What Book Scarred Me As A Child

Hello, hello! How’s everything going on this wonderful Wednesday? Things here are pretty good. Can’t complain, though I usually do. Anyway, it’s time for another one of those pick a number things. This week is 2, courtesy of the fab Derek! I’ve done 13 (you can find the prompt list there) and 7. Numbers 8, 3, 10, 6, 14, 11, and 1 have all been claimed, but feel free to pick one of the remaining numbers. Today’s prompt is “tell me which book had a profound effect on you as a kid.” Honestly, most of you probably already know the answer.

I don’t remember being much of a reader as a kid. I read what I was told to read for school, but never had much fun with it. There were two “book report” projects I remember from elementary school where we got to pick our own books from the school library. For one, I chose The Séance by Joan Lowery Nixon. I don’t remember the story itself, but it was my first locked door mystery and I vaguely remember loving it. It was a little advanced for my age at the time (it’s recommended for 12 years and up and I was like 8 or 9), but my teacher and parents didn’t say anything, so murder and mysteries kind of became my go-to at an early age. But still, it wasn’t enough to get me hooked on reading.

The other book from elementary school was Ransom by Lois Duncan. It actually had a cripple dude who wasn’t useless or inspo-pornified. Of course, back then, I didn’t know what inspo-porn really was and I didn’t care that he was cripple. I just liked him because he was the angsty loner guy and I already had the beginnings of a type (which eventually transformed into my love of fictional psychopaths). But it was about a busload of kids getting kidnapped. I loved it. And it wasn’t enough to stoke my love of reading either.

It wasn’t until 1999 (I was 13) that I really got into reading. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King had just come out and Dad plopped it down in front of me and said to try it. It wasn’t the first time he’d tried to get me into reading (even The Hobbit had failed to interest me until later), but it was the one that worked. There was creepy stuff and normal stuff and it wasn’t super scary, but it was something that could happen and that made it awesome (yeah, I was a weird kid). I tore through so many Stephen King books after that. I remember sitting in the library/game area one evening during a hospital stay reading the uncut version of The Stand (I brought it from home, it wasn’t actually in a children’s hospital library) and a nurse came in making idle chit-chat while checking on me. The look of horror on her face when I showed her what I was reading (she didn’t like “scary” books) was priceless. It was my first time seeing a grown person get freaked out over a book. She just didn’t understand why I wanted to read scary things. It was hilarious. But yeah. My early reading habits were strange.

Anyway, I still wasn’t a constant reader after that. I’d go through periods where I would read everything until I burnt myself out, then I wouldn’t read for months. It went on like that until Stonecoast, actually. Ever since then, I’ve learned to read a couple of chapters every day so I don’t burn myself out. And I don’t scold myself if I miss a day or two here and there. But if a book grabs me, I don’t deny myself a good binge either. But I digress. This is all just a big ramble about having to find my way into reading. It didn’t come naturally to me. And it took a while to find the right fit. But that’s okay. What about you? What book(s) had the biggest impact on you when you were young? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Stuck on Repeat

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this Wednesday? Things here are about the same as usual. It’s time for all of those yearly meetings, so people know we’re still alive and I’m still cripple and poor (the government has to check, I guess). But half of those are still virtual, so that’s good. Anyway, if you read last week’s post, you know I’m doing one of those pick a number things. This week’s pick is courtesy of the beautiful Roxie with number 7! I’ve done 13 (you can find the prompt list there). And 2, 8, 3, 10, 6, 14, 11, and 1 have all been claimed. Feel free to pick one of the remaining numbers. But let’s get back on topic. The prompt is “Tell me which book you’ve re-read the most times.” That’s a hard one…

The thing is, I don’t re-read things very often. I don’t have comfort books that I keep returning to time and again. When I do re-read something, it’s usually for a reason. Like, if it’s a series and a new book is coming out after a couple of years. But even then, I’ll try reading the new book first and seeing what I remember. If I can’t remember certain things, Google is my friend. If I remember little to nothing, then I will read the other books again. Don’t get me wrong. I have a huge list of books I want to re-read, but there are just so many new books and books that are new to me. There’s not enough time.

