Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bonus Tracks: "Just Geography" and "Playing Barbies?"

My pieces were chosen (two weeks in a row) as the winners of JM Prescott's "I Dare You" challenges.

Read "Playing Barbies", a young feminist's response to Mattel's popular plastic dolls, and "Just Geography", a piece inspired by our trip to a little league football game.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bonus Track: "Lady Liberty"

My piece, "Lady Liberty" about our nation's great landmark, was chosen as an honorable mention for Jo Prescott's "I Dare You" blog this week. Heather Fitzpatrick is the guest challenger this week, and I was honored to be listed on the same page as the winner, Erica Bolton. Make sure you check out her piece, "Invisible Landmarks of Love" if you haven't already!

Here is my interpretation of the dare. It was inspired by the recent anniversaries of tragedies in American history and both the intolerance and compassion I have witnessed in the media and our everyday lives.

“Lady Liberty”
By: Jen Schneider

“Give me your tired, your poor. . .”

(November 12, 1886)

This was America. This was the country that would help my family escape the poverty that began decades prior in Ireland with the potato famine.

           Her torch beckoned me to come ashore. “Look, Michael! It’s Lady Liberty, they call her,” my best friend, Shawn O’Malley, gazed with hopeful eyes at the future that awaited us in the land of the free.

          “America,” I said the word as though I was speaking it for the first time. I was never a man of tears, but I shed a few that day. I wasn’t ashamed to tell my grandchildren this years later when I recounted my trip to Ellis Island into the country that would change our lives forever.

         “Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

(September 15, 1963)

I was livin’ just outside of Harlem. Dr. King had just given his “I Have a Dream” speech, and my wife Darla and I listened to it on the radio at the Woolworth’s just outside of town. When Darla heard about a job cleanin’ apartments in the city where you could see that lady statue from the windows, we done left my sister and her babies behind in ‘Bama. Things were still tough in the North, but I couldn’t believe what I heard on the radio on that day.

The KKK gone and put a bomb in that church in Birmingham, Alabama, killed four little girls doin’ it too. On August 28, I heard Dr. King talk about liberty and justice and judging not on the color of skin but the content of our character, and less than a month later, I turned on the radio and heard Mrs. McNair crying cause her baby done get killed. Four little girls dead because their skin was colored.

“Send these — the homeless, tempest-tossed — to me;
I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.”

(September 11, 2010)

It’s been nine years since the terrorists attacked my beloved country, and the site where my former work place stood is still known as Ground Zero. When I see it, I am filled with grief. Every day I thank Allah that I escaped, but I cry for the hate, the ignorance, and the pain.

They want to build a mosque there. Many question the motives of those behind it; I wouldn’t attend anyway. I go to services at the same place I have since I was born in New York City, as a citizen of the United States. I remember the day my parents became citizens. We went to the Statue of Liberty and had our picture taken. My father read the poem inscribed on the front, and said, “Zahra, this is why I came here: to make a life for my family.”

Now I look out my window and think about the life I have made for myself and how things have changed. Before 9/11, I had the highest profile clients in my corporate law firm. My colleagues are understanding, but they know that we have lost business from several companies because they “don’t want a Muslim representing them.”

My emotions go from anger to sadness when I think about what my religion and what this country both mean to me. Islam is a peaceful religion at its core. Just like any religion, there are extremists who claim Allah’s will and the teachings of the Qur’an direct them to perform these unthinkable acts. I, an well-established woman who was born on US soil, have been spit on and cursed at when I have defended my faith.

I look at Lady Liberty’s lamp, and I know for certain that this is a country of acceptance and openness. Hate has clouded its once open shores. I hope that my children with see a day when this fear will make way for clarity and tolerance.

Bonus Track: "Pensacola"

Check out the Echap published by Michael Solender at the not, "Dog Days of Summer 2010".

