Running Shoes Are Sacred

It’s funny how being a runner makes you think about things differently – namely shoes.  When you’re a kid, you get new shoes when the ones you are wearing start to fall apart; and you really only have two working pairs – one for every day and one for church.  At least, that’s how it was when I was growing up.  Things change when you become an adult and can pay your own way.  You buy shoes that match this outfit or that one and you end up having multiple pairs of shoes to choose from on any given day or for the type of activity you might be doing.

A few years ago, I fell in love with heels and bought as many as I could without breaking the budget or my closet; although there are some who would have said I broke both.  I still love the look of heels, but I just can’t wear them anymore (not that I wore them particularly well when I owned them).  They hurt my feet, they are hard to walk in and they just aren’t practical.  I could probably write a whole post about heels and my decision to get rid of every pair I owned.  But this post is about running shoes, which is probably a less interesting post than heels would have been…

As a runner, you buy shoes for practical purposes and to avoid injury.  I started getting shin splints a few weeks ago and the first thing my sister said was, “you need new shoes”.  I also didn’t realize there are different shoes for running and different shoes for training.  So, yesterday, I plunked down far too much money for two different types of shoes – running shoes and cross trainers.

I went to one of those running stores where they take a video of you running and that magically tells them which shoes are better for your stride… or something.  I actually did this a few years back when I first started getting serious about running.  And yes, it has been that long since I bought running shoes, which is bad, I know.  But this is really the first time since I started the process that I’ve been REALLY serious about it.

I have never run three times a week consistently until this year and I have never run more than 3 miles… Actually, there was this one time the first year I started running when we walked – it was on a paved road but it’s in the mountains and is a pretty steep climb so I could say hiked – about five and a half miles to a park, had lunch and decided to jog our way down.  I ran the whole way, but I don’t count it because it was 98% downhill and, well, I don’t know why I don’t count it.  I guess I should.  Anyway, the point is, I don’t do it consistently.

For the first time since that year, I actually ran a pretty difficult five miles last Saturday, and it was after said run that I started noticing my shins.  I knew my shoes were bad, but it’s funny how longer distances really punch you in the face (shins in this case) with “get new shoes, damn it!”  I bore it for an entire week and was finally forced to go yesterday after my shin started hurting consistently after running and training.

I’m pretty stoked I did.  The new running shoes are awesome!  I took them for a three mile run last night and could tell a difference right away.  I could also tell I will need to break them in; my feet felt constricted and they ended up falling asleep about half way in.  Not fun… but the shins didn’t hurt quite so bad when I was finished.

I’m also looking forward to trying out the new cross trainers tomorrow night.  I noticed when doing things like jumping jacks and burpees that I was stopping not because I was tired or because my legs hurt, but because the bottoms of my feet were hurting.  The guy at the store said it was my shoes.  He showed me how the bottoms of cross trainers are flatter and harder and some other science-y stuff on why they are better for what I am doing than running shoes.  Besides, every runner knows running shoes are sacred.  You can only put so many miles on them before it’s time to change them in – something I haven’t really cared much about but should probably start.

I’m not an expert on running or shoes or anything really.  I just wanted to let you all know how excited I am to have new shoes.  In some ways, it feels a little bit like getting new shoes when I was a kid, which happened so rarely it was cause for excitement and joy.  I will just try not to think about how much less is actually in my bank account after said purchase and continue tell myself I deserve it!  Oh yeah, and safety… or something!

The Day My Family Fell Apart

It’s time for another flash fiction challenge from none other than Chuck Wendig.  The challenge was Bad Parents.  I will apologize in advance because it is very dark.

This is probably the quickest story I’ve written down since starting this process.  I’m thinking this one just wanted to be told.   Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s likable, but it’s 1000 words exactly…

The Day My Family Fell Apart

I remember the day my family fell apart. It isn’t a nice story. Most of my childhood would probably fall into the “not nice” category. I blame it on my parents. I know, I know. Is anyone really to blame? Probably not, because there’s a history, a cycle that continues generation after generation. You hear all the stuff about ‘they did the best with what they had’ and I try to believe it, but it’s hard when I was forced to be strong enough. I was forced to change the mold and break the cycle. I’d like to think I would have done it anyway, but sometimes circumstances happen that change you in ways you might not have.

We were the white all-American Christian family and all our neighbors thought we were perfect. They just didn’t know what happened behind closed doors. If they’d known, maybe they could have helped. Maybe not, though.

Dad was a tyrant and pushed his weight around. Not so much with his fists, but more with his words, a belt and a my-way-or-the-highway attitude. He used to stand at the door and yell at us to come inside. He stood there on purpose, kicking us in the butt as we walked by. You had a choice. You could stay outside and risk the belt, or you could put your hands on your butt and face him when you went through the door. It didn’t usually work, though. He would just grab your arm and kick you anyway, hand and all, which hurt worse. We learned pretty quick to just take it the way it was intended just to get it over with. Besides, no one wanted the belt.

Mom was… well, she was basically absent. Who can blame her. He controlled everything, including her. I’m sure she made feeble attempts to stop him, but they must have been so minimal they didn’t bother to stick around in my memory. For the most part, Mom took flight when Dad was in a rage, which is exactly what happened on that horrible day.

My sister, Jenny, and I were hanging out in the living room, doing homework and what-not. My brother, Jake, was home and he had a friend over. Bobby was bad news. He was one of those smart-ass kids that couldn’t keep his mouth shut. They were high. I didn’t know it then, but we found out later.

Dad came home from work and right away started in on Jake. “You didn’t mow the lawn. He needs to leave and it needs to be done, now.” He pointed his finger at Bobby, but was glaring at Jake. Bobby’s an idiot and right away started laughing, which pissed Dad off. He walked up to him and grabbed the front of his shirt. “You get out of my house right now and don’t come back.” He was yelling and dragging Bobby to the back door.

Jake was yelling at this point too. “Leave him alone. Let him go!” I don’t think Jake dared to touch Dad, though, cause he just followed them, yelling the whole time. Bobby wasn’t laughing anymore. Dad threw him out and slammed the door. The tension in the air was palpable.

Next thing I knew, Jake and Dad were toe to toe. I looked at my sister and mouthed, “where’s Mom?” She just shrugged. She’d been standing there just moments before. I don’t think either of us really knew what to do, but we knew something bad was about to happen and, of course, Mom was missing. I was too scared to leave Jake with Dad in order to go search for her.

