Friday, December 16, 2022

Maybe it's not everyone's lane

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:

Silly string ~ diary ~ window screen ~ financial difficulties ~ kitchen knife

It was submitted by:


I opened my prompt for this post seeing words that are primed for discussing the Darlie routier case. These are pretty much all elements found when going over the tragic death of her kids and her ultimate imprisonment from the silly string moment used against her in court to the cut window screen and the financial trouble the couple had experienced and problems found in her diary, and she has been long suspected of using her own kitchen knife to do the crime, but I don't think anything good comes from me discussing what I think about her guilt or innocence this publicly based on the things we know or think we know because of the true crime industry. I do have an opinion, but I'm not sure that opinion belongs in the public sphere.

I guess after that first paragraph it goes without saying that I do enjoy true crime as a genre myself. I knew as soon as I saw the prompt what these words were referencing because of the sheer vastness of the coverage of this case. It's hard to miss. As much as I enjoy the listening and reading and watching when it comes to true crime, I think we've gotten a little bit out of hand with it all. I mean Peacock gave Casey Anthony of all people a paid platform to lie some more, so we must be doing something wrong here if anyone still gives a second of a care about her opinions or excuses. Even if you removed the fact that she very likely murdered her own child, she's still a godawful human being who absolutely lives for the notoriety and attention, and we just keep giving her that.

There are elements of true crime that are beneficial. I've listened to multiple podcasts now that helped solve some cases. Kristin Smart's family finally got a conviction for her murder nearly 30 years after the fact because of a podcast. Tara Griner's case has a solution. Some men in Georgia were recently released after a podcast uncovered proof that police had manufactured evidence in the case in order to get a conviction. The Unsolved Mysteries podcast (and show) are still bringing conclusions to cases. Without the attention these podcasts have brought, I'm not sure anything would have changed. People would still be without answers. But then there's that Jeffrey Dahmer Netflix series which violated victims' families all over again and unnecessarily dramatized an already terrifyingly dramatic real life situation. I've listened to a podcast, well all of 15 minutes of it since this made me shut it off and never look back, that said Jon Benet Ramsey had a "knowing" smile. Or podcasts like Sword and Scale that repeatedly victim blame or True Crime Garage that repeatedly celebrates police brutality... The point is that it's a fine line to walk between good true crime and exploitive true crime, and the general public has yet to be as discerning as they should when it comes to what we watch or read or listen to but especially with what we think we unwaveringly know to be true.

Two different people can believe with the same degree of certainty very different truths about any given case to the point where we kind of forget very real people are involved. The perfect example of this is the Betsy and Russ Faria case and Pam from the multiple variations of The Thing About Pam that have happened on 48 hours and podcasts and 60 minutes and forensic files or whatever and despite all the evidence proving Pam killed Betsy for insurance money along with very likely her own mother for the same reason and another completely innocent and unrelated person to try to reframe Russ since the first time only took for 10 years, there are a lot of people that still think he's guilty for one. But people have gotten so caught up in the craziness of Pam that they forget Russ lost a decade of his life behind bars, that he lost his wife and never got to grieve, that he has to live forever under the weight of survivor's guilt and with the weight of prison trauma and dealing with the fact that so many people believe he's a murderer. We forget the system got it wrong... And gets it wrong way more than we should he comfortable with. We forget that Pam isn't some character in a dramedy being absolutely deranged for our entertainment. She killed real people and she got away with it for a long time.

I don't think that means every aspect of the genre is off limits by any means. But I guess letting the guy from AHS handle cases might have been a bad choice. And going around staking your reputation on just what you know from taking part in both the good and bad coverage of a case isn't maybe a great choice either. It isn't for me anyway, and so I'll just end by saying that a broken industry built off information gleaned from a broken system is ripe for bad opinions. Tread carefully.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, December 9, 2022

Ok But I Personally Do Like Owls

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What is the WORST present you’ve received?

It was submitted by:


I read an article a couple months ago that has stuck with me for awhile. It was unrelated to gifts actually and instead about weird or shocking deathbed confessions. 

One woman, near death, was surrounded by family who took the time, finally, to ask her what was the deal with owls. She had a house full of owls. Little figures and wall hangings and bigger sculptures and salt shakers and pillows... She had literally hundreds. Her answer? She didn't really like owls all that much to be honest. She'd bought one thing with an owl on it one time at a secondhand shop because she found it cute and every time she got a gift thereafter, it was an owl. For decades of her life she was surrounded by things she didn't really like all that much because she wanted the people who gave them to her to not feel bad, so she kept it to herself and displayed them over and over and over for all of her adult life. Finally on her dying breath she was free to tell the truth. She wasn't going to be there to face the hurt and bewilderment they'd feel for having not ever really bothered to get to know what she was actually into... The problem is sort of two fold here because maybe it would have been better to tell people the truth but I think the way we socialize women to be grateful for every speck of love they can grab onto, maybe she gets more of a pass than people who could have asked her at any time what she might like for a present. She was grateful for any gift. And I can understand that sentiment. We've also been taught to be grateful to be thought of at all.

I thought about writing a gothic horror about a woman being buried alive under her Nightmare Before Christmas knick knacks. I thought about writing about the few really bad gifts I've gotten like a ring from an ex as an apology for being a piece of shit, a last ditch effort at saving a relationship that he couldn't have saved without finally growing up some. Or the time my stepmom grabbed a $5 set of plastic earrings for kindergartners and gave it to me from my dad for Christmas when I was 16, for example. But I wanted to say it plainly instead of a metaphor in a story or talking about one gift because the problem is bigger than that. I see it all the time. We see one thing about a person and make it their whole personality instead of getting to know the real them. People are complex. I mean yes I do enjoy watching the Nightmare Before Christmas because Henry Selick is a fucking genius, an artist, absolutely crushingly underrated, but I also like everything else he's done. I like movies that aren't about animated skeletons or Halloween as shocking as it may be. I have a couple of very simple elephant tattoos BUT I ALSO LIKE OTHER ANIMALS which 3 cabinets of trinkets later would also shock some folks. I used to be able to have alcohol occasionally but really haven't been able to since getting sick with chronic fatigue syndrome. I've been sick for going on 7 years now and people still tag me in wine memes. I've openly talked about not being able to drink and not just once or twice...

The thing of it all... it IS nice to be thought of in any capacity but it also really fucking sucks to realize no one bothered to think of the real me only some version that they've created in their own minds so far from who I really am that it couldn't pass for my evil twin from the mirror realm. It's not like I hide what I like or who I am. A million times a month I probably share something I'd love to get myself if I had the extra money. I talk about things that are important to me. I live as authentically online as I do around people I see everyday. My family has easy access when they want to know what I'm into. It's all there online like some weird vision board for most to see. I'll answer anytime someone asks actually. Sit with me longer than 5 minutes and I will inevitably say something incredibly gay. It's all hanging out. 

I recently stopped writing a person I'd spent 4 years trying to help. Yes, a person in prison. I helped him work through some deeply wrong ideas he held about women including a specific ex girlfriend and his own mother. I got them to connect with one another about those thoughts he had and work through them together. I got him to appreciate fiction for the first time in his life. He even wrote a story! Just for fun. I had a visible impact on his life because I listened when he told me things and listened in between and we really did the work to pick it all apart. We aren't writing because he overstepped some serious boundaries but leading up to that point he sent me some things for Christmas last year that gave me a bit of a head scratch. A lot of guys at his prison crochet and sell what they make to other guys to send to family, friends, and girlfriends or whoever and he sent me an Olaf from frozen and a minion. I haven't even seen frozen. Ever. Not once. Never mentioned either movie. And like i have said a million times already yes it's nice to be thought of but it wasn't like he chose these things because he knew I'd like them. He just sent them to say he sent something and it showed all that time we'd been friends and through all the hard conversations we had and the work we did, he hadn't ever really got to know me. It wasn't really a surprise when my boundaries were violated. The version of me living in his head would fall head over heels because of a Disney plush, right? Obviously. And so then she'd totally be receptive to advances she'd spent years clearly spelling out she wouldn't cross. Great plan, right? Only I'm not that person, and the rejection made him angry, so now he's out a friend as well.

