Friday, August 16, 2019

A Different Kind of Hurt



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.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m using: fun, funny, family, fracture, and fully

They were submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

CW: pet death

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About 9 years ago, we found a family of chupacabras in our crawl space.

Okay, it was actually puppies, but when we pulled them out covered in mud and fleas and spider webs, they were more chupacabra than not. 6 funny looking little things who didn’t even have their teeth yet and eaten up so badly with fleas that our house was infested and yipping like mad because their mom was nowhere to be found. The mom ended up being a neighbor’s dog who didn’t take too kindly to us removing the puppies from her spot, but something had to be done, so there we were with 6 puppies to bottlefeed, clean, and help take a poop every few hours.

Fun.

No, really. Once we got them cleaned up, dewormed, and got rid of the fleas, it was a great time even if it was a bit stressful. Each pup would sit in my lap for feeding times and take the bottle like it was the best thing in the world with their little ears wiggling and tails helicoptering like mad. I’ve played mom to a lot of creatures, but taking care of puppies was one of the best. They loved eating popsicles and fought in their own poop and made me laugh harder than I had in a long time.

That’s how we got Layla.

Between people I knew at work, friends, and family, it wasn’t terribly hard to find homes for 5 of them, but that was the limit here in this rural area. We hadn’t planned on having another dog at the time, but here she was, an almost solid white mutt with a few small brown spots that had way too much energy to burn and was already part of the family. All the others had been brown and black, so she already stood out from the rest of the pack pretty early on. Truth be told, I was glad no one else wanted her, and here she stayed for 9 years. Until early August anyway.

It was a good 9 years. She was healthy with never any concerns or problems other than a penchant for chewing the tip of her tail when she was bored. She was a handful, though, always. Digging holes, never learning to walk on a leash unlike any other dog who has ever lived here, always barking her head off when she wanted something… One time, she drug me down the front steps so hard I had a bruised ass for weeks. WEEKS. I can’t pretend she was some kind of saint with the years of destroying toys in seconds and holes I can never get to fill all the way, and the tons of mud brought into the house, but she was loved wholly and completely.

Then things changed a bit.

Last year the day before Hurricane Michael hit, we found her woozy and unable to stand. She had recently lost some weight that had me a little concerned, and I had been trying to put some back on. After years of rescuing animals, I have a pretty good handle on things and a pretty good first aid kit, so that afternoon, I tested her blood sugar levels on a whim because of her wooziness and weightloss, and it was through the roof. 533 when normal ranges are 80 to 120. No vets were open because of the hurricane, but I had an insulin dosage to start with and knew what to do, so we headed to town to try and get the supplies we needed. After Walmart shockingly refused to sell the insulin to us because they were closing early (15 minutes after the time we arrived) due to the Hurricane (that wouldn’t be here until the next day), we dropped $150 on a bottle of insulin and got her stable.

It took months though to really figure out how to keep her stable, though. Dog diabetes is really pretty rare in comparison to humans, and a lot of vets don't see many cases of it or know too well how to treat it without involving a specialist, so we couldn't get too many answers there beyond what I already knew to do. We changed food time and time and time again. The amount she needed each dose kept going up, and I was really at my wit’s end with it all. Twice a day dosing, fighting with her to eat…so much money had been spent on supplies and food changes and supplements. She hated eating the new food, and so many tears were shed in frustration that nothing we were recommended to try actually worked. I ended up doing my own extensive research into things. It was then that I figured out that sometimes the type of insulin I was using sometimes didn’t last long enough for dogs, and I tried a new schedule. We moved it up to every 8 hour shots. She had to be pricked and stuck 3 times a day, and we were tied to the house unable to ever really get away because no one else could handle that kind of schedule even for a short while, but it was working. We were kicking diabetes’ ass fully, no holds barred, and it was wonderful. It was a kind of triumph I can’t even describe, and since all this really fell on me, we grew even closer. Who wouldn’t?

She was outside for a little while a couple weeks ago like she does from late morning through at least her afternoon insulin dose. She was always an outside dog, a mud lover through and through. She would pass a fresh bowl of water to jump in a mudhole and lap it up like it was the bestest, tastiest treat in the world. But when I went out that afternoon, I knew something was wrong. She was on the ground, not moving, and I felt my heart fracture right then. I was so confused. She’d been fine even a little while after she went out. Her blood sugar levels were still normal that morning, and nothing had changed. I really thought maybe with my brain fog I fucked up the dose (something I’d never done and always checked and rechecked). I was so ready to blame myself because the diabetes was the only thing that had ever affected her even if it being the diabetes didn’t make any sense.

It ended up being a snake bite.

We found the marks when it was time to bury her. And, honestly, I don’t know how to feel about that. We did so much work to get her back stable and healthy. I gave up so much of my life to making sure it happened, to keeping her healthy and from succumbing to her illness just for something so entirely random and unavoidable to take her. It’s a risk where we live especially with an overgrown field right behind our property, but we haven’t ever seen many. It was never something on the forefront of my brain, that worry. And now, I’m just lost. I still get up the same times I always did, and I check the clock when it’s close to her dose times because it’s what I’m used to. I miss her, and I love her still even with her hardheadedness and muddy paws, even with her care costing way more than I could afford.

If you’ve ever lost a pet, you know that feeling. You love and are loved so intensely and unconditionally like no other friendship you ever have, and then it’s just…gone. It’s a hurt like nothing else that nothing really fixes but time eases, and I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to write concerning family but her. I still have a houseful of fur family to help me through, but it’s not the same without her. Hug your furbabies and feel free to share stories if you can relate.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado  https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/08/be-careful-what-you-wish-for-use-your.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-world-we-live-in-uyw-august-2019.html

The Bergham Chronicles https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/08/house-haunting.html

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/08/use-your-words-dont-shoot-messenger.html

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Impossible Dream

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 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 one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t yet?

It was submitted by: https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog


Content warnings for mental abuse, fatphobia, bullying, eating disorder talk, internalized fatphobia

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I’m scared I will die before I ever learn to love my body as it is.

I don’t remember a time when body image wasn’t an issue for me. Even before I really understood what being “fat” was, my family made comments about my weight and my body. My grandmother forced me to eat salads with next to nothing on them besides lettuce and tomato and told me I needed to diet. My dad would sing “fatty fatty 2 x 4 can’t get through the bathroom door to me” and laugh. Crisco, lardass, fatty… those were constant refrains at home.

The sad part is I wasn’t even fat. My body was softer and rounder because of changes and hormones. That’s all. I look back at photos of me from then and see the roundness of puberty and wonder what the fuck anyone else was looking at. Fat? Everyone around me carried extra weight. It’s built in my genes. It was projection, pure and simple, and a whole lot of internalized fatphobia, but knowing that NOW doesn’t at all erase the voices I heard so much for so long that still plague every single day of my life.

And it didn’t end there. Because I did carry extra weight into my teens and even now as an adult as a response to both trauma and because it’s how my body is and will always be, those voices aren’t just family but peers, friends, people I found attractive that I wanted to be closer to…

Fatty.

     Crisco.

          Fatass.

               Too fat for me.

                    You’re a fucking joke

                         Fat bitch.

The years I have spent hating my body are a travesty. Honestly. This is the only body I get, and here I’ve been hating everything it was for nearly all of my life. I didn’t love the softness, the curves, the chubby tummy, the stretch marks…but I also didn’t appreciate my strength or flexibility or how it carried me through the difficult life I had without letting me down. Now that it fails me regularly because of my chronic illness, I miss the things it used to do for me, the things that kept me going. Now that I don’t have them I look back and wonder why I couldn’t appreciate them while I had good health.

I failed to see what anyone else claimed to see when they looked at me, anyone outside family that is. It was something to hide and abhor for far too long, and even now it’s a struggle to accept my body as it is much less love it. Compliments never stuck. The idea that anyone could love me as I am, because I hated it all so much, was an entirely foreign concept. I spent most of my life keeping everyone away, keeping my guard up, breaking dates, refusing even after the best of 1st dates to ever go on a 2nd one.

