I was nominated for the the Black Cat Blue Sea award by Luisa Zambrotta. Thank you for the nomination!
What is the Black Cat Blue Sea Award?
This award is for bloggers who strive to write for everybody, and no matter how many viewers they get, make an impact on a reader. This award is an expression of gratitude to the nominee. It should be awarded to anybody that you choose deserves it, and it doesn’t mean that they must have hundreds of followers and likes.
Anybody nominated can nominate up to eight other bloggers.
The nominee answers three questions posed by the nominator
The questions you ask while nominating can be any three questions
If any of the questions asked are offensive or the nominee simply does not want to answer, the nominee does not have to answer them to earn the award
1.If you could use only three adjective to describe yourself, which ones would you choose? This is tough, but the three I would use to describe myself are: motivated, intelligent, and soft-hearted.
2. What inspires you to write? I have written since I was in fifth grade, so about age ten. I’ve given up on it from time to time to focus on “real life”, but I always go back to it.
Ursula sped down the highway in her beat-up hatchback with a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel. “God, those things are hideous! Where did they come from? How did they….”
“Not important right now,” Greg answered curtly. “Their Queen is dead. Without her, their numbers can only dwindle. We need to keep them from getting their hands on this one. I know a safe place we can go. Once we get there, I can answer all your questions. Or you can just leave, and you’ll never see either of us again.”
“Is that thing still alive? Why don’t we just kill it, too? Who cares if I never see you again? I’m going to be wondering about everyone I meet for the rest of my life! And about people I’ve already known for years!”
Greg sighed. “Because, for lack of a better term, you could say we’re vegetarians.”
“Wait….what do you mean ‘we’!?”
Greg shook his head. “Homo Sapiens are omnivores by nature, capable of surviving on a variety of diets. Like most predator species, they possess forward binocular vision as opposed to having their eyes on the sides of their heads like horses, cattle, or other prey species. Their digestive tract benefits from the ingestion of fruits and vegetables, but also excels at digesting the proteins and fats from other animals.
“Many humans decide to forego their ability to consume animal matter, despite having the biological capability to do so, out of the belief that it is not ethical to consume other animals.
“Now, consider Felis Domesticus, the common house cat. They do not possess such an adaptable digestive tract. They are obligate carnivores. They evolved to hunt, catch living prey, and eat it. If there is not sufficient animal protein in their diet, they will die. Perhaps it is a mercy that no feline species evolved self-awareness and sapience the way humans did. If such a being ever felt guilt over their consumption of other animals, they would have to live with such guilt. Or die from it.
“Miss Thelstein, my people are not obligate carnivores. We are obligate parasites. And the universe is cruel enough that we evolved to be intelligent enough to empathize with the suffering and pain we cause to our host organisms. But we cannot survive without those hosts.
“Those of us that feel this empathy are a minority. A hunted and persecuted political faction among our species. The others happily invade and infest the human race with no reluctance other than being cautious enough not to get caught.
“But now that faction has lost their brood-queen. Their time is over. When they realize this, they will seek revenge. I must keep my Queen safe until their death throes are spent.
“No. Not dead. Dormant. In stasis. I won’t wake her until a suitable host is found. And she would not find you suitable. For ethical reasons.
“The body I inhabit had already been taken by one of those who did not feel empathy towards our hosts. When I destroyed him, the central nervous system of the host was too ravaged to survive without continued connection to one of our kind. It was too late for me to help him, so I took the body. Not ideal, but I can inhabit this body without violating our code.
“Violent criminals. Those of your species who do deliberate harm to others. If we are obligated to be parasites, we can at least take the ones you would be better off without. No, it’s still not consent. But they don’t get that from their victims either. It’s as ethical as we are capable of being in order to survive. It will have to be enough.”
The third installment of a short story my husband wrote for Halloween. You can catch up with Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
The Matriarch – Part 3
“Easy, Number Nine. Mr. Allen gets the point.”
Greg coughed as his airway opened, and he massaged the bruises Nine had left on his neck.
