Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jeannie's Happy World

Jeannie's Happy World is a blog written by a young woman with a very optimistic outlook on life. I read it every once in a while. Today, she asked, "How would you spend a million dollars?" It's suppose to be for a swap, but thought I would just plop my list here instead:

1. I would pay off my house, cars, and credit card bills. My husband thinks I am nuts, but I think no debt is the way to go. (Let's say that comes to $170)

2. I would take my family to Mexico for the summer. I would love to buy a condo in a safe neighborhood over looking the ocean, but would settle for renting one instead. There are many beautiful ones available. (I have no idea how much that would cost. Say $10 just to be extravagant?)

3. I would take my friend to LA so we could go to the Craig Ferguson show and watch our favorite person get his star on the walkway. (Hmmmm.... maybe another $2 for the weekend and $5 if we stay a week?)

4. I would take this same friend to Italy or Rome, maybe both, to see U2 from the front row. ($15 seems reasonable.)

5. I would build a second home on a sandy beach by a large body of water (preferably an ocean). ($No idea!)

6. I would give great Christmas gifts to family. I think the maximum gift you can give without the receiver having to pay taxes on it is $20.

7. I would give money to a group researching ways to make schools better without increasing their current budgets. I just want others to see that pouring more money in isn't the best answer. We've been doing that for years and it hasn't helped. Something more innovative needs to be done.

8. I would donate to scholarship programs to help kids go to college who otherwise would not be able to do so.

9. I would put the rest in the bank.

10. Oh... I would also replace the dishwasher, dryer, and have the couch repaired. Not exciting, but they all need to be taken care of.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pen Pal

Ever since she was a child, she thought it would be cool to have a pen pal. She had never had one. Partially, she didn’t know how to go about finding one not incarcerated and partially she was afraid she wouldn’t know what to say. A friend of hers introduced her to an exchange program of sorts. A couple of weeks later she stumbled upon the Pen Pal exchange. With no more excuses, she gave it a try. She was positively giddy about the opportunity. She sat down with pen and paper and began to write:

"I should probably start telling you about myself. The truth is, I’ve never really had to introduce myself in this manner before and I am feeling a little lost. Kind of funny, huh? I am already stuck. I think I will give you a history of why I am who I am. Personally, I really enjoy the why’s and how come’s of people’s lives. In this case, we will have plenty of time to share where we currently are and where we hope to be in the future. I’m hoping by sharing some of my past, you will understand why I have the perceptions I do and why some think I am a bit strange.

I am going to start with my great-grandparents. My knowledge of them is limited and I can’t even guarantee it is accurate. Stories and experiences have a way of skewing themselves after time has passed. . I don’t know either of my great-grandparent’s names as they both died before I was five years old. But I believe these brief histories have impacted the person I have become. They certainly had a heavy influence in how my parents were raised and thus, raised me.
My great-grandmother on my mother’s side was a Native American Indian. I’m not sure of which tribe as that information was buried with her. If I had to guess, I would say either the Chippewa or Miami tribes. Both were present in the area my great-grandfather lived prior to his marriage to her. My great-grandfather was, of course, a working class European American. I do know their marriage took place at a time when it was not acceptable and they were in love until the day they died. Their children were raised in a very prejudicial world with a very different outlook of the world and its connection to nature than the other children in their neighborhood. No one has ever said, but I suspect they were subjected to a great deal of ridicule. My great-grandmother lived to be in her mid-eighties. She was a stern woman who stood up to adversity. I am told I inherited my eye color and my easily tanned brown summer skin from her. I’d like to believe I also inherited her stubbornness and sense of social justice from her as well. I never met my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather on my father’s side was of the first generation of immigrants to be born in America. When his father came over on ‘the boat’ (no, I have no idea which one), his name was changed from Wabichski to Wabich. My great-grandfather was raised primarily by his uncle after both of his parents died. It was often said that he was raised “in the tradition of being Polish.” That is, he was raised under a watchful and frequently vengeful God, a supple branch, an iron fist, and knuckles. He was devout Catholic to his dying day. He raised his children (my grandfather) under these same rules and a heavy dose of alcohol.

My great grandfather died of smoke inhalation. His entire two-story rickety house burned to the ground one cold winter night. No one knows what started the fire. The only thing that stood recognizable amongst the ashes was the rocking chair he was found in and the bible that lay across his lap. Also, the wall with the window was half up. I would think this story was used to scare my sister and I into behaving had I not been there to shift through the ashes myself. Then again, I was very young and this memory could have been easily manipulated.

I’d met my grandfather on my mother’s side as a child. (The son of my Native American great-grandmother.) I have two memories of him. One is that he lived in a house on a lake and had a rowboat and paddle boat tied up to his short pier. My father may have taken us fishing in the rowboat at times, but I am not certain of that. My sister and I loved taking the paddle boat out on the lake. We were too young to be unsupervised doing such an activity, probably being 7 and 5 at the oldest, but that didn’t seem to matter to the adults. On one such joyride, we paddled the boat to shore and ran to the house. On the way, one of us disturbed and underground hive of bees. They swarmed us. I was beyond terrified and neither of us knew what to do. (I was allergic to bees at that time, an allergy I may have outgrown.) My grandfather came rushing from the side door leading to the mudroom. He covered me with a heavy quilt. It smelled strongly of bleach and was a bit damp. I survived without a single sting.

