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Millie fumbled with the cap on her Xanax.  Tears streamed down her face and her hands shook.  She finally got the top off and poured a handful of the small pills into her hand.  She laid out one on the table and then, after thinking for just a moment, added another one.  She poured the others back into the bottle and gulped down the two pills.  Then she lay back on the bed and sobbed. 

Millie just could not understand how her daughter-in-law could be so mean and ungrateful.  Anna had no clue how much time Millie had spent making Poppy the dress that Anna obviously felt was not good enough for Poppy’s school pictures – and she obviously did not care, either.  Too fancy?? It was not too fancy for school! Millie had been a teacher for almost 30 years before she retired and she would have loved to see any one of her students dressed so nicely! Especially in something so beautiful that a loving grandmother had made by hand! Anna was just an ungrateful lout of a girl who did not deserve to be with Millie’s baby boy. Her feelings shattered, Millie curled up on the bed and cried.  She thought Roger or Bess would eventually come in to soothe her. 

“What is the matter with Momma, Daddy?” Bess asked her father.

Roger barely looked up from his book.  “Poppy didn’t wear the dress she made for school pictures.  Anna just emailed the proofs and Poppy is wearing regular school clothes.  Your mom’s feelings are all crushed.  As usual.  She will get over it.”

Roger shrugged and went back to reading It Takes a Family. He thought Rick Santorum had some good points, though Roger knew he could have done a better job of writing it. But then what could he expect from a Catholic who just popped out kids and probably drank? At least he had the right ideas about the gays and women and all, though, even if he did follow the Pope.

“Anna is going to say it was too dressy for school pictures,” Bess said, as she got a bowl out of the cabinet.  

“Well, a grateful daughter-in-law would have let her wear it, anyway.  I keep trying to tell your mother that other kids just have not been raised with the manners you have and she is just going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life.”

“Well, Poppy could have changed clothes after the pictures. Anna knew how proud Momma was of that dress.  I guess you’re right, Daddy, other kids weren’t taught proper manners like us, but you would think some of ours would have rubbed off on Anna by now.  She’s been married to Daniel for 7 years.  Surely he would have taught her some.”

Bess took her bowl of ice cream and headed upstairs to watch the new Lifetime movie.  She paused at the door to her parents’ bedroom and listened. 

“She is still crying, Daddy.”

Roger shrugged and kept reading.  “She’ll stop.  Or she will fall asleep.”

Bess sighed and went upstairs.  She was going to miss the beginning if she didn’t hurry. It was one about a man who was having an affair he was going to be sorry for, according to the previews, and Bess was not missing the beginning. Daddy was right, Momma would stop – eventually.

Millie heard Bess’s footsteps pause outside the door and she let out a fresh string of sobs. She heard murmurs of conversation and waited for the doorknob to turn.  Bur that didn’t happen.  Instead she heard Bess going up to her room next to Trevor’s. Millie realized Bess was not coming in to check on her.  A fresh wave of sadness washed over her and Millie rolled into it and buried her face in the pillow.  After a second, though, she turned her head.  Roger might not be able to hear how upset she was if she cried into the pillow – and there was still a chance he may come.  Millie let out a little wail, but there was no responding movement from the next room.  Roger was not coming – and with that final realization, Millie began to cry in earnest.

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No, it is not Cotton. 🙂

Weaving The Fabric of Your Life

Weave the fabric of your life carefully. 

You hold in your hands the strands you have chosen

to use in weaving the fabric of your life.

It may be that you think some threads are more beautiful than others. 
And there may be others you think are muted and dull.  

But do not be fooled.
All of them are necessary.

If you are careful and treat each strand
with the knowledge that the finished composition
can only be one of beauty when all are woven together seamlessly,

then you will be able to look back on the fabric of your life 
and see that,
though it is surely flawed,
it was woven with
love and care –
making it the beautiful manifestation of your
heart’s desire.

Claire was trying to control her aggravation.

This was the third time in as many days that she had complained to Jim about the garage refrigerator.And the problem had been ongoing for weeks, if not months by now.  Her frustration was rising.  If that thing went, she would have one hell of a mess on her hands, dammit.

She could not fix it herself, that much was obvious.  She needed help.

