Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Back to School


For the first time in 22 years I do not have a child returning to public school. As of May of this year they have all graduated and moved on to other pursuits.  I have this empty feeling even though my nest is not technically empty.  [My son is disabled and will not be able to live on his on in the foreseeable future.]  To help alleviate the weirdness, I gathered all the unused school supplies from past years around the house and donated them to a program for kids in need.

But there is something about the appearance of school supplies in the stores that gives me this rush from the possibilities of new beginnings. I've had that feeling since I was a small child.  I began attending schoool at the age of 5 (43 years ago) and either I have been returning to school or I have had a child going to school since then (I'm counting my college years as well). At the end of every summer we'd buy school supplies, some new clothes, and a new pair of shoes. And I'd sit there looking over it all and think to myself, this is the year where everything will be different.  I did well in school mostly (math was my only problem) and I always looked forward to learning.  School was also my escape from an abusive home life.  The only problem was that at school I'd also have to deal with bullies along with my own self-doubts.  Every year I'd buy the school supplies and think that maybe this year things/people might change and I'd make a few friends and things wouldn't be so harsh.  

It never really changed.  I never fit in.  I was this odd duckling that only the teachers seemed to have an affinity for - I was quiet, polite, and did well in most classes (even in the ones I didn't do well in they could tell that I was really trying).  Still, even with the bullies, school was better than home 90% of the time. I still don't fit in really.  There's something broken inside of me that prevents me from being normal in many social situations.

And that feeling stays with me. I look in the mirror and see wrinkles forming but inside of me is that little girl who has hope and wonder that new experiences, new people, new knowledge is just around the corner. The expectation that change is part of reality.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cooty Girl

Age 6
Present day

I wrote this poem in 1999 while reflecting on my school days, being an introvert, and being bullied.  I thought about how although the school days had passed, there were many wounds that were yet to become scars (healed).  It's been 18 years since I wrote this poem.  I'm on a slightly better standing but I still have days where I feel the same as the girl in the poem.

COOTY GIRL
- Lelain de Peche

In a corner she sits
afraid to admit
she doesn't know how
to join the conversation
It seems like such fun
but she just wants to run
back to the safety
of her well worn shell
Just her brief visits out
renew all the doubts
that she can ever
really belong
the questions remain
continually the same
what if she faulters
what if she blunders
In the midst of stumbling
there are mental rumblings
memories from by gone days
of name callings
of being tripped and falling
and rock throwings
that left bruises
I don't belong here
and I never will
is the cal of a fear
at an early age instilled
so she sits feeling lame
cheeks red with shame
pondering whether
to even attempt a move
he tongue is frozen
and her past has woven
a trap of fear
that has insnared her
there's only one way out
that's to let go of the doubts
and jump right into
the conversation
she fills her lungs to the brim
takes the first step to begin
the journey to leave
the schoolyard behind
It's not with effortless grace
but she goes her own pace
and finds a comfortable
niche with a comedian
Laughter spills all around
as her walls slide down
someday she could
get used to this

[On an additional note: With the prevalence of social media I have thought about looking for some of the people I knew in elementary and middle school. Why? I don't know. Maybe ask them why they were such shits to me? Maybe tell them what I was really going through at home? Maybe explain to them all the things that really messed up inside of me? Then I thought, will this really make a bit of difference? No.  That being said, I was foolish enough to go looking for one or two people. They are living their own lives.  My second cousin once removed who twisted my arm in the 5th grade and demanded that I never tell anyone that we were even slightly related is now a lawyer in Franklin, Tennessee. I sent a friend request to his FaceBook page. His reply was a rejection that sent me to his "professional" FB page. All I could think was, "Oh. He rejected me again. Well, I should have known."]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Sun Comes Up And The Sun Goes Down



I seem to be lost. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. I don't accomplish much in between. There are so many things that I could be doing but I feel like I'm drowning. The anxiety stops me from doing anything.  There's this underlying fear that anything I create will be less than, it will be flawed, it will not be the perfect image that I hold in my head.  There's also an underlying current that it's too late to accomplish anything in life.  I'm too old now. I've reached my expiration date and that nothing I do now or have done in life matters.  I fear that don't hold value to anyone, not anyone or anything in the vast universe.  Part of me just wants that white knight to come save me from myself.  Another part of me wishes that part would shut up because, damn it, it's all been a useless fantasy. Sometimes I barely have the strength to keep breathing. I feel so exhausted just fighting my own competing emotions. Fighting off anxiety and losing.  Seriously, that's messed up. Truly, I don't know what to do next and I wish someone would just tell me. But there's no answer. It's all silence.



