Day 22: But then I dare say soldiers… #SOL2021 #SOLSC

Last Friday, I bought a couple of board games at my favorite store, Goodwill, each for $5. They were new. I couldn’t believe it. I thought of my Latinx Club and my library, even though I got the suspicion that I would be the most excited person in playing with them. In the worst case scenario, I knew that at least one game if not successful with middle schoolers, I could use it as a lifesaver for a writer’s block during this slice of life story challenge.

The game is called BaffleGabTM. A quick search in Google tells me that it’s not very well-known, ha! Many links direct me to eBay or reviews written in 2005. The domain bafflegab.com advertised on the box is for sale at $4,995 + 17,99/yr Still, I am stubborn and can’t be easily deter by the popularity (or not) of algorithms. I think it’s a fun game to stretch our imagination and expand our vocabulary.

The game comes with 300 cards of one word each. On one side of the card is written one of the words and when you turn the card over you can see the definition. The cards are a combination of nouns, adjectives and verbs. There is also a set of 50 cards with famous lines from classic authors of children’s literature such as Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum or Louisa May Alcott. The idea is to draw one famous line and five words cards. Each players has 1 minute to write a story without looking at the definitions of words. You have to start the story with the famous line.

I found it very cumbersome the way points are counted, and probably players will spend more time in checking all the points than actually playing the game. Since the character of BaffleGab is a dog called Gabby, supposedly players earn bone dollars for each word expressed correctly. Some words have more points than others. You get less points if you use the starter lien incorrectly, sentences have to be complete. Beyond that I get lost. Too much grammar and “teaching” rules involved. Too much bafflegabbing, actually.

I think it’s just fun to give students or myself the starting line and the 5 words, and challenge them to write a story. Then read the stories out loud and have fun listening to them. Points and dollars, wrong sentences, complete sentences, wrong words, just take away the joy of creation. I wouldn’t forbid students to look at the definition either. On the contrary, I would encourage them to read them, so they know how to use each word. I have to put in Google translator the starting line I got, since I didn’t understand it at the beginning, so what’s the point of rushing kids and tell them that they only have 1 minute and if they write things wrong they lose?

Probably for adults it might be fun to do it without looking at the definition and give a special prize to the person that comes up with more BS. I bet they will be plenty of them.

Anyway, I thought that as a writer’s block breaker is really nice. Here is my story. In orange is the starter line and in purple the 5 words drawn.

But then I dare say soldiers were like rhinoceros. They thought that they were thick-skinned creatures that bullets only make a scratch in their bodies. Even the most crafty one understood the gargantuan mistake that was to go to war. Still, they went, stayed for hours, days, weeks, and months on the front line, until their eyes became moldy, and couldn’t see the enemy was waving a white flag.

Here is the full quote of the starting line:

But then I dare say soldier – even brave ones- don’t really like going in to battles.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Princess.

Day 18. My brain is a white screen #SOL2020 Challenge #SOLSC

slice-of-life_individual

Today, March 18th, 2020, I’m participating in Two Writing Teachers’ Slice of Life Story Challenge.

 

 

I remember when I was a girl I taught myself to think of a white screen when I have trouble to fall asleep. For me counting sheep was very distracting. They were always rebellious sheep that didn’t jump in an orderly manner. The white screen worked for me many times if I concentrated really hard and stick with the concept of a white screen. But often, a bubble gum appeared in one corner or in the middle of the screen; sometimes was a spot of ink, or a red dot, that started to grow and grow and change shapes and become something else. I stayed awake for hours wrestling in my sleep.

Today my brain is something else, filled with images that I can’t shake it out. They have frozen my creativity,  making me feel mono-thematic, or guilty or superfluous or both if I write light fiction or about the wonderful bike ride I did today. I feel that my brain is filled with dark images and ideas, that as soon as I open the computer, turn into a white screen.