“It would inconvenient for us to find someone else for this task,” said shark-boy. “Your background has allowed you an unusual degree of independence, but any further flippancy will not be tolerated. We can find someone else, if necessary.” The shark-grin became a frown. “You will do this task for us. And you will not survive failure.”
Well, thought Greg, that’s that, then.
He took a deep breath, bit his tooth until he felt a break in the surface, and let out a long exhale as though he were sighing. He’d just killed them all, even if it would be hours until they realized it.
“I submit, Great One. How exactly can I serve you?”
Shark-boy, unaware of his now-inescapable death, went back to grinning.
“We believe we’d found the upstart rival queen that disappeared thirty years ago. She’s been in stasis all this time. Revive her. Earn her trust by helping her find a new host, and she’ll think you’re one of hers. The upstarts will flock to her, and you will destroy them one by one.”
Ursula screamed as Dr. Allen crouched over the prone body of the Director and tore off the Director’s shirt. Then her eyes widened and her scream died as Dr. Allen clutched an elongated worm-like creature and peeled it off the Director’s spine.
Her breath came in shallow bursts as Ursula stared in disbelief at the hideous creature in Dr. Allen’s hands. She couldn’t help but notice the horrifying similarity to the unknown specimen in the cylinder.
Dr. Allen dropped the worm on the floor, then crunched the eyeless head under the heel of his shoe with a nauseating squelch. Yellow ichor covered his shoe and pant leg and dripped from his fingers where he’d gripped it.
He looked at Ursula. “Your Director was under that thing’s control for weeks. This whole Special Exhibit idea was part of its plan. You’re not one of them, but I don’t know how many of your coworkers are. You are in danger. We need to get out, and if we run across anyone else, let me do the talking.”
Ursula blinked, flared her nostrils, and held up a finger. She turned and grabbed a wastebasket just in time to not get any vomit on her clothes or shoes.
“Okay,” she said, her brain spinning as she tried to come to grips with truth of the ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’.
Dr. Allen strode over to the other specimen, the one still in the glass cylinder floating in a clear liquid, and picked it up. “All right. Follow me.”
WEDNESDAY, 3:30 AM
Greg took his temperature. Ninety-eight-point-seven degrees Fahrenheit. The fever had broken. He felt tired and dehydrated, but his bio-enhancements had helped him to survive the virus. That was a relief. He’d had this body for a long time, and it wouldn’t be easy to replace if it died. Not with all the enhancements he’d made to it since its acquisition.
It had originally been host to one of the Great Queen’s prime offspring. Shortly after helping his own Queen-Matriarch enter bio-stasis and go into hiding, he’d begun working out how to steal the body and masquerade as an agent of the Great Queen.
Once he’d gotten the body, he’d waited patiently for a chance to act. Now it was time.
Shark-boy, Number Nine, and the others would be dead by now. After the limo driver had collapsed, Greg (he’d gotten used to thinking of himself as the name of this host body) had broken the window to the front area and taken the wheel. He’d driven the limo into a ditch and covered it with brush and branches to hide it as well as he could while his body’s boosted immunity fought the virus.
By the time the Great One and her Primes managed to disengage from their dying hosts, it would be too late. There were no other suitable hosts for miles, and they could only survive a few minutes without a host.
It would be hours before the Great Queen’s other agents began to suspect something was wrong. Until then he would continue to pretend to be one of hers and recover his own Queen-Matriarch.
Part 2 of my husband’s short story. You can catch up with Part 1 here.
The Matriarch – Part 2
Behind her pursed lips, Ursula’s teeth clenched together as she turned the glass cylinder over in her hands. The elongated grey, many-segmented worm-like creature that floated in the yellowish liquid was not something she recognized, but then she’d only been researching parasites since the unwelcome task of dredging them up from archival storage had fallen on her lap.
The parasite made her skin crawl. It would be perfect for the special exhibit. But the glass cylinder was unlabelled. She’d have to do some digging to find out what it was a specimen of and then get some brain-bleach to make her nightmares go away. Still, it was exactly the kind of repulsive-but-facinating thing that the Museum Director wanted for the exhibit.
