bookishgeek: (stock - gumball machine)
I detest toddlers.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them. I just dislike the dirty diapers and the screaming and the inability to vocalize their feelings. Which ... admittedly, sounds like pretty much the majority of what being a toddler consists of.

So when my potential employer at a local preschool bridges her fingers and peers at me and says, "We're looking for an assistant for the Fours, and for the Toddlers, do you have a preference?" I have to bite back a laugh - all of my preschool experience lies in after-school programs. Anyone not potty trained is a lost cause to me.

"I'd do much better with the Fours!" I say, smiling brightly.

Two weeks later, I find myself sitting on the floor of the Toddler classroom with their heavily pregnant lead teacher standing across the room, corralling everyone into their Winter coats and toward the door so we can go outside. They look like little Stay Puft marshmallow men, waddling around in exaggeratedly puffy coats considering the mild Georgia winter weather we've been having. Eleven kids, and so they put me in here. And I let them? Am I insane?

I soon wind up in charge of the low end of the ratio: it's just me, and six toddlers. I walk into the room at eight in the morning, am greeted by a couple of gummy smiles, and then turn my back for about 30 seconds to put my purse down. When I turn back around, what seems like the entire room is in shambles: books everywhere, blocks littering the floor, and one particular blonde ankle biter throwing a small, plastic chicken around and brightly shrieking "Ba'!" What is he saying!? What. The hell. Am I doing here?

I come to find out later that their lead teacher doesn't do much art or activities with them - not that you can do a whole lot with eleven toddlers that's anything remotely close to being organized, but she doesn't do much. I test the waters a bit: I cut open a trash bag, tape it to a table, get everyone to paint some tools I've cut out of paper to go with the month's theme. They seem to really like that. Maybe ...

I'm the assistant Toddler teacher at my preschool. If you'd told me this even three months ago, I would have laughed in your face. (not trying to be rude, but honestly, toddlers?) I can change eleven diapers in 15 minutes and get everyone's coats on in 10. Some days, I want to pull my hair out and throw a temper-tantrum of my own, but more often than not I find the mix of "almost-2 independence" and "snuggly baby sweetness" charming, and nobody's ever going to accidentally pee in their pants on my watch.

Today, I stood with them on the playground. My blonde friend comes up to me, clutching a big red rubber ball, delight apparent on his face. "Ba'!" he trills, chucking it as best he can across the playground and giggling with delight as he runs off after it. I give chase, waggling my arms exaggeratedly.

Ball

Maybe I am sane, after all.
bookishgeek: (writing - short story)
I'm in for the baby season of LJ Idol, and I'm pretty pumped.

Never made it through last season due to that whole pesky "broke up with my fiance" thing, and I want to make out like a bandit this time. Or, you know, get eliminated by (lack of) vote and not because I just didn't write.
bookishgeek: (stock - yellow bird in winter on branch)
TITLE: Frozen In Time
AUTHOR: [livejournal.com profile] bookishgeek
RATING: G
WORD COUNT: 605
FEEDBACK: On || FEEDBACK TYPE: Tactful
WARNING: None known.
SUMMARY: Snapshot of a twenty-something's apartment.
PROMPTS: "Write a still-life".
A/N: Enjoy! I'm not used to creative nonfiction, so critiques are welcome!

-------------------------

The front door is heavy and green, numbers outside declaring it "58". A small green planter hangs on a chain beside it, its mouth yawning open, waiting for Spring to arrive and a plant to fill its space. You twist the knob and push forward, the door swinging gently inwards, and you ease it behind you. A small end table rests at your feet, on it a lamp and a scent burner, a melted wax tart on its top.

A heavy cardboard shoebox sits on a coffee table a few feet away, its contents a mixture of nail polishes of all shapes and sizes. Beside it rests a set of four coasters in a holder, and beside those a sweating bottle of water that should probably make use of them. You pick up the top coaster, set it down, and place the water bottle gingerly on top of that. A remote control, the controller for some sort of video game system which you think is an X-bag or something, and a battered paperback copy of "Library 101" with a highlighter and a post-it note poking out from between its pages.

The floor is littered with leaves and straw grass and dirt from outside - you think that you probably tracked some of that in, but also that it's awfully hard to not track any of that in - it is way too messy outside and this floor is all carpeted. Scattered around here and there are what appear to be cat toys - catnip mice with their stuffing falling out, jingling plastic balls, and you bend to pick up what appears to be an overgrown twist-tie, cousin to the one you keep on your bread. Your eyes trail to the bookshelf, packed full of DVDs, video games and books. There are a few genres you are familiar with here, and what looks like the entire opus of The Sims 3 franchise. You twist a lock of hair around your finger and read the summary on the back of a book you select from the shelf, setting it back down again.

She left the kitchen light on, you think, and you flick it off to save her on the power bill. A few stray piece of cat kibble are on the tile, kicked underneath the lip of the lower cabinets. Popcorn kernels are down here too, and what appears to be the pull tab from a frozen microwave dinner. Neaby sits a water bowl and a small porcelain dish half-full of what you imagine is probably cat food, but looks like the contents of a one year old's diaper.

You take a peek into the bathroom, with its pink and white color scheme, and the bedroom does not yield anything too amazing - a neatly organized dresser and a bookshelf that has been repurposed as a bedside table, its shelved packed full of shoes. A necklace organizer hangs on the wall, and you let the pendants play against your skin as you examine them all. Lots of pillows are on the bed, along with three stuffed animals and a whole host of empty or almost-empty plastic water bottles.

