29 May 2008

That makes ME sick

I think I'm gonna cry...

I woke up last night (this morning) at around 4 to the sounds of vomit - you can't mistake that wonderful sound, can you? Coming out of my stupor (hush, y'all), I register sloppy, splashing sounds of something hitting the flat water of the toilet...

Stepping into the hall, I realized one of my daughters had just spray painted the antique linoleum of the hallway with gut gravy... and I was standing smack dab in it.

Long story short - Jack had gotten sick last night and she couldn't keep it in on the long trek from bed to bath. She left a slimy trail behind her.

I spent the next hour giving her a bath and removing the trail of sludge - which literally started from her bedroom door and ended as an explosion around the toilet.

I have a weak stomach.

Where is that 'every other' parent when you need 'em?

So, we get back to 'normal.'  I put her on the couch next(er) to the bathroom with a trash can at her side; give her a cold, wet washcloth for her tum-tum and a glass of water... then I head off to bed and into fitful dreams of her eating year-old chicken noodle soup which she had hidden under her bed for later - hence the sickness.

I got up this morning and pushed the button on my brandy-like-new coffee pot... and went in to take a shower. My design was to come out, clean as a whistle (wit-woo) and enjoy a nice cuppa with a towel piled on my head.

No such luck.

My brandy-like-new coffee pot isn't registering it has any water. It be broke... like my heart.

...

28 May 2008

Oh, Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

I see from the responses to MEN!!, I once again successfully confused the issue to the point where no one understands what I'm trying to say...

So, I should just get over it, but I have to say a few more things first. Then I'll shut up (for a bit anyway).

1. If you like looking at the female form, good for you and bless your heart - I think maybe you should keep your tongue in your mouth and your thoughts to yourself, however.

2. If you have a problem seeing two round masses of flesh encasing fat cells in the same vicinity and at the same time functioning in society - I think maybe you'd be better off staying home a lot more... maybe get a subscription to one of the Playboy Channels, or something...

3. If you think that girl dressed up so she could be leched and groped by your eyes - you may be correct... but I think maybe you should try to see life from her perspective... and maybe, just maybe she dressed like that for her guy. I'm not saying every girl who wears a bikini to the beach is looking to be leched at, I'm saying maybe one or two are looking to be appreciated by their beau... or maybe they just want to swim.

4. I'm not disagreeing with you some chicks dress like that for shock and lech value... and when that's the case they shouldn't be surprised when they get a reaction. But, I'm also not saying every man is a lecher...

There. I said what I had to say. No need to call for me to cut off my boobies. I like them just fine, and, I like being appreciated - more for my brain than my boobs, but, hey, I'll get it where I can.

Put your tongue back in your mouth and enjoy the view.

...

23 May 2008

Happy Decoration Day Weekend

From Wikipedia.com:

Memorial Day is a
United States Federal Holiday observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it was expanded to include those who died in any war or military action.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, and don't forget to honor the soldiers of the past by thanking the soldiers of your now (and future).

Enjoy & In Joy
S

22 May 2008

Men!!

What is it with men? I apologize to the 2% of you who don't fit in to this particular category, but OMG!! Siera's father is in his late 40s or early 50s... and he marries a malignant tumor in her twenties. What could they possibly have to talk about? I mean, besides the obvious - what position she takes... and I'm not talking politics.

As I drove down a very congested major city street yesterday, I kept thinking, "What the heck is going on?" The two vehicles in front of me in the left lane were doing about 20 in a 45 mph zone. I couldn't see any obstructions in front of them - no cause for defensive driving nor concern... then I noticed what, or rather, who was driving in the right lane. There were, oh I'd guess seven or eight Harleys, riding somewhat tandem - two in a row, four thick. Behind each Harley Dude sat a chick - oh, I'd say early 20s, if that - dressed in barely nothing. Quite beautiful by every means - not merely striking at all!

Then it dawned on me. The guy (looked to be about 60) in the PU in front of me was driving with his head practically stuck out the passenger-side window, tongue dragging on the ground. As was the derelict in front of him.

OMG!!!

How old do you have to be before you stop making a complete and total asinine fool of yourself over a bodacious babe on the back of some dude's bike??? In what world would this 'fine young thing' find you remotely more attractive than the dude whose biceps she's grasping?

So, while you're having fantasies I don't even want to think about, you're holding up traffic so you can get some eye candy??? What??? Grow the F up, already. If you looked at your old lady the way you ogle that child, you'd have a much happier marriage, you idiot.

GROW UP! OMG!!

Is that ALL men (and I use the term lightly) ever think about? Can't they think about driving while behind the wheel, and working while at work, etc.?

If a UPS guy walks in the door of an office full of women, dressed in the shorts and sportin' some nice biceps and tidy thighs, most women will look up and appreciate what they see and sign for the dang package (the one he's holding in his hands, sicko)... but switch genders in the roles, and you have a whole group of males jockeying for position, tongues hanging out like a bunch of wild dogs. I just don't get it.  If it weren’t so sad, it'd be funny.

Boys will be boys, they say - but it really is disturbing to think if that's all old boys can think about, why the hell aren't all positions of power held by women?

'Scuze me. I have to go throw up now.