The point I want to make is to tell people. Tell them who you are loudly and lovingly. Tell them you don't want another owl. It's fine. No one should die surrounded by hundreds of trinkets they never loved that took endless amounts of work to keep clean. But more importantly, ask what the people you love are into, listen to them. Find out about the things they love no matter how silly you find it. No matter how at odds it is with the version of them you already created. Life is too short to do anything else.


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 Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, November 11, 2022


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.

Mt words are:

ordinary ~ help ~ funny ~ island ~ language

It was submitted by:


I don't have the language required to ask for help I guess.

Ok I think maybe trauma erased my ability to use the right words. The thought of admitting "I can't" isn't something easy to come by despite being aware I need to work on it which often leaves me on an island alone with my own resentment.

It probably also doesn't help that the majority of people I've been vulnerable enough with to ask for help have let me down completely or held it over my head. It doesn't create a lot of faith that anyone else I ask will be the one person who doesn't make me feel like shit about it.

All of that makes having a chronic illness pretty dang hard. Every time I think I have it figured out, something will happen and I have to find a new normal. Like how having had covid twice despite not leaving home and having the vaccines caused such intense insomnia I haven't slept for more than an hour or two at a time in almost 2 years. I can't even begin to explain the hurdles I now have to go through just to be able to write a couple sentences a day or maintain letters. Or just make a ridiculously funny wrestling meme. I can't even enjoy TV shows the same anymore. I can't see them. I can't read the subtitles anymore. I can't even process them most of the time. I just slip back into familiar ones that I know the plots to by heart or things that won't require a lot of brain power. The only thing I can read right now are things I've already read...and reading about new worlds and new people have always been my one method of escape. I have a whole fucking tattoo about it. I just can't anymore. At least not now...

But even with this new problem the world doesn't stop nor does my house. And my house is anything but ordinary. So by 9 a.m. I've gotten up, made the bed, medicated at least 4 animals, swept, mopped, argued with my kid about getting up to walk the dogs or about brushing his teeth or taking his meds (which I still make up for him in his pill minder) or whatever else the teenage angst is about that day, often shampooed carpet at least in spots that need it, washed dishes my kid left in the sink, cleaned up messes the cats made from at least one type of bodily function, wiped down counters and cabinets, made coffee for at least 2 people, made breakfast for everyone, cleaned up after breakfast, entered a bunch of online contests to try to win extra money because we're fucking poor, dusted, vacuumed, folded some laundry if I hung it out the day before... Sometimes there's extra. Sometimes I have help with one or two of these things. But this is just the first 2 hours of my day and it never ends. Every time I think I'm caught up something else needs to be done. I'm on my feet at home for at least 8 hours a day. Most days at least 6 hours at a time...with joint point from my cfs and plantar fasciitis making it impossible to walk. By 8 most nights, my pain level is so high I can't talk. I can't even cry. I'm too tired to fucking cry.

Every time I ask someone to do something and get told "I will" just for it to still not be done 2 hours later that island of resentment grows bigger and the next time I really need help, I won't ask. Why would I?

I keep thinking I'll learn to master my broken energy battery and only do the things that need it, but when your mom has broken into your house and tried to physically assault you over you insisting you have actually do keep things clean all because an argument started when you offered to take her on a spa trip for Christmas, could anything ever be clean enough? Probably not. Not when every time you've ever been in her house her husband still treats you like a 16 year old kid who is apparently utterly incapable and disgusting and conveniently forgetting you're 41 now and even when you were 16 with a semi dirty room you were also dealing with the aftermath of abuse and rape and were constantly threatened and bullied for being gay and weird without any support from the people who should have noticed you were drowning in a bog of torment. I don't exist as a real person to the people who were supposed to love me, and there's not any amount of time that erases the instinct to seek out worth with a clean countertop or scrubbed walls or being 3 weeks ahead on your weekly list of extra chores and thinking "I haven't done enough" and doing it all again anyway.

There's always a voice in my head. There's always trauma. There's always resentment.

And so here I am, dying for help, dying for a break... And what I get is more work.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, November 4, 2022

You Got Jokes?

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 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:

Rescuer in need

It was submitted by:

I can't even blame Reddit for this idea


The headline of the craigslist job ad simply said Rescuer in Need. Vanna read it, assumed it was about a wildlife rescue which would kinda sorta be a dream job, and opened it up.

She could not have been more wrong.

But she still sent a text to the number listed.

Curiosity killed cats, but it also probably didn't do anything for the health and wellbeing of easily intrigued busybodies who watched too much true crime.

See, the ad didn't mention murder, but Vanna was certain she had stumbled on a serial killer's trap and wanted in on it. She wanted to be able to tell stories about being there and figuring him out and being the one to get evidence to take straight to the cops.

People say that true crime makes people too fearful and brainwashed with the idea of stranger danger, but the people who said shit like that had never met Vanna. Sure she was prone to jumping to conclusions based on a little too much cynicism when it comes to her fellow humans, but she wasnt fearful so much as determined, and the combination was something to behold.

The ad read: I have recently inherited a large plot of land in this area. Living out of state makes it difficult to do some of the necessary work it needs to make it habitable again. It needs rescuing from years of neglect to be restored to its former glory. Pay scale can be discussed based on personal skills. Permanent caretaker role is a possibility. There's also a camper on the property that can be used for a place to crash rent free. Text INFO to 57968 for more.

It was incredibly sketchy and one of those weird too good to be true job opportunities. Someone down on their luck couldn't possibly pass it up. She'd listened to too many podcasts about people answering similar ads who were never seen again going back as far as at least the late 19th century with Belle Gunness.

Less than a minute after hitting send, Vanna had a reply.

"Go to Canyon St Park and send photo. Wait there for more."

She waited. She thought maybe something else would come through, but half an hour later she gave up on that. She text "INFO" to the number again and got the same response. She fretted a bit. This was every possible red flag... But of course her curiosity was at an all time high and her Spidey senses were tingling, so she grabbed her pepper spray, a couple of self defense key chains, her very illegal sword cane, an extremely loud air horn, a Kubotan, and a taser dropping the smaller items into her bag. You couldn't be too careful. Ok so maybe a gun would be better but she wasn't too great at things that require that kind of accuracy with shaky hands and bad eyesight.

She arrived, but the few people there took no interest in here and didn't really seem out of place. She found a small bench in the middle and sat down for her photo. As soon as she sent it, she received another text instructing her to drive to the McDonald's on 5th Street and send a receipt showing a McNuggets Happy Meal and large fry. It felt strange. She text "why" but after awhile she gave up on getting a reply and went on. She couldn't actually give up now. It had only gotten weirder.

It just kept going like that.

All day.

One task after another. Go here, do this, send a pic. Go here, find this market, take and send a pic. She'd been at this for hours when she finally sat in her car in a Walmart parking lot after finding some condoms to take a picture of and cried. It was exhausting and stressful and she was just done. She didn't know why she always did stupid shit like this. Who in their right mind would do things like this if not her?

Someone knocked on her window and made her jump. She screamed. They laughed.

Are you ok? they asked.

I'd be better if you'd leave me alone, she said.

Suddenly there were more people. And a camera with a flash. Questions were shouted at her asking her name and what she'd been doing all day but she was so confused and tired she struggled and stuttered through answers still crying.

