Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Changing Tack from Amstelodamum to Outhouse

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's prompt by Liz Danzico
If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tracks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? 
Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Today I wake up thinking about yesterday, and how my parents and I left Amsterdam, and about the things we left behind us in that flat on the Ceintuurbaan, only a block from the Amstel where I learned how to skate on natural ice that winter of 1962 when even the river that gave Amsterdam its name —for it was the dam in the Amstel that helped create Amstelodamum— froze over and my father stood shivering in his Monty Coat, named after a general during WWII, he told me when he buttoned my own miniature version of his, and knotted my scarf under my chin and would have plugged my ears with cotton balls if only my mother would have let him, but she, the Amazon on skates, had no fear of cold, she, nineteen years younger than my Papa who was born in the Century before last, how is that possible you wonder, I have such a youthful countenance, well thank you, I'll take that as a compliment, but to get back to the flat at the Ceintuurbaan ("ceinture" is French for belt, and the Dutch "ceintuurbaan" means circular railway which in our case was a tram that stopped in front of our house,
Ours was way nicer than this rough spot!
and one time my father said there's your aunt Sophie, your mother's eldest sister, she cleans toilets at the French Consulate, and my mother said that's not true, Sophie is the secretary to the Consul General, you know that very well, and my father grumbled something about a toilet bowl and that is one of the things that we left behind when we moved up north where we had not Water Closet, just a loo in the back of the barn, not even a toilet bowl, but a wooden box with a hole in the top that was covered with a wooden lid that you took off before sitting down, and I remember how smooth the seat was as if all the bottoms that had come before mine had sanded the wood and it sometimes made me wonder whether those people's behinds were like the finest sandpaper, but my mother said I did better not to think about the people whose bottoms had touched our numero hundred as she liked to call what my father said was nothing but an outhouse inside the barn.
This #Trust30 Self-Reliance challenge makes me change tac(k)tics, zigzagging through history, coming about!

This work by by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Nina said...

so which is your sentence?

I love the story of the smooth seat!

Judith van Praag said...

Hi Nina, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
The narrative IS a run-on sentence. But for those who want them short I provided:
This #Trust30 Self-Reliance challenge makes me change tac(k)tics, zigzagging through history, coming about!

Judith van Praag said...

Btw in sailing terms each different direction (of the zigzag) is called a "tack" not a track as Liz Danzico called it in her prompt.

Sezin Koehler said...

Judith, you make me laugh (in a good way!).

But I agree with Lisa, what's the biggest challenge you are facing at the moment? Your last line is an exclamation, not a question.

I'm very curious to hear what you are struggling with.

Lots of love,


Judith van Praag said...

@Sezin, It helps to know the sailing jargon (I do think Jenny Blake made a typo when she wrote "tracks" instead of "tacks". And if you read my answer to prompt of May 31st, my response to this one of June 1st is that I'm moving on, telling my story, bit by bit. In order to go against the wind, you have to zigzag across the water, when you change tack, you change direction. I'm using this Challenge as a way to make my way through my story while using the prompts. Coming about! is the shout-out you give to alert the fellow travelers, so they won't be hit in the head.

Judith van Praag said...

PS The question about the challenge comes later, is not posed in this prompt.