Category Archives: Writing

Karma Comes Around

I’ve heard a lot lately about ‘Karma’ and ‘people getting what they deserve’ after a recent heart break and bad break-up of one of my children.  Their friends feel strongly about it.  It’s a comforting thought for the bad things people do – to think that they will get what they gave.  But that’s not really what Jesus wants us to do.  He wants us to do the HARD thing of ‘forgiving’ and not judging.  Which, in the end, truly does help the aggrieved person to forgive because it loosens the binds formerly held on them.

But what of people who do bad things and are NOT sorry at all for them.  People who are self-absorbed and only worry about their own feelings without empathy or sympathy for others?  Will “Karma” really get them?  Or, as my brother-in-law Billy says in his East Texas accent, “What comes around, goes around.”  Does it really?

I want to include a spooky story in this blog post where it does.  I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did.

The following story is an excerpt from a book where the guy is telling the story of the spooky show he watched on TV as a boy called ‘Night Gallery’ which focused on the dark closets of the human soul.  One particular story stayed with him (as it does with me now!) and I will tell it in quotes straight from the book:

“Josef Strobe is a Nazi war criminal hiding out in South America-Argentina, I imagine.  In spite of his cruel and evil past, his deepest longing is simply to be a fisherman.  His history haunts him, forcing him to live in a world that is dingy and bleak, a vivid contrast to his opulent life while in power.  Always afraid of being caught and constantly on the move, he is a different kind of prisoner than those comrades who were captured years before and condemned for their crimes against humanity.

He stands in front of a beautiful painting of a fisherman in a small boat drifting serenely on a still mountain lake, imagining himself as the man in the boat, free from all the problems that he has created for himself.  Josef is drawn to the painting over and over again.  He asks a forgiving God to give him another chance, a chance to survive, but in truth is asking God to absolve him from his sins while he abdicates all responsibility for his actions.

As he dreams of being the man in the painting, he wonders if, by concentrating all his mind and all his desire, he could enter that picture, leaving behind the life he has created to enter a life he could only dream of.  It’s clear, though, that Josef has never known contrition.  In the midst of his anguish, he runs across a Holocaust survivor who recognizes him as a former guard.  Josef kills the Jewish man and tries to escape by leaving town.

Instead, he is captured after some tense moments.  He escapes and sneaks back into the museum, rushing toward the painting that holds the world he longs to live in.  It is dark not only from the lack of light but from the ominous presence of the moment.  He prays to God to allow him to enter into the painting, then suddenly disappears.  Rushing into the room seconds later, a security guard and a museum official hear muted screams where Josef had stood. The picture of the mountain lake is gone, and the curator explains that the painting of the mountain lake was a loaner.  In its place hangs the image of a man crucified in a concentration camp.  Slowly the camera scans to the picture, and we realize that Josef has taken the place of the person who was crucified.  In a twist of irony, Josef Strobe has found his way back to the world he created.

from Erwin Raphael McManus’s book “The Artisan Soul”Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art“- btw, I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to all artists of any religion.  It is spiritual at times but mostly inspirational and though provoking.

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Filed under Family, Fiction, Psychological rabble dabble, Random Thoughts, Writing

SPORTS BRA WARNING: WOMEN BEWARE!

I have to share this embarrassing moment with other women simply to warn them of a possible issue that may occur while trying on sports bras.  I really am shocked that this hasn’t happened to anyone else yet, but I definitely want to get the word out so that no woman is harmed by these treacherous ‘sports’ bras.

Here’s my story:  Every new year I start a new exercise routine for inspiration and variety.  This year I decided to challenge myself by attempting this Couch to 5k program that so many of my Facebook friends have been posting about.  After a couple of weeks I realized I was going to need some new ‘support‘ and went to our local sports store (Academy.)  I discovered some new bras that were not only cute but promised to “Banish the Uni-boob!”  The tag touted it’s schtick “The Great Divide – Shaping, Support & No Uni-Boob.”  Wow.  I was not aware that my old sports bras were giving me a ‘uniboob,’ but upon reflection, maybe they were!  “What a wonderful new bra,” I thought to myself.  I gathered two of them with hangers that declared them a size Medium (my size, at least in my old sports bras) and decided not to try them on since I had other shopping to do and a limited amount of time.

