Friday, January 13, 2017

Coffee and Healing

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: Bitter ~ Rejuvenate ~ Winter ~ Sleep ~ Quiet ~ Dark

They were submitted by: http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Just to let everyone know, this isn't 100% autobiographical. I've never officially come out to family, and I haven't dated a woman seriously in a long time. My mental health issues are not nearly to this level either, but it's not hard to channel these feelings and put myself in place of this narrator. 

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Even with sweetener and cream, the coffee leaves a bitter taste on her tongue that makes her feel both alive and comforted in a way that nothing else can accomplish. Just the smell of her favorite brews wafting through the house relax her anxiety better than any pill has ever managed to do, better than all the years of therapy, all the hospital stays. Sometimes she thinks there must be something to that whole aromatherapy business--give her a hot mug of coffee even on the worst of days, and at least for a little while she transcends all the muck and stress and turmoil her brain puts her through. Her frazzled nerves are stilled, and she feels almost completely rejuvenated, whole. With a mug in hand, she’s not broken but slightly bent, still good to go if a little worse for wear.

This winter has been especially dark, darker than the unwanted swirl of grounds often left at the bottom of her mug. She’s been withdrawn, quiet. She hasn’t had good sleep in a couple months now worried about the future, about how she will get along in this new political climate. She’s lost touch with family after coming out, said goodbye to friends who, for reasons she will never understand, decided to back hatred this election. She watched in horror as person after person she thought she knew backed a candidate that expressed a desire to destroy her freedom to exist. It was too much, and her depression raised its ugly head after years of her being able to beat it back with medication and self-care. Those friends she didn’t feel she had to cut out of her life completely, she lost touch with because of her mental health issues, the she started alienating herself from a lot of her acquaintances and social media sites. She just couldn’t take the hatred anymore. If she didn’t take out time for herself, it was going to destroy her, and she had worked too long to beat back those demons to give up so easily.

So now she sits alone in her reading nook in front of the needs-to-be-cleaned bay window not really reading, not really doing anything but staring into space and drinking coffee. On good days, she showers and does a little yoga, gets the basics of the house clean, snuggles the cat and cooks meals for the week. On bad days, she just sits and worries about the next 4 years and the aftermath of them, how far the country will be set back when racism and xenophobia and homophobia are more acceptable than minding your own fucking business. On her worst days, she panics and screams and cries and smashes dirty dishes and cries some more and wallows in her emotions.

She knows she needs to do more, to get out there, and get back to life (whatever life is…), and she will. She has done it before, and she’ll do it again. But as inauguration day approaches faster and faster, she just doesn’t have it in her to fight right now. She’s too exhausted, too raw, and no matter how often she tries to see the good in the world, she circles right back to how backwards things seem to be moving, so she hides in her cocoon, her “bubble” as so many people would snarkily call it, and tries to exist in this new world where every bit of forward momentum she has felt in the last 8 years slowly crumbles around her.

Maybe tomorrow she will feel more like herself or maybe the next day. Whatever day it is, she refuses to let hate win in the long-term. She might be sitting here alone drinking her coffee this morning fighting nothing more than the tears that threatening to roll, but she won’t sit idly by while the country she loves is torn to shreds forever.

Soon, she thinks, and snuggles back into her throw watching the truck across the street park next to the huge Trump sign in his yard. Maybe she should start with destroying that shit.

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Here are the rest of the participants. Check them out and enjoy!

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2017/01/grey-hairs-and-antacids-use-your-words.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/2017/01/13/uyw/

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2017/01/chicken-cordon-blu-and-uyw.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Sparkly Poetic Weirdo http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On the Border http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2017/01/chicken-cordon-blu-and-uyw.html

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2017/01/use-your-words-face-off.html

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com


Friday, January 6, 2017

Birthday Research with the King

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Imagine it’s 1977. It’s January 8, Elvis Presley’s birthday. You have been chosen to have a dinner with him. Tell us all about your encounter!

It was submitted by: http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

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It’s actually pretty interesting that I got this prompt considering the ongoing novel I have been working on (and have stalled on) in my very limited amount of spare time has Elvis as a main focus. I wouldn’t exactly say he’s a character but more or less a plot tool. Of sorts. It’s complicated.

That’s not to say I’m exactly an Elvis fan.

He’s sort of hailed as the King of Rock, but he’d pretty much been influenced by others before him who didn’t have the privilege of being white and handsome. He didn’t know how to play the guitar all that well and many of his hit songs were either covers or written by someone else. He was, maybe, one of the first big pop music stars—he was a good looking, hip-gyrating frontman with a good voice who made it easy on the media to have a controversy without risking too much by covering the many, many, many minority artists who were actually creating music. Yes, he had a great sense of timing and rhythm, and yes, he was a pop culture influence, but overall, he profited off the pioneering work that other artists did. I don’t think that it was necessarily intentional, but it’s all too common a story.

