Saturday, March 10, 2012

Small Obejcts: A writing exercise.

From the office of the President, Writer's Society of Jefferson County:
I've been thinking about what we can do at our next meeting. For a writing prompt (if you're so inclined to participate), I thought it might be nice to bring in an object from home. The twist is it must fit completely in an average-sized pocket.  You can write about your own object, or pick someone else's. I think I'll bring in a couple of things, since they'll be small. It is funny how something small (like a trinket, a photo, a comment, or a snippet of a song) can be an inspiration.

I couldn’t think of only one small, pocket-able object that would serve as inspiration for a story, I could only think of many.
In my basement, in a deteriorating cardboard box, is a loose collection, more of a repository than a collection, of small objects that I drag around from house to house. Some of the objects have interesting stories, others do not.
The small bucketful of items I brought in today is representative of this collection.
The vacuum tube did not come from anything electronic I ever owned. I ordered a loose set of tubes off Ebay as a personal photography project… So this tube itself has no personal meaning really, at all. I could though write pages about vacuum tubes in general. I used to teach electronics, including a one week block on tube theory. A real yawn-fest I assure you.
The toy soldier project, test photo, 2004.
The toy soldier is also part of a photo project that I have yet to complete. The plan is to field an enormous army, maybe on a beach. I currently have two one gallon bags stuffed full of these soldiers, about a tenth of what is needed for my 'artistic' vision
I had small platoons of these things as a kid, I spent hours and hours outdoors in the dirt digging foxholes and building bunkers and hideouts. I probably buried or lost entire brigades over the years.
M1A1 Carbine
The spent .30 caliber carbine cartridge is from my own gun. A Korean war vintage carbine, the paratrooper model with a folding stock. I bought this light weapon from a gun shop in Texas… sort of. For legal purposes, the exact details of the transaction I simply don’t recall, I wasn't even there. It was a very long time ago as well.
The seashell fell off a craft-clock someone gave us. I've lived on the beach in Florida and alongside the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, I think I spent a few long walks hunting for and picking up shells, this just isn’t one of those.
The foreign money, also a photo project.  I have lived and traveled abroad and have used funny looking currency, I even have two fifty yen coins on my keychain that I brought back from Japan. This currency though, I don’t even know where it’s from originally.
The Trans Am? A gift from my wife, I actually wanted a Firebird, but there were none available.
The dog treat? Obvious, we have dogs. Our kids are grown and mostly gone, we’ve replaced them with dogs, thus we have treats, everywhere. This was not in the box, Angel handed it to me on the way out the door.
The caboose is an N-Scale car from a model train layout that still languishes, as it has for more than twenty years, in a massive and detailed layout in my mind. It will never get built, I don’t have the time, the money, or the detailing skills to ever do it justice. Some fantasies should just remain fantasies.
In fact the object that has the most personal attachment is the empty spool.
As a child, we lived with my maternal grandmother.* She sewed constantly, most of my pre-school age clothes were embarrassingly hand made.
The upside was the copious amount of spent wooden spools.
We were rather poor and often had to play with found things, boxes sticks, nuts and bolts. I had spools, lots of them. Enough to uniform (with magic marker) and lay out two entire football teams, offense and defense, even special teams. We couldn’t afford a fancy electric football game, those bright green metal buzzing, vibrating affairs.  (I finally got one a few years later, about the same time I lost interest in football) I had a shoe box filled with scowl-faced and numbered spool-players. The games were long and often violent, the Packers (green spools) were my favored team and always won.
  So this collection represents not much at all about my life, loves, passions, history and dreams, and yet on the other hand, maybe quite a bit. There's more stuff in that box, maybe I'll go through it again sometime.

* Grandma, Mattie Adams, did much more than just sew. She was a retired school teacher and taught us all to read before we started first grade. That was a tremendous head-start that has served me well to this day. She also cooked for us, very badly. She was a seriously terrible cook. Thus another thing I learned to do well before my peers, thanks to her.