Jim was no refrigerator mechanic, by any means, but he was closer to being one than she was.

And, besides, he was the man, dammit.  Busted refrigerators fell under his jurisdiction.  As did roof repairs, yardwork and bug disposal.

When was the last time he’d been grocery shopping, washed laundry or cleaned out the freezer of said frige, uh?  Yeah.  Probably the last time she’d had a baby was when.

She could feel her anger and aggravation rising.

She felt she had two choices.  She could become the stereotypical nag that society seemed to predestine her to become…

Or she could come up with another way.

She did the dishes and pondered the situation.

Later that night, once Jim was done with all he needed to do for the day and got himself comfortable in his Lazy boy, Claire sat down in his lap and put her arms around Jim.

“Honey, do you remember our first date?” she asked.

“Of course, I do, babe,” Jim replied, sweetly,

“You remember how you took me to dinner at that wonderful sushi place you knew and ordered for me?”

“I do.”

“And then you picked out a movie you thought I would like and after we walked along to river holding hands?”

“I do.”

“What were you thinking about?”

“Well, babe, I was thinking about how beautiful you were and how smart you were,” Jim said with a mischievous smile.

“Sure, you were.  I know you.  You were thinking about how many dates it would take to get me in bed!” Claire only half-joked. She knew her husband.

“Well, that was part of it.  I did want you.  I still do,” he pulled her closer and kissed her.

“Did you like impressing me with your knowledge and manliness?” Claire asked innocently.

“Of course I did.”

“And do you remember when you broke my corkscrew and then went and bought me that fancy-schmancy one that like shot a thing through the cork?”

“Yes.  I was trying to impress you.”

“I have to admit you did a good job.  Cooking me dinner, taking me to the symphony, building me that bookcase over there.  I still love it the best of everything we own, by the way.”

“Your wish is my command, my love,” Jim said.  And Claire knew he still meant it.

“Well, honey, I need you to remember those days.  I need you to remember when I was your new girlfriend Claire who  had recently caught your eye in that ridiculous professor’s philosophy class.  The one who wore lounge pants and pony-tails to class. The one who you asked no less than five people in that class if they knew anything about me.

I need you to remember that guy who I first noticed before either of us had ever set foot in that class.  By the time it got back to me that you were asking about me, I already knew you lived off campus, had come out of a sour relationship with that bitchy sorority chick, what’s-her-name.  I knew all this because I saw you the first day of class and wanted you then and there.

How cute you were when I caught you watching me. You made me melt when you caught my eye.

“Do you remember those days, honey?”

Jim smiled.  He did remember those days very well. How cute Claire had looked.  She’d seemed almost shy, until the professor had said something she deemed ridiculous and she called him on it, eventually arguing her point until he gave in.  Man, she’d been fun to watch from a distance.  All he’d known is that he wanted to spend time with this girl.  He wanted to get to know her.  And, yes, he’d most certainly wanted to get her little spitfire self in bed.  And the sooner the better.  His smile widened at the memory.

“Honey, it may have been 17 years ago and lots may have happened to the college kids we once were. “

“I know, babe.  But it has all been worth it.”

“So, honey, I need you to do something for me.  I need you to be that guy who watched me from across the room.  Who wanted to take me and show me the world.  And who really wanted to get me in bed. The one who really wanted to impress me, fix things for me and just generally be my man.

“Think you still got it in you?” Claire said coyly.

“Yeah, babe.  I am your man.  I am up to whatever challenge you have.”

Claire leaned forward and kissed him.

“Oh, good, honey,” she paused before nervously continuing, “because I really need you to do something about that damn frige in the garage. It is pissing me off and I cannot do anything about it!”

Claire waited, not sure how Jim was going to take it.

After taking a few seconds for it to register, Jim looked at her blankly, then he laughed out loud. Claire could still surprise him after 17 years.  He kissed her.

“Yes, baby, I am still your man.  I will fix the frige, have it fixed by a repairman or replace it by next Saturday.  Does that work for you?”

“Yes, honey, that works. Thank you so very much,” Claire grinned and kissed him sweetly once… and then again more deeply.

“Now how about you take me to bed… and find out if I am still the little spitfire you thought I was.”

