Friday, December 16, 2016

Self Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:



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

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

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mirror, Mirror

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



My “Secret Subject” is:

The mirror never lies. Or does it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But is that the mirror or me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simply Shannon http://mybrainonkids.net

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Don't Mess with Tradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

That part was the normal part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, she went there.

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

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

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

I decided to see how the whole thing played out.

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

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

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

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

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Here are the rest of the submissions: 

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

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

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

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

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

Not So Thankful

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

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

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

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

· Working in retail hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Bill collectors

· Minimum wage being absolutely disastrously low

· This clusterfuck of an election

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

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

· The phrase “all lives matter”

· Locker room talk and its acceptance

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

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

· Sky shelves

· White people wearing corn rows and getting featured in magazines

· Lil Wayne

· Ignorant Halloween costumes

· Cranberry sauce in a can

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

· Walmart registers that refuse to scan printable coupons

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

· Having not quite straight but not quite curly hair

· Hot dogs

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

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

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

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

· Ashy elbows

· 100% humidity

· THE SUN

· Not having multiple Halloweens per year

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

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

· Oh. Yeah. Anxiety period.

· My child being a hurricane.

· Climate change deniers.

· Fox News

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

· Adventure Time and Regular Show coming to an end

· Pokemon Go costing money. FUCKERS!

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

· Generic Cheez Its. No. Just no.

· Sports. Whatever, man.

· Patronizingly pink tools

· The Walking Dead. I AM SO DONE.

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

· Hairballs.

· Being self conscious

· Pretending not to be self conscious

· Body con dresses

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

· Politicians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could not have been more wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

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

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

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Destruction of Evidence

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

My “Secret Subject” is:

The scientist didn't mean to drop that petri dish, now he must make sure.

It was submitted by: http://dinoheromommy.com/

I’ve been reading a lot of Reddit’s creepy stories. Some are on a subreddit called Let’s Not Meet which I 100% recommend if your scariest nightmares involve experiences with real people. On this sub, the stories are supposed to true, and I believe a good percentage of them are. If a story seems fishy, readers will flag it, and it will be removed without some sort of proof being provided or at least something that provides more credibility to the moderators. But there are a few other subreddits that simply ask for the suspension of disbelief in order for the reader to thoroughly enjoy themselves. Some of those stories involve paranormal experiences, and some you know from the start are fictional, but you still can’t help that feeling of utter dread stiffening your whole body. I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve slept with the light on a few times since I found these threads.

When I got this prompt, I really had no idea idea what to do with it, but then it hit me. Here was my chance to write a little something creepy if you’re willing to suspend your critical faculties in the interest of (hopefully) making your skin crawl. The stories I like best are always in first person about a personal experience and in a conversational tone, so that’s what I’ll be attempting to deliver here. First person narratives aren’t usually my style, and the writing on these things is often a little amateurish so I hope you’ll stick with me. 

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Ok, before I tell you what happened to me a couple months ago, I should probably give you a little background. I have a p.h.d. in microbiology. The lab I work in does all sorts of testing far beyond my realm of expertise and is in the same building as the medical examiner’s offices. It’s kind of smart. I mean, it’s easy for the medical examiner’s office to bring in samples to be tested by some of my peers, but it’s probably not politically wise. A lot of people say it makes our lab unbiased.

Most of my work involves testing for nearby medical doctors and hospitals, but occasionally I get a case from the medical examiner for cause of death. I also have an agreement with my employer—as long as it isn’t an inconvenience to anyone and no one complains, I can use the lab after hours to conduct some research I’ve been working on about superbacteria—in simple terms, the ones resistant to antibiotics. It’s the only place local with the kind of facilities that allow such testing without risking anyone. Otherwise I would have to travel for hours to a university to have similar access. So far it has all worked out well. My research is coming along nicely, and there have been no issues. All this is important for the story as you will see as it unfolds.

Because I work on my own research after hours and because the research is pretty intenstive, I am often the last one to leave the building. I’m there well into the night even after the night clean-up crew has come and gone. There are a couple security officers that patrol the grounds, but they’re not exactly vigilant, man. I once walked out the door to see both of them in the guard post at the end of the parking lot smoking a joint and eating nachos, so they’re just…there.

So that particular night I kept getting that feeling like someone else was there. I don’t really scare easy. I mean, I’m a 6’5” male, average build. I’m not ripped or anything, but I do alright, you know? Sometimes being in the lab so late was a little creepy for sure, but that night was a whole different animal. I remember getting chills several times when I was working, but I never really heard anything or saw anything. It was just that unending feeling of being watched. Bu then again I was really focused on my work. I’d thought at the time that I was making a breakthrough. I won’t say that I discovered anything that could kill the resilient little fuckers, but it was this tiny vulnerability in at least one strain that could have been manipulated to produce viable treatment options. And of course all that work is pretty much gone now. But I’ll get to that.

