Upside-Down World


upside down hanging lamp

This is a short excerpt from a project I’ll be working on during the month of July for Camp Nanowrimo. This work currently has no name.  It will be a cross-genre work of fiction blurred with non-fiction, poetry, memoir, prose, stream-of-consciousness, epistolary forms.  And whatever else may work its way in there.


Upside-Down World
by Debi


Friends become enemies. Lovers, exes. Families, estranged. What the hell’s happening? The world is upside-down. My world is upside-down.

I’d lie on my back, hang my head down over the edge of the bed—down over the edge of the world—and the ceiling of my childhood home became the floor. The floor, the ceiling.  Magic.  This was Upside-Down World. A charmed world peopled by people similar to my people. But altered. Different. Stronger. Bolder. I was younger. Ceiling Girl older.

Upside-Down World was sparse. The only décor, an occasional floor lamp (the hanging lamps of right-side up world). The floor (my ceiling) was white, flowing-from-room-to-room. White. Always the same. Uniform. Level. Steady. I sensed something serene about those sparsely furnished and simply colored ceiling spaces. I knew nothing of Zen. But felt the truth. Less was more.

Lying on my back in this house, this home of my grownup years, the ceiling’s slanted. Unsteady. Yes. So is grownup life. No level surfaces. No easy answers. No sure footing. An upside-down world.

Dear Ceiling Girl …

You’ve watched. What did you see? What do you see? Does it make sense? You’ve followed me forever, looking down. A witness. Seen the highs. The rockbottomness of rockbottoms. Can you trace the path, the twisted journey, that led here? I’m lost. I’m here, but lost.  Confused.  I miss the surety of childhood’s future. The hopes. Dreams. Imaginations. Magic. Witchcraft. Wishcraft.

Are you still there, Ceiling Girl? Or did this upside-down world shake your footing, too?

~Me


Technological Autobiography: My Life with Home Appliances


My Life with Home Appliances

by Deborah Taylor-Hough


“Technology serves as a Rorschach over a lifetime, a projective screen for our changing and emotionally charged commitments.”[1]  – Sherry Turkle, Inner History of Devices


my freezerBack in the days before modern appliances, the work of keeping up a home was a full-time job.  From the need to replenish meats and vegetables on almost a daily basis due to a lack of safe food storage options, to washing clothing and diapers at the riverside, housekeeping was a never-ending chore.   I will examine the history of modern work-saving devices, looking at how the development of these items saves time and effort, focusing on stories from my own life and my family’s history and also discuss the role of appliances in the liberation of women from the solitary role of housewife. Continue reading

Experiment: An American Story


by Debi


My first word was boat.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot their family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot their family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father was a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the Coast from Coos Bay near the spot where the family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth whose ancestor was a second son of royalty who came across the North Sea from Sweden.

My first word was boat as my grandmother pointed to their wooden yacht upon which my father as a boy traveled to Alaska where his father had been a fisherman like his father before him in Anacortes where the family settled after moving up the coast from Coos Bay near the spot where the family landed after sailing the Plains in a Prairie Schooner who were descended from Puritans who crossed The Pond on the second boat to Plymouth whose ancestor was a second son of royalty who came across the North Sea from Sweden who was descended from Vikings who circled and settled the Norwegian Sea from Norway to Iceland to Scotland to Ireland and possibly Greenland and even America.

My first word was boat.


Writing Prompt: Where would you be if you hadn’t left your hometown?

This resembles the landscape in my recurring dream.

This resembles the landscape in my recurring dream.


Where would I be if we hadn’t moved? Who would I have been if we had stayed? I’m not sure I would’ve been alive for long.

Moving bought me time. Time to live a life removed from the places and people of childhood. Away from bullies and abusers. Away from those who still haunt my dreams and waking moments.

But then, no escape. Nowhere to run.

Bullied at school. Bullied on the street. Those ever grasping, groping hands in back lots and clubhouses. Insanity at home. Everywhere I turned, I saw only myself and my screaming face of desperation—like being trapped inside a dead-end House of Mirrors.

Let me out! Let me out! But no one hears. No rescue comes.

Help me? Please?

No. Hush, child.