“Your wish is my command, babe.”

Alright.  I cannot resist.  The temptation to wade in and give my two cents is more irresistible than the actual book itself. 

I know you have been waiting for my review before attempting Fifty Shades of Grey, so here you go….

Read it. 

Now I have to admit that I resisted reading it until a friend of mine whose opinion I trust recommended it.  She is the kind of no-bullshit chick who is not afraid to express herself and I respect that.  I also believe she has accurate contempt for (most) cheesy chick-flick sappiness and would have told me if it was something that would turn my stomach with J. Lo/Katherine Heigl deftness.

The one major improvement that could have been made was removing the “Holy shit!” and “Holy fuck.” asides out of the text altogether.  I understand they are there to express the inexpressible shock of our virginal heroine’s foray into the kinky world of Mr. Grey, but a decent editor should have taken those out in the first round of editing and threatened to quit if Ms. James insisted on putting them back in. 

Is it decently written (I heard it was not and that was more of a barrier to my reading it than S&M). Over all, I would have to give it a C.  Which, truth be told, is rather arrogant of me considering I have not had a sentence published, much less three books.  However, I have read enough books to tell just a good character driven story from literature. 

This is not literature.  Want proof?  It is 514 pages and I read them voraciously and quickly – certainly in less than 10 hours.  No complicated thought provoking sentences here, just character driven plot told like two girlfriends gossiping over brunch.

On the way home I started The Great Gatsby.  In half the amount of time above, I have made it 54 pages.  The story is told more with descriptive renderings of the storyteller’s observations and interpretations and less through dialect and scenery.  The ideas and the sentences used to convey them are complicated and I have to think them through.  And, of course, there is the difference in the style and the foreign dialect of the 1920s that slows me down a bit.

While Christian Grey may be complicated, the language and vehicle used to portray him is not; which is fine and nice, but not near as interesting for the reader. But the fact is (if you are looking for a comparison) that James out wrote Meyer, hands down.  However, neither of them are near the same league as JK Rowling who is one of the most impressive language and wordsmiths of the 21st century – something confirmed by that master of words himself, Stephen King. 

It is better (by far) than Twilight in both story and writing.  At the very least, Ana is not only a more compelling character than Bella, but she is stronger and only about 5-7 years older than Bella.  But, even with the S&M sex stuff, you do not get the overwhelmingly unhealthy feeling about Grey relationship as you do about the totally stalker and overly emotional and dramatic teenage relationship of Bella and Edward.  At the very least, Ana is adult enough to think things through rationally, something Bella is utterly incapable of doing.  An undead vampire who literally wants to eat her alive standing over Bella watching her sleep is even more disturbing than a man who wants to get you off in decidedly kinky ways with decidedly kinky toys.

So compared to something like Twilight, it is more adult – in both character development and subject matter. 

Luckily for me, I do not have any hang ups with the subject matter.  When I told a work colleague I would be reading it on a family trip to my father-in-law’s house with kids in tow, she was scandalized.   This is porn in her opinion and as such should not be read at all, much less in the company of my minor children.  However, since my kids cannot read and there were no pictures, I didn’t understand the issue with it. I wasn’t reading it to them for bedtime, ya know? God only knows what she would have thought of me if I had confessed I have seen every episode of HBO’s Real Sex and G-String Divas.  Scandalous!! 

I will say this to all the critics out there who have not read it and somehow still find it demeaning: it is not erotica, although it is on the border.  Most of erotica, to include Ann Rice among others (not that I have a ton of experience reading it, but from what I have gleaned…) is very much an objectification of a person for the sexual pleasure of another, whether male or female – and the subject’s pleasure is inconsequential.  This is not that.  

As a matter of fact, if I had to come up with a theme (at least for the first book), it would be that the heroine DE-objectifies women for our hero, Mr. Grey.  She teaches him that sex is about more than getting off.  And a hugely popular and widely read book that takes a woman and uses her to teach that point is not a bad thing for people to read. 

Oh, and you will have, ahem, heightened sensitivities that you will enjoy … and your husband will as well.

CONNER!! I have to find him!!”

