’s Journey

Quote


“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” – Barbara Hall

 

Captcha Mimics Life


I once saw a t-shirt in a catalog that had “I never metaphor I didn’t like.” printed on it.  I got a big smile on my face–that was me.  Metaphors are constantly flying around in my brain, waiting to find their way into a story, poem or blog post.  The ironic part is that when I was in 7th grade English, I was baffled by metaphor and simile.  I remember the day clearly. That puzzlement continued until I was in my early thirties, on the verge of a nervous breakdown–metaphor became very clear to me.

Anytime I share a blog post, I have to read the Captcha and enter what I see in the box.  The other day I found myself leaning from side to side, moving forward at an angle, trying to figure out this one particular Captcha.  Okay, that one looks an “o” but it could be an “a” with a serif font.  Leaning forward to examine it closer doesn’t make it any clearer; neither does going at it from the side.  The next one looked like a somewhat flighty “L” but it was just a lazy “J.”

I like it when they make the second “word” a real word, easily readable.  After the  uncertainty and confusion of the first word, it’s a relief to see that sometimes a word is what it says it is.

Keeping calm and carrying on, with a fake British accent.


My sister and I, along with our mother, have this ‘thing’ about us.  There is this calmness between us, as if we are in tune with each other.  My mother likes to hum while she does household chores.  I will usually join in, singing the next verse and we will finish the song together.  One night while washing dishes, we sang parts of every Carole King song we could think of…she lost it when I played air shotgun during Smackwater Jack.

For many years, the three of us have occasionally carried on entire conversations with British accents–we’re from Michigan, so that’s a lot of Yankee to tame.  Mom goes from the Queens English to really bad Cockney, reminiscent of the early parts of Pygmalion.  My accent is all over the place, mainly London (which part, I do not know) and a little Manchester.  My sister keeps her British headmistress pretty even.

Continue reading

Sweet Baby Boy Poem


My last post was sad, so I decided to post this little poem I wrote about missing holding my baby, now that he has grown.

Baby Andrew (2009)

Ten years you’ve been gone from me.
If I close my eyes, I can still hear your
 gentle sighs as you sleep, contently
snuggled in tight against my chest.
My untamed fingertips can’t resist
touching your translucent cheek,
setting your tiny mouth to suckling.

Oh, to feel your slight weight again.

The door slams, ending my reverie.
Here you are, my sweet big boy,
wondering what’s for dinner.

© Liza Bennett
All Rights Reserved