This is a submission in our monthly contest. October's theme is Determination On my knees digging around for 50 ml minis of Smirnoff vodka while an anxious customer waits for them behind me, just slightly too close for comfort, I realize how fortunate I am. I also realize how I’ve reached a point of determination like never before. Time is also flying like never before. Like the way our parents said time would fly when we were young and days lasted forever. But the thoughts of good fortune that popped into my head while on my knees in my old brown corduroy pants had nothing to do with my weekly paycheck or my great coworkers and boss. Because I know that’s more than many people have. It has nothing to do with my good health or incredible friends or my bond with my husband or the gift of my daughter. It’s something else. I have a passion for writing. For telling stories. The funny, the sad, and the in-between. I never feel more alert and content than when I’m stringing words together. Hokey, right? But true. It wakes me up on my most dragging days. I look forward to it like a promising date – a date you think could have potential. The kind of date when you can’t wait to see what his kisses are like. As I dug around for the 50 ml mini bottles of vodka for this too-close-for-comfort guy with cigarette stink coming off him, my pissed off inner work ethic kept yelling at me, “Get up off the f’ing floor!” In retaliation, I just write. I give into “the compulsion to scribble” as my friend Deb called it once. She also told me to keep going. To write without fear and just keep going. Knowing that I have the outlet of my keyboard to look forward to keeps me plowing through the passing hours. That’s where the fortunate part comes in. I consider myself so lucky to have this urge. I can’t imagine not having a passion for something. Anything. It doesn’t have to be tangible. It doesn’t have to produce a finished something. It can just be the act of doing it. Dancing. Acting. Reading. Knitting. Drawing. Teaching. Comforting. Cooking. Gardening. I used to do some writing for my job. I wrote wine descriptions, and I think I was pretty good at it. I used fun descriptors that customers enjoyed, laymen and snobs alike. I had one wine I used to sell by describing it as the Willy Wonka wine because it reminded me of the Everlasting Gobstopper. Like the gum that Violet chewed until she turned into the blueberry pie, this wine had layers of flavor as you drank it. “Willy Wonka Wine” said it all, and I found it very effective. One day I wrote the phrase “Christmas fruitcake” to describe a wine (actually the words of the winemaker), and the wine world screeched to a halt. Or at least mine did. Flavors of nuts, raisins, toffee, dried fruits, and spices placed under an umbrella term that everyone understood turned out be an insult to the powers that be. So I was told I could no longer write about wine. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I got really angry. And hurt. And angry again. Then slowly, the mention of the word “fruitcake” simply became a joke. Almost like how the mere mention of the names Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin became the joke. (Quick but important side note: Corporate politics and strange bedfellows is really what caused me to lose the writing duties. Not my ability. Not my knowledge. Not even the mention of Christmas fruitcake.) I turned lemons into lemonade. Fermented grapes into wine. Day old bread into bread pudding. I was more driven than ever to write since now it was limited only to my off hours. So, thank you to the jackass who took that away from me. It’s cool. You’ve given me a running joke for the rest of my days. And who doesn’t like a joke? You’ve reminded me of my childhood dream to write – ever since I wrote that descriptive essay about a pencil that blew Mrs. Kelly’s mind in second grade. I can still remember how proud my mother was after that parent/teacher conference. She smiled down at me, holding a copy of the essay in her hand. Like my friend Deb, she told me to keep writing. My boss (not the aforementioned jackass) came into work two days after Christmas and handed me a solid square of tin foil. Inside was a piece of fruitcake. The joke is there. And the support is, too. That piece of fruitcake practically screams, “Don’t let ’em get you down!” From the too close stinky guy waiting for his vodka to the corporate bullshit, don’t let them take your passion, people. If you are fortunate enough to have a passion, keep going. Without fear.