Sunday, August 23, 2015

I'm Okay with Intimidating

I put my proverbial pants on one pant leg at a time just like everyone else.

But, after the second pant leg slides on, I hit the ground running, and for that, I refuse to apologize.

In the last several years, since my divorce 7 years ago really, I have been on a journey of the self. I can’t say I was completely naïve before that about the world and about life, but I hadn’t really ever taken the time to figure out ME, to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be. My newfound singledom along with events that preceded and followed it were a jumpstart on that lifelong adventure to growth, self appreciation, and purpose.

In those 7 years, I went from someone who thought she knew everything to understanding that I had to look at the world with curiosity and awe like a child to learn even a tenth of its secrets. I learned I had to be humble and modest. I began to see that there was a time to be open and malleable and a time to be firm and unforgiving. It took time, but I learned that I could be an individual and embrace my rebellious spirit without being angry and in-your-face about it. Individuality doesn’t have to sacrifice and forsake community. And when I learned that, I figured out that the people I admired most were those that cared about something bigger than themselves. I admired people who worked for others, who cared about the big picture while embracing the detail and the individual lives affected by a problem, who wanted to make a difference even if it was only in one life or two lives. I wanted to be the kind of person who recognized inequality but worked to rectify it one step at a time.

So, I went from being a girl who had no real informed opinions, who only cared about things in my immediate vicinity, to being a woman who took on and championed for cause after cause.

It wasn’t an easy transition. It’s still not an easy transition to be completely honest. For whatever reason, being the kind of person who cares about more than what’s inside her own personal bubble really rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I have lost a lot of friends because the person I became along the way is “intimidating.” Their word, not mine.


When I see that someone has been unjustly imprisoned, I don’t just share an article, I write that person and say, “how can I help?” And then I do it. When I know that someone is going to be executed, I sign
petitions, I email senators and representatives, and I pass along information. I vote. I give money or items to kids in need when I can. I message people and tell them exactly what their stories have meant to me. I rescue animals that need homes and give them a happy one because I have the space to share even though I am rapidly running out of room. I write people in prison because I know that support can make all the difference in the quality of their lives once they come home and share information about social issues and politics and help them grow as much as they help me… I share articles with them, books, photos, stories. We laugh and cry together. Learn together. I reach out to people that society otherwise deems unworthy of human contact and make them feel human again.

So, yes, I am the kind of person who shares article after article on facebook about any number of important issues. I rant. I argue (not just debate), and at times I get heated. I do a lot of talking. But for all the talking, I am also doing.

For a long time, I thought maybe I was supposed to hide that part of myself to make other people feel better since it seemed, so often, to alienate friends and piss them off to the point where they turned on me. Along that self-journey I have come to realize it wasn’t ever really me they were angry at but themselves for their own lack of doing, for their lack of passion and caring. The problem wasn’t that I was the pretentious bitch I was made out to be. Sometimes it takes seeing ourselves as a reflection in someone else to realize what we’re lacking. It’s an inevitable process of self-awareness. If we don’t like that reflection, we either resolve to make changes or we shatter the mirror. The people I knew tried to shatter the mirror—me—by tearing me down, but it was our friendships that were the only real casualty of the violence.

Why should I hide myself to make their position in life more comfortable? We both put our proverbial pants on one leg at a time. If they would rather sit on the couch in theirs, it’s not my problem. I’m still going to hit the ground running, and these days I am far more loud about it than ever.


Sunday Confessions today! The prompt is Pant. Join in if you want and be sure to check out the More Than Cheese and Beer facebook page on Wednesdays for the prompt announcements! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015


“Are we square or what?” he shouts into the swirling chaos of shadows outside his house. He stands in the doorway bracing for more and holding his bleeding hand, wrapped in a burgundy kitchen towel. Staring out into the blackness outside he feels an icy fear radiate from his chest and wonders if he might be going crazy.

