Scenography in the Park

We encounter many people in our daily routine, but we never know who will have the biggest impact on our lives.  

I pass the same dilapidated kiosk of wares every day. On most days, I actually pass two or three times a day. Initially, I go north, then head south as I return home. I’ve imagined what it would look like if an omnipresent camera has been recording footage all this time. The silent film made from the snippets of me passing plays in fast forward through my mind. It’s as if scenes were strung together and the other roughly 52,520 hours of tape was cut out.  

Action: 

First, my husband and I walk by. We look younger, tanner and thinner. In the next scene, we stroll along with our puppy. Our new neighbors stop to say how cute she is. Later, I walk briskly by, trying to stay in shape as my belly grows in pregnancy. Each day, I pass and it’s noticeably bigger. My stride gets slower, wider and heavier. 

The plot of our life plays out in front of this one imaginary camera angle. My husband proudly carries our newborn son against his chest as he tries to soothe him to sleep on a hot summer evening. Next, I jog with a toddler sleeping in the stroller, working to get rid of those last few pounds. The three of us walk together, tiny hands holding our fingers. Then, we run to chase him. We stumble trying to hold onto his handlebars for one more moment before he rides on his own.  

The seasons change again and again. Our outfits change. The footage rolls on and I’m getting round again. It’s becoming hard to keep up with this energetic boy. The dog is loyal and she waits for me, he doesn’t. Winter comes again and I can’t zip up my coat.  

Finally, there are four of us. Our daughter joins the troupe in the same way her brother did. In our arms, in the stroller and, eventually, on her own two feet. We keep passing along the path in the park - back and forth – going about our lives. 

Cutaway Shot:  

Sometimes I used to stop at the kiosk and chat about the weather as my dog sniffed around. Or I’d kiss my son’s knee after he fell off his new bike. Then, I would engage in a lively conversation that consisted of complaints about some perceived problem in our perfect little town. Trash collectors not passing that day, heroin addicts sleeping on the benches or the general lack of maintenance of our (in reality) beloved park were all part of the script.   

My dog is a spotted mutt named Buggy with a brown patch over one eye, just like all of the archetypal dogs of cartoon families. She loves to pee in the gravel. Though it doesn’t stop me from giving her the freedom to relieve herself where she pleases, I’ve noticed this drives the “owner” of the used book kiosk crazy. I put owner is quotation marks, because I’m quite sure he has no official ownership rights to that square of gravel in the city park.     

A recovering alcoholic named Antonella just set up a table one day and started putting some used books on display. It grew from there. A canopy was erected at some point. Then, faded boho clothing, crocheted doilies and abstract knickknacks were set out on the table and hung from the canopy structure. She eventually appropriated the shed behind the gravel patch and used it to store her precious goods that nobody ever purchased. Antonella would put them away with care each evening and lock them up before slinging her backpack over her shoulder and walking four miles back to her home. She walked because she had no car. No car, no real job...her only possession was that ratty backpack and a house that she inherited from her estranged father.  

And she had this square of gravel in the park, which she had claimed over the years. I think that, because she was friendly and harmless, nobody ever cared to shoo her away. The local police passed by regularly in their patrol car or on horseback and never bothered Antonella or her kiosk. We all knew that she wasn’t supposed to be operating a cash-only business on public property with no permit whatsoever. But it was also clear that this failing business was all she had left.  

Aside:  

You’re right, I wrote “he” when I first mentioned the only vendor who has apparently been given permission by omission to set up shop in our park. There’s a man running the kiosk now. I don’t know his name. Though I still pass every day – taking Buggy for a walk, bringing the kids to the playground, on my way to meet a friend for coffee – I haven’t stopped to chat with this guy. He unofficially took over the stall on the one day Antonella didn’t show up to claim it, as she had done every other morning before that.  

