Friday, April 3, 2020

These Days


Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 6 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:

You just returned from a visit to Ireland and brought back a bit of the ol' Irish luck. What great thing has happened as a result?

It was submitted by: https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com


I needed to vent. thanks for reading.




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I guess in reality no one is going to Ireland right now. No luck of the Irish is coming to call, and I just have to hope that if I get this virus I come out of it alive instead of dying alone. I'm terrified. There's no luck here. Georgia is currently on a trajectory to see infection rates greater than 70% and an astounding death rate if our governor doesn't step in, and he's made it clear he has no intention to do enough...at least until it's too late. (since i first wrote this he finally ordered a shelter in place order after most projections indicated it was too late and only for only just over a week).

I don't know if I have it in me right now to hope for better. Our president knew this would be bad as early as January and did nothing. We have a large group of people in charge who care more about the stock market than lives. We're living in uncertain times. Not a single one of us has any idea what the future holds beyond the fact that things will never be the same again. Never.

How do you think about the luck of the Irish in a time like this? (And to be clear I know the person who sent this prompt in had no idea how things would be or maybe hoped it would be a good escape) I'm so scared and lost and feeling hopeless about the future that it's hard to talk about any sort of hope about things turning around and impossible to pretend that this all goes away with a little luck or that any change--major or minor--gets us anywhere. Because now we know. Now we know that accommodations could be made, that the government didn't step in when it should and could, that the poorest people were told they didn't need a stimulus check at first to help keep them off the street or feed them while on the street. Now we know how quickly things can get bad, how much we depend on "unskilled labor" (i hate that phrase) to function. Now we know that we're seen more as labor sources and stock market padding than anything by the people with power. Now we know how badly we do need universal healthcare.

There is no longer a normal to get back to. And while many leftists, actual leftists, never wanted that normal in the first place, we have no idea where we're going to land to try to make positive changes for the future. And all of us, absolutely all of us, are mourning the normalcy of our day to day.

There is no EPA oversight right now. None. In an environment already overwhelmed by humans.

With cfs, my immune system is compromised is ways that even the most informed experts on the disorder don't understand. Every time I have groceries brought in, every exposure is a risk. My stepdad won't close his store because Georgia isn't closing things down right now. He's exposing my mom every single day. They're still doing family things exposing the rest of my family. I might very well lose people. I already have friends with it. I've had friends denied tests because they weren't sick enough. The real numbers are very likely much higher giving us an invisible enemy around every corner.

We were told to sacrifice our grandparents and our sick (people like me!) on the alter of the Market in the Holy Economy temple. We were told to appease the capitalism gods. To sacrifice lives to keep people rich with no inkling of understanding that these bodies are needed to keep the economy afloat...to spend money and give labor.

White supremacists are using their infected to spread to the groups they hate and tried to attack a hospital with a car bomb. A hospital full of covid patients.

Maybe most people I know live will through this. Maybe I do so my kid isn't parentless or doesn't have to live with a parent and stepparent who don't love him. Maybe we will find a vaccine before millions die and can maintain social distancing until that vaccine is a reality. Maybe the people in charge finally start taking this seriously--and not after it's too late like in Georgia whose major hospitals are already overwhelmed with the ceiling for the number of patients we can take looming larger and larger by day. But none of that will be because of luck. It will be fought for.

If we're lucky, if we really want some of that Irish luck, I hope we'll still have some fight left when all this is done.

Fight for change, for universal healthcare, for better than what we've gotten from two parties who care about money more than people. Fight for the most vunerable of us to finally see equality so they're not treated differently when they're dying alone in the hospital, so someone's triage choice doesn't exclude the trans patient solely based on bigotry. Fight for every state and every local government to have plans already in place to address pandemics so we don't have SHITASS governors thanking chik fil a and praying instead of closing fucking beaches. We have to get through this and still have fight left even while everyday we feel like we don't have any at all. And we'll need luck and wits and strength and determination and the highest roll possible on our polyhedral dice to make sure this doesn't happen like this to our kids and their kids.


_______________________________________


Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2020/04/call-me-pistachio-secret-subject-swap.html

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2020/04/changing-that-one-sss-april-2020.html

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

A ‘lil HooHaa https://hoohaa.com/?p=14790

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/04/secret-subject-swap-long-day.html

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Case

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.

I've been listening to true crime podcasts so blame that haha

                   _____________________

Shannon paced in front of the whiteboard/corkboard in her home office. Her dark hair was pulled into a messy bun on top of her head and not the intentional kind. It was a mass of tousled knots that didn't even register on her radar of concerns. If pressed, she wouldnt have any idea how long it had been since she last brushed it.