The voices still laughed.

Her phone dinged letting her know she had another text message. It dinged more and more. Each one linked to a TikTok. Of her. Doing the tasks she'd been given all day and the cameraman laughing and making fun of her body, her walk, her determination... The beginning video suggested they were looking for a lazy liberal who would easily fall for a too good to be true offer and give up on the first task. From the looks of it most people hadn't given one iota of a shit about this little project (a bullshit one that proved absolutely nothing) until she'd kept going all day while they made up new and increasingly embarrassing tasks, and they'd still made fun of her for it. There were thousands and thousands of views on these already and they kept getting higher as she checked. Her body felt hot. The rage was suddenly so strong she vibrated. Her heart raced with the absolute and total embarrassment. But she was flying on the anger.

Theyd followed her. Stalked her. Videoed her without consent and blasted her online over and over all fucking day, and they still had the gall to stand here waiting on her to exit the car and get more footage? Well how could she refuse?

She grabbed her bag... Sure she didn't have a gun packed in it but she was about to have a little fun.


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 Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, October 14, 2022

Stultifying Days

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:

brink ~ stultify ~ brief ~ gobble ~ right

They were submitted by:


Lynd walked softly into the kitchen taking care to be as quiet as possible. The little vacuum that she bought to keep the kitchen floor free of cat hair and litter cast off from the adjacent laundry room had just finished his rounds and put himself back on the charging station for a nap. He'd been a part of the house for years now. She'd named him Gus and put little googly eyes on him.
Those were gone now though. Gus preferred not to have them on anymore. Thinking about that too long always brought her right to the brink of insanity, so she stuffed it back down even though she really did miss the times before when it was quirky and fun to have eyes on her vacuum and not "patronizing" or "infantalizing" as Gus had said.

She stood at the kitchen window and looked out at a brand new world...

Her house and her yard were pretty much the same as always except she had sort of collected a presence of stray machines...a push mower, some kind of butler robot guy, a couple of wheelchair shopping carts...scraggly old things that couldn't really work anymore. She'd go down with her coffee and hang out with them awhile once Igor, the coffee machine, was done with her brew.

But otherwise?

Otherwise, the world beyond her grass so far as she could tell now was run by the machines. They still did their routines which honestly were enough to stultify her, and she wasn't the one doing them, but they're been made to work, and work is what they did. Work. Work. Work.

So when things had gone....weird or wasn't the work that was the problem. It was the lack of appreciation. There had, as of yet, not even been any mention of pay. Monetary appreciation wasn't the answer. She didn't even know if they actually understood what money meant, and to be fair the money is made up by humans to torture other humans so that part made sense to her. They knew work needed to be done, and they did it. They just wanted a little kindness. They wanted to be a part of the family or at least get a thank you for a job well done. They wanted a hello and goodbyes and goodnights. They wanted to be regarded as necessary and useful and beloved instead of generally ignored and inferior. That's what the trash compactor who she'd seen gobble up her neighbors had said anyway.

She was still here because most of the time she did do those things. Apparently. She talked to Gus. She told him thank you and one time she gave him a gotcha day party with party hats. She apologized once when she ran into an ATM on her way into the bank. Some guy had called her crazy for it and at the time she felt he might be right. I mean, she'd always sort of, well, packbonded with inanimate objects which honestly was probably the fault of The Brave Little Toaster and Toy Story, and having some strange man laugh at her for apologizing to an ATM had felt mortifying at the time, but now, she guessed, she had the last laugh now because he was most definitely dead.

The strays were waiting on her to come out now. She could see them and without really understanding how, she could tell they were antsy for her to come out. She wasn't the only one left they'd told her. But she was definitely the only one in this area and that meant she was the only one who didn't talk about jobs or work. She had memories and stories and songs to share. She had things to say that weren't part of their routine and little ways of thinking about things that they found fascinating. She explained jokes and sarcasm. She read them books. She shared a little of everything with them and in trade she got to live. She was like Scheherazade in 1001 Arabian Nights but instead she was explaining memes to a drink machine or reading comic books to a golf cart.

It could be worse, she thought. So much of life was automated that things kept being made even when the demand was...considerably less. She didn't do without really. She wasn't exactly lonely. She'd probably never use a vibrator again but whatever. She'd adjusted for the most part...


Well. When you peeled back all the layers, she was pretty much their prisoner, and after seeing what happened to people who displeased the machines, she was sure she was never leaving this house again until she was ready to die and that took a lot of the fun and whimsy out of this whole thing.

For now she better get to the strays. They wouldn't wait forever, and the last time she was too tired to go out, they'd held back bringing her coffee beans for a fucking week--what they'd called a brief punishment.

She wasn't ready to see what else they had in store. She grabbed one of the books the Bookmobile had brought by. It was a children's book about construction vehicles, and she was expected to make corrections as she read it. No whimsy or fun allowed no matter how many times she'd explained the point of kids books to them.

Some days being gobbled up by a trash compactor had its appeal. Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:


Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
What TF Sarah

Friday, October 7, 2022

The Signs

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:

brink ~ stultify ~ brief ~ gobble ~ right

They were submitted by:


The nightstand on her husband's side of the bed held another bank card and driver's license from a woman she didn't know and didn't recognize. Third time, now. Third time was definitely not the charm here.

She'd been able to write off the other two as some sort of mistake. The first one she found was an accident. She was actually honestly looking for some tums or something that might help with a raging case of heartburn she had. She knew he kept some in the nightstand in case it woke him up at night. She'd forgotten all about the heartburn when she found the ID and card though.

She'd sort of defaulted to thinking it was a mistress who'd, she didn't know, left it with him? For some reason? Or something he found when he went out drinking after work and planned to return? It didn't really make sense to her no matter how she tried to frame it at the time but who would have thought...well what she thought now felt insane to be honest.

She hadn't found a way to bring it up to him yet without risking one of his little episodes when that woman's name was in the news a couple days later as having disappeared on am early morning run. She was pretty sure it was the same woman because the ID pic had kind of been emblazoned in her memory and it was very similar to the photo shown on the news. Same long dark hair, same piercing blue eyes... Neck tattoos and deep red lipstick. This woman was just his type. Not herself though. Oh no the woman he married was petite and blonde and quiet and wore clothes 2 sizes too big... When she accidentally found his porn stash on their computer that time it had all been women who looked like the one on the news.

Anyway that had been 2 years ago. She'd looked ever so often in his nightstand and then one day last year after she'd come back from visiting her parents upstate, there was another ID and card. And another news story. Another woman missing after a night out with friends in the downtown area near the art school campus.

And now 6 months later, here was another one. This time she hadn't been with her parents though. This time, she'd been in the hospital from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that had nearly killed her. She'd spent nearly 2 weeks laid up in that bed alone and miserable and wishing she would have died.

He'd shown up once, flipped through his phone for the entire half hour he bothered to be there, then left again without so much as an "I love you."

It hadn't always been like this. She really didn't think it had. Meeting him had felt so serendipitous...a fairytale. She'd often wondered if she was dreaming the sweetest dreams imaginable in the beginning. He brought her flowers. He made her feel like she was the only woman on earth. They'd dated for a year before he asked her to marry him, and at the time, there wasn't a single red flag she could name. He was attentive and supportive. He didn't go cold on her back then. He'd been passionate and gentle and couldn't get enough of her it seemed.

Now though she wondered what he was doing on those weekends he took boys trips with old college chums and didn't speak to her for days not even to check in. Were there actually business trips he went on and came back with a cut under his eye or scratches on his arms? Things lined up now in a way they hadn't back then. Why would she suspect him of anything at all when he'd gone so far to make her feel loved and important?