Cut Back: 

That was the day on which I found out her name was Antonella. That was the day I found out that she had a sad back story as an alcoholic and an even lonelier existence once she dug into recovery. That was the day our chain-smoking neighbor told us that Antonella had decided not to walk all the way to her kiosk. Instead, she laid down on the railroad tracks and waited for release from this world.  

Final Scene: 

Now, that kiosk is a sad landmark for me. It serves as an allegory to be kind to the people who I encounter as I go about my life. I think about the nameless extras making cameos in my home video sometimes. Though action may unfold in a way that looks like an adaptation of the perfect story, you never know what’s really going on in the background. We don’t get to cast the actors who will play a role in our lives, but we do have a choice of how to interact with them. It’s so clear now that not everyone gets their happy ending.  

Cut.  


Content Marathon

Assignment #7, Breaking the Rules

See assignment #1, assignment #2, assignment #3 , assignment #4, assignment #5 and assignment #6, from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.  

New Astondoa Launch Written 3 Ways

Short Story (for catalog): 

100 Years of History at the Astondoa Shipyard 

The company’s history dates back to 1916, when the Astondoa brothers - Jesús and José - started building rowboats and traineras in a small carpenter’s workshop in Portugalete, Spain. Activity was put on hold during the Spanish Civil War. After the war ended, they decided to go in different directions. Jesús Astondoa focused on building fishing and recreational boats. In 1944, his son Jesús Astondoa Santamaría joined the family business and took over the shipyard shortly thereafter. Astondoa’s well-made wooden boats and high-quality finishes helped the shipyard to gain national recognition. The foundation for success had been laid. 

When the children of Jesús Astondoa Santamaría joined the business, that marked the family’s third generation leading the shipyard. In the early 1980s, Astondoa stepped away from its traditional wood production methods and began building boats in fiberglass. Advances in production techniques, combined with stylish design, strengthened Astondoa’s position as a leading European shipyard. Participation at international boat shows and award recognition for superior quality, fueled a period of development that continues to this day. 

By 2006, the Astondoa Group had more than 500 employees and boasted the most extensive range of boats on the market manufactured by a single brand. Its fleet includes 40 ft open boats, yachts over 120 ft long made of polyester resin reinforced with fiberglass, and megayachts up to 45m long with steel hulls and aluminum superstructures. 

Throughout the company’s proud 100-year history, Astilleros Astondoa has crafted more than 3,000 vessels. Today, the Astondoa family remains at the helms of the shipyard. They have overcome a century’s worth of challenges thanks to their firm belief in hard work. To date, four generations of Astondoa yacht builders have upheld the tradition of professionalism, reliability and quality. 


Blog Post: 

Largest Yacht to Date Launched on Astondoa’s 100th Anniversary  

In celebration of its centennial anniversary, the shipyard has launched a new luxury yacht. The Century 125’ is now the largest model in the Century range and the longest ever added to Astondoa’s fleet.  

Let’s learn more about the history of the Astondoa shipyard and their latest yacht model to touch the water.  

Building on a Centenary of Excellence 

Astondoa is a Spanish company which is proud to be family operated for four generations and counting. With more than 100 years of shipbuilding experience, it continues to lead the yachting industry. The Astondoa company was founded on the principles of professionalism, reliability and quality. Yet, the company is not stuck in the past. It looks toward the future with firm commitment to technological development, design and innovation. 

At Astondoa, constructing a yacht requires passion and creativity. Every vessel is designed around the preferences of each new owner. They are unique and custom-made with acute attention to detail. Throughout its extensive history, the company has chosen to focus on building customized yachts rather than mass production. Clients who choose Astondoa have exceptional perception of value, individuality and quality. 

Introducing the Century 125’ 

This legacy continues with the Century 125’. ... 


