Monday, October 02, 2017

My own worst enemy

I may only be able to think about you and wonder how you are.

Maybe the best I can manage is to reach out, just a little, by text or by email, just to let you know you're part of me in some meaningful way.

But then again, maybe I can bring you a Diet Coke, or chicken noodle soup, or lasagna. I want you to be okay. 

But maybe I'm scared. Afraid of what I might see, think. Feel. Oh, feelings are so hard. Especially when I love you. It might be easier for me to play ostrich; stick my head in the sand. Pretend there isn't anything wrong. Doesn't mean it's the right thing. The fair thing. But what if that's the reason I don't call? Visit?

I want to help, but I'm overwhelmed with my own awfulness. My own drama. My own self-imposed and selfish issues. My own brain gets in the way. 

Except you matter. I might not do the right things. Say the right words. Be who you expect me to be. Be who I expect me to be. I am who I am. Right or wrong. Love me or hate me.

I've been more disappointed in myself than you could EVER be with me.

But oh, the green of the sky after sunset, before full night takes over to make us wait for the rising of another day. That green means opportunity. It means I have a chance tomorrow. To succeed. To fail. To just barely make it through. 

I hate failing. So I'll be here tomorrow. Pushing forward. Even if forward is only an inch. Even if I only think...and don't act. 


Friday, September 22, 2017

What the heck is that?

There's a bobcat on campus.

Define campus? Not college. Work.

Big, giant, campus. Lots of people in lots of buildings doing some amazing research.

Since I started working here in 2014, I have seen two snapshots of the elusive bobcat taken by employees - one of which was taken behind my building! But I have never seen the actual creature itself.

Until today.

Granted, it was a brief glimpse, but enough to make me actually slap my hand across my mouth in total surprise!

I was on the main road coming up to the intersection where I would turn to go to my office building and I saw - on the far left corner - something streaking across the field toward the street.

Thought process: Too big, and far too fast, to be a groundhog. Too small to be a deer. What the heck am I seeing?

And then it burst through underneath the guard rail into the street, right in front of me, and zipped across into the woods on the other side. Total visual time? Approximately 40 seconds.


I actually, really and truly saw the bobcat.

Yes, I know there are going to be people out there who see bobcats far more often than I do, but they're not terribly common around here so for me, this was a big deal.

Granted, it didn't stop to let me see it's cute face, or pet it and hug it and squeeze it and name it George.  But I saw it, and that's enough.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stick a fork in it and call it Done

I have started stirring the ol' Word Pot again. For a long time, other than this blog, I didn't write too much. Busy with other things, I suppose. You know, kids,, whatnot.

("Life is not 'whatnot', and it's none of your business." Bonus points if you know the movie.)

If you've been following my blog, you know I've been struggling pretty badly with my depression and anxiety lately, and that I am finally - I think - medicated appropriately. I feel better.

Wait. Let me say that again.

I FEEL better.

OK - I'm done.

Anyhoo, now that my brain is beginning to function normally (or, normally for me) again, I'm writing. Because that's what I do when I feel well. I have dreams, I see images (no, not psychic images - just a blip on the radar that winds up becoming the catalyst, or the jumping-off point, for a story), I hear snippets of conversation which spark my imagination. I never know where I'm going to get inspiration. I like this. I missed this. So I'm writing again.

I've written two stories in the last month. One, which you already know about (, was based on a pretty disturbing dream. The other (, was the product of seeing a very clear image of a blonde girl, lit up by car headlights, walking down a dark road. The Desert Road stemmed from there.

Admittedly, I seem to be writing creepy stories. I'm not really sure why, except to say I've always been a big fan of the creepy, the macabre, or the supernatural...and "They" say: Stick to what you know. I know I'm not done yet because there's a third story already in the works which is based on another awful dream I had a couple of weeks ago. This one is currently titled: "Alterations at The Warehouse" and I'm hopeful to have that done in another week or so. This one is slow coming together because I only remember snippets of the dream itself, but I'll get there.