I stood up, not really sure what I was going to do but just in case. Dad and Jake were staring at each other, Jake’s fists clenched tight at his sides, shaking. Then Dad did something and to this day I have no idea why, except that maybe Dad thought he really was the toughest guy in the room.

“You want to hit me, boy? Go ahead. I dare ya!” He shoved Jake in the chest, egging him on. I finally tried to step in.

I walked up to Jake and put my hand gently on his arm. “It’s okay, Jake. Let’s just go in the other room and cool off.”

“You stay out of this!” Dad shoved me out of the way. Jenny was trying to placate Dad, but neither of us were having any luck. He went back to taunting Jake and shoving his finger in his chest.

And Jake snapped.

He swung at Dad and punched him so hard, it laid Dad out flat. Then Jake was on him, punching him over and over again. Me and Jenny tried to pull him off. I was screaming “STOP” and grabbing his arms, but he was frenzied and wouldn’t budge.

“MOM! Where are you? Call 9-11!” No answer.

Jenny ran to the phone and called the police while I continued to try and stop it, but it was like trying to stop a moving semi with a white flag. I was useless.

The police, ambulance, firetruck… you name it, they showed up at our house. Only, it was too late. They took Dad to the hospital, but he never came home. Jake was taken away in handcuffs and is serving a life sentence. I try to visit him.

Mom… she finally showed up, but she hasn’t been the same since. In fact, she hasn’t spoken a word since that day. They took her to an institution and she’s still there. I don’t visit her.

Me and Jenny? We’re doing our best to survive. She had to drop out of college and get a job. I dropped out of high school and did the same, because I wasn’t going to let her support me. We support each other now, the best we can. She’s probably the only one who gets it. Gets me. At least we still have each other.

My Son’s Imaginings

Normally, when I pick the boys up from their Nana’s house after work, Andru will sit in the back seat of the car right behind me and Jaxon takes the front passenger seat.  A few weeks ago, Jaxon was off being a teenager so it was just me and Andru for the short ride home.  He went to get in the back seat, but I told him he could sit in the front if he wanted.  I’ve offered before when it’s just the two of us, but he doesn’t always take me up on it.  That day he did.  We exchanged the normal conversation we have every day when I pick him up…

“How was your day, buddy?”

“Great!  How was yours?”

“Boring.” (Or something equally not fun to describe my day job)

Normally the conversation pretty much ends right there and we drive in silence or I turn some music on, but that day was different.  He was bubbling with energy and he looked at me smiling and said, “Mom, have I told you about Electro lately?”

“It’s been a while.  Why?”

“He’s changed so much, Mom!  I have so much to tell you…”

Andru is a wondrous kid with a unique imagination that blows me away.  He will spend hours by himself spinning stories in his head and acting them out.  His cousin is his partner in crime and when they are together we pretty much don’t see them until I yell “it’s time to go”.  My niece is almost six years older than Andru and she gets involved sometimes too.  I asked my sister why my niece would want to hang out with her younger brother and cousin and she said it was because it was like role-playing, which my niece is really into.

Role playing has never really been a part of my culture.  I dabbled in it a few years back, but it was really only to appease the person I was with at the time (the whole, I love what you love, even though… not really…).  I don’t know why I didn’t like it, given how much I love reading stories and writing stories and stories in general.  I don’t know if I can explain it, but the one time I did it, I lost interest pretty quickly.  It didn’t even dawn on me until my sister commented about my niece that this was precisely what my son was doing.

In the car  that day, Andru proceeded to tell me all about his changes and updates to Electro and still wasn’t done by the time we arrived home.  He not only has a main character, he has supporting characters and an enemy and back stories.  Now, some of it is definitely young, but for a ten year old, hell even some adults I know, it is pretty damn cool.  I was so astounded and in awe of my son that I decided to write it all down for the blog.  However, life happened and two days later I still hadn’t done it and I pretty much forgot most of the details.

So, I boosted the kids’ ego and actually interviewed him.  He was pretty stoked about it, but I procrastinated again (that’s totally a thing I do that I really shouldn’t).  He asked me last night if I had any likes on my blog and I had to regretfully tell him I hadn’t written it yet.  So, here is my son’s imagination pretty much jotted down straight from his brain.


Electro used to be human – his human name is John Schmidt.  There are different stories on how he was actually made, but it has something to do with Photons.  He is made of Photon energy or light energy.  He has a human-like body but he is taller than the average human.  He has spiked hair and his eyes are hard to see (Andru had a hard time explaining this one but it had something to do with slits and set really far back in his head or something… anyway, we both just decided it was best to just say the eyes were hard to see).   His mouth is really big – it goes all the way up to his ears – and he has really sharp teeth.  He has a tail that ends in a triangle shape and spikes on his spine that go onto his tail.  He can change into four different forms:

  • Demonic – He is bent like a raptor,  has razor teeth like chainsaws, and magnified spikes.  He has small feet but he’s fast.  When he is in this form he takes in fear through his spikes and turns it into light energy. (Pretty damn cool!)
  • Eternal – He has super buffed out armor.
  • Collossal – Everything in his normal form is just magnified.
  • Ultimate – When all three forms mix together.  This is the only one that can destroy the Shadow Lord.

The bad guys are called Shadow Lurkers.  They are clones of Electro made of shadow energy and they are most powerful at night.  They are led by the Shadow Lord.  He was originally Electro’s brother and he became jealous of Electro which made it easier to corrupt him.  The Shadow Lurkers turned him into one of them, but he became greedy.  He wanted to be more powerful so he took the shadow lurker’s souls against their will, changed them into dark energy and sucked it up.  He did this so much, he eventually became a Shadow Dragon and made himself their leader.  (Actually, I can’t remember if they made him their leader or if he proclaimed himself, but it was one of the two.  I personally think this is the coolest part of his made-up world.  My ten year old actually thought of a guy made of shadow lurkers’ souls!)

The Heroes:

  • Flames is made of fire, duh
  • Spike is made of metal
  • Rocky is made of rocks
  • Virus is made of plants, or a plant virus I guess.   She actually died by a tree and a very rare virus inside the tree seeped into her rotting body and transformed her into something new.  A new life.
  • Marina is made of water
  • Windy is made of air.  She gathers up wind to have form, otherwise you can’t see her.
  • Shady was originally the only female Shadow Lurker but she didn’t want to do bad things anymore.  She had a run-in with Electro in which he almost killed her, but she survived and told him she wanted to be one of them.  He talked it over with the group and they all agreed to have her.