But she could tell you every known detail of the last night she spent with her cousin Emily 6 years and 5 days ago.

Emily had been murdered. Another statistic of violence against women, unsolved, a cold case, another national tragedy so said the headlines that dwindled day after day with no answers until literally everyone had forgotten her. She'd even asked around the campus she disappeared from out of curiosity around the year 5 mark, and not a single person could remember who Emily was.

A nameless, faceless statistic.

Not even a body or a grave site or an urn of ashes to show for her life. She'd never been found.

Emily and Shannon had grown up together. They were roughly the same age, and thanks to Shannon's dad being out of the picture and her mom struggling with addiction, she'd spent more of her childhood years staying at her aunt's house sharing a room, the top bunk specifically, with Emily than she had with her own mom. She thought of Emily as a sister. Probably closer than most sisters since Shannon had been so grateful for the love her extended family had shown and Emily had been so understanding and patient that they'd rarely fought.

Her entire world imploded when Emily went missing. And the guilt that still pressed on her like a weight 6 years and 5 days later because she was with her that day and chose to do her own thing was an unstoppable force. She hadn't been able to let it go for a single second not even when the police let it go cold, not when the headlines stopped appearing even on yearly anniversaries, not when locals couldn't even remember who Emily was or what happened... Shannon would never--could never--let her go.

So here she was retracing everything she knew, every report from the only private investigator her family had been able to afford, and all the files she'd gotten her hands on once she got her own P.I. license at 24. She did small town bullshit cases to pay the bills and spent far too much of the rest of her time looking for Emily's killer.

She was 27 now. She hadn't ever had a real relationship. No one could handle how much time she spent on the case or the anger she felt, the shortness of her temper, and the lack of patience she had for people who didn't understand why she was so afraid of the world.

Back to the case, the facts, the pieces, the things she could focus on instead of herself.

Emily was 20 when she disappeared.

She was finishing up her sophmore year at University of Georgia in Athens.

She wasn't dating anyone. No one had any drama with her according to the many, many people interviewed.

On the night she disappeared January 20th, Shannon had gone to Athens to see Shakey Graves play. She was 21 herself and had been with Emily almost the entire day. She spent the night in Emily's dorm on the night of the 19th after getting to North Georgia from their hometown in Valdosta pretty late. It was a long drive, and Emily had stayed on the phone with her the last hour to keep her awake. The two had done some shopping earlier in the day then ate dinner at a small bbq place. No one acted weird, approached them in any way, or--as far as she could tell--followed them back to the dorm.

When Shannon left for her concert, Emily had plans with friends to go to a home basketball game. It was actually a pretty big deal because of impending March madness. This win could give the Bulldogs some kind of direct spot to the March Madness tournament.

6 years later and Shannon still didn't understand basketball well.

The point being that lots of folks were in from out of town on top of the other basketball team from Florida State and all their staff. Every single player at that game had been cleared however. Each of their whereabouts after the game and the following day were accounted for. But with so many people being in town for this game, various concerts including the one Shannon attended, and several other events, the police had given up on finding the person. The Stegeman Coliseum,where the basketball game was held, seats over 10,000 people alone.

Shannon had grown a bit cynical. She knew the police put forth some kind of effort. They checked out the team, for example. But it never made national news. Athens' economy depended on these games, the team, tourists for the music scene, and the university. Scaring people off with a dead student wasn't something the city was willing to do. They had leads. they had people they'd eliminated. But making the kind of deal out of it that was needed was never undertaken.

Back to the facts, the timeline, the logic.

The city had been inundated with outsiders for days prior and after the 20th.

When Emily hadn't shown up to the dorm that night to let Shannon in after the concert, when Shannon finally found Emily's roommate who hadn't seen her since she left for the game, and couldn't get Emily on the phone by call or text, she called Mama Leena. Emily's mom. Basically her own mom. Leena immediately hopped in her car when she couldn't get Emily either. It wasn't like her not to check in or answer a call or text even if she had been with a boy. She would have text Shannon at her concert to let her know not to wait up. She would have left her a way to get in or made arrangements for her to stay with a friend. And in all honesty even though the police never bought it, Shannon knew even then that Emily wouldn't have gone off with a guy with Shannon up there for the weekend. They never got to spend time together at that point, and any time the two of them did manage to get together, it was about quality sister time as much as possible. No one night stand would have gotten in the way of staying up late, talking, and watching shitty B horror movies as was always their tradition. And Emily hadn't really been interested in anyone. Shannon thought she might have been gay. Or asexual. But she didn't press. Emily wasn't a one night stand kind of person. She wasn't into romance or dating. She barely had crushes on celebrities. It stood out. But police see college aged girls as being a certain way, and they never accepted any other description preferring to hold on to their sexist stereotypes.

