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Showing posts from 2005

Looking for Mr. Byline (Writer's Digest)

SWF (Spectacular Writer of Freelance) – 30s, dead stringer for Anita Shreve, with shapely similes and long, flowing prose – seeks Editor for perfect binding, possible long-term masthead relationship.

Likes:
Long drives to think up “think pieces,” rewarding collaborations, easy on the redlining.

Misses the feel of free issues in my mailbox before they hit the stands, the look of my name in 36-point boldface serifs. I know you’re out there, climbing a Mount Everest of queries, my quality mate with a circulation in the millions. And I won’t stop until we meet.

It’s been forever since a real writing credit has made my heart flutter and account balance rise. Need a good one to make my family and comrades insanely jealous. A marriage between us might clinch the next National Magazine Award or someday birth baby anthologies.

Dislikes:
No commitment-phobes. Ready for Frequent Contributor stauts.

Take note:
Been burned in the past by Speculative Seekers who lured me into “opening a vein” and submitti…

From One Mom to Another

"Hey Paula…" the desperation in Kasha’s voice screams louder than her son in the background.

"Do you want to go somewhere?"

It’s the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far, a gift better than chocolate for two homemakers like us.

"Yeah…" I pause, mulling over park locations in my mind. Will it be the quiet splendor of Naturealm? Or the hustle and bustle of Fort Island, a primary-colored paradise for kids? Nope. A day this magnificent calls for only one place. "What about Hinckley Reservation?"

"Where?"

Like an eager tour guide, I watch Kasha take in the huge waterfall at the park’s entrance. The sheet of gray liquid rushes over the lake’s edge like a wide curtain hinting at delights to follow.
"This is beautiful," she says.

Our first stop is the cozy boathouse down the hill, where we sip coffee and bribe our kids with Skittles to buy a few minutes of blessed peace. Mid-morning fog lingers atop the tall pine trees.

"This is …

June -- Cleave Her?

"My mother works," my sister Amber and I bragged to our Tartan-skirted classmates at St. Edmund’s Parochial School. It was the early 1970s, and after a short stint as a housewife, Mommy answered the clarion call sounded by women who marched the streets and set their bras ablaze in garbage cans.

"You need to get me something," was her ironically anti-feminist demand to my father upon choosing to reclaim her career. That "something" turned out to be a secretarial service – my mom’s very own two-room office in a musty building with dingy skylights.

I liked being the daughter of an entrepreneur, not a docile, housecoat wearing, kitchen-bound frump, which is how I envisioned my friends’ homemaker mothers. But at school day’s end when all the students filed out the forest green gates surrounding the yard, Amber and I were often the last ones left, looking fearfully into the distance and crying.

By 1999, my derogatory view of at-home mothers hadn’t changed much, as…

Becoming Daddy's Girl

Iam 8 or 9, all lanky arms, knobby knees and budding breasts. It’s a rare occasion because my father is actually home, not working his late shift at the post office or decorating a stool at some local tavern. Enamored by his sheer presence, I recline my head on his shoulder while he zones out on the sofa watching TV.

My mother saunters by, surveying the situation. "That’s my husband," she says to me, pausing in the kitchen doorway, pointing at her chest for emphasis. Both Daddy and I gaze at her for a few seconds of shocked silence. As meaning descends upon my adolescent brain, I lunge up the thinly carpeted burnt orange staircase to my bedroom.

Early American Discord is the décor that permeates my childhood home, my room being no exception. It is a sad and lonely space with slanted walls pierced here and there by squirrels trying to claw their way through from the attic. It’s the same vantage point from which I listen midnight after midnight for the sound of my dad’s key in t…

Motherless

by Paula Neal Mooney


Monday morning. I had just begun to shift from weekend to work mode when my parents’ home number appeared in the Caller-ID display box on the black phone in my cube.

"Hello?" I answered, cheerful yet quiet.

"Where’s the body?" Mommy asked someone in the background.

Ah…my quirky mother, Thelma O’Neal Dobbins. Only she would unwittingly start a conversation that way. Obviously her own mother – my beloved "Gran Ruby" – had ended her battle with diabetes and old age. I figured Mommy was calling to give me the news.

"Hel-lo-o?" I sang, ready to offer my mother the same solace I did six years before, when her father died. Lived a long life…Not suffering anymore… I was totally prepared.

"Yeah, Paula? Your Mommy died last night." For those words, I was totally unprepared.

"What?"

"Your Mommy died." Suddenly I heard the difference in their voices. I was talking to my mother’s sister, not my mother. And she was t…