Some of the heroes can mix their powers together to become something else.  Brightest Light is when Electro and Flames mix together to become a light that can never be extinguished.

There are four boys and four girls so there is obviously some romance going on.  Electro is with Virus; Flames is with Windy; Spike is with Shady; Rocky is with Marina.

I think he is super heavy on the characterization and hasn’t thought much about the world they live in because when I asked him about it, he said they live in the normal world.  Which, I guess is possible…. maybe…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed his world as much as I have and do.  He will talk about it with anyone who will listen for longer than you were expecting – this, Starcraft, Diablo III, and, oh yeah, Minecraft.  My son is a gamer, which most likely helps his vivid imagination come to life.   I hope he never stops dreaming and creating worlds in his head.

End Note: I read this to Andru and got a thumbs up and a huge smile.

The Getaway

I’m not going to lie.  I almost gave up on this one.  I never imagined I would write about the ‘weird west’ or anything to do with a ‘heist’, but I swore after I re-rolled on an earlier challenge that I wouldn’t do it again.  Plus, I commented on Chuck’s site what I rolled, so I was pretty much stuck with it.  I knew it was going to be a challenge, and it was.  Anyway, as I have already stated, the challenge this week was sub genres in 2000 words or less.  It’s my first real try at actioney type things and a fight scene, so please be kind; but any and all criticism is welcome as always.

My take on a “weird west heist” in exactly 2000 words:

The Getaway

The sun beat down on Katie, sweat making her dress stick to the curves of her hips and legs. There was no hiding from the heat, even with how thin her dress was. Standing on the porch of the dilapidated building, she watched as the boys brought the new one in.

The woman’s hands and feet were tied and it looked like she’d been drugged. Katie wasn’t sure where they were getting them these days; something about the shape of their eyes and their presence screamed ‘not human’. There had been a ruckus at the cave just outside town a few months back. She would have asked but didn’t think her position was close enough to the boss to warrant it, even with her new title.

Jake the Snake, they called him; mean, murdering boss of their little ghost town. No one dared to cross him or even look at him wrong lest he get it in his head to shoot. He was known to do that, for no reason at all.

She followed them into the dilapidated building. “Take her upstairs, first door on the right.”

Even inside, the heat smothered the air like a blanket on a fire, making it hard to breath. The fan circling in the main room did little to help, only serving to stir the heat around.

She followed them up the stairs and waited for them to deposit their load on the only free cot in the room. She looked over and smiled at Misha who had sat up when the boys had walked in.

“Still in bed, Lovely?”

Misha looked slightly abashed. “It was a late night, Mistress.”

Katie rolled her eyes and shut the door behind the retreating men, leaving the three of them alone. “Don’t call me that.”

“Boss said you were Mistress now. Wouldn’t do to let him think I was taking liberties.”

“If you must, but only when we aren’t alone. Besides, we won’t be here much longer.” She sat on the cot next to the drugged woman and began removing the rope.

“Katie, tell me again what we’re going to do if the plan works and we get out of here.”

She laid a cool cloth on the womans’ brow and looked over at Misha. “If everything goes as planned, we’re going to ride until we can’t ride anymore, then we’ll walk if we have to. I hear there’s a town about two days out. We can stop there for supplies, then we’re heading to the ocean; as long as it takes or we’ll die trying. But I’d rather die trying than wasting away as a whore in this hell-hole.”

Misha looked like Katie felt, scared as hell, but she couldn’t let it mess with her resolve. “It’s going to be okay, Mish. We’re going to get out of here, but I’m going to need your help. He’s leaving at dawn tomorrow and only planning on leaving Stan behind. I guess I’ve wormed my way into his confidence and he trusts me to keep you girls in line. Funny thing, that.”

There was just the three of them now what with him killing the last one and Heather dying from fever the week before. It would have been easier without the extra one, but hopefully she wouldn’t be a burden.

Misha drew a shaky breath. “What if he finds out?”

“What if he does? He can’t hurt us more than he already has and death would be a blessing. Besides, he won’t be back until after sunset. We have plenty of time.”

“I guess you’re right.” Misha sat up and pushed back her thick black curls. She really was a pretty girl, but she had started wasting away once they had brought her in a few months back. She couldn’t be more than 100 pounds soaking wet at this point.

“Remember, I’m going to get the key from Stan and get the stash while you get the horses. Hopefully this one here won’t mess things up.”

“I can’t believe we are really getting out of here.” The look of terror that was always plain to see in her too-bright eyes faded into what could have been hope.

Katie couldn’t allow hope yet. She kept her brown eyes steely and her mouth set in a grim line. “It isn’t a sure thing yet.”


It took until almost sundown before the drugged woman finally woke up. She looked a little green and Katie wondered how much of the drug they had given her. She wasn’t much of a talker, either. It didn’t matter what she said or how many times she and Misha asked a question, the woman didn’t say a word. She just slowly rocked back and forth on the bed, her eyes darting around the room.

“Well, hell. Looks like we might need to leave her behind.” Katie was throwing her one extra dress into a burlap sack. They couldn’t take much, but with the stash waiting in the Snake’s room, it didn’t really matter.

Misha was handing her extra set of clothes to Katie but she stopped at her words. “We can’t just leave her here. He’ll kill her.”

“I don’t know what else to do. It’s like she doesn’t speak our language or something, and we’re running out of time.” Katie waved dismissively in the womans’ direction.

“I’ll handle her. You’ve got enough to worry about.”

“Suit yourself.”


They talked well into the night, going over and over their plan. The more they talked, the more the other woman seemed to pay attention. She never said anything, but her eyes stopped darting around the room and started focusing on Katie and Misha as if she were listening.

They were able to catch a few hours sleep before daybreak when they were awakened by the sound of the men leaving outside the window. Once awake, they watched until all they could see was the distant plume of dust on the horizon from the horses’ galloping hooves. Katie and Misha quickly splashed water on their faces and arms, the other woman watching them silently.

“Here goes nothing,” Katie said as Misha gently took the other woman’s arm and led her out of the room. “I’m almost positive Stan is the only one here, but keep an eye out just in case.”

