Writing Project

What happens when life pauses?

It had been a long, hard day. The kids were finally fed, bathed, asleep. She was tired. The kids wore her out; she prayed for patience. Prayed all day and night. When the kids cried, she prayed. When the bills couldn’t get paid, she prayed. When his raise still had not come though, she prayed. Every time she grew weary of praying, grew tired of seemingly unanswered prayers, she prayed. For faith. For strength. For comfort.
She lay there like she did ever night after reading too long. Tonight was Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The green library book was aged, binding loose with several pages taped back together. She held the book with affection, read each work with tenderness, turned each page with care. Her eyes soaked in every word. Too soon was it midnight, and she tore herself away. No tooth-brushing tonight.
She lay on top of the blanket and sheets. It was another humid summer night. The fan hummed lazily on medium, moving hot air over her body. She wore a thin tank top and no bottoms. She lay on her bed, her heavy eyes closing quickly. She dreamed of him. Him coming home. Him holding her. His touch.
Her eyes opened; she heard something. She lay still. It sounded like footsteps. Sandals sliding on the carpet. Rounding the corner from the living room (her heart pounded) coming in her room. Stopping. Probably her young daughter; she opened her eyes. The door was still closed. Maybe she was just hearing things.
Slipping into a doze she felt it. Her sixth sense awakened her. A strange presence close by. Peaceful. Someone standing beside the bed, leaning over to look at her. The heaviness was almost palpable. She dared not open her eyes.
"Lord? Is that you?"

Cheap motel on a forgotten street. Dingy, dirty rooms. Threadbare greenish carpet surrounding one twin bed. Blanket thin, no sheets, distorted mattress. One window, with a peeling sill and cloudy view of the load street outside. Plaid curtains she quickly pulls together. The room stinks of mold, urine and neglect. The walls are yellowish with years of smoky air. One tattered night stand holding one rotary beige phone. Probably doesn’t work. She doesn’t belong here, but she sits. She has no choice. No chance.
She lays still. Turning, she looks at the gray door with it’s two locks. Dirty doorknob, dirt-encrusted peephole. Dirty life. She doesn’t hear the commotion outside, who knows what that could be. She hears her pleas to get up, get out, go back. Just open the door. Just walk. Just go. No consequences, nothing said.
She imagines her hand on the doorknob, turning it slowly. Imagines the foggy city air as she steps outside and peers around. Imagines the dirty people sitting on dirty steps, talking about dirty things while their dirty children play. She imagines walking, step after step. Just one at a time. Back to where she came from. Before.... this.
He moves her, and that is her only movement. Her face pressed into the pillow, she coughs into the moldiness. It smells like dying. She turns her head to the side, her eyes watering. She stays still, now facing a yellowish wall. Flat, ugly, unimportant. Unseen but not overlooked. She is still.
Done. Irreparable. Yelling, slapping. Stinging pain. The door slams shut. Alone. She opens her eyes and curls her naked body into itself. She cries silently. Through her tears she sees two crumpled twenties sitting on the dirty night stand. Dirty money. Dirty deed. Dirty new beginning.

***Notes From Self***
Back when I was applying for scholarships and stuff one sponsor wanted me to write a short essay about something, only it couldn't be more than 300 words. Well, a 300 word limit is hard for me. I was like, that's just kind of pausing in the middle of a story! So then I thought, what if you could pause time and then go from person to person and see what they are doing at that moment? That was kind of the theme. Crazy I know.

Another Writing I Found Today

Just when you think you’ve put everything behind you, that you’ve effectively buried your past under heaps of dirt and concrete, something happens that reminds you that your past is still there, right behind you, under every step you take and shaping every decision you make. For some those reminders come once in a while, others more regularly. For others, like me, it happens daily, my past baring its teeth and swiping its claws at my happiness. No specific thing sets it off. You can be standing there and suddenly you smell a certain smell, hear a certain phrase. You’re caught off guard and BAM! The past pulls you back into its clutches and you have to fight with everything you have to come out on top again.
Sometimes I get tired of fighting it. Is it a sin to sit back for a few moments and relive your past, savoring old tastes, relishing old emotions? Imagining, just for a moment, that your husband is one of your past lovers? That you have no children? No responsibilities?

Scholarship Essay

Here's an essay I wrote for a scholarship I applied for.

