Wordless Wednesday: My Son’s Interpretations of “The Son of Man” by Rene Magritte

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The Sweet Pickle Bus

Two teenage girls, naïve and excited, climbed into the back of an ugly green van (affectionately called “The Sweet Pickle Bus”) with 6 teenage boys, not once considering the potential danger.  This was about love, or their conception of it, which did not include “News at 11” type headlines.  Fortunately, these were nice boys.  Relatively speaking.

One girl was on a “date”, the other one was me.  My not-so-secret crush was in that van and it was my intent to steal him away from his rather pretty girlfriend.  Not schooled in the art of flirting, I had no idea how to do this.  I simply trusted Fate to do its work.  Fate did not disappoint.

Seated in the passenger side of the careening Sweet Pickle Bus (it careened everywhere it went), was the most annoying guy I had ever met.  He insisted on speaking with a fake Scottish accent and playing “Today” by Smashing Pumpkins ad nauseam.  I’d seen him in school–tall, hulking, shaved head, brown corduroy jacket, dark-colored chucks–and thought him the quiet and brooding type.  So much for first impressions.  He was loud and obnoxious.  I turned my attention to my crush, willing him to love me with my penetrating stare.  He didn’t even look at me.

The Sweet Pickle screeched to a halt in the movie theater parking lot and we stepped out of the van, met by a largish group of even more teenage boys and a few girls, including the rather pretty (and unfortunately nice) girlfriend I intended to grind beneath my Pumas.  We filed into the theater and I found myself seated beside, not my crush, but faux-Scottish Billy Corgan.  My crush was on a completely different aisle, cozying up to his girlfriend.  I prepared myself for a long and disappointing night.

We were watching a cheesy horror movie, the name of which escapes me.  I was watching my friend’s date doing the exaggerated yawn-so-you-can-put-your-arm-around-girl move and I heard a snicker.  Mr. Obnoxious had seen it, too.  We made eye contact and laughed.  Then we started cracking on the movie and talking.  Flirting.  Schooled or not, I had mastered the art.  When the movie was finally over, we walked back to the van, together.  Instead of taking his former seat, he climbed in beside me.  Where my crush sat, I have no idea.

On the way home, The Sweet Pickle Bus broke down.  We were freezing while my friend’s date tried to figure out what was wrong.  I shivered.  Suddenly, a toboggan was on my feet and a brown corduroy jacket around my shoulders.  Mr. Obnoxious had become Mr. Chivalrous.  The flirting continued and I didn’t want the night to end.  But soon we were careening on our way again, and my friend and I were dropped off safely at home.

A few days and a few phone calls later,  I had a boyfriend–my first and last.  I married him 4 years later.

A lot has changed since then.  A lot hasn’t.  He’s still hulking and he’s still got a bald head, though not completely by choice anymore.  He’s still, without a doubt, the most annoying guy I’ve ever met, though he hasn’t spoken with a Scottish accent in years.  We still crack on bad movies and on days when we aren’t too tired after work and dealing with five kids, we still flirt.

And when we’re stranded in the freezing cold, I can still depend on him to keep me warm.

I’m linking this post to Yeah Write–a friendly blogging competition for 50 great bloggers (well, 49 great bloggers and me.) Check it out by clicking on the badge below.  You can vote for your 5 favorites on Thursday.  I’m number 31.  Thanks!

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

This post was written for the RemembeRED writing prompt via Write On Edge.

The prompt went like this:

As a writing teacher, I often have my students write memoir/nonfiction pieces.  In the beginning, most students want to write strictly about themselves.

One of the lessons I teach them is that other people help shape who we are through their words to us, their actions, or their lack of action.

Your assignment for this week is to write about a memory of yourself WITH someone else.

Blasting Through Road Blocks

It never fails. Once I decide I’m going to do something positive in my life, things start going horribly wrong. Save money? A forgotten debt from 1998 suddenly resurfaces. Go to Bible Study? Car tires go flat. Go on a diet? Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around. Start walking? It rains for two weeks straight.  Quit smoking?  The house burns down and the stress rate goes through the roof (if I had one.)

None of these things are permanent. They are simply roadblocks thrown up just long enough for me to lose my resolve and think encouraging thoughts like, “What’s the point? I’ll always be broke, spiritually lacking,  fat, and gasping for breath.”

Who or what is responsible?  Bad luck? Fate?  Murphy’s Law?  Brownies? (Creature, not yummy chocolate heaven, though that would fit in with the losing weight issue.) The Devil? (My personal belief.)  Or this guy?

Gremlins 2 Image via My Existenz

Either way, when I made an official declaration last week to get my house in order, I expected some interference.  I had no idea.