Standing by the front door again, you crack your knuckles and give the apartment a once-over one more time. If you had to give this space a caption, it would probably be entitled something like "the busy life of the American twenty-something," but maybe that's not quite right. "the tumultuous life of a graduate student?" No. "the banal life of a single American?" No. "the perfect space for its inhabitant"? That one ... we might be able to work with that one.


-------------------------

This was written for week 1 day 2 for the community [livejournal.com profile] thewritinggame. Feedback is welcome and wanted from everyone, community participant and friend alike!
bookishgeek: (stock icon - typing on laptop)
TITLE: Goldfish #216
AUTHOR: [livejournal.com profile] bookishgeek
RATING: G
WORD COUNT: 974
FEEDBACK: On || FEEDBACK TYPE: Tactful
WARNING: None, unless you hate fish. (the living sort).
SUMMARY: Lucas works a dead-end job in a pet store, but not every day is boring.
PROMPTS: words: familiarity, eleven, pinch, sanity
A/N: This is the first piece of original fiction I've written in months! I hope you enjoy!

------------------------------

"Lucas!" I heard her voice before I saw her, as most of us do - shrill, shrieking, all of the bad parts of the sexy sirens of folklore past without the "sexy" part. Clenching my jaw, I turned to see what all of the fuss was about and saw Dorothy striding toward me. In hindsight, "striding" might not have been the best word to use - perhaps "undulating"?

"Uh huh?" I mumbled, turning from the goldfish tank to look at her. Working in a large, corporation pet store made it really hard to find any time for yourself during the work day. Dorothy had scheduled my shifts just so, and because of that I didn't have any time for a break. When customers weren't around? Away to the goldfish tank I went for the sake of my sanity, staring listlessly into space, vacuous and free. The goldfish didn't seem to mind - they puttered around aimlessly, occasionally bumping into each other and moving away as if to say "sorry, bro." There was something soothing about the monotony that the tank presented: a blur of irridescent orange scales, swaying gently in the tank.

"Why are you always over here with this damn fish tank, anyway?" Dororthy's hands were on her hips and she thrust a barcode scanner at me. "Don't even bother answering that. We need your help getting inventory in the fish department, Lucas. I'll see you in a bit." I grappled for the scanner and watched as Dorothy turned and stormed off, a bull in a china shop.

I have loved fish since I was eleven years old. At the store with my mother, I spied the all-too-familiar plastic cups full of half-alive betta fish on the shelf by the bird seed. I tugged on my mother's shirt, begging to rescue one, to bring it back to life. My mother agreed to my demands and helped me select a bright red betta, who I brought home, named Pinch (due to my rescuing him in one), plopped into a five gallon tank, and took care of for five years before his untimely demise. Since then, my mind has become a vise for fish, the inner workings of any given aquarium filed neatly into my brain like a file full of index cards. I have suspected for a long time that I am the only person at my job who actually knows a damn thing about fish, which is why I am okay with the multiple shifts and no breaks: if it saves a fish's life, I'm game.

I was standing beside the shelf full of aquarium salt when I felt a pull on the strings of my apron. Turning around, I saw a little girl - about four or five years old - with one hand on her hip and the other gesticulating at me. "My name is Ashley and I need help!" she cried out. I noticed an exasperated woman standing at the end of the aisle and, assuming it was her mother, waved.

"Help with what?" I asked, sticking the scanner in my apron pocket and kneeling down to be at her level.

"I want a fishy! That one!" the girl pointed a neon-pink fingernail in the direction of the tank of Cory Catfish, a burrowing type of fish that loves to shuffle around on the bottom of the tank and feed off the flakes of food that fall there. "But my mommy says that it is A Bad Idea." she says "a bad idea" like it's the name of a book, and I glance up at mom, who is nodding ferociously.

"Well," I say, standing up and walking over to the tank of Cories. "These fish are very lovely, but do you know where they like to live?"

"The water!" Ashley crowed, brightening at her obviously correct answer. I sighed inwardly.

"They do, but you know what part of the water? The bottom. See how they are so hard to see in the tank?" Ashley squinted and got down on her knees to be at eye level with the tank of Cories.

"Yep."

"Well, these guys live at the bottom of the fish tank. You know what? I think you need a fishy that likes to live at the top of the tank, so you can see them better! Wouldn't that be great?" Ashley's lips pursed in thought.

"I think so." she said. I pointed out the shelf of betta fish.

"What about one of these?" I asked, casting a glance over my shoulder at mom, who shot me a thumbs up sign and walked over. Ashley peered into each cup, closely examining the betta before coming to a cup with a brightly-colored purple and blue fish hovering in the murky water.

"This one is beautiful," she said reverently, gently picking up the cup between her two little hands and carrying it to me. "Her name is Esmerelda!" I chose not to let her know that all of these betta fish were male, and instead smiled.

"What a great name! She will be so happy to live with you!" Ashley grinned up at me and gingerly let go of the cup with one hand to reach out toward me.

"Thanks, mister fish guy!" she patted my thigh with as much unintentional condescention as a four year old can muster and shuffled off to her mother, thrusting the fish toward her mother, a prize to be won.

I reached back into my apron for my barcode scanner and sighed, eyes drifting back to the goldfish tank. Working for a corporation felt about the same as it felt to be goldfish #216, I was pretty sure. But the occasional difference you could make for one person - one little betta fish with a misgendered name - made goldfish #216 the most contented in the tank.


------------------------------

This was written for week 1 day 1 for the community [livejournal.com profile] thewritinggame. Feedback is welcome and wanted from everyone, community participant and friend alike!

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