I’ve read the Harry Potter books three times all the way through and Lord of the Rings twice that I remember. I believe I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon three times as well. But I’m a super slow reader (I get through 35 books a year if I push it), so if I do read things repeatedly, it’s usually short stories or poems. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read “The Yellow Wallpaper” (Gilman) or “A Rose for Emily” (Faulkner). My favorite poetry collections are Cruelty by Ai (which I’ve read at least five times) and The Wild Iris by Louise Glück (also read four or five times). And I won’t list the individual poems I go back to all the time.

Now, if you count manga and the like, I’ve re-read way too much stuff. I go back to Kaori Yuki’s stuff more than I should probably say. Angel Sanctuary and Boy’s Next Door are my favorites. They’re disturbing and entirely fucked up, but I love them. BND was the first story I read that told you from the very beginning what the ending was and still managed to make me an emotional wreck by the time we got to the end. No, I don’t recommend it to everyone because of all of the content warnings it should have, but if you’re already a dark, twisted soul… go find it. Same with Angel Sanctuary, but for very different content warnings. I could also list some more normal things like Sailor Moon and Fullmetal Alchemist, but it probably won’t help you think better of me at this point. I like weird stuff. This is why I don’t include manga and manhwa on my GoodReads profile very often.

There you go. The stuff I re-read. It’s usually weird or would freak people out. Sorry, not sorry. What about you? Do you re-read soft and cuddly comfort books? Or do you prefer re-reading things that rip your heart out and wreak havoc on your soul? Or something in between? As always, feel free to leave your comments or questions here or on my social media pages!

Home Away From Home

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday? It’s the first week of November. Can you believe that? Thanksgiving will be tomorrow, Christmas next week, and 2023 the day after that. At least that’s how it feels. Another year slipping by. But that’s okay! We’re not here to be all maudlin just because time’s a jerk. We’re here today to ramble about bookish things! I found another one of those pick a number things, so that’s what I’ll be blogging about for the foreseeable future. I only posted the request for numbers between 1 and 15 a few minutes ago, so I’ve only got 13 and 7 so far, but I’m sure at least a couple of more people will choose something. You can choose too by commenting here or on my social media profiles or telling me or carrier pigeon. Whatever. The first picture will be the prompts. It’s from national book lovers day (I’m late, I know), so you may have seen it already. Anyway, the lovely Ana chose 13, so I will be rambling about books that make me want to live in fictional worlds!

Which book made me want to live in a fictional world? Most of them? People usually say Narnia, Hogwarts, or Middle Earth and I can’t exactly argue. I know it’s a problematic world (it always was, even before JK went off the deep end), but I would’ve been down for Hogwarts as a kid. Magic provides a lot of work arounds to being cripple. It would’ve been great. Middle Earth would’ve been cool too. Who doesn’t want to live with elves? At least as a kid. Now, I’d be a hobbit all the way. Never have to leave the shire? Live quietly? PO-TAY-TOES! I am so there. Narnia, on the other hand, never appealed to me. Even as a kid. It was a fun story, but I never wanted to join in.

I’m trying really hard to think of worlds I wanted to join when I was younger, but considering I mostly read Stephen King… no thanks. I was perfectly happy watching those stories from the outside. And now that I’m older (read that as ancient), mostly of the fictional places that I want to live are idyllic small town USA spots or tiny English villages. Both of which are hotbeds of murder with some nosey chick who solves all the crimes before the police. I’d gladly be a background character in one of those worlds.

Mostly, I’m into worlds that are only slightly different from the one we live in. A medieval adventure sounds great, but even if I weren’t cripple, I wouldn’t survive a week. I’d eat the wrong berries or mushrooms and die. And a future world? Probably dead within a week as well. Not sure how it would happen, but it would. I love reading about those worlds, but nah.

What about you? What fictional worlds did you want to live in growing up? What about now? As always, feel free to leave your questions or comments or whatever here or on my social media pages! And pick a number. Since I’ve been writing this post, we’re up to 13, 7, 2, 8, 3, and 10!

Thoughts on A DOOMFUL OF SUGAR

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this wonderful Wednesday? Things here are about the same as normal lately. But it’s the last Wednesday of October, so at least I have something to ramble about. It’s book review time! I was boring and went back to my comfort zone this month with the first installment of a new cozy mystery series. A Doomful of Sugar by Catherine Bruns was released yesterday (the 25th) from Poisoned Pen Press. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Cute cover and pretty relevant to the story.