She kept getting lost in the memories. That was always the trouble. There wasn't one time in all of these 6 years that going through this thin stack of information didn't take her on scattered train of memories and feelings and facts all at once.

Given Emily was over 18, the police wouldn't do anything until she didn't turn up the next day. So by the time they were finally called again to come take a report, Shannon and Leena had already put together much of Emily's night.

She had definitely gone to the game. She had seats with 2 of her good girl friends at school, Alaina and Marcella. Their boyfriends attended too but met the group of girls there. All of their stories checked out. After the game they had gone out for a bite to eat, but Emily had chosen to stay behind and walk the half a mile back to her dorm so she could clean up and be ready for Shannon to get back. Even with this explanation, the police had assumed Emily had changed her mind. It was one of those big things that really held the investigation up.

The only other person these friends saw Emily talk to was a guy in a green shirt with an Irish sounding name like Seamus. None of these friends knew him from school, but they hadn't really paid much attention to the conversation. He had the seat beside her, and he had talked to her quite a bit even celebrating with her when Georgia would score so he had to at least be a home team fan. Alaina was closest and said it seemed a bit flirty on his side, and Emily seemed shy but maybe interested? Shannon has always considered this piece of information a bit biased. When any of her closer friend group spoke of her in the days after her disappearance they discussed their concern that she didn't date, that she wasn't getting out there and trying, that she was happy but they felt like she was missing something.

But that was just Emily. The idea that a young woman on her own for the first time in life, going to college, working a part time job at the library, who had a good family could be happy without dating should have been more normalized. Maybe the police would have seen the comments for what they were and not make so many suggestions about Emily running off. Fuck them.

Of course Shannon had spent most of her adult life single too. She sat at her desk and pulled at her messy hair. Her cat Simon the orange destroyer jumped in her lap purring. She joked his was the only male attention she needed, but that wasn't true. Something in her own life was missing, but no one ever seemed to understand her need to figure this out.

She didn't even know how she felt about justice anymore or the system. It had failed Emily so hard. She just wanted to know where her sister's body was. She wanted to be able to say goodbye. To bury her.

Emily had last been seen on CCTV footage in the coliseum and leaving it with this tall red headed kid. Green shirt. Maybe he had offered to walk her back to her dorm, but none of the CCTV cameras outside the dorms she would have passed before getting to her own picked her up. In a less than half a mile walk, Emily was gone. The police assumed she ran off with the boy, but that just wasn't Emily, and even when her clothes turned up a few blocks from the dorms, the police still shrugged their shoulders and said there were too many folks and that chances were slim. Shannon's heart was broken in pieces, and her family had never been the same.

No one had ever identified or tracked down this guy, but tomorrow might bring answers or at least open the door for them. Shannon got up again and packed all the pieces of Emily's disappearance. Tomorrow she was going on a little podcast that did deep dives in cold cases. Maybe someone would recognize the CCTV photos of this person or had been there that night and seen him or Emily or them together.

Every time she got her hopes up, she came away worse than ever before, but her love for Emily knew no ends. Hope would never die.

___________________________________


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2020/03/wheres-quilt-use-your-words.html

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2020/03/impish-shenanigans-uyw-march.html

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

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

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2020/03/gwens-turn.html

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/03/use-your-words-hard-feelings.html

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

Friday, March 6, 2020

Dinner Doggies


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.

                       _____________________

I didn't have the best childhood. It wasn't easy by any means. There were a lot of drugs, a lot of alcohol, a lot of abuse. We were fairly poor, always struggling, and I had so much anger for so long, so much resentment, that I didn't get to have a "normal" childhood. I didn't get innocence and sleepovers and the warmth of those memories. I couldn't even remember a lot of things beyond a few fuzzy and painful events I'd rather not have retained to be honest. There are entire years that seem missing.

Lots of people have decided for me that those memories are repressed and that I need repressed memory therapy--that 80s craze that took the U.S. by storm right alongside Satanic Panic--but all that has been debunked multiple times over. The truth of the matter is that my brain was in flight or fight mode so often, things often didn't stick. When those parts of your brain are activated to help you process a situation and make quick decisions, memory suffers. Self preservation processes take precedence over making it a memory.

Unless I was actually smiling and enjoying myself away from my parents, I don't remember much, and I'm okay with that. I don't have to remember to be whole. I don't need those memories to work through my shit. I've done so without them. And--MOSTLY--gotten over the resentment.

