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8/20 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt

Two entries this week for the prompt “chocolate.” Since there were only two, I thought the fairest judge would be a coin toss: and our winner is Kelly Warren. Congratulations, Kelly! (Good things come to those of you who are prolific! Your $10 amazon.com gift certificate is on its way.)

Kelly writes: “I’ve been playing around with digitally framed TTV photography and created this shot of our chocolate lab Isabelle. I can’t believe she actually sat still long enough for me to catch this portrait. She’s just over a year old, but still a puppy…..a very large puppy.”

 

 

From Cathy Coley, an ode:

Dear Chocolate

It’s all about the cocoa content:
The higher the better.
I can forgo the sugar.
Forget the milk.
I’d rather eat the beans,
Inhale the Dutch powder
Meant for comfort after skating.
Let it drip bittersweet on
The back of my tongue.

Take me to Brazil.
Let me lick the bark.
Salza, Rumba in your branches.
Warm my soul with your night heat,
Chocolate. Chocolate, chocolate!

 

From me, Miranda. Since we have a little extra space this week, I’m hogging up all the room for myself. That’s kind of what chocolate does to me. It turns me into a ravenous, truffle-sniffing pig.

The haiku version:

In Paris
Velvet chocolate
wrapped in lavender papers
brought me to my knees

And here’s the full story, in case you’re wondering what that haiku was about. The following piece was published last year by Sun Magazine for the prompt “fame and fortune.” Really, it all comes down to chocolate. (Apparently, if you eat enough of it, you wake up with a rather unpleasant reality check.)

I moved to Paris when I was nineteen with the goal of becoming an actress or a model. I’d already been rejected by several New York City modeling agencies, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I’d studied acting, dance, and voice. I was reasonably pretty and on the tall side at five feet nine — though not tall enough by New York standards. At 132 pounds, I wasn’t as thin as I needed to be either, but I was working on that.

I had an agent waiting for me in Paris. Well, maybe not waiting, exactly. While having dinner at a close friend’s house, I’d hit it off with her father’s visiting colleague, whose brother François was a casting agent in Paris. I got his number, packed my suitcases, and headed for France.

It all went well at first. I slept on the floor at a good friend’s apartment, in a tiny room that smelled strongly of tea and soap. Every day I walked for hours through the cold gray city, practicing my high-school French. I sat in real French cafés, drinking grand crème and smoking cigarettes, and I went to parties where I was surrounded by glamorous, creative people.

François was working on a television project that he said would be the first French miniseries. The star was the aging singer Johnny Hallyday. I was to be an extra in a bar scene. I arrived at the studio early and, after hair and makeup, moved to the soundstage, where the other extras and I were placed around a bar facade. Johnny Hallyday’s arrival on set was greeted by an awe-filled hush. The filming was just as I’d imagined, with the director yelling, “Cut!” — only in French. He yelled it quite a lot, as Hallyday had difficulty remembering his lines.

After my successful turn as an extra, François gave me the name of a talent agent, whom I met with in a blindingly sunny office on the Rue Marbeuf. He nodded approvingly at me and got me a job performing at a shopping mall in the northern suburb of Sarcelles: six girls parading through the mall to promote a live race-car demonstration on the promenade. The event ended in disaster when the race car lost control and swerved into the crowd, injuring several onlookers.

Next I auditioned for a TV show. When I discovered that the script called for me to flash my breasts, I only mimed exposing myself for the production staff. I didn’t get called back. Then my agent sent me to try out for a necklace advertisement, but the woman across the desk coldly observed that I seemed to have gained some weight since my pictures had been taken. You see, I’d discovered that the corner market near my new apartment sold Milka, my favorite chocolate bars, by the three-pack. They’d become a staple in my diet.

As my social life slowed to a crawl, I stopped marketing myself and instead read Nabokov novels and ate Milka, reveling in its heady, velvet sweetness. I slept on a thin foam mattress and woke in the morning to stare at cracks in the ceiling and the mess of lilac-colored candy wrappers on the floor. I sometimes rallied and took a walk in the Paris air, but the glimpses of other people’s glamorous lives only left me feeling more adrift.

I began dating Adrien, a photographer I’d met on the race-car job. He was wonderful company but smoked too much pot and always looked emaciated. We had little money, and I had to scrape together my centimes to buy a baguette and a small jar of Nutella. Otherwise I would go to Adrien’s apartment and eat his roommate’s food.