Day 14. No elegant words coming to my head #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 14th:

Writer’s block again? Yeap, no muses, no elegant words coming to my head, just the emergency room, band-aid writing is up for a visit. That is what happen when you don’t have a plan, when you think that just by sitting in front of the computer, ideas will come together and the perfect slice will be born. Instead, ideas are swirling on my head, traveling through my veins and muscles and eventually arriving to the tip of my index fingers (I never learned to typewrite), and emerging on the white screen like a mush.

I feel sorry for my welcome wagon commentators who faithfully visit my blog every day and endure reading it. Sometimes it’s hard to write for a captive audience that probably is banging their heads while they read.  I guess, I got tired of thinking of what the rest of the world is going to like, or how many comments I will get today, or how many countries my blog will reach. I really don’t care. I write because I like challenges, because it stretches my mind, and force me to think in new ways. It’s also humbling; maybe not very good for my self-esteem when I see how beautiful other people write, knowing that I will never get to that level, at least in English. I write because is ingrained in my skeleton, it’s a need. Just to scribble a couple of ideas, feeling, thoughts. I am thinking seriously on hiring a translator.

Just kidding.

If I, as a grown-up feels this way, I am wondering how a kid whose language is not English might feel. This challenge have made me think about my own kids when we arrived in Spain almost ten years ago. They were 11 and 13 and it was exciting but hard. However, only by doing this challenge I realized how intense was the hard part. They were asked not only to speak, but to write in Spanish

every

single

day.

Not for one class or one hour, but for eight hours five days a week. No wonder my daughter told me one day that she wanted to go to the States for college. Speaking in Spanish makes me feel stupid. Those were her words. They stung, they still sting.

Sevilla September 11 2009 (Small)
Arriving at Sevilla’s Airport, Sep. 11, 2009

 

Day 10. In need of a juicy sandwich! #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 10th:

Never thought that it was going to be a real challenge to prove or justify my abilities to write. It’s a challenge not only because it´s not in Spanish but also because I need to face my own monsters, insecurities and guilt ingrained in my Catholic upbringing.

Tired

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only one third of the challenge and I´m already exhausted. My brain might explode soon but I have to continue

Since I don´t have anything rounded so far, here are some slices that, like any great sandwich, they are still in need of a middle and an end.

Possessed. I’m possessed by Neruda. I can only write sad things because my soul is withered. At what moment of my life did darkness come to the obscured hidden places of my spirit? I would like to say that I am happy, but a stone lurks in the distance and is tied to my neck with a rotten anchor rope. How to get out of the deep well of my loneliness? Sleeping, crying maybe? I am very coward, even to suppress my own grudges. Duérmete mi niña, duérmete mi sol.

The Japanses soprano. Elisa woke up late on Saturday. The day before had been very agitated. She picked her phone with reluctance. She had 15 missed calls from her boyfriend and 119 unopened whatsapp messages. All of them were saying basically the same thing. They had arrested the janitor of the community center. Charges? Having slaughtered the Japanese soprano the previous day.

What happen to you at twenty-seven? Still wrestling in my bed last night, I began to think that something must have been about that age that gives the beat of the following years, because definitely I had not died at 27.

Suspended. She picked up the pill her mother handed her. In the toilet she spat it out while sipping a mixture of withered tears and snot. Pedaling inside her, grew new and deep roots that gave her an unimaginable energy. She arrived at school where she saw the list. “Suspended.” She felt the electric shocks in her fingertips. She looked at the teacher and knew that he couldn´t suppress her spring. This one would come some day.

My mother always…My mother always wanted me not to leave her side and today I was holding her hand after 22 years of not being with her. This time, I was the one who did not want her to leave my side.

Finally, just little bits of mustard or ketchup that I don´t know how to put on my slice…

When I look back I see my childhood as a happy space but empty of many details.

I hate to dress for others.

I have always believed that becoming a nun was impossible. I used to say that I would not be one even if God´s call was a scream.

I have never known if the madness of my family is a created lie or it is true

It horrifies me to stay paralyzed, or blind, not to hear your voice, your laughter or your hugs in the distance.

I’m surprised that not even a grateful smile came from me.

I remember that the bitter smell of semolina cookies baking slowly in the oven were just one of the few bad memories I have of that house.

Have a colorful week!

sandwich (Small)