Tag Archive for: words

Sock Stories by Debra H. Goldstein

SOCK STORIES by Debra H. Goldstein
Have you ever
noticed the socks a person wears? Like the words a writers put on paper, each
pair tells a story or evokes images or feelings.

For example, my
husband wears dark socks to his office because he has bought into the theory that they look more  look more professional than gym socks, but his disinterest in how he dresses is reflected by his
unwillingness to take the time to match the color of his socks to the shade of his slacks.
He’s just as likely to wear black with brown as he is to grab a pair of brown
socks. Joel is most comfortable in gym socks and sneakers. To my chagrin, his yucky
looking tube socks and an old pair of slip-ons are the image indelibly pressed
into our neighbors’ minds when they seem him going outside every morning to
retrieve his precious newspaper.

A young man I
know tells a different story through his sock choices. He considers himself to
be a player. Consequently, he coordinates the sharpest socks I’ve ever seen
with tailor made suits and shirts, as well as specialized pocket handkerchiefs
or patterned ties.

Personally, I’ve
always been fond of wearing socks that tell a story or bring a memory back to
me. I wear Chanukah, Mah jongg, and other holiday socks to make a statement for
the moment, much as one does with a Christmas sweater. On a bad day, I choose
between the comfort afforded by two pairs of warm soft fuzzy socks.

Last week, when
we took a family cruise to Alaska, the socks I ended up wearing not only
created a story for the moment, but became part of memories I will pull up in
the future.

The ages in
our group ranged from five to seventy-five. I wasn’t the oldest, but I easily
was the group’s cattle herder. Before we sailed, I reminded everyone to bring
passports, cold weather and rain gear (and of course our coldest day was 72
degrees and the only time it rained was once while we were sleeping), and other
essentials. I chided, sent e-mails, and while packing managed to leave my air
pushed out of it plastic bag of socks on the dining room table.

I arrived on
the ship with only the striped sneaker socks I was wearing, but never fear,
cruise ships sell everything. That is why I am now the owner of pink and purple
socks that all say Alaska and have moose heads, full sized mooses, bears, and
something I’m not sure of on them.

Each morning,
as I pulled on a pair of these socks, they reminded me I was sharing Alaska with
people who matter to me more than anything else. The animals, background
mountains, and whatever it was on one pair that I wasn’t sure of, also made a statement
that this would be a day of new experiences and beautiful terrain.

Our most
varied day was in Juneau. For us, it was the day of the glaciers. Joel and I
took the most sedate way of seeing them – busing and hiking to lookout points,
but even from a distance, the beauty of massive pieces of ice broken from the
main glacier fascinated me. What I saw and the ranger’s movie made me ever so
much more aware of global warming because of how the glacier itself has
receded. My daughter and her husband kayaked out to the glacier; my two sons
took a float plane into the glacier area; and our five year old grand-daughter and
her parents visited a dog camp and rode a dog sled. Everyone came back to the
ship impressed by what we experienced.

From now on,
whenever I put on a pair of my Alaskan socks, I will remember the looks of
happiness everyone had while telling me about their day.

My initial
anger at forgetting my socks has been replaced by the stories my new ones will
always unlock. Whenever I see the pink moose or either “Moose Hug” or “Alaska” on my socks, memories and
scenes from the cruise will be triggered – much as words create mental images
in a good book, short story or poem.

Finding a Better Word

a Better Word by Debra H. Goldstein

This week, I’ve been taking an
excellent Guppy Dramatic Tension course taught by none other than our own Linda
Rodriguez (who really goes the extra mile for her students). Although life has
interfered with my “performance” on some of the assignments, her concepts have
really hit home.

I now find myself searching
everything to go beyond plot for key emotional words and hints, emotional
consequences, and getting into the psych of my individual characters and their
interaction with the other characters from a new perspective. It is humbling to
see how much I don’t know and to wonder how I will ever absorb even a small
aspect of what she is teaching, but it has helped me to understand why I think
Linda’s books are so good.

Emotions and their consequences play
a big role in writing and in life. Choosing the right words conveys to readers
what is going on in an author’s head and in the story. As I’m writing this
blog, another horror story of death and tragic injuries occurring in
Manchester, England is flashing across my TV set. I don’t usually write
political pieces, but today I condemn those who caused this incident and the others
like it. My heart goes out to those who were enjoying concerts, vacation trips,
or other activities in peace only to be caught up in moments of terror.

Using what I’ve already learned in
class about words that produce dramatic tension, I think I can characterize
what is going through my head: I am angered, saddened, disgusted, fearful, and
surprised. It shows through agitation, amazement, despair, depression,
disapproval, frustration, frightened, threatened, and anxiousness. The
consequences as I travel and look around me in the future will be a loss of
innocence replaced by attitudes of suspicion, skepticism, aversion, and
behaviors reflecting being powerless and vulnerable.

Is this what I want my children to
see? Is this the world I want them to live in? We all dream that the next
generation will have things easier and better, but words like happy, joyful,
and hopeful have been replaced by reality. It sucks.