Fear of Heights


Fear of Heights

Nandy Ekle

Raylene dropped her purse and keys in the chair by the door. Her six-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Stevie, and her just-turned-five-year-old son, Wonder, came bounding up the steps into the mobile home behind her, trying to tear each other apart.

“No, I get the first snack,” Stevie yelled.

“No, I do,” Wonder yelled back.

“Ow! you pulled my hair! I’m telling. Mom, Wonder pulled my hair and it really hurt!” She rubbed the offended part of her scalp, then she stomped on his foot.

Wonder let out an amazing shriek. “Mom! Stevie stepped on my foot!”

Raylene took a deep breath and shut the door. “Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop it right now! Both of you. No snacks for anyone. Both of you get to your rooms while I get dinner done. Now.”

“But, Mom,” they both whined in unison.

“Get!” She pointed toward the hallway and twitched her head in the same direction. Sister and brother looked at each other with unabashed hatred in their eyes, then plodded off to their rooms.

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The King


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The King

By Nandy Ekle

 

Anyone who knows me knows I love to read. And I’ve realized the older I get, the more analytical I get. I read everything. I’ve even read things—completely to the end—all the way to the end. One reason is that I’m not a quitter. I hate the thought of an unfinished book sitting around. I may take a break from a book, but I will always come back and finish it.

The other less neurotic reason is that I’m a firm believer there’s something to learn from every single book. Simply the fact that a publisher found a nugget worth latching on to means there’s something there. You may have to work harder to find it in some stories, and you may decide the whole lesson is more of what not to do, but there is something.Another thing people know about me is that I love a story with psychological layers. The more layers, the better. The more psychological the better. And throwing a few ghosts in is the superlative of a good story.

Another thing people know about me is that I love a story with psychological layers. The more layers, the better. The more psychological the better. And throwing a few ghosts in is the superlative of a good story.

And people who know me know that’s why I like Stephen King. And my favorite Stephen King story is, hands down, no questions asked, The Shining. Legend says Mr. King was still teaching high school when they waited out a freakish snow storm at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. According to the tour guides at the Hotel, they were closing up for the season when the Kings walked in while the blizzard was blowing through the mountains. They were handed the keys to the hotel and told to make themselves at home and lock up on their way out. They were not told about the reputation the Stanley Hotel has as one of the most haunted hotels in the nation. After waiting out the storm with the spirits, Mr. King feverishly wrote The Shining in one setting.

Of course, this is legend, relayed to tourists in a place that plays the movie over and over and over 24 hours a day on their very own Shining channel on every television in every room in the hotel. I know because I’ve been there, and I’ve been on their history and haunted tour and heard the story directly from the tour guide.

Whatever part of that story is true, Mr. King says the book was a turning point in his writing career. And I know just enough about psychology, ghost stories, and writing to understand exactly why he says that. In the Introduction which he added with the date February 8, 2001, Mr. King states he reached a point where he knew he had to make the decision to reach higher than he had done before. And he did. And the result is a story with so many layers, so many issues, such strong characters, that this novel is easily his masterpiece.

I am re-reading the book for the umpteenth time because this is my Halloween tradition. Read my blog next week for a specific review of this amazing masterpiece of writing.

Congratulations. You have just received a postcard from the muse.

 

The Great Reward


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Reward

By Nandy Ekle

Your favorite author has a new book on the shelf. You read all the books he/she ever wrote. You’ve waited for a long time for this new book and you spend the whole evening at the bookstore waiting for the midnight release. You grab the book, run to the check out counter and the clerk has to pry it from your fingers to ring it up and take your money.

You immediately begin turning pages and devouring words, but suddenly realize this will not be your favorite of his/her books. The story starts slow, the drama is over the top, and the inner dialogue makes you want to simply curl up and dream of something else. But you’re so committed to this author that you can’t just quit the book. You have faith that they will eventually pull out all the stops and become the same wonderful writer you’ve always loved.

Pressing on. You’re now half way through the book and a little interest has been sparked. If nothing else, you have an idea of the path the story is taking, or even a couple of different paths. And you’ve begun to wonder which way it will go in the end.

But the main reason you keep reading that book is your belief that this author can do no wrong. True, this has not been the best beginning he/she ever wrote, but you’re a die hard constant reader fan, and you will die before you quit reading the book.

Three-fourths of the way through the book, you can tell the crescendo to the climax has begun. While it’s still a little predictable, and you feel a big flat anti-climax coming up, you are committed. At the point you reason with yourself that you have invested too much time and too much faith in the author to stop now. By this point, you have to finish it on principal alone.

And there it is. The great reward. The twist at the end. It may not have been a complete total surprise, but it was satisfying enough that you’re glad you finished the book. After all, you are no quitter. And one dud book does not make a normally amazing author into a dud.

And that is the lesson you learn from reading this book, because there’s a lesson in every book you ever read.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

The Day Job


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Day Job

By Nandy Ekle

Today at my day job we moved to our third building this year. Two of those three moves were somewhat traumatic.

First They moved us downtown to an older building our company wants to sell instead of renovate. No problem. The reason they did this was because they wanted to renovate the building we had been in. Great. The renovations promised to be absolutely wonderful, so we were happy to move to allow the to happen.

I was on vacation when the move actually happened, but when I got to my desk, things seemed great. However, we soon discovered the reason the downtown building was to be sold instead of renovated. The internet was overworked. This was a big problem because 100% of the work I do depends on the internet.

So they moved us back to the other campus, different building from where we started, but same campus. This went very smoothly. The internet worked much better and the work went well. But the grand scheme was that our permanent home was to be a different building in the same campus which was in the process of being renovated. So I only unpacked enough to be able to do my job, knowing that we would be moving again soon.

