Edited (Added my story to the page, at the bottom. Not taking this down till all my regulars comment as it's been a little too quiet around here and yet, not on other blogs. The neurotic in me is paranoid.)
Scott (Hard to Want) blogged about the "Endless Hour" fiction contest over at Jason Evan's blog. Jason puts up a photo, you look at it, and write a story based on the picture. I guess Scott does a lot of these.
I don't know why, but I actually entered it. I never enter contests. Never. Doesn't matter what kind it is, but I did ... and actually received an Honorable Mention for my efforts (#26 - Things We Cannot Say). Not bad for five minutes of work. Could I have won with fifteen minutes?
The weird thing is the Reader's Pick winners are ones I didn't even vote for ... so I'm wondering -- am I a sucky critic? Am I too critical? The picture had sunlight coming in the window and the Reader's Pick was about a werewolf. It was well written, but I thought, "Well, it's daylight. You can't wolf out without the moon." I thought it was just silly and funny. The other reminded me of a Buffy episode.
The owner of the blog (I don't know if it's just him or if there are other judges) picks his/their own set of winners and I was vindicated there (not because of my nod) by having one of MY picks actually WIN. (Great story by Trevor Record, #40, I believe). LOVED his take on the picture.
Even Mr. Schprock entered with a pretty serious short story -- a whole different side to him, so it's worth the trip over if you are so inclined. I wanted to add, Scott's submission (another that I voted for) had me completely fooled in the beginning and was good to start to finish should have taken my Honorable Mention at the very least. (this is just my opinion, but I had to include it because ... well, it's my blog)
Congratulations, Trevor! You definitely earned it, in my opinion. And thanks for the nod, Mr. Jason Evans.
Here's mine, as promised above (picture a filthy kitchen sink, dirty dishes, rusted cans, curtain askew on window over sink ... or just go to site & see it for yourself):
Things We Cannot Say
Hold the trash bag, pick up the garbage, and put it inside. Bleach and hot water in the bucket, scrub, and wipe with a rag. Bleach will wash away anything. The kids have to see the way it could be, but not this.How would I answer when they asked where we now lived? “The Indian Village, a mobile home community.” A trailer park. No, I couldn’t say it. It’s not true if I never say it out loud.
I thought about crashing my car into a tree yesterday. I didn’t think about the kids or my wife … just me. My boss said I was the best manager he’d ever had, and then fired me a week later.I can’t do this anymore. I’ve been paying the bills since I was eighteen years old. I’m almost 40 and I’m scared. I yell at my wife and ignore the kids. How can I tell them? They lost everything because of me.
Dear God, my brother cried last night in his room. We miss our old house and our friends. We don’t want to go to this new school. We’re scared everyone will pick on us for being poor. We know Mom is sad, so we can’t ask her to take us back home. I want to be back in my garden room with the picket fence border I helped her paint. PS, please make daddy talk to us again.
I've never been into girlie things like the prom. I did, however, attend my own. My date was not my first choice, but my dress was. My hair was done by my brother's gifted boyfriend, the hairdresser/drag queen. Not being the highlight of my life, I only have sketchy details in my mind of the entire night.
I remember the jocks dancing around in a big circle making asses out of themselves. I remember commenting to a friend, "They think this night was made for them." Even their jockette dates were left out in the cold. Strange.
I vaguely remember the prom queen. In fact, my husband and I actually don't agree on who it was, but I was there so my guess counts the most. I clearly remember thinking the prom queen and those in the court were hopeless, mindless girls with the worst gowns. At thirty-seven, now I believe they are the ones living in the suburbs and turning out to be even more hopeless women. Those ever-chipper stay-at-home-moms who believe they could have been famous -- an actress, a supermodel ... anything except a stay at home mom, which is what they are now, but they won't believe it. Their husbands are ex-jock gods who they still think are dreamy.
Don't get me started on the jocks. There was a reason I turned them down time and time again, but it wasn't until after graduation that I knew I was right. Glory days have a whole new meaning to these guys and now I find it rather sad, but thankfully ... I'm not married to it.
I do remember the feeling of complete ego. Walking in, believing my gown to be the most beautiful, believing myself to be the same, and kind of laughing on the inside about my own narcissism. I also remember the uncomfortable feeling of having classmates I didn't know from every clique approaching me when I walked in the door to tell me how good I looked. I made a concerted effort to be kind in return, instead of my usual roll of the eyes.