Enjoy & In Joy

21 May 2008

Thought For The Day

Almost everyone likes to feel useful...
..
However, no one likes to feel used.
.
Enjoy & In Joy
S

16 May 2008

Helloooo???

I'm still waiting for Ed Begley, Jr. and the DIY &/or HGTV network(s) to contact me concerning my "Green Me, Green My Home" idea. Just thought you'd like to know (you can read about it in a previous post, if you don't know to what I'm referring.).
.
Ed, you can just comment on this blog and leave your phone number. I'll have my people call your people. Ciao!
.
In Joy & Enjoy
S

76 Trumbones...

MSN.com has plethora information at your fingertips... literally. I just read my spices lose their strength and flavor (shelf life) after about six months. Crap! Salt's another story, however. Lot's wife can, and will, be around for eternity, sitting right next to Honey - which, according to MSN.com, never spoils. Things you didn't know you didn't know.

Jo had a band concert last night. She plays the trombone - not the trumbone (as that one person calls it). I suppose that's a half trombone - half trumpet - which I don't believe exists, but as you all know and have told me many times - I'm ignorant.

She had previously signed me up, oh, around Christmas concert time, to play a song with the other parents in this concert. She told me about it, but that was ages ago. You can't expect me to remember something which happened five months ago, can you? You can? Oh...

So, they called the parents on stage and we played "Hot Cross Buns" for the amusement of the other parents who were smart enough or sly enough to dodge that particular bullet. There were seven of us in all... and one brave grandma. (I know I'm a grandma, but I was playing for my daughter, not my Knickerless. Don't be so picky.)

The instructor told us to sit in our child's chair, take their instrument and she'd have the entire band of children play the song twice, parents would play it once, then we'd all play together. Four times in all.

She started the band a-playin'. I heard my daughter loud-whispering from the stage wings "MOM! Play!"

I looked around and saw the other parents (and grandma) don't listen very well, do they? They're all tooting along on their child's instrument. So, on the second play-through, I joined in and continue throughout. I thought I did a fine job.

The boy sitting next to me - another trombone said, "You suck."

I smiled, and said, "Makes you appreciate Jo's playing just that much more, huh?"

After the concert, we met in the band room where Jo informed her instructor I played the trombone 32 years ago, while a sophomore in high school.

I said, "Yeah, but after six months they asked me to please stop ...and put me on the bass clarinet."

"I can see why," Jo said. "You play too loud."

"Oh, is that a bad thing? I thought they asked me to stop because I made everyone else sound like amateurs."
.
I guess my shelf-life as a trombone player has expired. Water ya gonna do?
.
Enjoy & In Joy

15 May 2008

Don't they have a drug for that?

I read in the paper today... or was it yesterday? ...more than one half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems.

Let me be the first to congratulate all the pharmaceutical companies: You're almost there.

I remember about two years ago an inner-office memorandum of the largest pharmaceutical company leaked from under their child-proof cap. In it, the company bragged about their far-reaching, lucrative poisons... er, medications. They went on to say it was their goal every man, woman and child in America be on at least three prescription drugs by 2010. The kicker was they bragged about making one drug dependent on another.  (i.e., when you take prescription A for heart problems, it will cause diarrhea. Therefore, we offer prescription B for the diarrhea... unfortunately it may cause sleep disorders. But not to worry, we've come up with prescription C to combat the sleep disorders... just don't forget to pick up prescription D to deal with your gambling and sexual activities caused by prescription C, and you may want to ask your doctor about prescription E, as D causes...). And the beat goes on.

So, again. Congrats, legal drug pushers. You're almost there. You and the insurance companies make quite a team.

I wonder how my great-grandmother lived to be 102? oh, yeah. She refused to take any medicines for anything, save aspirin, and ate meat and potatoes every day of her life. Sure, her ankles were huge, but she was 'all there' until the day she died.

I heard on the news last night the preteens and teenagers are trying a 'new' way to get high. I guess they drink a bottle of Robitussin DM with tablets of Coricidin HBP Cough and Cold - both OTC medicines. Brilliant! I just came across a number of postings from college students who reported the effects and benefits of such practice. Bottom line - it's a cheap and easy high. One student reported feeling disoriented and 'out of control' with painful itching, hot flashes, vomiting, and lived in a 2D world for awhile, but, what the hell, she was willing to do it again. The doctor says it does the same as PCP to the brain and blood stream. He said it increases the heart rate to a dangerous level and causes hallucinations. It also causes irreparable kidney, liver and brain damage. Cool! It may kill you and definitely damages your brain, but, hey, it's only a brain. If you're thinking of poisoning yourself with this shit or any other kind of drug, you're really not using your brain for anything anyway. No great loss. Maybe you can successfully kill yourself before you can procreate.

Only in America are the pharmaceutical companies allowed to advertise prescriptions on TV and other media. Only in America are they allowed to practice such irresponsible and reckless behavior.

It wasn't very long ago the predecessors of our medical communities were handing out Opium and Laudanum, etc., to pregnant women, mothers, infants and children. They prescribed cigarettes to calm nerves, small doses of arsenic to calm stomach pains and variations of other lethal 'snake oils' to a trusting society.

I wonder what we'll know tomorrow about the poisons they vend today.

In Joy & Enjoy

13 May 2008

Date me!