But boy do I remember the things that got me through. Toys, a few shows, movies, games...anything that helped keep me grounded or let me soar.

One of my best escapes was books because we were in such a rural area that cable was never an option, and we only had a super small collection of movies (most that we did watch were rented). I read a book a day at least more often than not...sometimes while hiding out in my closet or outside under a tree picking ants off my socks. I read to leave home, to be free, to live a better, easier, funnier, whackier, warmer life built by someone else's words in my own imagination. Or sometimes my own words. I started writing my own stories in grade school-- ghost stories scarier than my own life obviously with some cuddly cute cats thrown in the mix. I often went for the dark side. If it was weird or scary, I wanted to read it. I started Dean Koontz (who I never much liked) and Stephen King by 6th grade. There were entire worlds of spooky shit built in my head because it gave me something to be afraid of that I had chosen. It wasn't a ranting and raving high person who was supposed to love me and take care of me making my heart race in fear; it was a make-believe monster not a real one. I had control over it. I could put the book down. I could turn the lights on or hide under the covers or fling the book across the room. I wasn't beholden to that fear the way I had to be at home. The devil you know...

None of those make for good dinner guests though. Stephen King characters? Nah. I mean, I guess some people have a Pennywise fetish since Bill Skarsgard played IT, but that ain't me. We ain't having that man over for dinner and hoping things get freaky...well. freakier.  I have my likes but uh...we're just gonna move on.

One of my favorite set of memories is playing "airplane" with my little brother. We'd drag out these cheap little sleeping bags we had into the middle of his bedroom floor, open them completely, and spread them out. We'd have "seats" set up like they were on the aisles of the plane, and and put some of our toys in to fill up the plane. Then one of us would fly and one would be on the plane ride. We'd go anywhere in the world we wanted certainly away from home and the pain we had there. And our in-flight movie would always be Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers.

By no means was this particular movie relegated to just fake flights. We had it on VHS and literally wore it out. There was one scene in particular where Scooby fell out of Shaggy's jeep (it was just Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy in this one not the whole gang and mystery machine) into a puddle and jumps up chewing his nails and freaking out (and makes a noise very much like my Dane now makes when he gets a scare) and we'd howl in giggles until we hurt and rewind it to do it again. It was just our thing. And to be honest, it's still something I run to when I need a pick me up, when I'm really sick, or when I need to decompress. It's been a favorite for nearly all my life.

My great Dane and Scooby would eat and drool and be very much like Scooby-Dum, Scooby's cousin, and Scooby when they had a reunion--two goofballs being absolutely clumsy and full of love. And okay maybe a little bit dumb too but I do have to say great danes are really smart dogs despite how often they trip over their own feet and look like they're completely clueless. Scrappy would probably join in the fun but try to be the Boss like it always is with smaller dogs and giant ones. The new, tiny dog we have now that I wrote about last month is absolutely the Boss of this house.

But since me and Shaggy go way back, I imagine we'd get a little high (y'all know Shaggy be smoking weed), snack, and listen to some of my vinyl records while he was super awkward. I say that like I wouldn't be. I'm always super awkward.

Sounds like a perfect evening. And very possible we wouldn't even have to have a monster-free night given my company. There's always some rich guy in a Creeper mask waiting to steal a fortune right?

Oh how much that applies.

                   ______________________

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/2020/03/remember-when-secret-subject-swap.html

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

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

Part-time Working Hockey Mom    https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/03/secret-subject-swap-ireland.html

A ‘lil HooHaa                             https://hoohaa.com/?p=14739

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

The New Addition

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 were: dog, coffee, remote, denim, cotton, and fake

they were submitted by:

https://www.southernbellecharm.com
_________________________________________

It's a bit serendipitous that I got these words with "dog" included. My little family has had some big changes over the past couple months involving dogs.

In early December, our senior lady Georgia, a chiweenie of unspecified age but definitely older than 15, got sick, needed emergency surgery, and never came out of anesthesia. It happened so fast. She was definitely getting older, but we honestly thought we had a few more good years. She had a lot of energy, still bossed Rost, our great dane, around, had herself a full time cat boyfriend, and was absolutely spoiled. So it was unexpected to say the least. And devastating. It didn't help that we lost another dog tragically in August to a random snake bite that I wrote about for one of our challenges last year. 2019 was not at all kind to our family, and the loss of Georgia felt like the nail in the coffin.

The cats were depressed, howling for her night after night. Rost missed her. And our holiday smiles were absolutely fake. It hurt. And it hurt badly. This was our 3rd pet loss in 3 years (my last great dane in early 2017 to old age), and we were feeling it. Anyone with pets will tell you those losses are as hard as any others--sometimes harder--and the grief involved is very real.