My date drank. I did not. Instead and for some odd reason, we drove those that were drunk home safely. He in their car and me following behind in another ... and without my license. (it wasn't until years later when I found out he was an 'in the closet homosexual' who was actually trying to grope at the male drunkards on the drive, but then it all made sense -- he was too good looking and too well-dressed)
I am not someone who looks back at high school and thinks, "Gosh, wasn't that the best time ever?" I like forward progression. I like my life as it is and not as it was, but I'll be hanged if Sunshine didn't e-mail me asking me to join in her prom celebrations ... then asking everyone she asked to spread the word. If you want to live in the past, come join us. If you'd rather not, that's very cool with me as well.
I liked looking like Cinderella for a night, but I must say, I'm glad it went by as quickly as high school itself. Still, out of much love for Sunshine, I will stagger out on the dance floor in front of that sucky band once again. =)
For years, out of every person in my family, I was the only one who cared about the environment. Even my children, who have grown up with recycling rallies at school, couldn't care less about the planet. Because of this, I've had a bit of extra work on my hands.
I find a Gatorade bottle in the trash, I fish it out, rinse it, and put it in the recyclables. I find my husband's glass salsa jar in the trash, I do the same. Someone uses paper towels to clean up a mess instead of a rag? It's not going to be pretty. I lecture ... mini-lectures ... one thousand years for plastic to break down in a landfill, forests being obliterated, etc. Everyone shrugs and walks away. This isn't their reality.
Then something miraculous happened ... my husband got bit by the recycling bug. BAM, he starts rinsing out every salsa jar. I see plastic containers from outdoors going into the recycling bin. I'm amazed. I'm astounded. I'm overjoyed!
During dinner he asks, "Do you want a napkin?" I nod my head and then he asks, "How many did you already use today?" I say, "None." He pauses and thinks, then says, "Yes, but yesterday you used two -- one at dinner and one when we went out for ice cream. That's two, so you'll just have to go without today." I shrug my shoulders, pick up my plate, and walk away. He's not even kidding.
Is he giving me a taste of my own medicine? I don't know. I'm naive in these matters. I know he's always saying, "global warming is a bunch of bullsh*t." Yet even when I didn't believe in global warming, I still believed in recycling. I still hated waste. I still came up with ways to reuse everything ... even scraps of fabric. (currently those scraps are being made into more cloth napkins -- so I can have one whenever the frig I feel like it)
Strange thing is, as much as I love having a partner in keeping the planet green, I really am getting sick of the nagging. Part of me now wants to use ten napkins at a sitting, maybe twenty, maybe a whole suit made out of paper napkins. I tear it off, throw it in my husband's face and say, "There, how many's that? Jackass!"
It's a knee-jerk reaction ... tell me no and I want it all the more. And since my husband knows this about me, I have to wonder if this is all a ruse. Believing this may be the case, I have to keep my cool, make a stack of cloth napkins, and just keep patting him on the back. Right? Right?!?
When the sun's rays are coming through my bedroom window and falling heavy upon my face, I feel the need to go into the weekend upbeat and positive. No rants, no preaching, and no admonishing. Happy thoughts and good news. After all, the temperatures are now into the 60's, possibly even the 70's by the day's end.
Soon I'll be covered in dirt. Not because I'll bury myself in the earth. No, it's time to do my outdoor winter clean-up followed by gardening, planting, and landscaping. But wouldn't that burying myself alive thing be creepy? Kind of a "Supernatural" moment. (and if you don't watch that show, you should give it a glimpse ... very humorous)
And the good news? Let's see ... my son is now a straight A student, two days ago my daughter was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society, and my husband has been having a stellar year at his new place of work. Anyone up for sharing the good news and letting some positive vibes trickle through blogspot?
I've spent too much time watching the Virginia Tech massacre on TV. I don't know why. Normally I get the initial information and move on with my life. I don't like to dwell on the negative, but I can't seem to turn away.
I feel so much empathy for the students, parents, and friends. I'm scared of the future for my own children. There truly is no safe place left in the world.