He rescued my sister in the same fashion. She suffered five stings. I remember counting them over and over until they disappeared. Even after they were gone, we would relive those moments in our life and ultimately compare the damage we received. My grandfather didn’t fare so well. I remember angry red bumps covering his arms and cheeks at breakfast the next morning. We also recounted this in our telling of the story.

My other memory is of an old cradle he had in his home against the short wall that led from the kitchen to the living room. I spent hours rocking my baby sister and baby dolls in it when we would visit. It was a deep walnut color and had scratches that showed it was well used. I adored this piece of furniture above all else, including his attention. When we were expecting our first child, my husband began fashioning a very similar cradle out of a light colored oak. My grandfather is still alive somewhere in Florida. He moved there a year or two after the bee incident. My sister’s and I never heard from him once he moved. I have any memories of his wife (not my maternal grandmother) other than she was always present and usually very near his side.

My maternal grandmother on my mother’s side had a love of gardening. I remember going to her house frequently. We spent a lot of time in the garden eating food directly from the vine or picking string beans and tomatoes by the bushel to be canned. Holidays were hectic. Tables were piled with food. There wasn’t enough room for all the relatives. We were always the last to leave and therefore saw more of the domestic abuse she received from her second husband than any other family member. At the time, I remember being scared and nervous to make too much noise. I felt in my gut it was not okay, but kept my eyes averted and my mouth shut. They divorced when I was in early elementary school, I think. I stopped seeing much of my grandma, partially because I was getting older and partially because I didn’t want to be introduced to any more mean new grandpas. I suspect she and my other had a falling out as well. Still, her gardening seems to have stuck and now I enjoy planting a small garden with my children, watching it come to life and blossom, and eating the vegetables and fruits directly from the vine. My grandma is still alive as well. She lives somewhere in Michigan, but is fairly transitive. I see her at Christmas for an hour or two each year. We pass about 15 minutes of polite conversation before she moves on to the next relative she hasn’t connected with. Her fourth husband seems very nice and is incapable of beating her as he is wheelchair bound. Sometimes I wonder if he verbally berates her as her third husband did.

That leaves my grandparents on my father’s side. My grandmother was born half of a set of twins among other siblings. I loved my grandmother and found a great deal of comfort being with her. She was the epitome of a farmer’s wife. She was patient, kind, a chain smoker, and thin as a rail. For a while, she worked in the factory that made Hush Puppy Shoes. We would get a pair for Christmas every year and I looked forward to opening that package most. She also had a passion for genealogy. She’d traced her roots back to the time of the Mayflower, if not further. It was a beautiful book. It was overflowing with newspaper articles that had yellowed and black and white picture of people who looked way too serious. There were tons of documents that I couldn’t identify. I desperately wanted to read that book, but it was off limits to the grandchildren. I sometimes wonder if this is what instilled the desire to know the why and what of people’s lives. Much of her work was lost in the fire that claimed her home. She was lucky to make it out alive. The fire changed her life, forcing her to live the remainder of her years connected to an oxygen tank. She died almost 10 years ago. When she died, I swear her spirit visited me. It said nothing, but I felt a calmness in this bright light no one else seemed to notice.

My grandfather was my life blood in some respects. I loved listening to the polish phrases he would fling around and that he called his cows kielbasa to get them to follow him. He had leathery skin from spending so much time in the sun mending fences and bailing hay. He chain smoked as well. He always had a joke or would pull a quarter out from behind our ears. He loved country music and all the kids new how to dance to Elvira when he turned up the volume on the old radio cabinet. I vied for his attention and felt like I owned the world when I was allowed to sit next to him at meals. His children seemed to respect. He died 16 years ago. I was in his room when he took his last breath and his funeral is the first one I can clearly remember going to.

All of their children and their kids were at the house on weekends to help with the farm work. The children played outside climbing trees, chasing cats through the barn, standing on fences, picking dandelions, and playing Red Rover. (Yes….. I was included amongst the children.) The woman watched the babies, cooked the meals, and washed the dishes all the while chatting about life and love. The men plowed the fields, sorted the cows and pigs, and cut the firewood. I didn’t know what a weekend away from the farm was like until I was in high school.

It wasn’t until after my grandfather had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while I was in college that I learned how terribly abusive he had been to his wife and children. Much of this came up as more and more rescue missions were required to keep my grandmother safe from his wrath. This is when the stories of his alcoholism, physical and verbal abuse, and cheating ways seemed to get kicked out of the dust. What I always took for respect was an emotion born out of fear and gratefulness.

Phew! It appears I am no longer stuck. I am tired, my back is sore and my hand is cramping. And to think, all I have provided you with is a sketchy background. You still know nothing of my childhood or life. I want to get this in the mail soon. I probably will not have time to continue the story for a week or so. But, I promise to do so! I will send another letter that actually introduces me at least the me I am today. Consider this installment number one!



She signed her name in small scratchy letters that no one could actually read, uncertain if this was the right way to start a long distance relationship.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

skateboard, sum, ant, drag, positively

"When are you going to buy me a skateboard?" he whined.

"Not until after you learn to ride your bike without training wheels and without fear of falling," I said to my five year old son for what felt like the thousandth time that week. I put the last box of cereal in the pantry and closed the door. "Are you ready to go now?"