Twitter Posts: 

1: Get the champagne ready.... #astondoa 

2: Astondoa shipyard is preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary in a big way. #100yearsinbusiness #astondoa  

3: The newest and largest Astondoa custom yacht will be unveiled at the upcoming @MonacoYachtShow. #100yearsinbusiness #astondoa #century125 

4: Are you ready to meet the new Century 125’? She’s a real beaut. #100yearsinbusiness #astondoa #century125 

5: Can’t wait to see you at @MonacoYachtShow on Sept. 25 – Yours truly, Century 125’. #astondoa #century125 


 Content Marathon

Assignment #6, Adapting Writing to Different Mediums

See assignment #1, assignment #2, assignment #3 , assignment #4 and assignment #5 from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.  

 

Modern Folk Tale

Cravings for Healthy Food End Sadly for Local Couple 

Salad is great for pregnant moms, but it may cause you to lose your first born.  

It was a shocking discovery that a healthy, nutritious food could cost her their baby. Yet that was the ruling in the case of Avarcia v. Voglia. The plaintiff’s lawyer announced the decision yesterday at a press conference outside of the court.  

The problem started nearly one year ago when Cynthia Voglia, 34, began having cravings for leafy greens during her pregnancy. She and her husband had struggled with infertility for years. After multiple rounds of IVF, she was finally able to conceive. Once she was safely into the second trimester, Cynthia and her husband Phil, 42, started to make plans for welcoming a baby into their family. When the neighbor’s kale started to seem irresistible to her, she just chalked it up to normal pregnancy cravings.  

“I could see it growing up over the fence in our backyard and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind,” explained Cynthia. “Sure, it sounds crazy. But, at the time, I just had to have a big salad.” 

Mr. Voglia and his neighbor had never had a great rapport. He was unsure of how to approach the topic with Ms. Avarcia. To make his wife more comfortable as the due date neared, Phil picked some of their neighbor’s kale and brought it to her regularly. 

“My goal was never to steal; I just wanted to be a good husband,” explained Phil. “If your pregnant wife wants ice cream, you have to go out and get it at any hour, you know? So, if she wants fresh kale, I had to do whatever was necessary.” 

Ms. Avarcia quickly filed a lawsuit against her neighbors. In court, her lawyer played footage from the security camera of her home, clearly showing the crime in act. The defense attorney representing the Voglia family was quick to point out that the stolen greens had very little monetary value, if any.  

Nonetheless, the harsh ruling was delivered Monday afternoon. In exchange for the stolen property which - because it has already been digested, cannot be returned – the couple must relinquish custody of the child. Ms. Avarcia had originally sued for punitive damages, but agreed to settle for the newborn, which is reportedly female.  

“I think it’s a fair ruling,” said Mr. Imbroglione, the lawyer representing Ms. Avarcia. “My client is satisfied with the outcome.” 

When asked by reporters what she planned to do with the baby, Ms. Avarcia declined to comment. Sources close to the reserved entrepreneur provided information off the record. They claim that she would likely utilize the child to further her business which produces human hair wigs. 

The Voglia family requests privacy at this time.  


Content Marathon

Assignment #5, Finessing the first line

See assignment #1, assignment #2, assignment #3 and assignment #4 from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.  

Inspire Sleep Therapy

What is Inspire Sleep Therapy? 

People with obstructive sleep apnea have difficulty breathing while asleep. When our body relaxes with sleep, so do the muscles and soft tissues in our mouth, throat and neck. This is normal. When someone has sleep apnea, however, these soft tissues relax to the point of blocking the main airway in the throat. This is dangerous because the person sleeping doesn’t get enough oxygen - something the brain needs to work properly.  

Inspire therapy is a solution for some patients with sleep apnea. A device is placed inside the body, just under the skin. This device supports the natural breathing process throughout the night. It automatically sends electrical stimulation to the muscles responsible for breathing and keeps the airway open. The light electrical jolt is silent, painless, and does not interrupt regular sleep patterns. Most people can feel the muscles in their mouth get tense for a moment or describe it as a tingling sensation.  

To use Inspire therapy, you simply turn on the device with a remote control before going to bed. Then, you can turn the device off when you wake up. There are no other machines, tubes, or parts needed.  