She began shuffling through the faded, crumpled newspapers in the box the glass cylinder had been packed in. Maybe the specimen label had come loose.
“Miss Thelstein?” Ursula looked up from the box and cursed under her breath at the sound of the Director’s voice. “Are you in here?”
“Over here,” she said.
“Right this way.” The Director’s only sounded like that when he was talking to someone important. Like a donor.
Ursula heard two sets of footsteps making their way down along the disorganized aisles of shelves, crates, boxes, and display cases that sat in the sub-basement archives.
As they came around the corner, Ursula nodded in greeting to the salt-and-pepper haired Director, and a russet-haired fellow with the ugliest pair of horn-rimmed glasses ever made and an expression that warned his sense of humor had been surgically removed. Before she could say anything, the Director’s eyes lit up and a smile curved the left side of his mouth.
“Well, now,” he cooed. “That’s certainly an interesting specimen! Looks like something out of a horror movie. Are there any more like that?”
Ursula blinked at the strange conversation. “Not that I’ve found yet. Besides this one, just some tapeworms and African earwigs. Creepy, yes, but not enough to make a full special exhibit out of.” Ursula figured besides the real specimens, he’d also want full-color displays illustrating their life-cycles and how they infected their host organisms. That would go a long way towards making the exhibit complete. But she didn’t make the suggestion for fear of being put in charge of it.
The stranger spoke. It sounded to Ursula as though he was having difficulty unclenching his teeth. “Where did you….find that?”
The Director beamed at him, then back at Ursula, then at the stranger again. “I’m terribly sorry. I haven’t made introductions. “Miss Thelstein, this is….Doctor…Greg Allen. He’s a…” The Director hesitated.
“A Veterinary Parasitologist,” said Dr. Allen. His tone suggested that the words left a nauseating taste in his mouth.
“Yes!” The Director seemed oddly delighted. “And this is Miss Ursula Thelstein, one of the archivists from our research department and Ad Hoc Display Coordinator for the upcoming Special Exhibit!”
Ursula gave a pained-but-polite smile. “Ad Hoc” was Latin for “this title comes with neither a promotion nor a raise.”
“And to what do I owe the pleasure of Dr. Allen’s visit?” she asked.
THURSDAY NIGHT, PREVIOUS
The boy’s shark-grin instantly turned to a frown. “There are troublesome elements I need dealt with.”
Greg made a slight tilt of his head toward Baldy. “Isn’t that what he’s for?”
The boy’s grin returned. “There are times to use a wrecking ball and times to use a set of lockpicks. I want them all rounded up before they realize we’re onto them. That calls for quiet footsteps and quick hands.”
“Quiet footsteps and quick hands?” Greg pursed his lips. “It sounds like you want someone in better shape than me. Some shadowy ninja-type guy.” He managed to keep a straight face.
“I have plenty of those.” The boy flicked his wrist.
Greg pondered the timing of the limo’s arrival minutes after his tire blew out. If he was ever able to return to his car, he was positive any trace of a sniper’s bullet would’ve already been long removed.
“Sounds like you’re all set. Thanks for the lift, and you can drop me off right…” Greg’s words cut off as a muscular hand suddenly squeezing his larynx.
“You,” scowled the granite-slab voice, “will show respect.”
Dr. Allen pointed to the odd specimen-without-a-label that the Museum Director was so excited about. “I’m here for that, actually. Where did you get that? Do you know what it is?”
Ursula shrugged. “A few decades ago, the State University apparently donated a box from their Bio department to the museum. Looks like it got shelved in the archives and forgotten about before anyone got around to cataloguing it.”
Ursula thought that odd. She’d had heard that museums in London had an enormous backlog in their archives yet to catalogue and were still finding treasures from ancient Egypt that British archaeologists had brought home with them in the nineteenth century. But that didn’t make sense here. It wasn’t that big of a box, and it’s not like this museum had ever been overwhelmed by a sudden influx of inventory that it couldn’t be catalogued in less than a day.
Dr. Allen turned to the Director. “Thank you. I’ll take it from here.”
“Are you sure you don’t need my help?” The Director’s eyes flicked from the specimen, to Dr. Allen, then to Ursula.