Even outside of all that, I’ve never been much of a fan. The music doesn’t appeal and Elvis’ larger than life personality was not really my thing. He always said he was destined for great things, and I suppose he achieved that, but he was never really my cup of tea.

That being said, by January 1977, Elvis was pretty near the end of his road. He died in August of that same year, a heart attack caused by his lifestyle choices and a host of physical ailments. Between a fatty diet and an addiction to numerous prescription pain medications, it’s honestly surprising he lived as long as he did. So at that point, if the pills hadn’t made him completely incoherent, sitting down to dinner would be fascinating research for my book. I’d want to know everything he would tell me while studying his mannerisms and how he moved even when he was seated. Describing those things in book form without having seen more than a few youtube videos is difficult, and it’s something I really want to nail. The details draw you into a story more than anything sometimes. I mean, I guess that’s a matter of opinion. When I meet a fellow reader who, unlike me, isn’t a fan of Stephen King, it’s typically because his attention to meandering detail drives them mad more than anything else. But, for me, the details are important, and these details, to make the entire storyline something you’re willing to buy into for a time, can make or break the effort.

I want to ask questions about who he was in 1965 and ’66 and ’67. I want to know what changed him, what moved him, what made him sigh. I need to know how it felt being on that stage and if he ever felt like some sort of divine totem and why people still idolize him even now like he’s some sort of god. What I really want to know is what other people see in Elvis that I don’t quite get and how it is that this man captivated so many people for so damn long.

It wasn’t the sheer enormity of his talent for fuck’s sake.

Pop stars now have that same ability to charm and captivate, but not to the same degree, and that’s what I feel like I’m missing. Maybe it has more to do with modern society. I mean, we’ve seen it all at this point considering some of our biggest celebrities these days gained fame by being recorded having sex with other shitty people. Maybe we’re too desensitized to get swept up in someone the way people did over Elvis. Maybe we’re too critical and self-absorbed. But, being there, having that dinner could possibly answer that for me. 

So without further ado, here’s the first chapter to my book. Just in case you’re interested:

*********

We all have our Idols.

I reckon that's the best way to explain what happened Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. More so, it explains what has happened in the aftermath of what I've since named "Elvis' Return To The Building." It's Friday as I stand here in the cool of the night waitin’ in the line with the rest of them—I mean the whole damn town just about--for the Big Show. Three days have passed since Elvis graced us with his presence, and I'm still pretty clueless ‘bout what’s goin’ on ‘round here, but judging by how fast this line's movin' towards the entrance doors, I imagine I'll figure a few things out pretty soon. 

I have to say I don’t have a real good feelin’ ‘bout any of it, though. 

Here's what I know so far.

Every single radio station, television stations, pages on the internet that do live feeds....every media outlet possible broadcast The Return. I happened to be at work. I own a bar and keep a television on for the daytime patrons, The Regulars. The Regulars consist of two guys, Frank and Percy, who I ain’t likely to get rid of no time soon. We had the T.V. on Three's Company--the episodes when Suzanne Somers was still on. Frank and Percy were down at one end of the bar arguing over whether Jack's friend, Larry, was really a gay. That’s the way they talk or the way Frank talks. Percy don’t say much. By much, I mean he don’t say nothin’ at all and hasn’t since ‘fore I knew him. Now, I ain’t exactly educated, but you won’t hear me arguing with a mute ‘bout whether or not some fictional character on a long-gone television show is some kind of homosexual. And you surely won’t hear me refer to him as “a gay.” My mama raised me better than that. But, that’s Frank, and Percy’s just along for the ride it seems. 

Anyhow, the TV screen went black in the middle of a closeup of Somers and her school-girlish pigtails. She’s what you might call the essence of every dumb blonde joke, that Chrissy Snow. I was lookin’ at the screen thinkin’ how that schoolgirl thing she had goin’ on ain’t as appealin’ as it was meant to be not to me at least when "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" began to play. In the middle of the slideshow of schoolgirl types that was playin’ in my head, I thought, What is this bullshit? just before the screen showed a young Elvis descending onto a stage from the heavens. And when I say young Elvis, I mean 50s Elvis not bloated and sad 70s Elvis…not back from the dead, skeletonized, zombie Elvis either. This was the real thing if seein’ is believin’ as they say. The Elvis much of the country fell in love with way back when. 

"What the fuck s'wrong with the TV, Mack?"

"Can't be the TV, Frank," I'd replied. "Just bought the damn thing. Cost me 600 bucks down at Wal-Mart. Maybe it's the cable or the channel itself." I grabbed the remote and changed the station but every channel I flipped to played the same thing. I had flipped full circle and come back the original channel when the screen started to close in on Elvis while the music simultaneously quieted down.

"Aw, horseshit," I had yelled down the bar to Percy and Frank. "You guys into Elvis?"

"Naw, Mack, not since I was a kid. You?"