The blackness shifts and moves in front of his eyes pulling closer together. His eyes widen as he sees a face shape form out of those swirling shadows that never stop moving. Even with it pulled so tightly together, he can see faintly through to the other side; it’s “skin” seeming to crawl like individual living creatures. It, this living darkness, flew straight for him stopping maybe an inch from his face. He could smell death and decay so strong he thought surely he would lose his supper. That twisting madness floated there right in his face almost nose to nose as his fear grew. His mind runs this way and that looking for an out, for a way to save himself. He knows, feels this is it. He’s done for. A goner. That’s when his bladder gives way, a warm puddle forming at his feet.

The face throws itself back in screaming laughter. One second it is there filling his entire field of vision, then next it flies back howling. He feels himself flushing, growing red and hot, and it howls harder pissing him off in the process. He is standing in his own damn house being laughed at like a fool and bleeding from where his pinky used to be.

“It was just a few hundred thousand dollars from people that never fucking missed it, you bastard!” he screams in desperation shaking his bleeding fist in the air and immediately regretting it.

The darkness answers with so, so many high-pitched screeches as it breaks down into thousands of ravens that fly straight at him knocking him down, pecking, screaming, and shitting on him in the process. For a moment, everything is quiet then the blackness swirls again dragging debris from the ground into its midst in his front yard.

From his position on floor, he sees and lifts himself up on his knees. He puts his hands together in front of his face almost in prayer, “please. Please! Just… I… I’m sorry. I never should have done it. I never should have taken that money from my clients. But it’s gone. I swear it’s all gone. I don’t have any to give back.”

Growls emanate from the swamp of living night growing louder and deeper as it shifts and moves tighter once more until a bear forms, black as coal and impossibly large. It seems like intangible mist and solid muscle all at once as it stands tall on its hind legs and roars again before coming back down on all fours preparing to change.

He screams howling out imsorryimsorryimsorry over and over again. His maimed hand is still cradled against his chest as he pushes himself backward into the house as the bear charges forward. He gets up running for the pantry door making it inside milliseconds before the bear swiped for his face. He held the door closed with one shoulder bracing himself against it.


He moves his ear close to the door. There’s no sound. Nothing. Not a hum from the appliances or a creaky footsteps from the bear on the floorboards he should have replaced years ago. No growls. Nothing. The weight of that quiet, the unknown, pushes down on him second by second by second.

He wonders again what is happening to him, how this, this…thing knows what he did with the money. He thinks about the letter he got in the mail, the black bordered envelope with the elegant script sealed with a red wax symbol. The card inside was ebony matte cardstock with vermilion-colored glossy lettering embossed on the front.

It said, “What you stole you must return or it will be taken from you one way or another. –K”

He hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but it comes back to him now in the quiet. Maybe whatever K was had taken what it came to take. He slides down the door with a sense of relief taking in a deep, shaky breath laughing uncontrollably that it was all over.

He stops abruptly, though, when he sees everything around him darkening, the shadows growing thicker, moving, swirling around him, filling the pantry little by little.

K isn’t done yet after all.

So, yay, we are back to Sunday Confessions! I am totally stoked about this. Today's prompt was Square. check out the other linkups below as well as on the More Than Cheese and Beer page. And if you want to do your own SC post, hit the link up below to link to your own blog!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Adriana's Manhole

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

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

I’m using: air, swinging, indoors, trees, beginning, without

They were submitted by:


She’s freezing, breathless. Great gusts of chilly air swirl through the thick growth of trees around her sending even the thickest pines swinging and struggling to stay rooted. Now that darkness has fallen and the temperature has dropped so much, she’s beginning to lose some of the resolve that had her so sure she would find her way out of this forest. The thought of never making it home, of never sitting indoors in front of a crackling fire with a hot mug of coffee in her hands was devastating, but she pushes away, sucks in another burst of iciness and works her way through the heavy underbrush that threatens to pull her in like quicksand and never let go.