How My World Would Be Different If I Didn't Have A Computer

A day in my life without the invention of the modern computer would be pretty boring. I would wake up around 7 a.m. and go for my usual morning walk. I would return home and shower, dress and make coffee. I would then check the mail, throwing out the junk. Upon opening my bank statement, I would find that two checks bounced last week, and I have been charged $50. Without my computer, I didn't catch my mistake in time to instantly transfer some of my savings to my checking to avoid the fees. I am angry.
After checking the mail and calling the bank, I would sit in my recliner and try to call my husband, who is in the military and stationed over seas. As usual, there is no answer. Is he okay? I haven't heard from him in a week or so. Without the computer, the leader of our support group cannot email us wives and tell us that our husband are in special training, where phones are not allowed. Instead, she must call every wife on her list of 135, which takes time that she has little of.
My day continues, and I trek to the library to borrow their word processor so that I can type my scholarship essay. When I finish and bring it home I discover a few spelling errors and, frustrated, I have to return to the library tomorrow.
I finish the day with my evening bike ride, only to be drenched in the pouring rain that, five miles from home, snuck up on me. Fancy my not having a computer to check the weather forecast in my area.
Now I'm in bed with a cold, detailing plans to invent the first computer!

The Long Walk On Short Pier

I'll probably get some flack for this, but oh well.
As my faithful readers know by now, I became pregnant with Lily via artificial insemination by a race of supernatural beings looking for something to do one February night in 2001. Or something along those lines.
Since then, I have bounced back and forth between sympathy and disdain for the sperm donor. Call me crazy, but I thought he'd come back and want to be a decent part of her life when he was ready. When he got another girl pregnant and left her, my eyes began to open. Now that he's left a third baby behind, my cloudy vision is gone.
It has taken me 6 years, many tears, a new and wonderful relationship, several false starts, numerous endings, endless prayers, days of Scripture reading, and several great friends and family members to strengthen me enough so that I can say:
I'm tired of being torn, mistreated, cursed at, coerced, lied to, defeated, and scared.
We have a family, we have a life. We don't need you.
God has a plan for you, but it doesn't involve us.
Through God I am strong. I can end this.
There is a site called PostSecret. It started as one man's community art project and grew into a multinational phenomenon. He set out hundreds of blank postcards all over his town and invited passersby to take one, decorate one side with their darkest secret and mail it to him anonymously. So here is my PostSecret, going in the mail tomorrow.

Short Trip To Heaven

"I want to see heaven."
"Well, when you get older God will take you to heaven."
"I don't want to wait until I am OLD. I want to go now."
"God gets to decide when you go to heaven, Lily. Not me."
"Mom? How do you get to heaven?"
"You go to heaven when you die."
"Can you kill me so I can go to heaven and see it?"
"Um, no."
"But why?"
"Because the Bible says you can't kill anyone, and if I do I will go to jail and you will be gone forever."
"No I won't! I'll be right back! I just want to see it for a minute!"
"Lily, when you die you can't come back to life. You stay dead and you stay in heaven."
"No Lily. It's just one of those things."
--sigh, ho hum--
Caleb: "Mom?"
"Are you gonna kill Sissy?"


History Lesson

Apparently Lily has been learning about Martin Luther King this week.
In Wal-Mart yesterday she overheard on a television something about MLK, to which she very loudly remarked:
Oy vie.
Needless to say, we made the quickest exit from a Wal-Mart on record.
This incident reminds me of the time I went to my cousin Lauren's house. She has a wall decorated with her daughter's school work. They had been learning the letter K at some point, as depicted by an artwork that proclaimed:
Love those preschoolers.