Fast forward to the next day, Monday morning.  The kids are gone to school, husband to work and I’m flitting around the house like a, well – a dragonfly, because while I tinker on the computer, I also stop to do other things like:  “Oh, yeah, I wanted to finish cleaning the bathtubs.  Oops, laundry needs to get started.  Oh, I need to go through those papers cluttering the dining room table.  Uh, there’s some dishes that need to be put into the dishwasher.  Are those leaves on the floor?  Let me just sweep those up.”  Are you getting the picture?  I am an ADHD homemaker.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, the bra fiasco.

My daughter and her two fellow cosmetology students/friends generally swing by our house for a quick bite to eat & bathroom use before continuing on to their Cosmo class located on the other side of town.  When  they arrive this morning I’m scampering about the house when I realize I never did try on those new bras.  I needed to try them on before cutting the tags off and washing them with the laundry so I excused myself from the gals in the kitchen and shut myself in the master bedroom to get started.

“Hmmm.  I think I’ll try on this cute pink one first.”  I took the top half of my outfit off (Ok, I took off my pajama top,) released the sports bra from it’s hanger and began pulling it over my head.  “Hmm, this is a tighter squeeze than it should be.  I think they might have mislabled this one.  It seems extra small.”  I get the bra over my head and barely get one arm through it, struggling in a vain attempt to pull the other arm through and while trying to pull it down over my breasts I wonder, “Maybe it’s the new fabric, but it’s still not stretching enough.”  When I begin turning red in the face and the bra still won’t move, I give up.  “This must be an extra small!”  Geez.  Alright then, I will just take it off.

I try to pull my arm out and get it back over my head to no avail.  I am stuck.  Both literally and figuratively.  After many deep breaths, groans and near muscle pulls, I am now breathing heavy, starting to sweat and very seriously stuck half in/out of a sports bra!  It ain’t going down over my boobs and it ain’t going up over my head and I can’t move my arms.  UH OH!!!!!!!

I hear the girls talking in the kitchen and say aloud, “Thank God!  Tara is still here!”

I crack open my bedroom door and raise my voice (as much as I can considering I am out of breath from the struggles with that damn bra) “Uhhhh – Tara!  Tara, can you come help me for a minute?”

I hear her approaching and when she walks around the hallway corner she sees me peeking my head out from behind the door.  She looks at me curiously while saying, “What is it Mama?”

Yes, indeed.  What is it.  “Uhm,” I say, “This is kind of embarrassing, but uh, well – I was trying on one of my new sports bras and I think it was mislabeled because now I am stuck and I can’t pull it off!”

She starts giggling and enters the bedroom.  I can’t imagine how I must look.  A forty-four year old Mama, one arm stuck in the air, one arm stuck down through the bra, boobs popping out underneath from the pressure of being squeezed diabolically by the tightness of the fabric and hunched over – because I couldn’t even stand up straight at this point!

I bend over more at the waist, half waving my one free arm that is stuck upwards and beg, “Just pull it off of me!”

She’s laughing as she yanks it off and I sigh with the freedom of release.  She looks closer at the bra and says, “Yeah, this is a small.  Have you tried the other bra yet?”  I’m frustrated and complaining as I show her the hanger, “Look it says Medium!  Darn!  I guess I better try the other one on too- while you are here, just in case I get stuck in it!”  By this time we are both laughing about my predicament.

The other bra is much easier to get over my head and one arm into, but – uh, nope.  I can’t get both arms into it either!  I bend over at the waist (again) grappling to pull it off and I hear Tara say in disbelief through her laughter, “Don’t tell me you’re stuck in that one too!

