100 Days of Journal Prompts: Day 19

Each day, laptop and children permitting, I’ll share a prompt that’s been on my mind, and a few of my thoughts.

You are welcome to share your own perspective in the comments, or just journal it out!

Is there someone in my life who played a small part, but made a big difference?

Do you remember your teachers? A helpful conversation on the city bus?

The other day, I remembered the nurse who helped me feed my son when he was born.

He came out struggling to breathe and went on oxygen immediately.

I had lots of “liquid gold” pumped and ready to go by the time I got to see him, but he hated the idea of eating out of a syringe.

At 3 in the morning, when we were both exhausted – and he was very hungry – the sweetest nurse spent half an hour with me coaxing him to take the needed nutrients.

Once he caught up on the good stuff, it was smooth sailing.

But I will always remember that nurse.

So many people touch our lives for the moment, for the better, and for good.

Thank you to everyone who goes unrecognized for the small acts that make a big difference.

Who do you wish you could say “thank you” to today?

❤ Jenny

4 thoughts on “100 Days of Journal Prompts: Day 19


    I know I’ve told bits and pieces of some of this in my blog, but I don’t remember what you have and haven’t heard. I’m going to use the usual pseudonyms from the DLTDGBverse.

    I have a name for someone who played a small part in one’s life but made a big difference: a Kurtz figure, after Kurtz from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The AP English test has three essay questions; two of them are based on something they give you to read, and the third one they give you a topic and you’re expected to write about some well-known work of literature that you have studied that applies to that topic. They give you a list of recommended works (probably stuff the writers of the test had in mind when they thought of that topic), but you are not required to write about something from that list. My teacher spent a lot of time on Candide, The Stranger, and Heart of Darkness, because he said in 13 years of teaching that class, he always asks the students what the essay question was, and every essay question he has seen on that test can be done with one of those three works. Furthermore, he said, 12 of the 13 years the question could be answered with Heart of Darkness alone, so we studied that one extra hard. When I got to that page on the test, I read the question, and it was something like “Write about a character who appears only briefly, or not at all, but has a major influence on the plot.” I was excited to see that, because Heart of Darkness was actually on the list of recommended works, so I just happened to be extra-well-prepared for that question. And since English was always hard for me, I was more proud of the 4 I got in AP English than I was of the 5s I got on the AP Tests in math, biology, and Spanish. (In a recent blog post, I mentioned that I only had to take one of the three required writing classes at UJ, and this is why; a grade of 4 or 5 on AP English waived the other two required classes.)

    Early in my senior year of high school, I was taking a break from working on our Homecoming float, and this (for lack of a better word) “popular girl” named Jennifer Henson started talking to me, asking how I was doing and stuff like that. I wasn’t exactly part of the in crowd, but I knew some people from the in crowd because we’d had classes together… but what was unusual about this is that Jennifer wasn’t one of those people. I knew who she was because everyone did, but we had never had a class together, and she had never talked to me before, and all of a sudden that night out of nowhere she started acting like we were old friends. We really did get to be friends that year, particularly after we were both on the committee to plan the graduation ceremony, and I kind of wondered if she, you know, liked me, although I was too chicken to do anything about it. She was a good friend that year, though. But she moved away abruptly that summer, and I never got to say goodbye. I wrote a short novel based on my senior year of high school, and in that novel I said that the character based on Jennifer (her name was Rebecca in the novel) was my Kurtz, only appearing briefly in the plot of my life but having a big impact.

    Related story: my current bicycle is named Rebecca, after this fictional character. In the novel, the character based on me actually does go on a date with Rebecca at the end (that didn’t really happen), but for most of the novel he has a different love interest that doesn’t work out. The last time I was bicycle shopping, in 2008, my bike at the time, named Schuyler II, was broken beyond repair, and the bike I thought I was going to buy, which would have been Schuyler III, was no longer available after the guy from the bike shop (that shop has since closed) pulled a shady bait-and-switch on me. So I got a bike somewhere else, and I named it Rebecca, because of how the character wants to get together with some other girl but ends up with Rebecca. I’m currently thinking about getting a second bike and keeping Rebecca as a backup since she’s getting kind of old and beat up (she’s in the shop currently, in fact). I will continue the pattern of naming bikes after love interests in my fictional works, so my next bike is going to be Haley (assuming I buy a new bike in the next year or so, during the time that Haley is still the love interest in DLTDGB). (Also, the bike I have currently in DLTDGB is the original Schuyler, but she did not acquire that name yet at the point where I am in the story; I’ll tell that story eventually when I need filler, because it’s a great story.)

    I cut out one major storyline from DLTDGB that happened in real life. I had a pen pal from Michigan named Hilary; I met her in a chat room on AOL the summer that I got that computer, a few months before leaving for UJ, but she had to stop using email so we started writing actual letters. We lost touch midway through sophomore year, and I never knew why, although it was probably just natural causes; by the time of her last letter, she was busy applying for colleges (she was two years younger than me), and she had a serious boyfriend. The reason I never told that story in DLTDGB is because I already wrote a novel about being in my 30s and finding her old letters in a box in the garage, and trying to track her down as an adult. This novel (“Writing to Hilary”) alternated between the 90s and 2014. I won’t spoil it in case you ever want to read it, so I won’t say whether or not I found her, but I cut that side plot out of DLTDGB because I had already written about it. And some of the memorable moments in DLTDGB already appeared in WTH anyway (specifically, the time I threw the box at Sarah, hide and seek in the Death Star building, and the diagram Janet drew for me), which always kind of bothered me, but if I want to be true to myself I can’t really change that.

    In real life, Hilary and Haley have the same first name (which is neither Hilary nor Haley), and my last letter from Hilary came just a few days before the night I met Haley. I always thought that was funny, like maybe I can only have one friend at a time with that name. But that’s not entirely true, because I met two more Internet friends with that name who I was in touch with at the same time in the early 2000s.

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