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
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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.





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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

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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

______________________________________

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

______________________________________

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


Friday, December 13, 2019

Where Have All The Forks Gone?

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: climbing, spirits, midnight, brand, diamonds, behind

they were submitted by: https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

I saw a prompt about hearing a voice reply to you in the middle of the night or whatever and read a cute little story about a person discovering it was their Monster Under the Bed. So I wanted to do my own spin on that for a while, and, well, currently I'm down to 3 forks from like at least 10 so...?

_______________________________

It was late. I’d actually already been in bed for a few hours, but I woke up with a dry mouth from the cold medicine I’d taken and nothing on the bedside table to relieve it, so I dragged myself from bed, took a little wee, then headed to the kitchen for something cold and fizzy. Diet ginger ale was my weakness.

I’d lived in my house for a lot of years already, so I didn’t turn on any lights moving from the bathroom connected to my bedroom to the kitchen. I heard some scurrying claws on the kitchen tile, but I figured it was one of the cats. One or more of the cats. It seemed like they took great pleasure in pretending I was some kind of monster ready to pluck their spirits from their bodies any time I moved around after midnight. During the day, I couldn’t keep them off me or at least from weaving between my feet as I walked to convince me it was absolutely imperative right.this.moment to refill their food bowl that was still, by all accounts, ¾ of the way full.

Oh the horror.

The tragedy.

It was absolute torture.

I guess their weirdness at night was something to be thankful for. Pitching forward onto a floor partially alive with furry and clawed bodies in the dark did not sound like a good time. I might not make it out alive.

So there I was gulping down a drink that felt like TV static in my mouth but made me happy nonetheless when I heard a sneeze. I treat the cats like people more than not, so I didn’t even really think about it when I said, “Bless you.”

“Thank you,” a small, tinny voice said back.

I froze with my can of ale midway to my mouth, held my breath, and listened closer. It was as silent as a house can get with so many cats living in it. There was definitely a late night litter visit happening in the connected laundry room. Ick.

“Who said that?” I ventured. I wasn’t ready to turn the lights on yet just in case.

“No one.” The voice trembled a bit.

“Uh, obviously someone if I can hear you.”

“oh. You’re right then.”

“Are you a cat?”

“What?? No, no way. That’s gross.”

“I mean, yeah, cats are pretty gross aren’t they?”

“Every time I take a fork they drop on the floor, it always smells like their buttholes, and I have to scrub it so many times to get it clean.”

I sat with this thought. And sat a moment longer.

“what do you mean ‘every time I take a fork they drop…?’”

There wasn’t an answer this time. I wasn’t ready to let this go yet. I’d probably gone through 6 or 7 sets of flatware since moving in this place, and it wasn’t because I was just ready for a change. They were forever going missing. It was a million times worse than the stories about missing socks. I kept up with my socks ok. It was the fucking forks and spoons that ran away in droves in this place, as rare as blue diamonds especially when you really needed one to fight the hanger taking over your body and depleting all your patience.

So.

Out of curiosity I turned the light on, my heart rate climbing, and dropped one of the few mismatched forks I had left onto the floor.

Nothing happened.

I looked behind the stove, under the table, in the cabinets…nothing. I saw nothing. Heard nothing. I wondered if I was dreaming or hallucinating or just fucking losing it when a whisper floated my way on the heat from under the fridge.

“Can you…will you turn the light back off please?”

“uh…why?”

“Can’t see me. Not allowed except in exceptions described in Section 2B of the Code of Conduct for Flatware Trolls.”

“Not allowed by who? What exceptions? Oh my god, did someone slip LSD in my ginger ale????”

“Not allowed by the Ruling Board of Fork and Spoon Collectors of Trolldom. But I am not allowed to tell you the exceptions.. Must be what you call ‘organic.’ What is LSD?”

“Why haven’t we ever talked before then? LSD is a hallucinogenic drug.”

“Only permitted in instances where you speak to me first. No need for drugs. Just forks. And spoons. More forks than spoons though. And an occasional butter knife.”

“oh. The ‘bless you?’ Well I suppose that makes sense. If any of this makes sense, it’s that part. I’m going mad. I must be.” But I turned the light out anyway.

I heard the same scurrying as when I stepped out of my room earlier, a metallic clink, and a satisfied sigh.

“Well, goodnight, I guess.”

“thank you, miss, goodnight.”