He stubbed his shoe into the kitchen floor, twisting his toe as if he was putting out a cigarette. With his eyes downcast, he pleaded. "Can we at least stop at the skateboard store and look at them?"

"Yes, but here is the deal. You walk to the mall on your own. You don't make me drag you, okay?" I hated how he rebelled by walking so slow I'd have time to open a lemonade stand before he would walk a block. "AND," I emphasized, "you positively can't whine about me buying you a skateboard anymore today." I stared at him, trying to make him understand how serious I was. He stared back. I could see he was trying to think of a persuasive argument. "Do we have a deal or do I need to sum it up for you again?" I asked, hoping to interrupt his thought process.

He sighed dramatically, "Fine!" Throwing his hands in the air, he turned and walked out the door. We walked to the mall in silence. He stepped on every ant hill we passed. We spent 45 minutes shopping for a Father's Day gift before finding just the right tie. He was true to his word and we went to the skateboard store.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hug and Australian Day

I would hug my friend's Australian husband. He has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time and this time he is not expected to survive. He is not famous and the heavy rounds of chemo and radiation have ravaged his once strong and healthy body. But I would hug him before anyone other Australian.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In Good Hands

We deliberated over the toppings on our pizza for so long we could have made it from scratch ourselves. We were proud of our result. "Hawaiian BBQ Chicken Pizza add bacon please," I responded to the kid who asked what kind of pizza I wanted delivered. "and an order of cheese bread." I imagined him punching the information into the computer as well as the address and phone number. I hung up and joined Charles in the living room.

The small room was bare. The clean white walls and beige carpeting reminded me of the apartment we had left earlier in the day. The neutral pallet was chosen so it would attract to a broader ranger of potential buyers. I saw beyond it. 'What are you smiling at?" Charles wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head from his towering height. I placed my hands over top and squeezed slightly.

"I am smiling at the absence of that very wall." I pointed to the long wall next to us.

He breathed in the scent of my shampoo and me. "What are you smoking and can you share some of it?" I turned, still smiling at him.

"Really, you can't see it?" I said looking into his eyes.

"According to you it isn't suppose to be there." I loved his playfulness.

"Ha ha, very funny." I rolled my eyes even though his response had tickled me. "Seriously, can't you see it?" I turned back to the wall and spread my hands out as if it would disappear by such a simple act. "I want to open this up and give the main rooms the feel of a studio apartment. All one big room that will flow into one another. We'll put a beautiful and intricate rail system around here to provide some division between the rooms without taking away from the openness. It's going to be amazing!"

"I think it is perfect as is." I felt my smile fade. I turned to look at him.

"I thought we agreed that the house had great potential and plenty of room for each of us to express ourselves and raise kids. This is part of my self-expression. It's why I lie the house. It is so full of potential." I felt betrayed, slighted by the expectation that we wouldn't change anything.

Charles backed away. He seemed to be offended. "I thought that the potential was being able to build the basement, do some gardening or landscaping, and paint the walls. Not tear them them out."

We were trapped, locked into the ordeal by the 52 signatures we placed on the paperwork this afternoon. I closed my eyes, shook my head, and put my hands up signaling a pause. We stood there, silently staring at each other, wondering where the person we had dreamed of our future with had gone. How could we have not understood each other. "The celebratory pizza will be here soon." I turned and walked out of the room, taking my time to find a box of decent height and our table cloth. I returned to the living room and made a make shift table. He came in with paper plates, paper towels, and two cans of warm soda.

We said nothing. The doorbell rang. Charles answered and handed over a tip in exchange for the pizza. We ate. "I might be able to see some of it. I love the idea of a sliding glass door in the dining area and the kitchen is kind of tight the way it is set up right now."

I looked up, surprised at the concession. He continued, "I can't see losing that wall though."

"Well, we don't have to do everything at once," I offered. "Let's start with the sliding glass door into the backyard and maybe a deck. You've always wanted a deck."

I reached for another piece of pizza. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a short sentence on the side of the box. This experience provided by Christ. I laughed. "Honey, I think we are in good hands."

(Side note to the story: When we order pizza, it really does say, This experience provided by Christ. We always laugh about it and wonder are thankful that someone named Chris T works at the pizza place.)


She was left sore and wounded in the middle of the battleground, but she didn't beg or plead for help. She merely sat there in the midst of the chaos and went through each step tactically. She couldn't figure out how she'd lost. She was sure she hadn't stepped into any minefields, hadn't set off any alarms, had followed all the rules of fair engagement. Still, she had not won and found herself alone at the party once again. "I'd like to stretch out of my life and into one that better understands social behaviors," she mumbled and began to rock slowly to comfort herself.

"Who's that?" one of the other young woman asked.

"Oh that's just Asberger Annie," the woman next to her said with a laugh.

*** One Minute Writer ***


Laurie passed me the note silently as Mr. Wan drolled on about the importance of understanding lowest common denominators. Carefully, I unfolded it and set it on top of my notebook so it would blend in with the pitiful little I had written. Want in on the plans for Joey? it said. I ground my teeth involuntarily at the name. Joey Parsons. The biggest creep I ever hoped to meet. Now there was a lowest common denominator.

He'd asked me out on a date a few weeks before. All the girls thought he was cute. Tall, athletic frame, blonde hair and blue eyes. He wasn't the lead on any teams, but he was certainly in that crowd. I'd said yes and then floated all the way home, calling everyone one of my friends to tell them what happened. We were all super excited for the date.