There is such a big part of me that understands I am worth more than my weight or the size dress I wear. I understand that hating myself changes absolutely nothing. I know without a doubt that I really don’t have any business hating my body at this age in my life. I am loved and satisfied and I look fucking fly when I get dressed up, makeup on, and quirky purse on my shoulder. But I can’t get rid of those old voices, the doubts, the lingering inability to accept that this is how I have always and will always look give or take a few pounds.

I see people in fat acceptance/liberation spaces and understand they have bad days too and bad weeks and fight it just like I do. But another part of me sees those photos and longs to be that comfortable in front of a camera in crop tops and bikinis—to smile and lift double fingers at anyone who says a cross word. I envy those carefree moments that I never seem to have enough of. I long for days in a stretch where I can cancel out those ghosts in my head of a former life where those opinions mattered so much to me even while I shouted so loud that I didn’t give a fuck. I want to exist in a state that isn’t plagued by guilt for being what I am and guilt for not loving me as I am simultaneously.

I have struggled with eating disorders and body dysmorphia , dieted myself into sickness, starved, binged, purged… I struggle with the idea that I can fight so hard with these issues and still have a lot of privilege because my body is smaller than a lot in the spaces I find so much comfort. I struggle with the mirror, and I struggle with stopping the incessant calorie calculating. Every. Single. Day. Is. Full. Of. Struggle.

I want the confidence to wear a crop top, to even go out of the house without moments of panic about how I look… what I’ve always wanted is to have peace, to be comfortable, to be able to just accept me as I am at any time in anything for more than a few fleeting moments. I’ve wanted that as long as I remember, and here’s hoping I might finally do that one day.


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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 https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/08/passion-and-repercussions-secret.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/08/little-girl-squirrel-sss-august-2019.html

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

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

Our Prime Years https://ourprimeyears.com/secretsubjectswap-aug-9-2019

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/08/secret-subject-swap-here-comes-bride.htm

Friday, July 12, 2019

Alone

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: pointy, circle, board game, projector, jeans

They were submitted by: https://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Obviously I was in my feels. 
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Lilith sat arm’s length away from the fairy circle in her backyard waiting on the witching hour. She wasn’t sure how close was too close to it or how far was too far. She didn’t know anything really. This was all new to her; it wasn't a lifestyle or hobby or belief system. She wanted…she didn’t know what she wanted either, though, if she were honest with herself. It seemed silly now that she was out in the dew-wet grass wondering if she was going to get bitten by ants or worse and surrounded by candles, crudely drawn runes on index cards, and the grimoire.

The grimoire was what started this whole thing actually. If she had’t seen the damn thing in Another Man’s Treasure, the thrift shop downtown, she wouldn’t have gotten any ideas about summoning a demon. It had been sitting there amongst the discarded board games, ancient screen projectors, kids' books, and old VHS tapes. The “entertainment” section it had been labeled. Entertainment. What a laugh.

She’d thought maybe it was some kind of leather journal when she first glanced at it, but, for whatever it’s worth now, it called to her. There’s no denying it. And the memory of the way she couldn’t resist reaching out for it and how she lost time standing there looking at it until an employee came over to check on her gave her chills. It wasn’t *just* a book by any means even if she couldn’t read a fucking word inside it at first. She thought, in the beginning, it must have been written in some other language, but extensive google searches were never fruitful. The pages were filled with pointy lettering of some kind that looked maybe a little like English, possibly runes as well, though who knew? (She’d gotten the runes she used for her circle spell from Reddit of all places.) And there were pictures--illustrations, she hoped, that sort of told you what would happen.

The page she kept staring at in Another Man’s Treasure and had continued being drawn to at home had what looked like a telephone, a circle, and a devil face inside it. So, yeah, she knew she wasn’t dealing with some kind of ancient language that couldn’t be decoded or anything, and after having found nothing on google, went with the theory that it was someone’s shitty chickenscratch handwriting meant to look all witchy, and she was just going to have to do the best she could. She figured if she came out of this alive, she was going to make some kind of very strongly worded PSA about writing plainly and neatly instead of being an edgy goth princess if you were just going to end up donating your grimoire to goddamn charity and secondhand shops. Really.

So there she was. Jeans soaked with dew, candles burning down, and no idea what she was doing but tired, so tired, and desperate. Her alarm on her cell phone let her know it was time, midnight, with her Letterkenny “Figure It Out” ringtone. She guessed she *would* figure it out.

Once the alarm was over, she stood up with the grimoire in hand and started reciting the words as well as she could hoping for the best. She almost considered saying a little prayer first, but A) she wasn’t religious and B) it was kind of fucked up to pray to god to save you from shit you were knowingly doing wrong. Right? Anyway, she read the text: I summon thee foul beast Agnoroth from ye black depths to do my bidding during this night’s witching hour. From the bound circle unless agreed otherwise, ye shall grant my requests by 3 and return home. No harm shall come to either of us this night, and ye shall not visit again unless summoned.

It sounded good and like all her bases were covered, but her many free kindle reads of unknown urban fantasies suggested demons could be quite tricky. She supposed even the most solid sounding agreements came with loopholes, but what was there to lose? Okay, well, yeah, her life, but she hadn’t really been too attached to that in a few years now, so no harm no foul? Maybe?

She was lost in her own head--a conversation between she and herself as always--when she heard a faint rumbling that grew into a thundering growl, vibrating the mushrooms but stopping short of making any of them topple. “WHO DARES DISTURB MY QUIET NIGHT AT HOME?!”

She cringed even while she could relate as a form began to materialize within the circle. She wasn’t sure if she should answer? Like what would she even say? “My name is Lilith. Hi?” like some demon is going to know who the fuck she is? Haha. Yeah okay. What kind of absurd question would it be if it weren’t rhetorical?

Her eyes widened as she found herself staring up at a behemoth of a creature covered in silky looking black hair, muscled like a Mr. Universe contestant…actually, he looked quite like a werewolf but with his hands on his hips wearing a lavender-colored gingham print half-apron with apple appliqu├ęs on the very generous pockets. She was considerably jealous of it actually. It was definitely something she would pick out for herself and tell absolutely no one about.

It took 0.2 seconds for him to realize that sounding like something straight from her worst nightmares and wearing that apron were, in fact, mutually exclusive. He looked down at himself when he saw her staring, mouth agape, looked back up and shrugged before making it disappear with a snap of his fingers, fingers whose pads were obviously not covered in fur. Or hair. Whatever.

In a very human-sounding voice, he asked again, “who dares disturb my, uh, torturing of souls in this witching hour??”

“oh. I thought that was kind of a rhetorical question?”

“Well, don’t you think I need to know whose bidding am I supposed to do?”

“uh…I guess? My name is Lilith.”

“Familiar and family name?” he asked as he arched a silvery tuft of hair that resembled both a caterpillar and the eyebrow of an extra senior in the nursing home scene of any show or movie. Fuzzy. Way too long. Unkempt. Pretty fucking adorable.

She thought on this for a second then shook her head. “Pretty sure I read in a book that if you have my full name and exactly how it’s said, you can summon me or, I don’t know, do something not so nice, so I’m just going to stick with ‘Lilith’ for now.”

“Is everything you read in books true then?”

“To be faiiiir, I definitely would have said no yesterday when I didn’t believe demons and witchcraft were real and only read about them in books, but here I am talking to you, so I’m not taking any chances.”

“Outstanding. Pitter patter.”

She furrowed her eyebrows and kind of cocked her head to the side the way dogs always did hearing something new in youtube videos. “Did you….What the fuck is going on? What kind of demon gets a Letterkenny reference and answers back with one?!”

“The super soft kind that wears a purple gingham and apple print apron?” he offered with a laugh.

This was weirder than anything she could have dreamed of or read in a book. She supposed this gave new meaning to that old phrase “the truth is stranger than fiction.”

He really took a good look at her then. Fraggle Rock tshirt, wet jeans, Super Mario bros bedroom slippers… “you don’t look like the kind of person who I usually find standing before me when I’ve been summoned. What gives?”