And that’s how it went. I bought forks and spoons every time I went shopping. Thrifted ones, souvenirs, plastic (though my little troll wasn’t as fond of those), entire sets in nicer brands when I could afford them so they could have a collection. It was kinda like having a pet I never saw, didn’t have to clean up after, but could talk to. Who responded. That was the best part. And I mean, it’s not like Forker (that’s what I named them but they didn’t get the joke) had any worldly advice to help me with my problems or anything, but they listened. They told me I made them happy, and they never barfed on the couch. We listened to music together. They learned all the words to every Sturgill Simpson song and really got the twang down so much it affected how they talked the rest of the time. They weren’t interested in movies or sports or any of the shows I watched, but I could put on a vinyl and have a sing a long anytime I felt like it.

The years went by like that, and everything was great really…until they got sick. I heard little coughs in their singing and wheezing late at night when I went for a cold drink. It started getting really bad, but when I asked what I could do, I didn’t get an answer. All Forker would say is that sometimes they get sick and die, and that’s just part of things. So I got an answer, I guess. Just not a satisfactory one. I left cold medicine out. I put out some antibiotics I had left over from a toothache that I had been allergic to…. But they wouldn’t take anything that wasn’t flatware not that I even knew if it was safe for them to take really. I just wanted to do something to help. Probably a rule violation in some code somewhere. A few days later, I wasn’t even hearing the wheezing or the coughing, and I had the worst feeling. I sat in the kitchen floor holding a fork and sobbing.

“I wish I could help you. Let me come help you.”

Light flowed from behind the fridge like it was suddenly on fire. It lit the entire room and then some. I watched for a moment wiping away my tears and sniffling then stood up and moved the fridge. There was a little doorway back there big enough for me to crawl through that had never been there in all the times I’d cleaned behind the thing—admittedly not nearly often enough.

The door itself was old and painted olive green. The knob was constructed somehow from bent spoons and turned easily in my hand. I crawled through a small, cobweb covered tunnel. It had a dirt floor and a warm blast of air from the back of the fridge. It only took a moment to get through to the room Forker was in. It was insane. All of it was insane. My whole life had lost any sense. If I ever tried to tell anyone about it, I’d have been locked away…but I LOVED it. I loved every minute of it. And being in that room that was far too big to exist inside my wall, bigger than my entire kitchen, seeing Forker for the first time tucked in their bed made of spoons and blanket knitted from floss (it looked like) with the souvenirs I’d bought them displayed on the walls, every detail made of forks and spoons and butter knives and still piles and piles more everywhere I looked, I felt so alive. Forker was a real life middle earth type fantasy in my every day life, and they gave me something to wake up for, something to look forward to.

I stepped over beside their bed. They were tucked up to the chin in the blanket, but I could see the mauve colored wrinkles of their skin with soft green freckles. They had a little mousy nose and whiskers and watched me with big golden eyes. It looked like maybe some fur existed somewhere judging by the tufts on the sides of their face, but I couldn’t be sure with the blanket in the way.

“Forker? Is it okay that I am here?”

“You wished it to be,” they said before a coughing fit hit them hard and brought tears to their eyes.

Despite their lack of interest in any of the medicine I’d been leaving out and begging them to take, I managed to get some antibiotics in the tea on their bedside table—made of, as you might guess, flatware. A bit bumpy for my tastes really. I didn’t know if it would help, but I had to try something. I couldn’t lose my best friend. That’s what I’d come to realize when they got sick—that I loved this stealer and hoarder of spoons and forks, and I’d kind of come to depend on them to be there day after day. I wasn’t ready to let go.

So every night after work, I’d whisper my wish and visit with some medicine and the best forks I could buy and little by little they got better. Apparently the section 2B permitted me to see Forker if I actually cared enough about them to wish to help them. That’s it. That’s the only circumstance. And it had to be organic meaning it couldn’t be just to marvel at their existence or gawk or get pictures. I had to want the best for them, and then I could be a bigger part of their life. We hung out even more after that. I visited theirs and brought my laptop and FINALLY got them into Steven Universe. We’ve watched them all a couple dozen times now and can’t wait for the last season. They taught me about Troll politics and all the different types. Sock trolls, pen trolls, key trolls…Frustrating little creatures when you think about it.