Lookit what I found on MSN.com:

How to date a divorced man
By Chelsea Kaplan

If you've just begun dating a divorced man, you may soon realize the "regular" dating rules don't always apply. Whether it's due to encounters with his ex, issues concerning his children or heavier-than-average baggage, dating a divorced man can be especially challenging. For tips on how to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with a divorced man, heed the advice of Dr. Christie Hartman, author of Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He's Right for You.

(And, do you know what? I'll add a few tidbits in case you're planning on dating my X. Ooohh, this'll be fun!!)
.
Q: In which ways is dating a divorced man different than dating a man who has never been married?
.
A: Divorced men have more baggage than never-married men. (Not necessarily. Just how old is this 'man' and has he been living with his mother for the past 50 years? Think Norman Bates.) And while baggage doesn't have to be a negative thing, it does create more challenges you will need to be prepared for. (I'm sorry, I had to take out all them unnecessary 'that's. Please excuse the intrusion. You won't even miss them, I promise.)

Q: Tell us about the specific challenges…
(please)
.
A: Well, first and foremost, all divorced men have an ex-wife. (DUH!) Because marriage is such a serious commitment (should be, anyway), ex-wives tend to have more power than ex-girlfriends (NOT! especially while still married), even after the marriage ends. If they had kids together, she will always be in the picture (not always by her choice... no, really, feel free to keep me out of your relationship with him - just don't harm my children), feel protective toward her kids (DUH!), and feel she has certain privileges with him due to having had his children (Not on your life!). What's more, women without kids may be surprised by the amount of time and care children require (another DUH! but the extree time and care is allotted to the mom... me, in this case), which will influence the freedom the couple has (Wah, Ma-ma). Lastly, divorce can be financially devastating. On top of the actual divorce costs and having to split up all the family assets, divorced men may have child support or alimony obligations (Which he'll incessantly whine about to you even though he keeps more than 75% of his income for his little ol' self). These factors will influence his future - and his future with you (so you'd better have a really good paying job because the man is a skinflint and you won't even be able to attend the sticky theatre... um, dollar theatre? Discount theatre? You know, the one where you only have to pay a few buck to see the movie but the floor is always sticky from pop and candy - I hope - cuz they don't mop up... anyway, that one - he won't let you spend a few bucks on a movie... ever!).
.
Q: When dating a divorced man, is there anything in particular women should be wary of (you should be wary of ending your sentences in prepositions)?
.
A: Women should definitely be on the lookout for a guy who's not yet over his marriage (run, girls, don't walk). He'll talk excessively about the marriage, ex-wife, or divorce, frequently praise or badmouth his ex (badmouth, for sure), and spend more time with the ex than is necessary for children or polite friendship (not on your life - you're good to go there, but if he talks you into marrying him, the next item on his agenda is to take the kids away from me and make you a full time momma...What? He's too busy with work to be bothered taking care of his kids - that's why he wants to marry you.). It's OK if he displays these signs once in a while, but they should not occur frequently (define frequently... every day? Every other day?).
.
Q: In your opinion, are most divorced men looking for another long-term relationship?
.
A: Some divorced men, especially if the divorce is recent, may be more interested in having fun than in having a relationship (no, that happens with the other women/girls barely into puberty he befriends after he marries you). Unfortunately, they may not be aware of this, or if they are, they may not share it with you. Usually after being single for a couple of years (it's been more), the issues surrounding a man's divorce - and his grief about it - will resolve itself (yeah, once I die).
.
Q: When it comes to dating divorced men, are there definite don'ts?
.
A: Don't be afraid to ask questions. Find out if his divorce is final(yep), when he separated(Jan 2005), if he has children (two he claims - three he threw away), why his marriage ended (I think her name was Cheryl... or Elizabeth... or Dawn... or Kendra... Oh, I'm so confused), etc. Also, don't give too much too soon. Divorced men, especially if still divorcing or recently divorced, can be needy (watch it girls, he cries... a lot!). Never give more than you are getting. (Now that's funny!)
.
To read the other side of the story, "How to Date a Divorced Woman." read Chelsea Kaplan's blog, "I'm Somebody's Mother?" It can be found at www.chelseakaplan.com.

Okay - that may have been a little bitter... a tad childish, but hey - it was fun, wasn't it? Thanks for playing. See you in the funny papers.
.
Enjoy and In Joy
S

11 May 2008

Happy Mother's Day


I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations
Before I was a Mom
.
I had never been puked on; pooped on; chewed on; peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night long
Before I was a Mom

I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests, or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep
Before I was a Mom

I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom
Before I was a Mom
.
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy
Before I was a Mom
.
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every ten minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much
Before I was a Mom

Author Unknown

09 May 2008

Welfare... so easy a caveman...

Well, you know the rest. Sometimes I think the cavemen had it right. Get up. Club something on the head to eat. Watch the sun rise. Smell the flowers. Stay alive. Watch the sun set. Get up and do it all over again. (Sure, you stink, but have you ever walked on the sidewalk in downtown New York City? Gadzooks! I imagine it's pretty much the same smell in dem dere caves.)