Content Marathon

Assignment #4, Word Choice

See assignment #1, assignment #2 and assignment #3 from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.  

Runaway

“Deer family, 

I’ve made the tuff choys to leev. It hurts me more than you nowe. I’ve been wandering the streets the past few nites. The days are so hot and I can’t swet, but the cool evening air helps me think.  

I just can’t live like this any more. I’ve been steeling from the people who love me the most to support my habit. I’m sure you have notised things missing from the hows. I’ve made so many angry lately. Everyone around me has scars from the pain I’ve caused them.  

I don’t have any motivacion to make a real life for myself. You’ve seen me sleep all day. I stay out all nite and never call to tell you were I am or when I’ll be home. I nowe you worry about me. But the only thowt in my mind is my next fix.  

You don’t diserve to be treated that way. And I don’t know were I’m going, but at least I will leev you in pees.” 

I sat there dumbfounded. The memories flooded back to me and suddenly they all made sense. I thought we had saved her once the adoption was final. It seemed like her messed up past would have no impact on her future. Sure, she had some problems adjusting. She picked fights around the neighborhood, lashed out at others who got too close. She kept us up at night wondering where she was, but doesn’t every teenager do that?  

Even though our friends had warned us that those put up for adoption often have behavioral problems that come out later. When we saw her sad eyes, my husband I just couldn’t leave her in that situation. Her mom had left - no warning, no explanation, no concern for her care. In her mother’s absence, her twin brother was fatally attacked by a dog. The volunteer foster mom told us the story. We started the paperwork the same day to become her legal guardians.  

It was clear that she loved us as her family. When she was home, she was loving and playful. In the evening she’d curl up and put her face in my hair, just like she did when she was little. On good days, she would bring us elastic bands to shoot across the room and she would run to find them.  

But it was the bad days that were hard on everyone. She couldn’t control herself. She’d drink milk left at the breakfast table, steal ham from the sandwich left on the counter, gorge herself at the dog bowl. Cookies, bread, even an unguarded café latte wasn't safe. I knew she had a problem when we found a chunk missing from the lemon cheesecake I made for my husband’s birthday. Then, there would be the telltale retching which followed. After purging she always threw up, usually on my favorite rug.  

Now, I sat at my computer wondering how my cat had managed to type out this letter to me. She loves to walk across the keyboard, but who knew that she understood English? She certainly never showed signs of comprehending what we said to her all these years. I appreciated her attempt to apologize for stealing and being generally ungrateful. But I also knew that she would be back in the morning, hungry and strung out from whatever she’s been doing all night. 


Flea - Character Portfolio: 

  • Small domestic cat, 

  • Black and white fur, 

  • Black dot on white face, 

  • Adopted from pet rescue, 

  • Steals food from everyone in the house and neighborhood, 

  • Loves to suck my hair and knead my neck, 

  • Aims to eat as much as possible, 

  • Vomits often, 

  • Fetches hair bands flung across the room, 

  • Howls when she wants to play, 

  • Sleeps all day, 

  • Prowls all night, 

  • Fights with other cats and dogs that pass. 


Content Marathon

Assignment #3, Character Development

See assignment #1 , assignment #2 and assignment #4 from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.  

Acknowledging the Value of Reliability Before It's Lost Forever

Mauro had missed us by a single moment. Luckily, he was a simple guy who never thought badly about the people in his life, even when they deserved it. He would never notice the unmade bed or the fan being left on while the house was supposedly empty. If he saw anything amiss, he would chalk it up to my chronic untidiness.   

There was a time when I almost wanted him to discover the affair. I yearned for his attention. But not the kind of attention that you can get across the dinner table with two kids interrupting every sentence.  

“How was your day?”  

“It was crazy because...”  

“Mom, get me a glass of water.”  

“Did you pay that utility bill?”  

“I was going to, but I had to...”  

“Daddy, look at my magic trick.” 