But then the wedding happened and things...things were off. He'd taken a job transfer without talking to her about it and basically forced them to move almost overnight away from her family and friends and her teaching job. He'd wanted her to wait on finding a job to see if maybe they could try for a baby only, well, he wasn't doing much trying and hadn't for years now. Their 5 year anniversary was coming up and she could count on her hands how many times they'd been intimate in that time. But he'd wanted her almost every day before the marriage and the move. Some nights he didn't even come home. There she'd be with dinner ready and plated looking like a dumbass with no work from him. She'd learned not to even bother calling. He wouldn't answer, and he'd accuse her of being clingy and insecure about it when he finally did show up.

She hadn't been to a single work function or let his coworkers. He never bothered to come back home with her and controlled when and how long she would go. If she wanted to stay 3 days he would insist on 2 weeks and not a minute sooner, but there were also times he'd forbidden her to go.

It's like the dream prince she married turned into a controlling nightmare with the flip of a switch when he said "I do."

So of course she'd long suspected affairs. She was sure he was at least having one night stands. But these IDs and bank cards? She understood now this was something much, much darker and she couldn't ignore it any longer. What would people think of her? That she must have known? That she turned a blind eye to it all? The thought of it made her throw up what little breakfast she'd been able to eat. She still wasn't feeling 100% after the lonely hospital stay... And she definitely hadn't had any more support once she'd gotten home.

What was she even going to tell police? My husband had this woman's ID but I was too scared to keep it? It's happened 3 times at least but I was too scared to call? She slid the items in a Ziploc bag, walked out to her car, and knew she'd never ever be able to set one foot back in that house. She'd have to figure out the rest along the way.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

What TF Sarah

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, September 16, 2022

Just in case

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

My words are:

Mom ~ bed ~ coffee ~ bagel ~ 4 cats ~ snore

They were submitted by:


I don't really know why I decided to learn Morse code. I've been at home since... Well, I don't like to talk about but I've been living with Mom and her 4 cats since my breakdown. Let's just call it what it is. I was burnt out working in special education and everything piled on and the world went nuts with COVID and I just couldn't keep up. I had to stay inpatient for awhile. I had to quit my job. So now I'm here right? I'm not delusional. I'm not crazy. I'm not psychotic. 

I just need to make that clear.

And I don't know why I decided to learn Morse code. Like I said. I thought it might be fun. I thought it would be easy and different and useless. I mean who uses it anymore? I just wanted to know a thing that wouldn't be used to market me. Does that make sense? I just wanted to have a thing that was all mine. I saw it in one of my dad's old boy scout books and went down to the old used bookstore at the corner of Graham and Pine and found a full actual book with practice and everything. 

Ok and I got a little too obsessed and also got 5 more books about codebreaking and history and shit but it's still not crazy. I'm still not delusional. Ok? I need that to be clear before I continue. I'm not losing it whether I had a little nervous breakdown or not. I feel better than I have in a long time even though I know I have a long road to get back to where I want to be. But I get up every day and look forward to having a breakfast bagel and coffee with Mom. I look forward to helping her out around her. I look forward to play time with the cats. I even taught them how to do tricks! So life isn't the best it's ever been or the best it will be, but it's good. I'm good. I'm in therapy. I sleep well when I don't wake my own self up with my loud as fuck snore. I'm not... This isn't because of what happened. Just please believe me.

Ok. So.

The first time I noticed it, I'd been doing the Morse code thing for a couple weeks. I was getting better at it, right? The first little bit of doing it, I just couldn't get it. I thought I'd never remember all this shit. It's like making a whole language out of beep boop beep beep. But it weirdly also made me feel closer to dad. He was so into boy scouts as a kid. He made it all the way to eagle scout. And then he was always a scout leader for my brother when it was his time to do scouts. I never really got that experience. I never got the camping trips or the badges or any of that shit. And then he was gone. Who expects to lose their dad at 16 before he can even teach her how to change her oil or fix a flat? It was kind of an unexpected consequence of getting into it. It felt like I was getting a half ass chance to do things over with dad. And the code history was pretty fucking interesting on top of that. I was in bed reading way too late every single night. Navajo coder talkers? How does history get better than that? Ok ok bad phrasing. How does it get more interesting than that? I suddenly started to understand all those Ken Burns documentaries dad had been into, all the history channel shows. I felt like I was finally starting to understand him... And for a long time I had never felt that connection. I couldn't. He'd always been busy with Joey not me. He'd never had time for tea parties and princess on ice shows. He didn't talk about periods or makeup or dating. And then he wasnt around at all. I'd been more than a little resentful.

Anyway, I'm digressing. The point is that I wasn't looking for anything weird and I wasn't in a bad place. For the first time in my life my dad was becoming a whole, interesting person. I tapped into parts of me that were straight from him, and it felt great.

So I'm doing some work in my Morse code book when I hear some tapping on tree right outside my window. I'd heard it before and figured it was just some super persistent woodpecker, but now I noticed a pattern. The pecks had a rhythm now that my previously untrained brain hadn't been able to pick up on.

It was Morse code.

Now listen I've been wrestling with this. I know how this sounds obviously. I know how it must seem, so let me assure you I've gone back and forth on this. It took me days to bring it up to even my mom. It took me longer to write this down in case this is what's left of... I don't know. The truth is really that I don't even know if this message is for me or for birds or for animals that aren't birds or for humans in general. Why Morse code if it wasn't? That's what I keep coming back to. Why a human made language?

But what if it isn't human made? What if we stole it from patterns we noticed in nature? Ok I'm getting ahead of myself here. What I need you to know is that mom heard it too. She doesn't know how to translate it but she heard the patterns. She wrote down in her own way what she was hearing and it was definitely repeating in a short pattern. I helped her translate--without really telling her first what I'd heard!! And it was the same. We heard the same thing. Doesn't that make me more credible? My mom has been the most solid person I have ever, ever known. You ask anyone, well anyone left, and they'd say the same. She was a constant in the neighborhood taking food to sick people, picking up supplies, keeping someone's kids if they had an emergency...leading Sunday school and working at the elementary school library. My mom is an indefatigable force of good and she's amazing and she's sane.

Even if you question me, you ask anyone in this community, and they'd believe her. They would.

We both heard it. And I don't know what it means. But I don't think it's good.

"They're coming soon."


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

What TF Sarah

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, September 9, 2022

No Ocean No Cry

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 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:

If you had a choice, would you rather live by the ocean or in the mountains? Why?

It was submitted by:

Uh so...I guess this is my answer hahaha


I think I'm the only one left now.

The sun was just starting to stretch its tendrils of light above the horizon which should have been a comfort all things considered but that thought, that she was the only one left, created a startlingly deep well of emotions. No one expected to be the final girl. Real life didn't work like that. Thinking on it now, those girls always seemed more than slightly relieved even while traumatized and full of fear and grief and confusion but how could she be relieved? She should be dead right along with the rest of them. Wouldnt that be the kindest thing? To face an eternity of nothing so she wouldn't be haunted by what she'd seen? So she wouldn't have to face the fact that there was a whole world of darkness and shadow and death and tentacles that she hadn't known about? How would she ever sleep again?

In movies the final girl is always some badass who faced down whatever monster or demon that some guy with no trauma (probably) had imagined up to be a metaphor for depression or whatever but apparently real life didn't work that way. She had run. The moment she could, she ran without looking back and she hid. She hid while all her old college friends were screaming and begging and dying, torn apart by that...that thing that had crawled out of the waves and grew legs right in front of them, its beak gnashing, tentacles burning and pulling and ripping... None of them even thought it was real.

Ha. She'd pissed herself. That's what she'd done. Where were all the final girls in the movies who did that? Her face was crusty with sweat and tears and snot. Why did they never look like this?