Misha nodded and continued walking down the hall towards the stairs at the back of the building, the other woman’s arm still in her grasp. Katie was going down the front stairs to confront Stan in the bar. Before they disappeared around the corner, Katie whispered, “good luck, Lovelies, see you soon,” and they were gone.

Katie took two deep breaths (one just didn’t cut it) and slowly started walking down the stairs trying to ignore the sweat trickling down her back. She had donned her best dress of the two she owned and made sure to tighten the bustier so her ample chest strained at the seams and threatened to spill out entirely. As her boots clunked down the stairs, she grabbed her stringy blonde hair and twisted it to the side so it all fell over her right shoulder.

She reached the bottom of the stairs and started making her way to the bar. “Stan, pour me a shot of whiskey, would ya, hon?”

“Now, Katie, you know the boss wouldn’t like that.” Stan was behind the bar. He wasn’t much to look at. He had a days’ growth of hair on his face that was starting to show his age; his hair was a silvery brown mop that was constantly in his eyes; and his belly hung over his pants, a stained white shirt straining to cover it. Why they left this guy in charge was a mystery she didn’t have time to ponder.

“The boss isn’t here, is he?” She walked over to him and leaned over the bar, letting her breasts strain against the thin fabric barely containing them. “Come on, Stan. Have a drink with me.” She winked at him and leaned even farther, brushing his arm with her breasts.

His breath caught in his throat and he swallowed hard. “Shucks, Katie. Why d’ya want to do something like that to an old guy like me?”

“Don’t be such a spoil sport.” She hoisted herself on top of the bar and lowered her face to his. Without looking away from his eyes, she ran her tongue across his lower lip. Still holding his eyes, she reached over and grabbed the whiskey bottle that just happened to be sitting on top of the bar. She must have caught him drinking while the boss was away. Good. Maybe this would be easier than she first thought.

Lifting the bottle to her mouth, she whispered “open up, big boy”, took a swig and leaned over to dribble it into Stan’s mouth. As if in a trance, he swallowed it down and was just reaching for her hips when she smashed the bottle as hard as she could against his ear. While he was still reeling from the first blow, she lifted up onto both knees and, using both hands this time, smashed it on top of his head. He fell to the ground with a groan.

Knowing she didn’t have much time, she jumped down next to him and started going through his pockets. He was holding his head, mumbling, giving her just enough time to find the keys in the second pocket she searched in. Just as she was about to jump up onto the bar, his hand snaked out and grabbed her ankle. Using her other foot, she kicked him as hard as she could in the chest, loosening his grip on her ankle. Yanking her foot free she brought it down on his groin. As he curled into a ball, she kicked him hard in the face for good measure before jumping up on the bar and swinging herself over.

She jumped down and high-tailed it up the stairs and down the hall to the Snake’s room. She fumbled with the keys but finally found the one that opened the door. Without pausing, she made her way to the small lock box he kept hidden under the mattress. She didn’t bother opening it, just grabbed it and turned to leave.

Stan was standing in the doorway.

There was no way she was getting past him and the only other way out was the window. She knew the window wasn’t an option for obvious reasons, so she scanned the room for something she could use as a weapon. Nothing.

“You ain’t getting away from old Stan, you little bitch.” Frozen in place, Katie watched as he spit blood on the ground and slowly moved toward her. He made it a total of two steps before he dropped to his knees, his eyes rolled up in their sockets and his hands grabbed his ears.

Stunned, Katie looked around but didn’t see anything and didn’t take the time to wonder what had just happened. She ran past Stan, through the door and down the stairs as fast as she could. She thanked any God who would listen that Misha had done her job and was waiting in front of the building with the horses. As she jumped on her horse, box firmly in hand, she looked over and noticed the silent woman. Her eyes were glowing green and she was staring at the building Katie had just exited, her mouth moving silently. Before Katie could make sense of it, an ear-shattering scream coming from the building made them all jump. It sounded like Stan.

Katie was hoping for an explanation at some point, but they were running out of time. Nodding her head in the direction of the strange woman, she turned her horse and galloped away, the other horses close behind.

She couldn’t help herself. She let out a wild yell that echoed across the horizon. They were finally free.

The Guardians

Thinking back on the stories I’ve submitted so far, they are all pretty dark and somber.  Inspiring, some of them, creepy and weird a few of them; but I started thinking I just couldn’t write happiness.  And given how I’ve been feeling this week, I wanted to try and do the opposite.  Which seemed like an impossible task at the time, but as it turned out it actually helped pull the cobwebs out of my head today.  I really got into this voice and enjoyed it.

This is my submission for Turn-a-trope Tuesday #3: “Resigned to the Call”.  I don’t know if I turned it on its head, or if I really even made the resigned part believable.  I think I tried to make this challenge fit into what I wanted to write this week.  I hope it worked and I hope you like my foray into a little more light-hearted territory.

The Guardians

“Jaden, come down from there this instant!”

“But Moooom, you told me to practice my flying and I just started.” I keep flying just to see if I can really get her worked up, or maybe she’ll forget and leave me be.

Flying is great. I wish I had always been able to, but it takes some time before wings are ready. Mom says it’s like walking. You have to crawl first.  I don’t know if I get it, I only know my wings finally decided to work and I can fly.

“Jaden!” Mom’s voice is in shrill territory.  Maybe just one more turn around the valley…

Before I know it, she’s got my wing, dragging me to the nearest cloud.

“Ow!” I don’t cry, cause I’m too big, but it hurts and I have to blink a few times to stop the stinging in my eyes.

Mom lets go of my wing and kneels down in front of me. Mom is beautiful, no doubt about it. She has red-gold hair that brushes her knees as she leans toward me. Her wings, the same color as her hair, fan around her and do this twitchy calming thing. I like Mom’s wings. I sometimes imagine I’m back in her arms, before mine were fully formed, and we’re soaring through the wind together.

“It’s time, Jaden.” I look into her eyes, dreading what I think she means. She’s looking at me a little weird like she’s not sure how I’m going to react.

“Is it…?”

“Yes, Love”

“But, Mom, I don’t want one.” I’m whining.

“Everyone has a human, dear. That’s what we do.”

I frown and crinkle up my nose. “Humans are dumb.” I go from whining to sulking pretty fast, folding my arms in front of me, like I can keep it all out. Honestly, I just want to go back to flying.

She laughs and I’m not sure if she’s laughing at me and it makes me mad. My arms are at my sides, hands in fists and I stomp my foot on the cloud, vapor puffs shooting off into the sky. “I won’t do it. You can’t make me!”