Elaine woke with a start with David’s arms wrapped tight around her. He was whispering in her ear, trying to calm her.  It was the way she usually woke up now.  Poor David.  It must be hard on him to have to console her like this every morning.  She was ripped, sometimes screaming, from nightmares.  Other times out of blissful dreams where the five of them were together. Either way it really didn’t matter.

She was thrown out every day into the living Hell of not knowing where her son was. 

Well, she knew where his body was now, of course.  Somehow, people seemed to think that should help. 

Reigning in her grief, Elaine kissed her husband and thanked him for his comforting arms as she did every morning now.  As she sat up on the side of the bed, the deep ache settled into the place it had carved in her heart and she rose to greet the day. 

It was the 157th day she had woken without Conner in her life. She would live through another day without seeing his face and hearing his laugh. 

Elaine slid her feet into her slippers and she went to wake her remaining sons.  The days she had left with them were numbered, so she took a deep sigh, masked her grief and walked out of their bedroom.

“Rise and Shine, Sleepy Heads!” she said loudly and cheerfully. 

There had to be a way to show them how to live through the grief of loss.  They would be doing it again soon, she thought with deep regret.

David was a wonderful husband and father.  She could not imagine what life was like from his perspective.  He was working through his grief as well.  At the same time he bucked up and supported her, Sam and Jake. She loved him with all her heart. 

She felt such sorrow for David and prayed once again that he would understand her plan and not hate her for it. David may not ever forgive her, she knew.  But then, his acceptance was not necessary, either. 

Every day at breakfast they said a prayer for Conner.  They had done it every morning since the first morning after he’d gone missing.  The fact that his body was buried now did not seem enough of a reason to stop. 

Besides, Elaine knew that Conner was still somewhere.  What haunted her was that she was sure he still needed her.  Just like he had when he was lost and wondering.  Just like he had needed her to be there to catch him before he fell to his death. 

She tried and tried to stop herself from imagining his cries for her and for help.  She never could stop imagining that, though.  At times throughout the day his cries and pleas broke out of her imagination and she could hear him with her ears as well as her mind.

Elaine tried to tell her dead child that she was sorry for it all and she would be there with him soon. She prayed he could hear her. 

It seemed like Elaine prayed a lot – and to everyone. 

It would not be long now, she knew.  All the letters had been written.  All the plans had been made. 

She had seen the priest, a lawyer and a financial advisor.  While none of them agreed with her and all thought her plan insane, two were barred from sharing her plans by confidentiality.  The other did not really know the whole truth. 

Elaine had explained it as best she could.  She knew where Sam and Jake were.  She knew that David was capable of raising them and being there for them. 

But who was there for Conner since he died?  Was he with her grandmother who’d died a couple of years before?  What about her recently deceased uncle, was he there with Conner?

How did that work when you died? She had no idea.  She knew what she’d been taught as a child about the afterlife.  But she did not know if that was right or not.  And there was only one way to find out.

Had Conner been on a trip to Europe and needed her, she would have packed a bag and gone immediately without question.  David would have put the trip on the credit card and told her to call him when she landed.  If Conner or any of their sons had ever needed her in life, David would have understood.  Elaine did not know if David would understand that following Conner into death to find him and be with him and make up for the last days and moments of his life when she was not there made just as much sense. 

And if she was wrong?

What if there was nothing after death? 

Then she would go into oblivion. She would never find Conner and would have abandoned David, Sam and Jake for nothing.  But then, blissfully, she would never know it.  That was selfish, she knew, but there was a big part of her that simply couldn’t accept that would be the case.

What if Heaven and Hell existed?

Would she be sentenced to Hell for killing herself in order to find her son? She hoped God would not be that cold and callous, although, she also knew that there were plenty of Hell-worthy sins in her life to atone for.   At the very least before banishing her He would have to let her see Conner – even if it was the last time for eternity.  Conner would know that his mother would go through death to find him. She could tell him she was sorry.  She could let him know she should have been there when he needed her.  She could tell him she would always love him and he would know that if there was a way for her to prevent it, he would never be alone again.

She could go to Hell after that and be ok, she thought.

But then there was hope. 

Hope that she would find him.  Hope that she would be able to still see David, Sam and Jake in some way after her death.  Hope that her grandmothers already had found Conner and were keeping him safe until she could get there.  Hope that Conner would still love her and not hate her for letting him go camping and get lost and fall and break his neck.  