Monday.  The number one goal was to have stress-free mornings with no yelling.  The laying out of things the night before went well.  Aside from a hidden shoe, that wasn’t a problem.  The problem was a faulty awaking apparatus, i.e. my cell phone.  Monday morning it didn’t go off.  Rather, it went off, but it was set to silent.  Luckily, DH gets up at 6:45 (5 minutes before scheduled departure) and woke me up.  I was waking children, making coffee (absolute necessity, no matter how late), fixing bowls of cereal, changing a diaper, and corralling everyone into the car–all while trying NOT to yell.  I succeeded, for the most part.  We left at 7:15.  The middle schoolers were late and I made it in to work with seconds to spare.

Tuesday.  Alarm goes off, after checking it wasn’t on silent the night before, only this time I don’t hear it until it’s well into the snooze cycle.  Still better than Monday–we had 15 minutes before departure.)  I didn’t yell at the kids.  I waited until they were in the car and yelled at DH, who hadn’t done anything wrong.  But them’s the breaks when you’re married to me.   The middle schoolers were late.  Again.  Tardy #2 in week 2, with 5 tardies resulting in ISS (in-school suspension.)  My kids were not happy.  This time I’m 5 minutes late for work.  I was not happy.  But it was a relaxing day at the beach compared to my afternoon.

While waiting in the car line at the primary school, my foot slipped off the brake.  My land yacht lurched forward, hitting the car in front of me–the brand new 2012 Hyundai Elantra the driver had owned for exactly one month.  The damage was light.  My front license plate screws left two small dimples in the bumper.  I thought it added character.  Who doesn’t love dimples?  Apparently, the owner of said Hyundai Elantra.

I spent 3o minutes on the phone with my insurance company (who I’ve only been with for 6 months.  Can you say rate hike?) while all the other moms drove by and stared.  I picked up my daughter, who was waiting with the secretary who had to wait for me before she could leave.  Now I’m starting to ruin other people’s days.

Wednesday.  We get out of the house (no yelling) on time.  Everybody gets to school and work with time to spare.  The ride home is uneventful, aside from the fact I’m praying I don’t see the dimpled Hyundai in the car line.  I don’t.  Is the curse over? Come on, now.  This is me we’re talking about.  We leave for church (35 minutes away) for our monthly supper (yum) and to pick up a working refrigerator.  Did I forget to mention our 2nd fridge of the week wasn’t working?  We got to church–late, of course–and there was no food left for the FIRST TIME EVER in the HISTORY of Wednesday Night Suppers.  Wasted time.  Wasted gas.  But we did get the fridge…and it doesn’t work right, either.  But hey, who needs completely frozen ice?

Thursday.  We leave early.  Work is good.  Then, in my exhausted state, I go the wrong way on the Interstate on the way home.  No biggie.  I just get off at the next exit–12 FREAKIN’ MILES down the road!  By the time I get back to the point I got on the interstate, we would’ve been home.  When I get to my exit, I get stuck by a train for 15 minutes.  I spent almost 4 HOURS in my car on Thursday.

Friday.  Everything goes according to plan.  Surely, this is the end of my trials?

Saturday.  The day I vowed to go nowhere and do nothing.  A little trip to the Wal-Mart surely wouldn’t be a big deal?  The plan was to meet DH at the Wal-Mart and get some much-needed shopping done.  I went to the Wal-Mart and waited.  And waited.  Annoyed, I called DH.  Turns out, I was waiting at the WRONG Wal-Mart.  Grumbling, I got in the car and went to meet DH.  We met and there was a problem.  It’s too convoluted to explain, but it has to do with a weirdly written check from our Electric Company–a donation after our house fire.  Long story short, it was a no-go (3rd attempt, mind you)  and we left, empty-handed and vowing never to return to Wal-Mart again.  Suuure.

Image via ReportYourComplaint.com

After that ordeal, I was dying of thirst.  So I stopped off at a gas station that has the cherry flavoring you can add to diet coke (yummy).  And, wouldn’t you know it?  They were out.  So I bought the darn diet coke, sans cherry goodness, and trudged home, royally ticked off and biting my tongue.

Sunday.  We were up, fed, dressed, and in the car on time this morning.  Then we got stuck behind a train and were 15 minutes late for church.  Now I’m in my pajamas, foregoing the Sunday nap tradition (what if I overslept?!), and wondering what’s in store for the return trip to church for Children’s Choir tonight.  What else does The Devil have in store for me?

Whatever it is, I don’t care.  Because you know what?  I’m not thinking, “What’s the point?”    I’m thinking, “Bring it.”  This woman has had enough cowering, settling, and resigning.  This time, I’m not going to let a few thousand set-backs distract me from my goals.  I can do this.  I am doing this.

The Devil can go to Hell.

Tweet a Story

In my newly founded Plan, I’m supposed to write something every day.  So I decided to do a writing prompt from Write On Edge.  The prompt was:

Let’s lighten it up around here. And when I say lighten, I mean REALLY lighten.

This week’s assignment will require the fewest number of words ever: we want you to write a story – your choice of topic – as a tweet.

That’s right. One hundred and forty characters. Not words. Characters.