Yes, I’m stuck,” I say with disgust.  She’s laughing so hard now that I imagine tears are rolling down her face.  “Just pull it off of me,” the frustration is evident in my voice.  I know we are both girls and related, but it really is embarrassing to be witnessed half in/half out stuck in a sports bra, no matter who is viewing the chaos.

After I get dressed into regular clothes and come walking back into the kitchen where the girls are now all congregated, a light bulb goes off in my mind and I say to them, “Oh my goodness!  Can you imagine if I would have tried them on at Academy?  I would’ve been in a uni-sex dressing room stall mumbling, “Help me, I’m stuck.  Can somebody help me?  Ahh!!!!”

We are all laughing while we picture that scenario, but really – how could I have faced a store clerk stuck in that position? Can you imagine?  That’s why I am writing this and sharing my embarrassing moment – because whether you are family, friend or enemy – I would never wish that on any woman!!!!

P.S. And by the way Academy store clerks – You are very welcome for me not attempting to try on those sports bras in your store!!!!!!!

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Filed under Exercise, Family, Random Thoughts, Sports, Writing

Behind a Smile

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters…compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I pulled out some old pictures from my childhood the other day and a flood of memories hit me with each one. One photograph jumped out at me. It was the juxtaposition of emotions that this single picture produced that made my heart skip a beat and my throat tighten. To a bystander, it was just an old, color faded 8×10 school photo. The colors look as if they have been put through one of the new digital age photo filter mechanisms – the one that gives the picture an orange tint. For me, this picture represents the light, happy innocence of childhood before the darkness of oncoming turbulent adolescence.

This photo was taken my 4th grade year in elementary school. I was 9 years old and wearing the proof of my ‘Tomboy’ moniker. I remember my mother questioning my choice of clothing for the school picture that year, but I was adamant that this was the shirt I wanted to wear. Most of the other girls were in frilly dresses or nice button down blouses. Not so for me, I was proudly sporting my Cincinnati Reds T-shirt. My hero’s name, Johnny Bench, emblazoned across my chest with a picture of him catching a baseball on the side of his name. The previous summer my step-brother, Scotty, and I had orchestrated a backyard baseball game every single day of the vacation. We lived in a rural area and rarely had enough kids to fill two full teams, so we created ‘Ghost Men’ to play. I also had a shoebox full of baseball cards, always looking to trade for more‘Reds’ players. Once school started, baseball resumed on the playground, but only boys were allowed to play. Scotty took exception to that when he told them I was going to play on his team. I immediately proved myself valuable and became the only girl player. I was never picked last when teams were chosen either, because I played better than some of the boys. Those were fun times. (Later in the year, the adults would interfere and made us include other girls and then it became boys v. girls and that is when I quit playing. Most of those girls didn’t even know the difference between a mere ‘run’ and an actual ‘home-run’ and that irritated the tar out of me.)

When I attempt to look at that 4th grade photo using a stranger’s eyes, I can see that I could easily be mistaken for a little boy. My short burnt orange hair, green eyes, light skin with a spattering of freckles across my nose and cheeks blended with my clothing choice makes me look a little androgynous. My smile, though genuine, reveals the beginnings of the crooked teeth that would sully my life and contribute to the self image problems I still battle today. My teeth were the most crooked monstrosities ever possessed by an unassuming child. Each large, adult sized front tooth, besides protruding enough to be what was labeled at that time as being ‘bucked’ went outward in opposite directions of each other, as if trying to run away because they didn’t want to touch. The teeth next to them wanted to overlap them in confusion. And for some odd reason, I had too many, so they all crowded crookedly vying for space in my extra small child sized mouth. The effect of this dental horror show combined with my untamed natural curly red hair provided fodder for many jokes and name calling by both mean kids and adults alike.