“Well, you see, I found this grimoire at a secondhand shop…”

Before she could finish, he barked. That’s the best way to describe the sound that emanated from his lips. Jowls. Whatever. “What kind of fucking asshole donates their spellbook to a damned thrift store?”

She was absolutely vindicated in that moment and hollered. “RIGHT?!?!?! And look at this thing!”

She stepped closer to the circle and held up the book for him to get a better look. He snapped a pair of large, round Harry Potter style spectacles into existence on his face and leaned as close as he could before bumping against the invisible shield that held him in. “Now that writing looks exactly how I would imagine a person summoning me should be dressed. Like King of the Skids, amirite?” Both of them died laughing simultaneously. She lost her breath and tried to get it under control, but every time she’d slow down, he’d start again, and it just kept going until both of them were sitting on the ground, panting and streaming tears.

“Satan, I needed that,” he managed to get out between breaths. She nodded agreement and both of them sat contentedly for a moment trying to gather their wits. She couldn’t take any chances with this demon even if he seemed pretty rad, and she imagined he was trying to get control of himself to look for any advantage to hold over her. She didn’t dare pause for long, though, or the reality of their situation was really going to fuck with her head.

“ok, so, listen…” she started, but she didn’t know how to continue.

“Go on. When you’re ready. But do keep in mind, I leave automatically once the witching hour is done.”

She checked her phone. 12: 17. She needed to get moving.

“Alright. I don’t know how this works, so if this isn’t possible, don’t laugh.”

He started to speak, but she interrupted. “WAIT!!! Can I make my first request that you be entirely honest for the rest of this hour regarding any risk, problem, danger, fact, question, detail, and terms of any agreement that we discuss tonight.”

“Smart move, Lilith. Yes, you can, and consider your first request granted.”

“Can demons actually possess humans? And what is the risk involved?”

He nodded thoughtfully, “yes, we can. The risk is more or less determined by the intent of the possession. If I possess you so that you may kill an enemy in the most Hellish ways possible, for example, your body still leaves physical identifiers as usual. You can still be imprisoned for your crime. I would help the method and nothing more, you see?”

She ran a hand through her hair and paced a little. “So, essentially, you need the details before you can assess the risk, yeah?”

“Correct.”

“If I make my second request that you help construct my possession contract to limit my harm and yours and without undo toll on my soul, will it truly work?”

“On the surface, the answer is yes. But again, the ask determines the accuracy of my answer. There may not be a solution we can agree on as to what is acceptable harm to either of us. Some harm may have to occur. But in the event that is your second request, yes, I do have to honor my end of it to the best of my ability.”

“It is.”

“Thy will be done, then.” She noticed that he was taking all of this far more seriously than he had in the beginning, and she didn’t know if that was to her benefit or downfall.

“My ask is simple but not. See, I have a chronic illness. I don’t look sick from the outside. Everyone around me sees, for the most part, what they have always seen, but everything is different for me. The exhaustion, the mental issues, the pain, the mental anguish from no longer being the person I was…it’s a fucking nightmare.” She paused holding back tears, took a deep breath, and went on. “It’s bad enough to feel this way. I have no escape from it. My good days now are like my worst sick days before. But the worst thing is feeling so alone. No one gets how I feel, no one I know intimately at least. No one I can talk to face to face. It’s isolating. Alienating. Then there’s the recommendations. I KNOW what’s wrong with me, but since on the outside nothing LOOKS wrong with me, people tell me to get more sleep, to eat better, to exercise, to do yoga, essential oils, go vegan, get on depression medication…you get the picture. It makes me feel absolutely crazy and, on my bad days, like maybe it IS all in my head, you know? I just want—no, I NEED--for someone to get it. To look me in the face after feeling what I feel and how I feel and tell me it’s fucking horrible, and they wouldn’t wish this on their worst enemy.”

He looked incredulous. She didn’t know how else to describe it. How does a werewolf demon look incredulous? She didn’t know, but he was definitely looking it either way.

“I…” He started and stopped looking rather thoughtful really and started again. “People are so bad at getting that you have an illness that they have semi-convinced you that it’s not that serious, and instead of rightfully and righteously torturing them in the name of Satan, you want to be possessed by a literal demon so you can get some feedback. In a nutshell.”

The tears fell this time. There was no holding them back. “Yes.”

“That is seriously fucked up.”

Her mouth fell open in shock.

“No, no, no…wait. Not the ask. It’s fucked up that you have such people in your life. I’ve heard way more fucked up requests than that from being summoned. The last possession wanted me to help them fill some chick’s bathtub with acid because she wouldn’t sleep with him.”

Her mouth never really closed good before it was hanging open yet again. “what in the…. Did you do it?”

He smirked and raised one of those grandpa brows, “all I can say is he should have negotiated better, and no harm was wrought on the woman in question.”

“wicked!”

“I try.”

He paced around the circle for a moment in thought while she dried her face and tried to fix whatever makeup might remain. She checked her phone. 12:28. No time to waste. She was about to ask what he thought when he stopped suddenly and clasped his heads in front of him in a gesture that was both endearing and a little scary.

“I think I’ve got it. The ask is absolutely benign and only involving you, and as I am bound to do no harm to you this night, you have no risk at all. Okay, well, *that*, perhaps, is an understatement. Demon possession always comes with a little tarnish. Your soul isn’t corrupted entirely by it especially with our time being so limited, but it will definitely have a little smudge. And, it will certainly feel weird, but you have pure intentions, so the possession, by the nature of the ask, will not be painful. I’ve never done such a possession, but I hear it feels like added pressure, maybe like your whole body is bloated. Are we good and clear so far?”

“Yes, that’s fine for me.”

He continued, “as for me, I suspect if you are right about how you feel, this will not be what I might call a fun experience, but we are actually limited by time, so by the nature of the summoning itself, my harm is limited. We have approximately 30 minutes before I will be whisked back home. You want me to feel what you feel but also discuss it, correct?”

“Yes, exactly. That’s what I want.”

“So 15 minutes for possession and 15 minutes to discuss it. Are those terms we can agree on?”

“Do you have to go back into the circle when you come out or can we talk face to face for real?”

“That is up to you entirely. It is always recommended that you keep a demon bound to a circle, though.”

“But you cannot harm me?”

“Not with the summons and details we have arranged.”

“Then I ask for 15 minutes possession for you to feel what it’s like to be me and 15 minutes for us to discuss it with you out of the fairy circle.”

She felt immense pressure for a moment like she was being inflated, like Violet Beauregarde when she turned into a blueberry, but it faded into the background behind all her regular dull aches and shooting pains, the splitting migraine she had been fighting all week, the GI cramps, the nausea…she’d really picked one of her worst of the worst days to do this. On purpose. She could feel him still, an oily shadow in her brain instead of the whispy fog she fought through every day of her life. Heavier but navigable.

She sat in the grass watching the minutes pass, anxious. Her tachycardia was in full swing along with the dizziness that always accompanied it. She dissociated like she tended to do when she felt this bad only being pulled back when she felt the pressure mount again. She stood as it began to subside completely leaving her alone with the pain and everything that came with it while she watched him materialize again in front of her. They stayed face to face like that for a moment or few before he finally spoke up.

“how? How did you even manage to get me here? How are you even standing?”

Everything in his stance and his face was absolutely sincere, so when he pulled her in for a hug, she didn’t resist.

She spent the rest of her negotiated time in that embrace crying tears of relief.
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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/07/firetrucks-and-football-use-your-words.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/07/rideem-and-ropeem-uyw-july-2019.html

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

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/07/job-expedition.html

Bookworm in the Kitchen https://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/07/use-your-words-burst-beer-cans-and.html

Friday, July 5, 2019

One Thing

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 7 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:

What is one thing you could start doing today to improve the quality of your life?

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

Probably not what anyone would think of as appropriate for 4th of July week but it's honest. 
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The one thing I could do to improve my quality of life immediately is to move out of the United States.

I’m not exaggerating.

