July 18, 2013

Trifecta Week Eighty Six - Fat is a Fact Word

This is my entry for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge.

As usual, we are using the third definition of a word selected by those relentless Trifecta editors. This week's word is crack.


My son called my daughter fat, and she ran down to tell me in sharp-eyed outrage.

I looked at my daughter, raised my eyebrows, and asked her a single question: “Are ya fat?”

Her 10 year old lips quivered and, for a moment, she looked like she’d say yes.

“No,” she replied, a sliver of insecurity gleaming through a crack in her angry demeanor.

“‘Fat’ is a fact-word,” I told her, “not an insult; it a fact. Either you are or you aren’t. If someone uses it as an insult, you can choose to be offended or reject it as a untrue. But even then ... let’s talk about this a bit.”

I called my son down and together we explored what it means to use a fact word as an insult. He’s six and the only one who’s recently attended public school, where I imagine he picked up this taunt.

“Guys, fat is a fact word,” I say. “Almost all of the people in the world have a degree of fat on their bodies. Some more than others. Some of them are fat.”

By now, my middle daughter has joined the conversation.

“Adam, when you turn a fact word like fat into an insult word, you are more likely to hurt me. I have more fat on my body than you or dad; I’m closer to actually being fat. Did you mean to insult me?”

He shook his head.

“Georgia, when you’re offended by a word like fat and you accept it as an insult you are supporting the idea that fat is something bad.”

The tension in the room eased. I pulled up the article I was saving, published on Huffington Post, showing side-by-side “Barbies”, one manufactured by Mattel and shaped by an artist to represent an average woman. As we clicked slowly through the photos, we talked about the pictures, Barbie, Lego, Archie comics, magazine images and how we hurt people by turning fact words into insults.


July 14, 2013

Trifecta: Weekend Seventy Six: My writing process ...

I've missed you, Trifecta editors; I've missed you, fellow Trifecta writers. And I see you've grown. Together and without me.

(Don't worry, I think that's exciting.)

Last year my mother died. In the wake of this event and the inevitable rippled, I decided to take the year off. In many more-traditional cultures, life stops for a while when someone close to you dies. Or is born. Or leaves. In ours, we forge on. In my writing, which is a tenuous activity at best, I couldn't do that.

And anyway, here in my muttering space, I had nothing much to say.

It was inevitable my relationship with my mother was going to be left unresolved, mine alone to sift through as opposed to being a two-way thing. My mother's relationship with herself was so intense, so all consuming, that I never really existed. I loved her, and she tried in her brokenness. Her death is a weird thing to mourn.

My mother's biggest concern was to never be "exposed". Ironically, as a mother who made that her life goal -- to the exclusion of good parenting skills, solid mental health habits, or anything reasonable -- she was bound to have at least one kid who would have a deep-seeded need to expose her, to explore the experiences in written format, if only to save myself.

Anyway, I can't promise to be back in any way regular or dependable; I'm saving that for my kids. But here I am, for this moment of time, offering you these three words to describe my (excruciating) writing process:


This weekend's Trifecta challenge is to write 3 words of my own choosing to describe my writing process. You can read more about the inspiration for this challenge here. I hope you didn't mind the bonus, but just in case, I wrote those three words in bold. I'm going to the canoe races, and to a yummy salmon barbeque. I'll see you when I get back.