In these times of psycho-babble and psycho-med cure-alls, people have never been so screwed up or depressed. Families used to be clear cut -- dad worked, mom stayed home, kids towed the line, dinner was on the table, the whole family was there. Now everyone works because the more we work, the more we can afford. Status trumps family.
I'm not talking about single mothers who must work. I revere them. I marvel at their tenacity to survive, but the basic family construct is crumbling. Divorce is more prevalent than lasting marriages. Cheating is acceptable while monogamy is considered archaic. Depression is winning out against happiness. People are lost and violent. Pornography claims the dollars of more adults than charity. Children are eating themselves into obesity and physical ailments like never before.
This is the first generation of children who won't live longer than their parents. Does that seem right? Latchkey kids aren't a strange site anymore, but commonplace. Scores of primary level children are on psychotropic medication. Girls are being raped by classmates before they leave the 5th grade. Middle school children now typically have a blase attitude toward sex, drugs, and guns. It's just a part of their world, their television shows, and their lives.
I realize I'm old-fashioned, but I was raised in a home where both parents worked. My mother, however, made sure a hot meal was on the table every night. Not one from McDonald's, but from her own oven. She worked the night shift, slept in the morning, did her chores in the afternoon, but never gave less to us because of it. I'd like to believe it made some kind of difference in my life. I do think it's the reason dinner time is so important for my own family. We eat together at a table, not in front of a TV, and it doesn't come out of a fast food bag.
If I had one wish for the planet it would be for parents to slow down. If you have a solid marriage, do you need two incomes? My husband and I once lived well on $21,000 a year. This was after I became pregnant for my daughter. I quit my job and became a stay-at-home wife and mother. I had my son a year later. Chasing toddlers around was more important to me than chasing the all mighty dollar. Budgets were tight and strict. Extras were reserved for birthdays and even then, had to be carefully planned, but we didn't go hungry and the children had no idea at the time of our circumstances.
Now my children are teenagers, but they're still my priority. And it has made a difference in my family. Even in unsettling times, we communicate. My son and daughter ask for advice, we play games together, watch family movies, we talk, and we laugh. When they leave with friends, I call them and check to see how they are, if they're safe, and they call as well, to stop me from worrying. I don't leash them, but I don't let them run willy nilly either. Doesn't mean there aren't arguments or disagreements, but we're a strong and secure family unit.
I look at nature and I see constancy. On Planet Earth, I saw these penguins that would travel miles to mate for about 10 seconds. The female had her egg, passed it to the male, and left. The male sat on the egg for months during the worst cold of the year, while the females march back miles and miles for food. After refueling and fattening up a bit (so they can feed their baby), the female returns, a call is made between the two mates only they recognize, and the starving male then reluctantly gives up his egg, his charge. He's starving, it's freezing, and he's been sitting on that egg for an entire season, but is reluctant to pass it to the mother. Even a penguin realizes the importance of child rearing. Why don't all of us?
I don't believe in gun control. It won't stop criminals or psychopaths from buying them, it'll only drive up the price. Just like prohibition didn't stop alcohol, but instead gave birth to homemade ingenuity and cunning. And from what I remember, a beer you sneak tastes much better than the one you can buy legally, but even at twelve, I could find a way to get it.
What I do believe in is people control. If your son is so disturbed that he ends up killing over 30 people, you haven't done your job. And since shootings and violence are on the rise in the world, that means there's a lot of parents who are failing. The new attitude of "my children wouldn't do anything wrong because I want to be their friend or I feel bad for not spending enough quality time with them" is not working. To me, it's the beginning of failure for the parent, plain and simple.
Kids need to take responsibility for all that they do -- good and bad. If someone feels their child is above being reprimanded because that parent wants to be liked instead of respected, meet Generation X. Live with mom and dad well until their twenties and beyond. When they finally do get out, they hit up grandma for money when times get tough. (and this is the best case scenario)
Parents need to know possessions aren't worth more than family. How could designer clothes, upscale cars, and a big house on the hill be worth more than a child's future? Even when people are poor, which I've been in my life, is the focus on the poverty or how to get the child on the right path? I ask this because in my community, I see too many families engaged in the struggle for more instead of the fight for a real family life. Too many people seem to have tunnel vision for all the wrong things and when I see tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech, I can't help but worry if more of these will occur if families continue to deteriorate.