Without any light beyond the sliver of a moon overhead, seeing her way, finding footing, and heading in one direction was nearly impossible, but she refuses to give up just yet.

It has been hours since she left the nature trail that winds its way through this forest and down to the lake. She knew better, *knows* better, and even if she hadn’t known better, there are signs posted all along the way warning any hikers against wandering into the looming blackness of the forest on either side of the trail. She had been distracted, though. It had only been a week since Tobias had left her for the intern at his law office, someone quite a few years younger than her with perkier tits, blonde hair, and (apparently) a penchant for half-bald former jocks with man boobs. She had spent the last week dazed, confused, snotty from crying, and avoiding everything but her bed. That’s why she came for the hike. She needed to purge, she had thought—get the staleness from her bed out of her pores, take in some fresh air, and get some exercise then get back to the apartment and have a field day demolishing all the shit Tobias had yet to pick up.

That had been her plan. Had been.

Now, the only plan she has is getting out of this alive. Maybe.

She struggles to move forward. Every muscle aches, and her skin feels like the forest has sentenced her to death by a 1000 cuts. There is barely a patch of skin anywhere that hasn’t been sliced by briars or whipped by limbs. She has no water, no flashlight, no provisions, no way to start a fire. Plus, she’s pretty sure even if she could miraculously rub some sticks together to create a spark, the whole fucking forest would burn, and she would end up in prison for trying to save her own life. She isn’t really the kind of person that believes in bad luck or good luck, but right now, it feels like the universe has turned its back on her which surely would result in further complications if she doesn’t return to hiding in bed from the covers soon. Given the way things are going lately, some freak tornado would land right atop her house. She thinks, in the dark, about that story she read not too long ago about a woman who hadn’t left her house in decades until that very day, and on that day, a day on which she took a huge leap of faith and willed herself to once again meet the outside world, she fell in an open manhole.

The universe trolled that lady.

There was no other obvious explanation which makes her cackle maniacally, a laugh that echoes through the trees and bounces back to her making her shiver. The creep-factor in her own voice and her own laugh scared the shit out of her. That’s when she hears it—a long, reverberating howl. Goosebumps rise on her flesh as another and another and another answer the first seemingly from every direction.

Wolves? Coyotes?

She probably shouldn’t have watched Wayward Pines. All she can think of are pale, translucent abbies with dark talons and sharp teeth surrounding her for a game of Who’s Got Your Intestines? She had been thinking about reading it, but being out in this forest in the dark, any desire she had to wade through the book trilogy is now completely pulverized.

She stops now listening more closely, her head cocked to the side and arms drawn around her in a solitary embrace. Were those howls? Screams? Is that movement in the distance or her mind playing tricks on her, her fear making her paranoid?

She can’t be sure, but she feels around in the dark finding a sturdy tree she can lean against, sinks down into the brush feeling thorns pulling at her skin. The more noise she makes the more attention she draws from whatever might be out there. Staying here risks hypothermia. For the first time, she feels helpless; any determination she had left as soon as she heard the howl (?).

She’s certain now she hears something in the distance crashing through the brush, but she stays still, brings her knees to her chest, and lets the tears come.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts: Baking In A Tornado Spatulas on Parade The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Stacy Sews and Schools Southern Belle Charm Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Someone Else’s Genius Never Ever Give Up Hope Confessions of a part-time working mom The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Searching for Sanity Climaxed Juicebox Confession Cluttered Genius The Angrivated Mom

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lord of the Winos

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 16 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 prompt is: write a post about a desert island, a book report, and a box of wine. It was submitted by:

I might have said a few swears, loud ones, when I first read this prompt, but then slowly the story started forming, changing, morphing in my brain over the course of several days. When I sat down to type it, it flowed, and I really, really dig it. I hope you guys do, too. 