He picked me up at my house in his shiny black Camino. His dad gave it to him for his 16th birthday and then bought himself some new hobby car. Joey had helped rebuild the car and talked about details that I didn't care to understand. I was simply enthralled to be with him. We pulled up in front of The Burger Joint. Hamburgers, french fries, and a shared chocolate shake later, he paid the bill and we left for the drive-in.

He smiled at me a lot on the way to the drive-in. We were going to watch Twilight. I'd seen it when it came out in theaters, but didn't care because it meant sitting with Joey in his awesome car. He paid for our tickets and some sodas. We climbed into the backseat. When the sun set, the air grew chilly. He gave me a blanket and pulled me over close to him, wrapping his arm around me. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach at just being this close to him. It was going to be a perfect night.

After a few minutes, he slipped his hand over my shoulder and rested it over my breast. His other hand slid up my thigh. I was uncomfortable with this and quietly removed them. He persisted. I grew angry and impatient. I told him to stop and pushed him away and started to slide across the seat and out of the car. The butterflies in my stomach flew chaotically, trying to escape the situation. Joey wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me into his lap. "Where are you going?" he said. His tone was dark and dangerous.

"Let go of me," I said through gritted teeth as I struggled to pull free.

"What? You think you can just have me pay for everything and then leave without giving me anything in return?" His grip tightened around my waist.

I pulled my elbow back hard, catching him square in the chest. He let go, surprised at the force and sudden loss of breath. I scrambled out of the car. I would have fallen through the door had he not caught my wrist. I turned toward him so the majority of my body could continue to move away. "Yeah. That's exactly what I think," I said.

I pulled my arm away, but not before he slapped me. I fell backward from the force, hitting my head of the low end of the speaker pole. I could feel something wet dripping behind my ear and I could taste the tell tale sign of iron from blood in my mouth. I jumped up and ran to the concession stand where the girl's bathroom was located. I cried as quietly as I could inside the stall, dabbing away the blood on the too thin toilet paper.

Later, I found my purse hanging on the speaker pole. He'd used my lipstick to write his thought of me on my purse. He'd taken the time to destroy everything he could. The mirror was shattered, pictures torn, my cell phone sat in a mostly full cup of soda, my lipstick was smashed into the dirt.

The class bell rang and Mr. Wan told us to do the problems on the following two pages. I folded up the note and packed it in my backpack with my math books, etc. Laurie was waiting for me by the door. "I'm in. What's the scheme?" I said as we left the room.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Most Beautiful Sound

There was the sound of hard soled shoes slapping and scuffling across the linoleum, the scraping sound of scissors against the table, the rustling of plastic softened by a thin layer of cotton, the beeping and humming of technology, but not the one sound I so desperately wanted to hear. It felt like an eternity and I could sense the moment when the pulse of the room came to a stop, just humming at the edge of a moment. And then it started in low, wavering with uncertainty, gasping and grasping for a hold in this world, and finally taking hold with a high pitched force that announced its intent to stay. The moment arrived. My baby cried for the first time and it was beautiful. The humming of activity that had stayed at the edge exploded and flooded to the corners of the room. I only heard my baby.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Bizarre Gift

My birthday had been largely perfect. No fuss, no muss. My husband and I sat huddled up on the couch after having put my son to bed, my swollen belly taking up the most space.

"Did you get everything you wanted for your birthday?" he asked.

"I think so," I responded feeling content and happy. Our hands were intertwined.

He reached to the side of the couch and pulled up a smallish box. "Do you think you can handle opening one more present?"

I was immediately curious as to what was in the transformed shoe box. It stood up on it's end. The lid had been fashioned to look like little doors, complete with two small knobs to pull them open. It was the only gift I had received with the exception of the birthday card my son had picked out.

I opened the doors slowly and peered inside. I felt kind of guilty, as if I was spying on someone's life. Inside was a little bar and from it hung green things. I pulled the door open wider and reached in, pulling out one of the green shapes. It was a $20 bill folded into an origami shirt. There were pants and dresses too.

"There is $250 for you to go buy a new wardrobe. I know it doesn't do you any good now, but I thought you would want new things after the baby was born."

I couldn't stop admiring the little wardrobe. I was so moved by the amount of time it must have taken to create. It was beautiful in artistry and rich in love. Sometimes, money can buy happiness.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How To Book

She searched the shelves, high and low in every bookstore she had come across in the last few years. She had left disappointed every time. Today she walked into my bookstore "How To Find It". I specialized in hard to find books. I wasn't familiar with the title, but their was a magic to my store that worked best for those who longed the most. We looked, together, for 30 minutes before we found it in the back of the store under a shabby red book that appeared to be untitled. She paid for the only copy of "How To Outsmart Irrational Creatures: Volume 1: Children Ages Birth to Kindergarten". She swore she would be back for volume 2 in a year.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Winter. I'd move somewhere deliriously warm if I could afford private schooling for my children, but Mexico wouldn't pay enough and their are too many earthquakes and hurricanes in the gulf and on the west coast. Instead, I will sit here and hope to wake up to a fresh layer of snow sparkling in the sunlight and the hoarfrost that clings to the trees, making me believe their is still magic.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Saturday, April 17, 2010


They were creatures very unlike all of the others. The kings and queens. The rulers of all living things. The chosen ones. No one could argue this fact. Most admired them for their station in life and the abilities that were beyond anything any one else could ever achieve. It's not that the others wanted to be them, just that they were magnificent creatures and admiration seemed to be the appropriate form of genuflection; another fact that was unavoidable.