I have my petri dishes to make slides and see if I can find that same vulnerability in other strains when I happened to catch something in my peripheral—movement out in the darker hallway where the lights weren’t on. I watched the hallway for a moment, saw nothing else, and figured it was just shadows playing tricks on my stressed mind. I had been working long days and longer nights, and the whole schedule was taking its toll on me mentally and physically. I ignored it, went back to my research, and tried to shake that creepy feeling.

That’s when I noticed movement again but this time it was less shadows and more noticeable. I looked up straining my eyes trying to see what was going on. Where I did my research was a room off to the side of the other parts of the lab that were more out in the open. Out there were computer techs, fingerprint analyzers, document analyzers, the whole nine yards. It was in here where DNA and the like were conducted. Anything that needed a sterile area to prevent cross contamination was done here, so we’re talking a fairly large room. It was separated from the rest of the offices and work areas by glass walls and glass double doors, so I had no trouble seeing out. The problem was the hallway leading into this part of the building was across both this room and the next. It was enclosed by glass as well, but it only had low lights on at that hour for the cleaners. It wasn’t just a matter of looking up and really being able to see what the deal was.

Anyway, I was straining, watching, intent on figuring out just what the fuck was up when I heard it—just a soft sliding of cloth on carpet followed by a light thump. In the middle of the day there was no way I ever would have heard it, but being nighttime, it was dead quiet in that place. The sound came in slow and steady swoosh, thump, swoosh, thump. I’m scanning when I finally see him. There’s a guy, an older white guy with long stringy hair, crawling on his belly. There’s a large knife in its sheath in his teeth and a gun, some kind of automatic rifle, strapped across his back. That was the thump. Every time he pulls himself forward, it hits the carpet.

I was frozen in place. I mean, he was between me and the door, and I had no fucking idea what he could possible want here. There’s no money, nothing he could take. My mind was racing trying to figure out just how the hell I am going to get out of there. At that point my heart was beating so hard I can barely hear him moving anymore over it--THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP. My skin broke out in goosebumps. I knew whatever this guy wanted, whatever he was doing here, it wouldn’t end well. Without thinking I backed up knocking a couple petri dishes off the table as I did.

Of course he looked my way. Of course.

He didn’t even seem startled to see me there. He must have known I would be there and would be alone. His eyes took on this dead stare even as he smiled around the knife and stood. He was nearly as tall as me and wore all black like some kind of movie cliché. The look on his face almost made me piss myself. No exaggeration. It was that cold. There was no rage, no malice, only that maniacal smile. He dropped he knife in his hand then used it to motion me out there with him. I looked behind me at the mess I made. I couldn’t just leave it; I couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t cause a problem large enough to shut down the whole lab and maybe make some people sick. I had a hazmat suit just in case when I did my research, so I bent down to quickly assess the damage when he rapped hard on the glass doors with the butt of the knife over and over and screamed NOW! MOVE YOUR FUCKING ASS. NOWNOWNOW.

I pushed through the double doors leaving the mess behind me too scared of this guy to even take a final look behind me. He grabbed my arm as soon as I waswithin reach holding the knife in one hand, the gun still strapped to his back.

“Take that fucking shit off your face.”

I did as I’m told, then he tells me to destroy all the computers in the place.

“What?” I don’t have a fucking clue what he’s asking me for a minute. Stunned. Confused. Totally not with the moment.

“I said to fucking destroy all these computers, you fucking dumbass. NOW!”

I thought at that point that he must be incredibly insane, and that there was no way I would live through the night. I reached in my pocket and hit the side button on my phone 3 times which enables S.O.S mode. I had it set to sent video and photos to my parents and my roommate at the time who also happened to be one of my best friends. In my pocket, it wouldn’t send any video or pics, of course, but I was hoping it would get audio, and they would know what happened to me at the very least. By this time at night, my parents would definitely be asleep and probably my roommate, too.

I tried not to think about it too much, though. I was hoping I could get him talking and do what he wanted and maybe things would turn out okay…

So, I said, “You want me to…just…demolish all these computers?”

“Goddamn it if I tell you one more time, you’re dead. I can technically do this shit myself without you, but I don’t want to leave behind any evidence.”

The weirdness of that was not lost on me. Technological advances make it possible to test pretty much anything just by way of him being present in the room, but then again, we aren’t talking about the kind of guy who has it all together anyway.

“With what?”

“Whatever you can get your hands on, idiot. Just get it the fuck done and get it done now before those two stoners out there make their rounds again in an hour.”

My heart was beating even harder then. That one comment said he had been watching the place for god knows how long, and he probably knew I’d be alone in here.”

I picked up one of the office chairs hoping that the two stoners as he had so aptly named them would hear the chaos and come running to my rescue without dying in the process, and I let chaos reign with it. I smashed a whole line of computers in the back. I smashed every terminal at each individual workstation. I blasted through to the officer manager’s desk and smashed that one. It didn’t take long. I guess between the stress I was already feeling and the absolute terror this guy put me in, the whole process was cathartic. I honestly got a little glee out of demolishing the place which has only added to the bullshit I feel about the whole situation.