No, I needed that kind of deep intimacy that hasn’t been in this house for years. The pillow talk that kept me up all night, riding around the hills on his motorcycle in happy silence, and the endless afternoons curled up in each other's arms with nothing else on our itinerary for the day – that kind of intimacy. Nowadays, the closest thing I feel to that is a shoulder rub while I scrub the dishes in the sink.  

The days are long. They start with getting the kids’ clothes ready for the day. Then, there’s the rush to school, followed by the rush to work. The eight hours at the office are full of interruptions, phone calls, last-minute projects and client complaints. Then, it’s back to wiping tears away, wiping butts and wiping sticky surfaces clean around the house. The irony is that I’m constantly being touched. My kids hang on me while I try to get dinner ready. They need hugs even when I need to use the bathroom. They won’t sleep without a combined total of 45 minutes worth of goodnight snuggles and rocking.  

But that’s not the same. I missed that other kind of touch.  So, I found someone who could give it to me. Who didn’t have another email to write or something more interesting to watch on TV. It was never meant to happen, yet it did and without much complication really. It only happened twice, but the second time he came home early. We quickly got our clothes back on and crept out the back window. But when my two worlds brushed together and nearly collided, it brought me back to reality. 

That night, the guilt was unbearable. ‘What kind of wife does that to a reliable guy like Mauro?’ I asked myself. It ate at me for days after that, but the anxiety was more acute at night. I would wake with a startle and hope that it had only been a bad dream. Then my mind would start spinning a web full of worries and fears, guilt and regret. I vowed it would never happen again, but then again, I had vowed to be faithful to my husband. That didn’t stop me from doing it. So, why should I trust myself not to give into temptation again? 

During one sleepless night of turmoil in particular, I had a realization. The truth is that I don’t want that life for myself. Sure, it would be fun and exciting for a while. Keeping a taboo affair hidden from sight and arranging secret rendezvous had a certain attractive quality. But like everything shiny, it would get dull with time. And I know, that when the fun wears off, the only thing left will be the ruins of the life that I had so earnestly constructed. I don’t want to raise my kids without their father by my side and in their lives every day. I don’t want to learn how to live my life as a single mom. I don’t want to give up this comfortable complicity for drama and heartbreak. 

It wasn’t until the day that he came home and confessed that things fell back in place. He had a different kind of confession to make. Mauro said that his boss had decided to sell the company and there was no room for his position under new management. It was a surprise to both of us, but it was shocking that he had kept this information from me for weeks. I now understood why he had come home early that day, and I almost forgot to hide the look of realization from my face. He said he had been afraid of my reaction, worried for our financial situation and embarrassed that he found himself suddenly unemployed. The hope was that he would quickly land a job with their competitor and be able to deliver good news with the bad. His plan hadn't panned out.  

In a weird way I feel like we were even now. The guilt has lifted. Mostly, I’m glad that I can be there for my husband during this challenging time. Mauro really is a decent, reliable guy. He deserves a wife who will support him through good times and bad.  


Content Marathon

Assignment #2, Plot line #1

See assignment #1 , assignment #3 and assignment #4 from the Content Marathon.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.

A Walk in the Park

I pass the same dilapidated kiosk of wares every day. On most days, I actually pass two or three times a day - first going north, then heading south as I return home. I’ve imagined what it would look like if an omnipresent camera has been recording footage all this time. I watch the silent film made from the pieces of video of me passing if they were put together and the other roughly 52,520 hours of tape were cut out. In my mind, this non-existent video plays in fast forward. First, my husband and I walk by looking younger, tanner and thinner. Then, we stroll along with our puppy. Our new neighbors stop to say how cute she is. Later, I walk briskly by, trying to stay in shape as my belly grows in pregnancy. Each day I pass and it’s noticeably bigger. My stride gets slower and wider. 

Our whole life plays out in front of this one imaginary vantage point. My husband proudly carries our newborn son against his chest as he tries to get him to sleep on a hot summer evening. Then, I jog with a toddler sleeping in the stroller, working to get rid of those last few pounds. The three of us walk together, tiny hands holding our fingers. Then, we run to chase him. We stumble to hold onto his handlebars for one more moment before he rides on his own.  