They were fair rulers, looking after each other and all the beings on the planet. They were careful not to trod in the sacred place that existed before their coming to life. They followed the laws of the land, only taking what they needed to survive and honored the rituals of the other beings. Most beings were largely unaware of their presence and those that knew of them found them to be kind and very conscientious.

But one being felt personally affronted by their presence. He felt he should have been the chosen one, that he and his kind should have been named the ruling race. Not these newcomers. He worked diligently to find a weakness. The work was difficult, but his desire was strong. His lust for power consumed him, growing bigger than himself, tearing him apart. To many that had known him well, he was utterly unrecognizable. Not even a shadow of his former self.

When he recognized this, he didn't identify it as a worrisome trait. Instead he used it to his advantage. "Come with me," he whispered to them while they laid in soft grasses dreaming under the stars. "Follow me," he encouraged them as they drank from cool springs or smelled the blossoming flowers. Night after night and even more quietly at opportune times during the day he whispered to them. He filled their thoughts with a need to follow him where ever he lead.

He took them into the sacred place. They were reluctant, but powerless to turn back. They fell into the beauty and sanctity of the place. They luxuriated in the tenderness they felt as they roamed the place. They wanted more of it. Small tastes from the trees an plants. The feel of things against their skin. They took more with each subsequent trip. More and more until they could not be satisfied in the world outside of the sacred place.

They began to think of the sacred place as their home, one they were entitled too and that others did not deserve. Day by day the whispers became embedded deeper into their souls. They began to change, making excuses for disturbing rituals, for taking what they wanted, for displacing entire groups of beings to make life better for them. He watched in his writhing body, feeling power seep in as the chosen ones succumbed to their lusts and became unrecognizable to the others.

He smiled knowing the war would be over soon.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vacation: Sangria, lost, monkey, book

We were on our first family vacation in four years. It was paradise! My husband had gone to swim laps in the pool while the kids napped. I happily stayed on the balcony just outside the room sipping a Sangria while reading a book. I hadn't been able to sit and just read in a long time. I hoped that the excessive sun, fresh air, and running on the beach had wiped my monkeys out so they would sleep for a very long time. I smiled, remembering how one of the locals had looked at me with alarm when I addressed my children as Monkey 1 and Monkey 2. I settled back into my book after the memory passed and lost track of time.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Advice Column

Dear Cate,

I have this embarrassing problem and I am not sure how to address it... or, God forbid, if I need to involve a professional. I desperately need your advice!

I was just in the bathroom. Yesterday, my bathroom fan broke or I would have turned it on before.... uhhhhh.... settling myself. Anyway, I was incredibly surprised to learn that my sh** stinks! I mean, I know they say everyone's does, but I guess I never noticed that mine did as well.

Besides having a new fan installed immediately, what can I do?


Thought It Smelled Like Roses

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Not A Stalker

Dear John,

I am so embarrassed by last night's situation!
My friend had mentioned that driving by the dark of the ocean with only the crashing waves for company might help me "think deeply" about my jerk of a boyfriend. (He dumped me earlier that day. I'm still devastated, of course.) After tossing and turning and a box of used kleenexes,I decided to take that drive and headed north.

I ended up in Malibu pretty well "thunk out". I wanted to see something besides the nothingness of the ocean at night. I turned off the ocean road and wound my way through the hills. The houses were beautiful! Stopping in front of yours was purely coincidence. I simply found the contrast between the deep wood of the privacy fence startling against the soft greens of the palm leaves nestled against it. (Did I mention I am an avid photographer?) I stopped to take a picture completely unaware of who lived in the house!

I swear, I figured whoever lived in the house was sound asleep and blissfully unaware of my presence! Being buried so deep in my own troubles I had completely forgotten it was awards night! Not that I expected you to show up in the first place. And I admit, asking you for your photo was probably in poor taste, not to mention incredibly stupid.

Anyway, I just wanted a chance to explain myself without causing you fear for your life.

NOT a Stalker,

Sylvia Stout

P.S. I included a copy of the picture I was trying to take. Sorry about the blur. I was a bit surprised by your presence.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not a Celebrity

Mr. Paupner,

I have received all 36 of your letters, 197 of your phone messages, 318 of your text messages, and 48 packages consisting of bouquets, chocolates, wines, carnival stuffed animals, and autographed pictures. My attorney and I are in awe at your devotion. I hesitate to have to tell you this, but I am not the GEENA Davis you are desperately trying to woo!

Although my name is the same, Geena and I are very much different people. For example, I am barely 5 feet in height, have strawberry shortcake red hair, weigh a delightful 212 pounds, and have never been in a movie in my life! Also, I am certain that someone of Geena's statute would live someplace exotic or tropical. Not in Wisconsin.

If you need further proof, think back to the day you stood at the O'Hare airport waving a sign with my name on it only to feel betrayed that she never exited the plane and you were hauled away by security. (By the way, that was one of my least favorite letters. Your anger was absolutely palatable.) Perhaps with the brief description I included above, you will remember that I walked through the waiting area with my eyes diverted to my toes and the in-flight magazine held haphazardly in front of my face.