As I became aware of the grimaces I would receive when I smiled, I began to try to cover my mouth with my hand. I am probably the only child ever who was okay with the orthodontia pain I would later have because I knew that it meant my teeth were being corrected. Trips to the orthodontist involved replacing or tightening the wires on my braces and I would not be able to eat for days afterwards because of the soreness that caused, which left only the bitter iron taste of blood in my mouth. I still remember one visit to the orthodontist where he had to prop one of his legs up on a chair in order to get enough leverage. He grunted and strained so hard he began to sweat. All that, just to get the wires on my braces to tighten around my severely crooked teeth. Ouch.

While the braces were working on my teeth, I worked on my hair. Learning how to style naturally curly hair is an acquired skill, as is learning how to manage it when the weather changes. Remembering the childish, cruel taunts of “I’d rather be dead than red on the head,” as a teenager I begged my mother to allow me to get my hair colored. When she finally agreed you can imagine my exasperation when the Stylist refused to do it, saying that my natural color was too beautiful to destroy. I had to go home to do a double take in the mirror. What was that stylist talking about? I still saw that rusty haired little Tom-boy with crooked teeth when I looked into the mirror. But after blinking a few times, I began to see the teenager looking back at me, the transformation of an ugly duckling to a swan, right before my eyes. It’s amazing how orthodontia, hair and make-up can make such a huge difference on how one is perceived by others. Materialistic as it may be, people treated me differently once they began to recognize me as ‘cute’ and this is when I made a silent vow to myself that I would never judge a person by their looks. I knew from personal experience that the cover of a person is not necessarily a true representation of what lies inside. And what is in a person’s heart is what matters most.

I do admit though, I enjoyed the fact that now, when I smiled at people, they smiled back.

My 4th Grade School Photo

My 4th Grade School Photo

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Filed under Family, Kids, Random Thoughts, Sports, Writing

Victory Over Fear

The year of 1988 was a hot, sticky, steaming summer in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  Tall Pines, Cypress and Oaks stood around the Base, teasing us with shade while we practiced drills in the blazing sun.  The ground was sandy and provided a good work out on the long marches we travailed while wearing standard Army issue camo BDU’s (battle dress uniforms) and black Army boots.  There were times when the Drill Instructors would allow us to take off the hot camo jackets, which left us in our dirt brown t-shirts sporting various shaped sweat stains.  At times, the temperatures became so overwhelming and the heat index so high, that we would be forced to take ‘shade and water’ breaks to prevent heat stroke.  I was not surprised or weakened by any of these things.  I signed up for Basic Training and knew in advance that almost immediately after graduating high school I would be spending the summer tackling all of the challenges the Army tossed my way.  I knew some things would be difficult and intense.  I didn’t know that I would have to face down a fear that I never knew existed – and accomplish it in front of not only my whole platoon, but the entire Company B (B for Bravo, ironically.)  That’s around 250 people.

Army Basic Training requires you to pass many different tests, both physical and mental, before you can successfully complete it.  I had fun with the bayonet training and all the weaponry training and tests.  (Blood & guts make the green grass grow Drill Sergeant!  Kill, Kill without mercy Drill Sergeant!)  I passed the sit-ups, push-ups and 2 mile run tests with no problems.  I marched through dense, jungle-like forests, shot M-16 rifles, threw grenades, bivouacked, went into gas chambers, learned hand to hand combat and basic first aid.  The only obstacle that I found insurmountable came as a surprise.  I discovered it after I did the ropes challenge and climbed to the top of Victory Tower.  Once at the top, I was to rappel down – what seemed to me like a 100 foot wall (but I later learned that it was only 40 foot.)