I have a chronic illness and no access to adequate or affordable insurance. I don’t have access to doctors who take my issues seriously undermining them both because I am a woman and because I am chubby. Women in this country experience so many issues in the healthcare system even when they do have a thin figure, insurance, and enough money to pay their copays. We have a higher rate of being underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and with harassment from healthcare workers. All of it adds up to me not at all being able to get adequate care. I need a fair healthcare system, one that isn’t rife with misogyny. I need universal healthcare. I need doctors who are actually educated on my disorder and who take the issues I face seriously. I need doctors who are educated on the new research involving weight, how weight is often out of people’s control and not remotely tied to every single health issue a woman might face. I’ve gone to the doctor for colds, literally, and had them blamed on me needing to lose weight. How is that at all the kind of healthcare system that works for people?

The United States doesn’t even rank in the top 20 when it comes to women’s equality. Pay rates, healthcare, programs… we are seriously lacking in every regard when it comes to women having an even playing field with men while our government remains dominated by men and often by women who pander to the male demographic by denying the issues that social sciences prove to exist.

Capitalism relies on extreme poverty and homelessness to function. Economic theorists have found this to be a certainty. Without people to show how terrible it can be when you don’t “work hard” people refuse to take the lowest pay for the hardest work. That's the way capitalism works. We lack the social programs that prevent these issues that other countries have. It’s not even about socialism. We can look to the Scandinavian countries to see that if the United States is hellbent on having capitalism (which I don’t think works not as it is here and perhaps not at all), it can do so with a heavy foundation of social programs that put its most vulnerable populations on better footing. I’m disabled. I cannot work with the illness I have without risking being bedridden or worse for the rest of my life. I’m barely hanging on to not being completely homebound. I need a cane to get around my house because I insisted on working when I was initially sick and have gotten worse in the 3 years since this started. Being in this country is fucking terrifying. There are no safety nets for people like me. The amount of money I would have to pay and years I would have to wait to still be denied disability is outrageous, and our disability programs are constantly being threatened. People are cut off at random. And it’s never enough for people to actually get by. If I somehow found the money to make the kind of appointments and do the testing needed to prove I qualify for disability and keep it going for the years it takes (more than 3 on average) to finally get it approved, it would take years and years of disability to finally recoup the money I shelled out for specialists and testing and scans… And in my current situation, sure it would help but it surely wouldn’t alleviate my poverty. Not here. People literally die waiting on their disability. My dad did when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Being queer in this country is equally as terrifying right now. Sure, you’ll roll your eyes and say that we can get married. What else do we want? How about protections against being fired for being gay? Those don’t exist in many states and federal protections were rolled back under Trump. How about not being denied housing because we’re gay? Not being turned away from healthcare? Not being killed LEGALLY because of gay panic defense? Being able to adopt? Being able to shop without discrimination being disguised as “religious freedom?” Not being forced into conversion therapy by bigoted parents? Or kicked out of the house and put on the streets where the country doesn’t have any sort of programs to help out? The United States doesn’t even rank in the top 15 friendliest countries for the LGBTQIA+ population, and it’s no wonder. Violence continues with hate crimes against the community especially trans women of color. Murders, attacks, fear… what kind of life is that? We can’t even hold hands in public without fearing our safety much less live our lives out and happy. It’s absolutely a MOMENT when you see a gay couple living out and loud and not looking over their shoulder or minimizing their affection. It makes you feel so hopeful and so less alone, but it’s so fucking rare that it’s only ever really okay at pride and even then we encounter protestors who would like nothing more than to eradicate us from the world. We may have come a long way from where we were in the past several decades, but we already had so much more to go before this administration, and it’s not going to get any better any time soon.

At least 5% of America identifies openly as LGBTQIA+. As many as 1 in 5 have a disability with 1 in 10 actually having a severe disability. Half the fucking country almost is female. So while this may be a harsh critique of a country you love, for some of us, it’s a matter of the life, liberty, and happiness others already get without worry. If that’s you, great. But there is so much work left to do. We’ve been browbeaten with this idea that America is the greatest country in the world without fault and without complaint, but that’s hardly true. It may feel good to think in the moment when you’re a few drinks in, fireworks exploding in the background on Independence Day, but the rest of us are exhausted. The rest of us get nauseated when we see those displays of patriotism without criticism. We were founded on questioning what’s right and moral, but that stopped a long fucking time ago, and there are a lot of times I wish I could afford to be done with it all as it was made very clear to me that even though Guthrie sang about this country belonging to us all, there are far too many red-blooded Americans who want the population to look, act, and believe a certain way or we aren’t welcome here.

I’m tired of living where I’m not wanted and couldn’t get help if I was.

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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 https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/07/sobriquetless-secret-subject-swap.html

Friday, June 14, 2019

Natural Retribution

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: staple, pollen, count, concealing, sentence, and Segway

They were submitted by: It was submitted by: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

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Day 62

We’re running out of food.

The staples are low anyway. There’s some extras in the pantry like canned hamburgers that we have yet to touch, but the time will come.

If we stretch things out and risk getting a little hangrier, we might last 3 more weeks or so before everything is completely gone, and we really don’t know when--or if honestly--things will be okay for us to return topside, so I thought I’d kind of write some back story about how we got to this bunker in case someone makes a gruesome discovery in the future. If anyone is lucky enough to live through all this anyway…

Before I do that though, I want to record what I know of our identities. There’s 13 of us down here in a space meant for 6. I don’t know whose bunker this is. All I know is I’m grateful Nic and I stumbled upon it. Nic is my wife. I’m Marcy. We’re 24 and 25 respectively. We came to this farm looking for a tornado cellar or some kind of basement, but we lucked out. The entrance to this place was in the barn, and it looks like it was custom built. There are 6 sleeping spots that we rotate through and some kind of handwritten guide about how to make the food last between 6, but no one was here when we showed up. We kept hoping the people who lived here might return home and have even more secrets, but no such luck. Either they evacuated and hoped they could outrun this thing, or they succumbed to it just like everyone else in this shitty, Podunk town. We let everyone who showed up come inside, but people stopped showing up a long time ago, and we’re pretty sure no one else is coming.

Anyway, that’s me (last name McHale) and Nic Martinez. We’re from Houston, but we live in Seattle and came here for the same reasons everyone else did, and looking back on it…there were much better ways to spend our time. Obviously. There’s also Buddy (William) Littleton, a local. He’s an older guy, 60s. Lost his wife to this. He’s been quiet, mourning probably. Janey Simpson is 10 and got separated from her parents in some kind of panic riot. I have no idea how a 10 year old found the farm way out in the middle of nowhere especially since her family’s not even from here, but whatever. She doesn’t have a lot of answers for what happened between getting lost and arriving here or answers to any questions at all. It’s a blur really, and who can blame her? We’re all a bit traumatized. She just expresses hers with no talking. I found her name written in a little notebook she had in her unicorn purse when she got here, but that’s really all she had that might identify her. She responds to “Janey” when we do try to talk to her.

Dan Spears and Jason Moore are friends, locals, mid-30s. They were out of state on some hunting trip when all this started, I guess? They were supposedly off the grid the entire time and came back to this. No survivors at either of their homes. Sophie, Trey, and their 3 year old Cam (short for Camo if you can believe it) were here visiting family from across the state. Their last name is Dalton. Her maiden name is Sharp. Shade and Bryant Murphy are from Oregon. Shade is his drag name. His legal name is Lucas (Maiden name is Reeves). They’re married, live in Portland, and are in their late 20s. They were drawn here like the other tourists. It’s interesting watching a guy who named his kid Camo try to live in this tiny bunker with the huge personality that is Shade. It certainly hasn’t been dull. Mae Porter is a local woman. She’s in her 30s, single, no kids that she’s spoken of at least. She’s kind of bonded pretty closely with Trav which is short for D’traveon. They’re around the same age, but he’s from Georgia. They’re the only Black people in the bunker, so it makes sense. I get it. Things are tense enough without the added issue of worrying about which ones of us are racist, right? Better to have each other’s backs, for sure, but I also sense some love growing there. It’s been cute to watch. I hope they give it a go if we get out of here.

So now there are our identities as best as I know them. If you find this, tell our families or give us a proper burial or whatever, ok? I’m taking it with me in this waterproof bag I found down here if we do leave so if I’m alone, look for the others…we’re not planning on splitting up.