Hope that David, Sam and Jake would be ok and know she loved them and was waiting for them. Hope they would be able to forgive her over time and have good lives before they joined her and Conner.

Elaine realized over the next few weeks that a calm had come over her. 

She enjoyed Sam and Jake. She spent time with them together and alone.  She told them the things she though it was important for them to hear from their mother. 

And she loved David as best she could.  He was beginning to think she was getting better.  He was enjoying the time with her like they had years before, both before and after the boys were born.  They were happy.  

She had chosen a date that she hoped would not ruin any happy times she had with David or the boys.  It was just a Wednesday.  She’d been saving up the pills and would take them one night and leave quietly to go find Conner. 

Her parents and the rest of her family would be devastated, she knew, but there was nothing she could do about that. If her letters could not explain, then nothing could

Her biggest fear (besides not finding Conner) was that Sam and Jake would hate her for abandoning them.  She hoped one day they would understand how she could leave them. 

She knew where Sam and Jake were and she trusted they would be okay with David’s guidance.  She’d left letters that would come to them on different occasions in their lives from the lawyer.  She hoped they knew that if it had been either one of them instead of Conner she would have gone after them, too. 

David had agreed with the idea that Sam and Jake would have a good week split between their grandparents.  She had tried not to cry too hard when they left.  Elaine did not want them to think anything was wrong.  Her mother had known something was wrong, though, and Elaine knew she would not be shocked when they got the call. 

Later on in the week, after a few (last) nights together, Elaine confessed to David what she had done when it was too late for him to stop her. She begged his forgiveness and told him she loved him as she drifted off in his arms for the last time. 

All of a sudden, the light was blinding.  The feeling of falling and flying at the same time made her feel nauseous, or would have if she still had a body. The near-death experiences she’d heard had been accurate, she supposed. 

Elaine stopped in the light and looked back.  She saw David panicking – screaming and shaking her.  Voicelessly, she once again she told him how much she loved him.  To her surprise, Elaine saw David look up at her instead of down at the body he was holding, his eyes wide with shock.  He’d heard her. Maybe he would understand one day after all. She drank in what was possibly her last glimpse of him, filled with hope…

Then she bolted though the light into whatever was beyond Life screaming for her child.

Roger Dimmesworth walked through the parking lot on a Wednesday night, a self-satisfied smile on his face.  He did have a beguiling smile, even though the crooked teeth and sharp incisors added a sinister touch. But Roger was good at hiding that. It was rare his students ever noticed that about him…until it was too late, anyway. 

Roger was pleased with himself this Wednesday evening.  To be honest, though, Roger was generally pleased with himself all the time.  However, this particular Wednesday evening he was more than pleased; he was downright delighted.  Roger always was when he got the opportunity to give sermons. 

He had based his sermon on Ephesians 6:11-18. Who could doubt that we were living in a world created and ruled by schemes of the devil?   He had thought things were bad enough during the decadence of the 1990s.  Surely the world had become as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah by then.  But since the ‘90s the world had gotten so much worse.  Roger figured Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing on the United States today.  And people needed to be in Church as many times as possible to keep the Armor of God pulled tight around them.  Roger figured he was just the guy whose thoughts and ideas could keep this sad little congregation of fools on the straight and narrow.

The sermon had just the right balance of scriptured reasoning and passion, he thought with satisfaction.  People always liked passion.  Especially the women.  And Roger knew a thing or two about women, although he kept the fact that he had that knowledge to himself.  There was not much point in letting others know he had it, now was there?  It was very useful to be underestimated, Roger thought. But then again, Roger always made sure he was never underestimated for long.

As he walked to the car with Millie in tow, Roger relived his well-received speech to assuage the constant irritation he felt towards Millie. It was so difficult to keep patience with Millie and her histrionic tendencies, but Roger understood that the very thing that irritated him about Millie insured Roger was the one in control – just the way he liked it. 