"Nope." I'd powered the thing off by then and walked over to the satellite radio hookup I had over behind the bar. I kept it on Sirius’s Classic Vinyl channel playing all the greats from Rock ‘n Roll history (no Elvis). Everyone seemed to like it just fine when we weren't in the mood for daytime television bullshit. But, as soon as I pushed the power button, Elvis' undeniable voice blasted through the speakers.

"Thank you. Thank you very much."

I'd heard no applause. But, of course, Elvis continued on.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I've got a whole lotta shakin' up to do tonight. I'm here to give you some news that may be hard to stomach at first. The King is back, folks. Ever since I was a kid, I knew God had something special in store for me. When I passed on to the heavens above, He asked me for a personal concert then told me how I was his son and that I'd return one day to this world to fulfill his plan. I'm here, folks, to do just that. The gospel foretold of this day. I am the King, as always, but I have returned to my people, my fans as Christ. I know there will be doubts, but as I have always said, truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away.”

The station went to silence then. Nothing I did to the radio or the T.V. would work. Every channel was static. In the thick quiet of the bar, I poured us all a shot of my best scotch. TV, radio, even the Internet from what I hear...none of it has worked since.

This line's movin' slower than I first thought or maybe my nerves is just gettin’ the best of me now. I’m a bit antsy—that kind where you pop every knuckle in your hand 15 times just to have something to do with yourself. I have no fucking idea what's going to happen, pardon my language. But, sitting at home tonight wasn't an option. That thing that looks like Elvis and is calling itself the messiah made that much pretty clear the second time we saw it. That was Wednesday morning at about 10:30. We were all waiting for it, really. With nothing else to entertain us, the stories had already gotten pretty wild. Of course, the crazies were already out in full force, too. The gossips, the newspaper, every customer, every whispered word held stories of what could be going on. It was really Elvis after a lot of plastic surgery. This is the one people who were sure he'd never died, The Elvis Spotters, were always going on about. Then there were The Invaders. These people were sure it was aliens. Jesus Freaks were divided. Some said God would never pick such a loose hipped rock star to represent Jesus, Lord and Savior. The real nasty ones referred to him more as a drug-fueled, egomaniacal demon sent to take the first born of every man in the county, but that’s a bit much, ain’t it? The other Freaks thought it was a comforting, modern image...and smart of God to use such a recognizable, trusted face. The Conspiracy Theorists decided it was a government experiment and then The Desperate Housewives with their Elvis memorabilia in the form of Russell Stover collectible tins and Ty Beanie Babies were ready to be led like sheep to a slaughter. Everyone else, which was just me, Frank, and Percy far as I could tell, just sort of waited on some answers.

Strange world we live in.

So, Wednesday at 10:30 in the a.m. Every television, radio, computer, even mp3 players and intercom systems announced another speech when they simultaneously began to play Elvis' version of Amazing Grace. Wasn’t a single one of them things on when it happened. Not in the bar anyway. But it happened anyway. We were all on the edge of our proverbial seats, though, right where that...thing...wanted us. And we all hung on every word. I know I did. Frank and Percy had their eyes glued to the television set from their end of the bar, too. We were caught up in the power of it, but who wouldn’t be?

He didn’t descend from the sky this time, but he did his routine of playing to the audience—that’d be us and whoever else was watchin’. He was wearin’ a leather suit like he did in the 1968 Comeback Special, but this one was white instead of black. His shirt was black and the tie was white with just a hint of twinkling sequins—that familiar Elvis flamboyance was there but slight. He took a knee at each end of the stage, waving and blowing kisses like an ass finally stopping in the middle and raising both arms making his suit jacket stretch and pull at the buttons. Behind him, a line of gentlemen stepped out from the shadows. Some I knew right off and some I didn’t.

“Mack, who the fuck are they?”

“Shut your loud mouth, Frank. We ain’t never gonna find out if you talk through the whole thing.”

Elvis let his arms down then and stood to take the microphone.