Once I was done, he actually said, “now I’m in the clear. Good job, boy.”

What the fuck was that even about? I had no idea at the time. He then told me to get on my knees and put my hands behind my head before laughing like some kind of evil super villain. That was it for me. I just knew it. Right about then though, I heard voices.

The stoners.

Then I heard sirens.

There was no way out for this dude. I mean, I was there on the ground, hands behind my head, absolutely vunerable, and I just knew there would be a gun fight. My thinking was that he would absolutely have to fight his way out the door past the stoners to try and get out the building before the police broke in.

It didn’t happen that way though. I watched in absolute amazement as this guy ran over to one of the workstations, hoped onto the desk, and pulled himself up through an open ceiling tile I hadn’t even noticed was open, and slid it back into place behind him.

The stoners burst through the doors with absolutely no chill at that point. It was incredibly stupid. The both of them would have gotten shot if that guy had still been on the floor. The looks on their faces…

Anyway, the police showed up. I filled them in on what happened, let them listen to the recordings which unfortunately resulting in my phone being confiscated for evidence, and was sent home.

So here’s where it gets even crazier. Last week I was contacted by the prosecutor’s office, and yesterday I had to go in to talk to them about what went down that night. What they said is that this guy thought that by destroying the computers, he would completely destroy all the evidence that had been tested concerning a quadruple homicide. The evidence ended up tying this guy to that homicide. He broke in, stabbed all 5 members of the family living there, but one of the children lived through it. Between the testimony of that child and the evidence (hair, skin cells, and DNA from a wound he caused to himself during the attack) at the scene, it was a pretty shut and dry case. So he was trying to destroy the evidence and god knows what he had planned for the kid, right? Then they tell me the most insane shit…dude had been living in this building for an undetermined amount of time. After searching where the guy crawled up, the police found this little nest area but no sign of the guy. There was a journal documenting my movements as well as the guards’ and a bunch of blankets, food wrappers, and bags of literal shit. Eventually he was caught near the hospital where the kid was still being treated for his wounds.

As of right now, no one has been back to the room I was working in at the office. It’s sealed off completely. No one knows what we’re going to do, and to be honest, I can’t go anywhere near the building without crumbling in a panic. Pretty sure I have PTSD.

That’s my story. Let’s just say I hope they put the guy away for a long fucking time, because I don’t think I will live through a round 2 with him.

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

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/10/secret-subject-swap-terror-and-judgment.html

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

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

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/10/dark-chocolate-cranberry-breadoct-sss.html

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

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

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

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/10/october-secret-subject-swap-payback-on.html

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

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wizardry and Passion

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: labor, mercy, why, Harry Potter, captain, and crunch. They were submitted by: http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

This might be a bit rambly, but I did a loose format letting the words take me wherever. 

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For my entire existence, I’ve been into books. My mom has told me stories about being able to read
me books from memory because I would request certain ones over and over. Even now, when I see the cover of Wings on Things by Marc Brown (my favorite back then), I smile and feel a few warm fuzzies and can’t help wanting to slowly turn the pages even though I’m probably 30 years above the suggested reading level. Books, for me, were life. There was nothing better than being the captain of my own adventure through someone else’s vessel (me being the reader and the author being the owner of the vessel). It was the only way I made it through my childhood. That escape—the ability to live a life that wasn’t mine even for a short time while I devoured a novel—quite literally kept me sane.

I still read with the same fervor now as an almost 35 year old, but it isn’t exactly the same need as I had when I was young. As an adult, my life isn’t quite so tragic or so hectic. I mean adulting is an exercise of frustration and futility for the most point, and the escape into someone else’s world helps, but it’s not as necessary now as it used to be. I can go a whole week without reading anything much at all besides the occasional blog or article and not think about it, but that would have been torture for little-me.

Reading hasn’t been the same for my son which, admittedly, was a bit of a disappointment for me for awhile. I wanted him to love reading as much as I did when I was his age, and I really kind of pushed it on him from the time he started being able to read. It took some reflecting to realize he didn’t need it like I did, and when he does need an escape he is just as likely to pick up a video game as he is a book. And that’s okay. Along the way, though, when I backed off, he started finding things he really loved to read (which tickled me to no end), and once I started homeschooling him, we picked out books we could read simultaneously to discuss and reflect on.

That’s how we ended up reading the Harry Potter series last summer. I hadn’t ever gotten into it when I was younger. By the time the books came out, I was already 16 and too old for that sort of thing because of my snobbish teenage apathetic angst (yes I realize the oxymoron there). The books were a brand new world for both of us to explore while crunching through chapters and laboring on through the tears. I wasn’t at all prepared for the amount of tears I would shed nor for the profound effect that series would have on me. I read all 7 books in less than 3 weeks, but I’m still sitting here over a year later near tears and screaming “WHYYYYY????” whenever I think about Sirius. I fell a little in love with that character partially because I like troubled, dark, and handsome dudes but also because he reminded me a little of someone I used to love so profoundly that HIS death still haunts me after 14 years. Every death in that series, honestly, hit me no holds barred. No mercy was spared. I seriously cried through half the last book sitting in the floor of my bedroom being careful not to wake anyone in the house even the dogs knowing I would never be the same.