Monday, January 23, 2017

Let It Go - Musings and Goals for 2017


December 19, 2016
I came to a decision in the autumn of 2016, as I looked around at our ever crowded small house that I needed to let go of a number of things – possessions that were no longer fulfilling any true purpose.  I questioned why I still held on to them. 
Then I fell very ill in December and required hospitalization.  While the IV dripped antibiotics as I lay in the hospital bed, I had much time to think and reconsider my life.  The questions that I had been ruminating over before I fell ill now were magnified and screaming.  If I died what have I left behind?  I have had varied obsessions and false focuses.  Often I have focused on material goods.  I did not want to leave this mass of tangled obsessions and material things for my loved ones to sort after I was gone.

As I said earlier, I had already begun to untangle myself.  I had sorted a few things here and there.  A small beginning but a start none the less.  When decorating for Christmas we decided to let go of some ornaments and decorations.  This led to sorting through unused Christmas cards I’d kept from past years, pieces of pack we’d mailed out.  I put them all in a box to go to charity.  Why had I kept them? [In case I needed them? – after 8 or 10 years if they haven’t been used, they probably wouldn’t be used. Let it go.]  I moved on to my collected cards and stationary.  After sorting through it, I decided to let go of quite a few various occasion cards – birthday, anniversary, get well soon, sympathy.  Some of these I’d had for YEARS.  Again, if I hadn’t used them by now, would I ever?
And there is the question I should be putting to ALL of my belongings which I have steadily gathered.  If I have not used them by now, will I ever?  Why do I keep them then?  If there is no reason to keep it, no sentimental attachment, no true purpose, then it is time for it to leave my life and depart my house.

I applied this question to a mass of notepads that had piled up from charity mailings.  I had not asked for them, yet I had kept them.  Why?  [In case I needed them – If I hadn’t used them up in a year or two, then I probably never would.]  It was past time for them to go. So I added them to the box to go to charity.  I also sorted through a few of my files and notebooks.  Information on topics that had caught my fancy.  Information that now holds no sway for me.  I put paper goods into recycling or in the shredder. Notebooks and files were either tossed out, reused, or put into the charity box.
The progress is slow.  My body is still fighting an infection.  I will move through all my possessions.  I know my books will be the hardest to sort.  But I have bought more than I will ever be able to read in my lifetime.  If I do not love a book after reading it, if I will not return to re-read it time and again, then I need to release it.  I had already started donating some books which didn’t sell on eBay to the ARC (a local program that helps special needs people in the community) for their library.  Their library was just so small when I toured their facilities all I could think was that my own collection was ten times the size.  I made a vow then to give them what I would not keep.

I do not wish to just disentangle myself.  If I can help others then I will do it.  Let all that I so foolishly gathered and hoarded go to help so many others.  My goals for 2017 are simple.  I must do all I can to mend and heal myself.  Not just for the sake of others but for myself.  But those details are for another post.  I will continue to untangle myself from material possessions.  Unburying myself. I will continue to ask myself why I have kept something, does it still fit into my life, is there someone else who could use it more. 



January 19, 2017
Since writing down the aforementioned thoughts I have moved forward in my goals in small ways here and there.  I’ve sorted some of my clothes (short and long sleeved shirts to be exact), purses, and scarfs.  I’ve also cleared a lot of paperwork from my desk either by filing them or tossing/shredding them. I still have much to do.

Aside and perhaps along with the idea of letting things go, there is the question of why I have hung on to other things in life. I plan to apply this to non-material things as well.  All the sewing, crafting, and art projects I’ve held onto yet haven’t completed or, in some cases, haven’t even started, am I really REALLY going to get around to doing them?  If not, then is it time to let it go? 
The biggest question I’m facing is, what about my writing?  In therapy I figured out that my writing had a place when I was younger.  The stories/fantasies that I created in my childhood were an escape from the things that were going on around me.  [My childhood was not as pleasant as one would hope for.]  But I’m not in those same circumstances now.  Also, it is becoming harder for me to sit down and complete the story/book ideas that come to me.  I have thought I wanted to be a writer since I was 12 years old. Now, I’m not so sure that is the right fit for me.  I’ve read what different writers have said online about what it takes to be a writer and the actual creation seems like it’s only 20% of what is needed.  Writers have to be strong and able to take criticism. They have to have thick skin.  They have to be organized and have a bit of business sense.  I feel that I’m lacking in many of these regards.  So after 35 years of assuming that my career will eventually be that of a writer, I question whether this is just a childhood fantasy that became more like an obsession.  I fantasized about writing great novels and having throngs of readers. Perhaps this was just a manifestation of my need to find a way to fit in, a way to feel wanted/included.



