Friday, September 25, 2009

How Long Will My 100 Days Take??

I read a tweet Tuesday from @WritingSpirit, in which she asked about people's goals for the last 100 days of 2009, seeing as how Wednesday was the first day of the last 100 days.

She outlined a 100-day challenge whereby participants agree to do a certain task for 100 consecutive days...whether it be working on a book or other writing project, or sticking to an exercise regimen...and if during the 100 days, one day is missed, then the 100 days starts over.

Good motivation not to miss a day. Would you want to start over after, like, Day 64?!? Me, either.

I pondered what I might do for the final 100 days of the year, and how I could make them count. (no, I'm not going to blog for 100 consecutive days. I am a realist, after all.)

My mission is to do something...anything...creative with words. Every day. From now until 2010. Might seem like a simple goal, but with my recent level of slackitude, it's what I need to nudge me back in the right direction.

So blog entries, columns, first drafts, finished drafts, morning pages (popularized by Julia Cameron), poems...they all count.

I have a tiny crutch I can use when I'm feeling only 17 syllables of creativity, which is a 100 Haiku In 100 Days challenge that I'm publishing on Twitter. Check it out if you're into haiku. (and who isn't?!?)

I hope to pay more attention to other areas of my writing during these 100 days, but even if I look back as I begin 2010 and have a hundred haiku to show for this challenge, I'll consider it a success.

Your 100 days can start any time. So why don't you jump in and join me?

You just may soar past me when I stumble on Day 23 and have to begin again.

"Friends are like melons;
shall I tell you why?
To find one good
you must one hundred try."
—Claude Mermet

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

All's "Fair" In Love and Carnie Games

“I want to see you play a game,” she said as we strolled among the ring tosses and dart games and water gun races at the Manitowoc County Fair recently.

I could say that I was forced into foolishly spending money to play a game I couldn’t win, just to impress a girl and win a prize I didn’t even want.

But I knew I was going to play one particular game as soon as I saw it. This game and I had history, and I wanted to show it that I was still the master.

The game of choice involved three pieces of four-inch PVC pipe, sitting on a shelf about six feet high, with two pieces side by side on the shelf with about an inch of space between them, and the third piece centered on top of the bottom two.

The objective: throw a softball at the three pieces of PVC and knock all of them off of the shelf at once. Aim it correctly, and you’ve won yourself a prize. Nothing to it, right?

That’s what I thought several years ago when I first saw the game at a fireman’s picnic in Sun Prairie.

There was a big, stuffed Tigger hanging there as a prize that year, and for reasons that escape me now, I wanted that Tigger.

So I bought my two balls for five bucks, leaned up as far as I could, took careful aim, and threw the softball with a dart shooter’s motion at a contact point I thought would work. One or two of the pieces fell, and my attempt fell short.

“No, no, no,” said a buddy of mine who’d had a few beers earlier that evening. “You have to throw the ball…get some velocity on it to knock ‘em all down.”

So I backed up a few feet and wound up for my second one, missing my target completely. (I may have had a few beers that night, too.)

I bought a couple more balls, went back to my up-close dart shooter’s strategy, and continued to almost win...two balls and five bucks at a time.

Eventually I hit the right spot, and they all tumbled off of the shelf, and I took home my $20 Tigger.

When I saw the game at the fair, I scanned the back wall of stuffed prizes and saw nothing I wanted to take home. All I knew is I wanted to make those three pieces of PVC drop.

I paid my five bucks, threw my first ball, and didn’t even come close enough to get excited, hitting all three pieces but leaving two of them still resting on the shelf. I slid a few feet over to another stack and threw my second ball, knocking two of them down this time.

“You’re close, buddy! You’ve got the right idea,” said the guy working the game.

Just what I was looking for. False encouragement from a guy who wanted only one thing. Another five bucks.

I paused for a bit, took a few steps back to talk strategy with the girl I was trying to impress, and stepped forward again, plunking down another five bucks.

Same result. Good aim, good motion...ohhh, so very close. But no prize.

Meanwhile, a lady in her 60s with about five grandchildren in tow came walking up and bought a couple balls, too. With a wild-armed throwing motion she missed with her first attempt.

But on her second one, she found the target and all three pieces of pipe went flying off the shelf.

A couple of us who saw it ooh-ed and ahh-ed and clapped for her, and she came over to me and said, “Not bad for an old grandma, eh??” Then she picked out a stuffed monkey/ape/primate-type thing with a T-shirt that said, “I’m bringing SEXY back!” on it, handed it to one of the children and said, “Come on, kids, let’s go.”

And off they all went to claim another prize at another game.

The guy working the game caught my attention and said to me, with a little bit of a grin, “I’ll give you three balls for five bucks. You were so close before. You almost had it!”

And away we walked, empty-handed, and only ten bucks down.

Anybody wanna buy a big, stuffed Tigger? I’ll sell him cheap. Twelve bucks.

“The economic game is not supposed to be
rigged like some shady ring toss
on a carnival midway.”

—Arianna Huffington