We weren't necessarily looking hard to find another dog. We weren't sure we ever wanted another. But I had scoped out some rescue and humane society pages missing the little tapping paws following me around the house. I had come close to going to check out a couple and even emailed for more information, but in the end, it just wasn't the right time or fit. The idea of bringing another dog in so soon was weird. Georgia's shoes could never be filled.

I did ask my mom to keep her ears open for me. She has a much bigger local network than I do. I hide out in the country and pretty much cut off 90% of people I know locally for my own sanity. But she works for the courthouse and my stepdad owns a bait and tackle/gas station/convenience store type thing (what a combo...get a sausage dog and a bag of crickets when you fill up your tank) and has for a long ass time, so they know a lot of folks. I told her we weren't in a hurry to move on, so she didn't have to go asking around, but it still wasn't even two days later that she sent me a message about a little shih tzu that had been surrendered to her vet by its owner who was too sick to take care of it anymore. Chewbacca was his name, and he certainly looked the part.

I debated on it a few days. The kid wasn't sold. A shih tzu didn't really seem like our kind of dog, but he certainly looked so differently from Georgia, and that would help ease the pain of comparisons. A couple more days passed and we found out that someone who was supposed to meet the dog didn't, so we took a chance. The possibility of him coming home with us seemed remote.

But then we met him.


He looks like a little werewolf baby. Long hair with gray, black, and white and sometimes a tinge of brown. He has a little floof of white cotton on his chest and a tail like a feather duster. We brought him home on a week long trial. The first meet with him and Rost went better than expected, but it felt so weird having him here. I wanted to cry but also hug him and never let him go. By the second day though, he acted like he's been here forever, so more or less he cbose us. Even the cats took to him pretty quickly considering he's only been here 3 weeks, and his personality keeps shining out more and more. He plays with us, with Rost. He knows his new name. He weirdly never answered to Chewbacca so we call him Fizz which is short for Fizzgig from the dark crystal. If you know the movie, you know why. Haha. He's trained, never pooped in the house and only had two pee accidents. He's good in his kennel but of course he's already sleeping in the bed all night.




I have my mid morning coffee while he dances around the kitchen grinning with his bottom teeth. He sleeps in the bathroom with the Dane while I shower, and anytime I actually get a chance to sit down, there he is begging to be held like a baby so he can sleep.

Now he just needs a ripped denim jacket that says Teen Wolf. Way better than a letterman jacket. And he'll fully look the part of the household cryptid.

He's certainly no Georgia, but that's kinda the point. There could never be a replacement, so why try? He's got a personality all his own, but one that fits in better than I ever could have imagined, and it's been so little time. I can only see it getting better.

Nothing really takes away the hurt and missing our old lady...but Fizz is certainly making those smiles and laughs genuine as hell, and for that I am so thankful.





___________________________________________


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2020/02/a-song-raven-and-shrimp-use-your-words.html

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2020/02/middle-aged-slump-feb-uyw.html
Wandering Web Designer https://wanderingwebdesigner.com/blog

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

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2020/02/the-ransom-of-sally.html

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/02/use-your-words-thongs-vs-flip-flops.html

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

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

Medicated Musings https://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com    

Friday, February 7, 2020

First But Not the Greatest Love

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 9 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: With Feb we think about love. Who was your first love? Do you know where they are now? Are you friends?

It was submitted by: https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

_________________________________

I've talked about my first real love a time or two on this blog. It's not a sore subject. The relationship ended badly and our attempt at a redo ended even worse. But overall, I don't look back in anger. Oasis taught me not to anyway.

Let me back up a moment and focus on the qualifier "real" that I used here.

I had what I called, at the time, relationships in both middle and high school, but these were extremely superficial. I mean what else can they be in middle school? I had a longer relationship in high school, and I really was infatuated with the person at the time, but I can't reflect back on it and say I was in love or loved them. It was something to do really, and I didn't even cry when it was over. I was relieved. I wasn't in the right place to meet my high school sweetheart, fall in love, and marry at 18. That wasn't who I could be nor was it who I wanted to be. I was still exploring my sexuality, still not processing having been assaulted, still with so much resentfulness over the shitty childhood I had and how fucking awful living with my father was and then my stepfather after that. It wasn't an easy time and having been assaulted at such a young age, I wasn't every going to be able to have an intense romance. My innocence was long dead along with the child I never got to be.

I was so very angry.