I have a lot of work to do in 2017.  Not just with cleaning out my closets and downsizing and letting go, but with reorganizing my life.  I’m probably (hopefully) at the midpoint in my life.  I may live to be in my 80’s or even 90’s.  So what do I do with the rest of my life? Do I give up on things I’ve played at for 25 or 35 years? Or do I redouble my efforts?  Where do I go from here?  This isn’t a fantasy, a musical, or a best seller. I can’t rely on a happily ever after ending.  This is life in real time. How is that time best spent – for me, for my family?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Books and Stories Read in 2016



2016 was a long year full of personal struggle.  I was distracted by multiple calamities both within and without. I found it harder to just sit down and read (or write for that matter).  I re-read a number of books at the beginning of the year. I read more short stories and kept track them. I began listening to audio books and found them delightful for listening to while cleaning,working out, and riding in a car.  I have hope that 2017 will be a better year for my family and for me. I have hope and all I can do is cling to it!

2016 Books Read


 Into the Forest - Jean Hegland

  Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone (Illustrated Edition) - JK Rowling (re-read)

Product DetailsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling (re-read)

 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling (re-read)

  The Sandman Overture (Graphic Novel) - Neil Gaiman

  Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (Graphic Novel) - Mike Carey/Glen Fabry

  Beatrix Potter: A Journal - Frederick Warne & Company


  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling (re-read)

  Night Shift - Charlaine Harris


Product Details  It's So Easy And Other Lies - Duff MaKagen

  Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheomix - JK Rowling (re-read)

Ruined: A Novel by [Morris, Paula]  Ruined - Paula Morris

  American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Product Details  Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

Product Details  The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

  Trigger Warning - Neil Gaiman

  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl - Paige McKenzie

  I am Not a Serial Killer - Dan Wells

  Servants of the Storm - Delilah S. Dawson

  Wicked Fix - Sarah Graves

  The Near Witch - Victoria Schwab

  My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry - Fredrik Backman

  Mr. Monster - Dan Wells

  Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes - Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler

  All the Little Liars - Charlaine Harris

  I Don't Want to Kill You - Dan Wells

   A Pale Horse - Charles Todd

  Fahrenheit 451 Graphic Novel - Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton

Stephen King's N. by [Guggenheim, Marc, King, Stephen]  Stephen King's N. (Graphic Novel) - Marc Guggenenheim and Alex Maleer

  A Natural History of Dragons :A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan

  Dead Things (Eric Carter) - Stephen Blackmoore

  Broken Souls (Eric Carter) - Stephen Blackmoore



2016 Stories Read


The Return of the Thin White Duke - Neil Gaiman
Love, Fishie - Maddie Gaiman
The Sound of Salt and Sea - Kat Howard - Uncanny Magazine
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers - Alysse Wong - Nightmare Magazine (Nebula Award)
Thumb Print - Joe Hill
Midway Relics and Dying Breeds - Seanan McGuire -  Tor.com
Items for Sale in Enkato's Market - Roshani Chokshi
The Child Support of Cromdor the Condemned - Spencer Ellsworth - Light Speed Magazine
Stone Heart - Omar Sakr - StrangeHorizons.com
The Key to St. Medusa's - Kate Howard - Light Speed Magazine


2016 Audio Books/Stories


  Playing Possum - Charlain Harris

  How the Marquis Got His Coat Back - Neil Gaiman - BBC Radio 4

  The Dispatcher - John Scalzi

  The Devil and His Boy - Anthony Horowitz

  Exeunt Demon King  (Johannes Cabal short story) - Jonathan Howard



As I read these books, I made a conscious decision rather I really liked them enough to keep them (although some of these are on my Kindle).  There are some books I love dearly and re-read periodically - they will stay.  Then there are books I bought because they seemed interesting (sometimes years ago) that I haven't gotten around to reading. I'll be working on reading through the piles and sorting accordingly.   A number of the above books I have donated to an organization called ARC here in town that helps those with mental/emotional disabilities.  When I toured their facilities to set up some services for my son, I found that their library was scarcely two shelves (though they had space for much more). It feels good to help ARC and it feels good to unclutter my house a bit (the bookshelves are groaning).  