“No,” said Dr. Allen more curtly than Ursula expected. “I’m sure you’re very busy. I’ll help Miss…Thelstein?…with the…star…of the exhibit.”
Ursula was getting an odd feeling about all this. All alone in the museum sub-basement with a stranger?
“Oh, I’m certainly not too busy.” The Director smiled. “I think it would be best if I….”
The Director’s sentence was cut off as Dr. Allen swept behind him and gripped the base of the Director’s neck and struck him with the other hand in the kidneys.
My husband wrote a longer short story to celebrate Halloween, and I am very happy to share it here! It’s a longer story, so I will be putting it up in parts over the next few days. I hope you enjoy!
The Matriarch – Part 1
Ursula finished cataloging the contents of the box, closed the lid, and placed it back on the dusty shelf where it had sat for who-knows-how-many years before she’d opened it.
“12 specimens of Taenia solium, common tapeworm, each preserved individually in glass jars of formaldehyde. Labels faded but legible,” she dutifully recorded her notes in the museum archives inventory.
Popular exhibits like dinosaurs and mummies brought the public into the museum and hopefully, to help the museum make ends meet, the gift shop as well. A special exhibit on Parasitology? You don’t help anyone’s budget crunch by driving off the public with disgust.
But Halloween was approaching and the Director, thinking to play on the fascination some people had with “creepy crawly” or “gross” things, had decided to try something other than the safe option of promoting the mummies again.
The Curator had delegated the task to of putting together the special exhibit, and Ursula had drawn the short straw.
Now tapeworms that had been floating in preservative for twenty-plus years were going to get their day in the spotlight. Along with a plethora of other horrifying creatures in jars that she’d come across in inventory.
To the accompaniment of the sub-basement archives’ flicking fluorescent lighting, Ursula took a sip from the now-cold mocha cappuccino that she really shouldn’t have splurged on and questioned her life choices.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT, PREVIOUS
Greg’s body felt tired and achy, but his hands continued to grip the cold metal tire iron, slippery from the night’s rain, as he struggled to loosen the lug nuts of the blown-out rear passenger-side tire of his grey sedan.
He looked up at the approaching sound of a running engine and tires on wet highway pavement, then held up his hand, trying to shield against the headlights. The other driver had their high-beams on.
A black limousine. The high-beams dropped to regular headlights and it slowed to a stop next to his sedan. The sound of splattering raindrops was punctuated by the opening of a car door. Across the roof of the limousine, Greg watched as a thickset, bald man in a dark suit rose and fixed eyes like steel on him.
“Mr. Greg Allen.” It wasn’t a question. Greg’s heart quickened. The wet tire-iron in his hand was an option, but the bald man was likely carrying far-less-polite hardware.
“My employer would like to speak with you.” The bald man’s voice was like a slab of granite. You couldn’t argue with it.
In the back of the limousine, the sound of rain splattering on pavement was replaced with drops muffled by the luxurious upholstery. Greg was seated next to the bald man who continued to look as though he was trying to crush Greg’s skull with the power of scowling. Across from them sat a grey-haired woman in sensible shoes that matched her tight bun, and a sandy-haired boy who looked about ten-years-old wearing a perfectly tailored Armani suit.
The boy’s smile reminded Greg of a shark.
“Nasty rain,” the boy said. “Isn’t it lucky for you we came along to give you a ride, Mr. Allen?”
Greg’s tongue gingerly flicked against his upper-right bicuspid as the rainy countryside passed the heavily tinted windows. The weaponized strain of enterovirus inside the hollow tooth had been engineered to have a limited duration once the seal was broken. If he bit down and exhaled, it was likely that the deadly pathogen would be inert by the time anyone found the bodies.
Still, Greg was hesitant to field test his own enhanced immune system against this particular strain. Things weren’t that desperate yet.
“Thank you,” Greg said, trying to keep sarcasm out of his voice. “I don’t suppose there’s some way I might repay you?”
So, when we were at Home Depot of all places, and that come out of my daughter’s mouth, I knew I was really in trouble.