Funny how a little frustration and a love for ginger ale gave me the best friendship I’ve ever had, and there’s no way I’d ever trade it for having a fully matching set of flatware ever again.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/12/the-spirit-lives-on-use-your-words.html

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

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/12/road-trip-with-miss-sassy-pants-uyw-dec.html

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/12/stunt-ed.html

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

Sarah Nolan https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/

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

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/12/use-your-words-rude-olph.html

Friday, December 6, 2019

Cooking with Chronic Illness

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 8 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

As you get older do you find you decorate less, bake less and shop more?

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

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I don't know if any of this is true for me. Haha.

Am I older? Am I getting older? I don't know. I feel like even with chronic illness I've never been as good as now in my 30s. Mentally. And physically maybe I'm just a tad, a decade or few, older than I should be perhaps.

I guess the point is that, for me, age isn't really a factor in my answer. It's more about my physical limitations and really my budget whether we are talking about every day or the holidays.

I cook often. My house isn't really a sweets house. We don't have dessert often or anything, but I do cook regularly. I can't physically cook a small meal every day so I typically do recipes that can be doubled easily and cheaply and can last several days then freeze what leftovers there are to make a base for something else. If I make taco soup, for example, I always freeze the leftovers to add to rice for burritos or reuse for nachos. This means I can still make exceptionally tasty meals with love that are healthy and all that jazz without it killing me. It's pretty hard to move around the kitchen with a cane. So limiting the days I have to do this really saves me while helping me provide home cooked meals. That's important to me. It may not be a big deal to everyone, and I'm in no way condemning people who can't or don't care about it, but for whatever reason I do. I think it has to do with changes after my parents divorced. My mom went from cooking for us--something we maybe took for granted as kids but felt the love from it all the same--to eating out with my stepdad every night in a relatively short amount of time, and I wasn't invited to go because of how I dressed. So I had to make my own dinners. Cheese sandwiches, egg noodles with butter, or vegetarian tacos if I could get my hands on what I needed. And while my kid can make a few things on his own like that if he doesn't feel like leftovers, I like having food here that I've made that I know he enjoys and that I know has more of the sustenance he needs.

The thing of it is...I can't even eat any of it myself. My chronic illness comes with a myriad of gastro intestinal issues which means the types of foods I can eat without issues is very limited. Sometimes depending on the meal I can make a variation of whatever I'm making that will fit my restrictions, but a lot of times I have to opt for a can of soup or a baked potato for myself. So most of the time he knows I'm making stuff for him that I won't even be able to eat, and I hope he looks back on that with some kind of appreciation even if he doesn't always have it now.

In terms of holiday cooking, my mom hosts so I've only ever made desserts and cheese pennies (basically cheese straws), but since my brother got married, his wife can't stand for anyone else to get any attention whatsoever, so those two just stopped eating anything I brought for dessert entirely and brought their own and got mad if someone didn't eat theirs over mine. Yes, if you're thinking that is absolutely petty, childish, and shitty, you would be right. I don't see much of them anymore or any of the family except holidays now, and it makes the holidays SO MUCH FUN. Family tension really makes the holiday season special.

Living on a budget also has an effect. I can't really afford a bunch of convenience meals that might actually be healthy. It's by far cheaper to make food when I can and excess shopping is out of the question especially since I'm basically homebound. I might get out once a month? Every couple months? And when I do I have to medicate myself to the gills to be able to handle it. Motion sickness meds, anti inflammatory meds, ginger, CBD oil, and pack migraine meds and ginger candy plus another dose of motion sickness meds to take before I leave wherever I'm going. It would be impossible and very hard on my body to do that every couple days or even once a week. So I don't shop more. Maybe I do buy more now that I have more than myself to cook for and can afford better than the poptarts, popcorn, and ramen I lived on when I was first living on my own.

I also can't really afford to shop more than I already did for Christmas. I've had a pretty solid budget for years and luckily my family isn't growing anytime soon. If ever. My child is only 14 and more into boys than girls with zero interest in being a dad so far, so no worries about being a grandma any time soon. And we've hopefully gotten past the point of my brother having a 5th child.

As for decorating...well, it's Halloween all year at my house. I've occasionally put up a tree, but with cats, it's always a disaster and I don't have the energy to clean up the mess every morning, so we haven't done that in a few years. Trust me when I say no one is sad about it either. Haha.