Civilization!! Dot-de-da-DA! *trumpets blaring* (or trumbones, as my X would say). Now we have regulations, rules, laws, taxes, liabilities, standards, protocols, referendums, religions, anti-religions, sects, factions, guidelines, ...and, my personal favorite: policies to adhere. How many of you had any say in the writing/sanctioning of any 'have to' you have to do/be? (do be doo)

We are governed by idiots as to what is in fashion, and pretty much have to stick to it - albeit we can be 'so yesterday' if we shop at Goodwill, etc. - but unless you sew your own clothing and make your own footwear, you're pretty much falling in the fashion line dictated by bone-heads. Do you remember those jeans with the butt cheeks cut out? Yeah, I think they sucked, too, but they were all the rage for a bit in the... (?late 70s, early 80s?? Who can remember?) Not beautiful by any means...

We are governed by idiots as to who deserves to work and pay for them-fools-what-don't-want-to. I liked the email going around a few ago - why do employed citizens have to take drug tests when welfare recipients don't? 


Fine, Upstanding, Pay-Your-Own-Way Americans - I SALUTE YOU!!! You are the backbone of this country. Everyone else has lost their spines.

Hey, get out there and enjoy the sunset tonight... and club something on the head for dinner while you're at it, why don't you?

...

07 May 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down...

I pondered giving the little ones their umbrellas as it looked like rain outside this morning. It reminded me of an incident years ago involving my #3 daughter - who is now almost 21. Well, in reality, it involved all three older daughters. Allow me to reminisce:

I had just been married to my second ex - the absentee father of my two little ones still at home - and his father took the three older ones shopping. RUC#1 would have been... hold on while I do the math... about 8, placing Peanut in the 7 age category, and Peaches was 5.

The brandy new "Grandpa" came back from shopping overly impressed by Peaches' choice. He explained he had taken them to a store, and he told them all to go find something they wanted and he would purchase it for them. (They didn't know it was a test of their character - the first of many.)

I cannot remember what the older two picked, as they must not have picked 'the correct' things... but Peaches was hailed as 'the unselfish' one as she picked a child's umbrella. Grandpa tried to talk her into something less practical; more hedonistic (I guess), but Peaches stuck to her desire to have the small, 'Hello Kitty' umbrella. Grandpa left the store, seemingly impressed and continued to talk of the incident until his death about three years later (unrelated).

My children learned a hard lesson that day - a lesson I don't deem as a true or fair one, but a lesson in humility all the same:

Every episode in their lives from that day forward would be judged and labeled by that family - by every member of that family - for the rest of their lives.

Choosing something functional wasn't Peaches' plan. Impressing her new Grandpa wasn't even in the cards, but she drew the correct one and was labeled for life as THEE (only) 'unselfish child' of mine for all time - fit to be a 'true' Linhart. (I never passed that test - BTW)

I learned a lesson that day as well. I learned the real differences in Love - A parent's love, which is unconditional... and the fake "I approve of you as long as you act and do as I approve" love - which is what we all lived with for the past 15+ years.

Of all the experiences I've had in my life and shared with my kids, I wish I could have foreseen the effect of ex's 'approval love' on my children's lives. I wish I could have nipped it in the bud and instead taught him the true meaning of love.

Until I met his family, I never knew every episode in life; every choice you make; every word you say is a test to your character. I never knew that as a child choosing something off the shelf spoke directly to your worth.

Frailty, mistakes, learning, bad choices, redemption, forgiveness, humanity - all words inaccessible, and actions unforgivable by the ex and his family.

I didn't know most people were born perfect. Someday, I'll take Knickerless to the store and let him pick something off the shelves. The more hedonistic and useless, the better... and I will never make him feel bad about his choices.

I didn't give the little ones their umbrellas this morning. In fact, they rarely use them except to play. A little rain never hurt anyone.

The truth is I can't look at an umbrella without feeling a pang of shame and regret.

...

06 May 2008

Barbara

My cousin's wife died this morning after a lengthy and painful illness. I don't think she was quite 40. They didn't have any offspring, so he's basically alone in his grief. He has siblings and parents, and she did, too, but...

For the past fifteen years he's been the primary caregiver for his wife - she's had numerous strokes and other ailments. Toward the end, she could barely talk. She became almost child-like.

About three weeks ago, she entered the ICU. Yesterday or the day before, she was placed on a respirator. He had the sole responsibility of deciding whether or not she would or could remain there. It took him 24 hours to realize she'd already left; only her shell remained. Her heart stopped beating thirty minutes later.

Now comes the hardest part. Going home alone.

I cannot imagine what it'd feel like to have the one you love at your side 24/7, totally dependent on your care and love for over fifteen years ...

And then, not.

What does it feel like to walk alone into a home you've shared with someone for so long? How empty the halls must feel? How big the bed...  how loud the silent echoes...
How lonely and barren... and cold the rooms... and knowing the biggest part of what took up your life for the past fifteen years is gone. Just gone.

I know people who've been married for a substantial time feel the same in many respects, but to be the one who cleans, washes, combs, dresses, feeds... what do you do with your time, now? What busies your hands? What settles your mind when you start to think of all the 'should have dones' and 'could have dones' and 'maybes?' With whom do you quietly sit now? Now that your 'purpose' for living the past fifteen years is gone with that last beat of her heart?

I cannot imagine.
My heart is broken for him.
...