To start rappelling, the Drill Instructors told us to stand backwards, feet on the edge of the wall, keep the body stiff, hold the rope in front of you with both hands and fall straight back off the edge.  Next, you keep your legs stiff and straight while raising your upper torso into a sitting position.  Once situated, you use your feet to kick off from the wall, maneuvering the rope so that you give it slack, thus sliding downward.  You develop a rhythm doing this until you land on the ground.  I watched others complete the task and deduced that it would be easy for me.  But when my turn came to lean backwards over the edge, I froze.  My mind refused to concede that my body could lean back into nothing but sky.  Fear gripped my insides.  I stepped away from the ledge to let the next person go down.  I looked around frantically and noticed a steel beam that was part of the structure.  As a Drill Instructor screamed at me to get back in line, I got down on my knees and hugged the beam tight.  “I’m not going anywhere!”  I had never experienced a fear of heights so extreme before.  I decided I would rather feel the wrath of my Drill Sergeant than go over the edge.

I remembered that, as a child, I would climb up a ladder onto the roof of our house.  It was always scariest when you had to let go of the ladder and move to the roof.  But once that was done, I would be fine and could walk around on the roof, albeit gingerly, but I did it multiple times with no problems.  This tower was higher up, but only 2 to 3 times higher, so why was I suddenly frozen with terror?

I could see that others were doing it with no injuries.  We had ropes connected everywhere so that even if I let go of the rope I was holding on to the Drill Instructors would still have control and not let me plummet to the earth.  But out on that ledge, leaning straight back into nothing produced a gut-wrenching fear inside me like I had never known.  I gripped my beam tighter and squeezed my eyes shut, saying a prayer for God to magically remove me from my surroundings.

God didn’t say anything, but another Drill Sergeant did.  “Hey Tipton, watch me!”  We were known by our last names, a patch sewn onto our jackets to distinguish us from our identical uniforms.  I opened my eyes in time to see the Sergeant running forward, yelling in excitement, straight off the ledge.  He just ran forward down the wall to the ground amidst cheers from everyone on the ground.  “See Tipton, it ain’t nothing, come on,” my Drill Sergeant said.  I knew he was trying to encourage me, but I gripped the beam even tighter as fear pulsed through my veins.

The soldiers waiting below began yelling encouragement for me to go.  I knew I had to do this, I couldn’t fail.  I looked into my Drill Sergeant’s face and the terror must have been showing in my eyes because I could see a look of pity cross his face.  He walked over to me, kneeled down and pulled a stick of gum from his pocket.  Now, I don’t know how Basic Training is these days, but back then we weren’t allowed care packages or treats of any kind and it had been weeks since I felt the sweet, juicy goodness of a satisfying gum chewing.  My mouth began to water as I eyeballed the gum in his hand.  “Hey, Tip, will you go down the tower if I give you a piece of gum?”  My Drill Sergeant’s hopeful look turned into a smile as I immediately let go of the beam and grabbed the gum, putting it into my mouth before he had time to change his mind.  I stood up and went to the ledge, barely listening as they went over the instructions again.  I was focused now on controlling my mind and getting this over with.  I stopped thinking and just leaned straight back to start my rappel.

After kicking off from the wall my first time, I realized there wasn’t anything scary to it at all.  “There you go Tipton,  – you’re doing it! That’s great!”

I rappelled from the wall with ease and laughed, “Hey, this is fun!”

All of the soldiers below were whooping and clapping, cheering me on.  I kicked out extra far from the wall and rebounded with a smile plastered on my face.  It was over way too quick.  I turned to the Drill Instructor at the bottom of the tower and pleaded, “Can I do it again?”

I felt a true sense of accomplishment after completing that near insurmountable task.  Fear of the unknown can be disabling if you allow it to overcome you.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to stop thinking and just start doing.  Since that moment in Basic Training I have never allowed fear to overcome me again.  Anytime I begin to feel that crippling dread, I remember going over the ledge of Victory Tower.  I did it.  Once you’ve crossed the edge it’s easy.  All life has its rough spots.  You get through it, and go on living.  You can’t live on the edge.  But you can go over it and get through it.