Boxed wine isn’t as bad as you might think. Well, it certainly isn’t all that bad when you can’t afford much else. Plus, it’s easy to hide at the bottom of a shopping cart under the rest of your stuff. That little spigot makes it pretty accessible even when it’s hidden under 2 feet of dirty clothes. That’s really what seals the deal—not having to worry about it getting stolen if I don’t drink it all or getting busted by the cops for drinking in public

These are the crowded jumble of thoughts running through Pepper’s head as she digs out a tomb for the brand new box of Franzia merlot near the bottom of her beaten shopping cart. The cart has definitely seen its better days. It needs a new set of wheels. Rims, maybe or a sporty metallic paint job. And it definitely needs the bottom rewelded so half her shit isn’t constantly in danger of spilling onto whatever dirty sidewalk she’s traversing that day during her panhandling adventures.

After begging all day for spare change and mostly getting spit on, she knows she should probably spend the money on something, anything other than a box of cheap ass wine that dyes her lips a deathly shade of purplish and gives her a bitching headache, but it’s like a cycle. She say s “I’m not going to do buy booze tonight” under her breath all day long like some sort of inspirational mantra, but after dealing with absolute dickheads all those hours, she really can’t imagine doing anything else but drinking herself to sleep. And, the next day it starts again.

So here she is, box tucked safely under a pile of clothes and her (along with the cart) tucked not-so-safely under a bridge she often sleeps under. She has a fire going and lays out a makeshift pallet for the night. “I raise this dirty Taco Bell cup full of wine to the half a dozen people who gave me a few bucks to get this wine and the pack of peanut butter crackers I had for dinner with enough change left over to maybe hit up a hotel vending machine to get another pack of crackers for breakfast. Yay, protein. Let’s fill another cup and get this party started,” she says to no one and nothing in particular, the wine already starting to warm her a little against the coming cold. She’s *only* wearing 4 shirts, 3 coats, a pair of long johns, a pair of sweat pants, and 3 ½ pairs of socks. Plus boots. And, it’s still freezing.

“Wine was definitely a good idea,” she mutters against the wind, all her resolve completely gone with the first brain fuzzies she starts to feel.

Just like always, a few cups in, she starts reminiscing about old times, about the home she ran away from, the family that she had thought was so lame, schoolwork she couldn’t be bothered with, the choices she had made along the way. She is only 24, but she had already been on her own for 8 years, and the vast majority of those she spent living on the streets. Hindsight brings clarity you don’t have when you’re in the midst of a situation, and of course now when she thinks back about everything, it wasn’t nearly as bad as she always made it out to be. Sure, her parents were annoying, but that’s because they were concerned. They weren’t perfect, but they wanted the best for her, and now…well…now she couldn’t face what she had done. Sometimes she dreamed about going back, sleeping in her old bed, her clothes smelling like the detergent her mom always used, but even in her drunkest fantasies, she knew it would never be as good as it was in her head.

Another cup, and she thinks of school, of all things she could have done if she had given half a shit. Right now, she would trade it all in to gladly be sitting back in Mrs. Sproul’s class working on another book report. The last one…something about a deserted island. She struggles through the fuzziness to remember what the name of the book was. Something flies. Of the Flies. Flies. Lord of the Flies? Yes, that’s it. Lord of the Flies. God, she hated that book, but she would read the fuck out of it right now. Maybe once this box of wine is empty she can put a stake through it and put it out by the cart for all to see. Her Lord of the Winos.

She giggles at that out loud, a drunken slur of a sound, which inspires her to refresh her cup. Lord of the Winos. In a moment of self-despair she thinks perhaps she should draw a caricature of her own face on the box. Surely, the description fits. She lifts her cup drinking to that truth before her mind wonders back to that book, that deserted island full of children running amok and the parts of society they were supposed to represent. That story has always seemed to stick because she told Mrs. Sproul at the time that the whole assignment was bullshit—that anyone in their right mind could figure this guy just wrote a crazy fucked up story about lawless kids just trying to survive instead of it being some deep commentary about societal archetypes.