So, Mr. Paupner, I would very much appreciate it if you would cease and desist in your attempts to win my affections. To make myself most clear, I am sending this letter certified mail. The signed receipt (the one that will undoubtedly match the autographs on the photos you sent) will be sent directly to my attorney. He will most certainly add that to the growing list of evidence. I've included his business card in the envelope in case you have any other concerns or questions you would like to address concerning this issue.


GINA Davis

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***


Margie navigated to one of her favorite prompt sites. She knew it was organized by categories, each day having its own, but could never remember which day was what. So she just made it a habit to check everyday. Today held a wildcard clue. "No clue. Write about anything. What?" she said out loud.

Most days she would have been thrilled. The last week and a half had been unusual for her. Nothing outside of her prompt sites had inspired her to write. He brain ached, the synapses suddenly quiet. There was no internal chatter and to Margie, silence was painful. "Anything? Today you picked anything?"

She looked around. Her dogs were sleeping on their beds. The branches were swaying gently just beyond the window. She could hear bird songs and an airplane flying over head."But there is nothing," she said. She stared at her blank screen and began typing with no goal in mind, briefly explaining her thoughts and her sights.

It wasn't much of a post. Really, it was quite boring. But, it was accurate to what her brain could produce. Nothing. "All well," she sighed. "They can't all be gems." Margie posted her comment and vowed to write something better later that night.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stranded: spoon, ukelele, yarn, hand sanitizer, feather boa

I had been stranded on the island for almost a year. Luckily, I had company. Company I was sure people would look hard for and would limit our stay to no more than a day or two. But, we had been stranded for almost a year. We learned how to cook over small fires made of the brush from palm trees. At first, the food was always bad, but gradually we learned how to season it, if that is what you could call it, or tolerate the taste. I was not sure which. We bathed in the ocean and built a makeshift shelter lacking any luxuries.

Slowly, we had found the few personal items that had washed up on shore. They provided entertainment, a link to the outside world, a way to question if we still had our sanity. A spoon was used for cooking, the only real utensil we had found. The ukelele provided music as long as the term was defined loosely. No one actually knew how to play it and the salt water had warped much of the wood, making the sounds that we could draw from it sound eerie. It was great for what we assumed Halloween day must have been. I'd used the two large rolls of yarn we found to hand knit blankets. They would have been fit for an infant, but did little for us. Still it was comforting to have something lay across my waist. The bottle of hand sanitizer had been emptied long ago. It was now used to measure out coconut juice for cooking. Three squirts for small fish, 6-7 for large fish. My favorite was the feather boa. It was bright pink and had been used to illicit laughter frequently. It hung in a place of honor just inside our shelter.

Looking at it brought me back to wondering when we would be rescued. Would we ever be rescued? People must have stopped looking for us, assumed we had perished, found some kind of remains pushed far from the island by the currents. I crossed my fingers. It's been almost a year. Please find us soon.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

Library Memory

As a child, I never went to the library, unless it was the small one in the school and only then as part of a class. The books I read were purchased by or borrowed from relatives. Tolkien, V.C. Andrews, Shakespeare, Silverstein, Kipling, Brown.... all the greats. When I started college, 8 hours from home, I decided that the public library would be part of my life. I applied for a library card and was denied because, as the librarian stated, "You must be at least 16 years old to have your own card without your parents permission." I didn't have any ID to prove differently. It was insulting and very embarrassing. Needless to say, I prefer bookstores over libraries.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Monday, April 12, 2010

Packed Office Box

The wind blew cold and wet across my new sandals and bare skin. Spring had arrived, but the mornings could still be cruel. I pulled my briefcase from the car before shutting the door and locking it. I turned and walked through the small parking lot toward the old brown building. I could smell the burning of rats from the research labs a few blocks over. The smell turned my stomach. I raised my hand unconsciously, trying to block the smell. I exchanged grimaces with another co-worker as she headed to her car.

The door closed behind me and my hand dropped back to my side, relieved to leave the stench behind me. I smiled at the receptionist who returned a small wave as she rattled off the hours to the caller on the other end of the phone. I stopped by my mailbox, surprised it was empty and then followed the blue speckled carpet down the hall. As I rounded the corner, I saw something brown sitting just inside my cubicle. I passed by it and hung up my Spring Jacket.

I turned back to pick it up and immediately recognized the corner of the bright red photo frame that held a picture of me and my girls on a carousel last summer. My face crinkled in confusion. I could also see what looked like the crystal vase that I placed behind the frame carefully placed in the corner of the box. My planner sat on top. For the first time, I noticed my usually clean desk was spotless and completely void of any of my personal items.

I stared at the items a moment, trying to make sense of it. Nothing fit together that would explain why. Just the day before, I had been congratulated by my supervisor for the handling of my newest problem account. I couldn't be being fired could I? I looked at the clock. My supervisor wouldn't be in for another half-an-hour. I didn't want to sit and fret, but I didn't have a better solution. I sat down in my chair and watched the seconds tick slowly by.

*** Writer's Digest ***

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Returning Home

We arrived safely home from out trip yesterday with nothing out of place at the house..... or so we thought. It was pretty much as we left it. My primary worry that the cats would be neglected was pushed firmly from my thoughts when I saw they had been groomed, the litter box had been cleaned, and their bowls gleamed in the sun. The sitter even left a card thanking us for the opportunity to play with our adorable kitties.