And I’m not.

I don’t know that it would have affected me so deeply in my youth without the same sort of understanding of the world that I have now (however limited it is). It certainly didn’t affect Evan the same way. He cried. On some level, I know he related to a few of the characters, but I also hope that he reads the series again in his teens and with his own children again in the future after he’s had time to experience the ups and downs that life continuously offers. And maybe just maybe, he’ll have to pick himself up off the floor at 8 a.m. and dry his face and know that part of him would always be a little different for having gone back to it. I also hope he calls me regardless of knowing that 8 a.m. is a time I wish didn’t exist so we can talk about all the things he missed when he was younger.

I love when art, in whatever form, leaves you changed the way Harry Potter did for me even as a 30-something who had previously baulked at the idea of a YA novel about wizards. But I’ve also grown to appreciate the fact that I don’t have to be reading to experience that. I used to be one of those people who didn’t watch television—a snob. And judged people for not reading. I shared memes about it, made statuses about it on social media, and proudly discussed what book I had just finished. After shows like Transparent, One Mississippi, Parks and Rec, Stranger Things, Grace and Frankie, and Love made me laugh and cry and get so incredibly immersed in a digital world, I started to see the art for what it was and not as automatically tainted based on what format it was in. The same is true for video games. The Witcher 3, Tell Tale’s Walking Dead, The Last of Us…those games are masters of human experience in a vivid world that may be fictional but still utterly relatable. Writing might be my preferred art—both for consumption and crafting—but it surely isn’t the be all, end all I’ve always made it out to be simply because it was the only anchor I ever knew. 

Whatever you love, find something that makes you feel, that makes you see a new perspective, that leaves you shaken to your core and trying to put back the pieces of everything you thought you knew. Watch it, play it, read it, write it, act in it, who the fuck cares…just do it. Life’s too short to live without passion, too fleeting to live without the sucker punch of a quote that robs all the air from your lungs because someone, somewhere gets you exactly the way you are.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/09/use-your-words-because-hope-rules.html

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

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/09/baby-painting.html
Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/09/use-your-words-day-in-ancient-rome.html

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Dopest Lesson

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 11 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:

Fall is upon us! With the start of a new school year, do you think back on any particular grade you enjoyed? Or hated?

It was submitted by: http://thelieberfamily.com

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"All I’m saying is that if I ever start referring to these as the best years of my life, remind me to kill myself." –Randall “Pink” Floyd, Dazed and Confused

That pretty much sums up high school in a nutshell for me. I mean, it surely wasn’t the peak of my existence. In those 4 years, the couple before it, and the couple after it, I dealt with more than someone my age should have to go through, and the high school “experience” did nothing to help those problems.

I was raped at the age of 13 in my own home by a friend. I grew up in a home where my alcoholic, drug-using father was, on his best days, emotionally/mentally abusive, and I really don’t want to talk about his worst. After my parents divorced, I lived with him for awhile and got into drugs and alcohol to numb the world. I dressed weird. I acted weird. I submerged myself in 90s grunge and metal because reality had too much hurt. I was discovering my own queerness and completely out of my element in rural South Georgia where football and hunting reign supreme as pasttimes and people ask about where you go to church before they ask you your name.

It was impossible to traverse the social hierarchy even without my inept attempts at conquering my own demons. I wasn’t from a football sort of family. My dad didn’t hunt or do much of anything really but work and get fucked up, and we certainly didn’t spend Sunday mornings in church. So even if you could flip a switch and magically take away the violence of my youth and all the lasting effects, I would still have been an outcast. Of that, I have no doubt especially when you add in what a nerd I was. Straight As. Honor graduate. I lived in books, and my grades effortless. In every conceivable way, I was an outsider.

I’ll be honest—I’m kind of bitter about it despite how often I’ve tried to let it completely go.

I’m not bitter in a way that comes up every day or even often, but if tasked, like I am currently, with the thought of picking out a best or even a worst year, all I can do is let out one of those slightly disturbing, ironic laughs that doesn’t quite reach my eyes and lets you know you might’ve well have asked me if I think the Harry Potter movies are better than the books. It’s just not going to end well for you, man. Those years left an imprint and ultimately helped shape the me I am now.

I’m not alone in this. I mean, there are dozens of movies, iconic ones even, that detail the high school experience, and for many of the individuals on screen those years are some of the roughest possible. That sentiment came from somewhere, no? If Randall “Pink” Floyd, a jock with a horde of friends, too many girlfriends, and the run of the school had issues with that period of his life then it’s safe to say there’s a problem. He was, in fact, pretty fucking dreamy, wasn’t he?

