Little Obsessions

Little obsessions run in my family.... kids can't stop talking about snow (and it looks like yet another storm has missed us!)
Little obsessions run in my family…. my kids can’t stop talking about snow (and it looks like yet another storm has missed us!)

Have you ever been fixated on something and you can’t stop even when good sense dictates you should let it go?

Oh. Maybe it’s just me.

On Sunday night, I noticed that some of the shaped poetry on my blog isn’t displaying properly now. I haven’t changed themes, and at one time, the formatting was fine. It was eleven o’clock at night when I ventured into the WordPress themes. I previewed no less than thirty themes and found a reason to not use each of them. By the time 2:30am rolled around, I resorted to keeping my same theme and just replaced the text of the most messed up poem with an image so it would display properly.

What happened here is classic “me.” Something gets stuck in my brain and I obsess over it, analyze it and basically over-think it until I end up doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is a decision, but other times it’s simply sticking with what I know because I’m unsure about what I don’t know. Too often I fall back on clinging to the familiar.

There are occasions when the obsession does turn to action, though. Like when I eat one Reese’s peanut butter cup and save the other one for later. “Later” turns out being ten minutes of non-stop thinking about how yummy that chocolate and peanut butter would taste. I won’t mention what happens when I have Oreo cookies or chocolate-covered cherries in the house…

In retrospect, I realize staying up that late and beginning the work week on three hours of sleep wasn’t smart. It’s probably no coincidence that I’m now fighting off a cold and sinus infection. I’d like to say I’ve learned my lesson, but I know it’s just a matter of time before the next little obsession worms its way into my consciousness.

I was all set to end this post, when an envelope scribbled with my messy writing caught my eye.

She carries more baggage than an airport carousel.

One thing they taught me was that my affections are currency to be bought, sold or bartered

Beneath the envelope I found a folded paper with a forgotten young adult story idea. It began, “Marty Hines used to be the most popular girl in school. Now, she’s the prettiest has-been in juvi.” I don’t normally write YA, so I set this aside several months ago.

I discovered yet another partially-written story. I had a vague recollection of it as I skimmed the text, some of which I couldn’t read. Have I mentioned my handwriting is horrible? I paused at these lines: I was his ego trip. I brought him the adoration he could get from a puppy, except I was potty trained. 

I can’t say why these thoughts were tossed aside to gather dust. Something about timing, I think. Perhaps in all this randomness hides a glimmer of my next obsession.

I’ll know if I’m frantically typing at midnight, paying no mind to the passing of time or loss of sleep.

Afraid of the Dark

Scary, those things that lurk in the dark...
Scary, those things cloaked in darkness…

I don’t dwell in dark places.

What lurks in the recesses,

the lonely parts

of my mind, frightens

me more than monsters

haunting stuffed closets and

dusty under-beds.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

Inspiration:  I wrote this recently while struggling with the sadness that settles over me at times.  I didn’t have a reason to be anything other than content, which is why this recurring ‘darkness’ gets to me.  I don’t understand it, can’t explain it, and never know how long it will last, which is why I fear it.  I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled to find a monster in the closet, but at least I can comprehend that… and would have a chance to beat it into submission :)

I hope you have a beautiful Monday.  I’m glad you stopped by today!

Holiday Survival Discovery: They Don’t Call Me Bonnie (And I Don’t Know Clyde)

12-10 Lights

Last year, my older son had a sometimes job of exercising an elderly lady’s dog. She had been ill, so it’d been over a week since the dog had been walked. One Sunday, Sarah* called. (Coincidentally, this was the day following the lice debacle and the kids decided the day must begin for me after a mere four hours of sleep.)  She asked if I could run some errands for her because her helper didn’t show up. I told her I could.

We arrived half an hour later, as she requested. On her counter, she had a list of items she needed. She crossed off paper towel. She read through the list again and crossed off a couple more items. I saw orange marmalade and water and asked her if she had brands she preferred. “You don’t need to worry about that stuff,” she said as she crossed those items off as well.  “I just need a couple things to get me through the holidays.”

“Okay. Which things do you need?”

“I need a carton of cigarettes.”

“All right.”

“And a bottle of LTD.”

I had no idea what that was, until she opened her cabinet and pulled out a nearly-empty bottle of Canadian whiskey.

I smiled and stifled a laugh. Cigarettes and whiskey to get through the holidays. Maybe I should try that!

She handed me her car keys, but I insisted on using my own car. Then she handed me her bank card. “Are you comfortable with using this?”

I hesitated. “Um. Okay.” What I meant to say was, Are you crazy? Of course I’m not okay with it!

“I’ve never had an issue with it before. I have plenty of bucks in the bank,” she assured.

“Um, okay.”

I drove to the place she told me to get the cigarettes.  What if she’s setting me up and she reported this card stolen? I shrugged the nagging thought off and chalked it up to writing too much fiction.

I handed the gal behind the counter the empty cigarette pack. “I need a carton of these, please.” I’m sure I didn’t ask  like a smoker would. She set the carton on the counter and I handed her the card. Please don’t ask for ID. If she asks for ID, do I run or try to explain why I have a bank card that wasn’t mine?

She didn’t ask for ID. I returned her wish for a Merry Christmas and breathed a sigh of relief, still unable to believe a carton of cigarettes was nearly $57 dollars.

Next, I pulled into the parking lot of the liquor store she said to go to. I wonder if LTD is a secret code for something illegal? Again, I shook off the worries and blamed it on watching too much crime TV.