A child left in the care of mental illness. They were blind. Deaf. Dumb. Numb to normal feelings.

The recurring, on-going dream of my childhood was about being buried alive. By my family. Every night. Every night beginning where it left off the night before. The nightmare that perhaps told the story of my childhood.

It went like this:

For far too many nights, tied down in a cart full of hay. Pulled by an old horse. Up and up and up and up the winding unpaved cart path.

Past the homes of friends, homes of family. Past the school, the shops, the weathered farms. To a field of grass and flowers. And a gaping grave.

They took me down from the cart, setting me quietly into the hole in the ground. Throwing clods onto my tiny child body. No! Stop! Please? Please don’t! Was I unable to make a sound? Or were they unable to hear? Or did they choose to continue despite the pleas and cries.

They were silent. Ever serious.

One handful. Another. Covering my legs. My tiny torso. My arms and hands. My face. The dirt collected in my ears, my mouth, my eyes, my nose.

The earth is cold and smells of damp. Smells of earthworms. Beetles. Clover. Grass tufts. The silence covers, envelopes, crushes me.

The lens of my dream retreats from inside my earthen grave. New scene: My family all walking away back down the hill. Silently.

The shot pans through the grim parade. The parents. Grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Single file. Returning from the hill.

The shot pans once more. See the empty field? A freshly dug space, no larger than a child. A view of the mountains. The soft touch of gentle breezes on wisps of grass and weeds.

The dreams ended then. The burial was complete, haunting my waking and dreaming moments.
For the rest of my life.

Who would I have been if we hadn’t moved? Still buried. Still silent. Still watching.

Without leaving, there would have been no future. No me. There is nothing to see or imagine in that alternative timeline.

It would have been

The End.

There are Places I Remember

51rkz0q2f7lby Debi

My parents didn’t move far from Yarrow Point where Dad grew up. They bought a cozy little house on Clyde Hill and settled in to raise their little family. So I came of age in what I call Retro Bellevue—now home to upscale shopping malls, expensive condos, conference centers, and towering buildings.

Back in my day, however, I referred to Bellevue as the City of Short Buildings. Even calling Bellevue a city seemed a stretch back then. The town felt more like Mayberry. Us kids wandered the streets, walked to corner stores, rode the ferris wheel at Kiddyland, and drank root beer floats with our moms at Newberry’s lunch counter. There were monkeys in the window of Nordstrom Shoes, a raccoon cage in the middle of the roller coaster, and a drinking bar for watering all the free-roaming dogs outside Frederick & Nelson’s north entrance at The Square. Continue reading

“You Knew What You Were Getting Into”

by Debi

My dad’s family were hunters. My mom was repulsed by the bloody impulse that overtook her new family each autumn. Any time Mom expressed her feelings, my grandmother would say, “You knew what you were getting into when you married into this family.” So my mother usually kept quiet, shuddering on the inside while her in-laws hung that season’s kill to bleed in the barn.

I grew up in that environment. Going to my family’s property in North Central Washington was a beautiful trip I looked forward to, but the gore and bloodshed during Hunting Season was more than I could handle. A sensitive child, it upset me to look into the dead eyes of such magnificent creatures.

When feeling particularly frustrated with my latest crying jag, Grandma would sometimes confuse me with my mother, and she’d tell me it was my fault for choosing to be part of this family. Really, Grandma? I don’t remember choosing which womb to bring me forth.

Eventually my dad and grandparents stopped taking me with them to the family’s cabin during Hunting Season. A child wailing loudly over the death of Bambi’s mother or father evidently wasn’t conducive to enjoying the family’s favorite blood sport.

You knew
what you were getting into
when you chose
to be part of this family.

How My Folks Met

front yard

My grandparents front yard on Yarrow Point looking across Yarrow Bay to the Lake Washington Shipyards. The Kalakala ferry was being worked on at the time of this photo.

by Debi

My parents married in September (I think), but the anniversary they celebrated was the day they met. Opening Day of boating season. I always thought that was romantic and sweet, which is a bit ironic because “romantic” and “sweet” aren’t words I’d ever use to describe my parents. Or their relationship. I knew them when they were older and settled, however, and no longer the romantics they evidently were in their youth. Continue reading