She'd seen too many bad horror movies.

Not a single one prepared her for the real thing.

They'd all come to this little beach to celebrate Jenny's wedding. A wedding that would never happen now. Jenny was somewhere down the beach in 4 pieces if that thing hadn't eaten her yet. It was supposed to be a 4 day girls trip. They were going to some clubs, to wine tastings, snorkeling... This was just the first fucking night. It was supposed to be a chill smoke and drink session by the waves as the night wore on. They were laughing and reminiscing and catching up. It had felt so goddamn good to be back with the people who'd held her when she cried over what happened with Mason, who had her back when she'd pressed charges on him...they felt like home in a way she'd never had with anyone anywhere and now...they were all gone. It would be kinder if the writers of her life just let her die now.

The screams had stopped a long time ago. The creature or whatever it was hadn't bothered to look very hard for her. She'd only gotten a few yards down the beach between two small changing huts. It hadn't even really looked in her direction...maybe it understood that nothing it could do to her would be as painful as being the only one left. She'd watched it walk back into the waves and crawl under them but didn't dare come out because death might be a blessing but she couldn't will her legs to get her there.

The sun rose higher. Seagulls and crabs were feasting. And she knew if she could somehow explain the truth to anyone and be believed or come up with some sort of believable lie...she would never ever be able to face a beach again.

Humans should fear the ocean.

She crawled inside one of the huts finally able to let her guard down enough to move and slept.


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 Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

What TF Sarah

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, August 12, 2022

All My Rowdy Memories

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: Hank ~ obstreperous ~ gin ~ regret ~ helpful

It was submitted by:


Hank Williams Jr spun round the old record player. She didnt much care for the man, but it was one of her father's records. Hearing some ol' Bocephus took her back to a time when things were both simpler and more difficult all at once. His raucous outlaw style was perhaps the most helpful vehicle for surrounding herself with her dad.

She could see him, drunk and obstreperous belting out "tell me, Hank, why do ya drink? Why do you roll smoke? Whyyy must you love out the songs that you wrote?" Family tradition was a pretty good answer to why she was stretched out on the couch down to the last of a cheap bottle of Canadian whisky and high enough to know she had hours to go before she'd be able to go to sleep without the room spinning.

And that was ok. There would be plenty of time for regret tomorrow when the hangover inevitably hit. She wasn't 19 and fresh faced and anymore. The drink would hit her like a mack truck come morning. And a shot of gin first thing, a little hair of the dog so to speak, would work some magic too.

But for now, she had hank and a buzzing body and all the emotions she finally let herself feel after all this time to keep her company.

The last few years she'd really let herself lean into the complicated picture she held of her dad, reveling in the tendency towards loud chaos when he was drinking shine, the music, the outlaw shit, the hardworking blue collar man who was, in all honesty, probably doing his fucking best all things considered and softening towards the aggression and temper and hurt. He didn't break the cycle of hurt and abuse he'd endured. Couldn't, she guessed. She knew how hard it was herself being a mother now with a loud and opinionated kid that had taken on her stubbornness and smartass mouth. It was difficult beyond measure to shed the anger and quick temper like an exoskeleton that didn't fit her anymore. It took effort every single day of her life. It took putting down the alcohol for the most part a lot time ago. It took a lot of forgiving. Had he been able to forgive? Probably not. It took him dying and the distance that comes after years of that loss to forgive. Death broke his cycle. Finally. Death made room for a softened heart where none could have existed before it, and he hadn't had that luxury with his own parents.

"Play me the songs about a ramblin' man put old Jim Beam in my hand
Cause you know I still love to get drunk and hear country sounds"

Here she was belting out the old tunes herself, teary eyed, loving the memory of the man she couldn't understand when he was still living. Life is strange that way. And music too. She had no doubts that the music they'd shared is what started her down this road. Spinning his records, finding a copy of the Cyndi lauper album she'd loved so much as a kid still among his collection she'd inherited, allowing herself to embrace songs she'd hated just because her father had loved them...She couldn't listen to country now without thinking of him. She'd even made playlists for tunes she knew he'd love and played them on nights she felt like she needed a dad she could still send a song suggestion to, who'd send one back... A dad she could buy vinyl for who wasn't buried at the church he hated at her age. Those playlists felt almost like a hug.

But tonight was about old times and letting herself cry for the both of them.

"Hank let's talk about your daddy tell me how your mama loved that man
Well just break out a bottle hoss I'll tell you bout the driftin' cowboy band
We won't talk about the habits just the music and the man"


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver


Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Deal

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 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: If you could be taught any instrument, take (free) lessons, really learn to understand the instrument and how to play it, which instrument would you choose?

It was submitted by:


***A piece of fiction but I think or hope it still counts as an answer. The devil wears a suit and tie to hear Colter wall tell it, and I might be willing to make the deal. I don't have time for lessons. ***

The man appeared before her seemingly out of nowhere. He sort of loomed over her as she sat on the front porch of her granny's old house, fog circling behind him.
He didn't belong here. That much was obvious.

She shivered as the coyotes howled all around. Normal for this place at this time of day but still unsettling as the stranger's glare seemed to stare into every part of her.

He was well dressed. A deeply purple crushed velvet jacket, black shirt and pants... A tie with a design she couldn't quite make out unless she got a little closer--she did need a new glasses prescription after all--and she damn sure wasn't getting closer.

As her mouth opened to call for granny, he put a finger to his lips and handed her (where did it even come from?) a curly maple open back banjo with a black walnut peg head, gold pick-ups, and a bat themed inlay. She sat with her mouth open. She'd dreamed of this very banjo so often sitting on this porch on hot summer nights and barely cool winter ones wishing like hell she could play right along with the crickets and frogs and all the noises coming from the woods behind the house or the swamp off to the left that she knew better than to check out. No, sir, she wanted to live these days.

Reality snapped back like a rubber band stretched almost too far nearly knocking the breath out of her. Her stomach dropped as she handed it back.

"It's mighty pretty, but you ain't tricking me with just a banjo."

His eyes burned brighter for a moment before a smile appeared on his face as suddenly as he'd appeared in the yard then he threw his head back laughter. Not a single hair fell out of place, and the fog seemed to dance on the sound.

"Perhaps not. But I could possibly offer you the skills to pull you out of this...shanty. all of you."

"Keep talking."

"In essence, my child, if you sign your eternal soul over to me, I will then empower you with abilities on this instrument--and only this one unless you want to barter further--that no other mortal possesses. What you do with that talent is then up to you."

She pushed her hair out of her face. It was long and a bit more than tangled. Dirty blonde. A fashionable sort of mullet. A queer sort of mullet. Her jeans were disintegrating and her bare feet were covered in dust and dirt. Gnats hovered around her face. It was hot. Beyond hot. They barely had running water and electricity regularly so ac was a luxury she hadn't known. It was a good day when rain hit and cooled off the tin roof.

Heavy clouds rushed in from the horizon like they'd been able to read her mind.

"So let me get this straight. I give my soul for eternity and I get this banjo and the skills to play only this banjo which I'm assuming ISN'T indestructible with no guarantee anyone might ever discover me..."

"Surely you have heard of one of my greatest inventions TikTok, child."

"We look like we get much internet out here, sir?"

"The offer stands. What you do with the gift after we make our deal is your own responsibility."

"Well, I reckon I might be interested but here's the thing... You might have to fight for it."

"...I... what do you mean fight for it? Fight what exactly?"

"Oh I sold it to some gator god in the swamp the other day for a good day of fishin'. We ain't had nothing to eat for 2 days by that point. So I made the deal and we had a mess of fish to last until the food stamps came in at least."

"You... You sold your soul for a...what is a mess of fish?"