Coincidentally, I watched one of those movies the other night called Dope about a 90s nerd growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods possible—Inglewood, California in an area called The Bottoms. It’s crime-ridden with most of his peers either belonging to gangs or slinging drugs. He is constantly accused of being an Oreo (black on the outside but white on the inside) to the point he makes his own punk band named Awreeoh. He’s extremely intelligent and is on a mission to get into Harvard. Even his own teachers call him arrogant for ever thinking he could do more than be the norm for his hood. I related so hard to his story and especially this quote:

“For most of my life, I’ve been caught up in between who I really am and how I’m perceived, in between categories and definition. I don’t fit in. And I used to think that was a curse, but now I’m slowly starting to see maybe it’s a blessing. See, when you don’t fit in, you’re forced to see the world from many different angles and points of view. You gain knowledge, life lessons from disparate people and places. And those lessons, for better or worse, have shaped me.”

It’s a mixed bag really. Even while I’m bitter, I see the blessing for what it is. There may not have been a best year (or even a worst considering they were all equally unbearable), but understanding the blessing was certainly the best lesson.

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Here are the other contributions to the challenge. Hope you will check them out!

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

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

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

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

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

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

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

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

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

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

Climaxed http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com           

Friday, August 12, 2016

Retail Fairytale

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: clumsy, sticky, soft, water, retreat, stump. And they were submitted by the lovely Karen at www.bakinginatornado.com

It's been a hell of a week at my part time job, and I suppose this story is an accurate description of my current feelings. haha. I'm kidding. Sort of. 

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Once upon a time in a land quite like the one we live in now, there lived a not-so-young-anymore maiden who had a penchant for sass and wearing all black. She had soft, pink lips that punctuated her near-perfect RBF (resting bitch face for those who don’t know), brownish hair that longed to be vibrant, and super pale skin that she tried 98% of the time to keep out of all sunlight. She was a loner, ya’ll, a rebel, and she was pretty determined to live life on her own terms.

More than anything she wanted to save up money for solar panels and new tattoos and baby goats, so even though she didn’t really NEED to get a part time job since she and her hetero-life-mate could live comfortably on one salary and odds and ends, she did it anyway hoping that the extra income would make her life a little more comfortable. I mean, someone had to play for Pokemon Go purchases, right?

She found herself working at a small market near her thatched roof shanty of a house. The market itself was situated between two very small villages of mostly peasants like herself who made their livings by working hard and living cheaply. Those were the people she saw that she often got along with best because she understood and had felt the quiet modesty of knowing you worked hard to pay your bills. Sometimes lords and ladies or even royalty came in to pick up a much needed item or two, but for the most part, they were nightmarish brutes who expected a level of perfection in service that was absolutely unobtainable especially with everything she had to get done and with the management of the market completely out of her hands anyway. She worked for wages, poor ones, and that was all. Most decisions on the day to day stuff were at the hands of the owners and managers.

One day after a particularly long shift filled to bursting with the clumsy attempts at flirtations from would-be suitors, she was confronted by a sticky troll of a man who compared her to a popular weightloss guru with a similar name and insisted that she come to dinner at his house one night so he could give her some tips and then play just the tip. At the time, she took the high road in order to keep her job and laughed it off, but she just couldn’t get over it. Every day at work was something new with some other asshole, but that one thing kept eating away at her.

No woman, she had thought, deserves to have her body graded by men everyday while she was simply trying to earn a paycheck.

Women’s bodies are not on this planet for men’s piggish entertainment!
No one should have to be told their body doesn’t meet some random man’s standards as if by existing she has invited his gaze, opinions, and advances.

So she decided to take matters in her own hands. At first, figuring out her next course of action stumped her a bit. She wasn’t sure if she should simply walk out of the market with two birds held high or perhaps she could set the building on fire as one of her favorite theatrical characters, Milton Waddums, had done in one of her all time favorite comedies. Or maybe she should play an extremely mean-spirited but ultimately harmless prank on the man in question.

It was too hard of a choice, so she settled on all three—she would prank the troll, flip the whole place off, set it ablaze, then retreat her very round ass right back home to enjoy her new-found freedom with a box of teal hair dye and a bottle of whiskey.

And she had thought of the most perfectly devious plan to do so without really getting caught.

First, she waited on the troll to return to the market. Every time he came in, he bought soap to wash his ratty, tattered garments with, so as soon as she saw him walking towards the market from his village (not the one she lived in luckily), she went back to the area with the soap, found the clearest stuff on the shelf, and dripped it here and there over the entire aisle. She didn’t want too big of a puddle. Nothing obvious or noticeable, of course, but she definitely wanted it to be a bit slippery. With that part finished, she waited until he was almost to the mess she had made, rounded the corner feigning surprise at seeing him there, and called out to him, “hey, I’ve been hoping you would come by!”

“Why is that?” he asked.

“I’ve been thinking that I rejected your dinner invitation and fitness tips a little too hastily and wanted to know if your offer still stands?”

“I knew you would see things my way,” he smirked. As soon as that sickening half grin plastered across his face, he started sliding across the floor. It was in no way elegant or graceful. His arms flapped at his sides like he was a bird desperately attempting to take off. His feet moved like he was just learning to walk, and he reconstructed everything she ever thought she knew about swear words in just a couple seconds.