A Doomful of Sugar follows Leila Khoury as she returns home in the wake of her father’s unsolved murder only to discover that he’s left her the family maple business. As any daddy’s girl would, not only does she accept the challenge of the farm, but she also takes it upon herself to solve the murder, no matter who she has to risk alienating along the way. Toss in a hot new employee that may just be a murderer, an overbearing mother, a brother with a chip on his shoulder, and a bestie that supports all the shenanigans and you’ve got yourself a cozy mystery.

Honestly, the plot is pretty standard. The big bad sticks out way too much from the get-go, then kind of fades into the background until a little bit before the big reveal. I mean, why else would Leila’s dad do what he did? Super obvious, but fine. I was willing to believe it without much thought. The twist was where the story lost me. It was also really heavy handed, which is probably why it felt like more of an ‘ugh’ moment than an ‘aha’ moment. It just wasn’t particularly necessary and felt like a leap. It might just be a me thing, but it made the ending too convoluted.

As far as the characters go, I was mostly unimpressed. I think Leila was supposed to be quirky and headstrong and someone who jumps into things without thinking, but she’s kind of a douchenozzle. She insults people all of the time and they magically forgive her. When she isn’t being rude, she’s accusing people of murder with zero evidence beyond the fact that they exist. And, of course, according to her, everyone else is always judging and being mean to her. I liked her mother and Noah. They were the only reasonable adults in this book. Everyone else ranged from flat and stereotypical to immature and annoying.

The writing itself was okay and made for a quick read despite my lack of motivation to finish this one. And there was maple syrup in it, so at least there’s that.

Ultimately, I didn’t care for A Doomful of Sugar. It’s not going on my list of cozies to keep up with and didn’t spark an interest other series by Bruns.

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Overall, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. One and a half is more accurate. Mostly because it wasn’t my thing, but other people seem to like it. If you enjoy immature characters and an easily decipherable plot, go for it. Otherwise, you’re not missing much.

I Didn’t Plan to Take a Day Off…

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Things are annoying here. Spent too many hours trying to set up something that should’ve taken two minutes. And it’s still not working. It’s a Z-Wave outlet thing and it wouldn’t work in my room, so we moved it around. Finally got it paired in the dining room, but it takes like 15 minutes for SmartThings to register when it switches on or off. That’s no good. Plus, we still need to get it to work in my room. But it was time wasted and it was annoying and now I don’t feel like writing a blog post. Sorry, not sorry. Here’s something pretty from Yuumei to appease the Interwebz gods/goddesses.

10 Books/Series

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this delightful Wednesday? Things here have been weirdly social lately. The Minion and various members of his family have come over a few times to help Dad with stuff. Another family friend is due to drop by tomorrow. And our neighbors have been weirdly neighborly. So that’s been interesting. Anyway, I can’t think of anything to ramble about and Facebook memories have recently reminded me of that trend of listing 10 books that have stuck with you that went around a few years ago. I thought I had done a post like that on here, but I can’t find it (though I didn’t look that hard), so I’m just going to list 10 books/series that have stuck with me. No explanations. Just books.

1. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

3. Angel Sanctuary by Kaori Yuki.

4. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

6. Ransom by Lois Duncan. The original version, not the crappy modernized version where they completely ruin the plot with mentions of cell phones and email.

7. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

8. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss.

9. Cruelty by Ai.

10. The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck.

What books have stuck with you? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or questions here or on my social media pages!

You Can Be Jealous: Food Edition

Howdy, howdy! Welcome to October. How’s everyone doing? Things here are quiet for the most part. My minion rescued Dad when his truck broke down (and of course it was the one time Dad had forgotten to take his phone), but even that wasn’t all that exciting. Anyway, I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve done a food post, but that’s because we haven’t been anywhere. Stupid plague. So, I decided to brag on some of the stuff Dad’s been cooking lately. I have no pics because I never think about making Dad take any. But you can still be jealous without them. It’s okay.