“Look at the world in which we live today, brethren,” he’d started out quietly from the pulpit. “There is no doubt that Satan is firmly in control of this carnal plane of existence.  We live in a society that abhors God.  One that makes sure that our children are offered every temptation available to mankind.  Our schools teach acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality, yet they refuse to tolerate prayer!  Tell me how cunning a demon Satan has become over the centuries to be able to convince people of something as backwards as that?! And these worldly fools have blinders over their eyes that they cannot see! Remember what John 12:40 tells us! ‘He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts…’ They have been convinced by these unwitting and pathetic agents of Satan in our society and the government – yes, brethren, the reach of Satan has penetrated even into the White House – that tolerance is a virtue.  But we know it is not!!  We know what Peter taught us in 2 Peter 1:4 that we need to ‘escape from the corruption that is the world…’ And, brothers and sisters, there can be no doubt of the fact that the agents of Satan are fully in charge of this world and manipulating their unwitting subjects so they can PAVE THE ROAD TO HELL WITH THEIR SOULS!!”

Roger was particularly pleased with that last line.  He had crafted it to make sure that his sorrow for these pathetic sinners was palpable even as he told of their satisfying damnation.  Of course, that was only done to make it look like Roger had the ability to feel empathy for others.  In Roger’s mind giving the impression of having empathy for these hell-bound saps was every bit as good as actually caring for them.  It wasn’t as if anyone could tell the difference. 

And that, like most things about himself, suited Roger just fine.

I am so excited! You see, I have this trifle of a blog that I have been dumping all the inane shit in my head out into since February.  And people are reading it.  I know!  I can barely believe it, either.  What’s even better is that cool people I like are reading it – not crazies.  Wow. 

I am still new at this and quite a bit self-conscious about it all.  Imagine my surprise when today I clicked on a link one of my favorite bloggers posted in a comment and saw that she not only had a Versatile Blogger Award (Congratulations, Renee!!) but that she had listed me in her top 15 favorite blogs! First of all I have never been in a list of anyone’s favorites, so I am humbled and totally excited about that.  Second, I have never won any kind of award since I got that Jimmy Carter Peanut Radio for selling the 2nd most cookies or something in 2nd grade (I also got my picture in the paper for that.  No joke.  I will scan it and post it sometime.  You gotta appreciate all those little moments of fame, right?).  And, third, Renee is awesome and I am honored she likes me. 

Now, apparently there are rules for this. 

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.  [In case my above blubbering was unclear, thank you, thank you, thank you, Renee!!]

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

5. Post a picture of the Versatile Blogger Award on your site.

Um, 7 things about me:

  1. I am a total procrastinator.  Don’t believe me?  Read this.
  2. I was a Brownie, but never a Girl Scout.
  3. I had two kidney surgeries when I was 5 resulting in a 2 month hospital stay, a transfusion and a 5 inch scar.
  4. I always have blood red toenails – even in the dead of winter. 
  5. I hate it when people ask me if my hair is naturally red.  I hate it because I am not sure of the answer and I never know what to say.  Do people ask blondes this or just redheads?
  6. I did not like Guns N Roses when they first came out.  As a matter of fact, I still hate Axl Rose’s voice and listen to GNR now as more of a nostalgic thing than a real love of the music.
  7. At least once a day I have to remind myself that I am a 40 year old woman.  I still feel like I did at 17 and the last 23 years seem to be a blur that only took a few years instead of 2 decades. 

I am new at this, so I don’t have 15 blogs I like to read.   I will list the ones that I do read, at the very least.

  1. The first is, of course, Pooter and Booger’s Place.  Renee has lived a fascinating life and she honestly tells you all about it. 
  2. Corey over at The Hopeful Cynic is a wonderful writer.  She is moving and hilarious…and in just the right combination. 
  3. Write Gnome Write encourages you to release your inner gnome.  I met the author in 6th grade.  She is truly remarkable.
  4. Jonel Fernando and I crossed paths a few months back.  He is a prolific and interesting writer.  I always leave his blog with something to think about.  And that’s really what writing is supposed to be about, right?
  5. Anastasia over at Sweet Butter Bliss is so relatable and honest you cannot help but like her. 

That’s really all I’ve got.  I will have to be a better blogger and read more blogs.  Some I do like that you may have heard of are:

Rants from Mommyland,

Mommy Shorts, and

The Mouthy Housewives