I don’t know who might find us, but in case it’s not in the near future, I’ll explain the whole thing at least what I know of it. Don’t repeat our mistakes.

There had been so many stories in early spring about full fields of flowers growing in California and how beautiful they were. Of course, there were also stories about people trampling them in an effort to get selfies, but a few people’s assholery doesn’t take away from, like, the miracle of Mother Nature or whatever, right? Nic and I had really wanted to go, but we couldn’t get out of work at the time. We own our own little florist shop, and early spring before it really gets hot is a busy time for weddings. When I say “little,” I mean, we have to hire someone temporarily if we take any time off or get overwhelmed because it’s usually just Nic and I and not enough work to make it worth hiring someone full time. So we were out of luck. By the time things slowed down, the flowers had suffered a lot of damage and a lot had died off making it not worth the trip to check them out anymore.

So when we heard about these weird, never seen before plants that were growing here in middle-of-nowhere, Texas, we felt like it was a second chance to marvel at the beauty of the world we live in. hahaha. Thinking back on our naivety now really fucks with my head a little. According to the news, this field of greenish black, spiny plants—hundreds, too many to count--had been spotted in Texas. The local people, and the folks in the bunker who were local agreed, that one day the fields were pretty empty because so many farmers had gone bankrupt over the last couple years, and the next they were full of these plants. At that time, they were about knee high. We saw the pictures and literally freaked out. They were like nothing we’d ever seen before. Some kind of cross between cacti and large flowering bushes. There weren’t large bulbous stems like with most cacti. Come to think of it, they looked a lot like diamond chollas but the branches were thicker and, of course, the coloring was off. The spines were the thick, eye gougers like you see on diamond chollas, though. If anything the spines were a bit shorter with thicker bases like rose thorns.

The plants grew fast. 2 days after we saw the first stories, they were already as tall as a person and had started to bud. We decided then that if we were going to get to see them, we better contact our temp (a retired florist who lived near the shop) and head that way. We had a vacation fund set aside, and, well, to be completely candid, we hoped to bring back some cuttings and flowers and try to cultivate them ourselves. They looked so damn weird. We knew they would sell back home, and we might finally be able to hire someone full time instead of working 80 hour, 7 day weeks. We absolutely were being greedy.

We weren’t the only ones either.

Nearly everyone on our plane had plans to either check out the flowers, was talking about them, or were changing plans to head that way as soon as possible. The buzz was ridiculous, and we were a bit dismayed that we might not actually get a chance to get the clippings we wanted with so many people doing the same. I mean, these people would set fire to the last tree on earth just to make a buck most of the time and had very little appreciation for the beauty of a brand new species of plant just showing up like this out of the blue. Think of the possibilities. Medicine, food, textiles….I mean, we had no idea what we were dealing with here, and all I could hear were phrases like “instagram influencers,” “photo shoot,” and “I’m gonna go viral.”

No respect. None of us had it

When we connected in Dallas to fly to Abilene, the entire airport seemed to be talking about it. Every conversation, even polite small talk, ended up circling back to these plants. When we got our car in Abilene, almost the entire lot had been rented. We were lucky to get one of the last few left in the place. We headed south, the hour drive to a place called Ballinger wiping us out, but we were pumped to try the fields so we could make the drive back to Abilene to check into our hotel. I guess I should have known when there were no rooms available in Ballinger, that the place would be packed. There were less than 4000 people within the city limits, if you could even call this a city. The drive down brought up memories of the drive from my parents’ place in Houston to see my grandma in Livingston. Once you got out of the city, there was just…nothing. But this… I’d never seen anything like it. Once we got close, there were cars everywhere. There were men in fancy suits riding Segways on dirt roads, ties flapping in the wind. Entire roads were lined on both sides, and the dust kicked up by all this traffic…I could hardly breathe, and Nic had to use her rescue inhaler before we even got parked. And oh god the parking. It took us longer to find somewhere to park than it did to drive down from Abilene and even then it was some fucker price gouging to let us park in his yard. $25 for 2 hours. At 3 hours, the price went up to $50. I couldn’t believe it.

There were already people in the downtown area selling merchandise with photos of the plants. Cups, frilly shirts and pants sets for kids, ice chests, t shirts, postcards, monogrammed reusable water bottles with “I saw the Ballinger Beetlejuice.” I guess that’s what they were calling it. By the time we landed and made it here, the buds had started to open and looked a lot like the striped sandworms from that film—the black outer, protective layer concealing the actual bud was peeling back to reveal that it was both spined inside and that the bud was a white flower with green tips on the petals. The spined outer layer made it look remarkably like a toothed predator. The name was pretty clever I suppose. Alliteration is important. But if I ever make it out of this, watching the Beetlejuice movie is out of the question for the rest of my time on Earth. It’s been ruined for me.

That first day, it was absolute chaos at the fields. There were so many people trampling the plants for the “perfect” photo. So much damage had occurred already. We were pretty deflated watching it all--not just because of our plan to nab some cuttings either. No one cared about anything more than outdoing someone else on getting the best photos. Nic and I left well before our parking time was up. We couldn’t take it. I actually cried on the way back to Abilene.

We didn’t go back the next day either. But we did follow the news and apparently there were more fields spouting across the u.s. in rural areas pulling in thousands of tourists in each location. Kinda defeated the name “Ballinger Beetlejuice” but whatever. The buds in Ballinger had started to open revealing blood red inner parts. Inside it looked like a typical flower so far, but the size of the plants and the buds themselves meant that the pistols and stamens would likely be incredibly large as well. We joked that day in our hotel room about the amount of pollen these flowers would produce and maybe it was Mother Earth’s way of taking humans out. We both have terrible allergies. How close we were… It’s not really funny anymore.

We talked it over and decided to see what sites we could in the area, enjoy some small town hospitality…picnic, hike… Have an actual vacation, you know? Then we’d return to Ballinger on the day before we left just to see if we could get a glimpse of the open flowers in full maturity. We both figured it would take at least 3 or 4 more days for the buds to fully open and reach the sexual reproduction stage with pollen and all that. I was really curious to take a look at the plant anatomy myself. Botany had always been one of my favorite subjects well before we started our own shop.

We had a great time honestly and created some wonderful memories that have gotten me through being in this place in spite of everything going on. We had everything packed up already and in the car the morning we drove back down here. Our flight was leaving later that night so we could be back in time to take over the shop the next afternoon, but we never made it.

On the way, the breaking news hit. The flowers had matured overnight apparently. No one really understood what was going on, but the pollen, the same deep red in color, had been heavy, washing over the fields and carried throughout the area. It wasn’t any kind of normal structure, though. Anyone that came into contact with the infested air died gruesomely. Bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth initially followed by loss of muscle control, convulsions, paralysis, and death. We pulled over on the side of the road to read the stories… EMTs had arrived for the first few cases and succumbed to the effects of the pollen just as the tourists did. People came in with gas masks and were able to get a few folks out and to the hospital, but prolonged skin contact still resulted in death, just prolonged death, and the hospital had no idea how to treat it. Conspiracy theorists were already claiming terrorism, Russian involvement, and blamed Hilary Clinton. Don’t know why. I mean, she’s terrible, but jesus fucking Christ, right?

We should have been paying closer attention. By the time I looked up from the phone to process everything I was reading, I could see a red cloud on the horizon headed quickly in our direction. I screamed at Nic to reverse the car and get us back to Abilene, but the cloud was gaining on us. We decided to turn down a dirt road off the highway thinking we might be able to outrun it in a different direction, but it was no use. We saw the farmhouse and barn out here with literal minutes to spare looking for a cellar that might keep us safe. Desperation is the only thing that made me check the barn. We had to break the lock with some shears hanging on the wall, but we made it. Everyone else arrived in between pollen clouds coming from basements and cellars that had run out of supplies or by luck from a week off the grid or whatever. Apparently, the plant was sort of…well…diurnal according to those who came after us. The Ballinger Beetlejuice appeared to actually shoot the pollen into the air itself with some kind of sap or water vapor cloud. The wind picked it up and did its job to further the cycle.