1. Pastrami. It starts as a brisket and over about two weeks, it magically transforms into pastrami. Okay, it’s not magic. Dad knows what he’s doing. I only know the basics. It has to cure in some kind of solution for a while, then gets coated in a bunch of yumminess, and eventually gets smoked for a really long time. It’s delicious. Pastrami on rye with some mustard and maybe a little provolone. Mmm… my second favorite thing ever. Sorry, pastrami. I don’t think anything will ever top lasagna. But you’re a very close second.

2. Brisket. Dad can’t smoke just one thing when it’s going to take 18ish hours anyway, so when he made the pastrami last time, he also smoked some brisket. It’s soft and juicy with little pockets of melty fat. There’s a nice crust too. We had it with a salad and Dad made hash with some of it for breakfast. We’ve got some saved (and pastrami too) for future meals. He always makes enough to portion it out and freeze for later.

3. A ham. A bone in ham, but it wasn’t spiral sliced this time. Dad smoked it to imbue it with more flavor goodness. It was surprisingly soft (we ended up with a different brand than usual) and juicy and actually tasted like ham. It was good. There were grilled ham on rye with cheddar and mustard sandwiches. But the best part about a ham is yet to come. Beans. Pintos with lots of meat and sausage and general goodness on corn chips with some cheese and crema (Mexican or Salvadoran sour cream depending on what we have. It’s a whole delicious thing. And yes. A lot of the ham will end up frozen.

I’m sure I’m forgetting things. And I haven’t really touched much on breakfast (sausage gravy, home fries, scrambles with various goodies). But food is not lacking just because we aren’t trying new restaurants. I have Dad. Who needs other chefs? Be jealous. It’s okay.

What kinds of goodies have you been enjoying lately? Anything you’re craving? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Thoughts on MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday. Things are good here. The weather is slowly veering away from heat. We’re below 90 this week! Well, we’re supposed to be I think our highest high is supposed to be 89, so we could make it into the 90s. But I’m just rambling. It’s the last Wednesday of September, so it’s book review time! This month, I decided to go with a corny romance. I was hoping for something Halloween-y, but settled for Christmas since that’s all I could find. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss was released yesterday (the 27th) from G.P Putnam’s Sons. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Let’s get to it!

Cute and matches the story.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe follows Elinor “Nory” Noel, who runs a secondhand bookshop, as she spends a week with old friends from the posh private school she was a scholarship student at. The reunion brings a host of good memories mingled with a couple of particularly bad ones she would rather forget, but she pushes through in order to be supportive of her friends’ upcoming wedding. It helps when she meets Isaac, an old foe of her friend group, and he turns out to be not half bad (and still stupidly handsome). As the week passes and feelings grow, Nory and Isaac both have some major decisions to make if they want to keep things going.

I admit that romance isn’t my usual genre to read, but of the ones I have, this one pretty much fits the mold. Though, there’s a lot going on here. Most romance I’ve read has two or three subplots going on, but this one has at least six. It’s a lot and a couple of the plotlines feel thin, but it’s handled well for the most part. And it helps that the characters are all interesting enough that I didn’t mind following those subplots. There aren’t many places that drag since something is always happening to someone. So, that’s good.

I really only have two complaints about this book. The first is that all important first kiss scene. The payoff for all of the prolonged will-they/won’t-they bullshit. Of course they will. And the reader will get to be the creepy stalker who watches the sparks fly. I don’t feel like that’s too much to ask out of a romance. But it happens off the page with only a passing mention. Wtf? Sure, we get to see the second kiss, which is supposedly just as good, but it’s not the same. I was so disappointed.

The second complaint has to do with that last big fight scene. You know the one. Every romance has one. When the relationship doesn’t seem like it’s going to work. Well, I didn’t mind the scene, but Isaac’s reaction felt far more stereotypical than true to the character he was built to be. I can understand him kicking Guy out, but he would’ve heard Nory out. If he had kicked her out after discovering she was doing something he’d repeatedly told her he wasn’t ready for, I would’ve understood that and believed it. Kicking her and Guy out just felt like something they throw in to cause friction. It was forced. So, the whole pining thing for the last quarter of the book was just annoying instead of heart wrenching.

