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Religious Renovations

With Pope Francis newly elected, one wonders about his plans for leading the Roman Catholic Church. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, caused controversy in 2010 when he admitted that in certain cases condoms were acceptable. If Pope Francis furthers “certain” to “all” it will revolutionize the Church and possibly lead to more successful relationships.
While most Catholics would believe that their faith insinuates to wait until marriage to have sex, they will be surprised to know that during ancient Roman times the teachings varied. For starters, there existed no marriage. For the Jews, they believed that marriage was vital to later go on and produce offspring. This was in large part due to them wanting to pass on their faith and lineage. However, according to experts of the Bible they have determined that initially certain apostles rejected the idea of marriage. They condemned the human urge to reproduce. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that there was no need to get married and procreate, because there existed enough people as it was to convert to Catholicism. Even during his time, the most faithful of followers rejected his claim.
With marital unions being a custom of most – if not all – cultures, a tradition that varies depending on the society, some people have come to wonder how they can advance their relationship before officially sealing the “deal”. According to a research reviewed by Elizabeth Gilbert in her novel Committed, psychologists claim that before entering into matrimony one of the main components that needs to be discussed is sex. Without tending to the matter before marriage, the lack of satisfaction and not knowing how to deal with the situation later on can lead to straying partners and eventually to the courts to sign a divorce. With this in mind, the idea that sex should be reserved for after marriage should be reconsidered. This is not to say that a marathon of sexual experiences should be advised, but to be conducted with a potential lifetime partner.
While it is unlikely that Pope Francis will completely renovate the face of the Catholic Church during his reign, what he does on matters of romance can potentially further the modernization of the faith. Every small step, as Pope Benedict XVI showed, will be welcomed by this generations’ followers.

Prompt: In a monologue of no more than 300 words, allow a character to describe what his or her religion is.


Technological Evolution

After years of technology going beyond our imagination, it has come to the time of either adapting or being left behind. About a year ago, I visited a library near my community. After checking out a pile of novels, I settled down beside the computer to do some work. The man beside me called for assistance.
“Ma’am, how do you sign into the Internet and create an email?”
Everyone around him peered over his or her screens. He looked as though he was in his late forties with grey strands hidden in his thinning, dark hair.
Her question was the same one that filled my mind. “Have you ever used a computer before?”
He swayed his head from side-to-side. “I try not to. I believe that technology will be the end of us.”
And there you have it. A prime example of when humanity allows for a rejection of advancement to be the end of their existence – a way in which they cease to exist to the rest of the world. While it may seem that technology tears society apart, through intensive research done by BBC News it opposes the idea and emphasizes the importance of being technology savvy. In Hi-Tech Brings Families Together it turns out that families that use technology to their advantage, such as phones or Skype, are closer than those who don’t use it at all.
While infatuations with pixels can go off the beaten path, like any other matter in this world – food, exercise and traditions – moderation is key. However, with any change we must embrace what it brings with a positive outlook or be remembered only as fossils from a distant age.

Prompt: In a poem of no more than 20 lines, describe an organism that learned to camouflage and adapt.

De-Stressing News

Let me give you a setting. You’re a few hours short of meeting a deadline. Your heart has been on a treadmill set on steep incline for the past week, you can barely swallow anything for fear of your nerves getting the better of you and despite pulling all-nighters your task at hand is barely finished. Enter: Your friends. They are a community within themselves – a family which you choose and that, depending on how close you are, can know you better than your own blood. Before hope disappears completely from your being, they help direct the traffic that has clogged your brain.
While in the moment, there is little time to analyze why friendship in and of itself minimizes a mountain-like burden to one as feasible as to the size of an ant, there does exist chemicals within the body working behind the scenes. The hormone oxytocin is released any time the body is under a lot of stress. This encourages a person to bond. According to research done by a Professor at the University of Cambridge, Terri Apter, she says that the fact that people are instinctively encouraged to bond when they are stressed equals relief. Whether or not those friends take matters into their own hands is not the point. Just the warmth, humor, and goodwill of those around helps the body relax. Those few minutes not spent on the project, allow for a refreshed feeling once the person returns to finishing up. A matter which seemed impossible an hour ago, once after a visiting the peanut gallery, that good feeling lasts and restores a positive outlook.
From an article composed by Lauren Dzubow for O magazine, shows through sickness and in health the benefits that come from de-stressing whether through catching lunch with a friend or a “quick” phone call. A bit of chatter can go a long way.

Prompt: In a poem of no more than 30 lines, describe a friendship within the terms of a garden party.