It was the year after I graduated that I started this first real, serious relationship with one of my good friends all throughout school who had expressed having feelings for me but at the time I hadn't been ready to date. Anyone. It wasn't personal. I just couldn't do it. It took awhile for me to get to a point where I thought I was emotionally ready for it and to recognize the feelings as genuine and not some silly crush or feeling obligated because he had those feelings. Even then I recognized we're so often taught as young women to prioritize boys' feelings and shit over our own. Realizing the genuineness of my feelings did very little at first though. It was some kind of heartache for awhile when I first figured things out. I thought I had ruined my chance by never wanting to take it further when he did.

It all worked out eventually, and we moved in together when we were just 19. I really think that was our downfall. It was too much responsibility too fast. He had been really sheltered and never had to do much for himself. We both had issues, dysfunctional families... I had unresolved trauma. I HAD to get out of my mom and stepdad's home. It was all too much too soon, but we kept at it for a year and a half. Trying to manage an apartment and college and jobs and still make time for each other and our friends really made enjoying our new found freedom pretty difficult. It didn't help that my past with other dudes and me being queer made him insecure. And it certainly didn't help that I had like zero self esteem. We were an absolute mess.

To be clear, I don't think if we had gotten together under better circumstances that we might still be together. I'm so vastly different than I once was, and he's more or less an adult version of the same guy. A few more wrinkles, a little less hair, some life lessons, and even more responsibilities now than when we failed, but essentially he's the very same person I once knew. I had to go through literal hell to address my traumas and be reborn as something mostly whole. Kintsugi for the proverbial soul isn't exactly easy. And the older I've grown the more my humor has changed, the more I've addressed my innate biases, the more I've become intersectional, a feminist, and a far leftist. I would hardly recognize the girl I was when he met me, when we were together, or even the girl he left behind. Ive fixed so many cracks, she's virtually unrecognizable.

Life happens, as they say. And I'm okay with the direction life took for me. It hasn't been easy, sure, but I'm okay. I'm at peace with WHO I've become even when life isn't easy, and I think coming from where I did that's really the best I can hope for. It's better than a lot of folks who walked a similar path.

We aren't friends. I don't think we're allowed to be because new partners get insecure about friendships with old ones. At least that's how it usually works around here. (On his end not mine. I don't go for that shit in my personal life ever.) I do miss the friendship, but if I'm really truthful I know it wouldn't be much of one even without insecure significant others. We're too different. My values and humor are too different. And I draw a hard line on people who use vulnerable populations as a punchline. I stopped even being Facebook friends with all the people we hung out with at the time especially since one of those is a trump supporter who literally grabbed me by the crotch one night WHILE we were dating and they all still make excuses for it. Go figure.

We did talk a few times over the years expressing our responsibilities in why things went bad without reminiscing, apologizing without it being awkward. I don't duck or run when I see him in public which is rare now that I'm housebound. So it wasn't awful even though it really was my biggest heartbreak to date. And it wasn't something I held onto resentment over. But it's never going to go down in history books as a great romance or in my own history as the one that got away. But I did love him, and I'm thankful for everything I learned about myself and relationships along the way.

_________________________

Here are the rest of the participants!

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

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

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

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

A 'lil HooHaa https://hoohaa.com/

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

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

Medicated Musings https://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com

Friday, January 17, 2020

Paint the Wizard's Fire

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:

goals ~ cold ~ push-ups ~ shake ~ temperature

It was submitted by: https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

So, I had a dream like this recently, and I kinda added some details, but the bones of it are what happened in the dream. I can't explain my brain. 

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Her temperature hadn't really changed much since the last time she checked. Still over 101 and stubbornly not coming down. She knew it was a good thing, that her body was working hard to kill off whatever cold germs she'd been invaded by, but fucking hell it was never fun. Burning hot one moment then the shake of chills the next. The aches. The discomfort. She couldn't get comfortable, and the pain every time she coughed made her feel like a Sasquatch was doing push-ups on her chest.

So she took all the different over the counter meds she might need and hoped for relief. Just a degree lower on the fever was one of her only goals really. Just that much would be a drastic improvement.

The room faded as she fell asleep and was replaced by a mossy, overgrown garden.

What the...

Where am I?

I must be dreaming.

That thought relaxed her a little, so she took in her surroundings. The garden was walled off with crudely cut stones, crumbling in places and covered in others by vines. There were trees on the outside of the walls completely ripped from the ground, recently overturned, while others stood tall with dark green leaves and the power of something ancient, something that had seen what the world had to offer and lived to see more.

The garden itself was a tangled mass of spiked vines full of huge, bright exotic flowers with blood-hued stamens, bushes full of dripping berries that smelled sickly sweet, small trees bare of leaves and with blackened trunks...not a single one did she recognize.