I suppose the one holiday tradition that will never change is how many Christmas movies and specials I love to watch even if I'm not really a person who celebrates. Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty, Garfield, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation...I love them all even at my age, and I hope I never grow out of it
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Friday, November 15, 2019

Bethany Gets a New Job

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: call center ~ furniture ~ Black Friday ~ turkey ~ rolls

It was submitted by: https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/
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Working in a call center on Black Friday wasn’t as bad as it sounded. She got paid by the hour, so she didn’t depend on commissions to make money. It was really just a day of listening to the phone ring and looking forward to the leftover turkey and rolls she packed for lunch. Actually talking to people? That was the worst. Snowy days when people stayed in as much as possible were the hardest. So Black Friday? It was sort of like getting paid for a vacation.

She settled into her cubicle, wrapped up in her shawl because the place was always an icebox, and sipped her first peppermint mocha coffee of the season while her terminal booted up. It was going to be a good day she kept telling herself. She never went Black Friday shopping being the kind of person who avoided crowds, so she wasn’t actually missing out on anything even though most of her friends were already posting about the deals they’d snagged.

Nope, not for me, she reminded herself as her coworkers began to drag in. Black Fridays were a bit of a skeleton shift. Most got the day off, and it was supposedly a lottery of who was chosen to do it, but she’d gotten picked the last 3 years, so…she was pretty sure the powers that be were using it as some kind of passive aggressive punishment. Well, fuck them. She was not so easily perturbed.

She sipped more of her coffee while she waited on the clock to hit exactly 9 a.m. so she wouldn’t get in trouble for being “too motivated” yet again this quarter and stared at the decorations around her desk that always made her smile. She had a Hey! Arnold figure, photos of her cats, a plush toy of Garnet from Steven Universe, and some odds and ends Happy Meal toys she picked up when she forgot to pack her lunch. She was here enough…she might as well make it more like home. Everyone else had photos of kids and spouses and vacations and always gave her weird looks at her little toy collection, but fact is, no one had to grow up entirely, and she probably never would, so they’d have to get over it or be salty. Not her problem.

She was lost in that train of thought when her phone rang.

Odd.

The phone didn’t really ring here all that much. This wasn’t like some IT help desk place or anything. She sold shit no one really wanted or needed or at least didn’t think they needed until they heard from her how awesome this set of silicone baking dishes were and made an impulse buy to get maybe one or two molecules of dopamine that might boost their mood for awhile. She didn’t leave voicemails or answering machine messages. They weren’t supposed to…just call and hope for the best. So the chances of someone actually calling her without being prompted were slim to none on a typical day.

“Thank you for calling Advanced Commercial Solutions! This is Bethany speaking. How may I help you today?”

She heard fast, shallow breathing on the other end for a moment, then a feminine voice said, “linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

She was about to tell the person on the other end of the line that she had the wrong number when there was a piercing scream on the other end and a click. The caller was gone.

It has to be a prank, she thought. It sounded real. The caller sounded terrified. But moved furniture? That was fucking absurd. No, it had to be a joke….right?

She went about her morning making calls, listening to the ring, and satisfactorily ending the call when no one gave two shits to answer the phone. Call after call after call ending the exact same way. Not a single answer for her entire first hour which was certainly something to celebrate. It surely beat the screaming and yelling when she interrupted someone watching Good Morning America who didn’t want to be bothered but answered for unknown reasons anyway.

But then the phone rang again. And when she answered, it was a word for word replay of the call she’d taken before.

“linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

And just like before, it ended with a scream and a click.

She still wasn’t really unnerved. In fact, the repeat performance made her even more sure it was a prank. It had to be a recording otherwise no one could have gotten it so eerily perfect down to the breathing and the sound of the scream. Not a chance. She chuckled to herself about how good this story would be when she told it to her friends over the weekend. They might be enjoying the sales, but she’d have the best story of the bunch by far.

She got up for a quick break to grab another cup of coffee and use the restroom. Prank or not, her heart was beating like mad, and she needed a moment to collect herself before making another round of calls.

By the time she got back to her desk after drinking her coffee and chatting up Jamir in the breakroom, almost half an hour had passed. As soon as she put on her headset and opened up her script, the phone rang again.

And again it was the same exact thing as before: “linda? Is that you? Something’s been moving the furniture again. Everything’s out of place. I don’t know what to do! I’m not crazy…please. Can you please come over?”

That scream seemed so real. She wondered where the recording had come from. It was haunting, joke or not. For a moment she thought about reporting it to the supervisor Kyle, but he’d been here a long time, didn’t care at all about the employees unless they weren’t making sales, and actually yelled at her the last time she had an issue with a problem customer. The guy had been obviously jerking off on the phone, so she hung up on him only it was one of her recorded QA calls, and she got chewed out by Kyle for it. He’d told her he didn’t care if the customer was shitting onto their receiver—she had to finish the call and try and get a sale. So much for no sexual harassment in the workplace, eh?