04 May 2008

The Burdens We Carry

(Reprinted from 2007 - back by popular demand)


Amy became aware she was no longer in her bed.
She stood on a plateau of grey nothingness. Around her were people of all different shapes and sizes, but all were charcoal grey from head to toe.
Even their clothing looked colorless.
She was taken in by the vastness of the plateau and the infinite number of people she witnessed.
Amy looked down at herself.
She, too, was the monochrome of the others; her skin as dull as the garment she wore.

The people looked ahead with anticipation on their faces. Amy's eyes followed theirs and feelings of wonder and hope overcame her when she saw a glow on the horizon. Her heart beat faster and she had the urge to run as fast as she could toward the source of the beacon.

Amy took a step forward and felt a heavy weight upon her back. She noticed when others took that first step forward a brightly colored bag appeared on their backs. The others grabbed the opening of the bag as it slung over their shoulders and trudged burdened but blissful toward the beautiful horizon.

"How can they walk with such pressure?" Amy thought. "I wonder what it is."
She removed the bag from her shoulder, pleased to see it was yellow. She always enjoyed the color yellow.

A golden cord kept the contents from spilling out, but Amy had no problems opening the bag. She peered inside and saw glowing bricks of gold. She picked one up. No, it wasn't real gold of earthly fame. It was just a heavy golden brick. And, man, it was a burdensome load.

Amy began to cry.

A man walking by was saddened by the sound.
"Please, Miss, don't cry. Is there anything I can do to help?"
"I don't know you, do I?" Amy said through her tears.
The man put down his brilliant blue bag and held out his hand.
"My name is Paul. Tell me, what can I do to help? You seem so lost and afraid."
"I am afraid. You see, I have all of these bricks to carry and I'm unsure if I can do it. I'm so afraid I won't make it. I feel so alone."
"Would it help if I carried that brick for you? Would that lessen your burden?"
"Yes, Paul, I think it may." Amy handed the brick to Paul and as their skin touched, a feeling of love and security washed over her. Her heart felt less heavy as Paul opened his bag and placed Amy's brick on the top.
As he closed the bag, Paul looked at Amy with love and gratitude.
"It pleases me to have helped you, Miss. Thank you for allowing it."
"Thank you, Paul," Amy said, as she picked up her own bag, flung it over her shoulder and started toward the light.

She had gone quite a bit when the bag felt more burdensome. She looked ahead at the light, which didn't seem to be getting any closer. She felt despair wash over her. Amy sat down and started crying once more.

An old lady passing by stopped and sat down next to Amy.
"My dear child, you look distraught. Please, tell me what's wrong."
"Oh, it's nothing. I don't mean to hold you up, Ma'am. Please, continue on your way."
"Friends call me Mabel. 'Cause it's my name, you see," said Mabel.  "Now you just wipe that pretty little face of yours and come out with it. I needed to sit a spell any old how."
Amy wiped her face with the back of her hand. She looked at the old woman sitting in front of her. Mabel wore deep caverns in her face from years of life and love. Her grey, watery eyes held a story of their own.
"It's just that I don't think I can make it. It feels so desperate and the way is so far. I want so much to continue, but it is too much."
"Oh, is that all?  Well, why didn't you say so?"  Mabel reached over and opened Amy's yellow bag. She took the top brick from Amy's bag and placed it into her own scarlet one.
"That should help," she said. And with a swift motion, Mabel swung her own bag onto her back and resumed her walk toward the horizon.
Amy stood and picked up her yellow bag, which was now considerably lighter. She thought she could make it. In fact, now she knew she could.

It wasn't long before Amy's bag began to dig into her back. She stopped walking at once and threw the bag down. How was she ever supposed to get to her goal if things kept happening to her? It made her really angry she had to deal with this. Why her? Nobody else looked like they were in pain. She looked around at the other souls making the way toward her goal - HER reward.
"IT'S NOT FAIR!" she screamed into the crowd. People stopped and gaped at her.
"DON'T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY!" she shouted. "YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO RIGHT TO WALK WITHOUT PAIN. LOOK AT ME. LOOK AT MY PAIN. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT, I TELL YOU! IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!"
A little boy held out his hand to Amy.
"Give me what causes you pain," he said. "I am young. I can handle it."
Amy was so angry she almost threw that brick at him, but in one deft movement, the boy caught the brick and tucked it neatly away in his purple bag and smiled.
"Thank you," he said as he continued on his way.

But Amy still steamed with anger. She wanted to punch someone. Anyone. Then she felt a warm hand upon her shoulder. Amy turned around.
A kindly old man stood with his hand outstretched.
"That much anger will make a soul sour. You need to relieve yourself of it. Come on, hand it over before your heart turns to stone and all hope is gone."
Amy dutifully grabbed the topmost brick and handed it to the man in silence. Her anger dissipated. Her heart felt light once more. The pain in her body disappeared. She was ready to continue on.

Amy picked up her bag and noticed there were only three bricks left. Her burden felt lighter, manageable even. She might be able to make it to her goal so very soon. She swung the bag on her back and practically skipped on her way, leaving other souls in her wake. But as she passed, she began to notice something strange. The people walking along beside her, the people she passed as she practically ran glowed with a soft yellow light. She looked down at her own skin. It answered back in monochrome.

Amy looked far ahead and saw the souls way up there almost beamed with golden light - much like that of the horizon. She stopped in her tracks. Maybe something was wrong. Maybe she should be turning golden, too. Maybe she'd walked too fast and hadn't given the light ahead a chance to soak through her skin.