"Thank you for more of your time, ladies and gentlemen. I'll be brief so we can all get on with our day and prepare. As some of you may have figured out, it's time for my next big comeback tour. We're callin' this one The Judgement. We've got a lot of dates and stops to make to fit all you folks in. I won’t leave a single soul in my flock behind, don’t ya’ll worry. That’s why I ain't doing this tour alone. I've got some good ol' boys to help me out. My apostles. Let me introduce you. This here's Peter, one of my original disciples. You might be more familiar with him as Bobby Fuller. That there is Andrew. Some people call him Dimebag but Darrell seems more appropriate, don't it, son? That's James the Greater. His name here was Rhett Forrester. James the Lesser was, well, not too well known as Jaco Pastorius. Then, there's my dear John who was named Joe Strummer for some time. My man down towards the end of the stage there is Philip better known as Peter Tosh. This guy here is John Bonham to you all but I've known him as Bartholomew. Next to Bartholomew is Matthew. He lived here in the Rolling Stones as Brian Jones. That guy down near Philip who's got his back turned is Thomas. Turn on around, son, and let them get a look at their beloved Jim Morrison. He's a little shy or he likes to play it anyhow. On this side of Thomas, there's Thaddeus. He looks so much like his daddy, that Jeff Buckley. The kid jerkin' 'round in the middle there is Simon. You probably know the name Woody Guthrie even if you don't recognize him. And then back here behind everyone hiding out is Judas. Come on out and show them your face, Kurt. Kurt Cobain to those who might know the face. Come on, now. They aren't going to stone you... That's everybody, ain't it? Yeah, so anyway, folks, you'll be getting a list of tour dates in the mail. We all expect you to be at one of these dates. It's free. Get on a bus or drive your car. Walk. It don't matter none. We'll take care of it. Just come to the show. If we have to come looking for you, you've ruined any chance you've got at salvation. We just don't have long enough for that. I expect you'll have your mail today. The first date is Friday. Now, I've been getting some bad publicity--you got to expect that. But, I also expect to see ya'll there all the same."

And that was that. The screen went black again and I poured shot after shot until I ran out of scotch.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:



Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2017/01/secret-subject-swap-coming-clean.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/2017/01/06/happy-new-year/

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2017/01/ranch-cheesy-potato-bake-and-sss.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog http://www.thelieberfamily.com/2017/01/a-collection-of-cat-stories-and-food.html

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2017/01/january-secret-subject-swap-embrace.html

Simply Shannon http://shannonbutler.org

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-game-of-life-jan-2017.html

A Little Piece of Peace http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Friday, December 16, 2016

Self Reflection

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: Matt Damon, diamond in the rough, bonus, coffee, predicament, potatoes. They were submitted by: http://theberghamchronicles.blogspot.com

uh...I didn't really intend this to be about me especially given I wrote it in 3rd person. I had the first sentence, and I thought I might write around it...maybe spin it into some fiction. But once I got started, it just sort of evolved from there until it's pretty much a self reflection. Hope you enjoy anyway. xo
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All throughout her life, every partner she ever had would probably be considered a diamond in the rough. Think Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. She doesn’t want someone who has their shit together, maybe because she doesn’t have her shit together despite all outward appearances. But also maybe because she wants someone to grow with knowing she needs someone who has that same drive to be the absolute best version of themselves, who understands you get one shot at life, and you might as well live it to the very fullest. She wants someone who understands money is a necessity, but the amount of money in your pocket isn’t proportionate to the fullness of your life, that success isn’t defined by your career, your wallet, or the number of people who add you on Facebook.

One of the best feelings in the world, she knows, is when someone picks up on her little idiosyncracies—like how she takes her coffee, like the fact that she drinks coffee both in the morning to wake up and at night to wind down. She wants someone to know that she likes to buy bonus sizes so she *really* gets her money’s worth even if it’s just an extra 10%. Anyone who loves her should know she still loves cartoons but she’s passionate about topics that matter, that she needs her space but loves to have her hair played with, and that no matter what boss bitch image she projects outwardly, her heart is pretty fucking fragile. And they should probably also know the way to win her over any time they fight is to apologize with carbs…specifically potatoes and candy. Not simultaneously, of course.

She doesn’t want love to be a predicament, and she really doesn’t understand the current culture’s obsession with drama, reality tv, and side chicks. A relationship, she knows, isn’t easy. It’s work, it’s compromise, it’s fucking tough, but it should never break her. If it’s love, real love, she shouldn’t think of it as a situation she’s gotten herself into. She’s not hard to please, and she’s not high maintenance, but she expects her partner to really give things 100%, for the two to tackle everything 50/50 and to be able to hide from adulting in blanket fort if their stress level demands it.

In a nutshell, she knows she’s a little quirky with her mostly black clothes and nostalgia obsession. She’s Lisa Frank on an emo day, a hypnotic mix of a Purple Pizzazz and Onyx. She’s an old soul who is perfectly content with her vinyl records and for real books (oh the feel of the paper) who stays pretty chill until you bring up politics and social issues. She can be contradictory and complicated but not impossible, and she knows it. She demands attention without being histrionic, and she needs someone willing to talk to her about everything they think and feel and read and do.

And she thinks, “fuck anyone who doesn’t like it.” Not because she’s THAT “edgy” but because she doesn’t know how to be someone other than herself, and all she wants is for that to be good enough.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:



Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/12/use-your-words-work-of-angels.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/12/christmas-with-pearl-and-william-uyw.html

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mirror, Mirror

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.



My “Secret Subject” is:

The mirror never lies. Or does it?

It was submitted by: http://mybrainonkids.net

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Does the mirror lie? Scientifically speaking, that depends on several factors. The quality of the glass, whether it’s concave, straight, or convex, and the type of lighting can all have an effect on the image you see in the looking glass. But there’s more to what you see than science can explain...at least not that kind of science.... Of course people make it a little more complicated.