There is also a fourth story - which is actually the first one I started - in the works. That one isn't short and it's also quite complicated, with a lot of characters. I've had to update my outline quite a bit because the story seems to keep changing on me. As soon as I think I know what direction I'm going with it, something happens (yes, that's exactly what I mean) and I have to change it. It's weird how that works, but you writers (Allie, I'm talking to you) will know what I mean. I've gotten all my characters developed. I know them all, who they all are, how they fit into the larger story, but there's still a lot of work to do. So that might take another year or so to complete. Who knows, maybe it will be big enough to call a novel? I'm not getting my hopes up, though. Right now, I'm just enjoying the writing phase.

So - love the stories or hate them, that's OK. We are all entitled to our own opinions. But for me, this is so cathartic. I LOVE to write, and apparently - based on some stuff other folks have said - I do have some talent for it. That's not to toot my own horn, though; I always feel like my own writing is awful. But I've decided I don't really care. When I feel like a story is finished - because there is a point where it is finished - I tell myself to stop. Stop re-reading. Stop editing. Stop worrying and second guessing. Call it done.

I've called two stories Done now.

Let's see where this goes, shall we?


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Parental Error in Judgement

I made a parental error in judgment the other night. Yes, I did. We are all fools, on occasion, are we not? really give you the proper insight, therefore, I must go back and explain how the error came to be. (Can you tell I've been reading Jane Austen again?)

Several weeks ago, I had a horrible nightmare. Truly, one of the worst I've had in a very long time. Without going into details about that particular dream, suffice it to say it left me feeling sick in my soul and supremely disturbed in my heart and mind. It stuck with me. I remembered every detail; every feeling. And I carried that discomfort around for a few days until I finally decided that the only way I could hope to get rid of that soul-sickness was to write about it. Put it all down on paper in a way that might take it from me and transfer all the ickiness (that's an Austen word right there) to paper.

Almost 12,000 words and 19 pages later, I succeeded. The disturbing nature of the dream was now gone from me because it became a fictional story, rather than a dream in which I felt I'd taken an intimate role.

I sat on this story for a while before I even said anything to anyone about it, but finally had one of my trusted friends read it. Her words were, "'s creepy and chilling and awesome..." Honest and high praise from her as she reads more than I do. I was glad to know I was able to convey the feeling of it.

Fast forward to earlier this week, Boy-Child and I were discussing various things and he said something about a bad dream he'd had the night before. We talked about it, and I said, "Boy, I had a doozy of a dream a few weeks ago. It was so bad I had to write a story about it just to shake it from my system."

Well, I didn't think at the time (though I should have) that my book-loving son would want to read that story. He thought about it for a couple of days before he asked me to read it.

At first, I said no, because I knew it was creepy and I also because he has never slept really well and I didn't want to run the risk of my being the reason for his having a bad night. Which this story, I felt certain, would do.

He persisted. And I (here's my parental error) finally gave in and let him read it.

It probably took him 15 minutes to read 19 pages and 12,000 words. Far faster than I can read. When he was done, I looked at him and watched him visibly shudder. Oops, I thought.

"You OK bud?"

He couldn't look at me, but said, "Yeah, that was REALLY CREEPY, mom."

"I know."

He needed to go to bed shortly thereafter and told me he would be sleeping with his light on. I expected that, and so didn't really make a reply.

A little while later, he came in and said, "Mom, that story was really creepy!" I suggested he grab his ear buds and listen to music as he fell asleep. He thought that - along with his light - was an excellent idea, and so went back to bed.

Again, he came back to me and said, "I think I figured out why your story bothered me so much."

"Oh? Why?" I asked.

"Because the main character is you. It's creepy because it feels like it happened to you. I could see you in the character and that's what made it creepy."

I put my hands on both sides of his head, looked him directly in the eyes (knowing he was looking back; looking to make sure my irises hadn't suddenly turned black) and said to him, "Bud, I'm right here, soul and all. I'm OK, I promise. And so are you."

He said, "OK," and went back to bed.

Apparently, he was so convinced of my truly being OK, he was no longer even fearful, because when - about 30 minutes later - I went to check on him, he was fast asleep. Lights and music off. And further, he slept all night long.

The next morning, I asked if he was alright and he said, "Yeah, but I guess I probably shouldn't have asked to read it."