"Is anything wrong?"
Amy turned to see a woman about her own age standing a few feet away.
"Um, no, I don't think so anyway. I was just... I was just thinking that maybe I should have walked slower. Maybe I didn't do this the right way. What do you think?"
The woman looked toward the golden horizon. Amy noticed a golden glow emitting from this woman's skin. She felt a pang of jealousy. The woman looked into Amy's eyes and smiled.
"I know what you're thinking," she said. "You have doubts about your trip; about your destination; about your origination. You also feel you should be this golden color; that you deserve to glow, too."
"How do you know that?" Amy asked.
"Because I feel that way, too. I have doubts and moments of jealousy. But, I think I've figured out a way to work through these thoughts." The woman held out her hand to Amy. "Please let me help you."

Amy reached in her bag and handed two bricks to her. Amy felt gratitude for this stranger who wanted to share her burden. After the woman placed Amy's bricks into her own green bag, Amy leaped forward and hugged the woman fiercely.
"Thank you ever so much. You have been such a blessing to me," Amy said.
"And, thank you, Amy. I've always been here to help you."
"How did you know my name?" Amy looked deep into the eyes of the woman standing before her and recognized her sister at once.
Her sister smiled and said, "Now, go. You have much ground to cover." She kissed Amy on the cheek.
Amy heart overflowed as she left her sister and took her yellow bag with only one brick and ran as fast as she could toward her goal. She passed people along the way who stood, crying about their own burdens. Amy felt no pity. She watched as others ran to these poor souls' sides to assist in their loads. Amy had no time for that. Her goal was so close.
So very, very close.

Amy came to a tower of golden beams - the most beautiful thing she ever saw. She wanted so much to enter. Then her heart lurched when she realized it held nothing of tangible substance. Only light.
She turned and looked out over the crowd of souls headed her way.

A man walked up beside her, his own bag brimming with burdens; his skin too brilliant to see. She watched as he opened his bag and poured grey sand on the ground. She saw him throw his orange bag far into the air. Amy sucked in her breath as the orange bag disappeared into the vastness above, and she covered her mouth in awe as the man disappeared into the golden tower - becoming one with the light of the goal.

Amy looked into her own bag. The brick inside continued to glow a bright golden. It had yet to turn to grey sand.

A woman beside Amy busily poured sand from her own bag.
"Excuse me." Amy cleared her throat and continued. "Please forgive, but do you know why I'm not golden? Why hasn't my brick turned to sand? What have I done wrong?"
"Oh, that's just silly. You can't do anything wrong, child," the woman said. "Here, let me see."
The woman looked into Amy's bag.  "Well, dear, wherever are your bricks?"
Amy pointed into the crowd. "I gave my bricks to them."
"Oh, I see. Paul has your FEAR. See, he's struggling under its weight... no, wait. See! He's overcome your FEAR." The woman sighed in relief.

Amy watched as Paul stood straighter and glowed brighter.
The woman looked around some more.
"There now, I see you've given your DESPAIR over to Mabel. What a wonderful woman she is, don't you think? Full of life and vigor... a real down-to-earth woman she is. Wait. I think your DESPAIR may have done her in... no. Great! WAY TO GO MABEL. KEEP ON TRUCKIN! See, my dear, nothing to fret. Mabel had her own despair to overcome first, and then she handled your DESPAIR with ease." The woman finished emptying her bag. She rolled it in a ball and prepared to toss it into the sky.

"No, wait, please." Amy started. She was mesmerized at the glow Mabel now emitted and wondered at the calm look on Mabel's face as she walked toward them.
"What dear?" The woman lowered her hands, still holding her bag.
"Please... more," was all Amy could muster. Her heart raced and she felt she may have made a big mistake.

"All right, then, if I have to show you from A to Zed - We all have our burdens to carry. To you, yours look worse than mine. But, look at that woman there." She pointed at a young woman walking toward the light. "Her burdens were the same as yours, but her FEAR, DESPAIR, ANGER... well, all of them actually, stemmed from cancer. Look at the little boy who took your PAIN. His burdens stemmed from child abuse by the people he loved."

Amy searched the crowd and found the boy on his back. His mouth opened in a silent scream. His eyes watered with tears and his body writhed in pain.
"Oh my God! No, I didn't mean... but he wanted it. He asked to take my pain. He THANKED me for it."
"Didn't they all? Just because one offers, dear, doesn't make it okay to burden others with your bricks. Now look at the old man to whom you unloaded your ANGER."
Amy had a difficult time taking her eyes from the little boy, who was now curled up in a ball and rocking back and forth on the grey, unforgiving ground.

She pulled her eyes away and searched the crowd for the old man. She not as much saw him as heard him. His angry voice carried over the crowd.
"GET OUT OF MY WAY, YOU IGNORANT FOOL! WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON'T AGREE WITH ME? HOW DARE YOU THINK YOU KNOW ANYTHING, YOU IGNORAMUS!?"

The man sat on his bag and shook his fists at others. Hatred blazed on his face. A small girl walked up to the old man and handed him a brick from her own bag. The old man stopped shouting, put the girl's brick into his bag and started walking toward them again.