Deciding I needed a change, I cut my hair myself. It came out short — very short — and patchy in the back. It did not look good.

Adrien and I parted ways. My agent stopped calling. My father’s most recent wire transfer — which I’d assured him would be the last — had run out. I was overdrawn at the Crédit Lyonnais. I found a job waitressing at a macrobiotic restaurant, but I couldn’t understand the Japanese cooks, and they couldn’t read my handwriting on the orders. After two shifts, I admitted defeat. Some Italian girls let me sleep on their sofa, and I spent my days cutting pictures from old fashion magazines. Twenty-five pounds heavier, my shorn hair growing back unevenly, I flipped through the glossy pages and ached with desire for what I somehow still believed could be mine.

 

This week’s prompt: “The wedding”

Use the prompt however you like — literally, a cue for color, or a tengential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to creativereality@live.com by 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to amazon.com. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) Remember, the point here is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.

 

9/10/08 UPDATE: Brittany Vandeputte sent in an entry that never arrived. Deepest apologies, Brittany! Her acrostic:

C an it get any better than this?
H olding a fork-speared marshmallow
O ver the lit flame from the grill lighter.
C hocolate bar at the ready
O n the kitchen counter.
L ift the sticky singed goodness
A dd four squares of Hersheyʼs finest
T hen surround in walls of graham.
E at when no oneʼs watching.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Juliet Bell #

    Love the chocolate lab photo! I have dial up, and the photo revealed itself slowly from top to bottom – first the top of the ears, then the eyes. And suddenly – pop – the full view, like the punch line to a good joke. I laughed out loud. What a great portrait!

    Cathy – I need a cold shower after reading your poem! Whew!

    And Miranda – how bittersweet your chocolate recollections – makes me cry.

    August 20, 2008
  2. Cathy #

    congrats, kelly! look at those beautiful green eyes!

    thanks, juliet!

    miranda, great story, albeit tough to live thru, but not that tough with all that chocolate!

    August 20, 2008
  3. Yeah for Isabelle! I must go throw her ball for her now! Thanks so much. (though we currently have the river in the backyard-literally-due to Tropical Storm Fay….)

    Juliet, I like your “slow reveal”; I can imagine that was pretty entertaining!

    Cathy, I’m more of a milk chocolate girl myself, but your poem made dark chocolate sound awfully appealing.

    And Miranda, I must say your story took me back….at 5’10”, I too once dreamed of the catwalk. I modeled for about 8 years through high school and college and then finally got tired of other people telling me how to wear my hair. That was about 20 pounds ago. 🙂 Loved your Paris reflections. And Milka sounds like something I need to investigate!

    I’m going to buy Wreck This Journal with my coupon!

    August 20, 2008
  4. Cathy #

    woo-hoo! kelly, it’s fun! miranda, have you cracked that binding yet? i spilled coffee in it the other day.

    August 20, 2008
  5. I think we’ll have to get together for an iced latte and share notes, Kelly! (But really, stay away from the Milka!)

    August 20, 2008
  6. Congrats Kelly!!! All this subject did for me was prompt me to EAT chocolate!!! Does that count for anything? 😉 Your dog is adorable!

    xo,

    Carmen

    August 20, 2008
  7. Great entries this week!!!

    August 20, 2008
  8. The chocolate lab is beautiful! I have two golden retrievers and the 4 year old was very difficult to keep still for at least the first 2 years, possibly the first 3. She’s wonderful now though! And my golden x wolfhound is about 2 and also very difficult to keep still…but oh how I love them!

    I too will put my hand up for a piece of yummy chocolate!

    August 21, 2008
  9. Thanks for all the nice feedback, guys!

    Cathy — no, haven’t delved in yet — so many things I want to do! (And was that coffee spillage an accident, or were you simply following instructions?)

    August 21, 2008
  10. Cathy #

    dutifully.

    August 21, 2008
  11. I just added Brittany’s entry above at the end of the post. So sorry your poem was lost in cyberspace, Brittany! I will now adopt a policy of acknowledging receipt of every entry, so that this doesn’t happen again. If anyone sends in a contest submission and doesn’t hear back from me within 24 hours, please post a comment somewhere at this blog to let me know!

    September 10, 2008
  12. Cathy #

    yum, brittany, secret s’mores….you just gave me an idea…..

    September 10, 2008

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