Scott (Hard to Want) gave me a genuine surprise by including me on his list of the Thinking Blogger Awards. Much as he did with his own nomination, I am including what he had to say regarding my blog:
"I've been with Beth since my own inception. Speaking of brutal honesty, Beth can really lay it out there. The first post I read of hers related the story of her first sexual experience with a boy who basically followed the tenets of the four F's. Find 'em, Feel 'em, (you know what) ' em, and Forget 'em. I can't stress enough that, when Beth gets in that mood, no matter the length of the post, you will be glued to your seat."
High praise that made me blush, I'll admit it! Thanks, Scott.
Now here's the scoop and the rules, directly copied from Scott's site:
The Thinking Blogger Award is an effort to build a network of blogs linked together outside of the usual search engines. Here is how it works (sort of like a meme):
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that tickle your grey matter.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative gold version if silver doesn't fit your blog).
Now, unfortunately for this award system, Scott was already nominated and chose one of my favorite blogs, The Schprock Report, as his first choice. I am not normally a rule breaker, but in this case, I'm sorry, I have to do it. I'm not being cheap, I'm not being bad, but I simply have to be truthful with these picks. (You're lucky you gave Trimamick to Schprock or it would've been worse)
My Thinking Blogger Award nominations are:
1.) Hard to Want. Scott's writing runs a full spectrum of topics, but the ones I absolutely love are those where he has included his sons in the mix. I am a sucker for a good father, but I adore the way he describes even the simplest moments with his boys. I always find myself reliving some of my own family moments through his writing and only good writing will do this for you.
2.) The Schprock Report. You know 'em, you love 'em ... Mr. Schprock. Anything he writes is not only entertaining, but masterful. Whether it's a baseball Shakespearean sonnet or musings on every day life, there is always something to make you smile, laugh out loud, think, or develop a real appreciation for the English language.
3.) Talking to the Moon. The hardest part of writing anything? The first line. I am not gushing when I say this woman has written some first lines that even Dickens would have wanted for his own. She's witty, intelligent, but has raw writing talent. Not practiced or re-written ... it is what it is -- just plain good.
4.) Cosmic Cat. This is another blogger who is just witty, but her wit isn't what I love best about her blog. Strangely enough, it's her photographs of cats. I hate to admit it, but I'm not a big cat lover. I'm a dog person and haven't seen any pictures of felines that ever made me stop to study them. Hers do. If she never has a coffee table book of her cat photos, it'll be a crying shame. Even if you don't love cats, check out these amazing photographs of hers. In them, perhaps for the first time, you'll see the personality and soul of her subjects -- her own cats.
5.) The End of the World. LL (Lord Loser, as he refers to himself) is like that wacky uncle who scares the crap out of you, but you can't seem to turn away. Self-described as "an acquired taste," where else will you find real life photos of two-headed 5-legged calves? Gruesome, sure, but you still look. Whether making a reader feel good about any vacation they go on (including ones where they may have encountered natural disasters), LL feels like visiting a good friend for a cup of java. (or perhaps fancy tea ... since this rough and tumble guy likes the girlie stuff)
Like Scott, I could have added a couple more, but rules are rules and these are the people in Bloggerland who tickle my grey matter, my funny bone, and keep me coming back for more.
My daughter is a die hard mall fanatic. If she had it her way, we'd be shopping every weekend at ours, which is about a half hour away. A mall, which includes her two favorite stores -- Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister.
I do not like malls. I don't even enjoy our seasonal shopping trips, so once a week outings are out of the question. I find the mall to be the saddest place on earth. A florescent-lit nightmare filled with lost women and girls trying to find themselves in their purchases.
I already know and like myself. Shopping for me is a necessity, not a mood-altering experience. Well, perhaps it is mood-altering, but not in a good way.
My daughter is still figuring herself out. She's a teen. Clothes matter. Clothes display to the world who you are and what you're worth. They define you. Goth, prep, punk, poor, rich, and jock. Your clothes say it all in the teen world. (although I don't think the labeling thing ever really ends)
Upon entering one of my daughter's stores, I head to the men's department. Why? I've found men's shorts are not only more comfortable, but they're actually made MUCH better than woman's. The fabric is thicker, the crotch is lower, and by God, all those pockets are absolutely perfect for gardening.