As far as the writing goes, it was actually a quick, fun read. The plot was a little dense, but mostly worked. The characters were fun and mostly interesting. It was cute and Christmasy and well written.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. Romance isn’t my favorite genre unless I’m in a particular mood, so I probably won’t go looking for more work by Bayliss, but I won’t avoid it either.

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Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I had fun with it and definitely recommend it if you’re into corny romance, but it’s not something I’d recommend to everyone.

Whispering Wind: A Short Story

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing this fine Wednesday? Things are normal here. I couldn’t think of anything to blog about, so I dug through some of my old writing assignments and decided to post one from my Intermediate Fiction class at SMU. It’s from 2010. I haven’t revised it since then or even read through it to see if it’s worth posting. I vaguely remember the premise. Sorry in advance if it sucks, but at least you get to see how I’ve grown as a writer if you’ve read my recent stuff! It’s just under 2,000 words, so it’s not too long. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages.

Whispering Wind

It was a crisp autumn afternoon and the sun was shining brightly through the leaves of the trees that surrounded the pond.  Just visible through the trees was a wrought-iron fence that encircled the water and the sea of markers, some simple and others ornate, that named the ones sleeping beneath them.  The gravestones stopped near the edge of the pond; about halfway between the last markers and the water, a little girl sat in the sun where the grass was green.

Though alone, the girl was laughing and smiling and talking away.  As the shadow of a cloud passed over her, the girl looked up and asked, “Are you happy?”

The only response was a breeze that rustled the leaves of the nearby trees.  The leaves shone like jewels in the sunshine and the girl smiled.  She sat quietly for a few moments and stretched her arms towards the sky.

“Do you love us bunches?”

A ripple in the pond made the sunlight dance over its surface.  The girl stared out over the pond in awe, her bright green eyes sparkling.  She broke out in laughter and clapped.

“Yay!  I love you too!”  She paused as her laughter died and continued to stare over the water.  “Hey… do you miss us?”

A gust played with the ruffles of her black dress and caused her long, auburn hair to drift across her face.  Two leaves, one gold, the other reddish-orange, swirled around her as the wind died; they settled softly on her lap.  The girl smiled and picked up the leaves by the stems.  “I miss you too…”

The girl’s conversation continued for awhile as she described the events of the past few days to her unseen companion.  She explained that everyone had been sad and that they had tried to hide their tears from her… that she didn’t understand why everyone was sad when they told her that Heaven was a happy place.  She giggled as she talked about her puppy, Mickey, and how cute he looked when she put her dolly’s hat on him.  As she talked, she would occasionally hold the leaves out in front of her as far as her arms would stretch and smile.  Each transition in her conversation was acknowledged by a light wind, a rustle of leaves, or a ripple of the water.

A tall woman in a black pantsuit approached the girl and knelt nearby.  A breeze blew the woman’s reddish-brown hair across her face, and as she brushed it back, an older version of the girl’s smile and bow lips appeared.  The woman stretched out her arms and said, “Come ‘ere booger bear… what’re you up to?”

The girl got up, careful not to drop the leaves, and ran to the woman.

“Mommy!  Lookie… I got a present!”  She held the leaves up so that her mother could see them clearly.  “This one’s for you, though…”  She held out the gold leaf so that the woman could take it.

Taking the leaf, the woman asked, “Where’d you get these?  They’re very pretty.”

“From daddy.”

The girl said this so matter-of-factly that a frown flickered across the woman’s face.  “From daddy?”

“Yup… he misses me and you, mommy… but it’s still okay because he’s happy and he loves us bunches.”  The girl wrapped her arms around her mother’s neck and hugged her tightly.

“I see… but… it’s time to say bye-bye to daddy.”  The woman hugged the girl close, tears glistening in her eyes.  She kissed the girl’s forehead and, as soon as she was sure that she wouldn’t cry, she rose and shifted the girl to her hip.

They each held their leaf securely as the woman carried the girl towards a group that surrounded the newest stone marker.  As they approached, the people separated, revealing a few rows of chairs, a dark casket, and a picture of a man in his early thirties with the same vibrant green eyes as the girl’s.  The woman sat close to the picture and cradled the girl in her lap.  The others gathered, some sitting and others choosing to stand, and the pastor took his place next to the casket.