I don’t drink (except for Lipton on the rocks) so I stepped inside and marveled at the sheer number of bottles. I found the bottle I’d snapped a photo of. Mission almost accomplished. I wondered if I was tempting fate and jail time by using this card a second time.

Again, as I checked out, they didn’t ask for ID. As I drove back to her house, another worry crept into my mind. What if this was a test? She might ask me to score some medical marijuana next time.

Oh no, there wouldn’t be a next time. She’d have to wait for her helper.

The constant worry confirmed what I always knew: I was not cut out for a life of crime (or using someone else’s bank card with permission.) But I did walk away with a new bit of wisdom imparted by our elderly acquaintance. If the holidays get too much, I now know that whiskey and cigarettes can get me through!

*Name changed to protect the wise :)

Do you have any secrets (legal or not) for making it through the holidays?  I love this time of year, so I don’t usually get too stressed… but it doesn’t hurt to keep ideas on hand!

Burned (Fiction)

scroll down to the inspiration notes for a link to the photo that REALLY inspired this story :)
scroll down to the inspiration notes for a link to the photo that REALLY inspired this story :)

I leaned on the rickety horse fence an’ stared at the only standing wall of my home. My gaze settled on the sheer fabric flappin’ in the wind. Mama helped me sew them curtains when I got married an’ moved here with Roy fourteen years ago.

“I been sayin’ that one of these gosh darn days you’d burn the place down. Well, ya’ finally gone and done it,” Gertie said with arms folded across her ample chest. Her already thin lips pressed into an even thinner line.

I knowed Gertie ever since we was knee high to a grasshopper.  She meant well, but bein’ two years older, she tried to be the boss of me. She shoulda asked Roy- I don’t need nobody to be my boss.

“So what was it this time?” Gertie asked. “Lamp tipped over? Quilt caught fire after burnin’ loose thread? Log rolled outta the fireplace and caught yer rug on fire?”

Me an’ fire went back a long way. I useta steal papa’s flint and would spark grass after school. No amounta Gertie’s scolding could make me stop. Like men at a saloon on Saturday night, my relationship with fire tended to get outta hand an’ somethin’ always got burned. “No. Not any those things,” I mumbled.

“You gonna make me pull it outta ya? What happened?”

“Stove burnt up.”

She furrowed her brow. “Stove burnt up? How in the-” She paused and took a deep breath. “Even fer you, that’s a stretch. How in tarnation could ya’ burn up somethin’ that’s supposed to hold fire?”

“My potholder caught fire gettin’ biscuits.”

“And Roy couldn’t snuff it out?” Gertie threw me a skeptical look.

I focused on the billowing white cloth, rather than Gertie’s scrutiny. “It burnt too fast. No way he coulda stopped it.” On account of I’d already knocked him upside the head with my cast iron skillet an’ threw lard on the flames. I didn’t say that part, though.

“How come you got out an’ he didn’t”

I sighed. “I dunno”. I din’t wanna say no more, but my tongue kept goin’. “Maybe ‘cause I wasn’t hung over after boozin’ all night and rompin’ with Angie Flowers.”

Gertie gasped. “Roy wouldn’t do that. Mighta been a dim-witted fool, but no man could be that daft.”

“Ernie was.”

Gertie’s eyes narrowed. “I oughta slap yer smart mouth!”

“Just statin’ fact. Yer husband was a daft fool, indeed.” I nudged her elbow. “Why else would Ernie dally with her an’ leave you waitin’ alone?”

Gertie let out a sigh and a wistful smile played on her lips. “S’pose so. Prob’ly got what he deserved with that plow, ya’ know.”

I smiled. ‘S’pose he did.” I’d never tell it wasn’t no accident.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

Inspiration:  The photo at the beginning of this story wasn’t actually what inspired this story - this one was.  Writing a story for Emilio’s photo was kind of a side challenge, and I’m all for anything that distracts me from what I should be working on.  Squirrel!!

Seriously, though, this was a nice break from some other projects, but it’s back to work now.  Oh- if you are feeling the stress of the holidays, I’m going to share the secret to surviving in my next post.  I discovered this “secret” last Christmas from an elderly woman who lives in town.  I hope you’ll stop by and check it out :)

The First Supper (fiction) & Emilio Pasquale Photo

Photo courtesy of Emilio Pasquale (click photo to view his site)
Photo courtesy of Emilio Pasquale (click photo to view his site)

Mackenzie Walters stood in the center of the large ballroom, soaking in the rays streaming in from the windows that made up the better part of three walls. For several minutes, she stood, transfixed by the lush gardens surrounding the banquet hall. The resort had touted itself as an oasis in the desert and she had to agree – nowhere else in Phoenix could she be transported to the tropics. She almost forgot it hadn’t rained in fifty-three days.

“Are you okay, Mackie?”

She glanced over her shoulder and saw her best friend, Heather, lingering in the doorway. She shrugged. “Yeah, I think so.” She turned to a nearby table and tugged at one of the white napkins to give it a taller peak. A flicker of memory made her smile; something her mom would say about busy hands and idle minds.

“I’m not so sure.”

“I appreciate your concern, but this is exactly what I want to do.”

“I think you’re in shock,” Heather said. “I mean, your parents died only four weeks ago and immediately you started planning this extravaganza.” She made a sweeping motion with her left arm.

Mackenzie nodded. “Yeah, there wasn’t much time to pull it together, but I think the place looks nice.”

“It should, for what you’re paying for it.”

She closed her eyes and inhaled. “Do you smell that?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “It’s chicken piccata, pasta and fresh green beans, but it might as well be filet mignon and caviar.” She nudged a glass to line it up with the knife at another place setting. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.”

Continue reading