Our own self perceptions play a role in what the mirror shows or at least in how we interpret it.

The narcissist, with his grandiose sense of self, may see his physical image far more favorably than anyone else. Donald Trump is a great example. He complained directly to the press about photos that were taken of him straight on with a smile on his face and how those photos weren’t flattering. Now, I will admit several news sources do intentionally post unflattering photos of every politician Trump included, but the photo he chose to complain about is exactly how the man looks. To him, the mirror shows something a bit more positive, and when he sees photos of himself, he balks. He can’t believe that’s the real him. The trouble comes from the “media” like with every other problem he has and not with his own thinking or actions.

It’s the complete opposite for me, and it’s something that requires a lot of hard work to overcome. And to be honest, I am nowhere near overcoming it fully. Body dysmorphia and self image issues play a large role in how I see myself. I do have good days and feel cute as fuck, but a lot of the time when I look in the mirror I see someone who is a hundred pounds heavier with a face too big for her features, ridiculous hair, and zero makeup skills. There’s a disconnect some days between reality and what my own self-image causes me to see. And that’s not to say that I’m not a chubby girl or that I don’t have bad hair days or bad makeup days, but it’s not the same as that. Some days it’s absolute despair to look into a mirror and see what I see which is nothing like what other people see…or so they say. I don’t really trust compliments either for fuck’s sake. It’s a tough road.

Somewhere in the back of my head even on bad days I know it’s what I’m seeing not necessarily what’s there, but it’s a powerful thing, that distorted image in the mirror in front of me. I fight it some days hoping to come out on top and others it’s just too much and I sink back into old habits of crying and avoiding and hiding out in the house instead of going to do the things I need to do.

But is that the mirror or me?

The mirror being an object based on a bit of science should be absolutely objective in the image it projects back to you, but life isn’t ever really so simple. Humans are so adept at fucking up objectivity. I mean, let’s be honest we’re adept at fucking up just about everything we touch, but that would take us down a rabbit hole none of us have the time to really explore. The mirror does lie to some of us, but that’s because we lie to ourselves. What we see is something we’ve created in our own minds shaped by experience, loss, trauma, abuse, resonating voices from the past, love, hope, the fight in us, and sometimes mental illness. It’s more complex that the pathway of light and color playing on our eyes from a straight cut of reflective glass that science would have us believe.

Maybe one day I’ll see exactly what’s there without all the baggage I’ve accumulated over the years, but as long as I have more good days than bad, I’ll take it.

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Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/12/secret-subject-swap-looking-back-while.html

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog http://www.thelieberfamily.com/2016/12/my-best-memory-of-2016.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/?p=12126&preview=true

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Simply Shannon http://mybrainonkids.net

A Little Piece of Peace http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com/2016/12/december-secret-subject-swap.html
Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/12/december-secret-subject-swap-three.html

The Angrivated Mom Blog http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com/

Friday, November 11, 2016

Don't Mess with Tradition

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

my words are: turkey, duck, permit required, EMT, hazmat suit, green belt

These words don't really belong in any sort of normal tale. Good thing I'm not a normal sort of person. I took this one a little less seriously than I do with a lot of my fiction. I needed that after everything that happened this year and especially this week. 

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It was a normal Thanksgiving at our house. Well, at least until the guys in hazmat suits arrived.

Okay, let me backtrack here. I’m getting ahead of myself.

So the thing about Thanksgiving is that the fam is kind of spread out, right? My brothers and I are all grown and married with kids of our own. There’s 12 grandchildren total. It’s tough to get everyone together on actual Thanksgiving and still have time to visit respective in-laws and not lose our sanity in the process of traveling every-fucking-where in such little time. My family agreed a long time ago that we’d do Thanksgiving on the Sunday before that way no one was in a rush, and we could kind of spend some time that weekend catching up and letting the kids visit.

That part was the normal part.

We all came down on Friday to Mom and Dad’s. We don’t all spend the night here because 12 kids in one house along with 4 couples is a big no, man, but my oldest brother drove his RV down so he and his wife were in the driveway with his 4 kids. My youngest brother and his wife and baby get the spare room because, you know, he’s the baby with a baby. My family and my closest brother’s family both stay in these little cabins by the lake. We’re only about 10 miles from the old homestead, but it’s nice and peaceful out there by the water, and the rest of the crew comes by on Saturdays to hang out for awhile before we all head over to the Fall Festival. That’s always the plan, and that’s exactly how it all went down this year.