I start the new year off reading the three books I received for Christmas.  I adore the authors of those books so I know I'll have to find space on my shelves!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge - Bats

On October 5th on Twitter I saw another Writober prompt from Deliah S. Dawson, a most excellent author, for flash fiction - a bat in someone's hair.  I went a little longer than the 5 tweet limit she suggested.  Below is the resulting short story:

Cathy and Sharon sat outside by the firepit.  They were celebrating the autumnal equinox, giving thanks for all that had come into their lives.

"It's so peaceful out here! Not like in town.  Everybody's in your business. So much noise," Cathy said. "I think I may move out here."

Sharon smiled good naturedly.  "Life in the country is a lil bit more complicated than leaving the city behind."

Cathy frowned at her. "Like what?"

"Well," Sharon replied, "You have to be more self-relient.  There's no curb-side service out here."

"So you don't think I could cut it if I moved out here?  You think it's better I just go back to where I belong?"  Cath's face had turned a bit red as she spoke.  She reached for her drink on the ground by her chair.

Sharon looked at her friend, searching for words.  "I only meant that realistically..."

As Sharon spoke a dark shape dove from the sky towards a moth just above where Cathy's head had been.  As she straightened up with her drink, its speed prevented it from stopping before slamming into Cathy's frizzy hair.  Stunned by the impact, the dark creature squeaked and flapped.  Cathy, also stunned by the impact, began to scream, her spilled drink forgotten.

"What the hell is it?!"  She shrieked.

Sharon reached for Cathy, "Be still!"  she demanded.  As gently as she could, she cupped her hands around the wings and body of the small creature, untangling it from the panicked woman's hair.  After freeing it, she studied it for a moment before setting it down on the ground between them and the fire.

"Is that a bat?"

"Yes, Cathy, it's a bat.  Just be calm.  It will recover in a minute and fly off."

They watched it move around a bit.  It looked at the two women then lifted itself up and sprang into the air.  It flew back into the trees.

Sharon turned to her friend, "Are you alright?  You get scratched or anything?"

"No," Cathy sputtered eyes still wide, "it was just in my hair."

"Catch your breath and calm down.  The fire's beginning to die down.  We can head inside and get you another glass of tea."  She picked up Cathy's glass from where it had landed on the ground with her free hand.  Her own glass still half full.

"Come on now, Cathy, let's head inside."

Cathy rose to her feet and walked beside her friend towards the house.

"I didn't know there were bats out here.  I've never noticed them before."

"Yeah," Sharon said, "there's a lot of wildlife that'll fly around or just wander up to the house.  I have to be careful about tying down the trashcan lids."  

Cathy looked over at her friend who was smiling and smiled back with a little laugh as they reached the door.  "Sharon, I don't know how you do it!"  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge - Monsters

This morning on Twitter I saw another Writober prompt from Deliah S. Dawson, a most excellent author, for flash fiction - monster in a cemetary.  I went a little longer than the 5 tweet limit she suggested.  Below is the resulting short story:

He could hear them only two gravestones down.  They were crying uncontrollably at the new mound of dirt still covered in wreaths and sprays of flowers that had yet to begin to wilt.


He crept closer to the two women.  They didn't hear his approach. They were young, their bodies lean.  Their long blonde hair fell over their faces as their bodies rocked with sobs. So much like the one in the grave. Were they family or friends? He hadn't seen them there before.


He reached his hand towards the closest woman, his knife in his other hand.  His mind reeled at the thought of her. A fantasy played in his mind. At his touch, she spun around, faster than he could catch hold.  Her face was exposed between sheets of white hair.  Her mouth was so wide with a wild scream, almost overshadowing the sight of her cold black eyes.


Before he could utter a sound they were upon him.  His knife a useless defense against them as they tore him to shreds.  Their hair was stained red from the arterial pumping. They ate his heart, letting the blood drip down from their mouths onto their ragged black dresses.


Carefully shifting the wreaths and flowers, they dug down with their hands into the soft earth, dropping the pieces of him into the hole.  The spilt blood was shifted with the dirt then covered by wreaths and flowers.


Their meal partaken, vengeance having been met, they departed, slipping silently among the tombstones.