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Flood Party (Gotham Assignment #5)

It is a surreal experience to watch helplessly as a river slowly rises encroaching upon your home.  That’s exactly what happened to us in 1998, one of the wettest years on record for South Texas.  The ground was still saturated from the rain that originated from Tropical Storm Charlie in late August.  The humidity was as thick as pancake syrup.  As soon as you left the indoor air conditioning you immediately became a perspiring mess.  To make matters worse, we lived out in the country where swarms of mosquitoes would also be outside to greet you, the little vampires sucking your blood leaving itchy red bumps irritating your already aggravated mood in the sultry, stifling thick atmosphere.  We lived in a lower lying area surrounded by hulking old oak trees that blocked the wind thus exacerbating the problem.

In late October, a hybrid storm system developed dumping torrential rains over South Texas.  Widespread deadly flooding occurred.  The network news showed constant updates about the major rivers’ movements.  The most damage originated from the Guadalupe river which runs through San Antonio, passing through many smaller towns in its route to the Gulf of Mexico.  Meanwhile, our little river, the Tres Palacios, was no making the news reports.  But that didn’t stop it from swelling over its banks in a slow, constant rise.  In the past we had watched the river engulf the houses that sat on stilts beside it.  That was a common occurrence after long, hard rains and a known hazard when you coincided next to the river.

We were surprised to see its continued swelling though.  When the river waters began to touch the road in front of our house, a sense of foreboding overcame us.  The water had never gone this far before.  My husband had been through a flash flood when he was younger.  He could still vividly remember having to wade out of his home in muddy water fleeing for safety beside angry floating fire ant beds and writhing snakes.  He didn’t want a repeat performance so we packed some bags with enough clothes to last a week and drove our children to Grandma’s house for safekeeping on higher ground.  We then went back to pack other items that we didn’t want to lose.  Picture albums, irreplaceable mementos and other valuables were gathered with trepidation.

My brother-in-law, James arrived with his girlfriend and offers of assistance.  When they walked up the steps of our porch I tried to lighten the somber scene by offering them some cold beer, “Hey y’all!  Welcome to our flood party!”  Chuckles and jokes about impending doom sprang forth as we surveyed our drenched property.

“We came dressed ready for ya to put us to work,” said James, pointing to their boots.  “You trying to make some kind of fashion statement there?” James laughed at me because I was wearing boots with shorts and a tank top.  He was of the opinion that you only wear boots with jeans.

“Hey, it’s hot here.  I would prefer to keep my body cool rather than look cool.”

“Obviously,” James snickered.

They helped us carry our belongings as we all slogged through the rain soaked, muddy back yard to our truck.  We had to park it on the road behind our house now because the river had already swallowed the road in front, and that included our driveway.

We prepared the inside of our house for the possibility of flooding.  By now the rain had stopped and the sun was out but the river still steadily inched toward our house.  Once we had completed our tasks, we took a break outside on our front deck.  The river was now in our front yard only a few feet away from us.  We attempted to squelch our anticipation and dread with another beer.

My husband put his arm around my shoulder and gently brushed a wet tendril of curly red hair from my face.  I looked up at him and smiled, patting his chest with my hand, “Well, hey Babe, we always said we’d like to live right on the river.  Now we do!”  I’d rather laugh than cry.

We clinked beers as he grinned and replied, “I’ll drink to that.”

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(For this assignment we were supposed to write a non-fiction piece about something that made the news and how it affected us by bringing our mental photograph of the moment to words.  I had to think hard to find where something newsworthy actually touched me in such a way that I could bring it to life and more than just a few sentences! ) 

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Down the Dark Road, Part 2

If you haven’t read the 1st part of this fiction story yet, you should page down and check it out.  Due to popular demand, I have written some more.  And as a happy birthday present to my Mom (Happy Birthday Mom!)

here it goes:

Loretta sucked in a deep breath with fear and tightened her grip on Mick.  He simply cursed and banged the flashlight on his leg.  Their truck’s headlights were pointed in the other direction and were no help in seeing into the empty darkness ahead of them.  They had left their doors open and Loretta could still hear the soft waves of the song playing on the radio in their truck.  Eerily, the music playing was the Eagles classic, “One of these nights…I swear I’m gonna find ya…get’cha baby one of these nights…”