Sundays are for our big dinner. Dressing, greens, homemade biscuits, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and usually both fried and roasted turkeys. It takes a lot of food to feed us all, and by the end of it, Dad always has his old hunter green belt undone and draped over the back of his recliner. In all these years, the guy hasn’t so much as changed the style of belt he wears, but considering I’m the only little girl he ever had and I married a woman, he’s kind of had to change his values especially after we adopted Sadie and Emma, twins with Down Syndrome, and Deon, who is Black (we’re white). My wife and I didn’t set out to rock the boat and have such a hodge podge family, but we fostered these kids first, and their families never even made an attempt to get them. We all just worked together. We’re family, and we love these kids like our own. And we still foster, so who knows what the future might bring?

So the man who has had the same kind of belt for my whole entire life has had to learn to change every single thing he ever imagined for the life of his little girl and in the process, he had to relearn a lot of the beliefs he held. Mom, too, really. But they’re more on board and a bigger support than ever. It’s a strange juxtaposition. The man still isn’t big on change no matter how much my identity and life choices have made us all grow and be closer. So it was no surprise that he was not down with the idea of a turducken this Thanksgiving when my mom sprung that fact on us, and by fact, I mean she had already bought and cooked the thing and laid it on the table before we ever knew what hit us.

The first sign of trouble came when Dad looked at the thing, frown etched on his face, and said, “I thought there was some sort of permit required for you to serve one of these…” He paused then seeing the look on Mom’s face and added, “…culinary delights.” Nice attempt at a save, Pops, but Mom wasn’t at all impressed with his level of sarcasm. She didn’t have much to say in reply, but she has one of those faces that tells every single one of her emotions. Zero poker face on that woman.

Dad was losing hope at that point as all table filled leaving no more room for any sort of regular turkey, fried or otherwise, but he still just had to ask, “Please tell me there’s turkey.”

“Yeah there’s turkey. That’s why it’s called a Turducken, Hank. Tur for turkey. See what they did there? Turkey, duck, and chicken all in one pan, and since you don’t help out with Thanksgiving cooking, I’m telling you from experience that it’s a whole lot easier to cook than the alternative I do every year. By myself. Alone. In the kitchen at 5 a.m.”

Yeah, she went there.

And yes, it shut the man up for a bit.

Right after we made our plates and sat down to eat, though, he excused himself to the bathroom which was a bit odd. I mean, all the kids know that when you’re called to the table, you better have your hands washed and have did whatever business you had to do. All of us being at the table at one time didn’t get to happen too often, and he kind of holds it sacred, I suppose.

He was gone awhile, and we joked about him needing to make peace with the idea of a turdurken before sitting down to take part. All of us were dying to dig in, plates piled high and all those heavenly scents making our mouths water. We were about to take a vote to start without him when he sauntered back in the dining room, smirk planted on his face. I knew something was up at that point. I was a Daddy’s girl my whole life. I know every expression that man ever makes, and that one in particular meant he had a trick or two up his sleeve.

I decided to see how the whole thing played out.

I should also add that my dad is an EMT, and he has a lot of people out there that owe him favors for shifts covered and all that jazz.

That’s when the guys in hazmat suits showed up. At first it was a little bit of a shock. Probably to the whole neighborhood. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure my dad called in a favor. I mean, that’s the only thing that could have happened seeing as how they came in, communicating on walkie talkies about the risk, headed straight for the table, bagged the turducken, then asked Mom if they could see her permit.

I swear that woman turned about 57 shades of red. Not from embarrassment. She knew she’d been beaten.

That’s the little story about the ONLY time my family had turducken for Thanksgiving.

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Here are the rest of the submissions: 

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/11/use-your-words-plausible-deniability.html

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/11/use-your-words-high-jinks.html

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/11/raindance.html

Evil Joy Speaks http://www.eviljoyspeaks.com

Friday, November 4, 2016

Not So Thankful

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 13 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My subject is: What is something you AREN'T thankful for? 

It was submitted by: http://www.notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com.
 
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I was super glad I didn't have to talk about what I am thankful for. Seriously. I just knew with it being November, it would probably come up in my prompts. It's been a tough few months around my household, and while I do try to focus on the good things, I really didn't want to get all fake and make it seem like I have my shit together. I don't. Not by a long shot. Everyone else will be doing their 30 Days of Thanks like it's a competition to see who has the greatest life and I will be over here eyerolling so hard I look like I need an exorcism. And maybe I do. That might explain a lot. 

So here in all its glory is a list of things I am not thankful for this year.

· Working in retail hell

· People who shit in the sink at our store and leave it

· That woman who watched her child throw up in our floor at work and just left it laying there.

· Men who think it’s appropriate to loudly comment on my tits while I’m making minimum wage to smile at them.

· Men who feel they need to tell me to smile more

· People who feel it’s their duty to treat anyone in a service position like absolute dog shit just because we have to take it with a smile.

· The fact that 2016 decided it was THE year that everyone would die.