Too bad she took the TV and two checkbooks as a tip for her hard work.

*** Seven Days, Seven Answers ***

An Understated Feel of Guilt

I almost e-mailed you this morning. I was worried you might be terribly ill, hurt, had your computer stolen, possibly dead.... something unfortunate any way. But then my son tapped on my shoulder asking for a drink and my daughter started crying because she had to go to the bathroom. I'm sorry I didn't go back and send you that message. I missed the opportunity to let you know how important you, and by extension, your blog are in my life.

Glad you are well and nothing serious had happened. If there is a next time, I'll send the e-mail post haste.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Exorcising Her Demons

She had been feeling overly negative toward life for the last few months. She wasn't pessimistic; she expected and hoped things would turn out well, was typically highly surprised when they didn't, and was critical of how the other person handled the situation. She was becoming increasingly aware of this attitude on almost a daily basis. The last incident left her feeling blue in addition to negative. If I were an ostrich, I'd bury my head in the sand, cry for a week, and then consider never coming up for air she thought. But the reality was she couldn't hide. She was pretty sure that if she wanted things to change, it had to be through her.

But how? she wanted to know. How do I stop feeling personally affronted? Why do I feel so entitled? What is missing in my life that has allowed me to fall into this spiral? These thoughts seemed to be consuming more of her time. Too much of her time. She wanted to confide in someone, but the last incident left her even more paranoid of rejection and absolutely uncertain of what to do.

She hated the nagging feeling that her negativity combined with her outspokenness was hurting her. She had always been opinionated and as she aged she had become more comfortable in sharing her thoughts. I like that I am not afraid to share my opinions about daily life. At least not most times. Now, she was pretty certain that even that quality was really a detractor. And even as she thought this she knew she kept most of her thoughts to herself, sharing only a few with the same two friends. She had no doubt some tempering would help. But would I be happy sitting quietly and pretending that I don't have opinions of my own just to blend in better? The idea made her feel uneasy.

She had an image of herself, the kind of person she currently was, had been, and wanted to become. She thought she knew how others perceived her. Suddenly a comment a friend had said a fews days before dawned on her. It made her feel even worse. That comment brought to mind similar comments. These types of comments had been made more and more frequently. People saw her as someone she never considered herself to be and someone she never wanted to be. The thought of the ostrich came to her again.

She took a deep breath. Well, so here I am again, just on a new front. To socially conform or not? That is one of questions. And it's a big one. The other? How do I change my outlook on life? She sighed deeply and pulled herself just above these thoughts. She couldn't physically become and ostrich and hide, but she could procrastinate a little longer. Laundry needed folding, her children needed to be readied for bed. Maybe tomorrow she would find a solution.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Unexpected Visitor

She rubbed her eyes. It felt too early to wake up although the sun shone brightly through the soft curtains. The clock read 8:37. She had slept in, something she hadn't been able to do in a long time. Her mind was grateful and her body ached from the lack of early morning movement that was so typical for her. She laid there, staring up at the ceiling, still hesitant to relieve her aches. The house was too quiet with her husband and kids on an overnight trip.

Finally, she got out of bed and walked into the bathroom, stretching her body. She washed her face, brushed her teeth, and went to the bathroom. She ate a bagel with cream cheese and drank a glass of juice for breakfast while finishing the book she had started the night before. Suddenly, she heard a scraping sound at the garage door. Her body tensed and she listened more carefully. All was quiet.

The refrigerator motor kicked in and she relaxed. A moment later, she heard the scraping sound again. It sounded as if someone was dragging a stick across the door itself. She took in a deep breath, setting her cup down carefully, but keeping her book open. She exhaled and then stood up slowly. The scraping sound became more urgent.

Uncertainty filled her mind as she walked with hesitant steps to the door. She placed her hand around the door handle, grasping it firmly, and placed her face within an inch of the door, listening intently. Nothing. Slowly, she opened the door and peered around its edges. The cool morning breeze brushed across her legs and fluttered the bottom of her nightshirt. She saw nothing.

She could not shake the sense that she had not imagined it and took a tentative step into the garage. She wanted to call out a hello and wanted to remain silent. She wasn't sure who or what was in her garage, but was sure something was there. She waited quietly, her hand still on the door knob. A small plastic storage bucket fell. She startled and looked in that general direction. The bucket lay on the ground, its lid still firmly sealed.

She did not see the stranger approach her from the other side. An unexpected Meow made her jump and scream. The cat scuttled backwards and under the car. He peered out as she placed her hand over her heart and tried to catch her breath. Seconds later, a smile took the place of her panic and she began giggling until her giggle turned into an all out cackle. Meow responded the cat and inched a little closer to her.

"How are you little kitty?" she asked as her deep laughter began to subside. She reached out her hand and the cat cautiously approached. "Sorry about the heart attack sweetie, but all's fair in love and war," she said as the cat sniffed her fingers while she pet it with the other hand.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Host of Posts

What would you do if you had 60 seconds everyday?

Reflect. Reflect on what ever is causing deep joy or great anxiety. Take that 60 seconds without interruption, without frustration, without pressure and study it. Maybe then I would enjoy those precious moments more and handle the stressful ones a bit better.

What should the Easter Bunny bring instead of candy to fill a basket?