As the man with the white collar spoke, the girl stared at the picture next to her.  She remembered that every Sunday he would make waffles for her and her mother and he would give her extra syrup… she remembered the day that he brought Mickey home for her and how cute Mickey was with the red bow around his neck… and she remembered the bedtime stories that he told her.  She also remembered getting in trouble for running out in the street… and she remembered getting sent to time-out for not listening to him and her mother when they told her that it was time to turn off the TV.  The memories flooded through her mind but one stuck out to her.

It was a stormy night a few months ago and she couldn’t sleep.  She had picked up Mickey and had gone to the study where there was still a light on.  As she peeked through the half-opened door, Mickey whined softly and she squeezed through the opening.  “Daddy… Mickey’s scared…”

The man behind the oak desk looked up and smiled.  He stood and moved to the sofa, beckoning her to him.  “Well, what’s wrong with Mickey, booger bear?”

“He doesn’t like the angry rain… it scares him so he can’t sleep…”

“So he’s scared of the thunder and lightning, huh?  Well, let’s see what we can do about that.  Do you want to sleep in here?”

“Yes, please!”  The girl smiled and held the puppy out to her father.

The man took the puppy so that she could climb onto the sofa.  After she stretched out, he set the puppy in her lap and took the quilt that was lying over the back of the sofa and tucked it around the girl and the puppy.  The man kissed the girl’s forehead and nuzzled her nose with his.  “That better?”

The girl nodded and grinned.  “Hey daddy…”

“Yes, booger bear?”

“Will you sing the song?”

The man chuckled and poked her nose.  “Anything for you.”

He went to his desk and pulled the chair around next to the sofa.  As he sat down, he began to hum her favorite tune and was soon singing “Hush a bye… don’t you cry… go to sleep my little baby… when you wake… you shall find… all the pretty little ponies…”  She had fallen asleep before he could sing anymore but she had felt the gentle pressure of a kiss on her forehead.

A moist drop on her cheek had brought her out of her memories and when she looked up she saw that her mother was crying.  The casket was being lowered into the ground and her mother helped the girl off her lap, standing next to her.  As they approached the grave, the girl looked up at her mother then at the leaf in her hand.  Her mother had told her that she was supposed to take some dirt and sprinkle it on the casket but she just stared from her mother to the leaf then to the hole in front of her.  With her mother watching her, she looked up at her once more then took a step towards the grave, holding the leaf out in front of her.

“Bye-bye daddy… I miss you, too.”  She opened her fingers and watched the leaf drift down and settle on the casket.

The woman smiled at the girl as she wiped her eyes then followed the girl’s example.  The girl watched as the other people dropped handfuls of dirt into the hole and said their goodbyes.  She was hugged by each person at least twice before her mother said that it was time to go home.  She went back to the grave one more time before her mother directed her towards the car.

“We’ll come back soon, daddy!”  She smiled and waved at the headstone.

The girl ran back to her mother and they walked to their car hand in hand.  As she was getting in the car, a breeze blew across the cemetery, rustling the leaves of the trees and rippling the water of the pond.  A bird sang from a nearby tree and the girl giggled.  She just smiled at her mother’s questioning look and, as the car door was being closed, she whispered “I love you too, daddy.”

#

During the following months, the girl and her mother visited the gravesite every Saturday.  The girl remained the same, always laughing and smiling but the woman had lost weight and bags had formed under her eyes and her hair was unkempt.  The girl watched as her mother said less and less to the stone marker.  The length of her own conversations never diminished and each week her mother would have to tell her multiple times that they should get home.  Every time that her mother said it was time to go, she would think of something else that she had to tell her father.

It was still the same after four months, her mother wouldn’t say much but they would stay for an hour or so while the girl talked.  One Saturday in late February, her mother didn’t say anything to her father.  It was cold and cloudy but the girl jabbered on and on as usual.  Her mother stood silently by, swaying slightly, with her eyes closed.

Fifteen minutes into her conversation, her mother said “Let’s go, booger bear.  It’s cold.”

“But we just got here, mommy.”  She looked up at the pale face that was staring back at her.

“I know, but it’s cold and mommy’s tired.”

“Ten more minutes, please!”

A gust of wind blew the woman’s hair across her face, hiding her expression from the girl.  “You know mommy worked late, can we please go home so I can rest?  We’ll stay as long as you want next week, okay?”