· Bill collectors

· Minimum wage being absolutely disastrously low

· This clusterfuck of an election

· People who still don’t get what cultural appropriation is

· People who think that being politically correct is a sign of weakness instead of realizing it is about respect

· The phrase “all lives matter”

· Locker room talk and its acceptance

· Cases like Brock Turner where the future of a rapist is more important than making sure he never rapes again

· Boxes with like 50,000 cans of Vienna sausages in them

· Sky shelves

· White people wearing corn rows and getting featured in magazines

· Lil Wayne

· Ignorant Halloween costumes

· Cranberry sauce in a can

· Underwire poking out of my bra while I’m at work because that’s just the perfect fucking time to deal with even more bullshit, eh?

· Walmart registers that refuse to scan printable coupons

· Coupons (it’s a love-hate relationship)

· Having not quite straight but not quite curly hair

· Hot dogs

· That one kind of person who feels it’s absolutely necessary to tell me I will regret my tattoos

· Answering the questions: “are those real?” and “did they hurt?” about my tattoos multiple times a day

· Seeing on average 120 people in 4 ½ hours on a cashiering shift

· Remakes, shitty ones anyway. Michael Bay ruined my childhood.

· Ashy elbows

· 100% humidity

· THE SUN

· Not having multiple Halloweens per year

· Lost. Not being lost but the series Lost that took so much of my fucking time just to end that way.

· Cliffhangers. My heart can’t take it. My anxiety can’t take it.

· Oh. Yeah. Anxiety period.

· My child being a hurricane.

· Climate change deniers.

· Fox News

· Being lactose intolerant. I just want a fucking bowl of frosted flakes that tastes like it’s supposed to. Is that so much to ask?

· Adventure Time and Regular Show coming to an end

· Pokemon Go costing money. FUCKERS!

· Survey apps. They never do a damn big of good.

· Generic Cheez Its. No. Just no.

· Sports. Whatever, man.

· Patronizingly pink tools

· The Walking Dead. I AM SO DONE.

· Makeup not being made for pale people. Im tired of looking like Donald Trump. Orange is not a natural color, yall.

· Hairballs.

· Being self conscious

· Pretending not to be self conscious

· Body con dresses

· Being financially unable to be more conscientious about what I buy… coffee, chocolate, clothes, food, whole department stores… they all take further advantage of marginalized populations

· Politicians

And finally because who has the time to read my entire list… crazy relatives.

So yeah… I have a list just as long of things I am absolutely thankful for, but as I said, it’s nice to be honest and vent about all the things we avoid bitching about during the holiday season. That’s life. Balance. There are as many pros as cons, and sometimes one outweighs the other. It’s absolutely good and necessary to find the good in life even if it’s only small things, the little things, but I also think it’s vital to be open, honest, and (when possible) humorous about the things that you don’t care for, the cons, the negatives, the things giving your trouble in your life at the time. Burying them to act like life is perfect on social media isn’t going to help anybody. Keep it real. And have a good Thanksgiving.

_______________________________

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/11/secret-subject-swap-serial-wanderer.html

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/11/november-secret-subject-swap-meltdown.html

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

A Little Piece of Peace http://little-piece-of-peace.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Evil Joy Speaks http://www.eviljoyspeaks.com

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gardens

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: crash, upheaval, greenery, plant, young, and career. They were submitted by: http://www.southernbellecharm.com

I recently had my career plans thrown into upheaval (through my own decision) so I started to write about the progress I've had with that, but then I remembered it's October--the month when my creepiness is openly acceptable. haha. So, I changed my mind at the last minuted and penned a little fiction for today. Hope you enjoy. 

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I think the plants at the botanical gardens where I work are taking over. Or at least one type of plant.

I know that sounds crazy which is why I haven’t told anyone and why I’m writing this down. For one, I need to vent without it ending in an involuntary stay in the mental hospital, and for two, I want a record of things just in case something happens to me.

I’ve been working here at the James P. Spooner Memorial Gardens for about 6 months now while I’m kind of in-between careers. I have a bachelor’s in English literature which has proven to be pretty fucking useless unless I want to teach. I tried teaching. I really tried. But, being in a classroom everyday having to read dumb essay after even dumber essay really wore me down, and I couldn’t take it anymore. At the very least, I needed a break. Burnout was getting to be a real problem to the point where I actually told a student of mine in a community college class I was teaching that I didn’t give two shits if they passed or not since it was their parents’ money they were wasting not mine. Probably should have looked into my students beforehand since one of the dudes in the class was the grandson of the mayor. Needless to say, my current break from teaching wasn’t exactly by choice.

For awhile, I didn’t really sweat it. I mean, I’m still young by most people’s standards. I have a lot of good years left, you know? But I didn’t realize how much upheaval that one tiny incident would cause in my life. It really didn’t take too long for me to realize how screwed I was, and I mean that in the worst sense of the word.