What had caught her attention? An eleven foot dragon. Yeah, she’s totally my kid.
I have to admit, she has good taste. But it looked HUGE in Home Depot. I couldn’t imagine how big it would be on our suburban front lawn.
Of course, she reminds me that we have no other decorations. Which, she’s not wrong. I don’t suppose the three little pumpkin walkway lights really count. I love watching the kids dress up at Halloween, but I hate anything macabre. You can keep your ghosts, skeletons and dead brides, thank you very much!
But she’s now at the age where she really wants to decorate for the holidays. Unlike my husband and I who were known to go without even a Christmas tree before we had kids.
I told her I’d think about it, hoping she’d forget. Of course she didn’t forget, and she reminded me about it for the next two weeks.
So, we went back to get the eleven foot dragon. When we got to Home Depot, the thing was sold out. Even the floor model was gone. This was back at the end of September, and I was shocked. A quick search with my phone showed no other Home Depots with guaranteed stock in the area. But I could still get it online.
So, I assuage my daughter’s crushing disappointment that she isn’t getting it that day with the fact that it will arrive in three to five days and we probably wouldn’t have had time to put it up that weekend anyway. She trudges back to the car, but at least I got her out of the store without a scene. There’s more than one reason why I do so much shopping online!.
The dragon arrived, my husband put it up for her, and she is now totally excited. So excited, in fact, that when she and her sister saw the dragon deflated the next morning on the way to school, they both were super insistent that I needed to “fix” the dragon.
Raising a pair of dragon lovers. Couldn’t be more proud!
Do you decorate for Halloween? If so, do you go all out, or were you like us with our three little pumpkins? Any of your neighbors go all out? What’s the best or worst display you’ve seen?
While I prefer Twitter over Facebook these days as it seems less political, every once in a while some meme or another crops up that makes me say something.
Truly, I do try to avoid politics, but this wasn’t even about politics. Someone chose to post a meme they thought was funny.
I will not repost it here as I find it repugnant. But you’ve seen the meme before. It basically shows a conventionally beautiful female with the caption: girls I want to date. Then it shows another girl, usually fat, that says: girls that want to date me. Then, the poster laments why he doesn’t have a significant other.
The only amusing part of this was when someone snagged the picture of the girl he said wanted to date him, and replied back that no, in fact, she didn’t want to date him, either.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably understand. You get that the above meme reduces women to an object, a trophy. This is not romantic or endearing, despite what some might thing.
See, the thing is, the person posting the meme believes he deserves a conventionally pretty significant other. He is owed this.
Here’s the thing, though. The person that posted that meme has already told me a couple of things about himself.
He must not be conventionally attractive himself. I’ve seen the guys at Gold’s gym. They never seem to have a dearth of conventionally pretty women to date.
He’s shallow. I think this speaks for itself.
He’s probably a jerk. Why do I say this? Because he’s objectifying women. Demanding something as his right when he has no right. I instantly wonder what else he things he’s entitled to that he doesn’t think he should have to work to get.
He probably won’t care about my needs. If someone must meet a certain mark of physical beauty to even consider dating, I doubt he’ll be there when the chips are down.
To me, the kind of person that feels okay posting this meme is illustrating his blatant entitlement. This is one of the seeds of rape culture in America today. Too many people think they are owed access to another human being’s body, time, and affections. That this is their entitlement for simply living, rather than something they need to be worthy of, something they need to earn.
I posted a while back that there’s a lot you can learn by reading in romance novels even if they aren’t your favorite genre. Sure, you’ll find doctors, dukes, and billionaires in them. You’ll also find school teachers, detectives, and bar owners.
Some of the key things you’ll find regardless of the male lead’s profession is that he cares about the heroine, wants her to be happy, and sees to her pleasure as well as his. He falls in love with her for who she is, even if that means she’s got kids from another marriage, is going through a messy divorce, or is not conventionally beautiful.
My in-laws have been married fifty-one years. Neither of them look like they did when they got married, but they’re still together. Because they built the bonds talked about in a romance novel, not the ones based on looking hot in string bikini.