Probably not. But he's 13 now and is finally starting to understand actions and decisions and consequences. So, I suppose, even though I feel like I scared the crud out of my son and am a terrible parent, it is a lesson learned. For both of us.


PS: My trusted friend, who had the distinction of being the first person - other than myself - to read the story, said that she could see me in the main character, too. Her words were something to the effect of, "...those who know you will really see you in this." Guess my son has excellent insight, too.

UPDATE 8/15/17: It's rough - I reread it after it had been posted and there are some spacing errors, as well as a few things I'd like to fix, but the story is out there now and you're welcome to go read it. Good luck. Feel free to tell me how you really feel. My skin is thick.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Kids vs. Cats

As I was walking through my house the other day, going about my chores, I made almost unconscious, idle conversation with the cats - neither of whom were near at the time - telling them what I was doing as I did it.  Of course, it occurred to me, as I stuffed another load in the washing machine, how silly it was. The cats don't care what I'm doing; not really. Yeah, they're nosey little buggers, but truthfully, unless it involves food, they would much rather sit in a sunny window and doze.

Further, I thought, when having such conversations with one's cats, how similar they sometimes are to conversations one may have with babies and toddlers. I remember keeping up a running commentary about everything I was doing when my babies were little, which might account for why they talk so much now; not that I mind.

Once I'd made the connection, it stood out every time I said something aloud to the four-legged fur-creatures. I found myself saying things to them that I would and, I'm sure, did say to my kids.

Why are you sticky?

Don't eat that!

Don't climb on that! 

Get down!

No, that's my food. You eat your own food.

Why are you wet?

Where have you been?

What have you been getting into?

Why is it so quiet?

Ugh, what is that smell?

Which one of you made this mess?

Ok, who puked?

Someone needs a bath!

The list, I'm sure, could go on. But every time I said something to the cats, I further realized...maybe I didn't really want to know the answer.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Messy, Crazy, Chaotic Life With Kids

What parent, at some point in their Parenting Career, hasn't thought, " are hard!"?

Yeah, you love them and they're cute and you're glad they're around, and truthfully you cannot imagine your life without them, but...

  • They're messy
  • They smell
  • They leave their clothes all over the place and don't seem to understand what a hamper is for. Or, they'll jump-shot the clothes in the general direction of the hamper, but if the item falls short, it will stay where it lands.
  • They're picky - about food, about the way their clothes fit, about their hair, about the color of the sky or the grass
  • They can be super annoying
  • They don't listen - or, at the very least, have selective hearing. ("Huh? What did you say?")
  • They neglect their chores unless you remind them and when you remind them they get irritated that you reminded them because they're not dumb, mo-om! Sheesh!
  • They, all the time. Sometimes it's exhausting.
  • They need you when you're peeing or showering behind a closed door and feel a driving need to knock and ask you what you're doing as if it weren't obvious. (At least they don't stick furry paws under the door and try to get in, or snag the nearest whatever on the floor with their claws, or cry obsessively until you let them in. Oh...wait, yeah - they kinda do, but it depends on their age.)
  • They almost never go to sleep when you tell them to. There's always one more thing.
  • They have fifty-eleven hobbies or obsessions or collections going at any one time so there's stuff everywhere.
  • They haven't figured out how to file yet, so there's paperwork everywhere. (Oh, wait...that's...uh...never mind.)

On the flip-side of that coin, though...