Loretta’s flesh immediately goose pimpled and it wasn’t from the outdoor temperature.  She forgot about the music when she heard a snarling growl emanate from the darkness.  Mick cursed again and banged the flashlight so hard that it left a painful knot on his leg.  It flickered back on at that moment and the couple found themselves staring into the glowing, glaring eyes of an unknown creature.  It looked almost like a cross between a wolf, coyote and a hairless cat.  It hunched its back up as it struggled to  maintain its posture on all four ugly legs.  It snarled at the shocked couple revealing a mouthful of sharp teeth reminiscent of an angry wolf.

“What the hell is that thing?”  Loretta said in a shaky voice.

“I can’t tell.  It looks like it has the mange all over its body.  I haven’t ever seen anything like it before,” said Mick.  “Maybe it’s one of those ‘chupacabra’ things?”

“Normally, I’d say that’s nonsense, Mick.  But I read an article in the newspaper the other day that said some of the neighboring farmers have been finding their livestock dead…they couldn’t explain it because all of the blood was drained from the animals, but they were otherwise in tact.  Some of ’em were saying a chupacabra was the only animal known to do that.  Other than vampires anyways.”

Whatever it was, the animal, while definitely angry, also seemed fearful of the humans.  There was something about the creature that was sad.  Even Mick, a seasoned hunter,  felt a pang of pity for it.  At least he felt sorry for it until it lunged at him, slobber flying from its snarling mouth.  It was so lightening fast that it took Mick off guard a moment.  Before he realized it, the animal had its mouth around his forearm.  From that point on, Mick saw everything as if in slow motion.  He could hear Loretta screaming while at the same time the painful bite caused him to drop his flashlight.  He also knew he needed the light to shoot and kill the animal before it did any more damage. The sharp crack of his pistol echoed into the night.

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Writing in 2014

To jump start this year off on a hopeful whim, I decided to take an online writing course.  This way, I don’t have to actually leave the house (since I’ve become a major hermit) but maybe with the classroom format  and having to turn in assignments I will start writing again.  I allowed my inner critic (the bitch) to talk me out of writing for the last half of 2013.  I’ve been following the Gotham newsletters via email for awhile.  They have great information for writer wanna-be’s.  If I lived in New York City, I would actually go take some of their classes, but since that is not an option I thought the online version would be a good way for me to get some professional criticism and help.  A kind of Christmas present to myself.  And as such, I am going to share some of my writing assignments on my blog.  Feel free to criticize as feedback can be constructive.

I’m having a hard time concentrating right now because, of course, when I sit down at the computer to write that is when others in the household decide it would be a good time to sit down near me and converse.  Go figure.

I turned in our 1st writing assignment today.  The assignments are supposed to be kept under 750 words which is about 3 pages typed, double-spaced.  And is very hard for me because once I get going, I have a lot to write about.  Revise and edit are the challenges I struggle with to keep the assignment under the limit.  The 1st assignment was to start with this title:  The Window.  Then write something, anything, to go along with it.  The subject matter immediately popped into my head; therefore, this one is not Fiction, but ‘Memoir’.  Please enjoy, and laugh at your heart’s content.

The Window

I was 23 years old before I realized that I was pronouncing the word ‘window’ incorrect.  In my defense, I have always had difficulty with vocal speech as I am tone deaf to my own voice.  I had to take Speech classes in Elementary School because of my inability to pronounce quite a few letters of the alphabet.  I can remember saying, “Free and three sound so much alike,” but what everyone heard me saying was, “Free and free…”  I had severe troubles with the ‘th’s, ‘sh’s and ‘r’s.  The speech classes corrected my pronunciation issues but I think my hillbilly accent made the teacher’s job a challenging one.  After a session with me, I imagine her beating her head against her desk and pulling her hair in frustration.  My tone deafness muddled the waters.