The memory comes back to her now and then between the 5th and 6th cups of drink. “Ha! Societal archetypes,” she had said. “What a load of shit, isn’t it? Do you think this guy really wrote this story thinking ‘hmmmmm…what characters can I make up to represent societal archetypes?’ or did he just sit down and have a drink and write a story about some shithead little kids who had no idea how to act without their mommies telling them what to do?” The class had erupted in a nervous sort of laughter ensuring a smug smirk spread across her face in triumph.

Sproul had sent her out of class immediately, of course, and even though she had read the book and had every intention of doing the report (okay of barely doing the report), she didn’t go back after that. She had really wanted her question answered. She had needed that question answered, but no one would engage her. Her mom had always told her that her mouth was destined to get her into trouble, and she supposes now that her mom was probably right about that. She had given it a lot of thought since then, since that class, and maybe that author hadn’t written it intending the story to necessarily represent general groups of people in society, but that doesn’t mean in hindsight that theory doesn’t apply. And maybe if she hadn’t been such a little shit back then, she could have gotten that question answered. If she hadn’t acted like she knew everything maybe…

Either way, she knows she’s seen those some types of people in her life living on the edge of lawlessness. She has seen the parallels with her own eyes which makes a difference to how you take the book. When you’re 16 and still living at home and have no idea what people are really like, it becomes hard to digest, .but now she knows some people think the law doesn’t protect the homeless. She knows that to some she is faceless, a body to be abused; she’s been abused, beaten, raped, spit on. They’re like the torturer on the island, the one that put the stick up the pig’s bum. Hurting her is good for a laugh for people like that kid. She’s seen well meaning people pass her a buck or two and forget her 30 seconds after passing, and in way she thinks that’s like the one who tried to pull them all the kids together and give them some rules to guide them. He meant well, didn’t he? But he was more about idealism than action.

The 7th and final cup is poured and sipped, her ruminations growing fuzzier and less coherent. The Lord of the Winos. She knew at the 6th cup that she could start over. She could start by going to the library, checking out that book, and writing the report she never wrote. She could show it to someone. But then with cup 7, she loses all that motivation, forgets she ever thought about that book, about society, about the message of it…she forgets that she wants to be something more drowning, instead, in a burgundy sea of mindlessness and falls asleep.


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 The Momisodes The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Stacy Sews and Schools Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Spatulas on Parade Southern Belle Charm Never Ever Give Up Hope Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Silence of the Mom Someone Else’s Genius Confessions of a part-time working mom The Angrivated Mom More Than Cheese and Beer Searching for Sanity

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Rat

Since we haven't been doing Sunday Confessions, I have a good friend sending me some words as a challenge prompt to see what I can do with them. Same principle, but I'm the only one writing. This week, my words were coagulated, general, battlefield, intricate, hindsight, and cerebral. The following is what I came up with... hope you enjoy. 


The scene before her looked like a battlefield. Coagulated blood pooled on the faded green linoleum and had spattered on the cheap white cabinets in the kitchen. More of it still ran down the ripped floral wallpaper in small lines drying as it slowly slid towards the floor. Hair and gore speckled the walls and floors mixed and sticking to the dots of blood. It wasn’t a pleasant scene and certainly not something she was proud of, but it had to be done.

Much like an army general surveying the casualties before him, she assessed the clean up, the costs to get rid of the stains, the hours she would spend scrubbing on her hands and knees, the trouble she would have moving the body, his body. Like the army general, the spilled blood before her was just another cost of the battle she had waged. The loss of human life wasn’t celebrated, by far, but it was accepted. In the general’s case, it is, of course, expected. Given the way things had gone downhill over the last few years, she guessed it was pretty well expected in her case, too.

Sitting there staring at the mess, hindsight working in full force, she supposed she did have chances to prevent this outcome. To leave, move, start a new life, hide… But she hadn’t. Instead, she had stayed right here in this house knowing he would come back but hoping he would give up, knowing in her heart that he would never stop but hoping she could just go on with her life without running, without hiding.

