20 October 2009

Things that Make Us Remember

I got a tiny surprise visit this weekend. Nothing too extraordinary or bothersome, just a twinge of a surprise. It started with me bending over and ended with firing up the old heating pad.

Maybe it's because the schziphrenic Ga weather turned winter-like last week (completely skipping autumn and therefore making many residents of our State angry because it's too cold to go outside and see the trees just starting to turn colors) or maybe it's my body seeking its revenge over the fact that I haven't exercised since March. That's right, People, an entire summer passed and I didn't run once. But in my defense, I hate it. I wasn't able to run for most of the summer because I was gone and when I came home, I just too tired. Perhaps I just twisted wrong. Whatever the reason, I'm contemplating using the heating pad at ten in the morning.

I thought that if I stretched some, I wouldn't pull my back every time I bent over. So I asked my poodle if she'd like to do pilates with me. Though I said it brightly, as I say everything to her, said poodle's expression read something like this: "Does it have vegetables?" Sigh.

Don't feel too sorry for me. The appropriate amount will suffice. :0) The only reason why I'm speaking of said twingy pain is because I thought it could be used for the greater good (i.e., a blog post). It's not bad enough to warrant a doctor's visit, which I'm very grateful for since I don't have health insurance. Anywho...

This got me thinking about the last time my back hurt. And how I originally injured it two years ago this October. Are you ready for this story? Because it's a doosy. I was in Africa...

::Ooh, it's getting good! A story about Africa! Maybe there will be a lion in it! Or maybe she fell off an elephant!::

and I was getting out of the koombie....

::Here comes the zebra attack!::

and that's how I hurt my back.

Seriously. Nothing dramatic. I remember the day so clearly. I was stressed out and drove to the other side of the universe (I was convinced I was in Angola or something). I was lost and late for a meeting because I was lost. But finally, I found the school where I was to meet the teacher I'd spoken with over the phone. This koombie was an eight passenger van I named "Norbert" after the dragon in Harry Potter. It was just high enough off the ground that I needed to grab the handle on the ceiling to lift and twist myself in order to get in and out of the vehicle. I over rotated, didn't bend my knees as much as I needed to, and the jarring result left me lying in doorways, feet up on the wall (we didn't have a heating pad so this was all I could do to help my back) for the next few weeks.

Ever since, my back has given me trouble. Definitely during stressful times. When I detailed cars, I had to use the heating pad every night. But you know what did it? It wasn't cleaning the rims or stretching to wash the roof. It was vaccuuming the interior. Seriously. Which is proof that housework can kill you.

I have other scars and some of those come with great stories. And I do know someone who did fall off an elephant in India. Her story is much better--and more painful--than mine. Beautiful and talented Katie Ganshert posted about scars back in August. She has a great story, definitely more dramatic than "I got out of a van". Sorry for that disappointment, Friends. My MC is scarred as well. She's got a great story too. I just couldn't do to her what life did to me. It didn't seem fair. So she got a whole back story and symbolic elements to justify her injury.

The thing about injuries is they make us remember. Sometimes that isn't pleasant at all. Sometimes it's not too bad.

Autumn makes me remember too. Combined with this twingy surprise, the urge is especially potent. So today I'm remembering Africa. Eish, I miss it.

What makes you remember? What makes your characters remember? What do they (or you) need to remember today?


  1. Hi Kristen,
    I'm glad I came across your blog through Tamika's. I know what you mean about Africa. I was in Nigeria four years ago and I too miss it very much! No elephants for me either :) We did missionary work with orphans and enjoyed good fellowship/worship. It's a different world out there, isn't it?! Blessings, Ellie

  2. Hope your back is better!

    You're right...we all have scars and twinges and reminders of things in our past that we carry around--both good and bad things. Our characters should too, if we're really fleshing them out. Good reminder!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Oh, Kristen. An aching back is no fun at all! Feel better soon.

  4. Thanks, Friends!

    I made the mistake of exercising yesterday so now I'm just generally sore. Note to self: don't exercise ever again! Haha! Just kidding.

  5. "Which is proof that housework can kill you."
    That made me laugh! I'm sorry your back is hurting but I loved how you tied it into our writing.
    I try to use smells to help my characters remember, but I think physical stuff is a great idea and not something I'd thought of.

  6. Kristen, I hope you start feeling better soon. The only back injury I ever had was giving birth to my two daughters, I haven't been the same since. Ugh.

    My characters are affected by everything it seems.

    Happy writing...

  7. Ugh! Dear friend I hope you are up and about soon! I understand. I injured my back standing up. Nothing dramatic. I put grocery bags down and could not stand up! Now I get to go to the Chiropractor every 3 months. I can't run anymore (thank GOD! Best doctor's excuse I have had) but I can do yoga and walk to my heart's content. And it's never the exciting things that put me up with back pain. Nope. Last time, it was sitting at work. Just. Sitting. Grrr...at least you were in Africa!


  8. Sorry about your back. I hope it gets better soon. It's miserable to hurt every time you move.

    The smallest things make me remember. Things like familiar smells, changes of seasons, lines in a book. So many things.

  9. Great question. I'm still waiting to hear about the zebra. :D

    Smells bring me back. Smells bring my MC back.
    ~ Wendy

  10. LOL I liked your story:) Your voice comes through nicely. What makes my character remember?In my latest WIP, fancy cars do. He wanted to buy one and now that he can't, they remind him of all he lost.

  11. Reading your story made me wince! Hope the heating pad helped! I had some soft tissue damage to my back following a car accident a few years ago. Chiropractic did wonders. Give it a try if you get the chance!:)

  12. Our seasons are all screwy this year too. Elephants and Africa sound so exotic and the memories must be great! No great travel stories here... :O)

  13. That is such a Janna story. ;) I'm one of the clumsiest things ever.

    I hope your back is better soon!

  14. Hey Kristan, first off, you are one great writer. It flows, it keeps my interest....it's visual...
    Ok, back...hope yours feels better and me, running, hiking makes me remember - today I need to remember God has plans and purposes for my life that are awesome and not to feel so restless all the time.

  15. Sorry to hear of your back pain. I have a lot of sciatica and have had two surgeries, so I feel for anyone with back pain!
    Smells, sights, and sounds, always bring up memories!

  16. Weird incidence spark my memory too. Often I have to stretch to see why.

    I'm praying for your back to heal fast.

  17. Ha! Wendy, I have a great zebra story. It involves me never seeing one (while everyone around me sees a zillion), until we finally get to this game park, hike Execution Rock, and find a group of zebras running by as we hike. That was a great day!

    Thanks to everyone for your prayers for my back! I really appreciate it!

    And thanks so much for your writing encouragement!