  • They love you, and find lots of little ways to show it. Hugs are huge in our family and Girl-child could probably squeeze you to death if you let her. She's very effusive.
  • They enjoy spending time with you - and miss you when you're peeing or showering and therefore must simply remind themselves that you're the house with them.
  • They think you're pretty funny - most of the time - and laugh at your stupid jokes, silly stories, and goofy voices.
  • They talk to, all the time...because they need to. They need someone they trust to talk to and I am grateful every day my kids are little chatterboxes and that they come to me when something's up. Sometimes I need to drag it out of them, but that's really pretty rare.
  • They have good, comfy beds and whether or not they get in them when I tell them to, they do sleep and have a safe, warm place to do it.
  • The stuff they're picky about? I don't really care so much any more. It used to bug me to no end when (for example) Girl-child absolutely refused to wear jeans of any kind (I'm a jeans and tee shirt kind of gal and she's not) but now, provided she's dressed modestly and comfortably, I just don't care what she wears. She's her own person, right? Boy-child has never really been too picky about his clothes, he just gets dressed and that's that. When they're picky about food, they know I'm not going to cater to them and make them another meal. They can figure out what to eat if they're not going to eat what I (or hubby) put in front of them. They won't starve.
  • They have fifty-eleven hobbies, obsessions, or collections because they're still figuring out what they like to do. They're developing those things and it's a hands-on experience. So all the fishing gear, all the electronics, all the pieces of cut cardboard, foam-core board, paper, all the doll clothes, all the colored pencils and drawing pads, well...yeah - they're everywhere and I would sometimes like to throw it all out and turn my house into a museum, kids live there.
  • They want to snuggle with you - even at 13 years old. That time is so precious to me. It is sometimes - admittedly - hard for me to stop being selfish and go spend that time with them. And I'll be the first to admit I sometimes tell them, "Not tonight," because, frankly, I'm tired. But they still ask. And I won't always be there to tuck them in, so I should take full advantage of this, right?
  • When they're asleep, the sound of their even breathing calms me down.
  • When hubby and kiddos are gone, I don't sleep well AT ALL. So it's better when they're there.
Life with kids is busy and messy and crazy and chaotic and there's always stuff to do all the time and stuff everywhere all the time. Do I wish sometimes it were quiet? Just me and my thoughts and maybe the cats or a good book? Absolutely. (Though, me, alone with my thoughts, might not be such a good idea, really.) That doesn't mean I don't want my family around. It just means I'm human and need some Me Time occasionally. But I wouldn't trade my kiddos for the world. 

I know it's going to get more difficult as we really push our way into the teenage years (they're currently 13 and 10) and there will be a time or two that they think they hate me. But I'm OK with that, I guess. I know it will upset me, but I'll deal with it when the time comes. Right now, I'm just reminding myself to be grateful for them, for the mess (even though I hate living in chaos) because it reminds me that my kids are living their lives and are happy.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ventriloquism and the Sinus Blowfish

Yesterday, it felt like a frightened blowfish swam up my right nostril and lodged itself in my sinus cavity. POOF! Nothing getting in, nothing getting out. I felt like that all day long. That, plus my right ear felt...weird. I was on my way to being well and truly convinced I was headed toward a sinus infection or an ear infection - or both. (Because...well, history does repeat itself.)

At one point - without warning - I suddenly could breathe again. Out of both sides. It was noticeable because truthfully, I almost never can breathe out of both sides. I'm sort of used to it being one or the other. So when I felt air flow - right and left - I noticed.

I posted to Facebook: MIRACLE! I can breathe out of both nostrils! Wait...nope. Never mind. #Allergies.

Because as soon as I started to post the blowfish got angry again.

Today, I feel fine. Apparently, the blowfish who took cover in my sinuses kissed and made up with whatever frightened it and sent it up there in the first place. Today, I'm normal. Kinda breathing out of one side, and clear on the other.  It will switch up in an our or two.

This has been a lifelong commitment. This battle between which sides of my head wish to breathe. They cannot, it seems, draw or release air at the same time.

If you're a Jeff Dunham fan, you'll understand what I mean when I say, "I talk, you talk. I talk, you talk. We cannot both talk at the same time!" Remove the word "talk" and insert the word "breathe" and...there you have it. That's me. (Jeff Dunham, for those who don't know, is a ventriloquist. And he is freakin' hysterical. There's a very short clip below to prove it.)

Anyway, my father once told me, "Jenny, you've been this way since the day you were born. I don't think you could make a sniffle I'm not familiar with."

This, sadly, is true. I've been an allergy-ridden mess since day one.

But, I'm alive. And, every day I get up on this side of the earth is a pretty good day. Right?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Silly Stories, Goofy Voices, and Girl-Child

The other day, I snuggled in bed with Girl-child at bedtime, and told her silly stories in a goofy, made-up voice. We both had a very good time, and I don't think I've ever heard her laugh so hard. She said her face hurt. The voice I was doing was so goofy, I actually had trouble maintaining it; I kept making myself laugh.