When he fell, he fell hard. In fact, he dropped to the ground with such a crash that she almost didn’t laugh out of genuine concern for his well-being. For just a split second, she thought maaaayyybe she took things too far. But then she saw the look on his face—the way that one slip had wiped the entitlement and ego right off him—and she laughed so hard, so loud, and so long that she felt faint by the time her giggles subsided.

She was alone with him in the back of the store so no one actually heard their conversation or knew what happened, but she could see him getting angrier by the second, and she planned this part betting on him being a shouter.

She was right. Of course.

As soon as her laugher died down and his embarrassment really started to settle into every pore on his body, his gaze darkened, his brows furrowed, and he started huffing. Before he could even get himself off the ground, he was screaming at her.

“You think this is funny, you fat bitch! I will make you pay for this. I know you had something to do with it, you oversensitive psycho. I will burn this whole shit heap to the ground!”

That was all it took. She had a patsy. She couldn’t have planned a reply that good if her life had depended on it.

Once he stormed away, she went to find the managers and relayed what had happened (omitting the part about deliberately making the mess) and what the man had said afterwards. They seemed unconcerned and didn’t even plan on calling the sheriff hoping that ignoring the threat would prevent them from having to get anyone else involved in the matter. Their main worry was not being liable for the fall as she knew it would be as it is in every retail hell hole that exists in all the world. Things are designed to create this line of thinking in management much to the scorn of the employees who bare the weight of it. Now, had he been stealing, that would have been a completely different story.

She didn’t actually think his threat put her or anyone else in imminent danger, but for her 3 part plan to work, she needed the managers to think she was A) scared for her life and B) pretty fucking pissed that they refused to stand behind her on this. Once they finished telling her that they really didn’t want to have to get the authorities involved in case it made the man want to take them to court over the fall and have them pay for any potential injuries and damages, she summoned her best Liv Tyler from Empire Records impression and flipped right the fuck out. “FINE?!?! I’LL SHOW YOU FINE!” then she gave her two weeks notice and said, quite clearly, “Fuck this place.” She knew it was risky to lose it knowing full well the managers could make her leave the place right then, but that also meant they would have to do her job and theirs, and she made a calculated yet risky bet that they would at least want her to finish out her shift before finding a replacement. That gamble paid off well, and she was pretty much left alone to do what she needed to do for the rest of her shift.

That night when she was doing her nightly clean up routine before closing, she made sure that the near-rusted-out water pipes out back were completely broken effectively cutting off all water to the store. She also turned on the furnace in back to full blast and sat a box full of flammable torch fluid nearby. Once that was done, she locked the doors, set the alarm like always, and skipped all the way back home.

And she lived in peace away from retail work happily ever after.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:



Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/08/use-your-words-from-shark-to-manatee.html

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

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/08/life-is-but-vapor-uyw.html

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/08/stable-layne-pt-2-useyourwords-aug-2016.html

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

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/08/skate-rotate-and-celebrate.html

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/08/use-your-words-too-many-cooks-spoil.html

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

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

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

Friday, August 5, 2016

That One Track




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

My subject is: How would you rewrite one chapter of your childhood? Not your whole childhood - just one chapter.

It was submitted by: http://batteredhope.blogspot.com


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I’ve never really thought of my life in divided chapters. I’m more the kind of person who has a chronological life soundtrack—a list of songs meant to be played back to back preferably on vinyl or cassette tape that tell, at least to me, my life story. Said soundtrack would mostly certainly be the score to a film about my life and definitely has a few songs I am completely embarrassed to admit ever listening to. What life would be complete without a few *ahem* or maybe a multitude of embarrassments, guilty pleasures, bad choices, and lessons learned?

After so long thinking about life in the songs that accompany the times, it’s really rather difficult to consider my childhood or my life at all as chapters in a larger story, and it becomes more difficult still to divide my childhood up at all. It’s a blur of mostly negative flashbacks, fuzzy images that really fail to tell the entire story because, for complex reasons, my brain felt it best to forget most of it. Can that sort of memory-blur be divided into distinctive patches that combine to make the whole quilt? It seems impossible.

But can I pick out a moment, a song perhaps, to cut away, to delete, or rewrite without disrupting the flow of the soundtrack itself? Can I remove a moment, an event, or make a change without altering who I am? For the longest time, I would have said it’s impossible to take away anything I’ve gone through and still end up with the me that I know today as the final product, and as someone who is pretty fucking ecstatic about who I am, the idea that I wouldn’t be me at all anymore has always given me pause about making a change. I realize we aren’t defined by what has happened to us, but those events alter how we see the world, how we cope, our reactions and politics. So much of who we are depends on how we perceive and deal with what we have gone through and how we eventually cope or don’t with those things.