I can remember belting out gospel hymns with the heartfelt enthusiasm only a child can display at the small country Baptist church I attended every Sunday as a child.  I loved Jesus and wanted to glorify him.  When people turned to stare at me, I just thought they were thinking, “That little girl really has the spirit in her!”  Some time later, (after a few complaints, I’m sure) a Sunday School teacher informed me it would be a better idea to sing a little quieter so that God could hear everyone else singing too.  I overheard a mean little boy in the class whisper to his buddy, “And so we don’t have to hear her awful yowlin’!”  It hurt my feelings, but I didn’t let that bother me too much at the time.

The real heartbreak happened when the Music Teacher at the elementary school I attended picked every single person in our class to be in the ‘Choir‘ except for me and three little boys who would rather cause trouble than sing.  It would not have been so traumatic if she would have just taken me aside and whispered to me the truth.  I would have been okay with that.  But no, she had to make an obvious and ugly point in front of all of my friends.  What she did was have the entire music class of about 50-60 kids sing songs.  During the songs, she would pull a child aside that she deemed worthy to sing in her ‘Choir‘.  After singing five songs, there were only a few children left.  All three of us girls were looking like love starved orphans we were trying so hard.  We wanted to be in the ‘Choir‘ with all of our other girlfriends.  Throughout the whole ordeal the Music Teacher kept complaining, “I just can’t hear everyone properly,” while eyeballing me with a strange look.  I caught on.  I shut up and stopped singing in the middle of a song.  At the end of it the teacher exclaimed, “Great!  I could finally hear everyone,” as she told some more children to join the rest of the ‘Choir‘ group.  My friend Julie gave me a look of commiseration as she left me.  The teacher tortured us all with one more song so she could hand pick some more boys and then she simply disregarded the rest of us with a look of disgust before she began gushing with enthusiasm to all of her future ‘Choir‘ students about how much fun they were going to have.

That story is one of the main reasons why I refuse to sing accappella in church or any groups to this day.  Even when I just sing along for fun with the car radio my own children end up begging me to stop.  It’s not pretty.  But, I thought I was speaking concise.

That is, until one day when my young husband informed me otherwise.  We were having one of those domestic disagreements common to young married couples stressed by working full-time jobs and taking care of two toddlers and a home.  He was complaining about the fact that there were no clean glasses to get a drink of water out of while pointing out that I needed to do the dishes.  In turn, I was complaining that I might have done the dishes if it wasn’t for the fact that I had to go around all the rooms of the house picking up his dirty socks he kept leaving everywhere.  As a couple our chores were pretty much divided up by him being in charge of the outdoor things such as mowing and I did all the indoor cleaning.  I was griping about how much more work this entailed for me and said something to the effect of, “Just look out the window, that’s all you have to do!  Heck, I even need to wash the curtains on that window!”  After all my griping, the grudge he had evidently been holding on to for awhile came bursting forth.  He stormed over to the window and pointed at it while saying with charged vehemence, “Damn it Deana!  It’s a ‘WINDOW‘ not a ‘windell’!  Window, window, window!  Can you say that?  Geez.”

I stood in stunned silence.  I was totally shocked.  I had no idea I head been saying ‘windell’.  After a moment, in a quiet voice, I said, “window.”   He laughed and said, “Thank you!”

I was left to ponder about it inside my head.  It really is such a simple word with no excuse for pronouncing it wrong.  Why on earth had I been calling it a ‘windell’ all my life?  Where did that come from?  And was I destroying other innocent words unaware?

Still, to this day, I have to focus on the word to say it correct or will slide right back into my old habits.  Just a few months ago I was saying something to my oldest son about shutting the blinds on the window.  He looked at me and with a deadpan voice said, “Really Mom?  Windell?  Really?  It’s a window.”   He put a strong emphasis on the end of the word.  It’s been over a decade since his Daddy died but I could hear him plain as day inside my head saying, “Damn it Deana!  It’s a WINDOW!”

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