Make us laugh. Make us think. Make us want more.

Mostly, have FUN with this. You’ve earned it.

Come back Friday and link up.

I chose a horror story.  The best part?  The hashtag makes sense, even if you don’t know what WOE stands for.



Crying It Out With “The Help.”

sculpture crying giant by Tom Otterness in The...

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Last Thursday was a tough day.  It was one of those days when all I felt like doing was crying.  Crying because my body hurt.  Crying for the sad little girl who lost her grandmother.  Crying for the sweetness and struggles of the Special Needs children I see every day.  Crying over a break-up song on the radio.  Crying because my refrigerator is broken.  Crying because I have to get up at 5:30 and can’t sleep.  Crying because I want to go back to college.  Crying because…because.

The urge to cry started early–at about 7:15 in the morning and I came dangerously close to surrendering several times throughout the day.  Of course, I stifled.  Crying at work would bring questions from fellow employees, crying in the car would bring questions from the kids, and crying at home would bring questions from the DH.  The pressure was building all day and the worst case scenario was a real possibility–breaking down in the middle of a conversation, inconsolable and covered in tears and snot, while my family watches in horror and I feel like an idiot.

Then, sweet relief.

I went to the movies and saw “The Help.”  I cried.  And cried. Then cried again.  And it was okay because everyone in the theater was sniffling.  It’s one of those movies.  If you see it and you don’t cry or at least tear up a little, you may want to check if you still have a soul.

After crying a little, I felt better.  I thought I’d gotten it all out.  Then I got in my car to go home.  It wasn’t 3 minutes before I was bawling my eyes out.

It’s been a long time since a movie has had that effect on me.  “The Help” may have surpassed “Pride and Prejudice” as my favorite movie ever.  Certainly, crying over movies is not new to me, but never have the reasons been so substantial.  While I cried like a crazy person, I ran the gamut of emotions.

  • Anger–I’ve never hit anyone in my life, but if I met someone like Hilly Holbrook I have no doubts that I would punch her in the face.
  • Pity–For the people who blindly follow people like Hilly, who feel inferior because of people like Hilly, or who are like Hilly.
  • Respect–For people who do what is right, no matter the consequences.  For people who swallow their pride and their complaints and do the work because it’s what they have to do to survive, but never lose sight of their worth as a person and a child of God.  For people who know when it’s time to stand up even if getting knocked down is sure to follow.
  • Jealousy –For the people who do the above.  For Katheryn Stockett who wrote a great book.  For the writers, producers, and the director who made an even better movie (in my opinion.)  For everyone who knows what they want and go and get it.
  • Resolve–To get my stuff together.  To decide what it is I want to do and do it.  To write and to share it, without fear of criticism or rejection.  To be happy in my own skin.

I guess the crying went on for about 10-15 minutes before I pulled myself together and went through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and got a large Mocha.  The perfect ending to a good cry, I must say.

As is usual after a good cry, I felt better.  I do this more than I care to admit.  This time was a little different.  I felt inspired instead of simply relieved.  In other words, it wasn’t a pity party.  It was a purging.  As is also usual with me, I had to ruminate a while on the meaning of it all.   Would the resolve go away?  Turns out, no.  Come Sunday night, it was still there and I wrote the “Momfog Manifesto.”

Getting my stuff together?  Check.  Deciding what I want to do? Check.  Doing it? Check.  Without fear of criticism or rejection?

Well, let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

The Momfog Manifesto

Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.  ~Bruce Barton

My life has changed drastically in the last three months.  It all started with a house fire and ended with a new job.  Those two things have changed the way I look at my life.  In the beginning, I focused on the loss of “stuff” and how proud I was that I didn’t mourn the material things I’d lost. (See here.)  Then the problem of the kids’ education forced me into a job, something I’d wanted for a long time anyway.  Now that I’ve been working for a couple of weeks, I realize that my life up until this point has been a mess–A chaotic jumble of lazy parenting, lax housekeeping (at best), and appalling disorganization.

That all changes today.

There will be a schedule.  There will be a chore list.  There will be no more yelling.  I will not repeat myself.  I will not make excuses–for me or for my children.  I will not spend another Saturday cleaning house. Everyone will do their part during the week so that we can enjoy our weekend.  The children will not tell each other to “shut up” or call each other “idiots” or “morons.” Homework will be done, school clothes and backpacks will be laid out the night before, bedtime will be strictly enforced, a bedtime story will be read, and I will get some writing done every day.

This is the Momfog Manifesto.

Ducks in a row

Getting My Ducks In a Row

In keeping with my less hectic life, I’ve changed my blog theme.  I wanted less “stuff” and more focus on the posts.  The only thing I’m going to add is the blogroll, which I have to tweak a little bit first.  That’s going to be a tough job.  There are so many blogs that I adore, but I’m trying to keep it at about 10.  Please don’t get offended if you were on there previously and are not included on the newer one.  You know I still love you, right?