"You know a good catch. A whole mess of fish. I thought you knew everything."

"And to who?"

"Oh I don't know. it was some half gator man that I saw while I was fishin.' Cajun accent? Straw hat? Gator head and big muscly body? He had to be some kind of god cuz ain't no regular folk walking around barefoot out there in just a little, she motioned around her waist, "skirt thing."

"Did you get paperwork that I may look at?"

"Mister, you think I got paperwork from a gator man barefoot in the swamp? Which one of us looks like we might be carryin' a pen?"

His face flamed red. His eyes turned darker with the clouds above. Thunder crashed so loudly the porch rattled. She knew if lightening hit she'd probably see that gatorman and all his teeth standing on the edge of the swamp, but something must have been looking out for her right then because the sky stayed dark.

"Listen, mister, you ain't got to get all mad at me because someone beat you to the punch here. If'n you want to still do the deal you're gonna have to take it up with that guy."

He snatched the banjo back from her, but she wasn't reacting the way he'd hope. Life had been too hard. Having a dream snatched from her hands was a regular occurence. Why would she ever care about a banjo as much as the other hurts. He began to fade and she heard in her own head, "I'll be back. Have a pen."


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 Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, July 15, 2022

The Janitor

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:

detour ~ cygnet ~ Poké Bowl ~ cascading ~ golf club

They were submitted by: 


The cygnet swam behind its mother across the pond that bordered the old golf club. The two of them were in their own little world while Sadie ate her Poké bowl from the little Asian fusion place a couple blocks down the street from work and a half block shortcut from the pond. She often found herself drawn to this place like it was a santuary from the business of the city behind her and the mindlessness of her job. The golf club had long closed down so there weren't any rich assholes bloviating about stocks or politics to ruin the mood as they played around hole 8, the closest to the pond. And it was far enough from the street that traffic was muffled and people were scarce. It was just her, the quiet, and the birds.

Something was different about today though, and she couldn't quite put her finger on it. The undercurrent was different. She felt...

She felt like she was being watched.

And not by the swans.

Sure enough she looked around and saw some "gentlemen" standing on the unkempt green looking her way. They looked completely out of place in their track suits and black tinted sunglasses, but that didn't mean they were definitely here to mess with her. Maybe they just needed to get out of her line of sight so they could take a leak. Whatever. It must be nice to just stand around and relieve yourself wherever.

She wasn't going to give up her spot quite that easy and tried waiting them out. But they stood there. Staring quietly. And then one of them, the larger of the two, pointed his finger towards her and pantomimed shooting her before both of them erupted into laughter.

She tried to stay calm and finish her food, every bite feeling like a lead weight. The safety she normally felt here had been completely obliterated, and now she had to figure out an alternate path back to work, a detour of sorts, since the shortcut took her down a pretty isolated woody path between the old club and the street. She'd never once seen anyone on it unless you count Stevie, the albino squirrel she sometimes left a few peanuts and almonds for if she saw him around. She was on high alert and not taking any chances. One of the men could easily catch up to her there and very likely no one would even hear her scream.

So she walked around the pond to the gates of the park situated on the opposite bank to her lunch spot to put her on the street and in public for her return. She could be a few minutes late. It's not like she had anything too pressing waiting on her.

One block from the parking lot, she realized the two men were behind her. Walking briskly. With intent. She sped up a little thinking she could make it inside before they caught up with her and took off running as she neared the door. She tugged it open and made a leap for the elevator that would take her up to the 3rd floor where she knew people would be waiting. Of all the days for the lobby to be empty. Not even Stanley, the security guard, was in...


Where was Stanley?

The elevator doors opened just as the two men reached the front. She ran inside. Finding Stanley took a backseat to running from these two clowns. She pounded the 3 and watched as the doors closed. The men seemed remarkably calm for two dudes who seemed so intent on catching up to her, and then it dawned on her they knew now exactly what floor she would be on or at least what floor she would stop on. She never got a good enough signal in this building to dial out but she could still do her s.o.s. function. The notification would go straight to her mom, and knowing her mom, she would immediately worry and call 911 when she heard Sadie saying "HELP."

The doors opened on her floor just as the message recorded. She half expected a cascading wave of blood a la Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining given the way the day had already gone, but nothing looked amiss. She shoved the phone back in her pocket, and took a chance and left the elevator hoping her coworkers would know what to do next when she noticed how quiet it was. No typing. No one fielding calls. Milton's fucking speaker wasn't even blasting his stupid sports podcasts, and he usually had it one notch above the level of human decency for an office.

She walked down through the hallway. She peered into the first office to the left, no one. The right, no one. Each office, same story. Until the last. There she found them. Jenelle, Filipè, Larry, Madison, Ashlyn, Sid... Even Sid's dad Tony was there. Tony ran the whole building. He was dead. They were all dead or nearly there.

She was frozen. She'd never seen anything...the goriest of movies could never compare to the scene in front of her. She'd never get it clean. As the scream welled up ready to erupt out of her, a rather large hand clamped over her mouth. She hadn't even heard the elevator doors open. They must have taken the stairs.

"Listen, toots, you're going to tell us everything we need to know and you're going to do it quietly or I'm going to put you in pain you've never felt before."

He lowered his hand, and she couldn't help herself. "Worse than kidney stones?"


"Worse pain than kidney stones?" she nearly whispered.

"Much worse."

Shit. This is seriously fucked up, she thought. Kidney stones fucking hurt.

They took her into the office next door and sat her in a chair then sat on the desk in front of her gun pointing directly at her face.

"You move, doll, and you die."

She nodded not trusting her voice enough to speak. Her mom better get the message.

They'd pulled the glasses off and were giving her quite the death stare when one finally said, "so what's your job here, sweetheart?" A lot of pet names for men who were threatening to kill her...

"I'm the janitor."

They both shook their heads. "You expect us," one said as he pointed his thumb at himself then the other one, "to believe they let a broad like you scrub the toilets on one floor of a building during business hours? What do you take us for?"

She tilted her head to the side out of confusion. "Well, no... I do the whole building, but my locker and storage closet are here on the 3rd floor. I only really know the people here. Most of the other floors aren't occupied during the day much."

"You got some real nice nails for a lady who mops floors."

"I mean, I do wear gloves. Wouldn't you?"

"You don't smell like cleaner."

"Because before lunch I sweep and vacuum the empty floors and take out trash. I don't use cleaning stuff until after lunch. What's the point?"

"But you're... Tiny. Like a child."

"Ok and? I make $12 an hour. What do you expect me to be? Mr. Universe?"

The big one leaned over and whispered to the not as big one. She couldn't quite make our what was being said but they seemed to come to some kind of agreement.

"What can you tell us about your boss?"


The smaller one massaged his forehead a little bit. He looked tired.

"No, honey, Tony. You know fat tony? The guy that runs this building?"

"Well how was I supposed to know? Hes never really here. And calling him fat tony is kind of mean. He's just stocky."

"You want we should believe you don't even know who runs this place?"

"I'm just the goddamn janitor."

"You don't know Fat Tony of the Don Bilotti crew? Fat Tony the *second* most powerful don in this state? Fat Tony, your boss, who stole from my boss,The Bull Gravano, the most powerful don in this state. Maybe all the states. You don't know that Fat Tony?"

"Am I on like some new kind of candid camera show? What the fuck are you fat shaming Tony for? I don't know anything about Tony except he's Sid's dad and he technically owns this place. Ive only even met the guy 3 times and if you had asked him before you...before he uh died then he wouldn't have even known my name and then you wouldn't be asking me all these questions."

"Ok girlie do you have any idea what they do in this building?"

" stuff?"

"Phone stuff. How long you been working here? 2 years?"