Waddle Waddle, Quack Quack

Driving aimlessly around town the other afternoon I decided to take the children to the Kiwanis park ("But there aren't any Kiwanis there," as Lily would have you know). Upon parking and opening the car door, we were swarmed by ducks looking for a handout. My kids FREAKED.
"AHHHH! Mom! They're gonna EAT ME!!"
"Make them go away!"
"Ewww, they're UGLY Mom!"
I tried to explain to them that if they would just walk towards them, the ducks would back away. They didn't believe me. Finally I coaxed Lily out of the car and she ran to the playground unharmed. Caleb I had to drag out of the car and plop him in the middle of the ducks, who fled. He stopped crying and watched them run away.
"See, I told you they would go away."
"But they were gonna eat me."
So he goes and plays on the playground for a little while, and I call them back to go home. Of course the ducks are back, preventing the kids from getting to the car.
"Mom!! They're gonna eat me again!!"
"No they're not! Remember? They're gonna run away!"
"No they won't!!"
Lily gets brave and tries to catch a duck, who waddles away. She gets into the car. Caleb is still mortified.
"Caleb! They won't hurt you! They're just ducks!!"
He starts crying again, so I walk through the parted sea of ducks and retrieve my son from the alien ultra scary man-eating ducks.
Now, if they were geese I would have kept driving, but I think they migrate or something. But these ducks have grown up in the park, therefore I knew they weren't going to hurt the kids. Besides, if they did charge or whatever they do, one swift kick would have gotten them away.
I found this episode funny. Lily did too, after a while. Mimi did not. Caleb has forgotten the whole incident and will probably grow up to write a fabulous screenplay about man eating ducks that will make him a millionaire.

Driving Tips For You Idiots

1. If the speed limit in a school zone is 20 m.p.h., I'm going 20 m.p.h.!! Quit honking at me because you're running late!!
2. At a four way stop, the person who gets there first goes first. If two people get there at the same time, the person on the right goes first. If four people arrive at the same time, SOMEONE GO!! It doesn't matter who!! Quit playing chicken!!
3. Get off my bumper. It's really annoying and I WILL brake check you.
4. This is one for the stupids delivering children at the school. Don't walk out in front of a moving vehicle with two children!! I can't count the times an aid has done this and if I hadn't been watching... well, you can guess.
5. If you have your blinker on, please turn somewhere. Anywhere.
6. To the lady going 35 in her Hummer down the main strip: you paid $60K for all that horsepower, use it! Or are you trying to save on gas?
7. If I take longer than 0.2 seconds to gun the gas when the light turns green, don't honk at me or I'll just sit there and make you even more late.
8. If you have a super cool bass system, blare it in your driveway. It impedes my concentration, scares my kids and makes you look stupid.
9. Spinning hubcaps really bother me. I tend to stare at them instead of the road. Spin them in your driveway please.
10. Don't try to pass me when we are both turning left at the same intersection. That's stupid and dangerous.


Those Genes Look Good On You! 3

My dad grew up on a dairy farm in northern Indiana. The area that his family hails from gets pretty freaking cold four months out of the year. I'm talking highs of 30 and lows of 10, with the snowfall levels about 50% more than the national average. Anyway, Dad and Grandpa have always regaled us kids with crazy stories about when they were growing up (remind me to tell you the one about blowing up the gopher hill with dynamite; oh, and the drunken parrot named Pete). Dad has also used these stories to remind us of how lucky we are compared to the hardships he grew up with ("When I was twelve I had to get up at the crack of dawn and break up the ice in the cow troughs with an ax! Now you stop complaining about the car not being warmed up enough to turn the heater on and SUCK IT UP!!").
One of the many stories he told was about a truck he or Grandpa had when he was a teenager that was quite particular about who drove it when and where. One thing this truck absolutely hated was being washed. An occasional rain storm was fine, but if you dared even one soapy drop on its fender, it wouldn't run for days.
I have hair like that.
Once when I was thirteen or so my mom tried to give me a perm. It stayed curly for a whole day and washed out the next. A couple of years later I tried out the big curl over your forehead 'do. It never worked. I either got this horn-ish monstrosity or a hair spray stuck blowout over my brow. The only thing my hair will do is be washed and be brushed. No fancy spritzers here, woman! How dare you!
Anyway, the other day I went and got my haircut. The hairdresser put a little mousse in my hair, blow dried it, and bam! I had, like, a hairdo. I thought cool! Now I can do my hair and show my husband that yes, there is a little bit of femininity left in his wife. So I went to Dollar General and bought a blow dryer, a round brush and some mousse. The next day, I took a shower and recreated the steps I saw the hairdresser perform. Do you know what I got?
Super duper volume. Like, the bottom of my hair sat a full three inches away from my back. Too much mousse? I don't know. But I was tired of fumbling with the blow dryer and trying to brush/curl the ends of my hair at the same time, because everything goes backwards in a mirror and I'd burned myself too many times for it to be funny anymore.
Stupid truck hair.


New Year's Eve 2008

Booze at the liquor store: $58.72

Margarita glasses: $24.99

Bag of ice: $1.92

Having to go to bed at one a.m. because you're getting too old for this s#it: priceless