The Catalyst

A Writing Teacher Writes (plus some writing prompts and recipes)

Free June 28, 2013

Filed under: Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 1:19 pm
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The prompts this time were:IMG_3197

That essential badness just oozes out of her

Don’t hang your shit on me

I’m floating alone here

Here’s what I wrote (inspired by Gay Pride 2013):


The freedom just oozes out of me, when we smoke those blunts and knock back an Absolut Citron Martini. Because on warm June days when the fog sticks to the bottom half of Sutro Tower, and the muscly men tank-top their way up Castro Street, it all starts to get a little crazy. What’s a gay boy to do?

I’m talking about a sense of letting go so delicious you can’t call it anything—not wild abandon, or superficial, or trivial—it’s freedom, baby, and we’ve been fighting for it all our lives: to love openly. To face the ugly menace of hatred, homophobia, and hetero-centric judgments about what’s normal and who’s deviant. We are marching up the street arm in arm, tipsy and light, celebrating this slice of freedom we call love (though everyone who hates us calls it a lifestyle).

We’re facing Rush Limbaugh and Reverend Phelps, who think Tinky-Winky from the Teletubbies is gay because he/she has a purple purse. We’re laughing, even though seeing the words God Hates Fags on a hand painted sign gives us the fucking creeps. And they call us perverted? Bitches, please!

It’s a bright afternoon; people are pouring out of the theater (built in 1922), showcasing the largest LGBT Film Festival in the world. Guys on guys and gals on gals, y’all, on the big screen. And we’re heading to a club to dance our way through this afternoon in the semi-dimness under a flashing disco ball. The sliding front windows let in the light, and we start moving around the floor, dreaming of days gone by when this place was called The Phoenix, or The Pendulum, when Donna Summer took us down that road (TGIF, sister-friend), or Thelma Houston, hell, even Madonna, with her squeaky little baby boy beats. I know you’re gonna take your love and run, but no one is running now.

And we’re not in some basement bar late at night, not underground or living in fear of police raids, our young faces splashed on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow: Homosexuals Exposed! We’re free now, even though we know some of the cops might still bash us if they have the chance, or let us be bashed while they stand by. But we don’t have to wear wigs and throw bricks anymore (but thank you drag queen forefathers for being so Stonewall Brave).

We’re still paving the way past bigotry and exclusivity, we continued to say, “I do,” when DOMA said we don’t. Tell me, how can you sleep at night until every tranny is free, until parents stop throwing their thirteen-year-old kids out into the streets for being brave enough to openly say, “I’m gay.” Thirteen years old? On the fucking street?

We’re dancing on a Sunday when we should be brunching, or doing homework, housework, yard work, preparing for work on Monday, because there’s got to be acknowledgement of this freedom to be you and me, a miracle, really, that we find each other this way over and over again, and love ourselves in the bright daylight. That freedom is what gives us permission to dance indoors, on a day like this, slightly tipsy and light, you and me, free.


It’s Never Too Late June 21, 2013

Filed under: Grief,Vignettes,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 1:10 pm
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The prompts this time were generated from a list exercise. (For a detailed description of list exercises, click here).

The titles of these two lists were, “It’s too late,” and “It’s never too late.”

They produced some surprising results.

As we read our phrases around the room, I wrote down these three:   8560122671_61dd7b0a1e_z

It’s too late to spend time with your dead parents

It’s never too late to talk to the dead

It’s never too late to learn that lesson (again)

Try the list exercise, and see what you come up with. What I wrote is below.


It’s never too late to spend time with your dead parents. It’s true. Just last week I had a conversation with Pop—dead three years now—about carrots. I was perusing a bright orange stack of loose ones at Whole Foods when I heard him say what he always said about carrots.

“Get the nice thin ones; they’re tender.”

“I know Pop,” I answered back silently. “but I want to quarter them for crudité, so I’m getting the big fatties.”

Mom doesn’t show up much these days, except as a guest star in my dreams. Gone are the days when she haunted me, a gaunt figure in soiled bed clothes, or worse, naked. Now she lies on the bedspread with me, her pretty salt and pepper shag propped up on her hand, bent elbow, and laughs with me, tells me she likes my writing.

Even Dean, my dearest, departed friend comes around when I really need him, a gaily deceased Dr. Bombay.

“Please shine some light on this,” I begged him recently, after surviving yet another disappointing first date.

“Go buy yourself a beer,” I heard him say. And though my recent battle of the bulge forbids it, I took myself to Daddy’s Saloon and ordered an Amstel Light. Ten minutes later a handsome Argentinian kept telling me how beautiful I am, over and over and over.

Okay, Dean. I got the message. Thank you.

All these conversations with the dead have led me to write about baking with them and stirring their risotto in a memoir cookbook that has ironically led me to write about loved ones who are still very much alive.

These lessons I keep learning about love; I feel lucky to still be learning them.

Remember this moment, I tell myself, as my best friend exits from the plane, bleary-eyed from the twelve-hour flight.

So many people to help you to see yourself; so many warm bodies still here, right now.


This is Water June 7, 2013

Filed under: Teaching,Videos,Writing Prompts + — Christopher P. DeLorenzo @ 2:34 pm
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A few prompts for you this time, plus a video that will inspire mindfulness.


Beach, beach, and more beach

What is it about sadness that can be so fulfilling?

He was a thrill seeker

My advice? Save the prompts for later, and watch the film now (it’s nine minutes, but worth every second).

While you’re floating in the space that the film leaves you in, take pen to paper, and see what comes out.

(Note: The film’s narrative is built around an excerpt from the late David Foster Wallace’s famous commencement speech.)