"What just happened?" Amy asked.
"That young child gave the old man her LOVE. The only brick one should ever give away, because, you see - once you give it, another one replaces it in your bag. Look. See? You still have your LOVE, even though you gave it away."
Amy looked in to see the one remaining brick in her bag.
"But why is LOVE a burden?"
"Oh, my dear. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself."

Amy looked out across the crowd, searching for someone. Her eyes rested on a beautiful woman, about her own age, sitting on a bag, sobbing pitifully. Amy knew her sister struggled with DOUBT and JEALOUSY. She knew because she had burdened her with them.

Amy looked for the little boy. He stood where he once lie, weak and limp, but his skin glowed a little brighter and a smile crept onto his worn face.
Amy looked at her sister - the goal so close, but seemingly given up.

Amy looked at the woman beside her.
"But I didn't give it away. LOVE, that is."
"Why forever not, dear? It's the only burden you carry worth giving away." The old lady threw her bag into space and joined her light with the others. Amy stood alone. And, she felt more alone than she stood.

She looked into her bag. Her golden brick taunted her.
She peered out into the crowd. The boy had started walking. She ran to him.
"Hi, Lady," he said weakly. "What brings you back here?"

Amy took the brick out of her bag and handed it to the boy, whose face beamed brighter once the brick touched his skin. He placed the brick into his bag and wrapped his arms around Amy's neck.
"You are a kind and wonderful being," he said.
She didn't feel so kind and wonderful, but she hugged him back just the same.

She then ran to her sister.
Amy put her hand into her bag and pulled out another brick. The woman was right. It replaced itself. She handed the brick to her sister.
"I am sorry to have burdened you with my JEALOUSY and DOUBT."
Sis took the brick and smiled at Amy.
"Thank you, Amy. I was sitting here, feeling it was unfair you got to enter first, but now I see you deserve to go first. You are a wonderful and kind person. But, I doubt if I'll ever be good enough to enter."

Amy felt her bag. Sure enough, there was yet another brick in it as promised. She pulled it out and handed it to her sister, who took it. She noticed her sister's skin begin to glow a brighter golden. Then she noticed something else: Her own skin shone just as brightly.
Amy pulled her sister up and took her hand.

"Come on, Sis - Let's go there together."
...

02 May 2008

Short Story Friday

(Not For Kids)
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"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes, I've thought about it long and hard, young man. It's the right thing to do."  She opened the small drawer on the end-table next to the chair in which she sat and pulled out an envelope. "Five Million dollars, cashier's check, as discussed. I'm trusting you to get the job done in a timely manner. I want to be alive to see what my money can buy."

"Right thing to do? I've never heard it put that way before, but, if you're sure." The man folded the envelope and placed it in his inside jacket pocket. He looked hard at the ancient lady, noticing the string of pearls hanging from her frail neck. "You have the money. Everything's in order. Just..."

"Just what? You think I'm crazy, don't you? So do my children, so that's nothing new up my skirt." Her bright, watery eyes flashed at him.

"You told your children what you're wanting me to do!?" Alarm flashed through his heart. This could be a deal breaker. The less anyone knew the better.

"Heavens no, child. They think I'm crazy in general." The woman's laughter tinkled throughout her front room. It seemed to cascade off the crystal chandelier and back onto the beveled glass of the massive bay windows of the sitting room.

I'm beginning to agree with them, the man thought.

"I have to ask you... Why?"  He looked at her, wanting to understand. He'd been in this situation many times before. It was his occupation; his life. But why her? Why this old, silver-haired lady who seemed to have everything? She had all the money in the world, obviously she could afford it. And, he'd been lucky so far, but luck isn't guaranteed, and the prospect of getting caught... Well, he didn't want to think about it.

"You didn't ask my name," she said, changing the subject.

"I don't need to. I investigated you before I took on this job," he said.  "I know your name is JoAnna, and you're seventy-nine years old..."

"Eighty, next week," JoAnna interrupted, and winked.

He smiled. "I know your husband of fifty-nine years died eleven months ago of a heart attack, just days before your sixtieth wedding anniversary. I know you have five children, seven grandchildren and you've had a fairly easy life, with the exception of a baby who died of SIDs at six months of age, and a grandson who died in the war last year.
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"You were the President of the Woman's Humane Society for many years, and you and your husband contributed much to various worthy causes. You championed for the abolition of the death penalty and are outspoken against abortions for any reason. And, you've not missed a day of church, except once, when you were giving birth to your third child... Which is why I'm having a hard time understanding your decision."

"Don't fret it, Joe. Someday you'll understand," she winked again. "So, the price is $1000 per and another fifty million when the job is complete, payable on proof, correct?"

"Yeah, that's the contract, but..."

"Don't call me a butt!" Tinklings of laughter cascaded from JoAnna's glowing face. Her eyes lit up and he couldn't help smiling at her. "My children always used to say that. Oh, how they loved to tease each other. Such a kinder world, then." Her eyes went vacant and a Mona-Lisa smile played on her face, as if thinking about that kinder world. She snapped back to reality with a little, almost audible, pop. "Would you like some more tea?" Her hand went up in the air. A woman in a black uniform appeared at her side, as if by magic.

"Uh, no, thank you. But I'd love a Scotch... on the rocks, if you have it."