She gives me that look Moms get. “You’re being ridiculous, but I understand. Honestly, I do. I didn’t want to meet mine the first time either. But, you’ll see, Love. It will happen to you just like it did for me, for all of us.”

“What if I hate my human? Can I trade him in for a new one?”

“That just isn’t done, Love.”

“What if I… don’t do what I’m supposed to do… you know…”

“Jaden! Where did you hear such a thing?”

My hands are behind my back and I’m staring down at the cloud, one toe picking at an invisible glitch in its surface.

“I heard Dad once…” I let my voice trail off cause I don’t want to get Dad in trouble. Not that Mom is much trouble for Dad. They usually just make lovey-dovey eyes at each other, but you know, kid code… I think that’s a thing. Anyway, I am not ratting Dad out. Although, I think I just did…

She sighs and reaches for my hand as she stands up. “Come, love. We’re going to be late.”

I don’t really want to go, but it’s not like I have a choice. I do that thing I did when I was like… I don’t know… five… I get really into it too, rolling my eyes, saying “uuuggh” and making a big show out of letting her pull me along as she lifts off the cloud.

“Put up your glamour, Love.” Her voice drifts over to me as we continue flying, staying high enough so we won’t be spotted until we’re sure it’s safe. Nothing really changes much when I turn my glamour on. Like putting on an old hat, it just settles over me and, poof, I’m invisible to humans.

It doesn’t take us long before we swoop through a window and land soundlessly in a room. I don’t really get what I’m seeing, but there are lots of big humans and loud beeping noises. I look up at Mom, thinking she’s going to explain, but she’s looking at me and I think she might cry. So weird!

While I’m looking at her, there’s suddenly this screeching, squalling noise. I scrunch up my face and look back to see what’s making all the fuss. “Is that my human?” I look at Mom for an answer and she is just nodding her head, crying. I roll my eyes. “He’s pretty gross.” I watch as they put him in a glass box. They’re doing stuff to him and he’s screeching so loud my ears start ringing.

I don’t know exactly what changes, but I feel this strange pull inside me. I let go of Mom’s hand without really thinking about it and start walking forward. Mom doesn’t say anything, which again, is weird, but I can’t really stop what’s happening. I have to go.

I feel like I’m in some sort of trance as I walk up to the glass box and see him up close for the first time. Everything sort of melts away and we’re alone, just me and the tiny human. His fists are curled up and his arms and legs flail around like someone just pinched him. He’s all red and splotchy and gooey. I gather some calming energy, stuff Mom used to use on me, and I sprinkle it over him.

His screeching stops and his eyes get really bright and it’s like he’s looking right at me. I reach my hand towards him and he grabs my finger in his tiny fist and I feel it. It’s almost bigger than both of us put together. It fills me up and comes out of me and I’m shining brighter than I ever have.

He’s my human. I didn’t want it, I don’t really get it yet, but that’s the way it is.

It’s Just A Bad Day (Or Two)

I haven’t necessarily defined this blog thing that I do.  I found it overly difficult to write the “About Me” page so I left it blank because I was stuck and it was holding up that moment where I actually posted my first blog.  Even the title was difficult, but as soon as I found something that wasn’t completely trite, I went with it.  I pretty much hate it now and will most likely change it in the near future, but it got me started and it works, I guess.

When I first started out it was in an effort to write more and to post flash fiction, which I am loving, by the way.  About a week into it, I started training for Tough Mudder six days a week and it has become a huge part of my life and something I want to talk about, so you get the running/training/what the hell am I doing kind of posts.  While I’ve mentioned here and there throughout my training posts that I have depression, I don’t like to make a “thing” of it.  I definitely don’t want to make this blog into a depression rant where all you get when you tune in is “how depressed is Helen today”.


You know that commercial on TV where it says “depression hurts”, the one that I hate because it is so familiar and terrible that it actually hurts to hear it?  Yeah, that’s how I’m feeling.  Ass-deep in the middle of a big ‘ol depression cesspool.  It is so hard to describe to someone who has never felt it before, but I describe it like a cloud or blanket has been laid over me and every thought goes through this thickness in order to get to the surface and at that point I feel so terrible I don’t even know what truth is anymore.  I can see my irrationality as if it is a separate being living inside of me, taking over me, and I am helpless to stop it or change it.  Sometimes it lasts for only a day; sometimes one day bleeds into two or three and I feel like it’s never going to end.  When the “fog” finally clears, or the being leaves or whatever, I look back and think, wow, that was horrible; happy to be on the other side of it.

Today, most of this week actually, has been pretty rough.  I decided a few years ago that taking prescribed medication did me more harm than good.  I think I’m in the minority regarding this school of thought, but I’m not here to say take meds or don’t.  I think it honestly depends on each individual and you need to do what works best for you.  For me, I have found that I function better without them because I can be aware and see it for what it is (usually) and I can ride the storm until it passes.  I have found alternatives that work much better than medication ever did: meditation, music, running, getting lost in reading a book, and writing.  (Writing is a new one I recently added to the list.  If I had known it would give me more clarity, I would have been doing it more consistently all along.  I’m finding it also helps with nightmares…)

Anyway, in an effort to help myself through this, I thought I would write some words and see what happens.  A poem emerged and it’s a little rough and shoddy and most likely hard to read (this could be the depression talking) but I’m going to post it anyway.  I didn’t know what to title it so rather than spending the next few hours worrying about it I’m going to say it doesn’t have one and leave it at that.

Having no idea how to close this out but feeling it needs some sort of “ending”, I will wish you all a fabulous afternoon in hopes that my wish will rub off a little on me.


False, blinding light
Fading into creeping shadows
Pressing down
Laying claim
Enshrouded in sticky cobwebs

Shattered thoughts
Seeping fluids, oozing from
Piercing, blood-thick wounds
Torrential onslaught

Unanswered questions
Where are you
When will it stop

Whispered plea
Screaming through pores
Squeezing, clawing, tearing
An opening
One tear falls, then another

Training Update (Updated)

I wrote most of this blog yesterday and planned on posting it last night when I got home, but I currently don’t have internet at my house and it won’t be fixed until Thursday.  *sigh* It’s crazy how much we depend on technology these days.  Anyway, I decided to post it the way I saved it yesterday.  It’s a bit unfinished, but I will add in closing (at the beginning, which is pretty weird, but what the hell…), I’m excited about training and all the positive changes it has brought in my life: toning my flabbiness, losing a bit of weight and the best part, acting as my drug on days when depression wants to kick my ass!

