Wednesday, January 16, 2008

american sentence

To read more responses to this week's challenge, go here: 3WW

After years of preparing her meals on a hot-plate in a motel room,
she felt awkward, then obsessed with cleaning her efficiency kitchen.

Wasn't sure if I could pull this week's challenge off until I drew on what I have read and know about the relationship the poor have with food. The actual scene is based in part my reading Nickel and Dimed and Sold, a book I am reading now about the current sex slave trade in India. The passages about the young girl's stragedies to manager her hunger are poignant, troubling.


Sherry said...

Powerful sentence and I liked that you culled this from something you are reading, something that is weighing heavily on your mind. As you said..hard not to think about.

Marcia (MeeAugraphie) said...

I love that in one sentence you told a story of having.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more about the obsessing over cleaning. Is this a symptom of someone who desperately takes care of possessions for fear of losing them?

Great story.

Did you ever hear about the six-word story? I think Salon hosted it once. We should do a blog carnival of them.

Color Online said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susan said...

Hi Maria,

The obsession with cleaning as I understand it, isn't about the fear of losing possessions rather it is about the pride of having something of one's own.

I've heard about micro-fiction and what was coined Shorts but I don't think I've read six word stories. A carnival would be cool. I'd participate.

pjd said...

I love that in one sentence marcia (meeaugraphie) captured exactly what I would have said in ten.

tumblewords said...

Wow! Nice use of the prompt. Lots of thought contained in that sentence!

pia said...

I'm not participating in this week's 3WW. Flu done me in--however I was an urban studies major undergrad, SSI Claims Rep and Social Worker so I tend to hover around things about social welfare

Agree with Marcia, but even more think it very much shows how hard it is to have when you're used to nothing

We tend to become obsessed with two things: what we can't have but covet, or what we have but are scared of losing--not talking about obsessive actions which is different

This is a truly beautiful characterization of a woman who has gone from having very very little to something

I did know people who didn't know where their next meal was coming from.

Because of a computer error I kept a young man out "of pay" for four months. Nobody could find the error hence he couldn't be paid. He was eligible for some services but for a limited time. I slipped him money when I could

One of the saddest moments of my life was when he was put back into pay

He thanked me profusely for just treating him like a human

That was the really sad moment. Then he asked if I could be his caseworker. Had to explain at SSI, Claims Rep's don't have case loads in the usual sense--but I was used to that and somewhat hardened to it

Just developed an ulcer from being sick every morning on the walk to work--I worked in the Bronx during crack days---the claimants weren't "choir boys" but I truly liked most of them

Hated the power I yielded. Felt like part of the problem not the answer

Having food and a clean place to cook it is integral to self respect

I am so scared that we have learned nothing in the past 20 years

Truly excellent job

Heather Kathleen said...

you did a fine job. again! i agree with sherry on pulling from the read. which also sounds like a good one by the way.

Heather Kathleen said...

i meant sounds interesting. not good in the fun sense of good. i'm shutting up now. sheesh.

susan said...

Hi Heather,
Sold is beautifully told in lush, poetic language. Chockfull of simple, but vivid metaphors and similies. I highly recommnend it.

Becca said...

This sentence speaks volumes, Susan. It tell a complete story, creates a mental and emotional picture.

Very well crafted!

And thanks for adding your three excellent tips on powerful writing in the comments on my post today.
There are right on the money!

paisley said...

very nice... you pained the whole picture in one sentence... excellent use of the words....

Kimberley (at Red Moon) said...

Powerful words. So very powerful.

I wanted to thank you for your encouraging words this past week when you commented on my blog. It meant a great deal to know others experience the joys and the frustrations of trying to be of service to others.

I now that I'm here I have some reading to do. I love exploring new blogs!

Truefaith1963 said...

Great piece - a person has really earned something nad so they will look after it; rare in our throw-away world.

susan said...

Thank you all for coming by, reading and taking time to comment. The response is an unexpected and welcome surprise.

gautami tripathy said...

Susan, I would like to know more about the book you mentioned. What I don't know about the current sex slave trade in India. For a poorest of poor girl in India, she can't afford a motel room.

BTW, I know about this book:
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (Paperback)
by Barbara Ehrenreich

susan said...

gautami, I believe you misunderstood. I wrote that my entry was influenced by a combination of reading these texts and my experiences with the poor. Both books address the issues of basic needs. In Sold by Patricia McMormick, there are several references to how Lakshmi copes with hunger.

By the way, Sold is a National Book Award Finalist.

gautami tripathy said...

Thanks foe responding.

Maybe I did.

BTW, I know all the international awards. However, I do not keep abreast of National Book Awards.

For me National means India..:D

susan said...

That's okay. I assumed you knew for me, national meant U.S. I thought you were in India or at least Native-born. I don't follow awards too closely, but noting them is an easy reference for searching for new reads.

Christy said...


What a wonderfully written sentence. It conveys such a range of emotion from deep sadness to hope for a new begining, fear...

Loved it!

Anonymous said...

There are still folks who are living in motels cooking on hot plates in Malaysia.


TC said...

You tell a very complete story in just one sentence... well done!

LittleWing said...

it is the little things in life that mean so have conveyed this well meaning so much more in your commmets....thank you