The seasons change again and again. Our outfits change. The footage rolls on and I’m getting round again. It’s becoming hard to keep up with this energetic boy. The dog is loyal and she waits for me, he doesn’t. Winter comes again and I can’t zip up my coat. I don’t want to buy a new one, though; it seems like such a waste of money when soon I won’t need such a big coat.  

Then, there are four of us. Our daughter joins the pack in the same way her brother did. In our arms, in the stroller and, eventually, on her own two feet. We just keep passing along the path of the park - back and forth – going about our lives. 

Sometimes I used to stop at the kiosk and chat about the weather as my dog sniffed around. Some afternoons I’d kiss my son’s knee after he fell off his new bike. Then, I would engage in a friendly conversation that consisted of complaints about some perceived problem in our perfect little town. Trash collectors not passing that day, heroin addicts sleeping on the benches or the general lack of maintenance of our (in reality) beloved park were all fine fodder.   

My dog, a spotted mutt named Buggy who has a brown spot over one eye like all of the stereotypical dogs of cartoon families, loves to pee in the gravel. I’ve noticed that this drives the “owner” of the used book kiosk crazy. I put owner is quotation marks, because I’m quite sure that he has no official ownership rights to that square of gravel in the city park. Anyway, his annoyance doesn’t stop me from letting her relieve herself where she pleases. In my opinion, the park is public property and dogs should be able to enjoy this small bit of nature freely. We never use a leash; she’s so intent on herding me and the kids that it seems ridiculous to tie her to me as well. Buggy’s better than I am at following directions and her only form of aggression is rolling over so that perfect strangers can rub her belly.   

A recovering alcoholic named Antonella just set up a table one day and started putting some used books on display and it grew from there. A canopy was erected at some point. In addition to books, faded boho clothing, crocheted doilies and random knickknacks were set out on the table and hung from the canopy structure. She eventually appropriated the shed behind the gravel patch and used it to store her precious goods that nobody ever purchased. Antonella would put them away with care each evening and lock them up before slinging her backpack over her shoulder and walking four miles back to her home. She walked because she had no car. No car, no real job...her only possession was that ratty backpack and a house that she inherited from her estranged father.  

And she had this square of gravel in the park which she had claimed over the years. I think that, because she was friendly and harmless, nobody ever cared to shoo her away. The local police passed by regularly in their patrol car or on horseback and never bothered Antonella or her kiosk. We all knew that she wasn’t supposed to be operating a cash-only business on public property with no permit whatsoever. But it was also apparent that this failing business was the only option that she had left.  

You’re right, I wrote “he” when I first mentioned the only vendor who has apparently been given permission by omission to set up shop in our park. There’s a man running the kiosk now. I don’t know his name. Though I still pass every day – taking Buggy for a walk, bringing the kids to the playground, on my way to meet a friend for coffee – I haven’t stopped to chat with this guy. He unofficially took over the stall as soon as Antonella didn’t show up to claim it as she had done every other morning before that.  

That was the day on which I found out her name was Antonella. That was the day that I found out that she had a sad past as an alcoholic and an even lonelier existence once she dug into recovery. That was the day our chain-smoking neighbor told us that Antonella had decided not to walk all the way to her kiosk. Instead, she laid down on the railroad tracks and waited for release from this world.  

Now, that kiosk is a sad landmark for me. It serves as a reminder to be kind to the people who I encounter as I go about my life. Though the events may unfold in a way that looks like the perfect story, you never know what’s going on in the background. I think about the nameless actors and extras making cameos in my home video sometimes. It’s so clear now that not everyone gets their happy ending.  


Content Marathon

Assignment #1 

See assignment #2, assignment #3 and assignment #4 from the Content Marathon.

This story has been edited and enhanced since its original publication; read the second version here.

More about the author: Hannah Werntz.