We could have left if it was just here in Ballinger, but it wasn’t.

The bunker had power for the first week or so. We kept up with the news cycle as best we could charging our phones and listening to the small weather radio down here. But everything just stopped updating after awhile and a couple days later, the power shut off and hasn’t yet come back on. I know there has to be more people out there, but we have no way of knowing what will happen topside, so we’ve been pushing it as long as possible even if it means starving a little before we make real plans to leave here and try to find some others maybe. Plant reproductive cycles, the pollen phase, doesn’t last forever. So we figure by the time the food runs out maybe we’re good until the next growing season. I mean, we have to hope, right?

Honestly, though, it feels a bit like a death sentence from the Earth. And if it is, maybe humans deserve it. 

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:



Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/06/can-i-blog-take-two-use-your-words.html

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Cognitive Script https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com/2019/06/what-happened-to-sue-uyw-june.html

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

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/06/off-day-off.html

Bookworm in the Kitchen https://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/06/use-your-words-damp-dumped-and-delivered.html

Follow me home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

Friday, June 7, 2019

So Much to Rant About


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 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: Tell us about your life at home. What is your family like? What do you do for fun?

It was submitted by: https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

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I talk about personal stuff a bit on this blog, but usually that personal stuff involves the past or something I feel or am going through at the time. I don’t really talk about other people much. I try to leave my son off the blog as much as I can, and I have often avoided talking about my own family, the family I still see, to avoid drama if the blog gets read, but I need to vent. Things have been so much lately, and the time has finally come for me to release some anger and resentment, I think. I feel like this might get long, so I’m going to give you the tl;dr version. That’s “too long; didn’t read” for anyone that’s not fluent on internet shorthand.

--I have a chronic illness that makes me housebound most of the time or pay dearly for getting out.

--I also have way too many pets. Several have special needs including a diabetic dog that needs insulin every 8 hours and really limits what I can do away from home even on good days.

--I have an extremely dysfunctional family.

--My kid has hit puberty, and that has been one of the most difficult things I have ever faced in a lifetime full of difficult things. Haha. But no really…

And here we go with the rest of the story.

Around this time of the year 3 years ago, I had what I thought was a viral sinus infection, and I never really got better. For months, I ran a fever, had swollen glands, caught every bug I came in contact with, could barely move around… I felt like I was drunk with a virulent strain of flu all the time, and it’s only gotten worse since then.

I have what’s called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome here in the United States, but in other places, it’s often referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). The symptoms are wide-ranging involving several different body systems. I have pretty severe gastroparesis and the symptoms that come with it which means I can no longer digest most proteins or vegetables/fruits. I can tolerate a few veggies from specific families and a few fruits, but they have to be cooked to the point they mostly lose their flavor. I’ve lived off rice, pasta, and potatoes for quite a while now. It’s a common issue for people with cfs/me. I have the joint and muscle aches that go with it to the point that even getting around my house is difficult sometimes. My energy is like a broken battery. At best I can expect to wake up at 50%, and that’s only if I have gotten a good bit of rest, but that rarely happens since insomnia is also an issue. Every single task I do during the day takes away from that battery, and if I overdo it, I pay for it for days or even weeks. My immune system doesn’t function the way it should and reacts to any stressor disproportionately resulting in constant swollen glands and fevers. I have trouble regulating my body temperature altogether though. My allergies are worse than ever and allergy attacks also trigger bad days. But the worst of it is probably brain fog. That’s an umbrella term for cognitive issues and for me it looks like not being able to recall words and actually say them. I know what I want to say, but I can’t actually say it. I lose track of what I’m doing much easier. Things take a lot more focus. My memory is shot, and I have real issues concentrating. I’m sensitive to sounds, smells, and lights. My migraines worsened.

And like now I can’t even talk about the full extent of it because I feel like people are reading this and rolling their eyes at how much I’m complaining, but this is my fucking truth, and it sucks. It sucks living like this… It’s not even living.

I exist.

I exist to push through as much as I can and take care of as much as I can while being invisibly disabled and being surrounded by people who refuse to understand or even acknowledge I’m not well. I’m expected to show up regardless of how I feel or what else I may have going on and then treated terribly when I have to be late. It’s one thing to be this sick. It’s another when even your own damn family doesn’t give a shit. The people in my home get it because they see it on a daily basis, but even then, even when I’m visually and obviously struggling to even walk, I still have to ask for help. So this illness is a big factor in how things go at my house. There’s no cure for it. This is my life now. Period. It’s difficult. I’m proud of myself for not giving up or giving in and for still managing to take care of myself and my home, but that doesn’t mean, at all, that it doesn’t weigh on me every single day of my life and nearly every single moment I’m awake.

Between rescuing, fosters, foster fails, and an accidental litter I have animals in the double digits that live with me. It was a lot of work when I wasn’t sick, but now? Oh boy. I have two cats with vision issues and anxiety. I have several with allergic skin conditions. My dane has an allergy issue as well. My chiweenie is old as Moses and needs glucosamine daily, and my staffie mix has severe diabetes. When she first showed signs, her blood sugar levels were over 500 when tested. And for months even with insulin, changes in food, more changes in food, and even more changes in food, it stayed in the 300-400 range. I was ready to pull my hair out when I researched more on my own and figured out that most dogs metabolize insulin faster than humans, so now I’m beholden to dosing her every 8 hours. It’s 9 a.m., 5 p.m., and 1 a.m. give or take 30 minutes. She isn’t great with anyone else doing her shots. She’s not really a people person at all. So…yeah, even without the cfs being a hindrance to going out and doing fun things, it’s hard to plan around that schedule. And no matter how many times I tell family and others that I can’t just let her go without or move it up too much too soon, they still make plans at times I can’t be there then get angry that I’m “late” even when I explain, again, that it will be an issue for me. You know, I get that people can’t always cater to my schedule even though I’ve always made changes to work with theirs. But to also get angry over it? That’s too much. I’m not going to risk my dog dying (and yes one missed dose causes a huge spike) for any reason much less a dinner or a party that, by now, people should know I can’t make it to at the time it starts. I love my animals. It’s not their fault I’m sick. I don’t want to find homes for them, and I’m certainly not going to neglect them. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating, but more than that, they give me the kind of unconditional love and laughs I don’t get anywhere else. And when I can’t find any other reasons to keep going, I know I’m the only one that knows their medication schedule and they need me. Maybe that’s a bit dark, but it’s true. Holding on to the little things helps so much sometimes.

I guess you can see why the family is dysfunctional already, but I’d be lying if there wasn’t more to say. I want a peaceful life where I can be sick and have a bad day at my own home without someone taking it as abandonment. I want to be able to go to my mom’s house and NOT have my sister in law purposefully ignore me and not speak for months on end then get angry and throw a tantrum when I stop trying to make any effort. How many times do you have to show up at someone’s house with crafts in hand only for them to run off to their bedroom and slam the door before the problems aren’t blamed on you anymore instead of them? I’d really like to know. For the rest of my life, my family, the very little I have left, will always think of me as the depressed 16 year old dealing with sexual assault related trauma, abuse trauma, depression, and PTSD that made their life inconvenient. I’m 30 fucking 7 but I’m still treated like the misunderstood kid that didn’t clean her room and hated everything including and especially herself. No matter what happens, any tension with my sister in law will always be my fault because I was “tough to handle” as a teen. A bitch. She will never have any responsibility in it because that’s “just how Jenniy is.” It’s absurd. People grow up and change. I’m not even close to the same person I was that long ago, but I can’t escape it. And the kicker of it is….I SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO FUCKING THERAPY not shit on for having a dirty room or not loading the dishwasher correctly. I shouldn’t be called “lazy” because I was a depressed teen and that somehow suggests that I can’t actually possibly be really for real sick with a chronic illness. I’m still “lazy.”