And if that wasn't weird enough, everything was too quiet. Too still. She couldn't hear any life at all actually, and in a place like this, bugs would be thriving. Frogs. Salamanders. Newts. Toads. The silence unnerved her making the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

In the middle of the garden was a fountain. Surely something would be drinking or living in the trinkling water but it was quite a long way off. She couldn't even make out what shape it was, but something pulled her to it. There was a swirling, chaotic, debris covered walking path that led to it though, and without really understanding why, she set off.

Time dragged on, and it felt and LOOKED like she had barely made any progress towards her goal when she started hearing the whispers.

She's here. She'll kill him. The Black Wizard.

She's here. She'll free us.

She's here. She's here. She's here again.

She'll kill him.

The whispers should have been terrifying beyond words, but instead she found herself standing taller, straighter, and feeling confident in a way she never had before in her life.

She's here. We need her.

Protect her. She must make it to the fountain.

She trudged on seeming to make a little more progress while the whispers floated around her like shimmering hordes of butterflies. The vegetation grew even thicker now on either side of the path with heavy fruits bending small trees almost to the ground and ripe gourds huddled in the massive patches of vines all around the path. The smell of rot hung in the air crowding around patches of moss and clutches of wildflowers. She could almost taste it, felt it roil across her skin. The place simultaneously felt familiar and foreign. Known and mysterious.

The closer she moved to the fountain the louder the voices became until it was a roar in her head like television static turned to maximum volume. The voices talked over one another blending into a chaotic metal melody, a cacophony of pleas, hopes, and directions with one clear message.

She was here to kill the Black Wizard and set these souls free.

She must have been closer to the fountain now. In the distance and coming nearer all the time, green streaks of lightning lit up the land. A dark castle stood on a cliff overlooking the garden, looking at her with each strike, and every time she felt an intense cloud of dread wash over her. But the voices kept her determined, focused. She had to help them.

She's here. She'll kill him. rejoice she is here!!Help her. Girl, you will kill him. Please. 

She edged even closer now seeing signs nailed to posts stabbed into the ground. They were covered in...runes? Some kind of letters or symbols she didn't understand. But she also got her first look at the Black Wizard on these as an Uncle Sam stylized figure glaring out at her from under a black hat and pointing in her direction. His yellowed, crooked teeth were bared, lips pulled back in a snarl under a nose that had obviously been broken and never reset properly. His eyes were green but not the kind of green you would ever find on a human. They nearly glowed even in print and matched the color of the lightening streaking down from the castle on the cliff. His black tattered robe and long gray, scraggly beard just added more to the feelings of terror that were now causing chills to run down the length of her body, head to toe.

She knew him somehow. She was meant to be here.

She hugged her arms around her and kept moving. But now the voices cohesively chanted a lyric that whirled around her like a cotton candy blanket and reverberated in her mind, an earworm she couldn't shake.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She had no idea what it really meant, but the feeling that she absolutely had to get to the fountain was stronger than ever. She was close now and could make out the shape of the thing. It had a round black marble base. The center of it spawned a large green and gold snake unlike anything she had ever seen before. It coiled around a large sword with detailed scales that glinted in the flashes of green light. It's hooded head faced straight forward just above the sword's hilt. It menaced any creature who viewed it while still managing to peacefully spit water into the pool surrounding it. Overall the whole thing was eerie but combined with everything else going on, with the lightning striking more and more frequently shining on the blood red eyes of the stone snake, the entire setting became that much more fucked up. She had no words to describe exactly what she was feeling, and to make matters worse, her brain was so cloudy with the drive and emotions of the voices. The lyrical chant pushed her and their fear and hopelessness spilled onto every nerve. She was tense, chilled, almost sick with the dread.

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

She stood before the fountain as lightning hit one of the trees just outside the garden walls. It was almost like the garden was protected somehow from the wizard's wrath easing some of her tensions. She was safe, she thought.

You're

Not.

hurryhurryhurrynow

Take the beetles, take the slugs and place them on the pyre. Take their ashes for yourself and paint the wizard's fire.

One peek into the fountain itself ruined her. The water swirled with creatures she couldn't recognize. Beetles with fangs, glowing and fighting. Blood in a range of colors. Small amphibians tearing into others. Slugs in blues and purples gnashing their teeth. Everything a predator, waiting to use their claws and spiked tails and serrated teeth on whatever they could.

Take the beetles, take the slugs

She reached into the mass of water and writhing beings pulling one neon yellow nearly fluorescent slug from the mass, held it above her, and watched it wriggle in the air trying to bite...