I’ve learned my lesson on waiting until the last minute to get Halloween costumes. Don’t do it. Start early. Get what they want.
Sure, they might change their mind as you get closer to the day, but that’s when you can point to their closet of dress-up clothes and the costume you bought and say choose.
We went to a super hero birthday party earlier this summer, and DD1 loved her Super Girl costume. I was hoping this meant Halloween was going to be a slam dunk this year. I figured I’d get her some blue leggings to go underneath the skirt, and some long underwear to wear under the costume and the leggings and we’d be set.
So, I broach the subject with her, thinking this was going to be an easy Halloween.
She says she likes her Super Girl costume, but she really wants to be Zelda from the game she plays with DH. Specifically, she wants to be the Zelda in the blue dress. I figure this is a new and very popular game, how hard this can be.
I can hear you laughing harder. Stop it.
I head over to Amazon, and while there are so many Link costumes out there that you can’t count them all, there are NO Zelda costumes. Not in the blue dress she wears at the castle. Not the blue riding outfit she wears through most of the story cut scenes. Not the white ceremonial dress that she wears as her kingdom is destroyed.
None of them.
Okay, Amazon failed me. That never happens. But there are other places.
I check Target, Costume Express, Walmart, Halloween Costumes.
I delve deeper into the depths of the internet, going to places like CJCosplay and Miccostumes. While I can find the adult version of the Zelda costume, I can find nothing for little girls.
I go back to DD and ask her if she’d be willing to go as Zelda dressed in Link’s champion’s tunic. She can pretend to be the hero saving link. No, she doesn’t want to look like a boy.
Grating at the social pressure my daughter’s already succumbed to, I go back to looking.
I check eBay and Etsy. Nothing.
I even send a message to several of the sellers who have the adult women’s costume, but none of them can help me with a kid’s size.
Finally, we turn to my crafty sister who can actually sew. Not my hack job of using some stitch witchery, but I mean really sew. And well. She even had a side business making vintage doll fashion reproductions before her work hours made it impossible to continue.
That outfit up there, she actually made out of some kind of silk. That she lined and did finishing stitches and a bunch of stuff I don’t understand. You know where ALLthe crafty went in our family.
Anyway, we show her pictures of the Zelda outfits from the game. After studying them, my sister says the trim will be the hardest part, but even that won’t be bad if we can find a pattern. We head out to Joann to see if we can find a pattern.
After pouring through every pattern book in the store, we find nothing even close. My sister says she could make a pattern for it. It’ll be harder and take longer, but if her niece really wants it, she’ll do it.
Of course her niece really wants it, so we start looking for fabric. This store is huge, and there’s not a bolt of fabric in it that’s even close to the blue Zelda’s wearing.
Resigned, my sister says we might be able to find the fabric on eBay.
At this point, I tell her it’s okay, DD1 will just have to go as something else.
DD1 and I had the “no breath of the wild costume” talk. There were tears, and she was very upset. I even offered to buy her the Elsa costume from the Disney Store, but she wasn’t having it.
Later in the week, DH broke out our ancient Wii and brought out Zelda Twilight Princess. While Zelda isn’t much in that story, DD1 approaches me the next morning. She asks if she can go as the Zelda from Twilight Princess. She says she’d be willing to go this route so she can still be Zelda. Her tenacity will serve her well in the future. Her tenacity will serve her well in the future. Her tenacity (yeah, I keep telling myself this, hoping it’ll make me feel better!).
I sit her down and we look for a costume together, so she can see what’s out there. Not much.
A seller on Etsy has one that’s okay, and there’s a really pitiful looking one with reviews that include the dress tearing in a single wear from several Amazon reviewers.
I can’t find anything else in a child’s size anywhere.
DD1 is upset. She says it’s not fair how many Link costumes there are. Why aren’t there any Zelda ones.
I have no idea.
If Disney can go from Cinderella to Merida and Elsa, why can’t Nintendo give us more Zelda like from Smash Brothers and the corresponding merchandise?
Hey Nintendo, look! Here! I want to give you money.
Now make a game with Zelda as the hero and a costume to go with!