“Five minutes?”  She smiled.

“Now, please.”  Her mother took a step away from the grave.

“But I still haven’t told daddy about Mickey’s new trick.”

“You can tell him next week, let’s go.”

“But, mommy…”  She was interrupted.

“That’s enough!  I am tired and cold and I said it was time to go, so march!”  The woman pointed towards the parking lot.

The girl didn’t argue, nor did she acknowledge her mother’s command; she just stared at the seemingly dark gray water of the pond.  The wind had died completely and large drops of rain were beginning to fall from the sky.

“Great… now it’s raining.  We’re leaving.”  The woman grabbed the girl’s arm.

“No!  It’ll make daddy sad if we leave!”  She pulled against her mother’s grip as the rain worsened.

“This is getting ridiculous… daddy’s not here!  He won’t mind if we go home!  Do you understand me?”  The woman was quivering with frustration.

As tears began to fall down her face, the girl struggled even more against her mother’s hold.

“That’s enough!”  The woman’s free hand jerked upward.  A flash of lightning silhouetted the sudden movement against the sky.  As her hand was just coming down, a loud crash of thunder caused the woman to flinch.  She stared at her half-raised hand and muttered “Oh my God.”

The girl was sobbing loudly now and between the sobs she let out, “He’s not at home either.”

The woman gathered the sobbing girl up in her arms and held her.  “Shhh… I’m sorry.  It’s okay.”

They stayed huddled next to the gravestone for a half hour before the girl had calmed down.  They rocked together, the rain hiding their tears.  Finally the woman asked, “Want to go get some ice cream?”

The girl sniffled and nodded.

As they were walking to the car, hand in hand, the woman looked over her shoulder at the marker and whispered, “Thank you for stopping me.”

So Tired

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this lovely Wednesday? Things are fine here. Lazy. I’m ahead on reading and keeping up with slushing duties, though. But I’m tired all of the time. Until it’s time to sleep. Then, I’m wide awake for hours. It’s annoying really. And I’ve tried so many things to make it easier to sleep, but nothing really helps. I know all the tips about caffeine and screens and all of that, but I’m not that desperate. There are things I do to keep myself occupied while laying in the dark. Not that, you perv. And they usually help. I’m rarely awake until dawn anymore. I’m usually asleep by 4:30 at the latest (and considering I’m in bed between 2:00 and 2:30, that’s only 2ish hours). I do wake up 3 or 4 times after that, but I’m usually back asleep within half an hour. Anyway, I thought I’d ramble about my sleep tricks.

1. Story telling. If I’m at that point where I’m thinking about everything that’s going wrong in the world or fixating on bad memories, I try to tell myself stories. I can usually find a story to focus on just enough to interrupt my fixations. But lately, I’ve been having trouble even finding an idea that holds my attention for more than one night. I used to be able to slip back into the same story and either retell it or build on it for weeks (if not months). Nothing good or worth writing down. Just stupid self-insertion type stories. But entertaining enough to lull me to sleep eventually.

2. Multiplication tables. Do kids even learn these anymore or did that new math do away with them? If I’m slightly drowsy, but still getting distracted by negative thoughts, I’ll do these. Sometimes, it’s just 1s-10s, but I go all the way up to 25s occasionally. I’ve only made it all the way to 25×25 twice without falling asleep first. Usually, I make it into the 16s. But yeah, math makes me sleepy apparently.

3. The alphabet game thingie. That game from when we were kids where you would pick a topic (names, foods, whatever) and go around in a circle like “A… apple” and the next kid would do “B… banana” and whoever couldn’t think of something got mocked for the rest of the day? I do that by myself, but with band names. And I pick a song by the band to listen to before I move on to the next letter. For A, I’ve been flipping between Adele and Apocalyptica. But I at least try to mix up the songs a bit. The farthest I’ve gotten before falling asleep is S. But it’s fun and doesn’t require much attention, so I do it when my brain is especially bouncy.

So, now you know what I do in bed. It’s not especially exciting, is it? What about you? Do you have any tricks that help you fall asleep? As always, feel free to leave your questions or thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages! Hopefully, next week will be more exciting. Doubtfully, but we can hope.