Today was that day. Today, the day I happened to have a doctor’s appointment. When I got to the office, I opened the email telling me it was time to move. So I packed up all the things I had had at my desk, including my computer, and moved from one building to the the other. Then I unpacked and reconnected my computer. But internet did not work. At all. So they had me pack my laptop and my rolling chair to a different building in the same campus in a training room where I set up as if I were working from home.

I did get a little work done, but then I clocked out and went to my doctors appointment.

So I will go to work in the morning wondering where I will be sitting for the day. But I am determined to get the letters written for our customers, who I really want to help.

And with my doctor’s help, I will get my muse back.

The Dog And the Leash


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

The Great Reward


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Reward

By Nandy Ekle

Your favorite author has a new book on the shelf. You read all the books he/she ever wrote. You’ve waited for a long time for this new book and you spend the whole evening at the bookstore waiting for the midnight release. You grab the book, run to the check out counter and the clerk has to pry it from your fingers to ring it up and take your money.

You immediately begin turning pages and devouring words, but suddenly realize this will not be your favorite of his/her books. The story starts slow, the drama is over the top, and the inner dialogue makes you want to simply curl up and dream of something else. But you’re so committed to this author that you can’t just quit the book. You have faith that they will eventually pull out all the stops and become the same wonderful writer you’ve always loved.

Pressing on. You’re now half way through the book and a little interest has been sparked. If nothing else, you have an idea of the path the story is taking, or even a couple of different paths. And you’ve begun to wonder which way it will go in the end.

But the main reason you keep reading that book is your belief that this author can do no wrong. True, this has not been the best beginning he/she ever wrote, but you’re a die hard constant reader fan, and you will die before you quit reading the book.

Three-fourths of the way through the book, you can tell the crescendo to the climax has begun. While it’s still a little predictable, and you feel a big flat anti-climax coming up, you are committed. At the point you reason with yourself that you have invested too much time and too much faith in the author to stop now. By this point, you have to finish it on principal alone.

And there it is. The great reward. The twist at the end. It may not have been a complete total surprise, but it was satisfying enough that you’re glad you finished the book. After all, you are no quitter. And one dud book does not make a normally amazing author into a dud.

And that is the lesson you learn from reading this book, because there’s a lesson in every book you ever read.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

 

How To Melt A Nana’s Heart

By Nandy Ekle

 

Last January we went to visit our kids and grandkids. We have a granddaughter who is nine years old and reads on a college level. I remember when she was only eighteen months old. I bought her the book “Where The Wild Things Are.” This book is one of my all time favorites because it’s a story of imagination. As a young mom, I read it to my kids over and over. As a nana, I get to read to my grandkids.

When my nine-year-old granddaughter was a year-and-a-half old, her baby brother was born. I stayed at their house to help out while her mom and dad were busy with the new baby. I took a copy of Where The Wild Things Are as a gift from Nana to Grandgirl. And I read it to her once. Then she brought it back to me to read over and over and over. I think we bonded deeply during that time.

So last January when we went to visit, she handed me a card she made herself that said, “Welcome Nana and Pawpaw.” Later that night she came to me with a book in her hand.

“Nana, would you read to me?”

No way I could answer anything other than, “Absolutely!”

She put a copy of Where The Wild Things Are in my hands. When I opened the cover of the book, I saw where I had written seven years ago, “From Nana, who loves you very much.”

I almost couldn’t read for all the heart melting going on inside me.

The Dog And the Leash


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Dog And the Leash

By Nandy Ekle

I took part in a survey recently—one question, intended to make you think introspectively: name one thing you wish you could bring back from your childhood. This question definitely did get my brain cells working.

I started thinking about what kind of child I was. And then a story bubbled which gave me my answer.

Once upon a time, a girl had a dog. This dog was very energetic and very powerful, and the girl had to learn to control it. She clipped a leash to its collar and they went for a walk. The dog wanted to run and play, and he wanted the girl to run and play with him. But he was big and strong and the girl usually ended up huddled in a corner with a skinned elbow or a tear in her jeans.

But she couldn’t get rid of the dog because he was her constant companion. He went everywhere she went. He slept next to her at night, got up and went to school with her in the morning, came home and ate dinner with her, took baths with her, and then went to bed with her every single night.

And every day she took him for a walk on the leash. She learned to tell him no, that she didn’t want to run. She pulled on the leash to slow him down when he went too fast. And she yanked the leash if he tried to run after a bird or a rabbit.

But she also gave him treats. She bought tasty things for him to chew on. She gave him his favorite snacks. She scratched him behind the ears and made sure he had plenty of healthy food and water.

One day she took her dog out for a walk. She took hold of his collar with one hand and held the leash in the other. She rubbed the metal clip of the leash on the metal loop of his collar, but she didn’t really attach them. Instead she hung the leash around her neck, held her arm out as if she actually was holding the leash, and they began their walk. And an incredible thing happened. Her dog walked as if he really was attached to the leash. He didn’t run away from her, or drag her, or jump around. He walked calmly by her side and obeyed her when she talked to him.

After a while she remembered how much fun it was when he was running and jumping, and she wanted him to do that again. So she pretended to take the leash off his collar, but he still stayed calmly by her side. It wasn’t until she began to run that the dog started running as well.

So, I’ve gone through all this to say, I’m the girl and my imagination is the dog. I’ve spent so much time and energy learning to control it, and now when I want it to run wild, it looks at me as if I still have it leashed. If I could bring one thing back from my childhood, it would be my wild and free imagination.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.