Playing Courage

I am no expert in the romance department, but in the mesh of Valentine’s day and the flutter of watching my friends migrate to and from boys for the special occasion it makes me wonder if this conquest to find the “perfect” one, a plot line that barely changes for any person no matter the day and age, can merely be bought when a person wants the merchandise. And while it is customary to hear that love will arrive when the time is right, there surely must exist a particular time frame that foreshadows when the heroine will meet her hero.
Those in Jane Austen’s time period rarely had a choice but to follow their parents pre-arranged marriage, later on in the 40’s and 50’s couples hitched at a young age – almost right out of college – and the era of “free love” found any moment, especially Woodstock, right to be with anyone who they found to be charming. All those periods had a particular setting, not so much of a physical place but as a general time frame in their lives that the people knew it would be their moment to find the “one”. With the developments that society has gone through, more people are waiting to be in a serious commitment until they are older. People have also found various outlets, especially the internet, as means of meeting someone. For those people who prefer to keep things to the basics and like to get mentally prepared (yours truly) the best place to mingle, from various advice and observation of the couples that have lasted the longest in a stable relationship, seems to be college.
The fact that you know in which direction you want your life to head into and are more mature than your high school self, gives you a more adult-take on a romance that is meant to be serious. Not every relationship, however, is given with a 100% happiness guarantee and if meeting someone in college does not lead to anything major down the road it is an experience to grow from. In particular it gives those two people the opportunity to narrow down the 100-must-have’s to a realistic check list of what is important to them.
But perhaps the college sweetheart, who was not love-at-first-sight in Physics 101 but was a good study buddy or friend, does lead to something. Then what does it take to transform something from just-friends to the next level? The main ingredient is courage. It takes bravery to make a fool out of yourself, take a risk, learn from the mistake and not look back in embarrassment. This by no means requires taking the methods from Kindergarten and declaring, “I like you,” so bluntly but if you never take the moment to slip your fingers through theirs or lean in closer than necessary, then you might never know what could have happened.

Prompt: In a short story no more than 800 words describe a character who dared to accomplish their wildest dream.

The Hormonal Nomad

It may be an occurrence that has spread over the centuries. One that, just like a common cold, comes with any season. This is accompanied with terrible symptoms such as pangs of jealousy, random bursts of nostalgia (before you’ve even left your current nest) and the bittersweet taste of salty sorrow of leaving who you know behind for a new beginning. What else must I be talking about except when people drift apart?
Whether you are a young adult packing flimsy boxes with random belongings for a dorm room half your bedroom size of an adult cramming an apartment’s worth into a U-Haul for an across the country (or continent) journey, the feeling of distance with all you’ve ever known is overwhelming. While the idea of a new town is refreshing and can lead to discovering new sights, people and experiences, the distance with our loved ones can cause a significant set back. While this alone may be a factor that can convince a few of changing their life’s quests, for those who are dedicated navigators we must trudge on.
While the earliest homosapien probably did not analyze such matters of missing their neighbors and followed their instinct, more modern society has taken the liberty to express our every emotion. Through music, writing and theater we can evidently see our emotional complexities. Standing from our shoes it can feel as though everyone else drifts off slowly, almost drifting through fingers as easily as dirt. But if you turn the angle around the person no longer planning girl’s night out or a day for a football game might be you. If this is true, the red shimmer of embarrassment and guilt can transcend into your face at any moment. All this time you may have felt that others were distancing themselves, when in reality it was you unconsiouly putting space between something your conscious knows won’t be a block away within a year.
Before you check the calendar or call to set up tonight’s picnic, remember what to keep in mind. Those friends and family members, if meant to be, will always be in your life. Guaranteed that it won’t be nearly half of them, but the lesson is not to shut the doors and become a hermit. Instead it is to see life through the cliché of living it to the fullest. Never will you know who will be around in fall and gone by summer. People may come for a week, season or year but their position in your world is always for a purpose. It’s important to sometimes close the American Airlines and realtor’s tabs and see those within your grasp at the moment.

Prompt: In a poem, no more than 30 lines, describe a specific animal that is forced to become independent.

The Labyrinth of Relationships

In the last scene of the film, In Her Shoes, Cameron Diaz’s character recites a poem by E.E. Cummings. While this chick flick always drives me to tears, there may be more than just a bubble gum artificial flavoring to the script. Behind the great shoes and cliché characteristic of how girls just want to have fun, there exists a grander theme that if analyzed under a critical lens may point to a vital truth.
The scope of the story is about two sisters who went through a strenuous childhood were as close as two intertwining threads, but as they grew their personal goals drew them apart. It happens with my own sister, so I believe that this rings true. And while the taste of exploration for ones own life can be as sweet as biting into spring’s first strawberry, it can also linger with the bitterness leaving behind what is most familiar. It paints the picture of two people who are born on the same landscape. They start off with their fingers laced together, believing that the other will never let go. But as they break away from their innocent, playful glances at the future – they stare at a land filled with fog. Although the blinding sensation may be frightening, the idea of exploring gets the better of their curiosity. So they let go.
As they go their separate ways, each guided by their own interests they grow into who they want to become. Since these two characters live within the same landscape, just as siblings cross paths at family gatherings and random phone calls, they reconnect. While they will never be the same person who you knew as a child they will talk to you and the existence of a bond is enough to outlast awkward moments and overwhelming downhill strides of reconnecting.
In Her Shoes widened the camera angle into my own life by showing me that there will be lapses of disconnect, but that they are necessary. It is vital to grow away from what we have always known to in the end let ourselves, and not those closest to us, decide who we want to be. Just as one does in their own journey, it is important to grow within your relationships – such as with patience and attentiveness.
Most importantly, no matter the distance – whether physically or mentally – E.E. Cummings poem, I Carry Your Heart With Me, stands to prove that throughout any adventure those closest to you never really leave you.

Prompt: In a monologue no more than 500 words, all the character to reconnect with an old friend.