I looked for a job for a long time to no avail and ended up having to move back to my hometown to the little apartment above my parents’ garage which, I guess, is better than their basement. They gave me an allowance, as embarrassing as that is, for helping them renovate part of the house. And my sister gave me a little money for helping tutor both her children in reading, grammar, and English which helped. I mean, I love them with every fiber of my being for being willing to help me through this rough patch, but as soon as I heard about this job at the gardens, I jumped on it. I didn’t want to be a burden on the people who loved me most after all, and I figured working in all this greenery would calm some of my anxiety.

I could not have been more wrong.

The first few weeks went by without a hitch. I’m on the plant production and exhibition logistics team taking care of pest control, maintaining environmental conditions in my assigned areas, keeping those areas clean and looking their best, setting up new exhibits etc. There really wasn’t a problem until we started getting ready to put up a Halloween exhibit in September. Over the summer, we all had this bright idea to have a carnivorous plant exhibit for Halloween and decorate it up for a Haunted Horticulture walk that we would open on the weekends for the month of October. If it all went well, it would be an annual thing and be a way to keep profits up after the summer months when they tended to drop (before Christmas light exhibits for the holiday season). So, our team had to work with the botanical scientists to sort out what plants would work together and how to work out the environmental needs for those plants. This one guy (Dan…I never knew his last name) in that department told us he had been working on manipulating the DNA of some of these plants (sundews and Venus fly traps specifically) to make them larger and appear a little more aggressive catching their prey and that he thought he had a way to make them glow in the dark so we could cut down on the nighttime lighting to save shave some off the budget. We would have those types, a few varieties of pitcher plant which always look scary and alien, some bladderworts, and a few butterworts thrown in the mix as well.

If you’re thinking that the whole thing sounds absolutely insane and that of course it would cause problems, you’re smarter than I am. At the time, “more aggressive” and “scarier” were pluses to me. I was absolutely enthralled with the idea of this Halloween walk (Halloween is my absolute, all-time favorite holiday) and wanted to make this the best exhibit the gardens had ever seen. I mean, I was really taking ownership of the thing working after hours and coming up with ideas at home. I felt a spark working on this project that I hadn’t felt for a long damn time teaching. So I completely ignored that nagging little pit in my stomach that told me this was a reallllllly bad idea. Have you ever read that book The Gift of Fear? Listening to those nagging little feelings can save your life. But what I did instead was thoroughly ignore the fact that my life was starting to sound like a B horror movie.

After the meeting, Dan got to work on his creations, and our team started cleaning out the Summer Fun exhibit little by little placing the plants elsewhere in the gardens and selling a few to local nurseries (where we often buy plants as well). We had everything cleaned out by the end of August and closed off that particular part of the gardens to guests so we could begin work on the Haunted walk. We had lots of creepy shit we bought from department stores to help with the d├ęcor. The whole thing basically looked like a lab you might find in one of the many rooms at the Addams family mansion. The plan was for one of us was going to dress like a gory mad scientist and a few others were going to be the failed experiments both inside the exhibit for jump scares and leading up to it to increase the ick factor everyone was feeling before going in.

Since mid-September, we have been setting the plants into place and putting on the finishing touches, right? I’ve been staying late every night getting more and more done on top of my daily duties just to make sure it’s perfect. I mean, it’s stressful, but I’ve been happy, and the other guys have noticed how much I’m doing. I’ve gotten a ton of compliments, so it’s all healthy stress. What I’m trying to say is I don’t think it’s the workload or what I’ve been through with the career change that has me paranoid or delusional or any of that shit, and I don’t have any other issues like this anywhere else in life, so it can’t be something like schizophrenia, can it?

Anyway, when I get here in the mornings, I’ve been noticing the plants have grown an absolutely insane amount or are in completely different spots than where we put them. No one really seems to know what’s going on, and Dan has been M.I.A. for several days now. No one can get in touch with him, and no one has seen him since before we moved the last few plants out of his lab. At that point, I was getting a little weirded out, but the other night really made me think something is going on with these plants…

I was working late again and was trying to move a few things around on one end of the exhibit when I heard a crash on the other side. I ran over to look and I saw one of the plants had knocked over the pedestal it was sitting on and was literally hanging from the overhead rafters while simultaneously shoving a bat in its mouth. I swear I heard the thing smack and say mmm-mmm when it was done.

I ran out of there as fast as I could and got into trouble the next day for not closing things down correctly. I blamed it on working too late on the whole project which smoothed things over because how could I tell anyone what I saw without them thinking I’ve lost it? Plus that excuse has kept me from working late. I leave as soon as everyone else does especially since the whole exhibit is pretty much finished. The last couple days have been quieter. I haven’t noticed any of the plants out of place, but the growth is still insane. I don’t know what’s going to happen when the exhibit opens soon and I have to be in there with those things in the shadows… 

If I end up going missing like Dan, I hope someone finds my story and destroys those things before they get anyone else.
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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/10/use-your-words-idi-omg.html

Southern Belle Charm http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Not That Sarah Michelle http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Never Ever Give Up Hope http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/10/tell-tale-sneeze.html