Anyway, do you remember Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann sitting in the huge rocking chair telling the story about the crazy sandwich she made, which included raisins (I think) but then she decided she couldn't eat the sandwich because she didn't like raisins? It's been a while since I've seen or heard it, so mostly I made my own version of the story. But Girl-child thought it was great. At some point during that story, I'd said something about putting mayonnaise on the bread and she said, "Mayonnaise on a bed!? How is that even possible?" And - using my goofy voice - I said, "BREAD! BREAD! NOT BED! Who would be mayonnaise on a BED? That's just silly!" Which, of course had her giggling again.

I elaborated a lot. And she was totally engrossed in the story. When I finally came to the punchline - "I decided I couldn't eat it because I don't like raisins, so I threw it out." - she howled. She had tears running down her face she was laughing so hard.

I didn't realize I was so funny.

Then, I made up another story. This one was totally off the top of my head. About a kid who found a flower outside, thought it was pretty, picked it, and brought it in the house. His mom got upset, because she said it wasn't a flower, it was a weed, and it didn't belong in the house. But the kid said, "NO! It's not a weed, it's a pretty flower and I want to keep it!" Ensue argument between kid and mom, leading to mom finally saying something about the weed probably having bugs on it. The kid said, "BUGS!? I like BUGS!" and immediately went into his room to get his little bug catcher case. He put the flower in it, and brought it to his room.

Later, while he was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed, he heard his mom hollering at him, "...and I went my room, 'cause that's where my mom was yelling at me from and she said, 'Why is this flower in your bug catcher in your room? I thought I told you to put it outside?' But I said that she said there might be bugs on it so I put it in my bug catcher!" Ensue another argument between kid and mom, leading to a final agreement that the kid would put the flower outside in the morning.

When the kid woke up in the morning, the flower was gone! "...vanished! and I went downstairs and said, 'MOM! My flower is gone!' and she said, 'Yes, I already put it outside.'" Kid was very upset, but ultimately, that was the end of it.

Then, two weeks later, it was the mom's birthday and daddy bought mom a vase of flowers. In it, were a few stems of baby's breath - which in the kid's mind looked an awful lot like the weed his mom had made him get rid of a couple weeks earlier, so he removed the baby's breath from the arrangement and tossed them outside. When his mom realized what he'd done, he said, "But you said flowers like that weren't allowed in the house! They looked just like the one I had and so I put them outside!"

Girl-child said, "Solid burn!" Which had ME howling!

Anyway - the actual story was much funnier when I was telling it in person, in my silly voice, to Girl-child. We spent 45 minutes or so being silly, and then it was bedtime for bonzo. She said, "Mom, this has been the best day ever!"

Apparently, I'm doing something right.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Boy Scouts are stinky after a week at camp

I did a good job last week not saying anything about how Hubby and Boy-Child were gone all week long at Boy Scout camp in North Carolina.  It was just me, and Girl-Child, and I didn't want to give any creepers an opportunity creepy. So everyone is home now and my world has returned to semi-normal.

When my boys are gone, and especially when Hubby is gone, I do not sleep well. The first night they were gone I was up practically all night. I think I finally fell asleep around 2:30 and was up again around 5:15. I remember seriously considering just throwing it to the wind and skipping church, but Girl-Child had to perform her Acolyte duties at the 11AM service, and it was Promotion Sunday (the day the kids who are rising grades move into their new classrooms; Girl-Child was moving up to YOUTH!) so we had to go to church.  I think I managed not to act like a zombie, but I sure felt like one.

Then, Sunday night, I let Girl-Child sleep in bed with me. But she kick and hogs the bed. She claims I steal covers, but whether I did or not (I claim not), I figure it's just desserts for only having 1/4 of the queen size bed. How a 10 year old can take up so much room is beyond me. She actually put her feet into the small of my back at one point and pushed. That was when I got up, shoved her over and said, "You have to move, or you're going back to your own room." She reluctantly relinquished a few scant inches and I climbed back in. Needless to say, on Monday night, she was back in her own bed.