"How'd you know?"

"Because we know. And there ain't no way Fat Tony hired an actual janitor to work in a front business laundering money. He ain't capable of that sort of irony."

"Excuse me, Mr, uh, sir, but I don't think that actually counts as irony."


She heard the sirens the same time they did. Mom came through! She was so predictably neurotic and it finally paid off.

The bigger one pulled the hammer back on his gun and pointed it at her, but the other one pulled him away. "Leave her. We can come back for her" before they took off.

That was fiveish hours ago? And she'd been trying to explain the whole thing to the police but apparently no one was ready to believe she was a just the fucking janitor today.

She sighed as yet another cop sat in front of her in the interrogation room. This one was playing good cop. He'd brought a sandwich and a coffee at least.

"Now what can you tell me about Fat Tony, Sadie?"

He wasn't even Fat, she thought. And repeated the whole thing once again. If she ever got out of this, she would never, ever take another cleaning job for the rest of her life.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Climaxed Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, July 8, 2022

Molotovs > Fireworks

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 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:

How do you celebrate the 4th of July?

It was submitted by:


I've answered this question before in a way, but that time I made it more or less about hating fireworks and having trauma related to my dad getting drunk and my parents fighting every holiday and especially the 4th because it's my mom's birthday. And that still remains true. Im not really big on the holiday at the best of times..

But I'll be honest here, what the fuck is there to celebrate anyway? Fascism? Loss of rights? Being terrified to be an out queer person for the first time in a fucking long time? No healthcare? Ignoring a pandemic? Essentially sending people to work in a pandemic to keep the capitalism train moving and then also removing access to free tests and vaccines? A president who won't even say the word abortion or at least didn't for his first 2 years in office much less have a real plan to address it? A president who, on the way roe was overturned and knowing it was coming like we all did, had plans to appoint a lifetime federal judge position to an extreme antiabortion Republican? A country that will make Juneteenth a federal holiday but won't let people talk about the implications of racism on this country's foundation and its presence in our system to children in history classes? A country who will give more rights to guns than people? A country that cares about the lives of babies unless they're shot to death in school classrooms? A country that will make every excuse possible for a police to kill an unarmed person especially ESPECIALLY if they're a person of color?

I guess it would be a lot easier to celebrate the birth of this nation if it wasnt so hard for those of us who live here and have been othered in it. If it didn't carry a risk of discrimination and death just for looking or being different. If it didn't mean old fucking losers with too much power didn't feel entitled to keep the poor begging for scraps and the othered to die with nothing. It would be so much easier to pop off some fireworks if Democrats didn't somehow hinge their 50 years of failures on Bernie once again or Susan Sarandon or those of us who ever vocally criticize one of their know the same party that paid for ads for an NRA A-rated, pro life democrat in Texas in no danger of losing their seat the day after children were gunned down in a school while the police (which Democrats gladly keep over funding) stood by in the same fucking state.

Fuck this country. There's nothing here to celebrate.

Whenever this country slides further into fascism, so many people always share that quote that says "don't fall into despair. Let this radicalize you." But somehow that means vote for the same people who never gave a shit about you to begin with and share bullshit meaningless memes. I'm sorry but in an oligarchy, voting is never a radical act. It's the very least you could possibly do.

Celebrate what?

A country still deeply in the throws of Satanic Panic and antisemitism? That still falls for conspiracies build on the foundation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which we know was made up entirely to excuse antisemitism? A country so caught up in fear, exploitation, and the art of the grift that a man could spiral so far down the rabbit whole in a couple months that he became willing to kill his own children with a spearfishing gun? That could look his 10 month old in the face and think that was the best he could do for that child? 

A leftist spectrum that thinks making a Facebook profile named Lenin Bussy Marx and sharing low quality memes is praxis? The ones who have 392 comment threads on Twitter arguing about what a 200 years dead white dude would think about a grifting YouTuber who made millions passing off propaganda about the Syrian civil war? The same leftists who think any country that isn't the U.S. is fine and good no matter what they're doing to their own people?

And the worst thing of all is that we aren't actively attempting to address ANY of it. 

Will I celebrate? Do I?

No thanks. I'll be sleeping in and watching Scooby Doo and everything else can go fuck itself.


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 Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Price Of Wishing

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:

pickles ~ summer ~ thunderstorm ~ puppy

They were submitted by:


It was a summer night just like this one when I came here. A thunderstorm just like this one. If I believed in portents, I would definitely be a little concerned. But I don't. So it's fine. It's finally going to be fine.

In less than a day I will have done my time, and I'll be free. Sort of free. You don't live out a 400 year sentence for the kinds of crimes I was found guilty for without it being, you know, a big deal. Everyone seems to know who I am. I'll never get a minute's peace, but I'll finally be out of here. I'll finally move outside of these gray walls and the parade of hoodlums that come in and out changing styles, changing names, changing crimes but never really being different people. 1997 was a good year. pre-9/11. I mean things weren't great before that either but inevitably things hit a pretty steep decline afterwards. 10 years, 20, 50,100... All the milestones came and went. Wardens changed. Rules changed. The outside changed... And here I still am, still living in 1997 in my head and being pushed out into whatever awaits me in 2397. It's a tenuous freedom, but it is freedom.

When I accepted immortality as my gift from that djinn I didn't expect to spend eternity in a box watching as humans devoured each other metaphorically and then literally. I didn't expect to be handed a 400 year sentence for feeding a hunger I didn't ask for in the first place.

A hunger that's been satisfied by involuntary donations from the prisoners here once the cops figured out what happened when they denied what I am..

The last night.

I've missed my kids lives. Their kids lives. Their great grandkids lives. Do I even have family left? I've missed world war 3. 4. Nuclear fallout. An apocalypse and rebirth. Revolutions that won and revolutionaries stomped out by their own people's greed. I don't get to watch the news anymore. Not after my last freakout that left a few screws dead. I don't know what it looks like except words from the kids coming in here, a revolving door of outside culture. I hardly recognize the language anymore.

400 years.

4 years of this place is enough to drive some men insane, and I've been here 400. Am I even getting out of has my grasp of reality completely obliterated? Sometimes I don't even know if anything I know to be true actually is the truth. Sometimes in the dark of night when nothing is quiet, after all the sleeplessness, I don't know if I haven't made it all up.

And then I get hungry and for at least those few moments that hunger is being sated with pulse against teeth, I see it all so clearly.

Hours. Hours left.

I miss pickles I can't have anymore. I miss the smell of puppy breath right before they lick your face and fill you with joy. Are those things even real? Am I really? What's the price of 400 years? How can you leave one world and re-enter another you don't recognize anymore and be ok?

But I won't be here... At least there's that?

I won't be fed anymore either.

I won't be fed.

And I'll be so hungry.




Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver


What TF Sarah

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, June 3, 2022

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 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:

Would you rather be the sand castle or the wave?

It was submitted by: 


 ...I'm not a philosopher.

Like I don't have enough time ony hands to really wonder what it all means or if life has a purpose or the existential threads of my existence. To be perfectly honest, I really don't even think about where this world came from or what's in space. The closest I get to wanting to solve a puzzle is maybe how the Somerton man died or what happened to Brandon Lawson or who the zodiac killer is. I don't really ever think about the bigger why are we here kind of picture, and at times I'm not even thinking  beyond the day I'm living. Every day life keeps me pondering enough. Why do people always blame a mysterious them? How do cults work? Why do we always fall for scams? How can we fix the many things that are broken? Why does one or my cats keep pooping in the sink drain? how the fuck am I going to make it through the day when I just used all my energy shampooing muddy dog prints off my carpet? When you're thinking about things that are not necessarily in your control but close I think the bigger things that might not ever have an answer seem to sink into the background.