But…

In the last few years, I have really started to wonder when posed this sort of question how I might fare without ever having been raped at 13. I have written about my thoughts on rape and rape culture extensively, and I know that, for the most part, I have dealt with the whole of it really well, but who would I be if I could just take that one thing back? My virginity was literally stolen from me by someone I called a friend. I lost my innocence on the dingy carpet in my own house. My own fucking house. The person I would have been without that betrayal died that night, and I can’t help wondering who that girl would have been. Could she have been better at relationships? Could she trust people? Let the walls down? Could she be anxiety free? Would she be able to answer the door when she’s home alone without having a panic attack? Would she be more social and able to leave home without feeling overwhelmed, clammy, and on edge?

I have never been able to know what it’s like to love innocently, to be able to be with another human being without the shadow of knowing what it’s like to have your own body stolen from me. For all of my teens and entire adulthood, I’ve lived with the weight of guilt and shame, with the anger and anxiety that comes from being a rape victim. So much of my time and energy has been spent on battling those demons, on coping and dealing and overcoming. Such a huge part of who I am has been molded by that one night, by just a few unforgettable, life-changing moments.

So, yeah, I love the person I am now even with the baggage, the scars, and the anxiety, but if I could reach into the past and just rip that night right out like so much garbage, like a bonus track that never really fit into the soundtrack anyway, I think I might like to know the woman who would have lived without it, the version of me that wasn’t killed that night. I’m sure she’d be pretty damn rad.  

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Here are the links to the other contributions this month:

Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/08/secret-subject-swap-no-glinda-here.html

The Bergham Chronicles http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/2016/08/location-location-location.html
Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

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

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

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/08/august-secret-subject-swap-pets.html
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

The Lieber Family Blog http://thelieberfamily.com

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

When I Grow Up http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/working-on-the-bucket-list/

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear White Friends

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: hot, humid, desert sun, cactus, polar cap, Marmaduke

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

This post is going to be controversial for some people. All I ask is that you keep an open mind while you read, try not to get defensive, and do some research. Perhaps this applies to you or maybe it doesn't. And for the time being, I will be turning comment moderation on just in case. I consider myself an ally and I want this to be a safe place for people of color as well as the people this was written for... For my POC friends, if I have something wrong and you would like to see a change in what I have written, please feel free to contact me. 

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Dear White Friends,

Some of us, maybe all of us, have charged into the issue of racism, systemic racism, and police brutality like Marmaduke in perhaps every single comic strip ever written about the often lovable and well-meaning but clumsy mess of a Great Dane. Sometimes our good intentions keep us from really taking a look at how our actions, words, or lack of both affect others. I mean, you can be “liberal” or “progressive” or claim “I’m not a racist, but…” all day long, but none of those labels and sentence starters mean anything if you aren’t willing to take a look in the mirror and evaluate yourself and your own biases every now and then.

So, look, I know that it’s probably hot where you are. It’s certainly a humid version of literal hell here in South Georgia, weather-wise. Maybe the desert sun where you live has you feeling as prickly as a cactus and in desperate need of time on a polar cap in order to make you give two shits about any issue that doesn’t affect you directly, and who can blame you really? Life is hard enough when you have to worry about yourself and your own family much less the lives of people who have, quite possibly, a different culture, religion, sociopolitical stance, and socioeconomic stance than you do. Life is fucking hard without getting involved in social media debates about whether a black man that you have never met in a state you don’t live in was to blame for police killing him or not…

But here’s the thing, and it’s a really huge thing: People who aren’t white can’t shut it off. People who aren’t white can’t do what I did this past weekend and decide to turn the news off, to escape from the harsh reality that is American violence, and be absorbed by the comedy shows I love. That doesn’t ever or in any way imply that White people can’t have tough lives. I just said it for all of us, for every human—life is fucking tough no matter what. It’s pretty much tough by design from the simplest of creatures up to the most complex. But, it’s always going to be at least a little tougher when you are pre-judged for jobs, loans, housing applications, on social media, by friends, by people in the neighborhood you live in, by the police, by the court system, by the entirety of our capitalist society just because of the color of your skin, something you are born with and about which you have no choice.

I like to use a work room cafeteria analogy. If you go into a cafeteria where everyone pays the same amount for a tray of food and notice that, for example, all of your coworkers who belong to a union are given 2/3 of the amount of food as those who don’t, would you speak up? Would you notice? Would you say, wait a minute…this isn’t fucking fair? That’s what oppression is (in a nutshell), and that oppression/systemic racism exists in a myriad of ways in this country. Women see it in terms of social treatment, rape culture, and the wage gap, among other ways, but it is not just enough to demand equal pay for women without acknowledging the fact that racist policies and procedures exist that devalue the work and jobs of people of color. It's not enough, then, to see the strides that have been made since the beginnings of civil rights activism and think the fight is over just because you have a few black friends on your Facebook feed...