And then I have my kid’s father who lets his wife call our son “princess” because he doesn’t meet her definition of manliness, who won’t take up for him because he’d rather his child have to deal with her than argue about it. I refuse to discuss my son’s personal stuff here even with a made up name, but generally speaking, his father decided it was best to hide some things from me that could have led to serious consequences just to have one over on me, I guess. I’ve literally begged this man to spend more time with his kid, so if he really wanted to have a better relationship with him, he’s had ample opportunity to do so in a way that doesn’t include A—keeping secrets and B—treating our kid like his buddy instead of his son, but he’s never done so, and my kid shouldn’t be put at risk because for once he knew something that was going on and I didn’t. By chance. Who does that? Who puts their own kid at risk just to have a fucking secret then gets to call me angry and a shitty mom when I call him out on it? Am I perfect? By no means. But I would never dare put my own ego over my kid’s well being. And I damn sure wouldn’t do it with a partner I didn’t even want to be with and talks terribly about all the time. I’ve had to be contacted twice for a “reference” from child services for these people because her daughter from a previous relationship lies about them when she is angry, but when my son tried to explain something she had done to him recently on the very same day I was contacted by child services, HE is the one who was aggressively called a liar and even when proven, his stepmother refuses to apologize, and his dad won’t say a word about it. When I pointed out that he gets treated differently, I was told, if anything, he has fewer rules. Yeah, I fucking gd know. That’s part of the problem. Going down there with a dad who treats him like a friend instead of being his actual dad, who has no chores and no rules set for him means I get that much more attitude when he comes home and I do have more of a routine. I’m his teacher, his parents, his counselor, and his confidant. But I’m not his buddy. We have a good relationship even through the teenage attitude. I love him. We talk about things and work on art together, but we aren’t besties. He has his own friends. What he needs from me is love, support, and guidance. He needs the exact same from his dad. Not friendship. So not getting treated differently means he has no rules but gets bullied by his stepmother and his stepsister gets away with everything. Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

I think that because of my own issues with my mom that I thought so much of our strained relationship was due to her own mental health and mine as well, and I guess I expected none of the attitude and tension that comes with raising a teenager. AND BOY WAS I WRONG ABOUT THAT. That was kind of my bad though. I underestimated the full veracity of puberty hormones and the changes that come with that. We get along fine most of the time. We had some issues for awhile, but a lot of that was deeper rooted, and we’ve talked it out and been more open with each other. It’s not perfect. I don’t think there is a way to refer to life as a parent as perfect when you’re raising a teen especially when the other parent isn’t doing their part and never really has, but considering we’re around each other all day every day because I homeschool, we do alright. It’s hard not to take the attitude and the angst personally sometimes though, and I have unabashedly cried in the shower many a day.

My home life, then, has been less than ideal especially considering I don’t have a lot of outlets because of my illness and needing to be around the house every 8 hours. I can’t go on vacation to escape it for a little while. I can’t even be gone for more than a few hours at a time without paying for it for days afterward. I can’t even go out to eat at a restaurant because of my food issues. A lot of my living is done through social media and books (when I can focus on reading). What fun I do have is time spent online with people I’ve never met who are more considerate of what’s going on in my life than most people who’ve known me my whole life. Funny how that works.

To end on a better note, though, I have started some art stuff and my own etsy shop selling enamel pins. I used to think I could screw up a stick figure, but it turns out, I’m not all that bad for a beginner. I’ve collected enamel pins for a long time now and really enjoy them. I wear one every time I leave the house and make it part of whatever outfit I have on that day. It gives me an extra way to express myself through style and show off some of my geekier tastes, but I had some trouble finding things I really wanted, so I decided to try and make my own. I have a manufacturer that actually molds and produces the pins themselves, but they’re completely my design, and having people buy something with my artwork on it has been a lifegiving sort of feeling. It’s amazing. I don’t really think I can put it into words. I love when people connect to a piece I write, but I’ve always been scared to put myself out there more than a blog or occasionally a free e-zine. This is something different entirely. I’ve laid my own creations out there for people to buy and review, to reject or love, and they’ve kind of been a big hit so far. I’m over the moon about it, and honestly, I need this. I need something in my life I can sink into and be proud of right now or all the bullshit from everything else gets too heavy.

Here’s my shop if anyone is interested in looking:



Thanks for letting me vent. I was dreading this when I first got the prompt but I think I needed to vent more than I realized.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Tea For a Few

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: remote, roar, register, resident, and rest. 

They were submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

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I left my apartment early that morning with my Nikon D5, a cheap recorder, and a sack lunch in my unicorn backpack ready to take on the world. I’d been inspired in a way by the Humans of New York creator a few weeks back after seeing a 5 part story that absolutely left me devastated. I wanted to do more with the stories. I wanted longer ones, but I wanted to write some of my own perspective too. I didn’t want to leave things unsaid and up for viewer interpretation. I wanted to do updates and dig into stories a little deeper—present all of them in parts and skip the fluff. And of course, I’d be doing all this in the grittiness of the poor South. There are some spots down here that are like an oasis of blue and prosperity but most of the landscape is a red desert of struggle. I wanted to show that side of things, get out of the city where it’s all too easy to find a dichotomy of posh or destitute and find people who’s everyday were paycheck to paycheck struggles resonated with the average person.

But on that day I got a little more than I bargained for and ended up tabling the whole idea.

I got in my car and traveled mostly westward until I hit this little area that wasn’t much bigger than a village. There was a Mom and Pop style diner right on the edge of town that looked like it was straight from the 50s…and hadn’t been updated since then either. It got me curious and I figured it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a little caffeine, so I stopped in and took a seat at the counter.

I was taking a quick scroll through my phone checking notifications I’d gotten on the drive when I heard a grumble in front of me. I lookup up to find a large, grizzled older woman in front of me in a powder blue uniform complete with white apron. It was pressed with precision, not a single wrinkle, even though there was no telling how long she’d been on her shift. She had her gray hair swept up in a massive bun and smelled like maple pancakes and Comet. Her nametag said “Alice.”

Without the slightest hint of a Southern drawl, she asked, “whatcha havin’ sweets?”

“just a coffee.”

“Honey, you’re gonna need more than just coffee,” she replied and slid a menu over my way.

I took a quick look and had my curiosity piqued by the Southern Comfort special—extra buttery grits, scrambled eggs (with or without cheese), ham steak, and 2 made from scratch biscuits with a side of sausage and milk gravy. My stomach growled just reading it. Her laugh was coarse and raspy when I pointed it out on the menu and asked if it was any good.

“Everything I make is good, sug. But are ya up to the challenge?”

“Maybe,” I said even more sure than ever that I was in the right place.

It was a short wait surprisingly. The coffee was gourmet. It felt like velvet on my tongue with a rich chocolate flavor, and the minute I took a bite of biscuit I felt like I’d died. She stood there smiling knowingly, one hand on her hip. Sassy.

I took a second to wipe my hands, grab my bag, and take out the camera and recorder. Her brows furrowed, but she said nothing while she waited on me to finish my bite. “This is amazing” is all I managed to get out before I shoved a few more bites in my mouth then a few bites more. She waited me out enjoying watching me savor every crumb that made its way in to my mouth. Before I realized it, I had eaten the rest of it and felt like I needed to unbutton my pants just to be able to breathe.

“Impressive. You ready to check out?” she questioned and pointed at the register.

“Uh, that’s up to you.” She squinted her eyes but kept quiet. “See, I’ve been traveling around taking a couple, few photos of people and getting important stories about their life for my website. Have you ever heard of Humans of New York?”

“Must be new. I’m from New England, a small town in Massachusetts actually, so I’m from the general area, but I never heard of it. What is it?”

“Well, it’s a website where the guy walks around the city taking photographs and asking questions. He posts a snapshot of the conversation with the photo online and gets a lot of interaction. He’s expanded and been around the world and has been able to really help some people with funding, jobs, things like that. It’s been pretty incredible to watch, the human connection of it all and every day people’s desire to help others, and it kind of inspired me to do something similar in the South. I just want to tell people’s stories. The kind of people living out here in The Middle of Nowhere making shit work the best they can, you know? Every day kind of people.”

“And, you need what from me?”

“A photo or few and a story. Any story you want to tell. The most interesting story you have, how you got to be here, who you are… whatever you want to tell.”