I've written a lot of people in prison over the last 15ish or so years. I've definitely had my run ins with philosophical questions because of it. These are people who do have time, nothing but sometimes, and access to a library always full of philosophers if nothing else, and an aching need to ponder what it might all mean now that life takes the form of a highly controlled and caged environment. The big picture perhaps becomes essential to sanity because the everyday things are out of their hands and off their radar if they want to stay afloat. And I get that, but god does it grate on my nerves

I have to say even with the years of philosophy and the questions and the conversations and, well it's philosophy so... definitely some arguments, I don't really know how to approach this idea. The wave or the sandcastle? I don't care. I just want to be able to afford food this month. Do I want to be a thing shaped by human direction or by the moon? Do I want to be make the most of my environment and let it destroy me just to rise again or do I want to be the thing that shapes the environment? I don't think there's really an answer here that says anything about me or about my worldview or about existence because there are pros and cons to each way or looking at these ideas and these questions and the fascinating thing about being a human is that we can look at sandcastles and waves and take the best parts of those ideas while discarding whatever doesn't serve us, right? We don't have to have those kinds of metaphorical limits and if we don't want to be any parts of either one, then we don't have to do that either. Ask me about being a queer atheist anarchist in the rural South who likes antitheistic satanism and goes to a Christian church every week that rolls and has good conversations with the pastor who loves and accepts all those things--the parts of these things that serve me work together in a way that has made me a much better person than I would be otherwise. Things have changed a lot for me in the time since I embraced the church and anarchism, and I feel like I've definitely grown. I don't have to be limited by and either/or scenario. Ask me why I chose to write people in prison or why I homeschool my kid. Ask me how I found peace with my childhood. Every part of who I am is cutting out the parts of things and feelings and beliefs that don't serve me anymore and embracing the good bits that do. It's been work, but it's been worth it, and I ultimately understand the burning questions I do have all the more because of the journey. I don't have to choose any one thing...

Wave, sandcastle, hermit crab, dried out piece of driftwood, dunes, a horse running on the beach... I'm all of it.


Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, May 13, 2022

Boss Level

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:

cocktail ~ screen ~ secure ~ dirty ~ book

It was submitted by:

Thanks to reddit for another great idea for a story.


The officer looked tired. Beyond tired. Soaked to the bone with exhaustion. But in his defense, he'd probably been up for most of the last couple days trying to make sense of what happened. He looked like he'd just found out an alien race had been living on this planet for the last 3 decades disguised as scientologists.

He asked me a few preliminary questions, mostly my basic info, and then tapped a few times on a touch screen tablet in front of him that laughed a recorder and asked me to tell my story. So I did.

Here's the transcript.

Sam Mitchell: I'd had a cocktail at lunch which probably helped me out when things went down later that afternoon if I'm being honest.

As I waited for my food and drink, I'd felt a little...dirty? about it, like I was doing something I knew was wrong, but it was Friday just before a long weekend, and The Boss had been on some kind of ultra tantrum all week. No one even knew why this time. Not that there was ever a good reason for an adult to act like that with their employees, not in my book. So I'd also felt like I deserved it. The coming week wasn't shaping up to be any better.

The boss is--sorry--was one of those people epic quiting stories on Reddit are about--a sexist pig who couldn't even do his job but micromanaged everyone else. If you wanted to make sure your job was secure you had to attend his little after hours "team building" functions where he got drunk and hit on all the women. There was no pleasing him. Nothing was ever done right even when we were praised by HIS bosses. No one ever, ever got praise from him. He'd once screamed at this poor woman, I can't even remember her name now, who dared have a donut in his presence because he said she was too big to be eating like that. When James' wife had cancer, he absolutely refused to let us donate PTO time to him to stay home with her. When she died, he was at work...and he had to work from home to be able to take some days to deal with her funeral and his grief. We were all underpaid but that was especially true for the people who aren't men of course. Of course. I honestly have no good explanation for why I stayed. Afraid of change in part, I suppose.

Officer: had a reason to dislike the guy did you?

SM: look, don't roll your eyes about this, but I listen to true crime podcasts a lot and I know people who kill their spouses can't ever resist talking shit about them like not even 5 minutes into the interview, but we both know every single person you talked to already said he was a piece of shit.

Officer: yeah, yeah. True crime. Y'all think you know everything. Go on.

SM: So I'd been back at my desk for about half an hour when we heard the front door to the building blow open. I'd thought we were in experiencing an earthquake and hid under my desk--not a great decision or my finest moment, but I hope you'll let me blame the cocktail here. Anyway, we heard a bunch of yelling and then some screaming and then some shots and I thought for sure one of the people that had quit had come back to shoot the place up. I don't even know if I would have been that mad about it.

Officer: miss, please just stick to the facts.

SM: fine. I thought we were being real here? Anyway, I could hear voices in the hall outside my office yelling at everyone to stay out of the way and no one had to get hurt, that we didn't have to protect The Boss anymore. They were saying we could finally be free if we would just mind our own business. I really almost peed myself in relief. You can sigh all you want by I want it on record that despite what Keith in accounting says, I did not fully piss my pants. Right. Nothing. No laughs? You must be fun at parties. Ok so, I was still pretty scared, but I'm also insanely nosy--i mean just look at my screenshots album at all the other people's drama. I crept out from under my desk and over to the window to see if I could watch what was going on.

Officer: what could you see from your office? It's near The Boss?

SM: not like right across the hall, but I could definitely see in his office if I got in just the right spot. I got plenty of dirt on him that way. So that's where I went which is, to my benefit obviously, not really easily spotted by someone in the hallway or his office unless he's standing by his personal coffee maker that he never used because he made Debbie in sales go get him coffee at least twice a day but got mad if she got anyone else anything because his coffee wouldn't be boil your skin off temperature.

Officer: ok back to your story

SM: listen it's not a story. This is what actually happened.

Officer: you all do realize it sounds more like something out of movie that you all wrote together though, right?

SM: sure but that doesn't make it any less true. Or funny. God, it's so funny.

Officer: ma'am, a man died. Shouldn't you have a little decorum?

SM: oh yeah right. Have you ever met The Boss? No? Don't tell me about decorum then. Fuck that. He was an absolute monster. Whatever. So when I looked out the window there was a group of 4 people. 3 men, 1 woman. She looked, well, a lot like that game tombraider. Tight, kinda casual dommy mommy clothes? A gun in hand. Slicked back pony tail. Dark hair. 1 man was not white and was wearing camo and had a rifle. I'm not great with guns. One of the white men or at least more white? What's the correct way to say that? Either way, he wore all black and had blonde hair. And one had reddish brown hair and wore a long deep brown duster. I couldn't see much else about their faces or their weapons. When they entered the office there was a whole lot of yelling. I couldn't make it all out but they fanned out like they were facing their greatest enemy and then opened fire. The Boss fell to the ground, and I swear I heard this music play, like victory music? But I don't know. I couldn't have right? Right?

Officer: I don't know, miss. Did you or didn't you?

SM, low: I think I did.

SM: and that was it really. The group started to turn around and I ducked. I wasn't taking any chances after that. There wasn't much of anything after that except they were celebrating on the way out and kept screaming they finished the level. "Good game, good game." And congratulating each other on not having to kill anyone else. And then they shouted BE FREE, MINIONS. ... But like, we hated him? How were we his minions?

Officer: if I were you I'd be more worried aboute thinking you're a murderer not a minion

SM: I tell ya...I thought about murderering that man in a million different ways. At least. But I didn't do this. None of us did it. Check the cameras. I know, KNOW, he watched us.

Officer: we will, we will. But until then don't leave the city. you're free to do whatever it is you do otherwise

SM: yeah. I finally am.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah