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Savory Sam Workshop Essays

Posted on Mar 30, 2011 by in Salon Blog |


The first Savory Workshop with Samantha Dunn contained tremendous breakthroughs and they dove deep. Below is a fun sampling of some of the students’ pieces from the workshop.

Come join us Saturday, October 22, 2011 at The InkSpot for a Personal Narratives reading, along with a reading and interview with Sam Dunn. Click here for more details from San Diego Writers, Ink

Letter of Protest to Change
by Donna Marganella

Dear Change:

Enough already. I’ve been tap dancing for years trying to keep up with you. Give me a break. I’m tired. I’m ready to slow down and not have to deal with you for once. Stop it with the new stuff.
Hey, here’s an idea. How about I get to pick the day, date, moment, nanosecond when things start to go south or where ever the hell you’re going to drag me to next? How about I pick the song we’re going to dance to for once? How about I get to change the goddamn record when I’m good and goddamn ready? Give it a shot. Try it. Isn’t that what you’re always telling me? Roll with the punches. Go with the flow. Just deal with it. Yeah, you give that shit a try for once and see how you like it. What’s that you say, Change? You can’t help it? This is how it goes? You’re the only constant? Whatever, dude. You can just dance your inevitable ass right on out of here. Seriously. Go. Leave me alone. Drop in on somebody else for once.
OK, so maybe you’re not in charge of the timing thing. I get it and I know you’re headed my way, but just take it easy this time. Let up on the throttle. Maybe provide some gradual transitions, one step at a time instead of pushing me down the stairs again. That shit hurts. Please don’t shove me like before, at least not until I’m ready. OK? Just give me a minute.
What do you mean, “That’s not how it works.”? I asked nicely and you can’t even meet me halfway? You’re such a bitch.


Letter of Protest to Tourists
by Silver Lady

Dear Tourists,

Get the hell our of my God Damn town! There are NO places to park and why would you think there were? When you pay the almost $10,000 a year in taxes on this little pile of boards, then you’ll deserve to park in front of it. Why should I have to walk a block carrying my groceries, books and tennis bag to get into my own house? If you are one of the many restaurant workers and drive a better car than my little tin can, take the God Damn Bus.
Tourists: Why do you think you may wander at a snails’ pace across Glennerye? It’s quitting time and us little worker bees want to get home and you are strolling across the street as if you’re on vacation which I am NOT! The earplugs in your ears are not hearing the screaming coming from inside the Miata “MOVE IT AH”.
Tourists: With the cameras slung around your neck, the fanny pack, and the paleness of your skin kinda clash with the “Laguna Beach” pastel sweatshirt you bought in all colors to take home to the kids. We don’t need any more Damn T-shirt, souvenir shell shops. Where are the decently priced dress shops? I thought with the burn down of “Indian Summer” probably done by some damn tourists cigarete no less, would ever return. Really Tommy Bahama in Laguna? What are they trying to do? Turn us into Newport Beach?
Tourists: Keep your sophisticative, agrumentative, East Coast pushiness at the city limits. If you can’t leave your attitude there…GO HOME

P.S. Magic happens when writer’s write. Sam will lead you into your greatest work. Listen as she weaves the magic.

Letter of Protest to God of Travel
by Maryann Gray

Dear God of Travel,
Would it be too much to give me the occasional free upgrade? Never once have I heard the words, “We are full in coach, but we have a lovely seat for you up in first class. May I take your coat and pour you a glass of champagne?” No, I get the seat that doesn’t recline, with the dirty tray, the sagging magazine pocket, and the burned out light bulb.
You are not so trite as to seat me next to crying babies. You seat me next to beautiful young couples who have packed delicious homemade meals – sandwiches cut in neat quarters, crunchy grapes, and soft oatmeal raisin cookies that they graze on throughout the entire flight. I must turn away to hide the naked longing on my face – longing for their youth, their beauty, their love, and most of all their cookies.
It’s the same story in hotels, Oh God of Travel. Why do I get the room that looks out on the roof with the air conditioning unit that hums all night? Why do I discover at midnight when I’m pleasantly drunk and ready for bed, which means I’m wearing a twenty-two year old Dallas Cowboys T-shirt and sweat socks, that forty or fifty termites have shed their wings on my pillow? And why, instead of moving me to the Presidential suite because it is the only other room available, am I moved to a smaller, meaner room, because it is the only other room available?
I know I should be grateful. You’ve kept me safe. I haven’t found a dead body in a hotel room or flown to Portland Maine instead of Portland Oregon. But when the GPS falls off the dashboard of my rental Ford Fusion just as I’m merging onto the freeway, I must register my discontent.



Letter of Protest to Singleness
by Megan Ross

Dear Singleness,
People always tell me how much I should appreciate you, how blessed I am to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it without having to think about anyone else. How I get to call the shots. How I have more time on my hands now than I would ever have if I were married. I wonder if people who say this actually realize how busy I keep myself. How marriage is hard and not even close to the fairy tale they assume I’m imagining it to be.
“Of course it’s hard!” I want to scream. “Life is hard. I am not afraid of hard things.”
They tell me that to be single is a gift. Well, dear Singleness, you are a gift I would like to return, to exchange for marriage. As I watch my younger sister, four years into her marriage and three months pregnant with her first child, I can’t think of you as a gift, dear Singleness. Watching Brenna getting to experience the desires of my heart is often more than I can bear.
Forget what people say about you, dear Singleness. I see your other side, the one that bites and punches and kicks, the one that makes me hate you. I see the looks of pity I get from family members who know I want a family of my own, the fear in their eyes that I will never make it to the next logical phase of life. I hear the remarks of co-workers who see me light up when a baby, any baby, enters the room, knowing that I want to hold that baby and will do just about anything to be able to get my fix.
“Megan’s the baby whisperer.” they coo.
“Oh, you better be careful or Megan will grab that baby right out of your hands!” they tease.
“She may even take him home with her!” they remark dramatically.
I endure yet another conversation with Mom or Aunt or co-worker about the guy they want to set me up with, you know, that good Christian boy they just met ten minutes ago. I cringe as Aunt Debbie, a woman in her late fifties, who never married, despite her desires, tells me how much of herself she sees in me and that I need to make different choices or I’ll end up just like her. I brace myself for another visit with Grandma Bunny, who, bless her heart, can’t remember a thing for more than two minutes.
“So, how’s Brenna’s boyfriend?” she asks.
“Grandma, Brenna’s been married for a few years now.” I try not to grit my teeth as I say it, knowing what’s coming next.
“So, are you married, yet?” she asks, always pleased with herself for asking this question, a coy smile playing on her lips, like you’re goading her on somehow, dear Singleness.
“No, not yet,” is always my reply. I say it, but I don’t know if I believe the yet part sometimes.
Grandma presses on. “Well, you’re still young. You’ve got time. Forever is a long time to be married.”
I wonder when she will stop telling me I’m young, that I still have time. I hope I’ll be married before that day comes.
Sometimes she’ll ask me more than once per visit if I’m married yet. Is this you taunting me, dear Singleness? Cuz I feel like it is, and you should stop it.
If you’re such a gift, dear Singleness, then why is it that so many of the people who tell me you’re a gift are happily married? I call your bluff. Stop tormenting me. Go spread your gift to someone else, to someone who wants it.


The Rule of Heterosexism
by Morgan McClaren

In our culture, it’s a given that the person to whom you are speaking, or the new friend you are meeting for the first time, is straight. Straight, as in not gay. We assume straightness. Heck, even though I’m incredibly crooked, I most of all embrace this assumption that our world is heterosexual. You can imagine that in my early 20’s I was shocked to discover that my father was gay. In my 30’s, I was more than shocked to find I, too, might be gay.
Even now, in my 50’s, I remain befuddled. Most of my young life, as a southern belle from Dallas, Texas, I went steady with boys, dated men. Even made a commitment to love and marry a man ‘til death did us in. Ultimately, it was his affair that parted us.
Besides, as an accomplished, professional, woman, why would I want to give myself a label that once again threatens my livelihood or separates me from the norm– the ubiquitous law of the land that implies that heterosexuals are “straight” and homosexuals are crooked, bent, broken. Whatever, just, not normal.
Look, I did my doctoral dissertation on social categorization and labeling. And here is what I know. As soon as you slap a label on someone, you’ve set up an in-group and an out-group and the catalyst for stereotyping and discrimination that can lead to hate crimes. I don’t want to die! And, I certainly don’t want to be marginalized or thrown around like a political football every time another election year rolls around.
So, yeah, screw labels, maybe I’m bisexual—or just queer or unique– one of those new words that the younger LGBT folks like to toss around in their ever expanding, limit pushing language of identification. In fact, because of my own deeply internalized homophobia and assumption that the entire world is straight, I find myself wanting others to get to know “me” in all of my complexity, creativity, and compassion before I reveal that I’m gay. I live with the illusion that I can pass or hide. But, maybe I can’t. Maybe since I’ve not lived for years on end with a man, I have unconsciously taken on the obvious mannerisms of a lesbian. God I hate that word “lezzzzbian”. Yep, maybe the way I walk, talk, sit, stand, or move gives it all away and the last laugh is on me.
Got it, why not toss out this struggle with sexual orientation all together. What I most identify with is my gender identity because, as I move in the world, I feel both feminine and masculine, androgynous and healthy, according to Sandra Bem’s gender research at Stanford. Why I might be an embodiment of the mythical goddess Artemis, always on the hunt, autonomously questing, never landing in just one spot. Truth is, I do like men. I am drawn to them. I’d just rather love and sleep with a woman. But when it comes to cohabiting, I’d rather live with a dog.

Wednesday Night, Salt Bay,TX
By Nancy Nygard

After the graveside service, his buddies from the plant softball team meet up at the Oasis club next to the Best Western and drink Lone Stars and Jack & Cokes and talk about Donnie. Just a helluva nice guy. They huddle in a corner booth with ESPN raining down from overhead and take turns telling old yarns about their late friend — if you asked him to spot you ten, he’d slip you a twenty – while one man silently peels the damp label off a sweating long neck. They do not bring up dragging Donnie out of a bathroom stall in a pukey stupor at Ray Cantrell’s wedding reception or how he passed out in front of 50 guests at his son’s high school graduation barbeque in his ex-wife’s backyard or rehash all the second chances HR gave him before he was let go just 15 months shy of a pension. They ignore their wives’ repeated cell phone calls and start to argue about what year Donnie caught that nine pound striped bass out at Lake Rayburn until the lone bartender looks up from her Sudoku puzzle and says last call. And when the group finally makes their way out of the dank bar into the thick Gulf Coast darkness, someone curses the uneven crushed shell parking lot — you could break your goddamn neck out here — and they climb into their tricked-up trucks and SUVs, twist A/C knobs to max, and fall into a raggedy single file creep around potholes and broken bottles all the way up to the blacktop edge of Highway 35 where each vehicle makes a hard right and heads back towards town except for one man, the quiet one, who sits in his idling Silverado watching his co-workers’ pulsing brake lights bounce and then disappear.

A Letter Of Protest: To Beauty
By Ruth Roberts

We all want you, Beauty, you elusive creature, but where have you gone, where are you at? You used to hang out in the Ideal World with your PR agent, Plato, and your sisters, The Good, The True, and you at that time were called The Beautiful. All of you were looking good in your god-given form draped in diaphanous gowns, crowned with flower garlands, feasting on ambrosia and drinking nectar all day long. Sort of like the Supremes.
I’ll bet it was boring, looking down on earth all day, down in the cave where humans only got your shadows and had little idea what was going on.
And you had even less idea of what was going on with them. But then one day you got TV and quickly after that i-phones, and you could see and hear the crazy world below. You jumped down out of the clouds in a New York minute and ran off your separate ways.
Beauty, in the old days, in my nubile 20’s and 30’s you used to hang with me quite a bit, and I took advantage of you. Made my own sisters jealous and attracted a lot of men. Men, men, men. I ran around all the time.
That was then, this is now. I still believe in you, there are days you visit my face, just enough for me to keep the fantasy alive.
Other people advise me how to have more of you. Lose the glasses, throw those cut-off jeans away, that fuchsia is great on you, wear it more often. You look terrific, why don’t you fix up like this all the time?
My answer: it’s just too much damn trouble.
But I remember when it was easy. I still wonder, where have you gone, Beauty? And your sisters, where are they? I think I saw The Good at a Tea Party rally. She’s sure she’s right, very right. And I heard a rumor that The True lives in cyberspace, dishing out TMI, working her killer blog And Beauty, I got an email you were offering treatments at a New Age spa, not giving it away for free anymore, I see. You looked good on your U-Tube, tricked out, botoxed, nipped and tucked, living somewhere in Southern California.

Letter to Happiness
by Victoria Melekian

Dear Happiness:
You’re a slithery little thing, aren’t you? Wily and illusive. Fickle tease, you let me believe if only I had more money, more time, more wisdom – the whole litany. I worked hard. And not once, never ever did two bluebirds drape a beautiful cloak over my shoulders like that bitch Snow White got.
WTF, Happiness.
I worked harder. Fell under your seductive spell, those coy lures, it will be better when: the husband stops drinking, the mortgage is refinanced, I finish school, the kids are older.
I couldn’t find you so I looked elsewhere. Discovered self-esteem, fulfillment, learned to say what I mean and mean what I say, lived honorably.
Oh. There you are, fluttering in and out like sunlight through leaves. A breeze. Crystal glass, sometimes full.
It’s taken many years, Happiness. It’s nice to meet you.

Gratefully yours,