At our house, the Easter Bunny accepts that people will send candy. It doesn't matter that he or she prefers fruit snacks and coins. The candy always arrives in the mail or in subsequent Easter baskets at relatives houses. That's why he or she always includes a few super special toothbrushes. You know the kind that blink, sing, or spin? Yes, a handful of the really expensive ones.

And what do the kids think about this? They love it!

*** Prompts from Seven Questions, Seven Answers ***

What did you do before the internet?

Before the internet, I called my friends on the phone and sent letters through the mail. Before I had the internet, I went to the library to research things and find a book for pleasure. Before I had the internet, I paid attention to the little bit of news that trickled through. Before I had the internet, I would have been more focused on my children because I wouldn't feel the urge or desire to check my internet hosted e-mail, facebook, or other random sites. It is nice to get in touch with family with a click of a button or to be able to look things up with an immediacy not available before. It is nice to get a bigger world view and sort through the opinions of journalists and reports myself. Seeing multiple sides of things is definitely a benefit. There is only a down side when it comes to the attention I do not spend on my children in exchange for electronic statements. Like everything else it is a mixed bag of good and bad. Sometimes, I wonder if I would be strong enough to give it up like I did cable and eventually TV. Most times, I think I am not.

Why do you write?

I write for joy, for release, for expression, to celebrate success, to mull through defeats, to live in the moment, to challenge myself, to compete, to encourage others, and to walk in someone else's shoes. One day, I hope to write to entertain masses.

*** Imagination Prompt Generator ***


The rock was a beautiful shade of gray with small flecks of silver. He stared at a it a long time, whispering a prayer to his God. He prayed for the strength to end the fight to his free his people from the awful war. He could hear his enemy taunting him to the cheers of his fellow soldiers. He prayed harder, his lips forming the shapes of the individual sounds. He held the rock in his palm and closed his fist around it. Looking up, he could only see the silhouette of the giant as the sun shone from behind him. He raised his head high and spoke in confidence, trusting that his God heard his prayer and would answer it as he saw fit. "The Lord my God is with me and with him by my side I am ready." The crowd erupted into laughter. The giant began to down the hill toward the small frame of the boy.

The young man stood his ground, placing the rock in his old and beaten sling. He raised it and took aim, sending one last prayer to his God. The smooth rock flew through the air, twisting and turning on the wind, the speed decreasing ever so slightly. It hit the giant Goliath between the eyes, killing him instantly. He fell forward, no longer a threat to David or his camp. He had been slain by the boy without him ever laying a hand on him. The rock lay on the ground, now covered in red. The soldiers stood frozen. David fell tot he ground and prayed for gentleness and mercy be shown on Goliath's soul.

Or so the story goes.

*** One Minute Writer ***

Snowed In Part 5

I pulled into the driveway 25 minutes later. As agreed, Alice had pulled her car out of the garage and was idling in front of the house. I was grateful that she smiled and waved as I passed her. At least I knew she wasn't cross with me. I just hoped she would drive very carefully the six blocks to her house. "Well, this is it," I said as the garage door closed loudly behind the car. I got out of the car and took a deep breath. I walked around and opened Mr. Henry's door. As I walked through the garage door and into the kitchen, I motioned for him to wait. I needed to confine my two golden retrievers. They were friendly, but I didn't know how Mr. Henry would take to their jumpiness with guests or a face full of puppy kisses. To me surprise, he followed me in and dropped to his knees, holding his hands out to both Rover and Fido, the names my children had picked out for them. They began licking him intensely. Mr. Henry didn't try to stop them and only pet them playfully.

Once man and beast finished their greetings, I led Mr. Henry down the stairs and into the guest room. "It may be a little cold at first. I keep the vents closed when the room isn't in use." As I shared this information with him, I walked over and opened the two vents, holding my hand over them long enough to ensure hot air began to seep through the narrow slots. Satisfied, I turned and gave him a quick tour. The TV was old, but functional as long as he was okay with the Farmer 10. He was welcome to anything on the bookcase. If possible, I hoped he could leave the toys hidden in the closet. They were for my son's upcoming birthday and I didn't want him to find them. He also had a semi-private bathroom. Towels and basic shower necessities were stocked on the shelves. There were plastic cups for drinking also on the shelves.

"I'll go get your luggage. Please let me know if there is anything else that you need." With that, I headed back up the stairs. I returned a few minutes later with the very load of luggage. Mr. Henry was sitting on the corner of the bed taking in the room. His stillness was a bit eerie. "Is everything okay?"

"Yes. Thank you," he responded and then went back to is contemplative silence. I brought down the last suitcase and wished him a good night. Once upstairs, I went to each of my children's rooms, slipping in for a few minutes to gaze at their peaceful faces. I pushed the hair out of my daughter's face. She stirred just a tiny bit. What am I going to tell them in the morning? I thought.

Quietly, I slipped into my own room carefully closing the door behind me. I sighed, shaking my head, frustrated with the situation. I undressed, pulling on my heavy flannel pajamas. Their was a slight chill in the house. I snuck into the hall and reset the thermostat a few degrees warmer. I heard the furnace kick in as I slid under my blankets and closed my eyes. It would be a difficult morning and I needed my sleep so I could cope. If I was lucky, I would dream a marvelous explanation for Mr. Henry's appearance at the breakfast table.