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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)

TITLE: Oh, Dear Gabby . . .


Draft for Gabriella Barnett’s Column: 09/09

Note to Editor: Hey, Mark—got several irate readers who want to know how I could espouse feminist/pro choice ideology and then decide to bring my own pregnancy to term.

Here’s one letter and a draft of my response—let me know what you think.


Dear Gabby,

I couldn’t believe your column in todays paper. So you find yourself pregnant—unplanned—no husband—don’t need one, YET your keeping your baby and are extremely happy and excited about the prospect.

Where is the advice you gave me last year?

I even had a man who loved me, who wanted to marry me. Chris wanted our baby too. You should of calmed my fears instead of fueling them. Why didn’t you tell me to quit being selfish and that it was time to grow up? That money wasn’t the only thing in raising a child? That lots of parents were clueless in the beginning?

I cry every day over the ultrasound pictures you told me to ignore when deciding.

Every day I imagine what might have been, but never again will I be fooled by someone like you.

Misled with an Empty Bassinet

Dear Misled with an Empty Bassinet (MWAEB),

I can see where you might be confused as my previous words are drastically slightly juxtaposed to my current course of action. It is clear, though, that our situations are radically different.

When you first wrote to me as “Woman with a Dreadful Secret,” you expressed concerns about the father's ability to financially support a family as he was a plumber in training. You described your shifts at Perkin's as unreliable, your love life as complicated, your finances as muddled, and your personal life as too selfish to own a hamster (never mind sustaining a tiny, blubbering human being).

Obviously, I’m in no such predicament.

I, MWAEB, am a single, independent woman with a two-bedroom condo and a small dog. I’ve nearly paid off my college loans and have owned my car free and clear for the last eighteen months. I have a master’s in psychology and children tend to respond well to me if I happen to bump into one in a department store. I’ve had numerous a couple of long-term, committed relationships in the last fifteen years; ergo, I understand how to bond with people. I have enough important dinner parties to justify using my “good” china at least five times a year.

I own and utilize a juicer for Pete’s sake.

The fundamental difference between our situations is simply that kismet has dealt me a lifestyle conducive to parenthood at this juncture. I’ve never advocated that upon learning of pregnancy, one should automatically opt to terminate. No, dearest. My party line has staunchly remained that one should thoroughly examine the situation at hand and decide which option is the more manageable loving and merciful.

It’s no great mental leap to understand that tossing a baby into a whirlwind of pre-existing human strife is a detriment to his already fragile psyche. This is how we’ve managed to cultivate a generation of manic second-graders whose eyes we glaze with Ritalin. Is that what you wanted, MWAEB? To spend the next eighteen years of your life peevishly excusing yourself from your greasy tables at Perkin's to accept calls from your child’s principal asking why Timmy keeps sticking his gum in Rachel’s hair, whilst your sleazy manager threatens to cut your shift if you’re late to work one more time?

I didn’t think so.

Sadly, in this society, the individuals who are astute enough to differentiate between those capable and incapable of child-rearing are far too often the ones who have calculated their lives so carefully that they have (wisely) not budgeted any time for such things until at least age 35.

So dear, it’s not that you should never be a parent.

Perhaps just not right now.

Best To You,


Hey, Mark—I'll be back to the three-letter format Monday. BTW, didn’t hear from you last night. Figured after I sent you the ultrasound pictures there’d be no keeping you away—Deborah, or no Deborah. Maybe you didn’t get them. I can resend. But whatever. Did some research—did you know being a single mom is comparable to buying a house come tax season? This bundle of joy and I should go pretty far.

Also, I made an effort to avoid those dangling participles you complained about last month.

Hope you noticed.