My daughter hides her face in shame. She heads over to the "overpriced t-shirts" section or the "shirts you can see through, but that cost $60 section." She thinks the price of her things "aren't that bad," while my "man shorts," as she calls them, are usually a third of the cost. I don't mind sales racks and utilize them for everything I wear.
I thought my daughter's mini-obsession with the mall wasn't actually too terrible until last week. She came out of her room to her dad and I in a full panic saying, "I just had the worst dream."
"What was it?"
"Oh my gosh, I was in the mall. It was awful. There were Nazis and we were trying to hide, but they had these ... I don't know, gun-type things ..."
"Price scanners?" I asked, getting a big chuckle out of her dad, which prompted me to continue, "Let me guess, they were price Nazis, making sure you were only buying items on sale."
"Oh, the horror!" (that's from her dad)
"Oh my God, it isn't funny. I had to hide in a rack of jeans and they weren't even good jeans. They were crap and it was just like the Holocaust," she shrieked. (and she was dead serious)
"The Mallocaust," her father somberly announced and that did it, I started laughing my fool head off. My daughter found no humor in this situation and added a shrug of her shoulders to show it.
"You know, Courson, I believe dream analogy to be total crap, but seriously, maybe there's a lesson there. You're in a mall, Nazis are surrounding you, and you actually take time to notice the brand of jeans you're hiding in. Think about it. Maybe this is the universe's way of saying you might have a little problem," I told her.
"Oh my God, that is so gay. That's not it at all and it was actually scary. Nevermind. You two wouldn't understand."
Her father and I continued laughing, but this just proves my point -- the mall is just one of the things ruining girls and women everywhere. Don't even get me started on reality tv shows starring sweet sixteen brats or Laguna Bioches. That's it ... for now.
I love springtime. The feeling of renewal, rebirth, and all the rest of that crap, but here in upstate NY ... it is STILL winter! The calendar may have told us spring has sprung, but in fact, temperatures are still in the 30's, snow is flying, followed by hail, days are gray and dreary. (The picture was found on google ... and is making me quite jealous.)
We had approximately four days of springlike weather. Snow was melting and I was in shorts, surveying parts of my estate, which weren't covered in the white stuff. Making planting plans, clearing plans, and all the rest of it.
Not anymore though -- now there's wood to gather, snow to shovel, ice to chop. Blech. What happened to global warming?
Well, in better news, I still forged ahead with spring cleaning. Packing away the warmer clothes, laundering the lighter ones. Washing walls, under the bed ... all the places that usually hide out during winter. It'll take a while to finish everything, but I made a pretty good dent.
In great news, family life is good again. Turns out husband had annual "no one appreciates me in this house" deal, which calmed down a couple weeks later -- after he actually talked it out instead of pouting. The kids are doing great.
Everything is going so good, in fact, we started a weekly sojourn to a local eatery for dinner. Every Friday evening, we now do dinner out. A big deal for us. We usually take "in" once a week, but it's been going really good and both my kids actually look forward to it.
Now if I could just get rid of this cold. Oh, I forgot to mention it? Apparently my mutant-like powers of NOT getting ill is starting to fade. My cold started a few days ago and is still holding in there. Luckily it's only a head cold, so I went ahead and finished my Easter dinner and celebration preparations. Tomorrow's the big event, after all, and my menus are never shabby. =)
And on that note -- Have a wonderful Easter, everyone! And if you don't celebrate Easter, I hope springtime is actually real and beautiful wherever you may be! I'll be back this weekend to catch up on all the happenings in your neck of the woods.
I've been thinking of using this blog for good lately -- my own good!
As most of you know, I started seriously working out, etc. again.
Mondays will be my day to review the week before -- how I ate, what I accomplished on the exercise front, the amount of water I drank, and if I hopped on the scale, what I lost. It may be tedious, you make want to skip it, but accountability works for me.
This week my plan's for a healthier me are workouts from Monday-Friday (at least 4 cardios & weight training for all groups), 10 waters daily, and no eating at night in front of the tv (a habit I think I kicked, but I still like to track it). No tracking calories or anything yet. Perhaps in the future -- if I start to go off the deep end with my eating.
I did step on the scale and weight stayed the same. No gain, no loss, which is fine for me since last week I was severely dehydrated so am retaining a megaton of water.
That is all ... except for saying hello and good see ya!