I hope you all have a fabulous day (or what’s left of it), however you choose to spend it.

Written June 16, 2014:

In order to prevent my mind from pursuing the sticky cobwebs it is determined to fall into today, I have decided to do an update on training and how it is going so far.  My sister posted today that it has been about a month since we started training.  Wow!  I can’t believe it.  I haven’t been much of an exerciser in my life; in fact, there have been many times when I’ve said “yeah, I don’t do that!”  I only took up running out of some sort of concealed jealousy thing and ended up loving it.   But not enough to train consistently or anything.  If there was a reason not to run, I found it and basked in it.  It’s too cold today.  Nope.  Not going to run.  I didn’t get enough sleep last night.  Nope.  Not going to run.  I’ve realized in the last month that there is always an excuse.  I’ve given them to myself almost daily and there have been multiple days when I almost gave in.  But I didn’t and I was always happier for it. In the past month there has only been one week where I only worked out three days instead of six.  My own fault, really.  I can blame it on working out in the evenings and having things come up like my daughter’s graduation or choosing to get a Tattoo, but I decided not to beat myself up about it or try and place blame.  It happened.  Pick yourself up and keep on keeping on.

My fabulous sister has decided that since it’s been a month, we need to change things up so we are adding weights to a few of the exercises and doing push-ups in between crawl-outs. When I did the circuits on Friday, I was thinking it was time to add something or do something different.  Not that they are easy.  Far from it.  I think you realize when your body gets to a point where it is ready to push even more, and I’m going to need to push if I plan on making it through the Tough Mudder, which I do!  So, today, we are stepping it up a few notches and I’m almost crazy excited to go home so I can get it done.

The other cool thing about circuit training and running is the running is getting easier and pretty fabulous.  I am slow at best, but my time is improving.  When I first started this process, I wasn’t making it the full 3 miles running.  I had to walk some of it and there were parts where I felt like I was literally going to pass out.  Now, I’m running the whole time and picking up speed.  Super fun to see my time going down.  I’m not as fast as my sister yet, and I’m still slow compared to most runners I hear about, but I’m doing my best not to compare.  I only just started this process for realsy, so I can’t expect to win a 5k one month into it.  (My perfectionist brain is saying otherwise…)

We also decided to run a 5k in July just to get our feet wet.  We missed our normal 5k we do every year because, Tattoo!  It kind of bummed me out.  It’s for a great cause and it was someone my sister knew.  There was always great energy and we haven’t missed it since I took up this running thing.  However, I went online and found an equally great cause in our community and we signed up to run on the 12th.  I like races.  They tend to push you past what you do when you are alone and I’m hoping to beat my best time in a race.

Mary Pickford

Chuck’s flash fiction challenge on Friday was a cocktail as your title.  This was a rough one for me.  I didn’t re-roll as I might have a few weeks ago, but I definitely had to look it up because I had never heard of it before.  I came up with the following, 1500 words exactly:

Mary Pickford

Hollywood actress extraordinaire, Gillian Darling, twirled in front of the full length mirror, her white floor-length dress billowing out and around her, wispy soft and ephemeral. If only it made her smile the way such actions used to. Her critical eye took in the ever growing folds and wrinkles – flesh that resisted fitting into long tight dresses.

The ice in her glass clinked as she picked it up and took a long swallow. She couldn’t remember which number she was on, three… four maybe. It would take even more to get through the night, she realized.

Gillian Darling wasn’t her real name. It was one of those made up names that supposedly sounded sophisticated but really came off as ludicrously childish. She didn’t miss her old name, far from it. She had abandoned it long ago, choosing instead to play the part, even behind closed doors.

She fell in love with silent movies as a child and swore she would be just like Mary Pickford when she grew up. Her chestnut curls and sweetheart face were her ticket and it wasn’t long before she found comparisons in newspaper reviews. She didn’t realize she would also adopt the deep sadness and paranoia that shrouded the silent film star, all in a quest for perfection that a woman in Hollywood rarely achieved. Tonight was slightly different. She had been nominated for an Academy Award for her newest movie and she was joining the glitz and glamour that came from walking the red carpet, on display once again.

“Your stylist has arrived, my dear.” Gene was at the door. At least he respected the fact that it was closed. Normally he didn’t.

“Send her away. I’m already dressed.”

“Are you certain that’s wise?” His words were clipped, disapproval hanging in the air like vaporous clouds after a storm.

“I do believe I’m capable of dressing myself.” The words came out sharper than she intended, but it was too late to take them back. Ah well, time for another drink. She needed it in order to brave that step out of the safety of her room and into the empty expanse of waiting limousines and adoring crowds.

She went to the side table that contained her bar – rum and freshly squeezed pineapple juice. She had no idea who did it, but it was one of her few requests; it had to be authentic. She would have thanked whoever it was – most likely someone working in the kitchen – but Gene didn’t allow her to associate with them. She poured another drink into her empty martini glass, mostly rum with a splash of juice. Most people added cherry, but she preferred it like the original. If she was going to emulate her idol, might as well do it properly. She probably should have shaken it over ice too, but what was the point?

She took a sip as she walked back to look in the mirror hanging on the wall behind the vanity. She leaned in and stared at her reflection. Her glorious honey hair was caught back in a loose chignon, curls falling around her face adding to her delicate beauty. At least, that’s what she imagined they would say. More often than not, she only saw an ugly old horse staring back at her, expertly applied makeup notwithstanding.

Noticing most of her lipstick had made its way onto her martini glass, she reached for the tube to re-apply it. Brave Red, her favorite color. She had to admit, it contrasted nicely with her intensely blue eyes. As if she had to be brave in order to wear the color, she thought about it and wondered if she was. Most likely, she was just as much a coward as anyone. After deftly applying more, she drew her lips into a pucker and air-kissed her reflection.

Downing the rest of her drink, she set the glass on the vanity table with a clink. She grabbed her clutch, made sure everything she needed was inside, and took a deep breath. “Well, kid, here goes nothing.”

She opened up the bedroom door and stepped out.

“What the hell are you wearing?” Predictably, Gene was waiting for her and he grabbed her arm in a painful grip.