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This article has been read 783 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour08/27/09
WOW. I'm not even sure how to respond. Extremely creative and I became quite perturbed with the liberal ideology of Gabby, but I that means you wrote very well to evoke emotion! Well done!
Bryan Ridenour08/27/09
I should have been deleted in the above :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/27/09
This story does an amazing job of "showing"--not "telling" about the MC. Poor Gabby--no more prepared for motherhood than MWAEB, and certainly deluded if she thinks her editor-lover will ever leave his wife for her. There is so much to read between the lines in this excellently written story.
Chely Roach08/27/09
Ohhh, some saucy satire! Fantastic message in a clever package...
Love it!
Helen Dowd08/29/09
I'm sorry. Maybe it's my age, but I just didn't understand this entry. Now my question is--to no one in particular--is it better to comment on an article that is above one's head, even if she doesn't understand it? Or is it best to just read it and say nothing? It is always encouraging to me to see comments. And it doesn't matter to me if they aren't always positive. That's how a writer grows. But in your case, you are in Master's. I am in only Advanced, so you are more intelligent than I am; thus, I guess, that's the reason this entry just went over my head. God's blessings...Helen
Emily Gibson08/30/09
There are many levels to this one, requiring us to dig a bit deeper to find the core of this woman's newly found acceptance of her pregnancy. Cleverly composed and written.
Ada Nett08/31/09
First reading I was a little confused...Second reading i heard a click and it all fell into place. Quite a clever way to connect to this challenge topic!
Pat Guy 08/31/09
Wow. How well you show the delusion of one's supposed superior intellect. Especially by a journalist! A job well done. (really) A stretch of the topic maybe, but creative, entertaining and true to the mark. Excellent!
Mona Purvis08/31/09
I read this a couple days ago and felt at odds with the MC. So, I think I understand Helen's comment. But, I read it again and stopped to realize what a brilliant piece of writing it is.
Sometimes, as the reader we want a lovable MC. We want them to agree with our way of thinking. So, in a piece like this it is easy to take issue with the MC. I just can't stand her. But, I'm thinking...neither does the writer.
So leaves me thinking, "where does she get off giving advise when her life is in such a mess?"
One to talk about.
Mona Purvis08/31/09
Connie Dixon08/31/09
Loved this. Loved getting inside Gabby's head through her subtle edits. Very creative.
Gregory Kane09/01/09
You have certainly stirred up a hornet's nest with this one! I think it's very clever and rather brave too. I particularly like the way you have used the strikethrough effect to contrast between what she thinks and what she's willing to say. I'm not surprised, mind, that some people just don't get it!
Tallylah Monroe09/01/09
This is clever.

My problem with this is not the content but the voice of Gabby. It does not feel authentic or consistent to me.

Definitely out of the box!
Karlene Jacobsen09/01/09
I right away didn't like Gabby. She is brash, judgmental, prideful, and whatever else you want to put in the blank. However at the end, her final note shows she really doesn't have it all together, in fact maybe the classic "You doth protest too much" is going on. Hurting people hurt people, misery loves company, etc...

Very controversial, but there are people like that out there.
Joni Andrews 09/01/09
Very original idea.

I was wondering if the use of "your keeping" instead of the proper "you're keeping" was intentional. Same question about "should of" instead of "should have"

Smart title.
Pamela Kliewer09/01/09
A well written piece... controversial, yet brave entry.
Jan Ackerson 09/02/09
An awesome, intelligently written entry for the discerning reader! Once just has to shake one's head at Gabby and at the people who think like her. I want to be able to write like you when I grow up.
Mariane Holbrook 09/02/09
I have a feelling you're going to be surprised at how this places! While your content may have left more quesions than answers, there's no denying the brilliance of your writing skills. You're GOOD!
Sheri Gordon09/02/09
Wow, Lisa, this is incredible. To be able to create a character that you yourself loathe is amazing. You are an extremely talented writer, and I definitely admire your ability to step out of the box. Kudos to you. Please keep writing these pieces.
Corinne Smelker 09/02/09
Wow Lisa - you certainly did go way out of the box on this one! I am impressed, because I know this is not how you think or feel! Well done.

Sherrie Coronas09/02/09
There is creativity on top of creativity in this awesome piece. The notes to the editor and the little editing marks are revealing, indeed, as you intended them to be. A thrill to read. Thanks for helping me understand how a writer can take a weekly challenge to a whole new level.
Catrina Bradley 09/02/09
Oh, my goodness! Every word is perfect and perfectly placed, the tone and voice are perfect. I kept giggling while reading her response. Perfect sarcastic humor.

The ending - her note to her "editor" - wrenched me back to the serious desperation of her life.

Did I mention it's perfect? :)
Edmond Ng 09/02/09
A very creative piece with an unusual approach to draw the readers in!

The strikethrough text makes it totally believable and comprehensible of how a person writes and then corrects him or herself on second thought, much like the way a writer or editor does his or her work. Something I feel is lacking in the story which I believe will help put all things right for Gabby and MWAEB is to have God in the picture, especially in the planning for the unexpected. Too many people these days lay off their responsibility for what is unplanned, and this is truly saddening.

Your story gives a tuck at my heart to pray for people such as these. A powerful message in your story for the call of a moral perspective. God bless.

Kimberly Russell09/03/09
I'm a little speechless--had to go back and read it again. You're terrific!
Leah Nichols 09/03/09
Brilliant, brilliant! On every level, brilliant! I wish I had 1% of your creativity. I will not be surprised if this is a winner. ;)
Diana Dart 09/03/09
Fantastic. Nobody does it like you, Lisa - saucy and bold with a hefty dose of vitamin morals in there. Awesome!
Joshua Janoski09/28/09
So glad that I finally got around to reading this piece. We did both write on a similar subject for the birth topic. Yours was so much better though.

This is one of those satirical pieces that leaves you with something to seriously think about. Does one need to be completely established before they can be a parent, or does every child deserve to live no matter where their parents are at in life? Thought provoking, and I sure know my answer.

This has your wit and creativity written all over it. I second Jan. I wanna write like you when I grow up. :)