“Are you sure you want my most interesting story? It’s a bit unbelievable. In fact, if I hadn’t lived it, I’d tell me I’m full of shit.”

“I’m all ears.”

“well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I should have listened to her warning, but here’s what she said on the recording.

“So I had this job, right? I cleaned the ‘apartments’ for residents at an assisted living facility. Basically, the residents themselves were older and couldn’t quite live alone or without someone able to check in on them regularly, so it was not quite a nursing home but not far off, you dig?

Anyway, there were these two gals who lived together, Mabel and Lulu. There were a bit more than ‘pals’ if you catch my drift. I never really asked how they’d found one another or were allowed to live together. The facility…well, they frowned on what they called ‘deviant’ activity which definitely included lesbians. But they’d made it work, kept their secrets from the right people. That’s what I thought at first. Guess I was wrong about that in the end.

Guests could visit each other anytime during daytime hours, and these two ladies loved to host old fashioned tea parties. Everyone invited was required to dress their best or be turned away. Tea was served always, but the desserts were always something different. Biscotti, pies, cakes, cheesecake, cookies, brownies, crepes. It was lavish, the setup, and I had no idea how they managed to pull it off week after week. They weren’t baking them. I was in charge of helping clean up, you see? There was never any baking dishes afterward, and none of their cupboards held so much as a sack of flour. Maybe they went off site and bought them, but it seemed a pretty extravagant expense, and it wasn’t like the town we were in had a fancy bakery like you might find in NYC. It just added to the oddity of what was to come. That’s the point by telling you that part.

The ladies, they were pretty strict about etiquette including not to talk to anyone else about what went on at the parties. The residents were pretty good about that. They wanted to be invited back, right? The only thing you ever heard out of them was how much fun they were. How they felt more alive afterwards, felt young again. And, you know what’s crazy? They looked it too. They’d leave there absolutely goddamn glowing.

But there were still stories.

I heard all of them over the time I worked there. All the people working there had gossip to spread about Mabel and Lulu—the parties, the sassiness, that they were witches. I didn’t really buy much into it, but then the stories started about their relationship. I’d always had a feeling it might be the case, but it wasn’t my business to say. Their sex life is their own, and I didn’t give a shit what they chose to do in their own time as long as I didn’t have to clean up a huge mess. It got weird though. Every person that spread the rumor ended up not coming back to work. No call ins, no resignation, no word.

It wasn’t really a big deal the first couple of times. That’s not easy work. The residents aren’t always easy to deal with. The pay wasn’t great. Hell, it wasn’t even good. Pennies, really, for what had to be done by the various types of employees. So the turnover rate was pretty high, and the last thing you worry about when it comes to a shitty job you can’t really take anymore is giving a notice so you can spend 2 more weeks cleaning up literal shit and getting metaphorically shit on. It wasn’t all that out of the ordinary at first is what I mean.

But it kept happening.

I didn’t make the connection at first really, but one of my good work friends, someone I went out for a drink with after our shift some days, went shopping with a few times ended up missing not long after a sordid conversation over White Russians in a bar called Jubilee’s. Apparently, Sandra, that’s my friend, had walked in on Mabel and Lulu in what she called ‘a passionate embrace’ on the first White Russian but then described raunchily as “two old witches finger banging it out” by the 3rd one.

I never saw her again.

I knew where she lived, her phone number, all that jazz, but she didn’t answer not once over the two weeks I tried to call. She was never home. Her car was nowhere to be found, and her landlord (he lived in the apartment beside hers) hadn’t seen or heard from her the entire time. She wasn’t the type of broad who’d just disappear like that. She had family around and a kid in college. I tried finding the kid on social media, but you know how that goes these days. Damn kids have all kinds of funky, fucked up names for themselves. It’s not so easy as just typing in a name anymore. Guess I can’t blame them. who wants to live their whole lives as themselves? Anyway, point being is I tried a lot harder than management to figure out where she was, but I couldn’t find anything, and when I went to the police, I was told she was a grown woman and had probably found greener pastures elsewhere. That was that.

Or so I thought.

I gave my two weeks’ notice not long after that. Shit was weird, you know? The stories about Mabel and Lulu were amping up. There was a lot of tension. People kept dropping off the face of the planet, and management didn’t care as long as they had plenty of people to hire for the bare minimum pay. New hires started out at next to nothing and had to work their way up. It was a win-win for the company itself. So I figured with my time being just about up, I couldn’t really give two shits if I broke a few rules to sneak into Mabel and Lulu’s place when they were out getting whatever supplies they could for their tea parties, so I could figure out just what was going on. I don’t know what exactly I thought I’d find. I mean, nothing would bring Sandra or the others back, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind, and I had to know….something. Anything.

I, well, I stole a universal keycard from the nurse’s station during morning shift change. They kept them in a passcode protected safe in there, and I just happened to be in there during shift change a couple days prior and slyly recorded the code being entered while pretending to check my phone before my own shift. So I get one of the key cards, sneak out, and wait for the ladies to leave.

By 11 that morning, they were on their way, and I snuck in unnoticed to hide in a bedroom closet until it was time for the party. I figured I could probably get to their laundry room right off the kitchen and watch from the doorway once everyone was there. 2 p.m. I just had to make it without being found until 2 p.m.

I did it, but let me tell you when they got home I was scared to so much as breathe for fear of being caught. I did not at all expect to leave unharmed if I were. But I got through it. They were so focused on getting things ready for the party they didn’t really even move past the kitchen before guests started showing up a few minutes before 1. Not too early, not too late was part of their etiquette rules. Either a few minutes before or a few minutes after but never exactly on time. Who ever heard of that shit? So yeah, once the house filled up with the other residents, the cackling and gossip began, and I easily made it to the laundry without even a glance in my direction. I had a pretty good vantage point. I could hear everything felt pretty safe peep around the doorframe every now and then if I wanted to check something out.

Here’s where it got dicey.

So the ladies start chanting, okay? I can’t make out what words are being said, but when I look out, they have umpteen million candles lit (they weren’t supposed to have any at all) and were naked. Seriously. I thought I might have a heart attack and die right there. I mean, I’m not talking shit about anyone’s body, but that’s just really not what I expected to look around and see, you know?

I backed away from the doorway and tried to grab a black blanket looking thing hanging over something in the corner of the room to shove in my face to cover the screaming fit of nervous laughter that threatened to come out, but that was a mistake. Biggest mistake really. When I tugged on it, I found Sandra. Well, I thought…think…I’m pretty sure it was Sandra, but she looked like a mummy. Her mouth was open in a silent scream, and her face was contorted, but I would swear it was her.

I screamed this guttural sound I’d never made before or made since, more of a roar to be honest. I made a bolt for the door while the ladies clamored around screaming themselves, high pitch normal sounding ones if screams can ever be normal, and trying to get dressed. I figured they thought it was a peeping tom. I didn’t stop running until I got to my car in the parking lot, peeled out, and never went back. I packed a couple suitcases as soon as I got in my place and headed straight here. I wasn’t taking any chances on turning out like Sandra.

Yeah, so that’s how I got here and my most interesting story all rolled into one.”

I was speechless. I sat there in front of congealed gravy bits, empty coffee cup, mouth agape. I had the wherewithal to stop the recorder and snap a few pictures, but it was like my brain existed on some remote island and had to travel thousands of extra miles to get back to me about what I should do. I stumbled through a couple more questions, but I honestly don’t remember what I even asked her. I was in shock. I don’t even remember how I got home.

It’s been 2 months. Every time I’ve sat down to try to write it, I spiral and blank on what to say. I haven’t gone out to do photos or stories since. I mean, what do you do with something like that?

Witches. Lesbian witches in a nursing home. AT A TEA PARTY. WITH MUMMIES.

I’m not writing it…what if they’re, like, immortal and track me down? What if Alice was one of them and just baiting me into spreading gossip? My mind has covered all the possibilities, and it’s safe to say, I don’t like any of them.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com

Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

Cognitive Script https://cognitivescript.blogspot.com

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

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

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

Bookworm in the Kitchen https://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

Follow Me Home https://followmehome.shellybean.com

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/