"Pensacola" by Jen Schneider is on p. 18.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bonus Track: "No Child Left Behind"

My piece, "No Child Left Behind", was chosen as the I Dare You winner for the week of August 23 on JM Prescott's blog. The prompt was to consider something you don't want to lose control of. Thanks for reading, and thanks again Jo for choosing my selection.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bonus Tracks: "The Bread Guy" and "Pink Slip"

My story, "The Bread Guy", was included as part of Chick Lit Shorties' Launch Event for their new web site. This is a fiction piece, but before I was happily married, I did have some weird dates just like the protagonist.
After you read the story, be sure to check out my bio.

 "Pink Slip", a 50 word story, was also published on 50 to 1 today.

I encourage you to check out work by the other writers on both sites. I am honored to be included with such talented writers!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Track 5--"Time After Time"

you said go slow--
I fall behind
the second hand unwinds-- 
"Time After Time" -Cyndi Lauper
As a writer (who also works full time), my biggest enemy is the clock. That's why I love the summer. I have gotten more accomplished in the last several weeks than I did in the nine months prior. 

I can't completely blame my day job. I pile on the extra duties: curriculum, after school activities, etc. I love my job, and I love all the "extra" things I do, but as the school year quickly approaches, I am giving myself a preemptive reminder.


It's really OK to say no once in awhile, to go home and write a bit, have dinner with my husband, and watch mindless television. (Oh, Glee, I can't wait for September!) I feel slightly guilty if I am not busy or if I waste the day reading a book or watching television instead of working on my novel or a flash fiction piece, but I know I can't. Sometimes the simple pleasures in life help me appreciate what I have when I am going at a non-stop pace. Summer has reminded me of that. . .with the free time, the vacations, the time with my stepson, and just watching my dogs exhibit the true meaning of the dog days of summer. I love this season. 

All good things have to come to an end, or in my case, I have to give up the non-schedule for the 8-4 (yeah, right), and squeeze the writing in somewhere. Yes, I will slow down, but I will not give up on the progress I have made. I will still write every day, and I hope you will all continue to read the bits and pieces I post here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bonus Track: "Flying Standby"

I wrote this flash in response to JM Prescott's "I Dare You" Challenge, What Could Happen?.

I received an honorable mention, so I decided to post it here. I encourage you to click the above "I Dare You" link to read the winner, Sal Buttaci's, response to the challenge.

"Flying Standby"

I look up at the departures screen, and I know that I can go anywhere I want. I feel freedom and trepidation at the same time. With a few hundred dollars in my pocket and the clothes on my back, I can spend the rest of the summer working odd jobs and playing my guitar in the downtown area of Any City, USA while businessmen throw dimes and dollars into the case and ask me to play “Proud Mary”.

New York. The Big Apple makes me want to sing a Broadway showtune, and I imagine standing in Times Square, getting “discovered” by a faux-tan gentleman with a handlebar moustache who thinks I could be one of the next Zigfield Girls. My Streisand-esque fantasy ends when I see the last flight of the day has already departed, leaving me to wonder if I will ever wake up in the city that never sleeps.

Las Vegas. Wearing my LBD (little black dress), I'll hop a plane to Sin City, laugh with Ashton Kutcher (he is a frequent Vegas visitor), dance to Katy Perry (who knows what it’s like “Waking Up in Vegas”), and play blackjack at the Palms. I look down at my flip flops and peer into my wallet, thinking my three C-notes won’t last me long in the city where drinks are $20 each and my style will not be appreciated in most of the hot clubs.

New Orleans. I’ll flee to the home of Mardi Gras, my heart breaking for the victims of Katrina. I'll hear Harry Connick, Jr., and I’ll exchange my guitar for a saxophone, bellowing jazz melodies from my tired lungs, praying that any music I make will teach the world that anywhere your family is at is home.


Home.  It doesn’t seem to fit with the big cities, the bright lights, the anywhere invitation, but I am content when I take my eyes from the departures screen and look at the arrivals. I notice all the planes coming to my hometown, and think that maybe they know something I don’t. Maybe the decision I am making to stay right here is the best one for me.

Walking out into the night, I hail one of the few cabs in this town, and when the driver asks where I am headed, I simply say, “Home.”