So, you may be wondering what in the world I did with Girl-Child while I was at work all week? Well, I have wonderful, amazing, giving friends. One of whom graciously agreed to take her on all week. Not just to keep her at her home and keep her safe, but she fed her, did fun stuff, and was even up waaaay earlier than normal just to receive her at the door. I cannot express how much it meant to not only know that my girl was safe, but that she was with someone I trust implicitly. We were even invited to dinner on Tuesday night, which was a repast beyond expectation. Seriously, grilled steak and chicken, steamed broccoli, baked potatoes, grilled shrimp on skewers; wine. It was yum! They kept Girl-child overnight on Wednesday night - so I didn't see her from Wednesday morning until I got off of work on Thursday night. (A long time alone; and it was weird. I didn't really know what to do with myself.)

Oh, and I broke a toe kicking a chair. I didn't kick the chair on purpose; it did nothing wrong. My foot slipped as I tried to push my chair back and away from the dinner table, kicked the leg of another chair which was occupied. My toe was not was simply not enough force to make that chair move, so my toe went CRUNCH! And I went YIPE! Yes, yes - I assured my gracious hosts - I'm perfectly fine. I finished inner with grace and aplomb, hobbled to my car later, and went home to nurse my swollen, purple toe. It feels better now, but YOWIE! I don't like breaking toes. I've done it before and it hurts, by golly! It's much better now; a week later. But still twinges if I step wrong.  The swelling and bruising is mostly gone, except for a couple of spots. I expect I'll live to see another day.

The week passed slowly, with little decent sleep, and then it was Saturday and my boys were coming home! Girl-Child and I went to the Lavender Festival and had a blast. Picked up a Father's Day gift for Hubby, looked at all kinds of fun stuff, ate Italian Ice before lunch, bought a new outfit for her doll whom she adores (we get a new one every year; they're handmade by the vendor), I got a henna tattoo on my hand, Girl-Child filled a sand necklace, made a card for her daddy for Father's day, we saw lots of people we know and love. Then we went to visit some of our animal friends during an adoption event. And suddenly, it was time to go welcome the boys home!

Girl-Child made a sign - WELCOME HOME TROOP 129 - and we held it up street-side and waved furiously as the big yellow bus full of tired and stinky scouts rumbled back into the church parking lot. There was loud beeping and excitement and both Hubby and Boy-Child were pleased with their warm welcome.

I'm glad to have my boys home. We're back to our usual daily chaos, which, as much as the chaos makes me absolutely CRAZY, I miss it when it's not there.


PS: Remind me to tell you about the time Boy-Child sliced open his hand and finger with a knife. That's a good story. (Ugh.) File it under, "At Least He Didn't Die," or "It Couldda Been Worse."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Latent Creativity

Years ago, I had an Etsy site; a place to sell the silly things I made that I thought were special. I sold some things - gratefully - mostly to family, but also to a few people I didn't know. It was fun. Then the kids became needier (as they do), and my free-time became less (as it does), and so I let my "store" lapse. I didn't close it - always hopeful I'd get back to it - but it's been, for want of a better word, dormant for several years.

Kiddos are now older, though my free-time is still somewhat lacking. I prefer spending free-time with kiddos, or volunteering, or doing various things at church, like the puppet ministry or teaching Sunday school.

BUT...on occasion I still do something crafty.  And thus I have done, and wanted to share it with you! (It's a big picture; keep scrolling for more info!)


This is a handmade (by me!), crocheted afghan/throw. It's 60" x 40" (approx) and I almost don't want to part with it! It started out as a practice piece (I wanted to learn how to make a chevron pattern) but the practice piece came together so nicely, I decided to keep going. The result is what you see here. 

Hubby said, "Honey, I hope you don't take this the wrong way,'s kinda wacko. All those colors, you know?"

I said, "Yeah! I like it. It appeals to my sense of weird." (Or, something like that.)

So, it's definitely a little obnoxious and I know it won't be for everyone, but I LOVE it; I'm super pleased with how it turned out.

I decided, rather than write about my woes - of which I have many - I'd throw in something creative, fun, and positive today.

Feel free to share! :)

(Yes, I suppose that was a sales pitch. Whaddaya think?)


PS: Woes return (with interwoven humor) next time.