It wasn’t some intricately woven tale of sordidness and lies that led her here like some half-baked dramatic Hollywood flick or a cerebral crime film. She chose to love the wrong man. That was it. She loved him in all his craziness and clinginess. She loved him in spite of his jealousy, in spite of the days he would find a random piece of trash in the yard and scream at her for hours about who she was sleeping with, in spite of the fact that on more than one occasion it was him that came home smelling like someone else’s perfume. Then one day something clicked. She was standing in the rain in his backyard listening to his ranting, cowering under his demands to know who had been there, turning red as he called her a slut, a whore, a trashbag, a used up hag, and it finally hit her that she didn’t have to live this way, that this wasn’t love. Not in any real sense. She sat through it that day, the accusations and delusions, but that was it. The very next morning she packed up everything she owned, left him a note telling him to eat shit, and walked away.

She supposed she should have known that it wouldn’t be that easy, that she couldn’t just leave.

That first day, she went home to her mom’s with her tiny red suitcase and a couple of garbage bags full of her stuff. Her mom took one look at her standing there completely beaten down and pulled her inside for a hug whispering “it’s about damn time” as she squeezed her tighter. It was later that night when he showed up. She heard his battered old truck turning down the driveway and her heart felt like it might explode from fear, but she stayed put. Her mom refused to open the door, but he didn’t give up. For an hour straight he beat on the doors and the windows while she hid in a corner of her old room clutching a stuffed bunny to her chest. Her mom finally had to call the cops. He left, but he showed up the next night. And the next. And the one after that. He showed up at her job, followed her home from work, sat in the parking lot when she was in a store. Every waking moment he was there waiting for her.

She refused to talk to him. She filed for a restraining order. He was arrested over and over again for trespassing on her mom’s property, but nothing seemed to ever be done about it really. Until he got drunk and started shooting out the windows, that is. That was a couple years ago or so. He’d barely missed shooting her mom—a couple inches lower and she would have been killed. So, the police finally took it seriously and locked his ass up. He was supposed to serve 5 years. The number of times he’d been arrested hadn’t helped in the end, and he’d gotten the maximum sentence for discharging a firearm in a residential area, trespassing, and battery. Why the fuck didn’t he get charged with attempted murder? Just ask the boys in blue always looking out for other dicks and making sure to crack jokes about “crazy” women.

Eventually, she felt safe enough to move into her own place in what she thought was a pretty good neighborhood. She had never really stopped looking over her shoulder. She never stopped thinking that she saw him in the shadows or saw his car in the parking lot wherever she went, but she was getting to the point where she could make it to work every day, where she wasn’t having panic attacks multiple times a week. She was starting to get more comfortable in her own skin again and able to leave the house without breaking down in her car then running inside to hide in her room under the covers like a child being scared of the bogey man. Things were, at least, improving.

Then she got the call last week.

He was being paroled, and the state was offering her some victim’s counseling as a consolation prize.

Oh, yay, she had thought. Counseling. He’s the fucking nutter who won’t leave me alone and I’m the one who needs counseling.

It must have happened one day when she was at work, but she had no idea how long he had actually been there. There meaning inside her house. She had heard the sounds coming from the attic long before he actually showed his face, but in that newfound comfort, in her belief that her new address, new look, and new job would keep her hidden, she had failed to call the police and get things checked out feeling, instead, that it must be a rat or a squirrel that would find its way back to freedom soon enough. In a way she was right about it being a rat, but he certainly hadn’t found the freedom he was looking for unless being a bloody mess on her kitchen floor having lost a fight with a baseball bat counted.

She drew herself up from the floor. She would *not* be calling the police. She would not be on the receiving end of a million questions and a formal inquiry when they had been the ones to fail time and again, when he had been the villain in all this not her. Instead, she opened the cabinet, threw on some rubber gloves, grabbed the bleach and set to work. 

It was going to be one hell of a night.