How about you? Your child ever want to be something for Halloween you just couldn’t do? How did they take the disappointment? How did you deal with it, other than trying to bribe the company to make one?
I’m supposed to be a writer, yet I have no words for what’s happened in Las Vegas. No words to describe the horror of it, the senselessness, the depravity of hurting or killing so many innocent people.
I can’t imagine the horror for the people that went out to enjoy a concert and didn’t come home. The pain of the families that lost mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to such senseless violence. The long road of healing ahead, both physically and mentally, for the people who were injured.
I don’t have words for any of it, and maybe there are no words.
This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to rehash any of the finger-pointing going on right now. It doesn’t bring back the people who died in the worst mass shooting in American history. And it doesn’t bring us together as a nation.
Interesting to note that while many of us were extremely sad and upset, no one I know was surprised. For me, Sandyhook was the final numbing agent. Each person has had their own, but at no point did I hear surprise from others or feel it myself.
After I learned the news, I took a few minutes to grieve. I tried really hard not to cry at work when I over heard others discussing what had happened and popped open Google news to see what it was.
Yeah, I’m a corporate cog, but even cogs can cry while we try really hard not to put ourselves in the people’s places who lost a friend or loved one. Or the children who lost a parent. Or the place of someone who lived while the person next to them died.
And that’s it. I turned off the news. It wasn’t trying to inform me anymore. It was trying to elicit an emotional response and a page click. To keep me invested even though there really is nothing more to tell the general public.
I wish I’d done the same thing with news about the hurricanes. I did do it with the news coming out of Puerto Rico.
No, I’m not heartless, but I have no control over any of these things. I did what I could and donated to the American Red Cross through a charitable drive at work. That’s really all I can do. I have neither the skills to help nor the power to do more.
So, yes, I turned it off. I only have so much to give before I’m emotionally empty. I need to save my reserves for things I can impact. My children. My spouse. My family. My community. My writing.
Maybe this is selfish, maybe this is just self-protection. I’m not sure anymore. But I have noticed I need to do it more and more often. And when I do, I’ve discovered I’m happier, less stressed, and more creative. Not sure if it’s right or wrong, but for me, it’s what I need to do to keep my sanity.
How about you? How do you handle the constant bombardment of the news cycle? Do you just turn it off? If not, how do you cope with the stress and helplessness?
Be careful what you wish for because sometimes the sounds of silence are deafening.
I have mentioned it a couple of times in the past how my oldest child corners me in the car and peppers me with questions. Some of them very difficult. Sometimes I dreaded the ride.
Since she started kindergarten this year, that car ride has been reduced from approximately 10 minutes to less than one. I now drop her off with a woman very near us who watches kids in the morning before they head off to school.
At first, I thought this would give me some time with my youngest. A few minutes in the morning for us to bond. She’s more reserved than her sister, and sometimes this can mean her sister overshadows her. However, my youngest daughter is NOT a morning person.
So, while the occasional squirrel gathering nuts, dog being walked, or goose parade gets a comment, most mornings it’s just quiet. I’ll ask her questions, try to sing to her, and all I get is either a grumpy grunt or, “Walk away, momma!” That is her general response for leave me the heck alone, and is said in an angry, crabby toddler voice.
So, I let her have her quiet time.
Maybe once I get used to this, I can use the time to think through plots, characters, and story arcs. Or maybe I’ll use it as time to plan my day. Or maybe I’ll follow her lead and just use it as time to wake up.
Life so seldom works out the way you think it will. Who knew I’d miss questions about how big the earth is, why is the south pole colder than the north pole, and why boys don’t say excuse me when they fart?
But I do.
Kids are amazing, wonderful, horrible creatures that consume your writing time and make you worry. They are expensive and infuriating. And they’ll make your heart melt when they give you a card out of the blue telling you how much they love you.
It’s a wild ride, tumultuous and full of the unexpected. Like missing fifty questions in the morning.
How about you? Ever gotten an unexpected break from something and found you missed it more than you thought you would? Or maybe you think I’m crazy, and you were totally relieved to get a few minutes of peace?