JoAnna's smile disappeared. "We usually don't drink in this house. Such a nasty habit..." He felt his face grow hot. Here he was, a thirty-two-year-old trained assassin, ashamed for asking for a drink in the afternoon, especially considering the topic of conversation.

"Oh, I apologize. Tea would be fine. Thank you."

JoAnna's smile reappeared. "Champagne, then. To celebrate. Nancy, bring us our best bottle and two glasses. We're going to celebrate the birthday present Joe is giving me."

"Champagne it is," he said, and forced a smile. I wish she'd stop calling me Joe, he thought. But then, what else should she call him. He didn't/wouldn't give his real name, not to anyone, especially in his line of work.

He waited until Nancy had left the room.

"One thousand dollars a head. Just as requested. But how do you want proof?" he asked.

JoAnna sat up a bit. "Why, video, of course. How else would I be able to keep count? The entire ruckus will probably be too much for y'all to keep tally. Let me. I'll give a bonus of $10,000 for every fifty, just in case I miss a few. And we can record it so we can review it later - just to be sure I don't cheat you inadvertently."

"Video? Are you sure you want to see that?"

"Oh, Joe, nothing bothers me anymore. Besides, it'll be nice to know the job is getting done right. I don't think I could leave this world in such a mess. I need to do my part before I go. Such a shame." JoAnna's eyes watered and a tear coursed down her cheek. She wiped it away.  "When I was just a little girl, Grandpappy sat me on his knee and told me I'd not succeed in life unless I left this world a better place than I found it.  He died soon after, but his words stayed with me."
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"When my grandson, Jonah died last year, it nearly broke my daughter's heart. She hasn't been the same since. She takes comfort in the fact he was making life better for others in another country. He did his civic duty. He died a hero."  JoAnna straightened her spine and sat up a bit in her chair. She continued with clarity and strength.

"When I saw on the news that over 3000 American soldiers had died in the Mid-East wars, I didn't think my heart could take it... the pain of knowing what those other families are going through. Then later, in the same newscast, they reported over 100,000 innocent people have been murdered on American soil since the war began... Well, I just thought: How incredible, people are outraged our children are dying in war but have no emotion that over three times the amount of senseless murders are taking place in our own country, mostly by gang members and hoodlums... and it's only getting worse."

JoAnna looked at her wrinkled and gnarled hands and quietly shook her head.

"If the local and state governments aren't going to do anything to help our people, I can and I will." She looked up with an intensity he had rarely seen. "Yes! Video! Live-stream video. Kill all them bastards you can find. Anyone you see committing a crime. Anyone with a gang-related Tattoo - I don't care the age or sex. Get rid of them! And, don't fuck with me here - I know I'm an old lady, but I found you and I can find someone else to get rid of you if you betray me in any way."

They sat, eye-locked for what seemed an eternity.

"You have my word, JoAnna."

"Good. They have the technology for live-stream video, right?"

"Yes'm"

"Good. Get your men over here to set up a room for screens and such, or whatever. Then, we'll move on to the next step - the real reason you're here. Hire enough of you ex-Delta-force type you need to cover the United States; start here on the east coast.  Sweep from north to south; beginning with the big cities.  You can come back for the smaller towns if need be. We'll call it 'Operation Clean Sweep.' JoAnna's face lit up with a bright smile, as if quite pleased with herself.
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Nancy appeared with glasses and champagne.

"To your birthday, JoAnna." He raised his glass in salute.

"To my birthday. And, to Operation Clean Sweep."
...

01 May 2008

MRT for today

I ordered a pizza from Domino’s last night. I asked for it to be delivered – one of the little perks in life and the only place which delivers any kind of (dare I call it food?) edible sustenance in my little town. The young man (by the sound of his voice) who called himself Joe asked if I would be paying with Cash, Check or Charge.

I told him I’d have to see what the damages were before I made that decision, but probably cash…

He read back over my order and gave me a grand total of…

I said I’d have to pay with check as I had just enough and not any for tip.

“Wait a minute, then. If you pay with check it’s 25¢ more.”

???

“What? Why?”

“Because that’s what our manager makes us charge for checks…”

“Tell your manager I think s/he’s an idiot!”

“I don’t think I should do that.” I think that’s what he said anyway – he was laughing kinda hard.

“Oh... no... maybe you shouldn’t.”

Did you know they add a delivery fee and tip to your total?

Nope, me neither….

When the girl delivered the pizza to my door, I told her I was very sorry, but I would have to charge her a porch fee of $1… A strange expression crossed her face, not sure if I joked... and asked me why. I said:

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were all now practicing levying arbitrary fees for obscure reasons.”



We went to the local carnival and I ordered one small drink for $2 - for the girlies.

The pimply-faced girl behind the counter informed me they didn’t have small drinks.

I inquired as to why they had ‘small’ indicated on their menu board.

She repeated they didn’t have any small drinks... as they didn’t have any small cups.

I looked at the price of a medium – which was $3… and said “How convenient,” and ordered a medium.

She handed me a huge, Styrofoam cup with no lid… (hasn’t anyone told these people about Styrofoam and our environment?)

“Do you have any lids?”

“Nope.”

“Oh, how inconvenient! For three dollars, you think you could afford to give me a lid.”

“We only have lids for the small cups,” she said.


And you wonder why I’m glad I’m not from this planet.
In Joy & Enjoy
S

pass the popcorn, please!