She really had to start looking for another job.

She hoped whoever it was had gotten a life somehow, and the whole thing would be over. She wasn’t laughing anymore. You can’t hear a scream like that and not be affected by it.

3 calls down with another several dozen to go, she got another call. Only about 15 minutes had passed this time. It was the same exact drill. The same words and the scream. 10 minutes later she got another one. And then another 5 minutes after that. And another a couple minutes later and a minute after that, and then they started coming in as soon as she hung up the phone. One after another after another.

She finally broke down crying and went for Kyle.

Maybe the tears worked on him when her usually stoic fa├žade did not, but he seemed sympathetic as she explained. You could hear the shrill ring of her direct line all the way to his office, so he knew at the very least she was getting the calls, but he assumed, like she had, they were pranks especially after he played back the recordings for her call log and heard, like she had, the exact same words down to the breathing and the tone of the scream. It was eerie.

He went and picked up the line at her desk as it started to ring again and before anything was said, he shouted into the headset, “listen here you little shits. This isn’t funny. It was never funny. You’ve wasted an entire day of your life being absolute wastes of oxygen, and I swear to all that is holy in this world I will find you, and I will make sure you see consequences.” He hung up himself sure that would be the end of things, but when he started to put the headset down, the line rang again. He disconnected the call. It started again. Over and over he would put a stop to the call, and it would ring again until finally he answered.

It wasn’t the recording.

It was a scream so loud and so terrifying that he snatched the headset and threw it but not before it was completely and utterly damaged unable to handle whatever was being put out on the other end.

He looked shaken for a moment, but that turned to rage in a hurry. He would not be made a fool of. She could hear him saying it. He stalked back to his office mumbling about the cops. Of course he would call the cops on some kids playing a prank.

At least she hoped this was still some kind of prank.

A couple cops did show up. She’d gotten a replacement headset and was having to make calls from a different cubicle because her line never quit ringing. They listened to the calls themselves and seemed to think it wasn’t a big deal, but in order to get them stopped, they’d try to figure out where they were coming from and go have a talk with the kids involved. They were positive it was just some kids on Thanksgiving break who were bored and didn’t have any supervision. They took a digital copy of the recordings, the phone number that popped up on the caller i.d. for the computer and said they’d get back to us—Kyle really—later in the day.

It was barely lunch time. The thought of eating her leftovers now turned her stomach in knots.

Kyle powered down the computer at her desk, but the moment he did, another line began to ring. He tried again turning the next one off only to have another one start. He’d gone through every computer in the office before it was all said and done because for whatever reason he couldn’t “let them win.” He should have just let one ring the rest of the day instead with the sound turned down to begin with, but eventually he saw the light on that and turned them all back on figuring they’d pick one and stick with it until the police tracked them down.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

They all rang. Every single line in the office. Every cubicle. No one could get any work done, and Kyle called the number on the card the two cops left to tell them things had escalated. We all gathered in the break room everyone with a theory on what was going on, of course, but no one could have possibly banked on the truth.

Well, we still don’t really know the truth. All we know is the little bit of info the cops gave Kyle on that phone call. He came back to the breakroom, pale with widened eyes. He looked like he was in shock, so we all held our collective breath waiting to see what he might have to say. He stammered, paused, took a deep breath, and started again, “so, uh, the cops traced that number back to a line that hasn’t been used in a few years. Uh. Ok. Well. The last time it was active, it was the account of a woman—someone named Marge--who disappeared around this time of the year not far from here actually. It’s still an open case, so it wasn’t hard for them to get ahold of the info or whatever, and what we’re hearing is basically what her sister Linda reported as their last contact. It was the last time anyone heard from her, but there was never any recording made of the call that Linda knew of. They have no explanation, but someone’s coming by to try to listen in and see if they can get any evidence, I guess.”

Marge is still missing. And Bethany found a new job.

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Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado https://www.bakinginatornado.com/2019/11/its-time-use-your-words.html

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

Spatulas on Parade https://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/2019/11/split-pea-and-ham-soup-uyw-november-post.html

On the Border https://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/2019/11/normal.html

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

Sarah Nolan https://www.writersarahnolan.blogspot.com/

Part-time Working Hockey Mom https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2019/11/use-your-words-free-range-vs-no.html