“Darling, I’m not wearing a shawl tonight. If you leave bruises, I’ll have no way of hiding them.” She didn’t bother to turn her head in his direction, just continued staring straight ahead. She had known wearing this dress would be unacceptable. Good. She wanted him to squirm, even if it was only for a few hours. Surprisingly, he let go of her arm and she continued walking down the hall, not bothering to make sure he was following.

The limousine ride was silence thick with unspoken venom. She stared out the window with her hands folded peacefully in her lap, belying the tremor that had started in her belly. The tremor only grew when she stepped out of the limousine onto a sea of red. Inhaling deeply, she allowed years of training to take over as she gracefully donned her persona like a favorite brassiere. Turning and smiling for the waiting cameras, she made her way down the carpet surrounded by bright flashing lights and the sound of fans’ screams echoing in her alcohol soaked brain.

Sooner than she realized possible, she was escorted inside to her seat, Gene pulling out her chair in a show of loving chivalry he only turned on when cameras were present. She ordered a drink as soon as she was seated. Gene leaned close, smiling for those sitting at the table with them. “You’ve had enough.” His mouth was so close to her ear she could feel the heat of his breath.

She burst out in a full-throated laugh, turning heads and raising eyebrows. She patted his hand and continued smiling as she picked up the drink the waiter had just placed in front of her and took a deep long drink. On a normal night, she would not have dared. Tonight was different. If her name was called, which was almost guaranteed, she had already made her plans and they did not include going home with Gene.

The night seemed endless, each moment blurring into the next. If she cared, she would have noticed the grim lines on Gene’s face growing deeper and more rigid as drink after drink was ordered and placed in front of her. She enjoyed each and every one like it was her first drink of water after a long walk across the desert. Worries of how she planned on actually making it to the stage if her name was called were replaced by bright colors swimming across her vision. They became butterflies she gleefully chased through a meadow on a hot summer day; fireworks on a warm summer night and she was a child, joyful and innocent, watching the lights explode in a star-filled sky.

“The nominees for an actress in a leading role…” Her head snapped up. She wasn’t ready. She couldn’t go through with it. Who was she to think she was brave enough. Before she knew what was happening, her name was called and she didn’t have a chance to gear up for what came next. Her decision had already been made.

Everything slowed down so that each movement was an eternity and the clapping hands that gave sound to each motion clamored and warped into her final, fatal symphony. Instead of delicately rising and hugging those around her, she reached into her clutch and grabbed the contents she had placed so reverently in its depths before leaving her bedroom. Slowly, she lifted her drink and downed the white mound in her palm. Gene had risen and was pulling her arm in an attempt to get her to stand. Shrugging him off, she placed both her hands on the table and slowly rose of her own accord, preferring to play the role in her final show on her own terms.

She didn’t bother putting on the heels she had kicked off at some point during the night. She made the short walk to the stage barefoot, her long dress brushing the carpet, sweeping away each footfall in a whisper of erasure. Would she have time to make a coherent speech before it worked its magic? She could hear her own breathing in time to her beating heart, all other sound dimming in comparison. She focused on putting one foot in front of the other and somehow made it to the podium.

Feeling strangely invigorated and clear, she looked out over the crowd and realized she had picked the perfect moment. Most of her life had been on display, why not this one. The sides of her mouth rose in an angelic smile that softened her face and lit her eyes from within. She was still smiling as her body tilted and then crashed heavily onto the stage amidst shocked screams and erupting pandemonium.

My Story #yesallwomen

I was sitting on the train this morning when I came across this post my daughter shared on Facebook.  I first came across #yesallwomen when Chuck Wendig wrote about issues surrounding it on his blog.  His post started my thought process, then reading the one today pretty much threw me over the edge.  I can’t say I was sobbing on the train, but to say tears welled up in my eyes and I had such an influx of emotion that I felt ready to burst would be just about right.

I don’t own a twitter account, but I feel strongly compelled to share some of my experiences.  So many women have already done it and I applaud each and every one because it isn’t easy.  It especially isn’t easy when you receive the kind of comments and feedback that are happening on the Twitter feed.   Don’t think this is easy for me either, because it isn’t.  Even as I sit here, I’m wondering if this will stay a draft or if I should really do that thing where I hit “Publish” and send it out into the big bad world of people scrutinizing it and judging it either good or bad, right or wrong.  At this point, I’m not sure what the answer is, but if I knew for certain my story could help just one person, I wouldn’t hesitate.  In her article linked to above, Janne Robinson wrote, “I do identify as being an activist, and an advocate for human rights.”  I believe I fall into this category as well and if I can do one small thing, then I will, even if it matters not at all in the sum total of everything.

The sad thing is, when I started thinking about #yesallwomen,  I wasn’t really sure if I was “one of those” women or not.  But even from just the few posts I’ve read from the Twitter feed, I realize I have more experiences, more stories than I’m going to mention here – when I titled the piece “My Story” it is really only small snippets, moments among many that have happened in my life.  In fact, the more I thought of it, the more I remembered; the more I realized I have behaviors that are directly related to these experiences.  Some of the experiences happened in public places, but far too many of them were men I loved and trusted.

I walk about two blocks from the train to get to work every morning and yesterday morning I accidentally made eye contact with a guy walking in the opposite direction.  I gave him a small smile of acknowledgement then quickly put my head down.  He proceeded to make a point of  looking directly at me and said “Good Morning”.  I looked up and mumbled good morning than walked a little faster the rest of the way to work.  It is heartbreaking to me that I have been taught to be cautious on the street; that god forbid I make eye contact with a man lest he take it as some sort of invitation; how when he said something, my stomach jumped into my throat and it actually scared me; how I questioned his motives in simply saying good morning to me.  But honestly, we (all women) have been trained to be this way.  We have learned to be cautious and to not give too much lest it be taken in ways we don’t mean.

I have had men lean out of cars and cat-call nasty shit to me, whistle at me, you name it, just for walking down the street.  I’ve been that woman who said NO but it happened anyway. You really do think all the things you hear: he’s my boyfriend/husband and we do this all the time; what’s the point in fighting; let’s just get it over with so I can get the hell out of here or go to sleep; maybe I pushed him too far and he really can’t stop… I pushed him too far, like I have more power than he does over his sexual drive simply by my femininity.  It has happened several times and one of those times I was drunk and barely coherent enough to put up a fight, but I did say NO and I damn well know I didn’t participate in any way, shape or form.  He was drunk too… I told myself all the excuses, but should there be even one excuse for it?  I’ve also read that this shouldn’t be considered rape.  And the sad thing is, I’m on the borderline of thinking it isn’t either.  Because it wasn’t violent… Because it was someone I trusted and loved…

But looking back, I still felt violated.  I still felt like something happened that shouldn’t have.