Then she woke up.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2020/01/jack-and-jamaican-jerk-use-your-words.html

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

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

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/01/use-your-words-dont-push-my-buttons.html

Medicated Musings http://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com

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

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

Friday, January 10, 2020

It's My Party

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.

There’s so much difference between how we celebrate birthdays as children and as adults. What would be your ideal birthday celebration at this point in your life?

It was submitted by: https://Bakinginatornado.com

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I grew up pretty poor. My parents did a lot of struggling to make it on my dad's welding business and drug habits. Stress. Second mortgages. Stubbornness. I don't think we would have made it without my grandparents helping where they could when asked, and they were barely solid middle class themselves. And that's just the stuff I knew about from overhearing fights and actually retained. I can't imagine how bad it might have actually been since I wasn't privy to it all of course.

Because of that, because of my dad's temper and abuse and his habits, birthday parties weren't big deals and stopped when we were still pretty young. We didn't even have many friends my parents felt comfortable inviting over except kids of their own, similarly backgrounded friends, and those fell out of life pretty often. My dad didn't get the nickname "Stormy" because he had an affinity for taming gray horses like in some afterschool special about a girl being sent to find herself on her uncle's ranch. He was volatile. Mean. You never knew which side of him you might get. Friends just didn't last. So neither did our friendships, the few we had.

I tried to do things differently for my own kid. We made birthdays into fairly big affairs with a themed party at a park and tons of friends and family. We've done Batman, SpongeBob, trucks, zombies, pirates, Harry Potter, adventure time, stranger things, Mario and more. I've done facepainting, scavenger hunts, pinatas, shaved ice machines, and even set up a piece of a Mario level for activities and made a lot of the treat bags, favors, and decor myself. I wanted him to feel special on those days, to be the center of our little world and to know he mattered to a lot of people even if it was my friends who grew to love him through their relationship with me. It wasn't the birthday really or the celebration of another year, it was meant to be a celebration of everything he is. (And it suuuuuuuucks that he didn't want that this past year because we had a rough one).

I'm not big on being social. I'm mostly housebound because of chronic illness, so being social isn't something I can really do. But even before I got sick, it wasn't really my bag. So I haven't ever wanted to make birthdays a big deal as I've gotten older. I don't care about the aging reminder. I never thought I'd make it this far in life so every year I get I embrace it. Fully. But my love language is also acts of service, so I would be lying if I went about writing this whole thing and not admit that at least once I'd like for someone to celebrate all things me on my birthday. The kind of work and planning that goes into making a party where many are invited but is still super personal isn't easy. To make it about the person and not have it feel like any other day is a feat. I've don't it for my kid his whole life so far and for partners as well. So I know what a job it is, how hectic it can get, and the kind of thoughtfulness and craftiness involved. It would mean the absolute world to me to have someone do the same just once.

I think acts of service as a love language is probably one of the most understood because it's more than "I did these dishes of which I dirtied half so you didn't have to" and it's never really that. It's about showing you know someone well with action. Not with gifts or words or affection but actual action which doesn't end at "I did chores I should be doing anyway." Fuck, it doesn't even begin there really unless the person is doing a chore they know I hate and not just something they should be helping with anyway and wanting a war medal for it. It's "I made you a playlist" or "I saw this and thought of you and snapped this pic" or "I cooked for you" or "I researched and read about your illness." It could definitely be "i want to celebrate all things you on your birthday if you're up for it. Leave the planning to me."

I honestly wouldn't have words, and I would definitely cry.

So for the most part, I'm ok with mundane birthdays that I relish more than I let on. In private. Because I can't really do the whole social experience like most, and I'm not the kind of person to expect a yearly party or huge shindig. Birthdays that are small gifts and heartfelt Facebook messages that make me cry are absolute perfection as it is. I love them. I love the thoughtfulness that I already get on my birthday, and I love spending birthdays cuddled up with a book and a furkid or kids.

For the most part.

But just once, there's a part of me that would really love having the kind of parties I've planned for others, to be on the receiving end of that kind of honor and act of service, and to be recognized for who I am and the part I play in people's lives that way.

I'm not counting on it, of course. It's never a good idea to wish people will do the things for you that you do for them because everyone's ideas of expressing love is as different as the way they want to be shown love. Not gonna stop me from thinking wistfully about it though.

p.s. if anyone ever sees this and does it, do NOT invite family. thank you. haha

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here are the rest of this week's participants!

Baking In A Tornado https://www(dot)bakinginatornado.com/2020/01/nailed-fail-secret-subject-swap.html

Spatulas on Parade  https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/.../no-regrets-sss...

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

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

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/01/secret-subject-swap-goals.html

Sarah Nolan  https://mymedicatedmusings.blogspot.com