I get that you want to scream ALL LIVES MATTER. It’s a defensive reaction. But, the idea that it’s necessary is absurd. Police brutality is an issue for all races. We see the numbers. Police officers have killed over 500 people this year alone which pales in comparison to other nations with similar social structures and policies—even countries with as prevalent or more racist populations than we have. White people are dying at the hands of our overly militarized police far too often. No one would deny that. Across the board, police brutality is an issue. And we know it’s a police issue and not just a population issue because in places that use body cameras consistently and places where police have undergone more extensive de-escalation training, incidents of police shootings have declined. BUT, when you statistically break down the numbers of shootings by race and population percentages, people of color are far more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts while a large part of our society fails to see that a problem exists. There is an implicit “too” at the end of Black Lives Matter and not an implicit “only” at the beginning, and that’s where the issues of both accidental and intentional misunderstanding come in. When Jesus said “blessed be the poor” no one in the background shouted “blessed be all” because everyone already understood that Jesus was speaking for a fucking population that the majority failed to recognize as worthy of blessings… What is being asked for…no, what is being demanded rightfully and understandably right now is that folks acknowledge the problem and stop dismissing it as an isolated incident or derailing the conversation with bullshit like All Lives Matter or “well, why don’t you care about black on black crime?!?!” The hashtag, phrase, idea, organization, and sentiment is Black Lives Matter because for far too large a portion of the population, when a black person is killed at the hands of police, it is always, always assumed that he or she asked for it (sound sickeningly familiar?) and nothing is done about it.

Since I mentioned it, let me just go ahead and say that if you’re one of those people who think it’s okay to shout “black on black crime” as some sort of battle cry on social media, you’re an ass. I’m in no way sorry for saying so; feel free to take issue with it as you will. There are three things here that catch phrase, when hurtled like a dagger, fails to realize. One, there isn’t a dichotomy here. People can care about both police brutality against people of color and also care about intraracial crime. In fact, if more people cared to actually research, Black Lives Matter organizations across the nation do more in the community than protest when a police shooting occurs. Those are just the ratings-grabbing stories the media chooses to focus on. In Chicago, the key city for most people who argue against BLM, people in the movement and community created an organization of volunteers who disrupted violent altercations in the community before they could actually happen. Two, when a black person murders another black person in a community, the person who unjustly killed the other goes to prison. There's no grand jury that fails to bring an indictment because of the token phrase "I feared for my life." But here is the main thing—almost all crime is intraracial. Most crimes committed against white people are by, you guessed it, white people. And most crimes are crimes of proximity which also explains why they’re intraracial. Human beings commit crimes against people to whom they have easy access. The vast majority of rapists rape friends or family members. The same is true of child molesters. People rob in their own communities or take from family members. Murders often happen with people living in the same house and same community. Hell, even some serial killers remain close to home taking victims within a very close radius to their central home point. That’s just the way people work. It’s not a matter of something wrong with a very specific race as is suggested by black on black crime. I mean that whole phrase is pretty much a bullshit term.

I think, for the most part, there is a failing of understanding at play when people get defensive and shout over the other voices--the voices that are rarely really seriously heard. When people say Eric Garner shouldn’t have had his side hustle selling cigarettes or when people say that all lives matter or even when men shout “not all men” in spaces that women use to discuss feminist issues, it’s a complete lack of understanding of what happens outside your own every day existence. When a person doesn’t have to live it, it’s easy to pretend like a problem doesn’t exist. When men walk down the street in NYC and never get cat called once, it’s pretty damn easy for them to decide cat calling isn’t really an issue of importance. People who deny this problem of race and police brutality exists and who deny, as well, that systemic racism exists, aren’t living it. They aren’t having to talk to their children about how to avoid being shot by police when they’re pulled over for driving while black or thrown to the ground for wearing a hoodie while black. We have to pay attention to the voices of others. People of color need to be heard, validated, and understood. It’s not enough to say “well don’t put the blame on police” when you fail to realize that from the very start police forces have been used to oppress people of color. Police forces were the ones smashing skulls in Selma and all over the nation during civil rights protests and acts of civil disobedience. Police forces that continue to use Broken Window policing to harass the poorest and often minority neighborhoods that only exist because of discriminatory housing practices to begin with… It’s easier, ultimately, to pretend the problem lies with a group of people that have never really been respected as equals in this country than to understand the reality is that the policies and procedures and, perhaps, the very foundation of that country are broken.

We have to be better than this. I see exceptional people every day lending their voices to the cause. Lend yours. As with Horton Hears a Who, it’s going to take every voice possible to create change, from those with the most power in addition to those with less.

With Love,

j

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Baking In A Tornado http://www.bakinginatornado.com/2016/07/use-your-words-cocktails-hawks-and.html

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

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

Spatulas on Parade http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2016/07/spiced-banana-honey-roasted-pecan-cake.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy http://dinoheromommy.com/

My Brain on Kids http://mybrainonkids.net

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

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

Confessions of a part time working mom http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2016/07/use-your-words-blonde-moments-and.html

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

Molly Ritterbeck http://mollyritterbeck.com/

Juicebox Confession http://juiceboxconfession.com/

When I Grow Up http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/?p=620&preview=true

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

On the Border http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2016/07/mowed.html