I was working a few years ago as an administrative manager in a sales office.  We used to call it working in hell because there were pretty much zero redeeming qualities about it, except they paid relatively well and I kept telling myself there was no way I would find another job paying what I was making there without a degree and the type of work I do.  There were two salesmen who started within a few months of each other (they were brothers) and right away, all the women realized these two had no sense of personal space.  I cannot tell you how many times I told both of them to back up, to not touch me, to not say those things to me.  I never went to HR, because, I don’t know… I handled it.  I have a voice.  I can tell them to fuck off, and I did.  So. Many. Times.  One day, I was helping one of them and he was grateful for the help and I guess he thought he would thank me by rubbing my shoulders. Now, you might think this is pretty innocuous behavior, but it made me feel uncomfortable so I asked him to please stop.  He put up his hands and spluttered some halfwit apology and then he proceeded to say “I didn’t know…”  Which pissed me off.  I ended up raising my voice – I had told him multiple times and of course he knew and blah blah blah.  Once he left my office, I let the matter go because, status quo, and again, I had dealt with it.  The guy ended up telling his boss, no idea why, and I ended up in HR.  But not for the reasons you would think.  They did the obligatory are you okays and what happened routine, then proceeded to ask me if I had yelled at him.  Later the same day, he had come back to my office to ask about his SPIF money, which I happened to be in charge of,  and I snapped at him.  I did.  I’m not going to lie.  I was tired, he was still on my shit list for sexually harassing me, I was overworked and buried up to my eyeballs… I could count the reasons.  Anyway, I ended up getting in trouble.  I was told he had been talked to as well, but it struck me as utter bullshit because it screamed to me of retaliation and they bought into it.  Poor guy… he was short on funds and wasn’t making money and somehow I’m supposed to be sensitive and nice even though he can walk around invading my personal space, touching me and saying vile shit to me, but that’s okay because… I don’t know…  It isn’t okay, but the message I got from that employer was, you can’t be angry.  You can’t snap at them, even when they cross the line, especially when you cross the line too, even though you had ample reason to be angry.  So I continue to ask myself, did I really cross the line? Really?

I was told by my first boyfriend that it was my fault we had gone too far because I decided to wear leggings (we were Christian and not supposed to have sex until marriage).  I think I remember this one so vividly (it was 21 years ago) because it is difficult for me to wear “revealing” clothes.  I could say I was shamed by my father as a little girl when he would yell at me for wearing something he didn’t like and tell me to change – because religion and a male not taking responsibility for his thoughts but instead blaming it on his female daughter? I don’t know.  But, to this day it is hard for me to wear certain types of clothing.  And that day, I had stepped out of my comfort zone to wear something that empowered me as a woman and made me feel good about myself, only to be told “that turns me on, so it’s your fault I can’t keep my hands off you”.

I could honestly go on and on, but at the end of the day it just makes me sad.  It is sad that we live in this type of culture.  That men believe some of the shit they say and mock us for telling our stories.  That the victim is blamed more often than not.  That high schools actually have unfair policies about what young women wear as compared to what they allow young men to wear to school.  That it feels unsafe to walk down the street and do what comes naturally to me as a human – to smile and say hi to a man – simply because I’m a female.

I agree with Janne Robinson, it will take both genders to fix this problem.  It will take us all looking at that thing we do when we say things like “that’s a girl thing” or “that’s for boys” because when we say things like that we continue to buy into the separatism and inequality that persists in our culture.

There are great men out there.  I know this.  I believe I’ve finally found one, but we struggle every day because I’ve had some pretty awful men do bad shit to me in my life and it makes it hard to trust.  It makes it hard to have a meaningful relationship because the men I trusted most in my life were usually the ones who hurt me the worst and sometimes I see them in my boyfriend.  But we continue to live and survive and love because I love that wonderful thing called love.  I do.  And that, along with strength in unity, is what can help solve this problem.

All women have stories like mine.  Yes, it is all women.

Random Funny Moment (in which I admit my own stupidity)

After picking up my son from his Nana’s tonight, I was driving out of her subdivision listening to tales from elementary school.  His Nana lives in an area with incredibly steep hills  and tiny roads where you think two cars just can’t fit.  I was waiting to turn left onto one such road when I saw a car driving up the hill.  He flashed his brights and then, when I turned, he did it again.  It’s not like it was a steady flashing or anything, but it definitely made me wonder what he was doing… for about a second.

I got so caught up in the funny tale my son was telling me that it went straight out of my head.  I also didn’t realize how fast I was going, not that it’s hard to go fast down that hill.  When I looked down I was at 40 and the sign posted is 25.  I hit my brake and just as I did I looked up and saw a motorcycle cop just hanging out on his bike clocking me.  It all happened in creepy slow motion, you know, when you scream nooooo really slow and put your hands up as if to stop it.  Our eyes met, he lifted his hand and nodded his head in a weird sort of wave and I drove on.  I have no idea why he didn’t pull my ass over.

I reached the bottom of the hill and had to stop at a four-way. When I looked in my rear view, the cop was pulling over the car that was behind me.  That guy had to be rocketing down that hill.

I continued listening to my son until we reached the house.  I swear he was still talking when I got out of the car and went up to the door.  The kid seems to have no sense of ending a conversation, so I tend to try and help him with that by getting out of the car.  It usually doesn’t stop him, though, as he was still talking away as we went inside the house.

Once inside, I got ready for my run and took off.  It wasn’t until I was about a half a mile into it that it dawned on me.  (I know, I know… how stupid can I be?)  The guy that was flashing his lights?  Yeah, he was warning us of the cop.  I guess there are still good people out there, and I just want to say thank you to the person who was thoughtful enough to do that, even though I was just dumb or whatever and didn’t get it until it was too late.  Luckily the cop was nice (if there is such a thing) and let me pass.

I’ve had some bad moments with the good ole police in my life, so it was nice to have one actually turn out okay.  I guess I will give a half-hearted thanks to him too, for letting me go, even though I’m almost positive he clocked me going 40 in a 25.